Saturday, July 24, 2010

shuffle up

by rhoda penmarq

some people - actually, one person - asked me about the technique used in the early posts of "'the waitress and the satanist". 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. please post any attempts. if you are not a contributor to this blog but would like to post (or become a contributor) please contact:

rpenmarq at gmail dot com


timmy44444 at gmail dot com


Dan Leo said...

Thanks for the elucidation, Rhoda! Oh, by the way, last night I accidentally added those little symbols that appear at the bottom of the posts (M, B, T, F...), which are handy devices to disseminate our little masterpieces to Twitter and Facebook, etc. I was trying to put them into my own blog and wound up putting them here, but what the hell...

corfubob said...

Thanks Rhoda. I can see that the phrases can be selected with art so that strings of sense can occur. Bit like point and shoot camera work perhaps, you seldom want to look at a result twice. I have employed a technique of weaving nonsense into serious stuff, losing the form and finding it again, but people want to get something out of the words or the images probably. Go well

kathleenmaher said...

Now that I can see how it works, Rhoda, I find it more fun to read. Yet it's not anything I'd enjoy writing (I think.) It affects me like poetry and I-and-I have some massive resistance against even trying it. But reading it? Yah and yah. You do it. Keep going on and on, and Big up.

human being said...

i take a book... i open it to a page... 13 times... at random... these are the firt phrases/words of the pages on the left side:

and i shall get
and said, why
less sins
the painted patridge
let's laugh now
perpetual progression
with darkness
great ones do
the intricacies
this universal fame
who tore them up
life has been lost

and now i shuffle them... hmmm... i add or repeat a few little words:


the painted patridge
let's laugh now
less sins
(less sins)
(less sins)

and (why) said, why
and i shall get
(what)great ones do
(what great ones do)

perpetual progression
life has been lost
(to)the intricacies
this universal fame
who tore them up
with darkness...


hey this was so fun!
really loved the attempt! made me so happy and energetic!
thanks rhoda... you are always full of great ideas...

Dreamachine said...

More about Brion Gysin and the Dreamachine...