July 23, 2013

"[Writing] is theft", Ctd 'All art is derivative'


I've referred before to Christopher Hitchen's 2004 essay in Vanity Fair on James Joyce, 'Joyce in Bloom.' In the essay Hitchens notes the parallels, parodies and plagiarisms evident in Joyce's work.

The conclusion is that all art and writing is theft in one way or another. In his book, 'Unacknowledged Legislation: Writers in the Public Sphere' Christopher Hitchens even wrote a chapter entitled, 'In Defence of Plagiarism.'

It's an inconspicuous, unspoken but patently obvious habit of the writer and the artist. One that can be hard to describe in plain English.

However Maria Popova of Brain Pickings has encapsulating it nicely. She said:
'All art is derivative.'
Continuing with the work and thinking of Maria Popova, she recently featured a hitherto unknown Joycean illustrated children's book, entitled 'The Cats of Copenhagen.'

She ran a feature on it and left it at that. Then coincidentally a day or two after I read her featured I saw the book in a local Waterstones. 

I read the first few pages and what struck me was another Joyce-appropriation of another famous writer. This time, of Homer's Trojan horse. When telling the story to his grandson he spoke of a Trojan cat that can sneak sweets in its belly. 

He wrote:
"When he wrote to his grandson on August 10, 1936, telling him about the cat and the devil of Beaugency (he was writing from Villiers-sur-Mer in Calvados), Joyce let him know that a few days earlier he had sent on for him 'a little cat filled with sweets' - a kind of Trojan cat to outwit the grown-ups. Another great idea  pinched from Homer!"
See, all art and writing is theft!



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