Monday, October 1, 2018

Adolph Caso, Guest Blogger, Publisher and Author Shares on Plagiarism

Plagiarism—Overdue Retort

By Adolph Caso

One of my professors believed that the pursuit, in higher education degrees, has to be limited to those individuals having specific educational backgrounds. He/she has to be aristocratic in nature, restricted to birth-right nobility. In her classroom deliveries, wherein the use of Italian was a requirement, she was a true tyrant. In teaching classes in English, however, she was a complete disaster; her low English language proficiency made her incomprehensible to the students. Yet, she stood there in full awkward ignorance and defiance.

     Her pride and joy, however, rested in her wish to publish or cause to be published specific concordances through specific student assignments, on the works of the poet, Giacomo Leopardi. She, therefore, assigned each student the task to copy a single word from a single line repeated in its full sentence on a second line. A reader, therefore, looking for a specific word, would be able to find the single word, and how it was used in that line—not necessarily in its sentence. No plagiarism as such suggested here.

     The problem, however, was that students had typewriters whose fonts were different from those of other typewriters. Furthermore, because many of those students didn’t even know how to type, they depended on their wives or girlfriends who, for the most part, were unfamiliar with materials in foreign languages. The whole project never saw the light of day, of course, because as a professor, she was completely oblivious to basic technical requirements, resulting in a huge waste of time without anyone learning anything about the subject matter. Some of us remember, however, how her thighs increased in size when boasting about the aristocracy of her erudition and educational achievements.

Having been born on a farm, therefore, in a village of about 500 people where there were no school buildings other than private temporary rooms to function as classes, a person like me who completed first grade only, stood no chance. In the War, schools were closed, and people like me, therefore, should not pursue degrees such as doctorates. On hearing her expound further, I knew I would not succeed, with her as my prime professor. As a result, I applied and was accepted by another university. There, I found the professors to be impressively great--in their classrooms; at the same time, they were very cruel in dealing with their students, as I quickly found out.

     Imagine being called into a private meeting wherein, the professor extols you for having written a great essay on poetics and, at the same time, accuses you of plagiarism!

     “Look here,” he said as he began reading from my paper… This is the writing of a great author. Unfortunately, you are not him. You are a plagiarist!”
     “I am not!” I quickly replied, forcibly pulling the paper from his hands. “So, you’re claiming that I am a plagiarist. If that is so, then, whom am I plagiarizing? Being you know so much and are so sure of yourself, give me the name of that author. You have a nerve!” I added in disgust. “And you are not even able to give me the name of the author I am supposedly plagiarizing from? Besides, you assigned the topic for me; I didn’t have a choice in the decision.” I got up and left with specific thoughts on what had happened:  I was sad in that I knew I was never going to receive a doctorate whether I was up to it or not.

     At the same time, that Professor confirmed, for me, that I may have had talent--after all—in combination with a strong will that made me the successful and the honest teacher I became (for more than 20 years, I became a successful promulgator of Italian language and culture having single-handedly petitioned public schools and institutions of higher learning to introduce the study of the language and culture, resulting in thousands of high school and college students learning the language together with the opening of hundreds of jobs in the field.)  Outside the door, I looked at his name on the door. “Che imbecille!” I said to myself; then added with my eyes semi-closed: “Che srtunzu!

     Angry and joyful, I immediately re-typed the essay on the poetics of Nobel Prize winner, Salvatore Quasimodo, and sent it to the editors of, Le Ragioni Critiche, in Sicily. A few weeks later, the editor sent a copy of the magazine containing the article. It was published just as I had written it;-not one comma was changed.

     One would think this news would have made me feel avenged and happy; instead, it increased my anguish. There’s something in me, or about me, that allows individuals, the likes of that professor, to berate me, to draw conclusions that are either erroneous or outrageously wrong, resulting in a behavior of depression and inactivity throughout my life. In aesthetics, I know, there is no rigid rule surrounding measurements of beauty, despite Croce’s efforts to show otherwise. Through beauty, however, every human being seeks either to assuage pain, or to enhance feelings of happiness.

In our society every individual has to face financial challenges. Success, for just about every aspect of life, has to be related to it. Measuring it, however, is practically impossible, for the simple reason that any value to be attached to it is personal. The owning and management of property has a different goal than owning cash or securities. Property values of all kinds may be subject to shifts in population, to commercial demands and social needs. Monetary value has no such flexibility. For that kind of demand is arbitrarily created by entities with specific goals on degrees of gains. The success of one individual may be measured by assets managed through funding companies. If, for example, one manages a fund with a million dollar value at the beginning of the year, which goes up 50% by the end of the year, that person has been accordingly successful. Proportionally, if in several years the portfolio grows from $50,000 to $2,500,000, than that success is more than commendable. I have always tried to increase the value of my portfolio by the larger proportions.

     Now, an octogenarian, I give lectures on the Tuskegee Airmen, I deliver ten 1-hour courses on the ideological history of our Constitution, and I also continue to write essays and books, having more than 40 publications to my credit, including live, interactive computer courses. Perhaps the book that has sold zero copies may well be my best accomplishment—The Kaso Phonemic English to Italian Dictionary. It is the first and only such dictionary in the world. 

     Imagine a simplified phonemic alphabet system that can be employed for every language throughout the world. Imagine dictionaries without phonetic transcriptions! Imagine a universal language translation program which would allow the first world-wide language such that has never existed even during the time of The Tower of Babel. Of course, no such singular language has ever existed, just as The Tower of Babel has never existed.

     Of significance, personally, is my latest book: Amalfi Re-Visited, presently being featured on with five 5-star reviews. I wrote it three years ago during the month of July while vacationing at Martha’s Vineyard. I opened the computer in the morning of July one, and completed the manuscript by the 30th—no outline, no plot, no list of characters, no landscape descriptions. After about the first page, I could not put the computer down, and I didn’t! To be sure, this year I read the completed novel, and I liked it.

Do I have a favorite publication? Yes! To America and Around the World—the Logs of Columbus and Magellan. In a sense, this book is an anthology designed with a specific goal in mind: give the reader to read, first hand, the stories of those great explorers, and to conclude, for ourselves, that what they saw through those eyes are the same things we can see today, with our own eyes, without the interference of other people’s interpretations. The Logs are the Logs, and the original words are as meaningful today as they were when first written down. One can never go wrong reading the original. Columbus charted his way to the East by sailing west. He is the only single and the best story-teller of them all. He is also the first author from the New World—America. Ironically, it was named after Americo Vespucci and not Columbus.

     Ironically, too, is that, the first Christmas Mass in the New World was celebrated in 1492 by Columbus in the presence of Native Americans. The second similar celebration occurred in 1500 by Vespucci.

     New York legislators have replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day. Their story line, however, is long on praises of the native “Indians”, and unbelievably outrageous against Columbus, claiming he is the father of slavery in all of America, first of the natives and afterward of slaves from Africa, where institutionalized slavery originated first and foremost by its natives. In his first log, Columbus learned that the natives had both slaves and practiced cannibalism.  Yet, in his four voyages to the New World, there is no mention by Columbus of abducting any native for that cause. There is no mention of the fact that institutionalized slavery is a product of Africa itself.

     One is to remember that Columbus was in charge of the first voyage. During his second, Columbus was but a figurehead; every order or activity emanated from the Spaniards. On his third voyage, in which, once again, he showed the Spaniards how to navigate the Ocean, the Spaniards placed him in chains and sent him back to Spain. There, the Queen ordered him free. If slavery was his goal for the natives, why was he in chains and not the natives? After his fourth successful voyage to America (not yet named as such), he was able to show the Spaniards, finally, how to cross the Ocean without his assistance.

     Having been given an apartment to live in, he finally passed into oblivion. On the day of his death, not one single notice was posted outside his apartment or anywhere else in the square. Regardless, Columbus died not knowing that in his first voyage, he had discovered the New World—a landmass not inhabited by Indians from India, but by a different race of people, savages for the most part unaware of God until the Spaniards introduced Catholicism. 

The reason why the American continents are named after Vespucci and not Columbus is understandable. Columbus had discovered the route to the new land masses; Vespucc1 had realized that the land masses were unknown to the people in the world at large. Based on the information given to the German cartographer Waldseemüller, by Vespucci, he drew the first maps ever of the new land and gave each continent the name of Americo—America. 

In view of historical events throughout the ages, Columbus’ significance is beyond enormous, especially on the Native Americans. On religion alone, they became Christianized. Educationally, they began to record their history for their future generations. They were introduced to the horse--the single most important tool on their behalf. Corn was introduced to Europe while wheat immediately took hold in America. The exchange of everything took on a feverish pitch the likes the world had never seen before. Certainly, it all came about pursuant to Columbus’ first voyage. With the second, together with a multitude of other voyages by an infinite number of Europeans and other people, Columbus’ influence diminished to a point that his name had practically disappeared from conversations. As already observed, on the day of his death in Spain, there was no announcement on the walls of the city square. Columbus wasn’t even alive. What a payback for a man who is second only to Jesus Christ with his contributions on behalf of his fellow man.

Of significance to me personally, and to those in love with American history, is the book, We the People: Formative Documents of America's Democracy. My goal was to give answers to two questions: What did our Founding Fathers mean, with the phrase, “we, the people,” when they knew that only white male property owners had absolute political and social power? And: What actual documents make possible America’s form of democracy, knowing all along that in their society, individuals of all kinds existed to serve the government and not vice versa? Of the several documents, beginning with the Mayflower Compact, the two that actually established the form of America’s government were the Declaration of Causes of 1775 and the Declaration of Independence of 1776.

It is important to know that the typical forms of government existing in Europe were monarchies, first and foremost in England, and followed by that of France and Spain. The people, in general, were always considered subjects of the state, and never the opposite. In other words, the people existed for the convenience of the rulers who were monarchists. Forget about the slogan: liberté, égalité fraternité-- it was just that—a slogan without meaning, without conviction for those who recited it with would-be pride! Like other Europeans, the French came to accept the guillotine instead, because they saw closure with each head that was chopped off.

When 26-year old, Cesare Beccaria, published his anonymous book, On Crimes and Punishment in 1764, his book became an immediate hit; among others, it forced him to acknowledge his authorship, and go public with his second edition. It was a best seller in the colonies. Among the readers were Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Hancock, and many others. In the colonies, the book sold in the original Italian Language edition as well as in an English edition imported from England until it was finally printed in America. Thus, Beccaria’s book became the first Italian-language book published in America.

Sadly, no professor of Italian in Italy or in America cares to learn about a book that was revered by Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, and many other Founding Fathers and local citizens. As for our teachers and professors of Italian language and culture, in general, not one has felt the need to deliberate on this author. Yes, his book was sold in the Colonies where it was also published to become a best seller. Any quick reading would allow us to conclude, as observed in, A History of Italian Literature. by Harvard Professor, Ernest Hatch Wilkins, that Beccaria’s work carries serious connections with America’s Bill of Rights.

In the more than thirty publications, no one has ever launched any charge of plagiarism on my books, except for Professor Glauco Cambon. Although he kept me from achieving a doctorate, my integrity, basic intelligence, honesty, and strong ethics have continued to stay strong with me in all these years. Glauco did not hold me back in any way, in that respect. My latest work, Amalfi Re-Visited, to my great satisfaction, appears on with five 5-star reviews—no thanks to Professor Cambon. What a way to payback!

It is hard to reflect on the behavior of fellow human beings such as Glauco’s. I never did anything against him; I never said anything derogatory against him. I never rejected his opinions about my work, nor defended them in the public square. Like anyone else, he has the right to his opinions. But to accuse me of plagiarism without proof is a crime. Having made the accusation without proof is also a moral and ethical crime that should be dealt with even after rigor mortis sets in.


I thought it was ironic to have Adolfo write about Plagiarism at this time. Has that once legal mandate slowly evolved along with other changes that has become Fake News, so that nobody is ever now sure of the Truth...and what it is...and means...

Consider Adolfo's comment that Columbus Day had been changed to Indigenous Peoples Day... How cruel to both Columbus and our indigenous people. One, most of us still attribute the finding of America to Columbus. Two, Making it the Indigenous Peoples Day without telling anybody, at the same time, Native Americans are, as far as I am aware, never "recognized" in any national way, nor even treated fairly... is illustrative of our inability to treat others as we would want to be treated.

Or can we receive such critical analysis and use it to drive us, to move forward to show, even if it is even because of one person, that we can indeed become an individual of stature, proving to the one critic that we are now known to the world as a man of honor and integrity...
Only to realize that I, the blamed individual, had always been that same person.

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