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:
- An original selection that I wrote myself
- An excerpt from the opening paragraphs of Naked Lunch by William s. Burroughs.
- And an exerpt from The Inferno by Dante Alighieri.
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
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
turn to drugs
the event’s boundary defined
obsessed, step over the threshold
All becomes necessary
we wouldn’t be
that this was the point o power devine
thinking I see
I reach out of this
There’s only leaving
expectant perceptions become the stench
a standard from the other side,
Her mousey that I pursue
WE step over the threshold
reality might stop saluting
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
it takes time
Ever see a hot shot, Kid? I saw the Gimp catch one in Philly
dropper full of first time
mountainous nipple in the sky
through me, you hanging
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
There’s only floor
such a sty
air is thick with power
I am on my shoulder
kicked back in lunacy
no one way to disguise that hot shot, Kid.