Thursday, May 04, 2006

Late, but the Party's Still on...

I barely ever have any commentary on events as they happen. It takes me months to process headlines before my brain metabolizes anything worthy of blogging about.

James Frey gave the outraged public a voice to vent how much they HATE it when people make up stuff that causes them to feel REAL feelings (damn those fiction writers, damn them!), and Kaavya Viswanathan reminded us that $500K does indeed equal too much pressure and that literati abhor a plagiarist (Scarlet Letter P, anyone?).

But I admit I have suddenly grown paranoid. Have I unconsciously absorbed the work of others, modeled my own little sentences after, say Lorrie Moore or Borges? Haha, I wish! (That reminds me of this exercise I had to do in a COMS class in college--where we had to write a paragraph modeled after an author. I chose Tom Robbins! In a communications class! Such a rebel)The part that gets me the most, after the daftness of anyone who would bother to plagiarize material such as Ms. Viswanathan did, is who has the time on their hands to go, line for line, through the books she borrowed from and compare? Sorry, Ms. Kinsella--I'm sure your books are faboo, but really, so much trouble. These must be the same people the FCC pays to watch all the television shows for outrages of swearing and nudity.

Do you know what's odd? In art, if you make fun of a famous painting, by using some of the imagery, it's legal. Parody is legal! Plagiarism is not. Get your p's straight. So if you want to mimic your favorite author, simply make fun of him or her. Look out Philip Roth, here I come to satirize your butt!

So,had you had known the Literary World contained so much scandal, you might have become a writer, huh?

* * *
In other apalling trivia, how is it possible to charge $96 for a pair of shorts? HOW? These are not shorts made out of woven gold threads and caviar, nay. Nor are they shorts that once graced the ass of Marilyn Monroe. These are slightly faded, boring green shorts sold by the boutique down the street from my house. SHORTS! For airing out your hot summer legs--and these were especially long, allowing lazy shavers like myself to not have to worry about the top half. I could understand if that extra two inches of fabric cost me an extra couple of bucks. But at that price I could have bought twenty pairs of shorts at ROSS! I handled my shock by heading over to the Goodwill, where I bought yet another $3.99 skirt. Nice, too.




At 6:15 PM, Blogger Myfanwy Collins said...

$96???!?!?! That's insanity.

At 6:38 AM, Blogger Jim said...

Ha! And just yesterday I picked up two sport coats at Goodwill for $5 each.

On the Frey affair and the young woman in the soup now over literary borrowings: it's too painful for me to read about. I mean, I know it's going on. You can't help but hear stuff, see snippets here and there. But to walk into that room and breathe that air for more than twenty seconds would just hurt too much. So I don't.

At 6:53 AM, Blogger Ms. Lori said...

Christ. I whine about paying ten bucks for a bra from the house of Target.

At 8:53 AM, Blogger Stephanie said...

I believe the rule is that the less fabric, the higher the cost, no? The $200 bikini? The $100 short? The $70 skirt? A pattern?

I too wonder how much I unintentionally absorb of others writing. It don't read as much as I should, but sometimes I don't regret it. Our work is so much a part of a larger body, a collective work of generations of writers in 2006 or whenever. But we always think of it as individual.

At 3:27 PM, Blogger Samus said...

I have a very expensive pair of jeans. I'm at a strange income level now, where I can look at a pair of $96 shorts and say, "Well, if they're cute..."

I catch myself before I get to the cash register, though. What the hell? No!


If you wander through the expensive boutiques, like I sometimes do (not even for myself, I swear; my husband is a clothes freak of the near-homo variety), you'll have noticed the tee shirts going for upwards of $100. TEE SHIRTS. I don't care if they're one-of-a-kind! No!

No! No!

At 4:07 PM, Blogger Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

Glad you all share my angst. I had forgotten, Steph, the "less is more" rule in boutique fashions.

Samus: While one part of me sighs with envy at the idea of not really caring if my shorts cost $96, don't you, from time to time, feel a little outraged, like HEY! I know this only cost $5 to make!

At 4:22 AM, Blogger Quillhill said...

You raise an excellent point. If I sit down to paint an exact replica of The Last Supper, it is called a copy, and if it's really good, I earn praise. Has any painting ever been called a piece of plagiarism? And it is now accepted practice in the music world to "sample" another song. And only if you were smoking some of that Maharishi special blend would you think My Sweet Lord had been copied from He's So Fine. Why is there a different standard for writing? Does this somehow tell us that our society places a tremendous, almost sacred, value on writing? Didn't cliche's become cliche's because they were repeated over and over? Why isn't that plagiarism? Wikipedia calls plagiarism a serious academic offense, and reports it has not been prosecuted. So it is a moral violation? Who knew the world had such strong morals these days? And how about Wikipedia itself: they accept no original material, everything must have been published elsewhere first, so how is it that the entire Wikipedia is not a piece of plagiarism?


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