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Sur la Plage - Page 55

grotesquely parodying it; it negates the limits of the text by exaggerating them in the very act of transgressing them; it negates the romance of dissemination by proving that nobody finally buys it, that eventually everyone wants to be recognized as some kind of author, even if only the author of a crime; it negates the romance of the death of the author by provoking our possessiveness about the corpse. Only in the double transgression that reveals property as theft and belies the gift is the deepest economy of the work of art revealed. Plagiarism is nothing more than the appearance of this economy. That is why it must be suppressed.

  1. "All culture is plagiarized." To constitute it thus risks normalizing the crime and challenging culture as value, culture itself. That is why a certain order of plagiarism must be isolated, scapegoated, ostracized, treated with the utmost revulsion, reconstituted as a taboo. Here again we encounter at least some of the reasons why victims of plagiarism feel polluted, why those involved in a case sympathize and identify with the transgressor even as the crime repels them, why plagiarists are often the most vehement defenders of literary property rights. Plagiarism is the necessary exclusion of the founding crime of cultural capital. Hence the real threat of plagiarism would lie not in the act itself, but precisely in its normalization, by means of which the crime would no longer be isolated and cast out, the pollution would remain general. By participating in the romance of the merry plagiarist, however much it indicts the crime of literary property, the stupid underground only reinforces, in reverse image, the singularity of plagiarism. One therefore dreams of a far more anonymous and widespread plagiarism, an epidemic of nameless plagiarists (is such a contradictory figure even conceivable?), of a magnitude and virulence prefigured but already immunized by the stupid underground.
  1. Implicit everywhere in this account is the masocritical dimension of plagiarism. If plagiarism as repetition can be recruited into a critique of originality--a critique that is already rather dated, already in the process of being forgotten, a critique that may be said only to have paved the way for the amnesiac resurgence of the expressive subject,

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