Earl Gray

Earl Gray
"You can argue with me but, in the end, you'll have to face that fact that you're arguing with a squirrel." - Earl Gray

Friday, October 30, 2015


     The song ends with "I am the intruder."

      How often do we allow things--even otherwise important things--to intrude on our message?

Love is the price of smiles.

     Above we see a typical Facebook-style anonymous photomeme:  a platitude pasted onto a schmaltzy picture.  For better or worse, the message is direct.  The reader can proceed immediately to interpreting and/or appreciating the words.

"Love is the price of smiles."

     When we put quotation marks around the text we create a distraction.  People wonder:  "Who said this?"  If the author isn't identified the default assumption is that one is quoting oneself.  As we squirrels say, it is "vanity without the vanity."

"Love is the price of smiles." - Earl Gray

      If we introduce the author's name readers may wonder whether "the point is the point" or if it is an effort to highlight the writer.  If that happens to be the poster (as here) we might add "shameless self-promotion" into the mix.  If one is quoting someone else proper etiquette may seem to demand attribution.

"Love is the price of smiles." - from "Love is a Weakness" by Earl Gray

      Mentioning the source text merely adds another distracting dimension.  Are we to concentrate on the sentiment, the publication or the writer?

      Clearly, if we want people to focus on words [and pictures] we should present nothing but words [and pictures].  If these are someone else's does this constitute plagiarism?  No, because we aren't signing the meme, suggesting we wrote the aphorism.  Is it copyright infringement?  Not if the original work is significantly longer than the meme itself (which is almost always the case).

Earl the Squirrel's Rule #71
     If nothing else, this "authorial intrusion" is one reason why people are more likely to read Facebook or, to stretch a point, blogs rather than novels and treatises.  It may be why some of our best poets use pseudonyms.  It also explains why more and more articles are being published without the author's name in the byline (e.g. all those published here, "staff writers", et cetera).

        And, of course, it also underscores Rule #71. 

      “Good artists borrow, great artists steal.”

                  - attributed to Pablo Picasso

     "A wit is always ready with a clever word. A half wit is always
  ready with a clever word of someone else's."

                 - "Leanne" (Freewrights, 22-04-2008)

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Earl Gray, Esquirrel


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