Yours, mine & ours—or—There’s no such thing as originality, just authenticity
March 20, 2010 8:26 AM   Subscribe

Reading in the traditional open-ended sense is not what most of us, whatever our age and level of computer literacy, do on the Internet. Books cease to be individual works but are scanned and digitized into one great, big continuous text. The dynamics of the digital are encouraging authors, journalists, musicians and artists to treat the fruits of intellects and imaginations as fragments to be given without pay to the hive mind. But what becomes of originality and imagination in a world that prizes metaness and regards the mash-up as more important than the sources who were mashed? The very value of artistic imagination and originality, along with the primacy of the individual, is increasingly being questioned in our copy-mad, postmodern digital world. Remix is the very nature of the digital. But do we now face a situation in which culture is effectively eating its own seed stock?
posted by Toekneesan (47 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
Our copy-mad, postmodern world is older than you thought. (The book in the first link is quite interesting; debates about "imagination" and "originality" as on the one hand the markers of the artistic and on the other as things that can be exhibited even in imaginative/original assemblies of bits of works not by the assembler have all been had before.)
posted by kenko at 8:36 AM on March 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


"Remixing" an F. Scott Fitzgerald short story resulted in this poem (according to the oulipian technique, much anticipated in the 19th century, of finding blank verse amidst the prose):

He saw, when he arrived at the apartment,
That Marion had accepted the inevitable.
"We haven't had a doctor for a year."
The room was comfortably American.
"I've got a vile hangover for the moment.
"I wish you and I could be on better terms."
"I should think you'd have had enough of bars."
"I want to get to know you," he said gravely.
But that was the beginning of the end.
And Marion, who had seen with her own eyes
The things that he would now always remember,
The men who locked their wives out in the snow,
Wanted his child, and nothing was much good now.
Has Marion said anything definite?
"My husband couldn't come this year," she said,
"As soon as I can get a governess—"
And everything was gone, and he was gone.
"What about coming back and sitting down?"
"Can't do it." He was glad for an excuse:
"We're going to see the vaudeville at the Empire."
We were a sort of royalty, almost infallible
("Daddy, I want to come and live with you!")
But she was in a swing in a white dress,
And swinging faster and faster all the time,
And kissed her fingers out into the night.
posted by kenko at 8:39 AM on March 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'll admit that Lady Gaga's "Telephone" video - for all its other pleasures - made me wonder if we've reached the point of diminishing returns on cultural remixing: We're doing homages to Kill Bill now?

Then I figured there were probably some kids that needed chasing off my lawn.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:39 AM on March 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


Mr. Shields’s book consists of 618 fragments, including hundreds of quotations taken from other writers like Philip Roth, Joan Didion and Saul Bellow — quotations that Mr. Shields, 53, has taken out of context and in some cases, he says, “also revised, at least a little — for the sake of compression, consistency or whim.” He only acknowledges the source of these quotations in an appendix, which he says his publishers’ lawyers insisted he add.

So, let me see if I've got this straight -- he's bored by fiction and invention, bored with fabrications, yet he's grabbed the inventions and fictions of others to create his own "invention"?

Yeah.

“Who owns the music and the rest of our culture? We do — all of us — though not all of us know it yet. Reality cannot be copyrighted.”

It's pretty to think so, isn't it? I appropriated that from Ernest Hemingway, by the way.
posted by blucevalo at 8:43 AM on March 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


But what becomes of originality and imagination in a world that prizes metaness and regards the mash-up as more important than the sources who were mashed? The very value of artistic imagination and originality, along with the primacy of the individual, is increasingly being questioned in our copy-mad, postmodern digital world. Remix is the very nature of the digital.

Piffle.
posted by DU at 8:46 AM on March 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


But what becomes of originality and imagination in a world that prizes metaness and regards the mash-up as more important than the sources who were mashed?

Nothing. The world is not ending. Art is not dead. Keep on creating whatever you can get away with.
posted by GameDesignerBen at 8:56 AM on March 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


But what becomes of originality and imagination in a world that prizes metaness and regards the mash-up as more important than the sources who were mashed?

The set "world" is much larger than the set "people who are vocal on the Internet."
posted by jason's_planet at 9:03 AM on March 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


Can someone tl;dr this?
posted by Malice at 9:22 AM on March 20, 2010


If the supply of imagination drops too low the demand will increase and people will make money with it again. We have not reached peak imagination.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:26 AM on March 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Didn't Fredric Jameson say something similar about all the bits of pastiche together forming a unified master narrative?
posted by Tashtego at 9:27 AM on March 20, 2010


Mr. Shields’s book consists of 618 fragments, including hundreds of quotations taken from other writers like Philip Roth, Joan Didion and Saul Bellow — quotations that Mr. Shields, 53, has taken out of context and in some cases, he says, “also revised, at least a little — for the sake of compression, consistency or whim.” He only acknowledges the source of these quotations in an appendix, which he says his publishers’ lawyers insisted he add.

I would just like to contrast what this bullshit artist hath wrought (well, it doesn't seem he "wrought" much of anything, but you know what I'm saying here) with the afore-mentioned "Telephone" video, because I think there's a relevant distinction. While "Telephone" is not a good song, it is a song that Gaga apparently actually wrote using her own words, and while the video is a hodgepodge of outside sources, it's not just a mashup of grindhouse clips -- this was actually really performed by real people who live right now and without whose work you have a blank screen and nothing else. You can watch Kill Bill and Caged Heat and whatever else and still not see a frame of the "Telephone" video. "Telephone" is a derivative work that uses wholly original components in the sense that, previous to its production, no part of it existed. Things like it existed. The thing itself did not.

This Shields guy...man, fuck that guy.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:34 AM on March 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Can someone tl;dr this?

Chumbawamba can.
posted by everichon at 9:38 AM on March 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks, everichon. I get it now.
posted by Malice at 9:44 AM on March 20, 2010


Shields is actually pretty good and so is the book Reality Manifesto. Or toss it aside based on a snarky Internet sound bite, it releases you from the uncertainty of missing something important :)

Anyway, I think all the hand wringing and navel gazing over the changing nature of the book is just that. Books are still being written, published and read. I personally read more now than I did pre-Internet simply because the Internet has made more books and authors known to me. Books are not going away just because of mashup(?!).
posted by stbalbach at 9:45 AM on March 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's worth mentioning here that the earliest known story that's been extensively remixed and told partially in flashbacks via an unreliable narrator is the Odyssey. Many of the narrative techniques we ascribe to our shiny modern times are older than the invention of text itself.
posted by mhoye at 9:45 AM on March 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Henry Farrell at Crooked Timber:
So, when Michiko Kakutani (the daughter of the famous mathematician btw) writes an article deploring the tendency of modern culture towards semi-coherent mash-ups of other people’s work, and the article is itself a semi-coherent mash-up of the work of other people (mostly themselves deploring semi-coherent mash-ups), is she being obtuse, quite brilliant in a self-undermining way, or something else entirely? I genuinely can’t figure it out.
Also: Yglesias.
posted by psyche7 at 9:51 AM on March 20, 2010


Shields is actually pretty good

Seriously, based on what? His ability to string sections of other people's work together in a semi-logical sequence? I'm not saying anyone could do that, but I am saying almost anybody could do it, and that someone with something to say shouldn't need to do it. That he didn't even want to credit the writers whose work he looted is extremely telling to me. I mean, at least Girl Talk is upfront about who he's sampling.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:51 AM on March 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, hell, Romeo and Juliet is just a mishmash rehash of doubly-translated (from Italian to French to English) renaissance novellas, isn't it?
posted by Sys Rq at 10:01 AM on March 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well of course it isn't about individual geniuses inventing new things from scratch these days. It never was. The only difference is that today everything is so much better documented and preserved that we can see the man behind the curtain. Every great artist made derivative works of their predecessors and peers.

Seriously, people winging about this shit are so dated, they need to catch up with 250 BC.
posted by idiopath at 10:25 AM on March 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


You seem to be posting this from some parallel world where creative works hatch fully-formed and completely unique, like unto Athena from the very brow of Zeus, rather than (usually) arising from a number of outside influences and pre-existing concepts. To be fair, that is what various media conglomerates insist is the case in our world, and have managed to get laws passed that enshrine that world view, although one wonders if Disney would have had the wealth and clout to maintain their monopoly on certain characters and stories if Charles Perrault, the Brothers Grimm et al. had had the sort of beyond-the-grave deathgrip on their works that Walt Disney enjoys.

Which is not to say that artists shouldn't enjoy the fruits of their labors, at least while they're alive; indeed, the case of Jack Kirby is pretty good at displaying the hypocrisy of Marvel Comics, which has always been quick to assert its supposed rights up to and including threatening lawsuits against any other company using the word "marvel" in a comic book's title while denying any sort of obligation to the artist without whom there simply would be no Marvel Comics, at least as it's known today. But that's a completely different situation from the one where someone like Nina Paley can't use songs from an artist who has (by now) been dead for twenty-five years. Similar examples abound.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:31 AM on March 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


One of the simplest and easiest ways to get people to listen to you as a critic is to proclaim the imminent death of Art and Literature. It's nice to see that Metafilter has people renewing that grand tradition for the internet age.

Also has anyone noticed the irony of a Metafilter post decrying artists and writers using bits and pieces of other works?
posted by happyroach at 10:44 AM on March 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Right now I'm working on something that involves collage & appropriation and fiction/non-fiction, so I really wanted to like Reality Hunger, but it's just deeply silly. It reminded me of the solipsism of the New York Times Style section: this is happening to me and my friends, therefore it is a cultural trend. I want to read this, therefore everyone wants to read this.

Anyway, David Shields always has great book and chapter titles. I don't want to read it, but I think "The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead" is a great title.
posted by betweenthebars at 10:50 AM on March 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just look at what that cad John Ashbery did! Taking quotations out of context from Eliot, Hopkins, Arnold, Thomas Gray, Auden, Dryden, Coleridge and more!

How little he suspects that he didn't create a damn thing in doing so!

I would just like to contrast what this bullshit artist hath wrought (well, it doesn't seem he "wrought" much of anything, but you know what I'm saying here)

No, I don't know what you're saying.

The creative selection, excerpting, and rearrangement of parts of others' works is a creative act; the fact that you didn't write the individual, say, clauses is no more disproof of that than is the fact that you didn't invent English out of whole cloth. Or the fact that you didn't invent your own instruments and tuning system.

I really have no idea where the idea that it takes no talent, no creativity, and results in no worth to assemble the fruits of wide reading cleverly and as fragments into a wholly new text. Have you ever tried to do that? For one thing, you need to have the new plot, etc., in hand! These things don't just come together themselves as if by magnetism! Consider a not very literary production—Woman's World. A mystery whose text comes entirely from women's magazines of the early 60s. This is a real novel, just as real as if Rawle wrote each word himself rather than painstakingly assembling a mass of quotations in different categories and using them as his vocabulary (something that is much harder than writing using whatever words one wishes).

(And of course there can be arrangements proceeding by different methodologies. Suppose one drew lines through a text and then assembled the resulting phrases?)
posted by kenko at 10:55 AM on March 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Seriously, based on what? His ability to string sections of other people's work together in a semi-logical sequence?

Here's an excerpt. I dig it. (It's kind of like David Markson, actually, someone else you probably think is terrible, since his latest books consist mostly of strings of facts—and yet they're utterly fantastic and have his stylistic stamp all over them.) I can't tell if the "overture" part is already compounded of quotations, which in my eyes is to his credit.

Writing by aphoristic avalanche is a valid mode; it has its own rhetorical nature. You sort of have to let it sweep over you (but it also has to be something such as to sweep over you). Anyway, look at these bits from the early 600s:
600
This is life lived on high alert.

601
Nearly all writing, up to the present, has been a search for the “beautiful illusion.”

602
Nowhere do you get a feeling of a writer deforming his medium in order to say what has never been said before, which is to me the mark of great writing.

603
Very well. I am not in search of the “beautiful illusion.”

604
Critics can’t believe that the power to make us feel our one and only life, as very few novelists actually do these days, has come from a memoirist, a nonfiction truth-speaker who has entered our common situation and is telling the story we now want told. But it has.

605
There’s inevitably something terribly contrived about the standard novel; you can always feel the wheels grinding and going on.

606
If you write a novel, you sit and weave a little narrative. If you’re a romantic writer, you write novels about men and women falling in love, give a little narrative here and there, etc. And it’s okay, but it’s of no account. Novel qua novel is a form of nostalgia.

607
There is more to be pondered in the grain and texture of life than traditional fiction allows. The work of essayists is vital precisely because it permits and encourages self-knowledge in a way that is less indirect than fiction, more open and speculative.

608
One would like to think that the personal essay represents basic research on the self, in ways that are allied with science and philosophy.
Let it be said: I don't recognize any of these. If he says they came from elsewhere, so be it. And, again, all the more impressive, to me. It's got a voice. Again, it's not just that a bunch of different things have been assembled into one (though that is harder than people seem to think, if you're going to do it at any length), it's also that what's been thus assembled also succeeds.

Writing something out of quotation is just another form of constraint. It's like the sonnet or the lipogram.

I'm not saying anyone could do that, but I am saying almost anybody could do it

I bet you think anyone could have produced Endtroducing…, too.
posted by kenko at 11:06 AM on March 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


The last article in the OP was great (I read the first, and then the last, and the one seems the antidote to the other).
posted by codacorolla at 11:08 AM on March 20, 2010


Now that I've read the Kakutani piece … man, that's awful. "deeply nihilistic"? Care to defend that, or even explain it? Sheesh.
posted by kenko at 11:08 AM on March 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can't seem to acknowledge the death of imagination when so many interesting books are constantly being published. If you don't like Shields, some people will follow his steps and do it better and others will reject the idea of mash-ups and tell a story their own way.

Experimentation doesn't kill literature because it opens new paths. We reject what doesn't work, keep some of the books that work and set off either to destroy the new —now old— ideas or build up on them. Or disregard them, I guess. Business as usual.

Besides, music, video, and the visual arts (think collage) haven't become less interesting just because it's easy to remix material.

And yeah, some of these techniques are o-l-d.
posted by ersatz at 11:43 AM on March 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


"To call something a manifesto is a brave step."

Here we go again with the manifestos.
posted by elmono at 11:48 AM on March 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Seriously, based on what?

Reviews of Reality Hunger:

*NY Times
*The Guardian
*LA Times
*Seattle Times
*The Telegraph
*Timeout
posted by stbalbach at 11:50 AM on March 20, 2010


Works based on Faust, a pretty impressive list of "artists" ripping off a German legend and, presumably, each other. Couldn't they just, I don't know, have made up something original? And this scandal has been going on for centuries. Shouldn't the "seed stock" be exhausted by now?

The Kakutani piece is incredibly silly. Lethem's plagiarism piece still rocks. Thanks for reminding me of that.
posted by The Mouthchew at 11:53 AM on March 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Reviews of Reality Hunger

Well, fair enough -- far be it from me to suggest that people who know each other either personally or through reputation and share similar philosophies might write ass-kissy reviews of one another's books. Or, well, whoever's books those are really.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:12 PM on March 20, 2010


So, pop will eat itself? How original.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:17 PM on March 20, 2010


I'll say too that I think this sort of thing is a neat experiment and all, and I'd probably be much less disgusted if it didn't involve (a) slapping your name on the cover of a book of other people's work and (b) charging twenty-six dollars for a book of other people's work. If it's for free and you call yourself Girl Write or something, then sure, knock yourself out.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:19 PM on March 20, 2010


There's a humongous gap between knowing someone personally and knowing them by reputation. I know tons of people by reputation.

One salient difference is that there's no issue, none at all, with dissing someone you know by reputation. You don't know them. They aren't your friends. And I doubt Luc Sante needs to kiss anyone's ass. (Tell me, did you read the reviews?)

Or, well, whoever's books those are really.

"Whosever". And it's ... Shields' book. Have you produced any non-addlepated reason for thinking otherwise? (For that matter, have you produced any addlepated reason?)
posted by kenko at 12:20 PM on March 20, 2010


"Whosever". And it's

I make up my own words UNLIKE SOME PEOPLE

Shields' book

It's Shields's book of parts of other people's books. It's his book in the sense that he assembled it, but assembly and writing are not the same things. It may be fair to say that he's the editor, in this case, of an anthology. Perhaps he should credit himself as such.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:26 PM on March 20, 2010


Didn't Fredric Jameson say something similar about all the bits of pastiche together forming a unified master narrative?

Jameson compares pastiche unfavorably to parody, calling pastiche "blank satire" that does not have any critical edge, and does not have parody's ulterior motive. "The great modernisms were ... predicated on the invention of a personal, private style, as unmistakable as your fingerprint... the modernist aesthetic is in some way linked to the conception of a unique self and private identity ... which can be expected to generate its own unique vision of the world and to forge its own unique, unmistakable style."

The old modernisms, he feels, were able to be oppositional to society but pastiche is more in league with late capitalism. He points to Body Heat, The Bonaventure Hotel, Warhol's Pop Art, and a bunch of other examples in "Postmodernism and Consumer Society."

I don't think his argument has held up. He wanted some artists to get off his lawn. But its still a great insightful article.
posted by i'm being pummeled very heavily at 12:26 PM on March 20, 2010


Can someone tl;dr this?
everichon: Chumbawamba can.

They stole that from Solomon.
:-)
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:40 PM on March 20, 2010


On non-preview - Sorry, idiopath; I'm way behind you...
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:42 PM on March 20, 2010


That Shields guy was on the radio in the UK the other week, when they reviewed his book... he came over as the biggest pomo wanker in the history of all heck.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:59 PM on March 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Okay so, this is what my dissertation is about so I'm going to go ahead and take issue with a couple of assumptions in the FFP:

The very value of artistic imagination and originality, along with the primacy of the individual, is increasingly being questioned in our copy-mad, postmodern digital world.

Well yes because what postmodernism is trying to do is question assumptions that we don't realise are assumptions. Originality* is a construct, not a natural or necessary evaluation of a piece of art's worth. It was created in the 18th century by the Romantic movement. Essentially there was a move away from the idea of a muse (creativity exterior to the individual) to a genius (creativity interior to the individual). A necessary consequence of this change of focus and valuing of the author-as-creator was that the author created something that was not there before and in a way that was personal to him or her. Originality and Romantic authorship are two deeply interlinked notions.

This has nothing to with a digital world btw and has be going on since 1969 with Roland Barthes essay on the Death of the Author. Exacerbated by internet, but not 'new'.

But what becomes of originality and imagination in a world that prizes metaness and regards the mash-up as more important than the sources who were mashed?

All sources are mashed. There is no such thing as a non-derivative author. Shakespeare stole most of his plots, Milton essentially rewrote the Bible. If what you find difficult is that now this 'mash-up' is more overt than it was before then yeah it is. Is that a problem in itself?

The dynamics of the digital are encouraging authors, journalists, musicians and artists to treat the fruits of intellects and imaginations as fragments to be given without pay to the hive mind

It was never 'theirs' in the first place. Owning a piece of art is a very strange idea when you start to think about it. (I prefer to think of the public domain loaning images out to artists). We create with the tools around us, be they concepts, ideas, ways of expressing ourselves or how previous artists have expressed ourselves. Why should my poem be mine because I wrote it?

There are two main justifications for this, both reliant on a certain conception of the individual as a unified, autonomous subject. Locke's theory of appropriation whereby by mixing your labour with an object it becomes yours and Hegel's idea of personality, whereby
what we imprint with our personality becomes ours.

Thing is, once you begin to question whether we are autonomous, unified individuals, whether what we create actually bears the mark of our personality and labour these justifications seem less self evident and more questionable. Not defeated, but deflated. Your personality, is it stable? Duchamp's Fountain originates from him but doesn't bear the mark of his labour or personality: is it his?

If we start to see ourselves as less unified and more intertexual (I know I know, but bear with me) then perhaps what art should do is rather than impose a meaning on its spectator/reader it should allow a reader to come up with their own reading and understanding. Which is exactly what conceptual art, and most subsequent visual art tries to do. Even if some reactions may be more valid than others, any reaction to a piece of art is valid isn't it?

Art used to be a craft. You learnt by imitating masters and applying techniques. If you managed to transcend these techniques then it was Athena or God or whatever other muse speaking through you and guiding your hand. Postmodern art is a return to this imitation with a twist. Rather than imitate nature as was the case previously we are now using the symbols of our environment that is oversaturated with such. So Telephone uses Kill Bill rather than the movement of the waves.

Are we running the risk of running out of things to copy? Is culture effectively eating its own seed stock? No because every creation is imitation and every imitation is creation. In 5 years or so people will be using Telephone in the same way Gaga used Kill Bill.


*If you come across originality while reading about law, note that it is not used in an aesthetic sense. In law originality means originating from the author and that the author has exercised some labour in creating the artwork. In the US (but not the UK) there is also a requirement of a minimum of creativity.
posted by litleozy at 1:03 PM on March 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


It was never 'theirs' in the first place. Owning a piece of art is a very strange idea when you start to think about it. (I prefer to think of the public domain loaning images out to artists). We create with the tools around us, be they concepts, ideas, ways of expressing ourselves or how previous artists have expressed ourselves. Why should my poem be mine because I wrote it?

I think this is the crux of the Shields dilemma for me, because while I'm more than willing to accept you, the poet, taking the bold stance that your work is not really your own and should belong to everyone, I am so much less okay with somebody else saying, "hey, cool," and taking your poem and putting his own name on it and selling it. That isn't saying "art is for everybody," that's saying "I am the author of your art."
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:10 PM on March 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


do we now face a situation in which culture is effectively eating its own seed stock?

Yes. Next stupid question, please?
posted by cstross at 1:10 PM on March 20, 2010


But what becomes of originality and imagination in a world that prizes metaness and regards the mash-up as more important than the sources who were mashed? The very value of artistic imagination and originality, along with the primacy of the individual, is increasingly being questioned in our copy-mad, postmodern digital world.


Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing
posted by Ironmouth at 1:13 PM on March 20, 2010


Re: tl;dr
From the Kakutani essay: “Instead of reading an entire news article, watching an entire television show or listening to an entire speech,” (or I might add, read an entire post and its related links) “growing numbers of people are happy to jump to the summary, the video clip, the sound bite — never mind if context and nuance are lost in the process; never mind if it’s our emotions, more than our sense of reason, that are engaged; never mind if statements haven’t been properly vetted and sourced.”

Re: …decrying artists and writers using bits and pieces of other works, or my ignorance of that practice… my whole post is actually a remix of Kakutani’s essay. Every sentence is a riff on, or was copied from one found in her essay. It was kind of a fun exercise. If the post seems awkward that's probably why. Perhaps I was too clever by half.

Look, I know that culture is dependent on previous work and I think most people do, but I work in the publication of scholarship and I’ve learned from that experience that more is gained by the culture as a whole by just admitting you’re doing it. I’m not sure what is to be gained by not citing sources except for taking credit for the work of others. I’m unclear on why Shields didn’t want to include his sources, and I think Hegemann would continue to take credit for the work of others if she hadn’t been caught. As someone noted above, Girl Talk does it and no one thinks he’s less of a genius for it. Lethem did it to in his piece, and it is indeed brilliant. Yeah, borrow away. Borrow like crazy. But don’t take credit for the work of others. It’s selfish and not good for the culture. If people did admit it more often I suspect fair use as practiced in the US would be a lot less of a mess than it is now.
posted by Toekneesan at 1:13 PM on March 20, 2010


Borrow like crazy. But don’t take credit for the work of others. It’s selfish and not good for the culture. If people did admit it more often I suspect fair use as practiced in the US would be a lot less of a mess than it is now.

Agreed (although not sure about the term 'borrowed'). One of the problems fudged by postmodern thought is that of free riders who profit from other people's creations. Also is the tendancy in postmodern art to prefer surface reactions, 'jumping to the summary', rather than the deeper meaning.

(good post btw, meant to say so in my comment)
posted by litleozy at 1:34 PM on March 20, 2010


I am intrigued and irritated in approximately equal amounts. I'll drink anything that calls itself 'beer' but when it advertises itself as 'new beer' but is in fact old beer I get disproportionately annoyed. Even though I really like old beer.

I can't be the only one, can I?

Also, whoever cited 'The Death of the Author' totally misread it, regardless of what they had to say.
posted by tigrefacile at 1:50 PM on March 20, 2010


About midway through “Death of the Author” Barthes writes
Succeeding the Author, the scriptor no longer bears within him passions, humours, feelings, impressions, but rather this immense dictionary from which he draws a writing that can know no halt: lie never does more than imitate the book, and the book itself is only a tissue of signs, an imitation that is lost, infinitely deferred.
which seems to be exactly what the FPP is about, the generation of texts from the repository of human culture, the recombination of fragments of existing content into new “wholes.” Again, Barthes says it much more eloquently.
We know now that a text is not a line of words realising a single “theological” meaning (the “message” of the Author-God) but a multi-dimensional space in which a variety of writings, none of them original, blend and clash. The text is a tissue of quotations drawn from the innumerable centres of culture.
posted by mistersquid at 4:11 PM on March 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


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