The debate rages on over at Comixpedia. Despite the baseless personal attacks against me and totally mischaracterization of my positions, I'm grateful for the help its lent in clarifying my ideas. I think that my articulation of the "Art vs. Language" issue was done clearer than I've ever done before, so I'm reposting it here:
I believe that the mentality of conventionality for creating graphic images is actually the predisposed nature for ALL humans. The cognitive preference for everybody is for imitation. The human mind is a pattern receiving/making machine, whether you're Japanese, American, Arrernte, Warlpiri, French, Chinese, Somalian... whatever.
The "cultural force" I speak of (that I call "Art") works against that natural inclination for conventionality that is naturally wired into all people by insisting on individuality of drawing style. The evidence that this influence exists is right in the quandry from the very first post of this thread, which is why I commented on it.
A community is a collection of individuals. Each of those individuals responds to the balance between conventionality and the Art pespective in different ways (probably more like a gradient, but discrete here for clarity):
1. Some use conventionality to a maximal degree and don't care about individuality at all (though as a unique individual mind there is always some degree of individuality).
2. Some embrace conventionality to a high degree and mark out their individuality in small and fine-grained ways.
3. Others make huge breaks with conventionality to create styles that hardly look like any other person or group at all.
Cultures are created by the collection of these communities composed of individuals. Various communities and cultures respond to all of the things I've described above in different ways, based on the choices the individuals make in response to the stimuli around them (both graphic stimuli and community attitudes). Some may respond more like #1, some may do more like #2, and some more like #3. These responses happen in all cultures, distributed in different ways: in America, in Japan, in Australia, in France... all of them. In no culture will every single person follow any one type of tendency, so long as the influence of Art is present in that culture (which is just about everywhere at this point).