Saturday, June 30, 2007

more on plagiarism

For those of you who don't read feedback, one of my recent posts generated comments whose insights far outweighed the original post's. God how I love it when that happens ... and talk about blogging as therapy! This morning Tiffini Elektra X, who I used as an example, weighed in on the whole plagiarism/copyright thing. At the end of her comment she referred to an excellent article (originally printed in Harper's Magazine) on the subject:

One of my favorite quotes from Thomas Jefferson (forgiving the overly gender specific language) - "He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me." I read that quote for the first time in this article The Ecstasy of Influence: A Plagiarism. It is amazing and I don't know if anyone has said it better.

In the article Jonathan Lethem recounts how, at age 13, he was first aware of the blurry line between literary influence and plagiarism when he discovered Wlliam S. Burroughs:

When he wrote about his process, the hairs on my neck stood up, so palpable was the excitement. Burroughs was interrogating the universe with scissors and a paste pot, and the least imitative of authors was no plagiarist at all.

The above quote immediately reminded me of my own personal (literal) example, way back in the dark days before every university student had a laptop. I remember sitting up late at night with my coffee and piles of research, actually cutting out relevant quotes from photocopied pages (and yes, I always gave full credit) and physically organizing them in such a way that I was able to mentally connect my ideas with the supporting quotes. Then, pen to paper, I proceeded to fill in the argument, pasting down the quotes as I went. It was a useful skill to have (since I didn't have any typing skills ~ one year my mother generously typed up my word collages for me). As a matter of fact I do a virtual form of it now when writing certain kinds of blog posts.

Like this one.


Blogger Merisi said...

I am definitely more at ease in the publishing than in the art world, but since copyright is a big issue also in the printed letter universe, and finally the fact, that you are mentioning Jonathan LETHEM, made me want to give you the link to Michael ALLEN's blog, Grumpy Old Bookman. Michael has written extensively about the question of copyright. I have put in two queries on his blog search window, here the results for you:
Re query copyright and re Jonathan Lethem, Michael's Monday, March 19, 2007, post, Mr Lethem leads the way.
I have been reading GOP from the beginning, and I am a big fan of this very experienced and wise writer and blogger. Up to a year or so ago, his was about the only blog I read (religiously, I might add). And then I embarked on this long and arduous and oh so enjoyable journey into other people's blogs ... mamma mia, the world it opened.! :-)

1/7/07 1:10 a.m.  
Blogger CS said...

I don't really know about this from an art perspective, but I think Jefferson was dead-on with his view on ideas. Early on in my blogging adventure, before many people were seeing it, someone caught a "found poem", I had posted and re-printed it on their blog. I was thrilled. And the credit was nice, but I was mostly happy that someone had liked something I'd done well enough to use it.

1/7/07 5:30 a.m.  
Blogger jafabrit said...

fabulous post and great links and comments.

2/7/07 9:01 a.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Merisi: Thanks for the link. I had a really good, long look at GOB. It's amazing!

CS: I love your found poem. Brilliant. And isn;t that sharing (as opposed to plagiarism) at its finest?

Jafabrit: Gracias.

2/7/07 9:12 a.m.  

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