Whose Line Is It Anyway?

I apologize for not getting this posted on yesterday.  I was so caught up in getting WACY and all that I forgot about our assigned reading, The Ecstasy of Influence:  A Plagiarism by Jonathan Lethem.

As I was reading the article and all about Nabokov (never heard of him), Muddy Waters, Shakespeare, and T.S. Elliot, I immediately thought about the TV show that used to come on called Whose Line Is It Anyway?  Do you guys remember that show!  If so, did any of you watch it?

Well, getting back to the article.  I thought of that show mainly because of the title because I never understood the purpose.  But I will say that Drew Carey was a better host on that show than he is on The Price Is Right.  I miss Bob Barker.  Okay, I really need to get back to the article now.  I gathered from reading the article that if we look closely enough, we can find millions of things, ideas, music, lyrics, writings, etc.  that have been copied, remade, remixed, adapted, or whatever you choose to call it from something or someone else.  So with that being said I am still left wondering what then really constitutes plagiarism?  Like some of you have already posted I too am confused even more so now than I was before reading this article.

I know that throughout my 21 years of school (13 + 4 + 2 + 2) for those of you who are still confused (K-12 + undergrad + graduate + graduate again) I know that I have heard lots of things that I now consider to be common knowledge.  However, if I were to use some of this vast information, am I obligated to try to find out exactly where I acquired this knowledge so that person/place can receive proper credit?  Is that even possible?  I’m sure it is with all the technology we have now, but more importantly is all that necessary?  Some say yes, others say no.  Who’s right  and who’s wrong?  I think Lethem’s article forces us all to ponder that question.  Surely a line must be drawn somewhere but where?

2 Responses to “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”
  1. I think you bring up a REALLY important point that underlies this whole open idea: do attribute EVERYTHING we think to something or someone that influenced us? How can we even do that? I’m not sure we can nor do we need to. I think there’s a moment in a text when the author cannot possibly understand what the reader will bring to it–and they may not even understand where they got an idea–but it’s so clear to a reader that the idea was “copied” from a second author. But the first author might never have read the second author–yet they may have been exposed to the same time, similar conditions, read the same newspapers, seen the same events unfold. We have to account for that without difficulty to us all… I like that you brought up “common” knowledge as that’s such an interesting word, given our learning this summer. What is common to us now? Any and everything WAC is common, and look at our posts–they weave into and out of each other. We are influencing each other, and we are attributing the influence to others. When we can pay attention to it, or seek influence on purpose, then we need to attribute. Does that make sense? I think I does to me!!

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