Saturday, 13 September 2008


Chance brought me here. Its application, anyway.

Cobbing and Chopin stood in the old Poetry Society in Earl’s Court Square once, up there on the first floor where the floorboards were bare and so filled with grit and foot grime that you never put your bag down. There, among the scraping chairs and late arriving, bag-laden audience, they proceeded to pull words out of a hat and perform them. Schwitters, said Bob. This method has solid foundations. Cut the text into tiny fragments, mix, retrieve by a chosen random system (ie: pulling them out without looking first). Perform. Henri Chopin, discoverer of language’s micro particles, pressed a microphone to his throat. Cobbing used his voice as a boombox. Would have done, if they’d had them then.

The problem with chance methods of composition, once you’ve got beyond the inherent difficulties of creating a method of generating selection in the first place, is that there’s a arty desire to interfere. To tweak. To watch the chance come out of the hat and then mimic it. Try to mimic it. Make a few amendments. Add a word. Smooth a little. Jackson Mac Low whose entire early output consisted of randomly generated poetry would have been appalled. Impure. But today we are beyond purity, well beyond.

Methods of chance generation:

Computer random number generator
Open book and point
Shuffle (see Cards above)
Density of freckles
Random walk hypothesis
White noise

I must come back to this

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