The ecstasy of influence: A plagiarism

http://www.harpers.org/archive/2007/02/0081387

This article was recommended to me by a friend during a discussion about the paradox in copyright law. That each side is completely arguable with a conclusion that is mostly based on the excellence displayed by the skill of the debaters themselves. In The ecstasy of Influence: A plagiarism , Jonathon Lethem writes a convincing argument about originality and authenticity. In many periods of history and especially in our post modern society, he gives examples of the appropriation and theft of culture. He opens with a quote from John Donne,

All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated. . . .

This quotation outlines his premise for the article. This is how I also feel about the history of man, that it follows patterns and repeats itself in a different translation over and over again. Our habit to continually follow patterns is a natural one, and that the flow of ideas is prevalent and a natural part of our humanity.

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