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striving for mediocrity... (creating boundaries: part 2)

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striving for mediocrity...

I would rather have more information than less. Because otherwise, I fill in the gaps, with assumptions that are not always accurate.

Actually, all humans do this. It’s the way we’re designed to function. The brain does this amazing thing where it will imaginatively infer when there is incomplete information. It doesn’t mean what we come up with is true, it’s simply that we can’t stand to have pieces missing, and so we flesh out the story until it makes sense in a way we can recognize.

In some circles, it’s thought that Shakespeare used this device not just to drive the rhythm of the text forward, but also to make the audience complicit in a moment. He would deliberately leave out words so the audience would be forced to fill in the rest of the thought. This would in turn, align them with the character in a moment. When this character is Iago in Othello, that raises some interesting questions…

In our daily lives, you can see how this plays out in marketing, in politics, and even in personal relationships. Just enough information is offered. Specific details are withheld. Partial-truths are spoken. Assumptions get made as the gaps are filled in by imagination. And, there is no culpability of telling a lie.

This is also how silence can be mistaken for agreement.

It’s powerful stuff.

And this is why Brian recently spoke up about his sons unabashedly copying his style of work and calling it their own. Brian spoke as a father, as an artist, and as a person who values the larger space we share together.

To allow your self to be treated in a particular way, communicates that treating others this way is acceptable...

Brian and I agree that copying someone else's recognizable style without their permission is not something to be silent about.

Coming from academia, small business and the online arts arena feels a bit like the wild west. It might be because in my educational and artistic journey, when I had to write a paper or research something, I had to go to the library. Everything was in books or periodicals, on microfiche or microfilm – there was no confusion when I was going to another source for an idea or inspiration. And, there were strict MLA standards about documenting these sources.

Throughout college and then grad school, and then as a tenured professor… there were even clearer boundaries. If you take another person’s work and claim it as your own you get expelled or fired. No real grey area around it.

As a professional artist, in juried exhibits, when submitting to journals, or writing for grants, you have to acknowledge similar work in your field of expertise. Lineage matters, and original thought is required.

The bulk of the work I did as a professional actor was with the material of living playwrights and composers (with the exception of Shakespeare). In a few instances, the original writers were in the room, and let me tell you, unless you have explicit permission to improvise, you have to be word/note perfect – and if you’re not, you better have a damn fine reason for suggesting the change… When I wrote solo performance shows, there was much more freedom, but I earned that freedom only if I scripted my own text.

My particular background in the arts included training with either first or second generation master teachers who codified internationally recognized theatre methodologies. This taught me to honor my lineage and understand my place in the field so I could be a contribution to it, rather than just a consumer of it.

This is my experience coming in to this. And I suppose this is why it’s shocking to me some people don’t care about this.

Some say it’s none of their business, others assume permission was granted by Brian.

Why aren't we quiet about this? Why don't we just move on, do our work and let them do theirs? 

It is not my intention to deter you from purchasing products or following whomever you wish. Seriously, put your energy and attention where you will, go after what feeds your soul.

As I said above, this is a larger conversation.

Though we may no longer be in school – there are still high standards we should hold ourselves and others to - do your own work, understand your field so you can contribute in a way that grows it, and honor those who paved the path you now benefit from walking on.

always in motion,


p.s. to read more about how the brain makes up memories

to read more about how perception works in the brain

to read a fun article about magicians & neuromagic

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  • I have purchased Story People art for many years. It had been awhile and recently I had been looking again. Now that I know this I won’t be purchasing from Story People again.
    Sherrl on
  • Brian and Fia ~ I love your work. Continue to take the “high road” with the past. It’s just that: The Past…. You did what you could for your sons. They now are ‘who they will be’ until they decide to change! You and Fia must keep your heads held high, be proud of who you are, and never let go of your dreams!

    Paula on
  • Hello ,
    I wrote to Brian awhile ago to ask why you are called Flying Edna now instead of story people . He wrote back right away and explained the name ( please do it again ) but said nothing negative about Storypeople . That is true graciousness .
    I first "found " the artwork and woodwork and books in a small shop on St Augustine maybe 30 years ago . It has been a part of my life and many homes and the lives of my family and students ever since . I was recently in Rockport MA at the Circle Square Gallery which still carries many vintage pieces . The owner and I started to talk about the new name – and you ! She thought Brian’s first wife had died – and that you and he had started a new line . I said I thought they had "grown apart " and that I had read that she had had cancer and that they had separated afterwards . I knew nothing about the loss of the rights to his work in the divorce or of his sons plagiarizing his work ! There is another quote for that that involves the sting of a serpents tongue !! And through it all he has maintained the high road and rejected the opportunity to become bitter and hard – I think because he knows that we are all running behind him – like that scene in Forest Gump – and does not want to let us down . Perhaps also because this is who he is – and that cannot be faked or copied or reproduced because it is the true outpouring of his heart . And many many many people have been hurt and deceived and broken by the people closest to them and when they see Brian with his head up and his eyes clear and his hope and vision and integrity intact they say " " Me too – this will not change who I am "
    Thank you ,
    Barb (in Canada)

    Barb on
  • When I unsubscribed from StoryPeople, the question “why” was posed. I regret missing the opportunity to tell the truth. I said “moving over to Flying Edna”; but the whole truth was so much deeper; tainted story magic, heartbroken and trying to imagine your emotions. Thank you for speaking your heart. Following my heart…and my favorite artists!

    Kim in FL's 32784 on
  • I have tried to follow this story and pull together all the threads of what is going on with it. I think this recent addition from Fia has helped a lot. It has felt confusing. I am still mind boggled at how In the world Brian could have lost the rights to all that amazing work he created. I wonder about it quite often. I just figured if an artist created it, they owned it. Yikes. that whole thing is disturbing. Can Brian still sell his original work too or only his sons?

    I recently visited their website to try and piece together what was happening. It is soulless. The explanation of who the company is and the artists reads in such a bizarre way.

    Karma will be a bitch. Sometimes it just takes a while.

    Karen on

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