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Sunday, November 15, 2009

The sincerest form of flattery....

We here at LoS are not assholes. We're not egomaniacs. We're not selling anything. We do what we do for a love of the chase and then we share it on the blog. Everything is under a creative commons share and share alike license. Basically meaning you have our permission to reprint and reproduce as you see fit--with proper attribution.

Like any writers, we're proud of what we do and don't want our words and images abused and taken without so much as a heads up to say "check out what I did with your stuff." Artistic uses such as cut-ups are not what we're talking about here; what we mean is that when our words and ideas are reproduced in the same format as LoS--a blog or essays presenting esoteric symbolism in everyday contexts, then things change. A tip of that hat is the very least of gestures. While we don't pretend to be as rigorous as academics or journalists, there are some basic rules of etiquette and ethics to be followed. This includes acknowledging the sources of your content. Hyperlinks serve as footnotes; parenthetical documentation is welcome.

The same goes for images. Here on LoS our images are 90% from the public domain, Wikimedia Commons or taken by our own cameras (or telephones!) From time to time we thumb our nose at Getty or the AP and decorate our posts with their images. We try attribute other images we've found to the sites we found them in the text of our articles. We're not perfect, but this is our goal.

Recently it came to our attention that a website called the Vigilant Citizen published an article under the rubric of "Sinister Sites" about what the author refers to as the "Illuminati Pyramid of Blagnac." It's a well-written and cogent summary of its symbolism, and we congratulate the author. We must be frank, however. The article takes a lot from our own post from April of this year entitled "Can an evil tree produce good fruit?"; certain phrases seem to merely be rewritings of what we have ourselves said on the subject.

Briefly, the Pyramid, or Temple de la Sagesse Supreme, is a fountain which sits in a roundabout rayed like the sun within a structure representing the state. It contains Masonic references and frankly Illuminist symbols as well as the inclusion of a tiled world map below the pyramid. Draw your own conclusions.

The article is profusely illustrated with our own photographs, taken not from the web but from a camera, in the presence of the monument. These photos are free for the taking and the Vigilant Citizen does in fact attribute them to us via a link at the end of the article. But given the extent to which the photos form the basis of his article, we don't feel he's been adequate in his attribution. A "thank you" would have been nice.

To be honest, we have not always sought permission to use photos and on at least one occasion built a post around photos we didn't ourselves take. In the former cases, however, we only used one photo for decoration or to illustrate a point; in the latter case the photos came from a variety of sources. But Vigilant Citizen's article takes all but one of our photos and uses them for his article, in which all but two images came from us. It's all a matter of degree.

When we came across this monument, so redolent of the fabled (?) Illuminati, it was clear that we needed to address it on our blog. We researched and came up with very little apart from some .PDF scans on a French website. We'd become aware of a video which pointed out a lot of the same things we'd noted and clued us into other things we hadn't. Beyond that, there was nothing as far as descriptions or details regarding the Place de la Revolution or the monument at its center. We propose he got these observations from both LoS and the video, and although the end of the article links to both (LoS but not our actual post), he never makes it clear that his work is an extrapolation on them.

We don't want to come across as petty and possessive; we actually found his article enjoyable, clear-minded and well-informed. He goes a lot farther in some of his analysis than we did and synthesizes the most pertinent details for a convincing interpretation. But we have been covering this monument and its implications over several posts since April, and think that he has failed to credit his inspiration or his sources. The French Revolution, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Masonic involvement in the Enlightenment have been subjects of considerable reflection for us.

If we are wrong, we welcome comment and clarification. Unfortunately, the same can't be said of VC; when we tried to comment he didn't allow them to go past the "moderation" phase. Not so for those praising his "discovery."

Perhaps seeing so many laudatory comments proved to be the motivation for this post; it's irksome to find someone being congratulated for a discovery they did not in fact make, with no attempt on the part of the 'laudee' to say, "actually folks...."

Our initial comments were a bit strong and perhaps we should have addressed it privately rather than as an open comment. But then again, this new media is a fishbowl and certain clarifications may be best served if laid out on the table for all to see.

Here's our suppressed comment:

----quote----

Nice insights and analysis. You might have mentioned what set you off on this path.

I found out about this pyramid because I often have to drive by it. Everything else I found out came after the shock of recognition. I didn’t come across it on a website and then pass it off as my own discovery.

I appreciate the link pointing out where the photos come from, but maybe you should have asked my permission first? I had to stand in the rain for some of those and almost got run down by terrible drivers.

I would have gladly said yes if you’d agreed to be a little more generous with the attribution both of the photos and the details you present–the tablets, the fountain, the map, the quote, the 13 layers. Where’d you get that info? I got it by being there and taking the pictures–when I wrote my article in April, these details were no place else on the internet and there were no photos of the Pyramid available. Only the crappy video we both link to–but I saw that after I’d begun my post. It took me a bit of digging to find some of the information you based your work on–Lequeu for instance. A bit of credit where it’s due might have been nice.

About that Lequeu qote, by the way, you’ve got it wrong. The actual quote is: "La bonheur est dans l’angle ou les sages rassemblent."

I see you’ve got lots of people in your comments section thanking you for your “discovery.” Maybe you should point them in the right direction.

You’ve written a really good article with some good insights. I know bloggers aren’t journalists or academics, but the same ethics of attribution do exist.


----end quote----

It's kind of churlish we suppose. Kind of goofy. Maybe pretentious. But we stand by it. We also want to acknowledge that VC is free to use stuff from our site if he (?!) wants; he was already within rights to use some in the first place, within reason. We also welcome his work. His article adds to the discourse.

But it is a discourse, and as far as the English-speaking internet goes, Laws of Silence started it. That's why we can't abide by this spurious dis and remain....umm....silent.

6 comments:

  1. Well, I'll come right out and say that the Vigilant Citizen site sucks. I'm sorry he (?) robbed from you.

    From what I can tell, very little posted there is the Citizen's own research (except perhaps the Lady Gaga tripe, which I didn't bother looking at); he borrows heavily and without attribution from the ideas of Michael Tsarion, and so on. Mediocrity and rampant plagiarism put the Citizen right on par with the average American undergraduate. But what makes the site truly odious is the Citizen's repackaging of several pdfs of older books that are (as far as I know) in the public domain and then SELLING them. Even people that scan other people's books into pdfs themselves don't try to sell the pdfs, which require minimal effort to post or share, and I have the suspicion (though I can't prove it) that the Citizen didn't even do the scanning in this case.

    Helena Blavatsky is not around to protest, but I'm glad that you're at least saying something before the Vigilant Citizen starts charging for pdfs of your work as well.

    ReplyDelete
  2. and yet, he gets the 54 reader comments! must be a right wing republican

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  3. Chronic, thanks for the support. I thought of the "he" thing too; I assume Citizen's a dude, just a feeling but who knows?

    What is your profile picture btw? Is is a personification of Europa? The halo of stars is the iconography of Mary and Isis, but also of the European flag....

    I'll have to check out Tsarion. At first glance his site is pretty damn odd!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I don't remember exactly who my profile pic is supposed to be, but if you research Edwardian erotica, you'll find a lot of similar really charming images. Mythology seems to have been a popular excuse for getting naked in front of the camera at the time.

    You must check out Tsarion. I will make an enormous understatement and say that he is much too certain about the kinds of wild things that are much better left as an open question, but I can't really help following his work. Also, some of his insight into the Western mystery tradition is good.

    He is an extremely gifted speaker, so if you are reading him instead of listening, you are missing out big time. Check Youtube; his series on sacred symbolism is maybe the strongest. You will immediately see how he has influenced Vigilant Citizen. A lot of bloggers try to write how Tsarion speaks.

    I'm not sure what made Vigilant Citizen so popular so fast. I guess the right-wing paranoia slant doesn't hurt. (Gawd help us all.)

    ReplyDelete
  5. As my old pal Swinedriver always said: "It ain't art unless there's a naked lady in it!" ;)

    Tsarion, at the very least, has a cool-as-beans name! I will check him out, promise.....

    VC's popularity. The site is attractive and "professional-looking" and the articles are clear. Just earnest enough to reel in the true believers and with enough "scholarly" detachment to interest the not-yet-convinced.

    Also, when you google the title of the Pyramid article, for example, there are literally hundreds of hits. He's networked, got feeds all over, twitter, etc. Automatically his site is connected with about a million others.

    ReplyDelete
  6. In light of a recent developments, I should be clear that "free for the taking" and "free to use as you see fit" are still defined under the terms of a CC license, specifically linked to in this post and permanently in the sidebar of the blog. Commercial use is not allowed. Not reading the license is no excuse for violating its terms. I have thus moved the license to the top of the blog with this provision clearly stated.

    ReplyDelete

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