Saturday, April 21, 2012


As a twenty-something, bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed newspaper reporter, it took me a while to learn that some people never had an original idea and were more than willing to co-opt mine. And it...was...infuriating. I would come up with an idea, float it and then hear it parroted back as if it were the original idea of the parrot. I learned to keep my good ideas to myself.

Intellectuals do this shit all the time, trying to look smart by using someone else's ideas without attribution. In earlier times I was willing to call such people scumbags. Now I don't do that so much ... but I sometimes think it.

Today in email, a friend sent along a link to a story about one of the newer religions in Sweden. The Missionary Church of Kopimism is described by Wikipedia in part like this:

A "Kopimist" or "Kopimist intellectual" is a person who has the philosophical belief that all information should be freely distributed and unrestricted. This philosophy opposes the monopolization of knowledge in all its forms, such as copyright, and encourages piracy of all types of media including music, movies, TV shows, and software.
The implications of this 'religion' are explosive. I can imagine musicians, music companies, film makers, film distributors, novelists, historians, scientists, car makers, pharmaceutical firms and who knows who else spinning in their mental graves. If ideas are to be shared without restriction well ... how am I supposed to make money or, more important, think well of myself?

It's not going to be easy to convince anyone that the notion of "intellectual property" is an oxymoron ... and an oxymoron for morons. I have a feeling that the thrust of Kopimism is the wave of the future, even if not under that particular banner. Owning an idea is like owning smoke -- the tighter you grasp it, the less substance you find.

Everyone knows everything always and the sooner anyone gets used to that fact, the easier life will be. It's not as if we could escape it.

In Zen centers I used to attend, I and fellow students would sometimes feel that the moderator or teacher was "reading my mind." In some instances, this feeling was elevated to a mystical power ... a real oooooeeeeoooo. But the facts as I know them are this: No teacher or any other human being wants to read anybody else's mind -- s/he has enough fucking problems with his or her own mind. In given circumstances, such as a Zen center, people are all pretty much on the same frequency, with pretty much the same set of concerns ... and that framework means I will think what you think (give or take a little) and you will think what I think (give or take a little). Same light, different prisms.

This thought thread leads back to the notion of "originality" or "original ideas." It is the moment that is original: I have little or nothing to do with it. Ideas filter through the prism called "me" and then, like smoke, are gone.

Maybe it's like the local electric company that provides light on my block. I can turn on the living room lamp at the same moment, using the same electric company, you turn on the toaster across the street. Circumstances dictate my actions or yours ... end of story.

But I don't expect "intellectual property" or "original ideas" to go anywhere soon. After all:

I love myself
I think I'm grand.
I go to the movies
And hold my hand.
I put my arm
Around my waist
And when I'm fresh,
I slap my face.
In practical terms, I think Kopimism has already started to assert itself. People boost stuff from the Internet all the time. And for a long time I have felt that if someone wanted to keep something close, to 'own' it and protect it ... well, don't put it on the Internet. To want something protected and to put it on the Internet is like a man who really doesn't want to get wet and walks into the rain.

I'm just muttering here. No clear point of view, except perhaps, going back to the electric company metaphor ... let's just own the electric company.

1 comment:

  1. Hey man.
    I here in Norway am blessed with economincal insurance so I don't fear that my original ideas gets stolen. My main objective in life is doing good things and things than enables me (and other me's) to do good things. I have afteral ensured my wellbeing?