[image description: a photo of a page in a book. it is zoomed in on a paragraph, with the end of a paragraph above it that says IN TEXT: history, rarely giving credit to the chain of ‘almost inventors’ to which each innovation is inevitably due. END TEXT.
the main paragraph says IN TEXT: Dmytri Kleiner, a post-Marxist free software and anti-copyright activist, argues that trying to credit something as fluid as an idea to a particular individual is impossible. ‘Unlike a material object, which can exist in only one place at a given time, ideas are infinite and non-exclusive.’ He goes on, ‘Every expression is an extension of a previous perception. Ideas are not original, they are built upon layers of knowledge accumulated through history.’viii Kleiner makes an interesting philosophical point, but more importantly, underscores the fact that if we view individuals as the sources of innovation and achievement, we feed into a cult of personality that only serves to distract us from the factors that actually fuel ideas. END TEXT.
the beginning of the last paragraph says IN TEXT: Our organisations are almost universally guilty of this, whether by always deferring to the traditional leader figure for press and public speaking opportunities (even when someone else END TEXT. end description.]
this is why authorship is problematic and why copyrighting is full of shit. there is no such thing as an original thought. we – our thoughts, our feelings, our body, our mind, our spirit – are the accumulation of knowledge, wisdom, and matter passed on from generation to generation through the cycle of time.
taking credit for an idea, a concept, or an analysis is to disgrace our ancestors and all beings who lay the foundation before us—whose names will never be known or celebrated.
i resonated deeply when i read this paragraph in a book im currently reading (“anarchists in the boardroom” by liam barrington-bush). i shared it with my coworker and we had a really good conversation about celebrity status in the “activist” community, and how often folks are not recognized for the work they do because they dont fit Western beauty standards, are fat, are non-passing trans* folk, and so on. she said “we’ve forgotten how to honour each other”
for me, the word honour makes a huge difference and is a practice widely unused. culturally, we are very good at – and very much used to -perpetuating heroism, of putting people who reflect our values on pedestals, and participating in celebrity culture.
rather than honouring each being for who we are and what we offer this world, the process of colonization and the mechanisms of capitalism encourage us to inflate our egos and to float away from the earth, as far from reality as possible. we have learned to look up to only certain people as purveyors of ideas, and look down on everyone else – including ourselves. somehow, through cycles of theft, exploitation, and further violence, this has become acceptable.
and what i appreciate in this piece of text is that it points out that not only is celebrity culture or cult of personality harmful because it provides a platform for already privileged people to represent an idea, but that it also prevents NEW ideas from taking form.
the last point i feel needs to also be made clear is the amount of POWER these platforms also give people and to ask ourselves if we are giving power or spotlight to one or a few individuals, where is that power coming from and who are we leaving forgotten in the dark?