Ever the stickler for zooming in until it’s fuzzy, rather than seeing the bigger picture, (sometimes to the point of just plain empty absurdity, I will admit,) I nevertheless couldn’t help but think of all the Found Poetry I have enjoyed consuming and creating over the years. It is the basest form of re-mixing I can think of at the moment, and although I’m always happier to leave the monumental questions of ethics, culture and policy to people who have the patience and passion for dedicating their lives to these, I will add that at its core, this issue of Lessig’s, to which he has dedicated himself, happens to be a process which I like to call turning into a human. All the things we know, think, say, do were at one time known, thought, said and done by those we observed– we consumed these things– and these things were churned over in our little brains and, effectively, re-created, thus turning us into humans who know, think, say and do things we first had to consume, re-mix and finally create outwardly. It’s a ceaseless cycle, of course, wherein Jesus may die the first time, fly up before the bus hits him the next and so on, but that’s really the jist of how we got to be who we are and continue evolving. This discussion of his and like-minded individuals’ is simply a more evolved and sophisticated extension of this concept. And another thing: isn’t it amazing how everything goes back to biology? I mean everything.
But I digress. Found Poetry. It’s a lot of fun. And also you can’t create it without consuming someone else’s creation first, then tearing it apart to create something new. Legally. Why? Because the courts don’t really care about poetry anymore and that’s just fine with me. (Okay, maybe there’s another reason, too, and that reason may or may not be that you almost never can identify the original source of the words which form the Found Poem, because they’re just words and these words can be found anywhere. So, really, the act of writing Found Poetry is nothing more than an exercise for the writer and its joy is primarily found in the process of searching and finding to fit something predetermined or allowing the words to take you in new directions. The courts certainly couldn’t care less about that.)
It’s really a super way to spend half an hour of your day, right in between creating a video montage of babies taken from TV commercials debating the merits of Proposition 19 and posting a YouTube video of yourself clucking your tongue to the tune of “The Star-Spangled Banner”. Open a newspaper, a magazine, a book, an insurance brochure, your car manual, instructions for assembling the crib… open anything with words in it that other people combined to make their own sentences. And then start borrowing. And make sentences of your own.
Try not to feel like a criminal. Do not corrode. Do not become corrupted.