I love the morning paper, at least until something in it drives me nuts and it’s too early to call Charlie in Seattle. The case of “intellectual spousal abuse” was one too many somethings about people who should know better than to use the uncredited ideas of others and think it’s okay.
German teenager, Helene Hegemann, justified using parts of an uncredited work in her bestselling novel by saying that she “mixes and matches…across new and old media to create something new.“ She apologized for not being more open about her sources, but argued, “There’s no such thing as originality anyway, just authenticity.” Give me a break. Using is using, and using without crediting is wrong. Her novel has been nominated for the prestigious Leipzig Book Fair prize with a $20,000 award and one juror said that the jury was aware of the plagiarism charges, but said “I believe it’s part of the concept of the book.”
Richard Prince, a “pioneer of Appropriation Art” (I’m not making this up), uses untouched, unacknowledged Marlboro photographs. When interviewed, photographer of the original, Jim Krantz, said, “I’m not…mean or… vindictive,… but I would like some “recognition” and “understanding.” Richard Prince would have none of it. “I never associated advertisements with having an author,” he said in an email. In 2005, one of Richard Prince’s “appropriated” Marlboro pictures sold for $1.2 million.
The author/spouse dies of old age. Then Dr. Harold Seymour is an inaugural inductee into the Society for American Baseball Research’s Hall of Fame because he authored a classic three volume work on the history of baseball, written from 1960-1990. His wife had been a partner in the effort from the beginning, but he never allowed her work to be co-credited with his, even — or maybe especially — when he had Alzheimer’s during the writing of the third volume. It was a time and she loved him. But when the Induction Committee orally acknowledged her assistance, it was not enough. So Dorothy Jane Mills, now 81, came forward and asked for due recognition. After a 48 hour deliberation, The SABR Hall of Fame committee awarded her co-inductee status. Finally.
Comic book artist, Nick Simmons, declares his likesnesses to another comic an “homage,” never, according to a critical blogger, “flat-out copies.“ His publication has been discontinued.
Author Andre Aciman used the unacknowledged words of others in his novel. The book reviewer liked his writing and praised him accordingly. But the praised quote belonged to John Keats. Thus caught out, the unrepentant author speculated that the unattributed quote was “perhaps unbeknownst to [the] reviewer.” Oh my. Whatever happened to oh, say, quotation marks?
Why is giving credit where credit is due so difficult?
1: Kulish, Nicholas. “Author, 17,Says It’s ‘Mixing,‘ Not Plagiarism.” NYTimes, 2/12/2010.
2. Aciman, Andre. “Letters.” The New Yorker, 3/1/2010.
3.Randy Kennedy. “If The Copy Is An Artwork, Then What Is The Original?” NYTimes, 12/6/07.
4. “Arts Briefly,” NYTimes, 2/10/2010
5. Schwarz, Alan. “Straightening the Record,” NYTimes, 3/6/2010
End of rant. Time to get on with smells of soggy, but visible grass and old leaves, and the exciting news that the latest Clare Ferguson/Russ Van Alstyne may be available.