Deodands are a delightful example of a common law doctrine that caused something to happen: the Crown was enabled to tax tortfeasors. But not in a way anyone expected at the time or anyone understands today. Look on their logic and despair. You’ll never figure it out, no matter how hard you try. And that’s what makes them so lyrical. The concept of the deodand is beautiful even though we can’t understand it. Or rather, it’s beautiful because we can’t understand it. If we understood deodands, surely they would be as prosaic as life insurance and conceptual art.
In 1964, Yoko Ono self-published the first edition of her iconic book Grapefruit. Grapefruit consisted of about 150 “event scores,” or instructions for realizing a work of conceptual art, which Ono also called “pieces.” Each piece consisted of a brief text, formatted like a blank verse poem, in which Ono described a set of actions, the performance of which constituted a work of conceptual art. Or no, the description of which constituted a work of conceptual art? Or no, the contemplation of which constituted a work of conceptual art? Or, maybe all three?
This article is an homage to Ono’s Grapefruit in the genre of legal scholarship. It consists of a number of “pieces” intended to encourage reflection on the nature and practice of legal scholarship. Of course, it reflects my own particular interests, inter alia discussing the concept of plagiarism, especially as articulated in the context of legal scholarship.
Notably, this is the first article in which I have (intentionally) plagiarized anything. At a certain point, you just have to jump in. For what it’s worth, a considerable part of the plagiarism in this article is self-plagiarism, which is really just plagiarism for plagiarists without the courage of their convictions. But many of the pieces in this article plagiarize other legal scholars. Like any self-respecting plagiarist, I only plagiarized the legal scholars I love the very most. See if you can spot their work. I hope I added something to it.
Brian L. Frye, Deodand, 44 Seattle U. L. Rev. SUpra 55 (2021).
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