Friday, December 28, 2012

shuffle up

a slightly different version of this post appeared on flashing by on july 24, 2010

randomly generated writing has been around since at least the 1920's, with tristan tzara and the dadaists. probably the best known example - at least in the english speaking world - is the "cutups" of brion gysin and william burroughs in the 1960's. all this is familiar enough to those with any interest, and information on it is readily available in the information age.

but not much writing of this type seems to be in print - even burroughs and gysin's "the third mind" seems to be out of print - maybe the only full length book of burroughs that is. the reason? probably that it is more interesting to do this stuff yourself than to read the results of other people doing it. burroughs himself said in so many words that "anybody can do it." exactly.

it seems to me that what any kind of random writing does - whether "cutup" or otherwise - is combine reading and writing. you "write" something and then you read it. and "see what happened."

anyway, the exact technique i used is this. you could call it the "shuffle up" technique.

1) take 13 words or phrases, connected or otherwise

2) assign each one a card - ace, deuce, three ...

3) shuffle a deck of cards and then deal out the whole deck one card at a time, writing down the phrase assigned each one

4) maybe add a few random phrases or lines of dialogue

let's try it

a - alexander

2 - helen

3 - on the beach

4 - under the window

5 - the waves

6 - can you ever

7 - forgive me

8 - last night

9 - this morning

10 - i thought

j - i heard

q - please not now

k - but why not

the result:

please not now last night forgive me helen forgive me on the beach
alexander the waves this morning last night please not now i heard
"what did you hear?"
last night please not now alexander i thought i heard under the window
on the beach i thought but why not i heard i thought can you ever
why should i?
but why not on the beach can you ever the waves this morning
can you ever under the window helen can you ever the waves
"somehow it just happened"
this morning i thought on the beach but why not alexander forgive me
alexander last night helen helen forgive me under the window
flew away
i heard this morning please not now the waves under the window but why not

try it! it's fun - at least for a while. if you would like to become a contributor to this blog or would just like to post an atempt please contact:

rpenmarq at gmail dot com

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