Not as famous as veni, vidi, vici, but reasonably famous, is Picasso’s quote:
Success is dangerous. One begins to copy oneself. And copying oneself is more dangerous than copying others. It leads to sterility.
Such a short quote would be enough for a debate over a few beers.
Of course, the concept of “success” is very subjective and is a debate in itself, so let’s just accept a definition such as this: “Good acceptance of someone or something”, “Happy result of a business, performance, etc.” (Picasso would certainly fit these definitions).
What interests me most is the rest.
There are many artists of all kinds who have fallen into the trap: painters, musicians, writers, filmmakers, youtubers….
It’s very easy to see that something works, and start producing more and more of the same. Nothing wrong with sequels and works from the same saga, from the same universe, etc., as long as they stay fresh.
But… how many series have we abandoned halfway through because they were more of the same? How many musicians have we stopped listening to because of the same thing? How many youtubers have we unsubscribed from? How many times have people unsubscribed from this newsletter because of saturation or whatever?
Continuing with Picasso. In Penrose, Picasso: His Life and Work (1958), the following is said:
Years later, when visiting an exhibition of children’s drawings, he remarked, “When I was their age I could draw like Raphael, but I have invested my whole life in learning to draw like them.”
Regardless of whether or not we like Picasso’s most Picassian work, that comment seems brutal to me.
It is the desire for evolution in its purest form.
It is something that obsesses me too. I constantly try not to remain stagnant (sterility, according to Picasso).
Most people finish university and think that their training is over. I would say that’s where it really starts.
College is the period when the plant takes root in the soil. When you get out, that’s when the plant starts to grow upwards, if you keep watering it.
For all this, I am constantly buying and reading manuals: linguistics, historical grammar, etc. (And as teaching is learning, from what I myself learn from others, I create more content).
But not only that: I am also learning, albeit as a hobby, about other non-linguistic subjects.
If one considers the question in a very simple and Manichean way and understands “copying” too literally, one reaches the wrong conclusions.
Naturally, copy-plagiarism is bad; copy-inspiration, good.
If you’re a doctor, it’s great to keep educating yourself about medicine; if you’re an architect, about new materials and construction techniques; if you’re an engineer, about teraflops.
But don’t be obsessed with copying yourself: copy others.
Go outside your specialty, your discipline: don’t remain sterile.
P. S. If I wanted to learn to play the tuba, apart from the course and/or lessons, I would have to buy a tuba. For Latin, you just need a pen and paper.