Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Axoloti Roadkill

Syrian poet Adonis, plagiarism and I: Any links?

I received interesting messages lately, related to the open letter to Syrian President Bashar Assad that the Syrian poet Adonis published in the Lebanese daily Al Safir.  I read about this piece of news in a post when perusing the “hot posts”.  Consequently, I used the published post as a note for the Arabic readers to access the attached link to al Safir, and until I find time to translate the open letter to English.

What was important in the “hot post” was the link to al Safir, and thus, I didn’t tamper much with this piece of news, but added a personal introduction.  Two days later, as I published my translated version, I received three angry replies on what I call my “note post”, threatening me with plagiarism for not quoting a couple of paragraphs, of what I considered not worth quoting as news pieces disseminated by other medias.

Funny, the angriest of the messages emanated from a semi illiterate guy who lorded it over me extensively, while the author of the original post, who  patronizes my blog, mentioned that this angryArab guy brought this “plagiarism” thing to his attention…Interestingly, the original author and I disseminate ideas, positions, and concerns for free in our blogs.

Anyway, I re-edited the “note post” and inserted my English translated version of the open letter with mention to the link of the original note post.

Today, I realized that someone read one of my previous articles on plagiarism, published in 2010, and decided to re-post it.

Plagiarism: Any problem to you? (Apr. 6, 2010)

“Original “works in all fields (scientific or artistic) are extremely rare.  In fact, originality is constantly pending, until antecedent works are discovered in other languages, other dying languages, very ancient languages, and myths.  All works basically are borrowing processes of ideas, notions, imaginations, methods, or myths.

Goethe has written something to that effect: “We always talk about originality.  What would that mean?  As we are born, the world around us affects us and we interact with our environment and people till we die.  Then, what is my own particular world and my originality? If we could recall all that we owe to our family, relatives, community, teachers, mentors, the books we read, our predecessor and current influences, would anything remains of our knowledge and ideas that we could claim to be ours?”

Charles Baxter in “The soul thief” wrote: “Note that he never claimed the paternity of any of his ideas. He is in a kind of Artaud’s state of mind: all ideas have no origins and no sources.  In applying this axiom, then anyone may claim other people’s ideas as his own.  The end result is adapting to or adopting the inner lives of everyone else.”

For example, a young German girl of 18, Helene Hegemann, published her first book “Axoloti Roadkill” and sold a lot of this good book; she was even nominated for the “Leipzig book fair”, until the blogger Deef Pirmasens revealed that most of the content, context, and paragraphs were copied from an unknown novel “Strobo” that was published on internet by an anonymous blogger named Airen.

Airen said: “I was just recounting my life problems as a therapeutic exercise to demonize my delirious state of mind.”  Airen is no longer writing because he fell in love and is happily married.  Hegemann is unperturbed; she said: “Originality does not exist; what exists is authenticity.”

I feel that even authenticity does not apply to Helene’s case since she didn’t experience anything of the events in her novel.  Helene got rich and Airen got married!  Airen replied candidly: “Axoloti Roadkill would still be a super novel, even without the plagiary process of texts”

Thomas Jefferson once said: “Who receives from me an idea is receiving knowledge without diminishing mine; it is as if you lighted your candle off my lighted candle:  You got light and didn’t diminish my light.”  There are many books describing plagiarism over the centuries.

I will give a few examples.  Virgil claimed that he was plainly mining the pearls out of Quintus Ennius’ dung.  Brecht confessed that he was fundamentally lax in referring to authors he abundantly borrowed from. Goethe published “The divan (seat)” in 1819, which was composed of a variety of borrowed text mixtures. Elfriede Jelinek received the Nobel Prize for literature in 2008, though most of her citations were based on Holderlin, Kafka, and Heidegger.  Elaine Sturtevant got famous copying artistic works of unknown artists, very promising artists such as Duchamp, Beuys, Warhol, Stella, and Gonzalez-Torres, who got famous later on.  Is it bad to disseminate works of unknown authors for your own benefit?

In this age of internet, everyone is heavily borrowing by the shovel full; we call this process “dissemination of culture and knowledge” or adopting alternative states of mind.  There is nothing wrong borrowing and adopting ideas if they are usefully changing your life; if considered them as part of your belief system that is changing your behavior and views on life and the universe.

My problem is to not making what you borrowed part of your life.  For example, to making money as in marketing what is in the customs or modes, in order to be projected in the limelight or becoming a public figure: that would be total hypocrisy.  The great artist or author is the one who plugs in relentlessly, until one day he feels that he became a true artist out of sheer will, work, and energy expenditure.

Note 1:  Current books on plagiarism are: David Shields in “Reality Hunger, 2007”; Marie Darrieussecq in “Police report, 2010”; Anne Fadiman in “Nothing new under the sun”; Jonathan Lethem has issued a long article on cut a paste works based on the works of Walter Benjamin “The book of passage”, Graham Rawle “Diary of an amateur photographer”, Eduardo Paolozzi “Kex”, David Shields, and Pamela Jackson.

Note 2:  The topic was inspired from “Courrier International” number 1012.

Note 3:  You will discover the original link in the plagiarism flap by reading




June 2023

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