via mediabistro, GalleyCat, 1/29/07:
"I like art that comes from other art," Jonathan Lethem writes on his website, "and I like seeing my stories adapted into other forms." So, after writing an essay about adaptation and free culture for Harper's, and having found a way to give a preliminary green light to both a cinematic and theatrical adaptation of his novel The Fortress of Solitude, Lethem is inviting filmmakers and playwrights to have a go at several of his stories—and all you have to do is ask him nicely (and try to keep the film or theatrical production short). Also there are song lyrics waiting for your melodies.
"I'm eager to see the results," Lethem writes. "But I'm not seeking to collaborate with other artists on these projects... My preference is to relinquish creative control of the material, in favor of seeing what someone else might do with it... In fact, a few independent film producers and DVD distributors have expressed some interest in gathering the results, when and if they're substantial enough to make such a gathering interesting."
more on Lethem and Open Source via Sivacracy, 1/28/07:
My friend Jonathan Lethem, author of Fortress of Solitude, Motherless Brooklyn, and a bunch of other great books and stories, has offered some of his stories for remixing and adaptation.
Check out the current Harper's Magazine, in which Jonathan copies and pastes together a series of sentences and paragraphs from such notables as Lewis Hyde, Lawrence Lessig, Kembrew McLeod, and me to make an argument for Free Culture. It's brilliant,
but not online yet.
UPDATE, 2/1/07: Now online, "The Ecstasy of Influence."
Or listen to 1/31/07 interview with Lethem on WNYC:
Maybe stealing other writers' work isn't so bad after all. Jonathan Lethem makes a case for plagiarism in the February issue of Harper’s magazine.
Here is what Jonathan says about his new project:
These stories are for filmmakers or dramatists to adapt. They’re available non-exclusively -- meaning other people may be working from the same material -- and the cost is a dollar apiece.
There’s a simple written agreement to sign, which imposes a couple of restrictions, and that's it -- once you've paid your dollar and signed the agreement, you're free to adapt or mutate the story as you please.
Frequently Asked Questions
I like art that comes from other art, and I like seeing my stories adapted into other forms. My writing has always been strongly sourced in other voices, and I'm a fan of adaptations, apropriations, collage, and sampling.
I recently explored some of these ideas in an essay for Harper's Magazine. As I researched that essay I came more and more to believe that artists should ideally find ways to make material free and available for reuse. This project is a (first) attempt to make my own art practice reflect that belief.
My thinking along these lines has been strongly influenced by Open Source theory and the Free Culture movement, and by Lewis Hyde's book, The Gift ...