What’s Mine Is (not) Yours

Last week’s post Hey Irony wrangled a bit with the wild west of the Internet, knowledge v. information, and the often confusing environment of intellectual property.  After a cascade of inner conflicts, I’ve decided to take a new approach to imagery used on Esse Diem.

Copy Copy Copy....Right

I try to use my own photographs when I can, but have often fallen back on Google images to represent some of the themes in various posts.  I have struggled with finding some great pictures that in my heart of hearts I know must “belong” to someone, but when I find them they are so long-lost to their original source and uncredited I can’t credit them either.  Frankly, I’ve just gotten tempted by the easy access to things that don’t belong to me. 

I think some people call that stealing.

I rationalized some images because I thought surely they would be credited if anyone cared; but after reading the article that inspired Hey Irony, I’ve realized that is far from the case.  There are no rules governing most of the Internet and therefore most blogging, yet even when there are no rules there are ethics in play.  It’s true on the Internet and it’s true everywhere.  Ethics are harder because there is no one to give you a black and white answer, so often we shrug and say, “Well, I didn’t know the rules.”

What I do know is that I revere the concept of intellectual property.  The image of Jeff Bridges, for example, came from the International Movie Data Base and clearly is an artistic treatment of a photograph taken by a professional.  It is beautiful, creative, unique….and it belongs to someone who should get credit for it.  If I can’t find that person I need to find another solution.

This week, the solution at Esse Diem is original drawings by my husband Jamie.  Among other things, he is an artist who draws and sketches daily, writes poetry, and regularly creates delicious meals for friends and family.  His drawings are spontaneous, clever, and whimsical.  I am honored to have his visual interpretations of the post themes this week.

Hey Irony

I just read a great essay in The New York Observer (via West Virginia’s own Ann Magnuson).  If someone asked you for a quick answer to this question, what would you say:  

“What’s so great about being original?” 

The essay’s author Lee Siegel stumbled a moment and then started thinking: 

Ann and Bowie

We are now in the middle of a crisis of originality, and partly this is due to the raging dogs of information that Google has unleashed. (EDG note to self: raging dogs of information.  That is some good stuff.  I need to use that in my next blog post.  Wait, I just did…….or does that count?)  We are so inundated by what has been written and said, and by what was written and said just seconds ago, that it is becoming impossible to sort out who said what first. Not only that, but as the idea of intellectual property—of copyright—has been thrown out the window, the notion that thoughts are duplicable commodities has become more widespread.  (EDG note to self:  I really, really want to use that picture of Ann making out with David Bowie from The Hunger.  That’s not copyrighted, right?  I mean, I couldn’t just get it if it were, right?) 

I want to tell you that Lee’s analysis of the homogeneity of literary product as it becomes increasingly electronic versus unique in your hand as an actual book is brilliant.  Except he just said that…..I mean, you can read it in the link if you click it.  Let’s see……I also really liked his examination of how referring to all forms of knowledge now as generic “information” is corrupting and degrading our appreciation of original thought.  But he did mention that, too.  And you probably just read that. 

I was going to post today about the word “unique,” and how if one more person uses a modifier with it I may go bona fide crazy.  There should be a special reform school (prison may be too harsh) for those who say, “most unique,” “more unique,” etc.  But Lee knocked me off my game with his ideas.   

Where was I? 

Oh yes.  I think what I really want to tell you is that I completely adore his concluding thought: 

But no one is quite like anyone else, and so long as you are honest about your experience, no two people will ever make intellectual or artistic sense of the world in the same way. 

I was going to say something like that.  I swear.