During the day I had, as usual. several great ideas for tonight’s post. As the day progressed, also as usual, the ideas gradually seemed less good, or simply faded away. The one about plagiarism seems less interesting now that I am sitting in front of the computer, and the other two have simply been forgotten.
The result is that I have a blank screen and a blank mind. It is not unusual. If I were still planning to write the post on plagiarism I would have to point out that “It is not unusual” bears similarities to the words of a song by Tom Jones. It can, I imagine, be quite complicated.
It’s all a question of monkeys. With an infinite number of monkeys and a finite number of words, duplication would be inevitable. If they can write Hamlet, which always seems to be a favourite when discussing this subject, they could certainly manage some of my stuff, or the tedious instructions for jury service I was recently sent, or a shopping list.
However, if a monkey duplicates something, is it plagiarism? It’s much the same question as, if a monkey kills someone, is it murder? Murder requires intent, and it’s not likely that monkeys can form the intent to kill in the same way that a murderer would. People seem to see plagiarism as something that can happen by innocent coincidence.
However, other definitions refer to it as a process of copying the work of someone else without giving credit. In that case the typewriting monkeys there is no copying, as, to the monkeys, it is an original work, even if they are the second ones to produce it.
In my case, the worry is that with a limited number of words, ideas and conventions, it seems almost inevitable that two people will eventually write the same haiku. It’s always worried me about haiku.
Then, finally, we come to the inevitable question of whether I am a poet or a monkey.
Since there seems to be en endless supply of three word phrases for the app that lets you name a place, there must well be an absolutely huge number of potential haikus out there. I try not to plagiarise too much but as my mind is stuffed with snippets from authors that I have read over the years and comedians I have listened to, some plagiarism is inevitable. How’s it going so far?
The plagiarism is going well thanks – the sonnet “Should I compare you to a nice Spring day” is well on its way but the randomly written haiku that starts “Two Scotsmen walked into a bar . . .” still needs a little work.
I am working on Romeo and Mabel
It is quite a catchy title and, I feel, has potential.
Super interesting article! Thank you.
There is some good stuff out there, if you can find it amongst the kittens and fake news. 🙂
I hate to spoil your view of monkeys as not having intent. 🙂
I knew that they could be aggressive at times but had no idea they could take it to this level. Another illusion shattered. ;-(
I will take this as a comment on the depth of the questions I raise. Though it could just be that you can’r decide if I am a man or a monkey. . . 🙂
This was hilarious! I’ve wondered the same thing about haikus. I mean…someone has probably done the math and it’s probably pretty statistically hard…but not impossible.
The term I wanted and could not remember when writing, was deja-ku.