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Sur la Plage - Page 54

diagnosis reveals that all one has suppressed is oneself. We should also note that, according to a popular line of analysis, plagiarists are always eventually exposed, and the reason given is a familiar one: the plagiarist "wants to be caught." "Who I am" becomes me, in a sense, not only in the peculiar act of possession by which I am possessed, but in its cancellation at the vertiginous moment when it is revealed as false. We might also recognize here the father's murder by the primal horde that is one of Freud's myths for the founding of culture, in which the destruction and consumption of the precursor reconstitutes it as an ineradicable and insatiable law, a myth that, for us, is a general figure for the secret, ferocious return of everything one imagines one has destroyed and surpassed. Plagiarism is the return of the repressed of literary authority. At one and the same time: the constitution of cultural identity and its exposure--its reconstitution--as a lie.

  1. Neo-plagiarism takes up the situationist economics of theft and gift. It exposes property itself as theft and returns the text to a more "primordial" economy. We are familiar with claims that art is, or ought to be, a gift, both in the sense that genius is gifted and that the great work is donated, freely, for the good of all mankind. But to denounce someone as a plagiarist, to say "you stole from me," is, curiously, to contradict the notion that the work of art is a gift from the author to posterity. It reclaims the gift from the reader: it says, you can have this gift only so long as I still get to keep it, only so long as the conditions and privileges of ownership are sustained.[35] The charge of theft exposes the lie of the gift. What is more: it suppresses the essential link between theft and gift (according to the plagiarist's claim: all art, like all property, is theft), and refuses the gift that neo-plagiarists, who are entirely candid about the stolen goods they are circulating over their signatures, would present to all readers by ignoring the restrictions of property. But beyond these gifts and counter-gifts, beyond the bickering about whether authors or thieves are more generous, plagiarism is that violent expropriation whereby both insemination and dissemination, property and gift, authorship and its theory-death are revealed as interdependent, twin gears in the same machinery, and summarily negated. Plagiarism negates authorship by

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