Friday, February 13, 2009

Get Down With The Cut-Up

The cut-up technique of writing utilizes one-part creativity, one part skill and two-parts luck. It is used primarily as an experimental method of breaking free from linear storytelling and opening new doors of perception, sometimes creating innovative new phrases. The method is simple:

You take a finished piece of text written on paper. You cut the paper into pieces so that only a small number of words exist on each piece--the most popular formula has you slicing the page into four rectangles, but there is nothing set in stone. The pieces are then rearranged to create a new text, and retyped--using a little creativity and editing prowess to compensate for broken word structures and the like along the way.

More than likely, it will make very little sense, but given time, one can learn how to properly edit the cut-up text to transform it into surrealistic poetry, or incorporate it into another of their more linear works.

This method was popularized by Beat Generation author William S. Burroughs, who created many of his most famous novels in this fashion. Burroughs didn't merely enjoy the cut-up, however. He went stark raving mad for it, and hypothesized that using the cut-up method could uncover the "hidden meaning" of any given text, predict the future ("When you cut word lines the future leaks out."), and perhaps even alter reality.

At the very least, it's an interesting way to kill a little time.

(the above text was cut-up using an online cut-up machine, and then edited into the following "poem")

There they learn
the future number method.
Structures will turn the generation mad.
The method transforms storytelling,
cut-up by pieces hypothesized
as the number four works.
His doors are new and little,
his given skill is the opening of another
and is created into text
and into a story you didn't create.
Telling a sometimes word
cut from another author--
this is the fashion.
Hypothesize it and uncover the word,
creating it.
More than interesting it
incorporate interesting pieces.
Burroughs merely predicts the formula,
but it's the editing of technique.
YOU are Burroughs.
Cut-up the perception
and utilize Burroughs properly.
Text lines are one-part reality,
like pieces of cut text.
The linear future transforms skill and linear creativity.
Use the famous pieces
or edit your method more.
He is it's author then--
very hidden and perhaps creating perception.
Burroughs popularized one-part, at least.
But using it is interesting.
Cut the most broken future words
of linear famous storytelling
by rearranging raving into a set Beat fashion.
Alter the skill and their storytelling structure:
cut page number, text, meaning, nothing.
Cut-up broken lines, editing.
Edit it using stone,
breaking it in editing,
and the new text page can predict
and popularize the lines learned along the way.

Hey...I never said I was any good at it.


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