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Old 03-27-2015   #1
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I am a plagiarist

None of these thoughts are my own. Everything I know I have collaged from previous revelations from other minds. Every "fresh" notion, new only to myself, has been mediated by the darkness between the orbit of what I perceive to be the "self", and some tattered amorphously writhing mass of memories that I encircle through trajectories of time and space. And that self is a construct given to me by others. By my own experience, and the vicarious exploration of the experience of others.

Ideas were before me. Before my language. And my language is dependant wholly on the language of others. Thought-forms modeling the empirical world have descended to me down a chain of being.

So where do we get the strange concept of possession, ownership, the intellectual property of contingent beings whose entire existence is bookended by darkness? I only own what I can purchase with that darkness. Nothing.

Consequently there is no-thing I can speak into reality as origin, as new. This is probably due to the brutal truth that I have no unmediated access to reality, and that I do not possess my own being. I am dependant upon forces completely outside of my control.

Whenever we speak, we merely quote and paraphrase others. Adding flair, nuance, color. The most obviously overused instances we have labeled "cliche". If we endure for much longer as a linguistic species, eventually all iterations of thought and meaning will become so commonplace that every statement will be cliche.

So how far must one go to extract meaning and connotation from every symbolic order, to thesaurize the rift, in order to not evoke mimicry?

Am I supposed to search all known databases of human writing, every sentence I write, to ensure that it has never been ordered in such a specific manner previously?

My influences creep into my writing subconsciously anyway. I could not avoid it if I tried.

Fernando Pessoa said "Every effort is a crime, because every gesture is a dead dream."

I have written in one of my works: "Every word, a metaphor. Every utterance, an immolated dream of meaning."

In essence the exact same thing. I took an idea from him, and idea he no doubt gleaned elsewhere himself. I then chased that metaphor into a different category. I wrote out the result.

Am I a plagiarist then? Of course. And so are each of you.

The black sky was underpinned with long silver streaks that looked like scaffolding, and depth on depth behind it were thousands of stars that all seemed to be moving very slowly, as if they were about some vast construction work that involved the whole order of the universe and would take all time to complete. No one was paying any attention to the sky.

-Flannery O'Connor
Wise Blood, Chapter III
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Old 03-27-2015   #2
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Re: I am a plagiarist

Original ideas can spontaneously emerge from the darkness. It is by virtue of them being contingent this is possible.

No two people comprehend an idea in the same manner. We are forever cut off from each other in our own idiosyncratic dream worlds, just like how no two beads of grass are wholly identical. It is a nightmare nevertheless, but everyone's nightmare has its own unique crucifixion or disembowelment.

In the recursion of these malformed dreams there is both similarity and difference, but the carnal twisting of bodies and the desolate carousel, forever in motion, shows the identity of dreams are defined by difference, in a Deleuzian kind of way. Change is the defining force, and in the stream of constant Becoming, no preceding moment is entirely identical to the proceeding one; the maculate things flow into each other, so to speak. The ghosts blur into a stream of difference in their motion, in the infinite blackness of space.

Last edited by With Strength I Burn; 03-27-2015 at 06:28 PM..
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Old 03-27-2015   #3
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Re: I am a plagiarist

Quote Originally Posted by With Strength I Burn View Post
Ideas can spontaneously emerge from the darkness. It is by virtue of them being contingent this is possible.

No two people comprehend an idea in the same manner. We are forever cut off from each other in our own idiosyncratic dream worlds, just like how no two beads of grass are wholly identical.

In the recursion of these malformed dreams there is both similarity and difference but the carnal twisting of the identity of dreams is in their difference, as Deleuze would say.
In order for two thoughts to be identical in every way, they would have to be the same thought simultaneously known by more than one knower.

But two blades of grass only need to be "identical enough" to be considered "of the same species".

When ten people say "I love you", it can certainly mean ten different things. But although we would not call them plagiarists for using those three words in the same order, that is how we define it.

As if any one creature can have a solitary claim on the idea of loving another person.

Extend this to any given idea and you will soon realize we are borrowing every notion from previous knowledge and by the mere reality of our own impermanence.

The black sky was underpinned with long silver streaks that looked like scaffolding, and depth on depth behind it were thousands of stars that all seemed to be moving very slowly, as if they were about some vast construction work that involved the whole order of the universe and would take all time to complete. No one was paying any attention to the sky.

-Flannery O'Connor
Wise Blood, Chapter III
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Old 03-27-2015   #4
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Re: I am a plagiarist

Nominalistic sorts of understanding are better. I like conceptualism (i.e., "the theory that universals can be said to exist, but only as concepts in the mind"). All ideas of universals are in one's embodied mind. Universals do not exist apart from the mind, for independent of it there is nothing but fuzzy differences as Time continues its grotesque dance. Infinite terror...

Platonism and realism are wrong: mind-independent universals do not exist. This is why life is like a dream.
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Old 03-27-2015   #5
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Re: I am a plagiarist

Quote Originally Posted by With Strength I Burn View Post
Nominalistic sorts of understanding are better. I like conceptualism (i.e., "the theory that universals can be said to exist, but only as concepts in the mind"). All ideas of universals are in one's embodied mind. Universals do not exist apart from the mind, for outside of it there is nothing but fuzzy differences as Time continues its grotesque dance.

Platonism and realism are wrong: mind-independent universals do not exist. This is why life is like a dream.
I find it hard to think of mind-independent universals because I only have a mind by which to perceive anything. I cannot entertain the idea of a mindless universal.

Christianity seems to have the only philosophy, from my reading at least, that jumps the gap of universals as mind-independent.

By the Christian deity speaking reality into existence, and then entering that reality as Word itself, it writes the lacuna of its obvious presence into the narrative. We seemingly cannot perceive God as external to our mind because the the faculty by which we perceive anything is God, i.e. language itself.

But that is ancillary. How would conceptualism demolish idea that we are all in fact, plagiarists?

The black sky was underpinned with long silver streaks that looked like scaffolding, and depth on depth behind it were thousands of stars that all seemed to be moving very slowly, as if they were about some vast construction work that involved the whole order of the universe and would take all time to complete. No one was paying any attention to the sky.

-Flannery O'Connor
Wise Blood, Chapter III
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Old 03-27-2015   #6
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Re: I am a plagiarist

Quote Originally Posted by MetaMortician View Post
But that is ancillary. How would conceptualism demolish idea that we are all in fact, plagiarists?
By provisionally analyzing how some concepts have a stronger degree of difference compared to each other, but of course, all scales used to judge originality are ultimately relative; you're right in that aspect...

However, we can look at a piece of work to say it is "self-similar enough" to be considered "a part of weird fiction", for example, but each duplication / iteration (i.e., short story, film script, or whatever) can be considered as having some semblance of uniqueness. It is simply gauged as being identical enough to the predecessors that influenced it, but it is not conflated with the predecessor since they don't embody his or her mind. The original predecessor can be said to have had a stronger overt "idea [that] spontaneously emerge from the darkness" that influenced future writers or something akin to that.

It's all about the perceived contrast and similarity in the recursion of ideas, but you're right in how no universal scale exists... But still it doesn't make sense to abandon one's own scale for measuring a piece of fiction's value or so.

We're neither plagiarists nor non-plagiarists, I think. That's what I'm getting at ultimately.

Last edited by With Strength I Burn; 03-30-2015 at 07:24 PM..
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Old 03-27-2015   #7
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Re: I am a plagiarist

This argument is confusing 'influences' with duplication. Plagiarism is a well-defined word that deals primarily with uncredited words or thoughts. A book like Moby Dick was influenced by many things, not all of them literary. Through Melville's intentional labor we get a work "as unique as a fingerprint".

In a world of infinite possibilities/combinations those theoretical monkeys would be at their typewriters a long, long time before we got Shakespeare's sonnets.
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Old 03-27-2015   #8
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Re: I am a plagiarist

Quote Originally Posted by Druidic View Post
"as unique as a fingerprint".
I like that simile.

No two people have the same fingerprint, so I don't see how we're all plagiarists (in response to the OP). It's just like how no two historical events are the same even though you can find parallels or resemblances. Likewise, no two written works are wholly identical even if they may have similar literary, historical, dream, and etc. influences.

In the world of "infinite possibilities/combinations" it makes more sense to talk about the potential of infinite terror rather than the homogenizing blackness or so...
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Old 03-27-2015   #9
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Re: I am a plagiarist

Quote Originally Posted by Druidic View Post
This argument is confusing 'influences' with duplication. Plagiarism is a well-defined word that deals primarily with uncredited words or thoughts (Ideas). A book like Moby Dick was influenced by many things, not all of them literary. Through Melville's intentional labor we get a work "as unique as a fingerprint".

In a world of infinite possibilities/combinations those theoretical monkeys would be at their typewriters a long, long time before we got Shakespeare's sonnets.
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Old 03-27-2015   #10
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Re: I am a plagiarist

I sense that Seņor Borges is about to appear in a puff of smoke. But his testimony about these matters might be slightly mystifying...
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