Oh, dear me, how unspeakably funny and owlishly idiotic and grotesque was that ‘plagiarism’ farce! As if there was much of anything in any human utterance, oral or written, except plagiarism! The kernel, the soul — let us go further and say the substance, the bulk, the actual and valuable material of all human utterances — is plagiarism. For substantially all ideas are second-hand, consciously and unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources, and daily use by the garnerer with a pride and satisfaction born of the superstition that he originated them; whereas there is not a rag of originality about them anywhere except the little discoloration they get from his mental and moral calibre and his temperament, and which is revealed in characteristics of phrasing. When a great orator makes a great speech you are listening to ten centuries and ten thousand men — but we call it his speech, and really some exceedingly small portion of it is his. But not enough to signify. It is merely a Waterloo. It is Wellington’s battle, in some degree, and we call it his; but there are others that contributed. It takes a thousand men to invent a telegraph, or a steam engine, or a phonograph, or a telephone or any other important thing — and the last man gets the credit and we forget the others. He added his little mite — that is all he did. These object lessons should teach us that ninety-nine parts of all things that proceed from the intellect are plagiarisms, pure and simple; and the lesson ought to make us modest. But nothing can do that.
~Mark Twain, letter to Helen Keller
Protecting Creativity: Copyright and Wrong
from the page:
When Parliament decided, in 1709, to create a law that would protect books from piracy, the London-based publishers and booksellers who had been pushing for such protection were overjoyed. When Queen Anne gave her assent on April 10th the following year — 300 years ago this week — to “An act for the encouragement of learning” they were less enthused. Parliament had given them rights, but it had set a time limit on them: 21 years for books already in print and 14 years for new ones, with an additional 14 years if the author was still alive when the first term ran out. After that, the material would enter the public domain so that anyone could reproduce it. The lawmakers intended thus to balance the incentive to create with the interest that society has in free access to knowledge and art. [emphasis mine, XineAnn]
A delicious interview with one of my favorite poets. Poets will like this. Everyone else just scroll on.
The poem is the shaping of time, it is shaping by language (words plus silence plus intonation) our experience of time. So the poem is a score, a language mise-en-page for the reader as performer. The reader as performer. A peak shared by unlikely mountaineers: O’Hara, Blackburn, Mac Low-all demanded an alert performing of the page from the reader, otherwise nothing would make sense. That score idea has diminished in recent years-you need it for O’Hara, but not for Ashbery. You need it for Blackburn but not for Creeley, who has a different sense of compelling music. Or maybe just a simpler music, more simply scored.
But innovation is such a slippery word, a promo word, shiny, easy packaging kind of word. Every time two words rub up against each other in a proposition, or in a public space (which is always what language is) where propositions arise, imply, kiss, depart, then that’s new. Innovation is what we do all the time.
REM directly enhances creative processing more than any other sleep or wake state (according to a study by Sara Mednick, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry at UC San Diego and the VA San Diego Healthcare System, and first author Denise Cai, graduate student in the UC San Diego Department of Psychology).
“We found that – for creative problems that you’ve already been working on – the passage of time is enough to find solutions,” said Mednick. “However, for new problems, only REM sleep enhances creativity.”
Summoning the Muse
The Muses speak to us not only through stories and dreams, but also through all the creative acts of life: making food, making love, making conversation, making community, making a poem or a prayer out of each moment lived.
To some, creative inspiration comes only during life’s quiet times; to others, when life is abundantly full — and as artists, we must each learn our own individual ways of summoning the Muses.
Disorderly genius: How chaos drives the brain
I am vindicated!
From the page: your brain operates on the edge of chaos. Though much of the time it runs in an orderly and stable way, every now and again it suddenly and unpredictably lurches into a blizzard of noise.
Neuroscientists have long suspected as much. Only recently, however, have they come up with proof that brains work this way. Now they are trying to work out why. Some believe that near-chaotic states may be crucial to memory, and could explain why some people are smarter than others.
Read full explanation (There’s a cute little video with brainwaves, too).
Ruminations about Creativity and Goal Setting for Cats
Now that summer is here, it’s time for some creative goal setting for cats… Or not. I have (at least) two modes: I am either overwhelmed with ideas, some really good, and I forget if I don’t write them down. They just flow. When I’m in this mode, I go off in 20 directions and I don’t seem to accomplish much. But ideas sure flow. (There’s hope.)
Or I’m in linear goal-oriented mode, when I obsess and will stay up all night just to finish “this one more little bit” of code, or embroidery, or tile.
Poetry does both — it drags me out of bed and then demands to be finished.
Anyway, the penny finally dropped for me and this is making some sense. As a child, I was always so much more productive in the summer. And more creative. Summer was an exploration, not a hike.
Summer felt like a huge expanse of time and I was able to really find out about the things that interested me, and process them on so many levels. There was time to really find out about one thing and how it fits in with what else we know. When I was nine, I was horsey; so I learned about the history of dressage, worked at cleaning up after and grooming my own horse, the breeds and their characteristics and where they came from, what horses need, horses as a commodity in trade, fjord horses and how they’d adapted to a different climiate when we went to visit family, quarantine and the length of time for different animals, and so forth. It was easy.
When my daughter was little, we’d “home school” in the summers and we’d try to plan our fun activities around a theme, without a defined goal of mastering any particular subject. It seemed to me that she (and I) achieve more mastery than we would have by setting up skills and tests. She outgrew the dinosaur obsession. I have yet to.
Perhaps General Motors should have had summers off:
“But a few management scholars are now looking deeper into the effects of goals, and finding that goals have a dangerous side. Individuals, governments, and companies like GM show ample ability to hurt themselves by setting and blindly following goals, even those that seem to make sense at the time. These skeptics draw on a broad array of large-scale failures – the design of the Ford Pinto, the Enron collapse, the rash lending practices of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – as evidence of the pernicious effects of goals. Outside the workplace, these thinkers point to the unintended consequences of high-stakes testing in grade schools, and psychological literature showing that goals and other incentives can constrict our thinking.”
I think that’s it. Linear goals and learning don’t facilitate cross-discipline thinking and or models. It’s all:
Andrze-j sent me the vintage cats