I realized after writing my post that I had  not expressed my thought completely. Perhaps instead of calling it “rules of the genre” I should have called it “rules of expression.” Different art forms have different rules about how one’s thoughts and feelings are expressed. For example, in poetry there are rules about rhyme and meter. In ballet, there are rules about movement and music without words. In silent films, the rules of expression involve images, mime, and music. I think musicals simply create a different world, with different rules. Just like a fantasy creates a different world with its own rules: magic and dragons and special abilities. I guess I feel that if one can accept magic, why not song?

Though I totally understand if one is not into dance or song. If you don’t like ballet, then The Red Shoes is probably not for you. If you don’t like lots of action/fight sequences, then probably not Avengers. Do you not like gangster violence? Probably not Scarface. But that puts it down to preferences, not something inherently wrong with musicals.

Further Thoughts on Reality and Rules of Genre


Posted by on March 28, 2017 in Uncategorized


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This is just a quick aside to announce that I began a new blog called Birds, Food, Whatever. This blog is meant to be more casual (not that this blog is meant to be stuffy) where I can write about the Paleo Diet I follow and my interest in birding…as well as anything else that occurs to me or is shared with me. I will write about things like barbecuing, trying to make coconut milk for the first time, migrating Black-headed Grosbeaks and the Douglas Squirrels that keep stealing my bird seed… as well as one totally random post about pong and duck hunt.

New Blog: Birds, Food, Whatever

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Posted by on May 26, 2014 in Uncategorized


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Mark at Wikipedia

My friend and cousin, Andrea Lundgren, just wrote a very thought-provoking post on her blog Into the Writer Lea, called “Writing Matters: Copyright and Compensation” In it, she explores the question of whether copyrights are too restrictive or are a necessary protection for authors and creators. One of her examples of how our current system has been played out is G. Norman Lippert, who wrote a spin-off series of the Harry Potter books called the James Potter series. Because his series is in the Harry Potter world, he is not allowed to sell his stories for money, but J.K. Rowling allows him to offer his stories for free as eBooks. One of Andrea’s questions is whether or not authors should have the copyright to their created worlds and characters, as well as their own, specific works they created.

Here’s a link, also, to her own opinions on this question, in her post “Writing Matters: Copyright and Compensation, Part Two.”

It really got me thinking and I’m not sure exactly where I stand on this issue, but here are some of my knee-jerk thoughts, that might be slightly tangential to the issue.

It’s a very provocative issue. I definitely think writers ought to have the rights to their own, specific work, however I wonder about the rights of their characters and world they created. Art is imitation, expansion on previous themes, in a constant stream of building and connecting and referencing.

Composers (even the great Bach) notoriously steal musical ideas from each other and I wonder what would have happened if the world of Greek myths or characters were copyrighted. It creates a rich world that people can draw from that continues down the ages, without ever growing static, but will not automatically cause the original to be forgotten if it is truly great. There have been many stories about the siege of Troy, but still nobody will forget Homer’s Iliad.

Stories are always riffs off of other stories or characters or worlds and it seems like adaptations and sequels – rather than diluting appreciation for the original work – can increase it. I was just reading how the movie Mary Poppins actually caused an increase in the sales of the book by P.L. Travers.

And it doesn’t seem to hurt Jane Austen’s reputation that her books have been turned into Zombie stories, multiple movies of varying faithfulness, copied, imitated, updated, with sequels galore written to her books. None of them touch her greatness and she belongs to a world above it all.

I guess my thought is that no work, if it is truly a good work, can be hurt by imitations, adaptations or additional stories. The real work always remains, unique and inimitable….as long as the real, original work is protected.

And what if the riff is more memorable than the original. Most people remember Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini” more than they remember the original work by Paganini. It might not be fair to Paganini, but it is true that the only reason I know about him is because of Rachmaninoff…and my music history class.

I suppose these are more off the cuff, non-conclusive thoughts on the nature of imitation in art than a theory on how copyright laws ought to be enacted. What are your thoughts?

Note: It is possible I might feel very differently as soon as I have a book published. 🙂

Copyright, Art, Imitation, Intellectual Property

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Posted by on May 19, 2014 in Literary Thoughts


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