Destroying writer’s block: A Sampler’s perspective

We’ve all been there.  Fingers, poised to strike, resting on the keyboard.  The cursor blinks like a solitary stoplight on a forgotten midwestern road.  What can be done to break the shackle of writer’s block?  What, if anything, can be done to dynamite the literary log jam?  In the modern age, I think the obvious answer is sampling. 

Sampling and rearranging audio and video have been around since either medium came into existence.

For those that work with words, such as authors and song writers, a method by which to sample literary works was not presented until the late 1950’s. 

Thanks to Brion Gysin and William S. Burroughs, all of that changed, and the cut-up was given life.  In the years following their discovery, Burroughs would write a trilogy of novels utilizing the cut-up as the literary base.  The key, as with all other types of sampling is to make an original work from existing sources, or, to juxtapose new material into the structure of the existing material.

As with all things, technology has given rise to automatic and mechanized methods for performing out-dated physical processes.  The physical cutting of magnetic tape and celluloid is relegated to the audio and video purists.  This is no different for literary sampling.  Several websites have given rise to cut-up “machines” that use different algorithms to randomly or sequentially cut-up, sample, and rearrange any given body of text.

As an example, I have used the William S. Burroughs’ & Brion Gysin’s Non-Linear adding Machine that will allow me to enter up to four pieces of text as well as determine the cut-up methodology.  For today’s cut-up, I have chosen the following pieces:

The resulting cut-up was created by pulling out and arranging any coherent phrases or word sequences that caught my eye:

Justice, the founder
Who enters here
me among them
on drugs were wisdom and the primeval reach
Before me, the city of woe
my life, replaced by hallucinations across the standard of Time
into fetishism
so great
charged
mark’d
wanting to smoke
twisted perceptions become WE
leaving loneliness and night
I reach to understand
thinking I open the door
to the way you see or heed
the ensuing typhoon of eternal pain
by sexual progressiveness
by psychedelics
people
citizens
turn to drugs
the event’s boundary defined
obsessed, step over the threshold
All becomes necessary
we wouldn’t be
here
that this was the point o power devine
As I,
addiction
my pain,
linging
my eyes,
thinking I see
I reach out of this
just wait
watch
There’s only leaving
stop saluting
expectant perceptions become the stench
a standard from the other side,
I think.
Her mousey that I pursue
sit,
bisect obsession
WE step over the threshold
reality might stop saluting
I walk
was the task of the power to cut through the next dose
pain IS opening the door
we wouldn’t be here
wanting to smoke
shadows across thinking
in terms of the role of drugs
moments,
it takes time
Ever see a hot shot, Kid? I saw the Gimp catch one in Philly
symbiotic visions
wanting to
create pain
dropper full of first time
mountainous nipple in the sky
through me, you hanging
consummation lingers
whorehouse
the nails that make holy have fallen lower
open the door of Time
we rigged no return
psilocybin IS human evolution
anticipation of the chit, Kid
nails hold the walls back
characters in color
sit
There’s only floor
such a sty
air is thick with power
I am on my shoulder
kicked back in lunacy
human evolution
no one way to disguise that hot shot, Kid.

 

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How to get by with a Little Help from your Friends

Scre major labels. Who needs 'em?

In the past few years, several major artists have decided that it was not in their best interests to resign a contract with their label.  Instead, they are looking to market themselves directly to their fans.  Not only are they changing the way in which they are marketing themselves to their existing and potential fans, but they are thinking outside of the box of the collapsing structures of the music industry and are adopting the tools that the major labels have forsaken for so long.

In 2007, Radiohead refused to resign their contract with their label and chose to let their fans determine the price they would pay for a  digital copy of their album, In Rainbows.  Along with directly marketing In Rainbows to their fans, they offered a version of the album that was exclusive and limited edition. This model resulted in 1.2 million downloads on the first day.  Also in 2007, Madonna broke with Warner Music and opted to trade a share of her profits with Live Nation in a $120 million deal that pays out in stocks and cash over the next 10 years for 3 albums and exclusive tour promotion.

So what does all this mean to you? According to Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, it means the power is back in the hands of the artist.  You can read his advice, here. Reznor believes that the industry is levelling and the tools to directly market to and, most importantly, collect and own the data left by your fans are within reach to bands just getting started.  Furthermore, he provides great information regarding these tools and how to use them.