Compromised Art, by Default Assumption

Unlike other artistic activities, where someone can paint a picture by themselves, or even a band member can write a tune just using his instrument alone, how many people would say you were roleplaying, if you did it alone?

To be more specific, there is no solo recourse in this artistic activity, it seems. And to work with a group always means compromise – it always means compromising art. If you don’t compromise, your not roleplaying, it would seem.

I’m not sure a default assumption of always compromising art is healthy.

I’m going to look into a default of no compromise, and perhaps compromising to others needs (ie, they get to participate to some degree/at all, and how much) if I feel like doing so.

The idea of others not, by default, being able to participate, would probably classify it as not being roleplay, to most roleplayers. But on the other hand, that would assume they should always get a say in everyone elses art. In painting, sculpting or music, this assumption doesn’t exist. Someone can do it alone and it’s still recognised as painting or such. You don’t get people saying ‘Unless you compromise your art to include me somehow, your not actually painting’.

It occurs to me there’s a lack of indipendence in the artistic pursuit that is roleplaying.

6 thoughts on “Compromised Art, by Default Assumption

  1. But is it necessary that independence is a conceivable condition for an artistic pursuit? It doesn’t follow that if Pursuit P can be accomplished alone, then being able to accomplish it alone validates (or invalidates) Pursuit P. Or to put it better, can-perform-while-alone is a property of Pursuit P, but it is not necessarily a property of all Pursuits.

    So, it can still be an artistic pursuit without independence. I don’t see this as a problem, though. There are plenty of examples of artistic pursuit that have no independence (orchestral music comes to mind).

  2. Hi Andrew,

    The musicians in an orchestra can play their instruments outside, by themselves, and create some music by themselves, can’t they? And it’s still called music.

    And I’m not saying independence has to be a condition for an artistic pursuit. I’m saying it’s probably unhealthy to continually compromise artistic expression, rather than just flat out express. So I’m saying it’s probably unhealthy if an artistic pursuit has no indipendent recource that is still recognised as being part of that artistic pursuit.

  3. Two things come to mind from your response. First, the lack of independence does not entail a compromise of artistic expression. In fact, if the artform requires interdependence, attempting an independent expression of it would compromise the artform itself.

    Second, roleplaying does have independent recourse in the activities of character generation and GM preparation. Both of these require the player to engage in some aspect of roleplaying, including the roleplayed relationships with other characters – albeit an internal or silent engagement with those story elements. I note that last year, How to Host A Dungeon ( was released as a solo RPG.

  4. I don’t think artistic expression, as a sort of function of the brain, works that way. If a certain activity has had the entirely artificial requirement of working with others bolted onto it, that doesn’t mean that brain function suddenly needs other people to function. That’s just the activities requirement, rather than what the artistic bit of brain needs to do what it does.

    In terms of character generation and GM prep, this is only doing half a thing, as I see it. Like doing one half of a painting, instead of a whole one. I don’t see this as a solo recource while half the canvas is blank – unless it being blank is like part of the expression itself, which would be eerie and kinda weird, but I could see that.

  5. Artistic expression isn’t a brain function, it’s a socio-linguistic function. Although it supervenes on brain function, it doesn’t help to talk about it at that level (for an extreme example, consider discussing economics in terms of quantum mechanics – possible, but difficult and useless).

    I think, though, that you are drawing a different distinction, but it’s a false dichotomy. It is possible to dance most parts of Swan Lake alone, but it isn’t Swan Lake. It’s also impossible to dance each of the parts of Swan Lake alone because some require two people (the lifts, for example). Although it is possible to dance alone, it is not possible to dance the original choreography of Swan Lake alone. None of these facts devalue the artistic integrity of solo dance, or the value of Swan Lake; but they also indicate that there are some specific and particular artistic pursuits which require more than one person.

  6. Not really? Swan lake is a set of artifical requirements placed onto the idea of dance. That someone invented the multi person requirement to be imposed on dance, doesn’t mean roleplay must have multi person requirements imposed on it. Unless your saying roleplay is like swan lake, just a derivative of some other artform? With swan lake, it’s a derivative of dance. Are you saying roleplay is a derivative of something else?

    Besides, my point was that it’s probably mentally unhealthy to continually compromise art. Even if it were a requirement, it’d be an unhealthy one in such a case.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.