Ayreen -- Utopian Plagiarism -- by Critical Art Ensemble

Date Posted: 02.29.04

Utopian Plagiarism, Hypertextuality, and Electronic Cultural Production

by Critical Art Ensemble

from Critical Issues in Electronic Media edited by Simon Penny

Plagiarism has long been considered an evil in the cultural world. Typically it has been viewed as the theft of language, ideas, and images by the less than talented, often for the enhancement of personal fortune or prestige. Yet, like most mythologies, the myth of plagiarism is easily inverted. Perhaps it is those who support the legislation of representation and the privatization of language that are suspect; perhaps the plagiarist's actions, given a specific set of social conditions, are the ones contributing most to cultural enrichment. Prior to the Enlightenment, plagiarism was useful in aiding the distribution of ideas. An English poet could appropriate and translate a sonnet from Petrarch and call it his own. In accordance with the classical aesthetic of art as imitation, this was a perfectly accept able practice. The real value of this activity rested less in the reinforcement of classical aesthetics than in the distribution of work to areas where otherwise it probably would not have appeared. The works of English plagiarists, such as Chaucer, Shakespeare, Spenser, Sterne, Coleridge, and De Quincey, are still a vital part of the English heritage, and remain in the literary canon to this day.

At present, new conditions have emerged that once again make plagiarism an acceptable, even crucial strategy for textual production. This is the age of the recombinant: recombinant bodies, recombinant gender, recombinant texts, recombinant culture. Looking back through the privileged frame of hindsight, one can argue that the recombinant has always been key in the development of meaning and invention; recent extraordinary advances in electronic technology have called attention to the recombinant both in theory and in practice (for example, the use of morphing in video and film). The primary value of all electronic technology, especially computers and imaging systems, is the startling speed at which they can transmit information in both raw and refined forms. As information flows at a high velocity through the electronic networks, disparate and some times incommensurable systems of meaning intersect, with both enlightening and inventive consequences. In a society dominated by a "knowledge" explosion, exploring the possibilities of meaning in that which already exists is more pressing than adding redundant information (even if it is produced using the methodology and metaphysic of the "original"). In the past, arguments in favor of plagiarism were limited to showing its use in resisting the privatization of culture that serves the needs and desires of the power elite. Today one can argue that plagiarism is acceptable, even inevitable, given the nature of postmodern existence with its techno-infrastructure. In a recombinant culture, plagiarism is productive, although we need not abandon the romantic model of cultural production that privileges a model of ex nihilo creation. Certainly in a general sense the latter model is somewhat anachronistic. There are still specific situations where such thinking is useful, and one can never be sure when it could become appropriate again. What is called for is an end to its tyranny and to its institutionalized cultural bigotry. This is a call to open the cultural database, to let everyone use the technology of textual production to its maximum potential.

Ideas improve. The meaning of words participates in the
improvement. Plagiarism is necessary. Progress Implies
it. It embraces an author's phrase, makes use of his
expressions, erases a false Idea, and replaces it with the
right idea.

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World's Richest People for 2004

Topic(s): Capital
Date Posted: 02.28.04

Forbes' list of billionaires for 2004. Note that J.K. Rowling, the author of "Harry Potter," is on the list. Who said writers don't make money?


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Chomsky: A Wall as a Weapon

Topic(s): Palestine / Israel
Date Posted: 02.23.04

Published in the New Yok Times. That's right... Chomsky in the Times...

February 23, 2004


CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — It is a virtual reflex for governments to plead security concerns when they undertake any controversial action, often as a pretext for something else. Careful scrutiny is always in order. Israel's so-called security fence, which is the subject of hearings starting today at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, is a case in point.

Few would question Israel's right to protect its citizens from terrorist attacks like the one yesterday, even to build a security wall if that were an appropriate means. It is also clear where such a wall would be built if security were the guiding concern: inside Israel, within the internationally recognized border, the Green Line established after the 1948-49 war. The wall could then be as forbidding as the authorities chose: patrolled by the army on both sides, heavily mined, impenetrable. Such a wall would maximize security, and there would be no international protest or violation of international law.

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Rwanda Revisits Its Nightmare

Topic(s): Rwanda
Date Posted: 02.17.04


February 17, 2004

KIGALI, Rwanda — Soldiers poured through the front gate of a schoolyard, followed by angry militia men wielding machetes, axes, knives and clubs. There were shrieks and gunshots. Girls fled in terror. Then a voice yelled, "Cut!"

The soldiers stopped; the fear faded from the faces of the girls. They all went back to their positions and started again.

Among those watching was Simon Gasibirege, a psychologist at Rwanda's national university. He had counseled the actors before the cameras started rolling, and he studied their faces throughout the mock raid for signs of undue anxiety. He, too, could have called a halt to the action.

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Kevin -- Danny Morrison -- My Report on Lord Hutton

Date Posted: 02.13.04

The Guardian
My Report on Lord Hutton

The judge's ruling was no surprise. For decades
in Northern Ireland he was a guardian angel of
the establishment

Danny Morrison
Tuesday February 3, 2004
The Guardian

Lord Hutton and I were once very close. I sat
about 10 feet from him in the witness box while
he quizzed me on charges of conspiracy to
murder, IRA membership and kidnapping. He
eventually sentenced me to eight years in jail
on the testimony of a police informer I had
never met. Although in the Belfast high court
Hutton occasionally acquitted republicans and
dismissed the appeals of soldiers, nationalists
generally considered him a hanging judge and the
guardian angel of soldiers and police officers.

I was amused at the response of sections of the
media and British public to last week's report
when he exonerated the prime minister, his
defence secretary and his press officer from the
BBC's allegations that the government "sexed up"
a pre-war dossier on Iraqi WMD - and damned the
BBC. Incredibly, many who followed the Hutton
inquiry and observed the contradictions, the
lies and the evasiveness of government
representatives, expected this damning evidence
to be taken into account.

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Kevin -- 'A FARTHER SHORE' Ireland's Perennial Outsider: No Confession, No Apology

Topic(s): BookReview
Date Posted: 02.13.04

January 20, 2004
Perennial Outsider: No Confession, No Apology

For all his adult life Gerry Adams has fought to reunite the Republic of Ireland with the six counties of Northern Ireland, which remained part ofBritain when the rest of the island won its independence 80-odd years ago.

The Irish Republican Army's violent struggle to achieve that goal has wound down, but not without lingering effects on modern marketing. In the republic most people first hear about a new book by Mr. Adams through reports that broadcasting regulators have banned advertisements for it.The reasoning is that Mr. Adams is so well known as president of Sinn Fein, the I.R.A.'s political wing, that ads for his books are equivalent to political statements. That policy is also the legacy of a censorship law that until 1994 required actors' voices to be dubbed over Sinn Fein politicians, so that a generation of Irish people grew up without knowing what they sounded like.

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SHOBAK -- Do turkeys enjoy thanksgiving?

Topic(s): Iraq
Date Posted: 02.13.04

Do turkeys enjoy thanksgiving?
By Arundhati Roy

It's not good enough to be right. Sometimes, if only in order to test our resolve, it's important to win something. In order to win something, we need to agree on something." After a tour d'horizon, the author of The God of Small Things calls for a " minimum agenda" as well as a plan of action that prioritises global resistance to the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Here is the text of her speech at the opening Plenary of the World Social Forum in Mumbai on January 16, 2004:

LAST JANUARY thousands of us from across the world gathered in Porto Allegre in Brazil and declared — reiterated — that "Another World is Possible". A few thousand miles north, in Washington, George Bush and his aides were thinking the same thing.

Our project was the World Social Forum. Theirs — to further what many call The Project for the New American Century.

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Avi -- The Failure of the Policy of Force

Date Posted: 02.13.04

The failure of the policy of force

By Akiva Eldar

The settlers and their supporters have done Ariel Sharon, and themselves as well, a favor by tying the prime minister's disengagement plan to his investigation by the police. The claim that Sharon is trying to divert public attention away from the suspicion that he accepted a bribe actually diverts public attention away from the suspicion of sins of commission (and omission) that are far worse than bribery. It is enough to ask how many of the thousands of people killed over the last few years would have been alive today if Sharon had transferred Gaza to the Palestinian Authority three years ago, as an advance payment on a final-status agreement.

Has the hold of Hamas extremists on the territories weakened during those years? Does Israel, as it dismantles settlements "under fire," have greater deterrent power than it had when it originally refused to conduct negotiations under fire because this would weaken its deterrent power? And what will the Arabs learn from Israel's decision to give up Gaza without obtaining anything from them in exchange?

That Sharon has become a partner for peace, or that terrorism pays? That it is better to stop killing Jews, or that if they continue to kill us, we will give them more territory?

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N.Y. City Council Passes Anti-Patriot Act Measure

Topic(s): Civil Liberties
Date Posted: 02.11.04


By Michelle Garcia
Special to The Washington Post
Thursday, February 5, 2004; Page A11

NEW YORK, Feb. 4 -- New York City, site of the country's most horrific terrorist attack, Wednesday became the latest in a long list of cities and towns that have formally opposed the expanded investigatory powers granted to law enforcement agencies under the USA Patriot Act.

The New York City Council approved a resolution condemning the law, enacted by Congress six weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, with a voice vote in its chambers a few blocks from the gaping hole at Ground Zero.

"The Patriot Act is really unpatriotic, it undermines our civil rights and civil liberties," said council member Bill Perkins (D-Manhattan), the bill's sponsor. "We never give up our rights that's what makes us Americans."

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Krugman: The Wars of the Texas Succession

Topic(s): George W. Bush
Date Posted: 02.09.04

NY Review of Books

Volume 51, Number 3 · February 26, 2004

The Wars of the Texas Succession
By Paul Krugman
American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush
by Kevin Phillips
Viking, 397 pp., $25.95

The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill
by Ron Suskind
Simon and Schuster, 348 pp., $26.00

Here's a true story that came too late to make it into Kevin Phillips's American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush, but it fits perfectly with its thesis. As all the world knows, Halliburton, the company that made Dick Cheney rich, has been given multibillion-dollar contracts, without competitive bidding, in occupied Iraq. Suspicions of profiteering are widespread; critics think they have found a smoking gun in the case of gasoline imports. For Halliburton has been charging the US authorities in Iraq remarkably high prices for fuel—far above local spot prices.

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Judy, Judy, Judy

Topic(s): feminism
Date Posted: 02.06.04


Subject to Debate by Katha Pollitt

[from the February 16, 2004 issue]

I used to think we should get rid of First Ladies. Plenty of countries manage without a national wife: Cherie Blair aside (and how long would Britain's answer to Hillary have lasted over here?), can you name the spouse of the man who leads France, Germany, China, Canada or Russia? And no, "Mrs. Putin" doesn't count as a correct answer. Is Lula married? What about Ariel Sharon? Is there a Mrs. General Musharraf ready with a nice cup of tea when her man comes home after walking the nuclear weapons? Do you care? The ongoing public inquest into Dr. Judith Steinberg makes me see, however, that we need First Ladies: Without them, American women might actually believe that they are liberated, that modern marriage is an equal partnership, that the work they are trained for and paid to do is important whether or not they are married, and that it is socially acceptable for adult women in the year 2004 to possess distinct personalities--even quirks! Without First Ladies, a woman might imagine that whether she keeps or changes her name is a private, personal choice, the way the young post-post-feminists always insist it is when they write those annoying articles explaining why they are now calling themselves Mrs. My Husband.

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