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Posts Tagged ‘plagiarize’

I’ve been thinking about plagiarism lately, mainly because I’m writing a book. I want to – I need to –  credit all the wonderful people, from comedian Lewis Black to revolutionary Thomas Paine, who do a much better job of making my points than I do. (You may wonder then why I’m even bothering to write a book if others have expressed themselves on the subject but ask yourself, when was the last time you read anything that put Lewis Black and Thomas Paine in the same sentence). Anyway, plagiarizing is also in the news because one of the candidates in particular has a way with words and the others are anxious to point out all the words may not be his.

What a waste of time. If we have yet to effectively recycle our waste, we’re certainly terrific at recycling our movies, books, styles, ideas. I might say “everything old is new again” but that phrase perfectly encapsulates my point: it’s the title of at least four different songs, including one each by Peter Allen and Carol Bayer SagerBarenaked Ladies and two different women I’ve never heard of, Julie Anthony and Laura Hayes , not to mention too many books, radio shows and articles to count. Many of the best movies this year seem to be adaptations and fashion is always a restatement of an earlier era. I can’t remember the last time I heard any music I thought was truly original. We know that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it and yet, around the world that’s exactly what we’re doing. If you want to see how far we haven’t come in more than fifty years, check out the lyrics  from a 1953 song by Broadway lyricist Sheldon Harnick. It’s a short song and worth reading (click on this link) but I’ll just throw out a few lines:

They’re rioting in Africa
There’s strife in Iran
What nature doesn’t so to us
Will be done by our fellow man

(“Merry Minuet, copywrite 1953)

I’m still deeply into Sue Jacoby’s book about the latest version of American unreason but I’m more struck by how stuck we are with the old lagnauge, using words like “liberal” and “conservative” as they were used half a century ago. Talk about a lack of imagination. Meanwhile, we keep returning to outmoded economic or foreign policies, looking for a new outcome to an old application. It’s like taking an old boyfriend back, hoping things are going to be different. Tons of songs on that subject but here’s one of my favorites, “Maybe This Time” from “Cabaret” :

Maybe this time I’ll be lucky
Maybe this time he’ll stay
Maybe this time, for the first time,
Love won’t hurry away

Now all the odds are in my favor
Something’s bound to begin
It’s got to happen …happen sometime
Maybe this time I’ll win

Now there’s hope we can believe in

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