Monday, July 8, 2013

Again on artists vs. communicators in Sanskrit (and) philosophy

Some scholars consider their articles like works of art: they should not be touched by the impure hands of the editor or unworthy reader, nor by the impure questions of an unworthy listener. They react to the basic question asked by a younger colleague like a handsome man if courted by an older and not-so-beautiful woman. They also panick at the idea of their articles or books being copied and whenever they need to share a file, they use all possible safety options.

Others focus on communicating some basic facts, independently of the form thorugh which these are communicated. Thus, they might accept all sorts of formal changes (but would fight streneously if they think the content is right and the editor wants to modify it), rejoice because of any basic question (the basic question asked by a younger colleague is for them the sign of his/her interest and attention), share files not only with colleagues, but with as wide a public as possible and so on. They are surprised when they discover that someone has plagiarised their work —as if this were not the point of what they are doing.

Thus, here is a primer guide for dealing with both:


What else am I missing in the table?
 As it is probably easy to tell (given that I write a blog), I belong to the second group. Thus, I keep on hurting the feelings of people belonging to the first group. Consequently, if you are an "artist", please let me know what else hurts you.

My first post dedicated to the discovery of these two categories is here.

"There are two kinds of people in the world: those who divide the world into two kinds of people, and those who don't" – Robert Benchley (and the present writer belongs to the first category —unfortunately).


Unknown said...

Strangely enough, I feel like belonging to both categories at once.
I tend to see my articles as works of art, in a sense, and I like to give them the best form I am able to. I think that content is better conveyed is the work impresses and explains at the same time.
Actually, I've tried recently, with mixed success I have to say, to offer a scholarly presentation in verse. I thought it was a very good idea, but I suspect the audience was... well, perplexed to say the least.
On the other hand, I enjoy questions and I like to discuss, and I am very easy going about justified editing, although I tend to see form and content as very closely interwoven. So, I am not sure where I fit in your scheme...

Ramakrishnan Suryanarayanan said...

You are probably closer to Indian literary tradition than you think.. ancient Indians rarely worried about things like copyright or plagiarism.. and would even think it a compliment if others found their own ideas worthy of being re-used or re-stated.

Their main concern was against being misrepresented by novices, not against the free/uncompensated flow of their ideas among competent rivals and others. Selling knowledge was viewed with negative connotations.

Ruy D'Aleixo said...

I enjoyed the post. But is really art what these "artists" do? I just wonder. Plus, many true artists are ready to accept criticisms and they are ready to re-work.

elisa freschi said...

@Marco, mine ist a generalization and I am happy to read that artists might be less difficult than I think.
@Aleix, on the same vein, "artist" is only a label. I am sure that there are painters who are "communicators" and vice versa.

@Brāhmaṇaspati, many thanks. This was also the point I was trying to highlight.

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