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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Probing the Depths



I’ve been feeling kinda lost. Bereft of words. I was burglarized recently in a way I’d not experienced before (and believe me, I’ve been ripped-off often).

I discovered I’d been wildly plagiarized.

I hadn’t contemplated the possibility all that much over the past five years. Scarcely gave it a thought except to muse I wouldn’t be amused.

The reality was more troubling than I could have imagined.

What is plagiarism, exactly? OK. It’s the pilfering of prose. Do I place a high value on my prose? Not really. I try to select the right words and string them together. It’s a bead-worker's craft. I freely admit I took pleasure in reading some of the comments proffered in praise of the craft (albeit praise heaped on the thief).

What hurt so grievously was to see the essence of my life, the very fabric of my being, ripped apart and pawned by others for their own amusement or self-aggrandizement. Do we not all agree that our personal experiences, and how we integrate them over a lifetime, constitute our very essence? Strip away all possessions, turn bone to dust. All that remains are the experiences and how they shaped us...a life lived...memories cherished.

The thing about personal experience is that it don’t come easy and it don’t come cheap. Experiences that so often define us may have been perilous, painful, drawn-out affairs...cruel childhoods, failing marriages, illness and suffering. There are other experiences, too. Lifetimes of spiritual explorations. Whether baleful or benign, these experiences are uniquely ours and ours alone. How we come to them and come to regard them, how they shape our lives and change us...ultimately define us.

* * *

I suppose one must be of a certain age, and of a curious bent, to remember the Trieste. Fifty years ago, two men descended to the deepest depths of the ocean (seven miles deep, in fact), into an abyss named the “Challenger Deep” in the bowels of the Mariana Trench. Their vessel was named the Trieste.

(Digression: isn’t it odd that it’s been a half century since human beings ventured into the perpetual midnight depths and frolicked on the Moon? Have we lost our zest for audacious explorations?)

Trieste’s descent into the chasm took hours. The pressures were immense beyond measure. The slightest flaw or misstep could result in instant death. As the hours ticked by and Trieste dove deeper, a Plexiglass pane in an observation port cracked. Death knocked but didn’t enter. Jacques Piccard and Lt. Don Walsh stared at a world never seen before, or ever since, by human eyes.

* * *

I discovered how much it hurt to have my personal experience, my essence, treated shabbily. Childhood memories, dreams, yearnings, loved ones, matters held most dear, pains suffered and tears shed...all were sullied by an absolute stranger for purely selfish purpose.

Thieves will always lurk among us. Well, if you’re gonna steal, steal my car. It’s considered a luxury vehicle, low miles. It’s worth a pretty penny. Steal my car and I’d be inconvenienced and aggravated. I’d have to deal with the police, rental car agents, insurance representatives, car dealers and others. Yeah, I’d be aggravated. With any luck at all, the thief would serve time in prison.

But steal my personal experience, all that defines me!?!

No! Don’t you dare do that!

I can't think of a suitable punishment (although Dante has).

* * *

16 Comments:

Blogger Titanium said...

Jonas, all I can do is stretch out one very calloused hand and offer you a silent, understanding handshake. It doesn’t necessarily make it any easier to know that you’re not alone in this, I know. When the thieves targeted my team blog and my personal blog, they ripped pages from my lifebook, scribbled on them with infantile crayons and attempted to rebrand the words to somehow fit their vacuous lives.

It didn’t work. Even in the fawning praise of their well-meaning fans questions loomed. Questions like, “since when did YOU take up rock climbing? Rebuilding engines? Mountaineering?” are laced through the responses. I must admit, part of me laughed out loud. Turns out, I’m interesting enough to imitate but it’s a tough act for a poser to carry off.

Trust me, you’ve got the same qualities in your corner. Solipsism? Neither Blossom nor Lightspeed could spell the word without looking it up- and their pathetic theft of your complete thought only left them waving in the wind like an empty chrysalis. The life, the breath, the spirit, the caterpillar is long gone… all that is left is the shell you shed as you found your wings.

Like you, I find myself wondering aloud every time I post something new, “Whose blog is THIS going to end up on?” And part of me just shrivels. I know that the gentle souls who are my team mates over at She. More than a Pronoun. feel the same way. These women joined me in a venture to bring to life words, give voice to thoughts, create a safe haven for others to share theirs and enjoy ours… and this haven has been violated brutally.

I don’t have any answers, nor should I. I don’t believe there are even any questions left to ask. The site administrators at Thoughts.com are not going to do anything about the situation- they haven’t even offered the courtesy of a reply. I imagine they will feel somewhat differently upon opening the certified letter from my attorney’s office, but that offers no solace. Logic dictates there’s no mending broken butterflies.

-Ti

Wed Jul 14, 11:30:00 AM  
Blogger Ponita in Real Life said...

Oh Jonas... (and Titanium)... how horrible to be violated in that way... your very essence, your persona, stolen! I have no idea how you deal with that. My blog is just blatherings about my life and stuff in general. I doubt anyone would want to steal from me.

But your words draw me, Jonas... I love reading what you write and how you express yourself. To have someone sneak in and pilfer your prose... that is just downright disgusting. I am so sorry.

Wed Jul 14, 01:24:00 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

Ive been a member of thoughts for almost 3 years now. I was "friends" with whom I thought to be the author of what was posted. I must say, as disgusted as I am to find out the truth of the matter, I am happy to have learned the true source of the content and where I can read more. My condolences for you all, I hope it doesnt taint your willingness to share your uniqueness with the rest of us. Best wishes.

Joe

Wed Jul 14, 01:33:00 PM  
Blogger Kass said...

HUH? HOW? WHAT? WHERE?

I once wrote a very clever musical number to introduce opera to young audiences. It was for me and my friends to perform. One of the members asked if she could use it with another group she performed with. I said, "No, don't. This is to be performed by ME and my friends." A couple of months ago I found out she has been performing it for two years. I am so hurt and disappointed. Do I take legal action? Do I write a letter? Two days ago I saw a rerun of her speaking about morality on BYUTV. It made me sick.

I'm so sorry. I feel your pain. Love your words. They will always be yours.

Wed Jul 14, 05:02:00 PM  
Blogger Lilith said...

Why would you plagiarize someone's blog? Makes no sense to me. The whole point of a blog is sharing your thoughts, your experiences. What would you get out of sharing someone else's thoughts?

I think perhaps I am too naive.

Wed Jul 14, 10:57:00 PM  
Blogger Wine and Words said...

Horrible. I am so sorry Jonas. What a coward, that thief of words. *spit-tooey*.

Thu Jul 15, 12:18:00 AM  
Blogger PattiKen said...

I'm another victim of a thoughts.com thief, as a member of the team blog Titanium mentioned. You have my total understanding of the feelings you are experiencing. The best way I can describe how I was impacted is "mind rape."

Seems that thoughts.com is taking some kind of action. I forwarded an e-mail I received from them to you and other victims.

Thu Jul 15, 09:17:00 AM  
Blogger Jonas said...

The silver lining in all of this has been the support and solace offered by members of the "Thoughts" community and y'all, my introduction to writers of substance (Titanium and others) and an awareness that folks (names unknown) watch for copyright infringement.

Welcome to my little blogger home, Joe! You've been most kind in your comments. Greatly appreciated.

It's a tawdry tale, Kass. It appears that an individual with "issues" (I'm trying to be civil), established a presence at a social-networking site. She (speculation) may have adopted two personae/profiles. One doppel began blogging in May. She was posting at a two entries/day pace. Community members marveled at her creative output. The self-described, 19-year old winsome lass was an "aspiring author" who accepted all praise with faux humility, a bit o' whimsy and an "aw shucks, tweren't nothin'" attitude. Her blog rose in the popularity ranks. Several young men were quite charmed by this dark-eyed savant.

Last week, I received an email from a complete stranger noting that I'd been plagiarized and offering proof.

I surfed over to "Thoughts" out of curiosity. Sure enough, our doe-eyed Thief had posted one of my blog entries and claimed it as her own (as she bowed graciously to applause). I read a few more of her entries, then a few more, then lots more. Long story short, HALF of her "creative output" came directly from my blog. The other half (more or less) consisted of works by others (Titanium, et al). I was shocked, appalled, disgusted and genuinely hurt. I imagine several of her young male admirers may have come to feel the same since.

As I tried to explain in this entry, this wasn't petty filchery. It was identity theft.

Thu Jul 15, 11:52:00 AM  
Blogger anna said...

I don't want to sound cynical, but this doesn't shock me.

I'm so sorry this happened to you. I'm so sorry it happens to anyone.

Fri Jul 16, 10:55:00 PM  
Blogger Kass said...

Thanks for the explanation. The more I know, the worse I feel about the gall of this person.

Sat Jul 17, 12:53:00 AM  
Blogger June Calender said...

Jonas, this is not the way I usually write (as I think you know) but it popped into my head and seems appropriate. In my email this a.m. was a quote from the Dalai Lama (I'm on a list and get one a week)that said to consider the person who does us a wrong as inadvertently doing us a favor for we now have a chance to forgive and be patient with a bad situation.

This blogger apparently is rotten at the very core but has the good taste to know excellent writing when she's choosing something to steal. She took your public words, she did not take your heart and being.

Sat Jul 17, 07:48:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Thanks, again.

He/she/it/they/whatever did not seek forgiveness. Simply disappeared. They're nothing more than ghosts in my rearview mirror.

I'm saddened, not scarred.

Sun Jul 18, 02:21:00 PM  
Blogger EREBOS said...

Im Glad I have found you here. Will keep an eye out at T.com for you, sorry someone did this to you.

EREBOS.

Mon Jul 19, 12:02:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

You've been most kind, EREBOS. Most kind and comforting.

Wed Jul 21, 12:36:00 AM  
Blogger Selma said...

I don't understand why people do this. Apart from the fact that it is unethical and hurtful it actually takes a reasonable amount of effort to steal someone else's work and set up a fake profile. Wouldn't it be better just to take the energy expended to set up one properly that is real? A novel thought, I know.

I am sorry this has happened to you, Jonas. If I ever come across the person who did it there will be a few ninja-like moments to deal with on his part. How dare he.

Much love to you.XX

Wed Jul 21, 05:20:00 PM  
Blogger rebecca said...

Disgraceful. And here's the thing, when we post something we all know there's that chance but what is the sense then of writing our thoughts/feelings/that which moves us if we then write with the intent that what we write will be something no one else is interested in? Not that we're writing for the public, no, because I think we all write for ourselves and there are those we touch a chord with but, writing in "filtered mode" which then erases all creativity. If we were to do that then there'd be no point in writing.

It is a catch 22. I'm sorry to hear that. How did you find out?

Wed Jul 28, 08:41:00 AM  

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