Tag Archives: plagiarist

The Coyote’s Call and the Bulldog’s Bark

2 Jun

dylan-cafe-wha

What about the tomcat’s meow an’ milk cow’s moo

An’ the train whistle’s moan . . .

Here is a slideshow of “Dylan’s Village” from The Telegraph. These are the places where he immersed himself in the ecstacy of influence, where he honed his skills in the fine art of the intertext, a staple of the blues/folk traditions.

This post contains (mostly) Dylan “intertexts”––lines from his songs (some slightly altered) used in this blog’s  If I Was a Master Thief series. (click below)

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Tom Lehrer: “Lobachevsky” (a delightful song about plagiarism, plus a bibliography of sorts)

1 Jun

Here is Tom Lehrer‘s song about Nikolai Lobachevsky, an inventor of non-Euclidean geometry and an accused plagiarist.

Click below for a  list of sources (with links) used in the “If I Was a Master Thief” three-part series.

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If I Was a Master Thief III

24 May

dylanwoody (In Part I, instances of plagiarism in Dylan’s most recent works were discussed, plus the common practice of appropriation in the blues, folk, and jazz traditions, along with findings of similar thefts in the literary tradition. With help from Richard F. Thomas, Jonathan Lethem, and Lawrence Lessig, an examination of appropriation’s crucial role in creativity was introduced, preparing for later explorations of how to reconcile these methods with the ways writing is taught.Part II looked what Lessig calls “remix” in more detail, extending the principles into the business world, the sciences, and to Paulo Freire’s ideas on education, setting the stage for rethinking approaches in writing instruction.)

I Try My Best To Be Just Like I Am

But Everybody Wants You To Be Just Like Them

All this knowledge about how artists, musicians, lawyers, and writers really get things done fills this lowly comp teacher with acute anxiety. How can I deny my students the same methods and still claim to be teaching writing? Like Disney, shall I proclaim from on high unto to my students, “Do as I say, not as I do”? And if I say that, then what the hell am I teaching? Tidiness? I suppose I could rationalize and say English papers aren’t works of art anyway. Few would dispute me on this. And, of course, my students are not Bob Dylan. But neither was Bob Dylan at their age. And yet, even the young Bobby Zimmerman was a college freshman once. Imagine that––he was in someone’s English class. How annoying would that be? (D+. Please follow Chicago-Style documentation. Mississippi-Style is not accepted here. And quit dropping your G’s! You sound like some lonesome hobo!)

Story has it, Bobby Zimmerman rarely went to class. Thank God. Wait––did I just say that? Yet, I wonder. Are we not making room for creative types in higher education? Must they all drop out and hitch to Greenwich Village in the dead of winter? And if more of them stayed, what would they teach us? Continue reading

If I Was a Master Thief, Perhaps I’d Rob Them (part II)

23 May

dylan-fairey-warhol-obama

(In Part I, instances of plagiarism in Bob Dylan’s most recent works were discussed, plus the common practice of appropriation in the blues, folk, and jazz traditions, along with findings of similar thefts in the literary tradition.)

To Live Outside the Law, You Must Be Honest

Jonathan Lethem’s study of Bob Dylan’s appropriations, “The Ecstasy of Influence” (a play on Harold Bloom’s The Anxiety of Influence), includes the subtitle “A Plagiarism.” Turns out, the article is a string of thefts lovingly tied together to show the crucial role of borrowing in creativity. Lawrence Lessig, one of those appropriated heavily in the article, told Washington Post writer Bob Thomson the piece is “beautifully crafted” and it “teaches more about the importance of what I call ‘remix’ than any other work I’ve read.” (Citing Lethem’s piece, however, is a Dylanesque experience, as you will see. Think of any quotes from him here as something more akin to a wink.)

Appropriately, the first section of Lethem’s piece is called Love and Theft (no quotation marks this time), acknowledging that the title comes from Dylan by way of Eric Lott’s “study of minstrelsy” and that Lott’s own use of the title “is a riff on Leslie Fielder’s Love and Death in the American Novel.”  Lethem uses such examples to show that “Appropriation has always played a key role in Dylan’s music.” Most importantly, he says, “Dylan’s originality and his appropriations are as one.”

And he doesn’t stop there. “The same might be said of all art,” he claims.

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If I Was a Master Thief, Perhaps I’d Rob Them: Bob Dylan, Plagiarism, Freshman Composition, and the “Cult of Originality”

21 May

They’re Planting Stories in the Press

After spending many years among the has-beens, a once renowned performer releases a series of well-received albums. Before long, amid the new rave reviews, reports surface that some lines from these new albums have been stolen from an obscure nineteenth century poet, a Japanese gangster novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Great Gatsby, old films, and a number of blues songs. Talk of plagiarism emerges. The guy may have written some strikingly original songs back in the day, people say, but now, clearly, the well has run dry. Sadly, he must rely on the work of others to produce much of anything.

Yet to others, this is no surprise.

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