Friday, December 15, 2017
For my own poetry, though, I want to unlearn the idiomatic, fluent style of contemporary poets, because I think a poem should sound distinctive to its author rather than being written in a period style. I can achieve this in two ways: by parody, and by not giving a shit about those norms. One way is to be reading poetry of the past rather than soaking up the influences that are everyone's influences.
Scholarly writing is more like mediocre jazz playing. You want to sound like a scholar, rather than deviating too much from the norm. People will assume that you don't know how to do it otherwise. And a basic competence will almost guarantee that you are in the top quarter of published scholars. I had a student quote from a bad study found on line that said "women are oppressed by feminism" when the author of the study meant to say the opposite, that feminism can show how women are oppressed by patriarchy.
I see graduate students struggling to get to that mediocre level, where the paper is well done in a conventional sense, and could be standard paper published in a second-line journal. This doesn't mean the paper is perfect, but that it is perfectly mediocre, does what a paper ought to do and checks all the right boxes. After that, then we start talking about something more.
Once you achieve mediocrity, then you can work from there toward a more original perspective. A lot of what I've done on Lorca is simply to assume that we should study him using our knowledge of how literary criticism should best be done, rather than working on him within the distorted baggage-laden framework of Lorca studies.
Wednesday, December 13, 2017
I like working in Dflat (five flats) for some reason. I think it is because it has chords unrelated to C, so that if I combine those two keys, then I have about 20 chords under my fingers, if I include modulations to other keys related to these two keys, tritone substitutions, secondary dominants... I don't have to learn 12 keys really well; I can have about 3 or 4 I know pretty well and I have most if it covered.
Someone was asking how to memorize all the chords. You don't memorize them, you learn them in relationships to other chords and keys. You know them. If you tried to memorize them by rote out of all context it would be much harder. A harmonic context distant from C major is simply a different context, where things have a different meaning, but where the relationships are completely commensurate.
A musical composition has to make sense to me, melodic, rhythmic, structural, and harmonic. I have to work on it until it all fits together. The surprising thing is that I know how to do this, that I knew how from my first song, and that more sophisticated harmonies do not make my songs necessarily any better. They are just fun to compose in their own way.
Everyone who listens to music knows what melody is and can recognize one or have one stuck in the head. There is no actual criterion for what a good melody is except for one that someone responds to subjectively as a melody. We can say objectively that some music is more complexly organized or longer, but can we say that the Beatles's "Michelle" is better or worse than some other melody that a lot of people like as much? There are melodies from Bach I don't think are great, and others that are.
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
If you play a pentatonic scale though it is almost automatically melodic [plays first line of someone to watch over me]. That means leaving out the 4th and the 7th. You can put the seventh back in as a passing tone and you have all you need. You can melodize all day long and never have to use the 4th.
What I feel missing in discussions of melody is the idea of lilt. This is not up or down, or down then up or up then down, but an engaging "up-down" contour that catches the ear at a certain angle.
Take Ornette's "Latin Genetics" in the last post. The A sections of the tune consists of a series of 7 chords arpeggiated in a downward movement to the same five note rhythm, with another down-up phrase at the end, played twice. It has a nice lilt to it and part of this is the lack of movement in the first three notes of the motif. The other part is you never know whether the next phrase will start or end lower or higher than the previous one. The tune sounds both simplistic and unexpected.
Thursday, December 7, 2017
[Bb Db Eb F Ab]
Now play these over a progression in the key of Db major. You will find that these notes work well over the chords I IV V ii and vi. Probably iii and vii as well, though I haven't explored these as much. There is some tension in the tritone sub.
If you play an F minor pentatonic you also get a good set of notes to play in this key.
Tuesday, November 28, 2017
So in Spanish you would say: "literatura latina." That would be literature written by Latinos and Latinas: the adjective modifies the noun, which happens to be feminine in gender. The x is a way of neutering the gender. If the noun happened to be feminine, then you would say "feminismo latino."
From the perspective of speaking English, gender is only applied to persons and animals with a designated sex. So people think of Latino / Latina as only applying to people. Hence you need to say "Latinex" to keep things gender neutral. The word was invented by someone who doesn't think in Spanish.
Monday, November 27, 2017
As part of my project "razor's edge" I outlined my goals as related to music. As you can see, it is not just "get to be a better piano player," but a good deal more than that. I basically want to retire to being a songwriter, as my full time hobbyjob, in 10 years time. I started this project in Sept. 2015, without knowing that it was the start of something. I figure need to be about 80% of where a truly good pianist is, though that is a nebulous concept because 80% of what, exactly? For me it might mean playing tastefully and tastily within my particular technical limits. I'm about 30% now, realistically. Writing out these goals makes me realize that I need to focus on one thing, like mastering Sibelius, that is holding me back from other things.
Lose fear of other recording technologies
Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Sunday, November 19, 2017
I need a system to write them down and keep track of them.
I realize I've been holding myself back unnecessarily in many ways, making things harder for myself. It would take me a long time to learn a relatively simple classical piece, when I could be learning it faster, simply by choosing an 8-bar section and practicing only that for 15 minutes at a time. I thought I could only reach an octave and it turns out I can reach a 9th, etc...
Thursday, November 16, 2017
I know how to write a melody, and I did it well the first time I tried. A melody can be very simple, like the first three phrases of "I got rhythm." A simple melody is not worse than a complicated one, though. It can have more or less movement, and move across a wider or narrower range. Since my melodies are mine, I like them. They express exactly what I want them to. I work them over until they are what I want them to be. I'm not afraid to repeat a note 5 times in a row.
I generate melodies through tension with the chords, using a lot of ninths and chromatic movement in the underlying harmonies.
Could someone explain why one melody is better than another? I know some melodies are more catchy, some are beautiful. Some are elegant and symmetrical. Some of my favorites are these
The Blessing (Ornette Coleman)
Monk's Mood (Monk)
Wachet Auf... (Bach)
Star Dust (Carmichael)
Lester Leaps Up (Young)
Sometimes I know there is a melody, in a technical sense: notes that move in a way that is intelligible, but I feel that there is not really melody in the sense of something that I would have wanted to write as a melody. It is scrub-a-scrub baroque music of the mediocre sort, or its Clementi equivalent. I get tired of jazz improvisation when it involves a lot of aimless running up and down scales, rather than melodic development. You can have a melody that happens to coincide with a certain sequence of notes of a scale, in fact that is impossible to avoid. But you shouldn't write a melody that's just a scale.
I saw the movie Evita, and, though it is all sung, there are not melodies in the sense I mean. It is like talking, but non-melodically, on designated pitches.
"Perdonarle la vida a alguien," to spare someone's life, means to condescend to them. So if someone writers that in a newspaper column, someone spares Borges's life, it means they are treating them with condescension, deciding whether Borges can live or die. It is arrogance, or the arrogation of an authority the critic doesn't have.
Tuesday, November 14, 2017
You could guess the genders of the authors of these books. But the last one was written by a woman. So my question is: why not put some women in your books? Why do women authors have to be studied in books only about women, with a lot of other books about other general topics (modernism, translation, etc...) ignoring women completely?
Saturday, November 11, 2017
Friday, November 10, 2017
(Do you think a book on translations of modernism between US and Spain would cite me, or not?)
I also have a tenure case to do. The person does cite me favorably, and I am favorably inclined to his work. He not only cites me, but makes me sound smart in the process, giving enough of my own words to make me sound that way, and using my point to make another good point of his own. And he does it more than once. This is not the perfunctory, cover-your-bases citation that we perform so often, the citation that only shows that you are aware of the work, that people will expect you to cite it so you do.
What is even more gratifying, is that he cites something that I forgot I had written (not the book but the particular analysis of a poem).
Why should I even need these ego boosting events? Normally, we work long hours writing a book, or several books, and we only hear sporadically about whether anyone likes or appreciates them, or knows why they are good. The institution treats scholarship as items on the cv to be counted. Your colleagues know that you have published, but they work in different fields.
My personal non-academic friends don't read my scholarship. I had an interesting conversation once with some acquaintances, people I see often, in which we were talking about how much we read. At some point, I had to say: do you know what my profession is?
So yes, as far the adulation and ego boosting: bring it on!
Wednesday, November 8, 2017
Intertexuality depends on the reader recognizing the source. It so happens I don't know the origins of all the lines in Ashbery's poem, but I can tell very early on that it's a cento (and even labelled as such!). A concealed "intertextuality" with an unknown text is plagiarism. Concealing the origins, and using a "intertext" that most people would not recognize, means that there is no longer any intertextuality at work, because you don't have two things playing off each other.
Most intertextuality is with the canon. I'd say more: by using a text as intertext, if it is not already canonical, one is canonizing it, or treating it as a work that ought to be recognized by the reader.
As the cat climbed over the top of the jamcloset
Silent, upon a peak in Darien
To soothe a time-worn man
Silent, upon a peak in Darien
Caminante, son tus huellas el camino, y nada más. Caminante, no hay camino
Silent, upon a peak in Darien
As I sd to my friend, because I am always talking, John, I sd, which was not his name
Silent, upon a peak in Darien
Silent, upon a peak in Darien
First the right forefoot carefully
Silent, upon a peak in Darien
Yo quiero ser llorando el hortelando de la tierra que ocupas y estercolas
Silent upon a peak in Darien
Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art, not in mute splendor
Silent, upon a peak in Darien...
Tuesday, November 7, 2017
(He also has Pierre Menard trying to become Cervantes, when that is the initial approach that Menard rejects.)
There was never an annexation of Catalonia by Castile. Catalonia was essentially part of the kingdom of Aragon, and the marriage of the Catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabel was the first main step of unifying Spain politically.
And of course Castile is not and never was a "province." That's a bit like calling England a province that annexed Wales and Scotland.
It is hard to state facts accurately.
The plagiarist writes a self-pitying memoir about being found as a plagiarist. She calls it one woman's search for an authentic voice. I guess, that, yes, you would need to search for authenticity in this circumstance. A plagiarist is the least authentic person in the world.
Monday, November 6, 2017
What I mean by structural plagiarism is the following. This poet who had plagiarized very extensively wrote down other peoples poems in her own notebooks, along side her own work, and often reworked someone else's poem extensively over a long period of time. Then, when sending out work or assembling a collection of poems, she sometimes used a poem that was not altered very much at all. This is a virtual recipe for plagiarism. It is like littering a path with banana peels, walking down the path, and then calling your falls "accidents." Maybe you did not intend to fall, and tried hard not to slip on those peels, but you did intend to litter the path with banana peels or ball bearings. The fault is one stage earlier in the process, but it is nonetheless your own fault.
Ira Lightman says that "Plagiarists never do it once." This is because plagiarism is the result of a method of writing in which the writer refuses to keep track of what words are his or her own.
Now I can see someone accidentally not closing a quotation mark at the end, or slipping up in a minor way with a brief sequence of quoted words. I think this kind of mistake, though, is not greeted with howls of outrage. What makes people made is the serial plagiarist, the person who makes a systematic practice of laying down banana peels on the road and slipping on them.
Sunday, November 5, 2017
That's a phrase I found in a Facebook comment thread. This is how people like to defend plagiarists. Plagiarism is not so bad, because Jesus, Shakespeare... It pretends to be historically savvy but is quite the opposite.
What bothered me most in people defending their own plagiarism was the appeal to their status as victims and the use of the vocabulary of self-love and empowerment.
Saturday, November 4, 2017
Now, I would also like to bring up how I was treated in this affair. I have been bullied, victimised and abused by a number of ‘poets’ who thought it was necessary to act like a lynch mob. One ‘poet’ wrote “Head ———> Pike” in a Facebook comment about me. Another ‘poet’ suggested I be put in the stocks and alluded I should be put to death. Such behaviour really isn’t on. I have become extremely depressed by their actions and don’t deserve it. There is no excuse. I have written somewhere between 5 – 600 poems over the last eight/nine years. I intend to write more. I do not believe I should have to throw away several years worth of work over isolated incidents which I deeply regret. I am not, for the record, a compulsive plagiarist who gets a rush from doing it. I’m not that person. Please believe me…. I am not the complete monster that a lot of people think I am. I am a human being and deserve better.
In May 2015, the unspeakable happened to me. There was a public shaming. My whole world fell apart the day I was accused of being a plagiarist on Facebook by a ‘so-called’ friend and fellow poet. He wrote that he’d found whole scale “borrowings” from other writers’ words, phrases, and structures within my latest collection of poetry. He said that he was just doing his duty for the poetry community by bringing it to everyone’s attention. What followed was what I chose to call a public lynching of me as a writer, poet and person. This was the unspeakable that happened to me. But funny enough, I am speaking about it here, as well as writing a creative non-fiction book about this whole experience. Everything I knew, all I was, how I thought myself to be was taken from me in that public posting. I issued an apology regarding my unintentional mistakes and withdrew from the public realm. At one point, death looked a very promising course of action, but I had my family and some supportive friends who helped me.
Friday, November 3, 2017
It's rather strange because contraception is not a big issue in the Bible. Maybe Jehovah at one point didn't want Onan to pull out too soon, which he did so as not to impregnate his sister-in-law, but that's all I remember. Most churches don't force people to marry their dead brother's wife any more, so this might not be all that relevant.
They say a liberal is someone who can't take their own side in an argument. I've seen it attributed to Robert Frost: "A liberal is someone too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel." What this means, in practice, is that I spend a lot of time considering arguments I don't agree with, both from the left and the right of my own positions if we must imagine every issue along a spatial continuum we inherited from the French revolution. There is a danger I might be convinced by a right wing argument, or have my positions not entirely line up the way they ought to. I certainly cannot shield myself from arguments I don't like. What would be the fun in that?
There is an irritating Facebook group called teaching with a sociological lens, or something like that. A person reported that a student had written an email to her saying "we only hear liberal views in class, how about a debate with people on different sides of the issue." Of course, virtually everyone on the group responded that sociology is a science based on empirical research, so of course there are no sides to these issues, only facts. Now the student, whom the group immediately labeled a privileged white guy, may have been misconstruing the field of sociology. But surely these sociology professors know that "facts" are socially constructed? Surely there are issues about which people, seeing the same set of data, disagree, and not necessarily from ideological differences. There have to be things that nobody knows for sure, open questions. There have to be implicit biases in the field, and specific ways in which researchers attempts to hold their biases in check, or ensure that they haven't put their thumb on the scale when gathering and interpreting data. The purpose of the sociology class should be to teach students to think like sociologists, not to simply provide a set of incontrovertible facts about society.
As a literary critic, I never know what my conclusions will be before I engage with the text. My conclusions are not aligned along a right / left axis. If I knew in advance what I would find, then my reading of the text would be worthless.
Wednesday, November 1, 2017
We cannot disparage interest in symbolism, then. Both Trump and NFL players seem to agree on the importance of the flag. There is no position that views it simply as a piece of cloth of no significance. In this sense, revering and burning a flag are acts invested degree of deference to an identical symbol.
Yet we can win all the symbolic battles we want, and nothing will change. Aren't we always told that racism is "structural"? High rates of incarceration and poverty among African-Americans are hugely more significant than some statue of Robert E. Lee. We can ban symbolic expressions of racism all day long and have structural racism run rampant. People who are overtly racist and fascist, etc... are only a small part of the problem.
Yet people seem to only understand problems in symbolic or iconic fashion. It's always some outrage over something someone said. Even a problem like police killing of civilians is reduced to a few iconic cases, when it is really a structural and statistical problem.
Saturday, October 28, 2017
An "academic freedom syllabus" that sees academic freedom exclusively as administrators caving in in "knee jerk" fashion to the right. She repeats that phrase "knee jerk" so many times. And "alt right."
Most of the time, academic administrators are repressing freedom on their own accord, not because of some external right-wing threat. They are doing so when faculty challenge the administrators, or to satisfy some not right-wing constituencies of students, or in a misguided attempt to enforce Title IX.
They are creating "free speech zones" and speech codes.
The so-called "progressive stack" is very dangerous. If someone has the academic freedom to call on students according to a hierarchy of race and gender, why wouldn't another professor have the right to call on students according to a "regressive stack"? This professor might say, well, "since my colleagues are using the progressive stack in their classes, I need to counter this by calling on the most privileged first, etc..." Well, that would be outrageous, but if the progressive stack exists, then wouldn't the same academic freedom justify the regressive stack.
Of course, some would point out that the regressive stack is already being practiced. I can see that perspective too. So we could go around in a circle with this argument. I would counter that then the regressive professor could say that he is just following the status quo then, so he can't be disciplined for doing what he has always done. Because academic freedom.
I think this should be debated and if anyone can prove me wrong I would be happy.
sharp edges create an "attractive nuisance." Once, these
borders were policed by well-meaning bureaucrats. The culture
coarsens and grows bewilderingly nuanced at the same time. "Shit happens"
on the one hand, and, on the other, infinite gradations of identity, in the small gap
between two otherwise indistinguishable genders. The response
was supposed to be that that the most subtle and the least subtle among us
"lack all conviction." But it isn't so. Those working against the obesity epidemic by day
would join in protests against "fat shaming" in the evening but if you thought
there was a contradiction in this you would be very wrong. That's just one example.
I'm speaking off the record here. I can't even mean what I say anymore....
Friday, October 27, 2017
Suppose there is a language with ten nouns and ten intransitive verbs. Speakers of this language only use two word sentences like "lion sleeps" or "man eats." So there are 100 possible sentences in the language. The chances that two sentences will be identical, then, is 1 in 100. The chances that two consecutive sentences will coincide are 1/1000. And so on. (Image two people in rooms 100 miles apart who are asked to write essay in this language.) Of course in a corpus of billions of words you will find identical stretches of language, and these will occur according to the probabilities we can easily calculate.
Now let's say that the language gets many more types of words, and more in each category, and that sentence length is indefinite, and patterns of syntax more varied. Now we have 20,000 words, not 20, so I can't even run the percentages any more: they are too vast. See two short stories by Borges, "Pierre Menard" and "The Library at Babel" for more insight into this. See Chomsky on the creativity of language.
In our musical system there are twelve notes. I used to wonder why we didn't run out of new melodies. After all, the possibilities are finite. It is true that many melodies contain identical sequences of notes in some stretches, but it is not hard to write new melodies.
The idea that your language forces you to say certain things and not others, then, needs to be re-examined. You can follow all the rules of syntax and still come up with original combinations.
Plagiarism by accident happens when you literally copy and paste something and leave the quotation marks off, and then come back to your text and lose track of whose language is whose. It is an accident but it is still your fault. Aside from the carelessness of not marking the language as quoted, there is another issue: you should have a pride in your prose that would make someone else's language stick out when inserted therein. Sometimes I look at a guest post by Thomas on this blog and think for a second or two: oh, that is strange, I don't write like this, before realizing that, no, I don't write like that. Thomas writes very well, but differently than I do. There are posts I don't remember writing, but I recognize them as my writing.
I guess poets with cookie cutter styles might have this problem.
Thursday, October 26, 2017
I lost one book to alcoholism
one to debt
one to depression
another to life itself
and so I leave to the world these four books of poems
Pristine, Poems of Salt,
The Diamond in the Rough, Rawhide Visions
Wednesday, October 25, 2017
I see this as part of the trend toward emphasizing less academic functions of academia, though the dean is making these positions 25% ones rather than 50 to save money. So the dean will do as much work, probably, but be paid half the amount for the administrative work sh/e does.
We literary people, even the smartest among us sometimes
need our convenient caricatures
reclusive Emily, expansive Walt
Baudelaire the flâneur
casual Frank O'Hara, abstruse Ashbery
cool Miles, eccentric, dissonant Thelonious
But in Monk's music there is a universe of music
vast territories of mood, texture, color
childlike simplicity and recondite complications
or at the very least a small country it would be nice to visit
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
A situation that took place in a sociology classroom earlier this week has been brought to my attention and I felt the need to communicate to you about it, particularly as it pertains to our value of inclusivity.
A professor is reported to have presented materials and made comments about which some students have expressed concern. We are taking the matter very seriously and are gathering the facts to determine if and what action is warranted.
The classroom is an environment in which students and faculty can and should discuss challenging topics and ideas, which makes it all the more important that we gather and fully review the facts in this case.
As we review this situation, let me say unequivocally that SUNY Geneseo has a steadfast and uncompromising commitment to diversity and inclusivity. We work diligently to sustain an inviting and supportive environment for people of all gender identities, gender expressions, sexual orientations, races, religions and other identities.I use this opportunity to remind you that our Interim Chief Diversity Officer robbie routenberg (capitalization style intentional) is available as a resource to the campus community. I would also encourage any students who have support needs to contact Lenny Sancilio, dean of students, and Dillon Federici, coordinator of LGBTQ Programs and Services.Sincerely,....
Her lines are clear and concise, distinguished by rhyme, sound, punctuated with her signature dash and exclamation marks, half-rhymes and surprising line-breaks. She accepted her private isolation and agoraphobia and chose to commune with humanity through her poems.I don't know if Dickinson's lines are "clear." To say they are "distinguished by rhyme, sound" is to say very little, since almost all lyric poetry rhymed in the 19th century. That is not a "distinguishing" characteristic. And sound? What can this possibly mean?
"dash and exclamation marks"--why switch between singular and plural instead of saying "dashes and exclamation marks"?
Then we get "half-rhymes." That is fine, but are they meant to be punctuation too? Why repeat "rhyme" twice in the same sentence? Isn't the use of half-rhyme more distinctive? And Dickinson is not particularly known for surprising line breaks or enjambement. Shouldn't we just say it concisely--that she mostly uses the ballad stanza, defamiliarizing it through slant-rhymes and eccentric punctuation?
And "commune with humanity." I don't like that. And "private isolation"--as opposed to public isolation I suppose?
A page later, she is talking about how Dickinson is "relatable," as though she (Bialosky I mean) were a 17-year old. Her writing is extremely dumbed down.
We find clichés like "limp as a rag doll" and "the black cloud of depression." Seriously? Could no-one have edited the editor a bit?
I had two students dominate, or at least predominate, my two classes last semester. One was an African American male, the other was a white female. I didn't try to shut them down, but I did make sure that they weren't the only people speaking.
I have Latino students who speak better Spanish. They are at an advantage, since class is only in Spanish. Should I call on the more because they are more oppressed, or less because they are comparatively advantaged in this particular situation?
There isn't some huge competition to participate. Many students, the majority in fact, don't want to say anything at all. I'll still make them say something from time to time, but I want to be a professor, not a dentist.
Should I call more on students who do not seem as gender normative? So I am supposed to make a judgment about someone based on their external mannerisms? Their skin color? Their last name? Should I favor Asian over whites, or vice-versa? How should I treat Jews? International students? Should I ask for students' or parents' tax returns to see how well off they are?
If my students knew I was calling on them more or less based on their race / gender / perceived gender identity, would they like it? Yes, you seem like you're gay, so I'll call on you more than the guy sitting next to you. Wouldn't then the straight white guy with an invisible disability make his own claim? To announce that you were going to do this would be disastrous. The woman who tweeted that she would call on white males only "if she had to" is practicing overt discrimination. Of course the right wing picked up on it, but that does not make it right. Sometimes seemingly progressive ideas are simply terrible.
Monday, October 23, 2017
Since the fine people accused of plagiarism will likely feel bad about it, the main reaction should be to feel sorry for them / defend them against "lynch mobs" and "witch hunts."
Nobody is that original anyway. We should be humble and not take these things too seriously.
Originality is over-rated in the first place. It is a just "fetish."
Authorship is a fetish too.
Let's talk about something else for a change.
But... Trump! Weinstein!
Capitalism is bad. Nobody should own poetry. (Property is theft, per Marx.).
Poetry should belong to everyone.
Illiterate blues musicians....
The poem I stole from you was not that great anyway. Who do you think you are?
Since there is no real money in poetry, the idea that it can be "stolen" is ridiculous.
In the distant past, most poetry was anonymous.
Poetry is not a real job.
Copyright is a recent invention.
We all write in the same alphabet so there are limited things we can express.
Since nobody reads poetry, we shouldn't care about who the authors are, whom we are not likely to be reading. The stakes are too low for us to care.
It's all in a gray area, so let's approach the problem through a more nuanced view (which ends up holding nobody culpable).
This kind of thing drive me crazy:
Personally I have never been remotely interested in“plagiarism” scandals, which always seem to me to demean everyone involved,like excitable children accusing each other of copying. All poets writing in English use the same language, the same alphabet and the same grammatical structure. We are all inheritors of the same literary traditions. We all drink from the same well. No poet should be so lacking in humility as to think that they can ever write anything that is “original”. All any of us can ever hope to do is to restate in a contemporary idiom what has already been said, probably by much better poets than we can ever be. An original poem is as impossible as an original colour. Which is perhaps why, for all the current emphasis on poets finding their “voice”, so many contemporary poets sound the same...
This is so fallacious it beggars belief, but I see people making this argument all the time. We know, mathematically speaking, that the chances of two people coming up with the same 8 word sentence is infinitesimal. Because, well, math. It's not the alphabet that's preventing originality.
The fallacy is conflating originality 1 (unique sentences and paragraphs never existing before) with
originality 2 (something original in a more profound sense)
Originality 1 is very easy to achieve, and just involves not copying things verbatim, writing the ideas that come out of ones own brain.
Originality 2 is impossible to achieve, therefore let's not bother with 1 either?
I despise this discourse of humility.
And why should the poetry world suddenly be the focus of these questions about ownership. Why now? Why poetry? Why not the worlds of, say, ventriloquism, athletics, topiary or pottery? Who benefits from the importation of this legal vocabulary into poetry? The current moral panic over “plagiarism in poetry” seems to me to derive from several overlapping elements—the post-Romantic privatisation of feeling and language, the fetishisation of “novelty” in contemporary culture, half-hearted notions of intellectual property, the long-term consequences of Creative Writing moving from university adult education onto campus as an academic subject, the professionalisation of poetry, and the creation of a large pool of Creative Writing graduates competing for publication, jobs and prizes at the same time as a catastrophic decline in the number of poetry publishers.
People like to know who came up with the words of a poem, poets don't like their work stolen. It is very simple. It is not a moral panic at all. This also commits the famous "why now" fallacy. There is no "why no" because there are always plagiarism controversies, whenever someone plagiarizes and gets caught. And the list of factors listed didn't all happen at the same time either so they have no explanatory power.