Eratosphere Forums - Metrical Poetry, Free Verse, Fiction, Art, Critique, Discussions Able Muse - a review of poetry, prose and art

Forum Left Top

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #21  
Old 09-12-2017, 04:31 PM
AZ Foreman's Avatar
AZ Foreman AZ Foreman is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Washington DC
Posts: 554
Blog Entries: 1
Default

Re: my above post

"I have often noticed that I have the clearest thoughts when I must improvise them in expressing or supplementing the thoughts of others. My mind is like a flint that must be struck with a stone for sparks to fly from it. This is in general the character of my authorial creativity. With me, everything is either another's, or apropos of another's, and nonetheless it is all my own."

"Я часто замечал, что у меня наиболее светлых мыслей тогда, как их надобно импровизировать в выражение или в дополнение чужих мыслей. Мой ум как огниво, которым надобно ударить об кремень, чтобы из него выскочила искра. Это вообще характер моего авторского творчества; у меня почти все или чужое, или по поводу чужого - и все, однако, мое."

-Vasili Zhukovsky, letter to Gogol dated Feb 6. 1847. Tr. Yours Truly.
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 09-12-2017, 04:40 PM
RCL's Avatar
RCL RCL is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 4,832
Default

Something of a prequel to Eliot’s “Tradition and the Individual Talent,” Emerson’s “Quotation and Originality” is an interesting take on the topic (and describes his method of composition for his own works).

http://www.bartleby.com/90/0806.html
__________________
Ralph
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 09-12-2017, 06:31 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Iowa City, IA, USA
Posts: 7,110
Default

Surely, context is relevant. In a culture that values the appropriation and reworking of previous texts, doing so is expected and not reviled. Our current culture tends to put the focus on what is different from the previous works, not on what is adapted from them, so appropriation of texts is considered a bad thing, except in a few limited areas (such as musical "sampling" of songs). When everyone knows the original that is being borrowed from, to borrow from it is an allusion. When no one knows the source material, taking it looks like stealing.

Susan
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 09-12-2017, 06:41 PM
David Anthony David Anthony is offline
Distinguished Guest Host
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Stoke Poges, Bucks, UK
Posts: 4,959
Default

Interesting discussion.
I've been plagiarised once or twice (to my knowledge) but wasn't too upset.
I've sometimes used echoes in my own work, but only of stuff an educated reader would be familiar with. Otherwise they would have been pointless.
I'd often google phrases I was particularly pleased with, to be sure I hadn't picked them up from someone else.
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 09-12-2017, 08:45 PM
AZ Foreman's Avatar
AZ Foreman AZ Foreman is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Washington DC
Posts: 554
Blog Entries: 1
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Susan McLean View Post
Surely, context is relevant. In a culture that values the appropriation and reworking of previous texts, doing so is expected and not reviled. Our current culture tends to put the focus on what is different from the previous works, not on what is adapted from them, so appropriation of texts is considered a bad thing, except in a few limited areas (such as musical "sampling" of songs). When everyone knows the original that is being borrowed from, to borrow from it is an allusion. When no one knows the source material, taking it looks like stealing.

Susan
The most one can say is that — like pornography, blasphemy, polygamy, flag-burning, condoms, Nickelback concerts or reality TV — it may offend people's sensibilities. But the mere narrow-mindedness of the general or literary culture, is not — or should not be — a yardstick for what constitutes ethical behavior. People disapprove of all kinds of stuff. But accusing someone of behavior that is almost tantamount to a crime is something else. It may seem beyond the pale to people whose perspective of literary behavior doesn't go beyond the pale of modern Europeanate literature. But the consensus of the ignorant is only that. If a poet is guilty of nothing more heinous than having failed to humor a public ignorant of how big the literary world is, then I aggressively do not care. At most it is a minor nuisance, like publicly disrobing in a culture where public nudity is taboo.

And literary verse isn't a big money biz like pop song. It's not like the poetry scene has massive amounts of cash floating around for plagiarists to horn in on. So I can't see whom this really hurts. It miffs people who see the plagiary as "getting away with something." But I can't see how uncertain paternity is anymore a moral failing in a text than in a person.

A sentiment boiling down to "How dare you not conform to our presumptions and expectations about acceptable poetic composition!?" is ironic when it comes from people who profess to prize originality, to set great store by doing one's own thing one's own way rather than aping others. You must be original, be unique, of course. But you must conform to our idea of original and unique. Don't be deviant. I can't find it in me to take the logic of this outrage remotely seriously. The reasoning seems to collapse into absurdity and self-contradiction upon examination.

In any case, the mad-eyed plagiarism-bloodhound in question in this instance seems especially narrow. Weirdly so.

Last edited by AZ Foreman; 09-13-2017 at 06:05 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old 09-13-2017, 02:18 AM
Orwn Acra's Avatar
Orwn Acra Orwn Acra is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: NYC
Posts: 1,746
Default

AZ, I think what Susan means is that in the poetry of other cultures and times, there is no element of deceit when one borrows; whereas in American/British letters there is an expectation that what one writes is original or, if lifted from some other source, either obviously done so or done so in a way that recontextualizes or reimagines the original. This is not a judgment on the practice of plagiarism but on deceit; I don't think you will tell me that deceit is acceptable in some cultures but perhaps you will.
Reply With Quote
  #27  
Old 09-13-2017, 04:57 AM
Michael Cantor Michael Cantor is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Plum Island, MA
Posts: 10,408
Default

What Orwn said. What Susan said. And what Ira lightman said.
Reply With Quote
  #28  
Old 09-13-2017, 05:36 AM
AZ Foreman's Avatar
AZ Foreman AZ Foreman is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Washington DC
Posts: 554
Blog Entries: 1
Default

Deceit in the cases under discussion here is mostly in the eye of the beholder. If a poem is 95% identical to someone else's, as it apparently is in some cases, then I can see the argument that they're pretending to have written things they didn't write. At that point it is cynically slapping one's own name on someone else's poem. There's no artistry to be had in what they did. So I just shrug. I still can't get outraged over it.

More importantly, that's not really what's going on here for the most part I think. For many of these poets being given a dose of Lightman's paroxysmal spleen, there's no earthly reason to think they intended to do anything other, or more, than what Quevedo did when he lifted a third of a sonnet or so from Du Bellay in writing his own. Or what Du Bellay did when he, in composing that sonnet, lifted most of it from a relatively obscure Latin poem by Janus Vitalis. (In neither case was citation given.)

Don McKay above took somebody else's poem and produced a much worse poem with his alterations.

But what would we say if the end result had been a better poem, as with DesRuisseaux I think it sometimes is?

One can justifiably argue that particularly with DesRuisseaux's work — particularly the part cited in the article — the original was indeed being "recontextualized or reimagined." If a French-language poet inserting a heavily altered (and translated) stanza from a poem in another language into their own work is a plagiarist, then I submit that that word has been redefined to the point of uselessness. I am unable to find the actual French poem, and don't know how long it is or what else it contained. But the case as presented in the article makes me go "oh please, don't you have actual important things to do?"

I won't insult anyone here by assuming that they don't realize that good poets even today in English do this kind of thing. Not just as mere quotation but because they happen to like the phrase or the motif, or wanted to play with a given passage by someone else and see what came of it. The temptation to do it is particularly great if the text being appropriated is in another language. It is omnipresent if — like a great many 19th century Russian poets — you do a lot of your pleasure reading in languages other than the one you write in.

When it happens, the poets don't usually give credit. (Though I myself actually do. Or at least try to, when the editor will allow it.) I think the only major poet who made a habit of this and was truly scrupulous about "citing his sources" is Donald Justice. And I just don't buy that, if Donald Justice hadn't cited, he would have been guilty of unpardonable deception of his readership against the public interest. (Though that would have made it unfortunately harder to enjoy comparing Justice with his sources side-by-side to see how Justice conducted himself in dialogue.)

But since you raise the point, no I don't really think that deceit by itself on the part of an artist — even intentional deceit — is worth getting that moralistically bent out of shape over, unless it does some appreciable amount of harm to real human beings or their property or the public interest. Till someone is stiffed out of large amounts of money in some way as a result of undetected textual appropriation, I still don't really care. (Maybe it has happened and I'm unaware.) DesRuisseaux's fame in no way hinges on the accomplishments of Dylan Thomas or Maya Angelou or others. (For one, he wrote much better than Maya Angelou.) It's true that some of his work involved uncredited reworking of poetry from another language. A trait it shares with a considerable proportion of Ezra Pound's Cantos, and most of Ivan Krylov's fables.

Moving on.

Even at worst — in the cases of 95%-verbatim lifting — this kind of thing seems no more than an artistic misdemeanor. It probably isn't hurting the original artist's book sales any — if sales they have. Maybe I'm wrong but an artist getting undeserved, or rather misdirected, acclaim via 95%-verbatim theft probably doesn't normally cause the original artist any great injury except in unusual cases or where the public lacks access to the original. It isn't a moral issue as far as I can see, so much as one of tact. Not unless one has a pathological fear of the possibility that somebody somewhere may be getting more than they deserve.

Sort of tangential but: Deceit may also part of the artistic toolkit, a way to push boundaries, or to protect them. We all know now that the Sonnets from the Portuguese weren't really from the Portuguese. See also this article on a forged trobairitz. And half the time when Borges opened his mouth in front of an audience he was telling something other than the full truth — with them often being none the wiser.

Last edited by AZ Foreman; 09-13-2017 at 06:50 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #29  
Old 09-13-2017, 06:50 AM
Max Goodman Max Goodman is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
Posts: 1,141
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by AZ Foreman View Post
And literary verse isn't a big money biz like pop song. It's not like the poetry scene has massive amounts of cash floating around for plagiarists to horn in on. So I can't see whom this really hurts.
Quote:
Originally Posted by AZ Foreman View Post
Till someone is defrauded out of large amounts of money in some way as a result of undetected textual appropriation, I still don't really care.
How conventional and materialistic this argument is! Apparently, the only way a plagiarist could do harm would be if money were involved. A poet has a right to want money for her work, but not anything else, reputation, for instance; stealing that's okay.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AZ Foreman View Post
what would we say if the end result had been a better poem, as with DesRuisseaux I think it sometimes is?
DesRuisseaux could have noted that Renwick's poem inspired his. She would then have gained something from his fame and his use of her work--something you may not value, but to which she has as much right as money.

Last edited by Max Goodman; 09-13-2017 at 07:22 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #30  
Old 09-13-2017, 07:27 AM
AZ Foreman's Avatar
AZ Foreman AZ Foreman is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Washington DC
Posts: 554
Blog Entries: 1
Default

It probably would have been a nice thing to do to mention by name the more unknown of the English poets he was palimpsesting into his French work. If I had been in his place I would have done so. (As indeed I do do when I am in such a position.) If I were Renwick, I would be annoyed at his not having done so. (If I were DesRuisseaux, I hope I'd have found something better to palimpsest than that.)

Maybe it's just because my head is so very much aswim in other times and places. But I do have a hard time with the idea that DesRuisseaux was under any ethical obligation to do so, anymore than Du Bellay was under ethical obligation to cite Janus Vitalis in his famous sonnet. And I suppose the only reason Ezra Pound escapes the same charge is that he had the good sense only to "plagiarize" deceased authors who weren't alive to care anymore.

I still am not sure harm was done there, so much as good left undone. But maybe that's just semantics, and I will cede the point that at least when palimpsesting relatively unknown writers, one really ought to give them the signal-boost of a citation.

In any case, I doubt that there was much fame he could have usurped from most of the poets he was swiping. Maya Angelou, Dylan Thomas, Louis MacNeice, Charles Bukowski, Ted Kooser, and Tupac Shakur are not exactly hurting for fame (or for that matter all alive), and would have had no need for DesRuisseaux citational publicity.

I think that there are serious problems with describing poetry as simple plagiarism once it has been adapted not only by alteration of its semantic content, but by translation into another language. There are a variety of reasons why I think the concept of transformativity is important there.

Quote:
Apparently, though, part of DesRuisseaux's aesthetic is that his readers should think Renwick's idea was his.
I am not in DesRuisseaux head nor would I have ever wanted to be before his skull went the way of Yorick's. I do not know if he expressly wanted readers to think Renwick's idea was his. It seems more likely, at that stage of his life, that he just didn't care one way or the other. His aesthetic seems to have been of wilful unconcern. But maybe you're right. Maybe he too was prey to the bizarre cult of the Original Genius that spawned this whole mess.

(And though it is largely irrelevant: you are right that I do not value fame as a personal matter. Quite the opposite, I'm rather afraid of it, and I try as hard as I can to avoid it. I quite like my low profile as a schmuck on the internet. Pseudonyms are my friend. I'd much rather cite others by name than myself by my real name.)

Last edited by AZ Foreman; 09-13-2017 at 07:31 AM.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump



Forum Right Top
Forum Left Bottom Forum Right Bottom
 
Right Left
Member Login
Forgot password?
Forum LeftForum Right


Forum Statistics:
Forum Members: 7,842
Total Threads: 18,821
Total Posts: 243,076
There are 158 users
currently browsing forums.
Forum LeftForum Right


Forum Sponsor:
Donate & Support Able Muse / Eratosphere
Forum LeftForum Right
Right Right
Right Bottom Left Right Bottom Right

Hosted by ApplauZ Online