Monday, September 16, 2013

The word is not Schadenfreude

Once again the Oz literary scene has been embarrassed by two blatant acts of plagiarism. In this case both the perpetrators are poets - Graham Nunn and Andrew Slattery. Neither has offered anything resembling an apology for their blatant pilfering of other poet's work, merely the most egregious dissembling. Slattery defended his crime as a "cynical experiment" in the spirit of the hoax poet, Ern Malley of the war years. Nunn merely made some wafty claim to precedent. I think someone needs to point out the italics key on his laptop. If the Avalanches have had to spend a seeming eternity getting permission to sample other people's music, then why should a writer think it appropriate to simply cut and paste the work of others without due acknowledgment, passing it off as their own for their own advancement? 

I will quote the words of the three poets responsible for exposing this travesty, Anthony Lawrence, my good friend Margie Cronin, and David Musgrave. Note the use of italics, dear reader. They denote that these are the words and thoughts of a third party:

Serial plagiarism seems to imply a lack of empathy and, in extreme cases, something like sociopathy. When exposed, some plagiarists say they are simply paying homage to other writers or use words like "collage", "cento" or "sampling". It seems that, even when the game is up and the evidence is irrefutable, the word "plagiarism" just can't be uttered".

Meanwhile, I am still awaiting an explanation from Mr Nunn for my name appearing as a judge at one of his "celebrations of the word" or some such a few years back when I was safely shivering in the mountains well south of the Tweed.


donalmahoney said...

In the United States we occasionally have cases of plagiarism by poets but it's infrequent. Although I am not fond of scientific studies of people who are a little off in the noggin, I really would appreciate someone knowledgeable explaining what plagiarists get out of presenting the work of others as their own. Even if they don't get caught, what satisfaction do they gain? If you steal a car, at least you can drive it.

Wayne W said...

I do not know the case that you mention but I have found more and more in the this age of blogging people feel it a victimless crime to wholesale steal what others create by the sweat of their brow, pilfering for content on their facebook/blog et al. With literature & music, stateside it has broken down to the thieves hiding behind semantics. In the most basic language and concept, would anyone want to put in a full work week (in any field/job) then at the end of the week someone comes in and takes their paycheck? A modicum of intelligence shows there is nothing to debate, you made it, it is yours not for use without permission. An unpleasant side effect to the ease with which content can be taken from elsewhere is an intellectual laziness, a casual look at facebook pages(just as example), the average one is full of quotes, videos and music others have made, used as a shorthand for people to proclaim their individuality. A quote from Kafka = disaffected outsider etc etc. The start of a solution, creators take those who steal to task as to ensure eventually everyone is educated in regards to ownership rights.

David Lumsden said...

There's an interesting interview with a plagiarist with a 30-year track record here., which - to donalmahoney's comment - sheds a little light on the psychology.