June 08, 2013

"[Writing] is Theft"


















It was Picasso who said: "art is theft." 

This quote has since evolved and spawned several permutations. Steve Jobs famously misquoted Picasso when he said, “Good artists copy; great artists steal.” T.S. Eliot said something a little closer to Picasso's original: “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.”

Then there's the writer Austin Kleon wrote a book entitled, Steal Like An Artist. See video below:




From the video above:
"You are a mashup of what led into your life and anyone can be creative if they surround themselves with the right influences and play nice and work hard. Creativity is not magic. Creativity is for everyone."
Below is a blurb on Kleon's book from Forbes Magazine [emphases are mine]:
“Equal parts manifesto and how-to, Steal Like An Artist aims to introduce readers to the idea that all creative work is iterative, no idea is original and all creators and their output are a sum of inspirations and heroes…” 
And here's the famous Irish writer W.B. Yeats on the output process of a writer:
“I owe my soul to Shakespeare, to Spenser and to Blake, perhaps to William Morris, and to the English language in which I think, speak and write.” 
Then there's my take on the phenomenon from an earlier post here:
"Believe it or not, but every artist, writer and creative agent in this world stands on the shoulders of those who have come before. All those who create new art and literature are in fact furthering and building on the legacy of those who have preceded them." 
All of the quotes from above the video and below get to the core of it: that everyone rips of someone else in one form or another. Here's Christoper Hitchens on how George Orwell and TS Eliot have hat-tipped, imitated, replicated, regurgitated, copied, plagiarised or otherwise thieved the work of James Joyce. Here he is writing in Vanity Fair:
"All we know is that he admired Joyce extravagantly, and that a novel mined by Orwell and Eliot within a year or so of each other, when Ulysses was still a banned book, is a considerable literary force."
Here's a strong comment made by someone in a recent comment thread in a Hitchens-related article here. The person said:
"I really don't think you have the slightest notion of what plagiarism is. All writers borrow from others either intentionally or otherwise..."

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