Wednesday, September 30, 2009


If one hasn't any ideas they can always think of their favorite book and remake it, or "adapt" it. This is very convenient. Taking one project apart, rethinking, transforming and inverting it so that it becomes another project. Oddly, people who applaud this on the one hand, can't see the benefit of it on the other. Where the avant garde is concerned. One can look at the word adaptation but if one gets a whiff of Charlie Kaufman, or say, Sigourney Weaver lying on the examination table in Aliens 3, well, then it's the wrong sort of word. Terrifying. As with all things in life, it may or may not have appendages. It may or may not be faithful. It might or might not include sentiment, artifice, satire, and or sincerity. Adapation is often used in conjunction with the terms rip-off, theft, appropriation or misappropriation, slaughter, overly or underly faithful. It may or may not have something to do with translation and as alluded to above, cloning.


Nada said...

I am a great proponent of re-writing. I have described it elsewhere as being like a hermit crab inhabiting something else's shell.

As a feminist gesture, rewriting allows us to "reinscribe" texts with our presences and inclusions.

Shakespeare did it, why can't we?

Helen said...

The idea that you have to write something new to write something good or valid is a pretty recent development. Previously, writers demonstrated that they were valid literary artists by rewriting and adapting... your audience thought you were a hack if you weren't somehow interacting with the rest of literary history (I'm thinking of the Canterbury Tales). I think that the neo-romantic impulse that dominates so much writing today, when mixed with a healthy dose of capitalism, seems to have crushed the idea that you can make something beautiful and original out of left overs. I'm also very interested in feminist re-appropriation... and besides, why should we privileged the original text so much?

Lemon Hound said...

Well exactly. There is sooooo much anxiety around appropriation. But perhaps that has to do with the lack of ethics assumed in our culture.

Lemon Hound said...

I was listening to a podcast of Heather McHugh from Poetry Foundation yesterday and she read a poem based on a news story she heard, an account of a tornado. I thought, everywhere, poets are appropriating people's voices, people's stories, lifting them from all sort of places, accounts from this or that, whole likenesses...the lyric poets are thieves! Soul thieves at that since they transfer the sentiment to themselves...and yet textual appropriation is somehow seen as strange, unethical, and so seems to me that at least conceptual textual appropriation is honest: it offers the terms up front.