Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Beuys

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 is was fundamentally lax in referring to authors he abundantly borrowed from. Goethe published “The divan (seat)” in 1819 that 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 but promising artists such as Duchamp, Beuys, Warhol, Stella, and Gonzalez-Torres.

            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 useful changing your life.  My problem is to not making what you borrowed part of your life, for example to making money as in marketing what is the customs or mode 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.


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