What is theft? And before you sigh and think simpleton, my question is not phrased in that manner. Hear me out before you attempt a weary dictionary explanation as if the asker were an inquisitive child. Inquisitive yes, but far too old to be spoken to as one, and yet not old enough to stop questioning nor caring for whatever answers are given in the fullness of time.
questions, the best questions, take time to answer, require a little
fact-finding or soul-searching by the responder, and if you're one
and the same person what a conundrum.
never give yourself a satisfactory or conclusive answer. Because the
selves considering it are too divided, too filled with uncertainties,
and when that's the outcome, seeming to be the final one, the query
must be destroyed. Permanently. Its identification mark hung like a
man from a noose: the dot shudders as the hook asphyxiates. So it
I think you'll agree is a fine expression as inserted by Kurt
Vonnegut to good effect in Slaughterhouse
5 to symbolise a death, a pause, an ending. Another unanswered
question has passed by, crossed to the other side to a wasteland of
lost questionings. These same questionings may revisit but reformed
and therefore go unrecognised, as if the thought has never struck you
till then before. The mind spins tricks like that and squanders
mental energy. It likes to waylay as it is waylaying me now.
although it often feels the mind is being held hostage by riddles,
the ambush effect does at times serve, for haven't I just
inadvertently (and believe me it was so) exhibited a class of theft,
that of plagiarism: quoting somebody else's work and distorting the
context to emphasise my point, though the original author was
declared in this example. I have no reason to lead readers to believe
that catchphrase was mine and besides, they are undoubtedly smarter
than me and wise to plagiarising thieves, as well as to petty felons
who instead of making away with their ill-gotten gains run after
notoriety: help the police to track them down.
I say at the very beginning that my question didn't in any way refer
to this kind of theft? But here I am espousing it, sabotaging my
initial train of thought which hasn't thus far been explained.
Perhaps I didn't set about it properly or perhaps my unconventional
definition of theft never will be stated, at least not in this
composition, and so the resounding note will be its alluded to
originality. Perhaps that's why my mind is barring me from doing so –
because although it might have presented itself as original to me it
may not in itself be novel; just something I've picked up from the
wave of consciousness. Or maybe it's the mystery I'm after...
my pieces get hijacked by interferences: the station I start out from
tunes in to something else, something passing or about to arrive. Am
I being given to or stolen from? That I can't decide. But I flow with
the impulse, uncaring of the results, good, middling or bad. Whatever
I'm doing, creativity is at the heart of it, but I wouldn't be
offended if people said it was abstract: still developing. For isn't
life about developing? Repeating and circling, making errors?
theft an error or intentional? Of which theft am I talking of you
enquire, the term as used by society or my undefinable one? It
doesn't matter as the reply for both would be the same: I don't know.
It hedges; sometimes the compulsion has to be obeyed, sometimes it's
planned. Ask someone who has been convicted of a criminal act, not
someone whose motivations are more banal and in no shape or form
violent or injurious. Obsessive perhaps, fostering further
disconnection from the world today to a bygone age of writers, poets
and playwrights whom in reading awakens the sense that nobody ever
leaves this world fully formed.
will always be unanswered questions: those that can't be, those that
you refuse to acknowledge, and those that you hoped to get round to
but somehow didn't, whilst the few that you do form answers to can't
always be explained. So it goes.
Picture credit: Art Theft, Barry Kite