“…If philosophy is concerned with understanding the meaning of reality, then poetry - and art in general - is a celebration, a singing of values and meanings… My films might be called experimental, referring to the use of the medium itself. In these films, the camera is not an observant, recording eye in the customary fashion. The full dynamics and expressive potentials of the total medium are ardently dedicated to creating the most accurate metaphor for the meaning. In setting out to communicate principles, rather than to relay particulars, and in creating a metaphor which is true to the idea rather than the history of experience of any one of several individuals, I am addressing myself not to any particular group but to a special area and definite faculty in every or any man - to that part of him which creates myths, invents divinities and ponders, for no particular purpose whatsoever, on the nature of things. …I am content if, on those rare occasions whose truth can be stated only in poetry, you will perhaps recall an image, even only the aura of my films. And what more could I possibly ask, as an artist, than that your most precious visions, however rare, assume, sometimes, the forms of my images.”—Maya Deren from A Statement of Principles in Film Culture, Summer 1961 New York (via fuckyeahexperimentalcinema)
For the love of all buggering sod, people. I’d love to consider it merely a, uh, playful reiteration of the Death of the Author and somesuch pomo malarkey (and to wit, there’s not a jot of originality in this entire overwrought purple-prosed sanctimonious rant), but how perishingly difficult is it to credit? Really?
It’s hardly novel here to whinge of such things, and I’m admittedly pathologically anal about referencing every fragment - if op citting and ibiding were reasonable and not at all crazy Tumblr conventions, I’d be no doubt doing it.
But it’s the chutzpah with which things are so often left uncited or outright pilfered that perhaps baffles me the most. I’m not just talking about bald-facedly pinched pictures that get randomly appropriated without acknowledgment with all the sophomoric craftiness of a ten year-old who cheats on a spelling exam, though this is itself quite special. As I piously tell my no-you-can’t-write-all-three-essays-on-Twilight students (alongside bilious raving about Wikipedia and IMDB emphatically not being academic sources, and subsequent threats of disembowelment - see also why an essay about the cinematic history of vampirism can’t just be a slab of Mary-Sue shower nozzle masturbation fantasy surrounding the “female gaze” elicited by Robert Pattinson)… If you’re going to plagiarise, at least plagiarise cunningly. Put some sort of creative effort into it. You’ll look less ignominious, at least.
Those of you who don’t or won’t source (and I’m not being mean; I’m genuinely curious - though those who don’t so much neglect to source as just loot and pillage sans credit, I’m smacking you with my mean stick):
Don’t you want to know where that image you’re interested in enough to circulate is coming from - its history, some kind of context for which to locate it, however vague? If you know it, and don’t mention it, does it bother you at all that it’s left undocumented, sitting in the vast chambers of your Tumblr with nary a pock of a faux-footnote to delineate it? It drives me so crazy that I tend not to reblog anything uncredited whose source I can’t denote, but, you know, anal here. Do you bristle with the same unnerving combination of frustration and fascination that I do when you can’t find a source or some kind of preliminary descriptor for something? Am I being unreasonably OCD?
Is this flurry of images proliferating infinitely and with dizzyingly rapidity so simulacral anyway that it doesn’t matter? Does the compulsion to repeat, to blog and reblog and re-reblog in a state of almost convulsive movement, render the original source any more significant than the automatic listing of the names of all hundred rebloggers? Does sourcing your stuff cut down on the time you’d be spending reblogging 20+ images a day of whimsical teacups and deer and twelvety variations of the same picture of Anna Karina and close-ups of pastel over-the-knee socks on skinny legs and Twin Peaks stills (all of which I’ve of course been guilty of myself; whimsy is a stern cravat-doffing mistress - I’m not called foxesinfuckingbreeches for nothing)?
The excellent wurzeltod discusses this a lot more eloquently (and succinctly) than me here, and in her words:
A picture (and NO MATTER how shocking, unusual, weird or mind-bloggling it is) without a source is like a book without formed words - just all the letters randomly thrown in. It might be a good trigger to train your imagination and to leave you restless and encourage you to find out a (sadly mostly never “THE”) story to the image like the surrealists used to do, but often, it just remains a planet without features. Lost in space and time. Unexplored by anyone and never understood. Because who really can be bothered to delve into the unknown if it’s all about posting faster and faster and filling up empty web silences with more and more unneeded visual junk.
If this place is all about the pleasure of the immediacy and simplicity of the image - the poetics of a glut of images which presumably speak for themselves in states of minimal or non-existent annotation, presumably transcending the banality or excess of linguistic elaboration and speaking of the strange elegant decadence of minimalism - and the democratisation of a kind of interactive, shared, participatory artistry, isn’t something of this aesthetic then magicked away in the uncivilised sloppiness of not even bothering with a perfunctionary citation of kinds?
I’m cranky today. I blather when I’m cranky. This fascist sourcing rage may in part be attributed to the email I just received from a student inquiring if seven Amazon reviews of a film would provide an adequate bibliography for an essay (never mind the sight of my dashboard a couple of hours ago replete with half a dozen or so images I had previously posted with nary a mention of the artist themselves or said previous post, which I put down to too poxy and woeful to get riled over). I’m going to take a Xanax and watch Chuck Bass being all earnest and ethical with deep disappointment, and let LOLBarthes speak more aptly: