A storyteller is a plagiarist


“By nature a storyteller is a plagiarist. Everything one comes across — each incident, book, novel, life episode, story, person, news clip — is a coffee bean that will be crushed, ground up, mixed with a touch of cardamom, sometimes a pinch of salt, boiled thrice with sugar and served as a piping-hot tale.”

Rabih Alameddine

Image: Tri Laksmana Astraatmadja
© All rights reserved

[Thanks JC/Vienna]

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7 Responses to A storyteller is a plagiarist

  1. momesansnom says:

    Sorry, but that’s not a definition of plagiarism. It’s a description of observational acumen and the ability to synthesize what one has seen, heard, thought, etc. into one’s own expression. I think I understand what Rabih Alameddine is trying to say, but what he describes really doesn’t come close to the act of taking somebody else’s words, sayings, passages, etc. and passing them off as your own.

  2. Sophie Brown says:

    I’ve heard what he’s saying described more as “eavesdropping”. But that still isn’t right, is it?

  3. no says:

    I agree, momesansom.

    A storyteller is a person who observes life. Their stories may not be original, as many people and events are similar. But, a storyteller shares their (hopefully) unique or at least unwritten word for word view of the event or observation.

    Plagiarism is a direct and purposeful copying word for word (at least 3 words copied from each sentence) with a deceitful intent. Saying that writing is plagiarism is a lame publicity stunt, and inaccurate, at best.

  4. bibliobibuli says:

    when we write we use all the material that’s part our lives.

    but nope. writing is not plagiarism which implies the theft of someone else’s written text and is a moral crime.

    writers need to be careful about their choice of works and the connotations of those words!

  5. bibliobibuli says:

    i just wonder if Alamedinne has been badly translated?

  6. Sophie Brown says:

    Well, it was just a dumb word choice. I don’t think there was any sinister intent going on here.

  7. momesansnom says:

    I agree that there was no sinister intent. It seems like a metaphor, but not a very good one.

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