In Praise of Copying
This book is devoted to a deceptively simple but original argument: that copying is an essential part of being human, that the ability to copy is worthy of celebration, and that, without recognizing how integral copying is to being human, we cannot understand ourselves or the world we live in. In spite of the laws, stigmas, and anxieties attached to it, the word "copying" permeates contemporary culture, shaping discourse on issues from hip hop to digitization to gender reassignment, and is particularly crucial in legal debates concerning intellectual property and copyright. Yet as a philosophical concept, copying remains poorly understood. Working comparatively across cultures and times, Marcus Boon undertakes an examination of what this word means - historically, culturally, philosophically - and why it fills us with fear and fascination. He argues that the dominant legal-political structures that define copying today obscure much broader processes of imitation that have constituted human communities for ages and continue to shape various subcultures today. Drawing on contemporary art, music and film, the history of aesthetics, critical theory, and Buddhist philosophy and practice, "In Praise of Copying" seeks to show how and why copying works, what the sources of its power are, and the political stakes of renegotiating the way we value copying in the age of globalization.
At last-a taboo-breaking "Western" humanities scholar who doesn't just discuss Buddhism, but employs it in a profound rethinking of what it means to copy. Marcus Boon is that very rare thing, someone who doesn't stop thinking for no good reason. Brimming with fresh, accessible insights beckoning the reader into strange depths. Despite its title, In Praise of Copying is unique. -- Timothy Morton, author of The Ecological Thought and Ecology without Nature Bringing Buddhist insights into a startling and necessary conversation with critical theory, Boon challenges our given notions of copying by dissolving them into an illuminating interdependence. From Glen Gould to Louis Vuitton bags (and "Louis Vuitton" bags), from the exuberant mimesis of hip hop to the wisdom of dispropriation, In Praise of Copying delves far beneath the legal surface of today's copyright wars to discover a phenenomen that not only defines human culture, but is intrinsic to reality itself. -- Erik Davis, author of Techgnosis: Myth, Magic, and Mysticism in the Age of Information Much has been written on the subject of the copy in recent years, none of it so singularly illuminating as Marcus Boon's In Praise of Copying. Where the contemporary intellectual-property debate seeks endlessly to distinguish between good copies and bad, Boon cuts straight to the fatally unasked question at its core: What is a copy? From the evolution of counterfeit handbags to the confounding multiplicities of Being, Boon pursues his answers through rich fields of popular culture, technological history, and philosophy both Eastern and Western. A vast, secret life of the copy is here revealed, a road map through the deepest meanings of our age of mechanical reproduction. -- Julian Dibbell, WIRED Magazine