Diary Entry

Is self-plagiarism really plagiarism?

I’ve just moved to London for the summer and one of the first things I did was attend the June meeting of “Laydeez do Comics,” a lively, successful group founded by Sarah Lightman and Nicola Streeten a few short years ago. “Laydeez” meets monthly to view and discuss work by graphic artists. As Streeten and Lightman (both graphic artists themselves) explain, “Laydeez” is woman-directed but welcomes the participation of men. I’ve been fascinated by this group since I learned of its (youthful) existence and this week I wrote the monthly blog post for their website (a member writes the post each month).

Is it self-plagiarism for me to re-post myself (below)? Is this different from republishing an essay in one’s own book? From committing the odious academic sin of self-citation (“as I argue elsewhere, see my…..”)? I have to hope it isn’t since the comics meeting will surely be the highlight of my week and the main thing I want to write about today: the strange and powerful ways in which graphic memoir can represent suffering past and present. (I wish I could draw.)

But of course social media offers its own solution. I can instead link to my blog post on the Laydeez site. In that way, I won’t exactly be plagiarizing myself, but rather assuming a rhizomatic identity: spreading out with horizontal roots like a tuberous plant.


What else can I report? This week has been filled with the kind of settling in domestic activities I loathe, and in particular dealing with a vast array of problems—lack of Internet heads the list—that have come with our otherwise quite nice rental apartment. I’ve suffered daily from the syndrome that my friend the late Diane Middlebrook (who spent a lot of time in London) called “Sorry, madam.” In other words, we are not going to fix your problem any time soon. “Sorry, madam” is by definition polite, and by a peculiarly British turn makes you feel rude for even asking.

Back to the domestic. The papers and television news are filled with commentary on the blow inflicted on “domestic goddess” Nigella Lawson as she is known here, by her husband, the millionaire art collector Charles Saatchi. There’s a photo of him grabbing her by the throat, appearing to choke her (as she stares at him aghast) in full view of diners at a fashionable London restaurant, in what he described (on his way to the police station) as a “playful tiff”? Is this a story in the States? My cursory check of the Times did not turn it up, but I might have missed it. The Huffington Post did not. A big story here.

Naturally, I don’t mean to suggest a casual slide from starring in domestic agility to being a victim of domestic abuse. Far from it. The statistics here suggest that 25% of women are abused (presumably that’s just the reported cases); I’m sure that American numbers are sadly competitive.

But I have been feeling so maddened by my involuntary immersion in the domestic that I feel brought back in memory to the early days of second-wave feminism.

If this keeps up who knows what kind of abuse I will inflict on whom. “Sorry, sir,” I’ll say, as I try to strangle (metaphorically) the realtor who can’t seem to deliver the Internet service promised, no matter how many times he apologizes.

Nancy K. Miller. Diary

Welcome. Some musings on my current preoccupations with the worlds of illness and the worlds of books, the vicissitudes of living with cancer and the need now, in my eighties, to imagine what new writing might be. 

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