The old news of Ian McEwan taking a few scenes from Lucilla Andrews’ memoirs to be used in his Atonement caught up with me today.
Atonement put a spell on me from the very first page and for a while I compared every book that came into my hands to the book. It sort of set a standard for any other book to follow, for better or for worth.
Does it matter to me where the author’s inspiration came from? No, not really. Moreover, the fact that he could mix reality and fantasy with such brilliance made the book into what it became. I could wish McEwan had been more specific in his acknowledgment section where he did mention Lucilla Andrews but did not specify that he actually had used some material from her book for his novel. It would not make his book less original or valuable in my eyes, but it would be an honest and honorable gesture.
It appears originality is an important concept in our culture but is not at all equally appreciated in other cultures.
Really, ARE WE NOT RECYCLING ALL THE TIME?
Are we not building our whole system of values on other people’s thoughts by first taking them in for consideration and then either accepting them or reformatting and taking them further or rejecting them and coming up with something seemingly new but that in fact came to life only thanks to that first idea that we rejected. Is learning and passing the knowledge over to the next generations not the prerequisite for our very survival? When an inventor is working on her invention she does not actually start from the very scratch by inventing a wheel but uses whatever knowledge has been accumulated in the field and other adjacent fields.
I also imagine that very few writers actually come up with the ideas for their books. Apparently even Shakespeare freely borrowed whole passages from other authors.
Are DJ Spooky’s remixes of James Joyce or Gertrude Stein in itself not a creation of something new AND original?
Personally I don’t have to go far: most of my thoughts actually go in circles and are being re-cycled, the same ones playing in my head on and on (for no use at all since they don’t change anything).
Maybe one of the beliefs that deprive us of the feeling of interconnectedness here in the West is that we actually can perpetually own an idea as well as we can own a car? (And just by assuming ownership over an object we somehow believe the Universe should be aware of it as well and nothing is to interfere with the way things are).
Incidentally, my thoughts on the topic were inspired by the interviews with Malcolm Gladwell and DJ Spooky on PRI’s To the best of our knowledge.
Is this an illustration of plagiarism? I took the photo at the Picasso museum in Paris. The statue is made by Picasso himself while the other piece is based on his work.