It’s all about finding the right word.
When your clothes comes off, intentionally or unintentionally in a public place, it is called “wardrobe malfunction” as if your wardrobe is an I-Pod whose electronics just happened to short itself.
When you have to lie through your teeth to sell your product, it’s not called chicanery any more—the term of choice is “creative marketing”.
I am sorry I should not have used the word “lying”. I meant “liberal with the truth”.
And when the fact that your original work of fiction is not as original as you claim it to be is exposed to the world, it is not called plagiarism now-a-days. Oh no.
Yes I am referring to literary superstar 19 year old Kavya Vishwanathan , who signed a book deal for 500K before she was 17 years old, and has now accepted that she borrowed passages from a previously published book.
In her defence, Ms Vishwanathan says:
“While the central stories of my book and hers are completely different, I wasn’t aware of how much I may have internalized Ms. McCafferty’s words. I am a huge fan of her work and can honestly say that any phrasing similarities between her works and mine were completely unintentional and unconscious. My publisher and I plan to revise my novel for future printings to eliminate any inappropriate similarities.
Sepiamutiny puts up some examples of her internalizing and once you go through the “similar lines” your first reaction is: ” Oh it’s just an accident”. Individually, none of the controversial lines, taken by themselves, are directly lifts—a similar sentence structure here, a similar turn of phrase there. However the problem is that there are just too many such instances of similarity to be attributed to coincidence.
Of course, I may just be acting like a male bitch—- no doubt because I am jealous that a 17 year old easy-on-the-eyes Indian lady gets a huge book contract while someone like me who is 30 and big-boned (yes I have mastered the art of linguistic deception) has never gotten within 100 feet of a publisher.
First read the short synopsis of How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life here. (if you don’t know it already).
Then answer this question:Say I had written How Atish Pal Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life, a story about Atish Pal (Apal), a boy from Paikpara, Kolkata whose clerk father and schoolteacher mother had brought him up with the sole intention of get into IIT—-shuttling him from one tuition to another till one day he is asked during his “ragging” :
“What do you do for fun?”
At which Apal totally blanks out and goes into shock. Iftikar, the morose doctor tells the parents: In order for Apal to get back to his Timoschenko and Young, he needs to be able to answer this question.
His parents thus have 3 months (summer vacation) in which to get Apal a life.
If I had written this, would this have been published? Would I have been paid $ 500,000? Rs 5 even?
I would have had a class action suit from millions of kids in India who would accuse me of having plagiarized…sorry internalized their life story.
I digress. Actually Ms. Vishwanathan has at least been smart. At her age a lot of people take the easy route–like copying passages verbatim with no changes, copy pasting code and changing the variable names from “i” to “j”. Many people much older do it too–i.e. execute the shameless lift: Anu Malik, Bappi Lahiri, Nadeem Shravan being names that automatically come to mind.
But not Ms. Vishwanathan. She has concentrated on sentences rather than passages (i.e a succession of sentences are not consecutively copied) and in each instance of internalization put in her original spin. And you do have to accept— each of her modifications do make sense unlike a guy I know, who during a written exam copied another person’s code and sought to distinguish his answer from the other’ s by replacing each scanf statement with a printf. (For non-C people, that’s like replacing the word “read” with “write”)
Of course, she was naive to source all her stuff from a single author’s book but then again she is just seventeen.
But how can you absolve Farhan Akthar, supposedly one of India’s most talented directors, whose movie “Don” (a remake but a publicly-announced one) has a movie poster that is almost a blind carbon copy of any Matrix promotional material—-the darkness, the tall buildings and the green shade—the exact same shade no less ? [I don’t know if Farhan okayed this but he should—the director should have total creative control over his product and knowing the power he wields I am sure he does] of being unoriginal?
Sorry to say this Mr. Akthar, but even Kavya Vishwanathan would call this a copy.
[More about Kavya Vishawanathan here]
[Update: I come across a forward today highlighting the greatest sledges of all time. And this is what it said about the Amir Sohail-Prasad incident]
Prasad has bowled thousands of deliveries and taken hundereds of wickets in his career but, it was this one granted him a place in the History of Indian Cricket .. for ever… the ghost of Miandad’s last ball six was exorcised, once and for all.
This is what I said, a year ago, about the incident in this post :
Miandad gets run out and is shamefully booed off by the Bangalore crowdâ€¦.India winsâ€¦.the ghost of Sharjah is fully exorcised.
Of course it might be me who has internalized and I cannot prove when the other person wrote his piece—however I can assert,(and leave the believing to you readers) that I did not read this forward before I wrote my piece a year ago.
Not a big deal but I make the point so that people like Shrik don’t accuse me of the “internalization”.