"I lit a cigarette and walked free/beyond the red light of the exit."

The title of this brief essay quotes from Louis Zukofsky's poem "A". It is the couplet early in the poem that hooked me.

I was moved to make this quotation as a means of using the quotation within the fair use doctrine. I found that I had this particular motivation after discovering that Paul Zukofsky had posted a cranky letter of "copyright notice" on the website he runs dedicated to "making money" off his parents' copyrights.

Initially I found the tenor and attitude of the notice to be extremely annoying. First because Paul Zukofsky clearly doesn't understand what copyright is or how it works and that this lack of understanding seems to persist in the face of the extreme simplicity of learning more about the subject. I find such willful ignorance a sort of personal affront as it is contrary to the requirements of a free and open society, a form of civilization that I am very much in favor of and in which I would like to continue to live.

From that point, however, I came to the conclusion that such extreme crankiness must in fact be evidence of something else and I was instead moved to pity for Paul Zukofsky. The tenor of his notice, found here, sounds to me in the voice of someone deeply alienated from humanity, a condition that, were it my own, I would find extremely painful. In the end, "I lit a cigarette and walked free beyond the red light of the exit."

Mr. Zukofsky, if you can find an attorney that is willing file a valid suit against me for this use, which I fully admit is a use contrary to your wishes as expressed in the copyright notice, I will remove the quotation. I do not expect that I shall have to live up to this comment.

I suggest you lighten up a touch and consult with an attorney familiar with US copyright law about what your rights as a copyright owner actually are. Also, your father is an obscure objectivist poet mostly remembered because he was seen as a major influence by the Language poets. I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for the royalty checks.

Comments

After a lifetime of brilliant

After a lifetime of brilliant musicianship, as a violinist and conductor, Zukofsky is no longer able to play due to physical problems. As a result, he's in the straights financially, and while discouraging publicity for his parents' works would seem to be counter-productive, the idea of trying to earn income from his assets is not wrong.

Not at all. I don't think I

Not at all. I don't think I implied that he was in any way wrong to try to collect what he's due. What's your point?

I lit a cigarette and walked

I lit a cigarette and walked free
beyond the red light of the exit,
then choked 'cause
I don't actually smoke anyhow -

- "El" Zukofsky

LZ's grumpy kid

Lordeee, what an asshole! Talk about an Oedipus obsession--sounds like a guy out to posthumously castrate his old man, cause it sure ain't about his making money off him, not when he's doing everything in his power to see that no one reads him--reminds me of the music recording industry... and be hard to beat that for suicidal cut-off-your nose spite!