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« What's the Word I'm Looking For? The Opposite of "Disgruntled"? | Main | Caleb Crain on "Academic Criticism," Only Not Really »

Thursday, 11 May 2006


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Can I ask a question - do you read the NY Observer? Ever? On-line? B/c a few days back I thought I spotted a bit of inadvertent plag. here from this week's issue.

Not to make you all paranoid or anything.

You may be developing a tic, M. Sasser... (Maybe our discussion of Sassersaxitus set it off...)

Belle Lettre

You should have entitled this post "How Scott Eric Kaufman Got Kissed, Got Wild, And Got A Life."

You should also read Gladwell's New Yorker article on plagiarism:

Either way, I believe you when you say "coincidences" and not Kaavya when she said that her blatant copying was.

But you should definitely change the title! Imagine all the people who will go to your site via googling "kiss AND wild" and how disappointed they will be!


Great post, and definitely funny, not tedious. Especially loved the bit about the Complete New Yorker. A friend of mine, who used to contribute to my blog, has set up a site you might enjoy -- it's devoted to "wading through the Complete New Yorker DVDs." Yikes!

Kevin Andre Elliott

You work with people that were on The Baffler editorial board? That makes the outsider intellectual in me glow!

Adam Roberts

This is a brave admission, Scott: of the three 'P' words academics fear being branded with ('Plagiarist', 'Pedophile' and 'Pro-Bush') you may have picked the worst of them. Uncalled for, in this instance, I think.

On the other hand, the name 'Phred Phinklestone' adds two more unpleasant 'P' words to the lexicon.

Scott Eric Kaufman

CR, in private communique whose contents are so deadly secret I'm going to reveal them here, in public: In reference to the whole Kaavya Viswanathan thing, someone said of her advance that it made them throw up a little in their mouth, which is precisely what I said to Adam the other day. Furthermore, he noted that he charged me of plagiarism in a post about plagiarism on the same day that I got a beatdown from Fish about fish. "Did they change something in the Matrix?" he asked. Indeed!

Belle, not a bad idea! Also, I read the Gladwell when it came out, and am actually teaching some of his essays next week (I think).

Matt, I'm not at all surprised he's only got four or five posts up there in the month he's been doing it. I'm not kidding about its "intuitive" navigation system.

Kevin, I actually found that out after I started working with him. I just kind of stood there, jaw-dropped, at which point he informed me that he's close friends with "Tom Frank." At which I fainted, was revived, and promptly fainted again. (Funny how my OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG! moments only happen about self-styled public intellectuals. I really don't know why that is.)

N. Pepperell

So you're writing about plagiarism, and I'm dealing with a case of it... Do other people find these cases as fundamentally *depressing* as I do? I've got a student plagiarising things from comments on internet forums - I was about to fail the piece for poor writing, when I realised it wasn't even this person's *own* poor writing... :-(

(I realise this has nothing to do with your main point, which is something that worries me, as well: that simple socialisation into a world of writing establishes... conceptual grooves into which thoughts more easily flow, making all writing a form of unconscious homage. I often wince when I see large, public plagiarism controversies, wondering how many three-word fragments from my own writing might have cropped up somewhere else, in something I've read years ago, if someone really cared to look...)

Ray Davis

I Google almost every joke I make before posting it. I've had to throw away some nice 'uns, too. (I cut myself some slack if I delivered the punchline better, though. Condensare, internet wits, condensare!)


Ah. When I read your post, I thought it seemed familiar--the New Yorker piece was read on NPR (or at least referenced) sometime in the last couple of years, and my dad really liked it, so I looked it up for him. Not through the New Yorker, though. It's reprinted somewhere else, I believe.

Timothy J Scriven

"Wells: You'll answer the questions I ask with a simple "Yes" or "No.""

- Objection your honour, leading question.

Timothy J Scriven

Sorry, little bit of a legal faux there, this being cross examination the prosecution lawyer was within his rights.

Andrew Brown

Erm, "gruntled" and "kempt" have been staples in the conversation of my uncle Christopher (born ca 1925) for the last forty years at least. Oxonian medical student humour. Does he get to sue the New Yorker?

david tiley

As an Australian, I have known about that conceit for many, many years. I think it classifies as a kind of linguistic game, which can be extended by inventing opposites to other words as well.

Knowing that you didn't read the article is no longer a defence. It is hard to demonstrate that you didn't read it on another website, posted by someone who stole it, probably with full attribution.

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