“Originally, feathers evolved to retain heat; later, they were repurposed for a means of flight. No one ever accuses the descendants of ancient birds of plagiarism for taking heat-retaining feathers and modifying them into wings for flight. In our current system, the original feathers would be copyrighted, and upstart birds would get sued for stealing the feathers for a different use. Almost all famous discoveries (by Edison, Darwin, Einstein, et al.) were not lightning-bolt epiphanies but were built slowly over time and heavily dependent on the intellectual superstructure of what had come before them. The commonplace book was popular among English intellectuals in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. These notebooks were a depository for thoughts and quotes and were usually categorized by topic. Enquire Within Upon Everything was a commercially successful take-off on the commonplace book in London in 1890. There’s no such thing as originality. Invention and innovation grow out of rich networks of people and ideas. All life on earth (and by extension, technology) is built upon appropriation and reuse of the preexisting.”more info
source: “Life Is Short; Art is Shorter,” Los Angeles Review of Books, May 2, 2011.
“The list is the world, reframed as art.”more info
source: “The Millions Interview: David Shields (Part 1),” by Sonya Chung, The Millions, February 10, 2010.
“The etymology of fiction is from fingere (participle fictum), meaning ‘to shape, fashion, form, or mold.’ Any verbal account is a fashioning and shaping of events.”more info
source: Reality Hunger (New York: Random House, 2010), 10.
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medium: Literary criticism
“Who owns the words? Who owns the music and the rest of our culture? We do—all of us—though not all of us know it yet. Reality cannot be copyrighted.”more info
source: Reality Hunger: A Manifesto (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010), 209.
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notes: This is a rephrasing of remarks written by the cyberpunk author William Gibson in “God's Little Toys: Confessions of a Cut and Paste Artist,” Wired, Issue 13.07, July 2005. Gibson's words: “‘Who owns the words?’ asked a disembodied but very persistent voice throughout much of Burroughs’ work. Who does own them now? Who owns the music and the rest of our culture? We do. All of us. Though not all of us know it - yet.”
“As a work gets more autobiographical, more intimate, more confessional, more embarrassing, it breaks into fragments. Our lives aren’t prepackaged along narrative lines and, therefore, by its very nature, reality-based art—underprocessed, underproduced—splinters and explodes.”more info
source: David Shields, Reality Hunger: A Manifesto (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010), 27.
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“I’m interested in the ways in which stories of suffering might be used to mask other, less marketable stories of suffering.”more info