Originality is just a fine imitation
Most of us are still very conscientious despite the vagaries of time having ruffled our sensitivity time and again. It was in this context that I replied to a friend’s article on the art of plagiarism that now-a-days it is a done thing: Only a few are caught but a majority escape free of their “sinful act”.
There is no idea in the world that is not stolen. Similarly, there is nothing in the world what we call ‘original’!
Everything is/was there and we only find it, discover it and use it as ‘original’. An idea too is not original; and my idea is not my idea. It just comes out of my mind because I had heard it, read it once upon a time. True, I may not be consciously aware of this. But now I am the master and I churn them out as “original” and my own. Why? Why? Because either I have limited intelligence or I feel I am too intelligent?
As I write this, I am conscious that years ago when I was a child and in school, I did not have any idea of things around; but now there is a mine of ideas yet to be explored inside my mind. And those ideas I claim as my own even though they are all “acquired” from various sources in the decades gone by.
That is why Laurence J Peter says, “Originality is the fine art of remembering what you hear but forgetting where you heard it.”
But now since I am clever enough to tweak these ideas, they become my own and hence perfectly original.
I get great satisfaction on this stand when writers like C S Lewis says, “Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: Whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring two pence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.”
Therefore, the contention is nobody has the right to claim that a particular idea is his; he never had it until he got it somehow or somewhere just as I did. Voltaire too said this, “Originality is nothing but judicious imitation. The most original writers borrowed from one another.”
My honest confession is that I have stolen all that I wrote all these years; and yet my mind and soul have given me a “clean chit” for doing a fine job of judicious imitation that is way beyond the original.
But wait, mistakes are the only universal form of originality. This too is a blatant plagiarisation but I don’t remember who said it!
Yet, I remain, very, very originally yours without any compunction!