Noun: plagiarism: the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own.
Sometimes when I’m about to write about a particular idea, I will look at quotes on the subject. Not to use either the quote or the idea, but to spark ideas from them and follow where they might lead. Ideas come from many sources and while most of them seem to self-generate, there is every possibility that they originated somewhere else. Something you have seen, heard or read may have been incubating for years before it comes to the surface, reshaped and repackaged, with a relevance that is all your own. Indeed, unless you are deliberately plagiarising the work of another, you can say that it is your own. How else do we learn but by taking in what life offers and allowing our own mind and heart to work their alchemy?
Am I plagiarising the great poets when I use two words that rhyme, just because they have been used before? Or stealing the work of the creators of the alphabet when I rearrange their letters and write a book? There are only very small number of letters after all; we are bound to string them together in a way that has already been done. If we are going to take things to their logical conclusion, existence itself is plagiarism. Whatever the creative force of existence is seen to be…scientific, religious or spiritual… there is a point of origin somewhere between non-being and being and, whatever its nature, the copyright of that particular creative Work must begin there. No matter how you look at any part of the world and seek to recreate it artistically, no matter what medium you may use… or by what name or image you know its origin… everything we know bears the same stamp… copyright © God.
That means we are all guilty of plagiarism when we seek to capture or reflect the beauty and character of the world around us. We choose to call it by another name…inspiration… yet the principle is the same, we take something from another source and, passing it through the filter of our own gifts and being, call it our own.
There is a darker side, though, to the way we appropriate and shape ideas that have originated in a mind other than ours…
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