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A statement. - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
wemyss
wemyss
A statement.

I am unalterably and vehemently opposed to actual plagiarism. 

 

My standards for what constitutes plagiarism are quite traditional ones.  I do try to warn, generally, that I will be plundering the corpus of English literature, and certain favourite authors in particular, whilst writing this inherently derivative genre of fan-fiction.

 

The notion, however, that amongst persons of good will and reasonable cultivation, it is necessary to footnote each occurrence of a quotation from or paraphrase of Shakespeare, Browne, Burton, Archbishop Cranmer, GKC, Kipling, Bunyan, Milton, or Sayers, is, simply, utter and absolute balls.  The idea that one is obligated to reference any self-evident and easily recognisable paraphrase of Iles, Innes, Christie, Crispin, Sam Johnson, Ben Jonson, various Mitfords, divers Waughs, and Hymns Ancient & Modern, is the sort of thing Waugh and Crispin and Innes, specifically, mocked in their own, notably un-footnoted, works: partly deriving the mockery from their own experience of dealing with the absurd, footnote-scribbling standards of their North American editors for their North American editions.

 

Anyone capable of recognising my sly and winking tributes to Anthony Price or Barbara Pym, Monty Python or Tyndale’s Psalter, damned well wants to be sophisticated enough to realise I am not passing these periphrastic passages, paraphrased paragraphs, and clever quotations off as mine own.  Anyone else can, with respect, sod off.

 

A little discriminating judgement, if you please: employ it, I implore you.  Plagiarism exists; it is wrongful; it is also eminently recognisable, and easily distinguished from other things, to conflate which with plagiarism serves only to render the latter less reprehended and more respectable.  In short, please to cease crying, ‘Wolf!’, when there is no wolf.  By doing so, we can all better recognise and respond to situations where an actual wolf makes its way into the fold, probably by wearing sheep’s clothing (footnote, bloody Æsop, you wankers).  Thank you.

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(Deleted comment)
wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 27th, 2006 12:25 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank YOU.

Most kind.
tree_and_leaf From: tree_and_leaf Date: August 19th, 2006 10:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Footnoting everything also spoils much of the fun with obscurer allusions, I feel.

Personally, I think much of the problem springs from the confusion of a (vaguely understood) notion of coyright infringement with plagiarism. But it is amusing to imagine Miss Sayers, for one, being told by her editor that she had to footnote everything.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 27th, 2006 12:26 pm (UTC) (Link)

That would have been worth watching, yes.

And yes, precisely: it takes the fun out of the game.
shezan From: shezan Date: August 20th, 2006 12:13 am (UTC) (Link)
As usual, you fill my flist readong with simple joy.

If you enjoy creative insults and sarcastic footnoting, may I direct you to the more heated exchanges of this post, for instance here and here? I am beginning to actively enjoy zapping imbeciles.
shezan From: shezan Date: August 20th, 2006 12:13 am (UTC) (Link)
"reading", even, Bernard.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 27th, 2006 12:26 pm (UTC) (Link)

Those were, I may say, classic.

It's always fun to watch you skewer people.
shezan From: shezan Date: August 27th, 2006 08:18 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Those were, I may say, classic.

And you know, they were COMPLETELY unsporting! I never got another one!

Which really puts pâid to all this "locked posts" nonsense. The best place to engage these cretins is of course where you have complete mastery of the terrain, i.e. your own LJ. Skewer 'em, ban 'em, send me some MORE!
(Deleted comment)
wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 27th, 2006 12:28 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank YOU.

My apologies for not having done so earlier, I managed to get myself injured at the time.
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: August 20th, 2006 01:15 am (UTC) (Link)
Where were all you educated kiddies when my company commander had me escorted to the psychiatrist for muttering threats while slicing cold cuts for the battalion picnic?

All I said was, "Who'd have thought the old man could have had so much blood in him?"

The rump-fed runyon.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 27th, 2006 12:29 pm (UTC) (Link)

Where?

Officer's mess, perhaps?

See: the Scottish play IS unlucky.
shezan From: shezan Date: August 27th, 2006 08:19 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Where?

Alas, very true. I won't even recall past examples, for fear of waking up... something.
(Deleted comment)
shezan From: shezan Date: August 20th, 2006 07:37 am (UTC) (Link)
WWell, we realised, I think, that there had been an amount of brainwashing head-pummelling basic public instruction going on there; but wouldn't the aim of what I hardly dare call a liberal education be to encourage, after a time, the growth of a critical mind? Haven't the poor darlings ever noticed that no book outside manuels and theses - including, I'm sure, quite a bit of the required reading in their curricula - actually practices MLA citation (thank the Maker)? And considering that the main demographic of the more vocal in the latest brouhaha tends more towards middle-aged matrons than teen-agers, haven't they managed to learn something about the complexities of Real Life™? There seems to be a complete inability to grasp the concept of distance here. It's all binary, zero or one, black or white. All very well for a laptop, not so much in a human being (or indeed in a writer.)

I can see how it might seem difficult for a prof to first get the whole academic plagiarism notion across, and then, waving an airy hand, letting fall words to the effect that all this was a completely stringent rule, er, except when not. But don't your students ever notice what's in the stuff they're given to read?

*/despair*
(Deleted comment)
wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 27th, 2006 12:40 pm (UTC) (Link)

Still more depressing, if still informative.

But I must say, I love the word 'administrivia'.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 27th, 2006 12:33 pm (UTC) (Link)

The aim of a liberal education? In THESE days?

Perish the (critical) thought.

You know, in an odd way, this does explain the Rise of Blair.
shezan From: shezan Date: August 27th, 2006 08:21 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: The aim of a liberal education? In THESE days?

What worries me even more is that it may well explain, too, the rise of FluffyBunnies'R'Us Cameron.
tree_and_leaf From: tree_and_leaf Date: August 20th, 2006 01:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
This has occured to me as well, actually. And despite what Shezan says below, it is the case that most 'student editions', such as the World's Classics, or Penguine Classics (which probably make up the bulk, if not all, of the stuff on literature reading courses) are quite heavily footnoted, including pointing out possible sources, etc).

Of course, those are (a) editorial and (b) not done because of concerns about plagiarism, but I suppose, if you haven't thought very hard about it... There's also the matter of song lyrics, which are aggressively protected by studios, to the point that Pratchett's publishers apparently felt it neccessary to make a copyright acknowledgement for about five words from 'you are my sunshine' in 'A Hat Full of Sky' though, fortunately, this rather silly note was confined to the copyright information page. It seems particularly daft with a writer like TP, whose writing style is heavily allusive anyway. (See, for example, the riff on Chekov in 'The Fifth Elephant', which no-one in their right minds would call plagiaristic, but current fandom mores would probably howl for an acknowledgement).
nineveh_uk From: nineveh_uk Date: August 21st, 2006 11:01 am (UTC) (Link)
I’ve been thinking about this vaguely, and whilst the fandom kerfuffle is pretty pathetic (for goodness sake, I never bothered read CC because I recognised the quotes and saw that a fic that was probably not a good fic), I wonder if part of the academia/fiction issue is that part of academic plagiarism that is “passing off another person’s work as one’s own in order to gain unfair advantage. There is no concept of using un-acknowledged material to benefit the reader. So that when Sayers, Pratchett, you and I use Shakespeare, the Bible, and Hogg, we do so wanting the reader to recognise the allusion, because our own work is deepened not by the quoted words themselves, but by the original context of those words. So “all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them” is beautiful English, but it means a lot more in the context of Harriet watching Peter Wimsey if we know where it comes from. Recognising the quotation is part of a game, and there is a reward for the reader who can in a deeper meaning. Unfortunately, the reverse applies in some of the fanfic over which ‘issues’ have been raised, where recognising a quotation, rather than enhancing the experience brings the suspended disbelief crashing down around one. Here, ‘allusion’ is not true allusion, because knowing the source of the words diminishes rather than enhances the experience.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 27th, 2006 12:37 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yes, yes, exactly!

Perfectly put, that really does give a clear test. Oh, I shall have that engraved on something.
shezan From: shezan Date: August 27th, 2006 08:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, on the "Buffy"/"Blackadder" quotes at least, CC definitely wanted and expected her core readers to recognise them. It's probably not so true of the two pages of Pamela Dean she used.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 27th, 2006 12:36 pm (UTC) (Link)

None save Pterry ought to be allowed to footnote Pterry.

One rather - almost - wishes that one could turn the solicitors loose upon fanfic's 'songfic' infestation and have them leave serious - well, legitimate, rather - authors alone.
shezan From: shezan Date: August 27th, 2006 08:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Of course, those are (a) editorial and (b) not done because of concerns about plagiarism

Well, yes, it is done in the forlorn hope that it might EDJUKEYT the little darlings, who obviously can't be trusted any longer to read the actual sources.
tree_and_leaf From: tree_and_leaf Date: August 27th, 2006 08:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
I know, depressing, isn't it? Still, perhaps something will stick at some point.
shezan From: shezan Date: August 27th, 2006 08:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Since I have not read TP, but do love Chekhov, care to tell me a mite more about The Fifth Elephant?
tree_and_leaf From: tree_and_leaf Date: August 29th, 2006 10:56 am (UTC) (Link)

This will probably sound rather disappointing to a Chekhov fan...

The Fifth Elephant is one of TP's books starring Sam Vimes, commander of theAnkh-Morpork city watch - the basic premise is hard-boiled detective fiction in a fantasy setting. So Vimes has a drink problem (which he eventually gets on top of) and struggles against injustice, corruption and little local difficulties involving anything from revolutionaries to dragons. He usually more or less succeeds, and much to his disgust finds himself attaining a position of some political and social importance, despite the fact that he not-so secretly believes that there is little real difference bewteen politics and organised crime. Vimes is a staunch republican, descended from the revolutionary who killed the last king of Ankh-Morpork, Suffer-Not-Injustice Vimes, so he naturally ends up being appointed Duke of Morpork, and having the lost heir to the throne as his second in command (as the second in command greatly admires him, they deal with the situation by ignoring it except when absolutely neccessary).

The Fifth Elephant is unusual, in that it finds Vimes outside the city, as a diplomatic envoy to the mountainous principality of Überwald, which is jointly administered by vampires, werewolves, and dwarfs. Although Vimes is only supposed to be watching a coronation, he finds himself, in quick succession, being secretly called in to investigate a theft, accused of attempted murder and treason, and being chased across the snow by werewolves (who seem to be running a quasi-fascist organisation). Überwald bears a certain resemblance to parts of the Siebenburgen, at least as it has appeared in Gothic literature, but is basically a Ruritanian-like small country in Central-or-Eastern Europe, albiet one which has suddenly discovered considerable natural resources, and has hence become involved in wider political conflict. Like all the city watch stories, it is about the search for justice and truth, and the nature of kingship (or at least leadership) in an uncertain and rapidly changing world.

The Chekhov joke is only one scene, in which Vimes, runing from the werewolves, encounters and is eventually helped by three melancholy and aristocratic sisters, who live in a decaying manor house with a cherry orchard, brooding over how much better life used to be, and longing to go to visit the great city of Ankh-Morpork, but never actually managing to go (in the end Vimes sends them tickets for the stage coach).
shezan From: shezan Date: August 29th, 2006 03:44 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: This will probably sound rather disappointing to a Chekhov fan...

Vimes, runing from the werewolves, encounters and is eventually helped by three melancholy and aristocratic sisters, who live in a decaying manor house with a cherry orchard, brooding over how much better life used to be, and longing to go to visit the great city of Ankh-Morpork, but never actually managing to go (in the end Vimes sends them tickets for the stage coach).

Oh, I simply LOVE this.
tree_and_leaf From: tree_and_leaf Date: August 30th, 2006 09:39 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: This will probably sound rather disappointing to a Chekhov fan...

TP is well worth reading - he's witty, intelligent in a very unobtrusive sort of way, and there are some interesting and important ideas beneath a lot of the comedy (though the two earliest Discworld books, Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic aren't that rewarding unless you have read a lot of fantasy, and Pratchett admits himself that they are much slighter.)
wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 27th, 2006 12:31 pm (UTC) (Link)

How depressing.

But most informative. I'm obliged.
thewhiteowl From: thewhiteowl Date: August 21st, 2006 12:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think there is a distinct difference between 'I have quoted several lines from the canon of English literature, which my intelligent and educated readers will recognise', and '75% of my funny one-liners are lifted from Blackadder and Buffy'/'I lifted substantial portions of text word-for-word from an obscure YA novel and gave some vague waffle about being inspired and that I'd forgotten the author in the notes'. But saying that you have to footnote everything up to the Bible and Shakespear is rather silly.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 27th, 2006 12:30 pm (UTC) (Link)

Oh, well said.

Thanks.
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