Thursday 8 February 2007

Loose ends.

Some great responses to yesterday’s filibuster, and links for further investigation of the theme: who said plagiarism a bad thing?
Neil Gaiman wrote:
"Richard Posner (a remarkable judge and legal mind, oddly enough the appeal's court judge who ruled for me in the McFarlane case) just did a book about this, from a writer's point of view, saying the same thing as you Eddie, more or less: There's a review in the LA Times (Jan 28):
The Little Book of Plagiarism by Richard A. Posner
"Theft or imitation? A respected judge considers the possibilities.
At 116 pages — and small pages at that — Richard A. Posner's "The Little Book of Plagiarism" is aptly titled. It's a brief but provocative and illuminating meditation on the current craze for searching out, denouncing and punishing authors who appear to have borrowed the work of others and passed it off as their own. Ever the controversialist, Posner is willing to entertain the idea that plagiarism is hardly the high crime that moralists in the media and the academy advertise it as…

…he complains about "the absurd idea that 'copying' is inherently bad" and the "growing belief that literary, artistic, and other intellectual goods are not really 'creative' unless they are 'original.' "

Bat Masterson drew my attention to a similar enterprise by Jonathan Lethem in Harper’s (Jan 31):
The Ecstasy of Influence: A plagiarism
"And artists, or their heirs, who fall into the trap of attacking the collagists and satirists and digital samplers of their work are attacking the next generation of creators for the crime of being influenced, for the crime of responding with the same mixture of intoxication, resentment, lust, and glee that characterizes all artistic successors. By doing so they make the world smaller, betraying what seems to me the primary motivation for participating in the world of culture in the first place: to make the world larger.

…does our appetite for creative vitality require the violence and exasperation of another avant-garde, with its wearisome killing-the-father imperatives, or might we be better off ratifying the ecstasy of influence—and deepening our willingness to understand the commonality and timelessness of the methods and motifs available to artists?

Despite hand-wringing at each technological turn—radio, the Internet—the future will be much like the past. Artists will sell some things but also give some things away. Change may be troubling for those who crave less ambiguity, but the life of an artist has never been filled with certainty."

The essay is long and wonderful. I will be keeping a copy in my permanent file. Go and read it now.

* * * *

Apropos of talking about William Hogarth here on Jan 24, Ben Smith has linked me to a Feb 6th review in the Guardian of a new Hogarth exhibition at Tate Britain
The fun of filth
"Hogarth may not have been a great painter, but who cares? The world he gave us is rich, rude, teeming with life - and wonderfully familiar, says Adrian Searle"
Away down in the body of the piece, this line struck a note of horror in me:
"We should also remember that people were still being burned at the stake, beheaded for treason, hanged, flayed, pilloried and whipped in public in London."

BURNED AT THE STAKE? As late as Hogarth’s time? (he died 1764) I need to check this...

I found Richard clark’s site on the history of capital punishment, in which there is a page devoted to burning.
And it gets worse. By the 18th century burning was reserved for women. Apparently they didn’t want people coming to view the proceedings for the wrong reason:
" Men who were convicted of high treason were hanged, drawn and quartered but this was not deemed acceptable for women as it would have involved nudity. Until 1790, every woman convicted of counterfeiting gold or silver coin of the realm, was sentenced to be drawn on a hurdle to the place of execution and there " to be burned with fire till she was dead." (Blackstone's Commentaries, 204. Ibid, 377) In Britain after 1700, women who were sentenced to be burnt were allowed by law to be strangled with a rope before the fire got to them and thus died in much the same way as they would have by hanging."

"The Times newspaper: “The execution of a woman for coining on Wednesday morning, reflects a scandal upon the law and was not only inhuman, but shamefully indelicate and shocking. Why should the law in this species of offence inflict a severer punishment upon a woman, than a man. It is not an offence which she can perpetrate alone - in every such case the insistence of a man has been found the operating motive upon the woman; yet the man is but hanged, and the woman burned.”

The whole ghastly business passed into history in 1790 … "

* * * *

Art Spiegelman lectures at Yale, account in the Yale Daily News. of Feb 5:
Graphic novelist defends value of comics genre
By Alice Walton
"The graphic novelist spoke about the comics that influenced him as a young child: 'I learned to read from Batman, I learned about sex from Betty and Veronica … and I learned about everything else from Mad Magazine,' he said.
Audience members making their way into the University Theatre on Friday evening to see famed comic Art Spiegelman were warned right away that this would not be a typical lecture, as signs in the lobby warned that there would be smoking on stage.
'This is not a lecture, this is a performance,' Spiegelman said, as he lit the first of a long chain of cigarettes. 'Because in a performance, you can smoke onstage. Tonight, I will play the part of a neurotic comic book author."

Meanwhile, Time magazine observes the Masters of American Comics exhibition reaching its close: (Feb 3)
Does Mad Need a Museum?
”This snobbery still vexes Spiegelman. "I have all sorts of issues with the idea that a Lichtenstein painting of a comic book panel is art but the original comic panel it draws on is not considered art," he told TIME's Jeanne McDowell for a 2005 story we did on the exhibition. "I hate that whole attitude and way of looking at this stuff. Lichtenstein did for comics what Warhol did for Campbell's Soup – it had nothing to do with comics. It had to do with exploiting the form without any of the content."
Artie, who said that the great mocker, Mad magazine , was his education, is upset at Lichtenstein mocking comics. Aw, diddums.

* * * *

Leif Peng has put Anita Virgil’s memoir of her late husband, illustrator Andy Virgil all on its own blog and in consecutive running order. An excellent and moving read.
This week leif is looking at the work of great '50s stylist Joe de Mers

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's nice returning here and finding a lot of great reading materials. Thank you! And the "wee campbell" drawing is awesome!

from Bandung, Indonesia

8 February 2007 at 02:19:00 GMT-5  
Blogger drjon said...

...and have you seen this yet?

8 February 2007 at 06:07:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Dave Cake said...

I've been enjoying your writing about Hogarth. While I've enjoyed what little of his work that I've seen (I particularly like Gin Lane and Beer Street), he does seem to be one of those artists that we can never appreciate the same way his contemporarys did.

Actually, I've been enjoying your writing about everything. Its like Egomania in daily installments.

Oh, and what do you think about the
movie style trailers First Second have up for Black diamond etc?

8 February 2007 at 08:48:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Johnny Walker said...

Interesting video that links Web 2.0 with copyright questions by some professor of anthropology:

It's interesting to read about the current "craze" that everything needs to be original. It still feels kind of strange to me, somewhere it's been hardwired into me that copying is bad, but I think that's wrong, and I can see that now. It seems like we'd have a much healthier world if this attitude wasn't prevalent.

It reminds me of how certain types kick up a massive fuss about George Lucas altering "Star Wars". I've heard people complain about "revisionist filmmaking", and that no-one should be allowed to re-visit a piece of their own work once it has put out into the public domain... It amazes me because just about every major piece of art has had revisions or alternate versions throughout its life. It seems like a weird modern compulsive desire to try and catch something and "contain" or "preserve" it. Perhaps even so it can be catalogued or something? I don't know, it's weird!

8 February 2007 at 09:10:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Andrew Hawthorn said...

I think the criticism of Lucas vs Star Wars is mainly his choices of revision, and not the revision himself. I could be wrong.

I was at that Spiegalman lecture. It was very odd. He went so far as to suggest that Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen weren't actually graphic novels (per se) as they were published in periodical form first.

Ignoring the fact that this means that all of Dickens and Conan Doyle are now no longer to be considered "novels", his own book, Maus was published in installments in Raw.

As well, when I asked him why no other comic work had really achieved the kind of "non-comic reader" attention that Maus had, he said that wasn't the case and pointed to Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan as a book that non-comic reading people had heard about and read.

Maybe I'm wrong about this. The fact that he was there at all means that the perception of comics has changed, but it seems to me that though the quality of the work has improved, the amount of people reading has not significantly expanded.

8 February 2007 at 22:16:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

I like to tell myself that the people who comment on here are only a fraction of those reading the blog. There fore, if you are one of a dozen people that comment, then I expand that to presume that, since you represent that fraction of my readers, a twefth of them all moved from Amsterdam to indonesia over the last week, except that in fact, I guess you were the only one . It's good to have you back. you were missed.:)

thanks for the heads-up, I'll rematk on it today.

the Trailer... yeah..that voice, the whole overdaramatic thing... let's talk about something else...

I checked the Youtube thing. Yes, much to mull over.
re this Plagiarism. Even 12 year old kids know what it is. i don't think I had ever heard the word at that age. difficult to remember exactly, but i'm sure I never thought about the matter. I think our teachers thought if we'd got the book out and looked at it that was good enough. the net changes everything perhaps.

When i spoke to artie four years ago he was still refusing to accept the term 'graphic novel'. Now he's defining it?
Like I said in my piece, more or less, he's coming around now for the second time, and he seems to have forgotten hs attitude from the first time.
thanks for the obs.


9 February 2007 at 01:10:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Jack Ruttan said...

I think part of the trouble with the films was that they were taking the original editions out of circulation, so all you had were the revisions.

I think they revise books in subesquent printings, to get rid of typos and obvious continuity errors, but I wonder if it goes further than that.

With comic books I'm a little cheesed when the book edition has material that wasn't in the periodical version, so they want you to buy it all over again.

I know it's a useful marketing tool, and fans have made these complaints a billion times over, and still bought the books or DVDs or whatever, but there you are.

9 February 2007 at 13:53:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Johnny Walker said...

Jack: This is what I'm talking about. MAJOR revisions have been made to "classic" pieces of art and literature. And yes, for the most part, all we are left with are these "revised" versions. People didn't complain back then.

I'm not talking typos! Lol!

During Shakespeare's lifetime, a version of Romeo and Juliet was staged with alternate endings on different nights. Want a happy ending? Go watch it on Tuesday and Thursday. Want a sad ending? Go watch it on Monday, Wednesday or Friday.

People weren't as controlling or obsessive over their art in the past. It seems like a modern sickness to me.

11 February 2007 at 07:33:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Richard Ellmann's introduction to Stanislaus Joyce's book 'My Brother's Keeper' (his brother being the more famous James):

"Inspired cribbing was always part of James's talent; his gift for transforming material, not originating it... As he remarked in later life to Frank Budgen, 'Have you ever noticed, when you get an idea, how much I can make of it?'"

12 February 2007 at 02:21:00 GMT-5  

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