Saturday, November 19, 2005

Google + Poetry = Googletry (Part 2)

A couple of other poets and myself have played around with the raw googled language from the previous post and whittled it down to a poem.

Here is Thomas Basbøll’s contribution to the experiment:

Welcome to the Death Clock: a friendly, second by second reminder to work out the percentage of memories that are designed, manufactured and tested to specifications.

Here are the updated graphs for October. As you can see, the fish leapt from the water. This framework only provides guidelines: a limited amount of content. There will be "more deep cuts".

Here is Brian Campbell’s work in progress, in which he strayed a bit from the original idea and included a couple additional lines including some Spam:


Welcome to the Death Clock, the Internet’s friendly reminder that life is slipping away... second by second.
Would you like to increase your brain power today?
Have some Hallmark ornaments you just don't want anymore?
What is the impact of recent hurricanes on U.S. Oil Markets?
Stanford University scientists have discovered a potential new weapon in the battle of the bulge: a hormone that reduces the urge to eat.
At least 500,000 earthquake survivors in Pakistan still have no shelter.
The dust-up in the Dungeon video arcade began when a group of Jordanian teenagers cursed aloud about the television reports.
Love is when you look into someone's eyes, and suddenly you go all the way inside their soul and you both know it.
The first space mission in a decade to Earth's closest neighbour, Venus, has blasted off.
Sensational revolution in medicine! Enlarge your penis up to 10 cm or 4 inches!
"We rented an apartment," she said, adding that her husband taught her how to use her explosives belt.
We drowsed for a while in the gentle purling murmur of the river, until Demi spoke again.
Why are you jerking off to this ten-second video clip?
Welcome to the Death Clock, the Internet’s friendly reminder that life is slipping away... second by second.

And here is my attempt:


that is
ured and
updated graphs
the opening
a limited
of content
available in
English please
for more
Blue Steel
the areas of
buildings and
a New York college
an existential
nightmare victims
of a cruel
and enduring myth Love is when you look
into someone's
not want
to be free
it wants
to be brief economics
bath water

The interesting thing about this process was that after a point it was like I was editing/whittling down my own language. After the initial cut, it was as if I had appropriate that language as my own, reclaimed it from a vast internet wasteland, language reclamation. Robert Archambeau asks:

Lately, I suppose, everything feels like a headline, and every headline feels like a lie. How to talk back? More headlines?

Is this reparsing of language a way of talking back? This seems to be partly the idea of flarf as expressed Gary Sullivan and Stan Apps. Though flarf seems to be more a challenge to poet (flarfer), reader, and society alike:

Flarf was never meant to put anyone at ease. It is not about writing "bad" poetry; it was never about that. "Bad" and "good" are irrelevant terms to flarf. It was about putting oneself into uncomfortable positions vis-à-vis the work. Literally, making manifest discomfort. In oneself, and--presumably--in one's readers.

I don’t think what I was doing here is flarf as defined by Sullivan and others. I found the process as I approached it interesting more for the randomness of the language, the raw material that was generated, and as an “act” of reclaiming and reprocessing “nonpoetic” language. Maybe this is as Sullivan quipped about Tony Tost’s “I Am Not A Pilot”, “What new wave was to punk.” But is there really a problem with being Elvis Costello? (Udate: According to Tony he was pre-flarf, thus pub rock, The Motors maybe.)

I think the process has many implications about how lanaguge works and the role of the poet/sculptur/shaper that I want to think through. One of the most interesting is that, as Thomas puts it, it deprives "the poet of some habitual vanities" and demystifies "linguistic inspiration." Poetry generated from the outside, from beyond the limited conception of “the self” or “the inspired poet.”


At 2:54 AM, Blogger Thomas Basbøll said...

"of to how to work out" should read: "of how to work out"

At 5:39 AM, Blogger David Leftwich said...

Corrected in the post.

At 7:06 AM, Blogger Thomas Basbøll said...

Thinking about it some more:

I think leaving out "of how", thus: "a friendly reminder to work out the percentage"

At 7:07 AM, Blogger Thomas Basbøll said...

...would be better.

At 9:20 AM, Blogger David Leftwich said...

Thomas, made the edit. Wasn't sure if you wanted, "second by second" removed as well, so I left in for now.

At 2:16 PM, Blogger Thomas Basbøll said...

Yes, "second by second" should stay but I had forgotten about it. That might mean something.

How would this be:

Welcome to the Death Clock: a friendly, second by second reminder, to work out the percentage of memories that are designed, manufactured and tested to specifications.

At 6:03 AM, Blogger David Leftwich said...

Thomas, I made the correction above, but I left out the last comma. It seemed unnecessary. But then you may have wanted a pause there, which would make sense to me. I can put it back if you like.

At 11:05 AM, Blogger Thomas Basbøll said...

Yes, that's what I meant. My typing is awful these days. Thanks.

At 8:31 PM, Blogger Brian Campbell said...

Didn't see all these comments before writing about the different "Googletries" on my blog... but I think they got in. Good work, guys.

At 8:31 PM, Blogger Brian Campbell said...

woops! the edits, I mean...


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