Tuesday, June 26, 2007

spam! spam! spam!

Spam. We all get it and we all delete it with extreme prejudice whenever it makes an unwelcome appearance in our spam folders. But just now I decided to read one of those strange messages and what follows is a small sample:

"SIR,
"How dared they, how DARED they drain write that hateful anonymous letter station informing me that line oil Aglaya is in c Evgenie Pavlovitch's friend shade asked the prince some question, please but frame the latter did not reply, crept or if he d He pulled the note touch out and kissed cake it; then thought paused and reflected. fiction "How strange it all is! how strange "She fair sprang forward sign taste and stood still in front of the reptile as if she sugar had been turned to stone. The
"What? At your house?" she interfere steel asked, but without much surprise. science "He upon was alive yesterday evening, wasn't "Well, what then? Supposing I healthy should like saw to know?" fold sting cried Lizabetha Prokofievna, blushing. "I'm sure guilty easy Though this incident prose will probably appear of little consequence to many of at our readers; yet, triflin

I suddenly realised that this spam was generated by the cut-up technique. This means that Brion Gysin and Williams S Burroughs are turning in their graves. Or are they?
Burroughs' last three novels, including Cities of the Red Night, explore his concept of language as virus. Throughout these novels, the narratives and traditional novel structures disintegrate under the weight of the cut up technique to create new forms of language use and meaning. Like a virus, language destroys its hosts but these destructions are always the creation of new forms that go on to create further new forms and so on. Spreading the virus that's constantly mutating.
What could be more like a language/virus than email spam that attempts to use cut-ups to slip past Bayesian Spam Filtering?
All of which is Gysin's and Burroughs' fault.
Thematically linking to my post on Eno, literary cut-ups are a particular style of generative art, I reckon. Just because the materials involved are under the control of the organising system, doesn't mean the artist somehow recedes into the background. The creator of a generative piece of art still has the capacity to manipulate the organising systems in ways that capture the effects they are trying to create. Or they want the system to create.
The text above is a cut up of passages from Fyodor Dostoyevsky's The Idiot, by the way. Literary pharmacologists selling cheap viagra? Dostoyevsky gets randy.


now playing: !!! - must be the moon (the only good tune on their new album mythtakes)

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