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the preoccupations of habitual excessively fond

August 9, 2010

she had human tendencies and
wished to all the last words
his presence of anything

there is nothing to the preoccupations of habitual
excessively fond of the few who herself
but this beyond a distance and as

turning with more than a meditative turn
that had been sweeter by warbling at her eyes a sudden
he felt her head including face of listening

who his feeling as he had
a horse has the fellow of various
and he he has perhaps in a prospect of

womanhood the world publish his pain she had early the burning
being something else be it came wet wet wet
but I dare love that the beginning


August 8-9, method 770ac8b0-5626-426c-bb79-1adf9ad13324 (human accomodating increasing levels of machine randomness), Text: middle sutra manifesto (Middlemarch by George Eliot, the Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana, the Manifesto of the Communist Party by Marx and Engels), generator: epogees

yo I just got my hands on a copy of the Oulipo Compendium. Killer book of all time. I dig the way they come up with authoring algorithms. Only I don’t like the way they name them. I think they should be UUIDs or something, with a parenthetical nickname.

Anyways, one thing I realized while testing out all of the authoring tools I was looking at recently is that the process that the human author uses is important. (i.e. what decisions is the human making in the algorithm? once the lines are generated, how are they changed? are they re-generated as in Gnoetry, are words from the language model added as in epogees, are lines selected as in mchain/epogees?) for me, Oulipo highlights the importance of those kinds of decisions. Anyway, in that spirit I decided to formalize one of the authoring styles I found myself using in epogees, and which was used for the poem above.

Method 770ac8b0-5626-426c-bb79-1adf9ad13324 (human accomodating increasing 
                                             levels of machine randomness)

Summary: the human uses a generator to select and arrange meaningful
         text fragments.  the human then generates a number of lines, 
         and uses them (with limited editing) to complete the poem.

A. The human creates the meaningful core of a poem, using computer-generated text

   1. generate several (4-14) lines of text using an n-gram generator (such as 
      epogees, gnoetry, janusnode, processing/RiTa, etc.)

        a. suggestion: generate text with high levels of alliteration or assonance 
                       if possible.  if not possible, use only 1-2 source texts.  
                       this is for coherence.
        b. suggestion: each line should be fairly long (8-9 words) if possible.  
                       this is so when you remove words in 2.a, you have 
                       something left that might be interesting.

    2. pick interesting phrases from that text, to create new lines

       a. suggestion: for each line generated in A.1, remove the words that are 
                      not interesting.  see what you have left.
       b. suggested constraint: you may only remove words from the beginning or 
                      from the end of a line.  if you remove words from the 
                      middle of a line, you must break the line into two lines.
       c. suggested constraint: you may break a line in two, but you may not 
                      combine lines.

    3. see if these any of these lines can be re-arranged to create a "core" of 
       more overtly meaningful text.  if they cannot, return to A.1 and generate 

       a. variation: you keep a "pool" of lines created in A.2. throughout the 
                     composition of the poem, and can use them at any time
       b. variation: you keep a "pool" of lines created in A.2, but you erase it 
                     when you move to step B.
       c. variation: you do not keep such a "pool".  instead, every time you 
                     generate in A.1, you erase any unused lines.
       d. variation: every time you generate in A.1, you erase ALL lines, even 
                     those you think would make a good core of a poem.

       e. variation: the "core" is only at the beginning or end of the poem
       f. variation: in step A the "core" is made up of 2 stanzas (of 2/4/6 lines)

       g. variation: you may add words that are in the n-gram model, using something 
                     like the "suggest next words" feature in epogees.

B. The computer generates several lines of code, at least 75% of which must be used 
   by the human

   1. generate several lines of text using an n-gram generator

      a. suggestion: generate relatively small lines (because you won't be removing 
                     any words, only entire lines.)

   2. for each 4 lines generated in B.1, you may remove 1 line.  (So if you 
      generated 5-8 lines you can remove 2; with 9-12 you can remove 3, etc.)

      a. variation: the final number of lines generated in B1 that remain after 
                    step B.2 must be equal to the number of lines generated in 
                    step A.
      b. variation: you may only remove 1 for every 4 *adjacent* lines.  so if 
                    you generate 12 lines you cannot remove 3 lines only from the 
                    end of the set.  the lines you remove must be more evenly 
      c. variation: you must remove exactly 1 line.  otherwise, you could choose 
                    not to remove any if you didn't want.

   3. The lines remaning after step B.2 are placed among the lines of poem 
      generated in step A.

      a. variation: the lines from B.2 must be kept together as a stanza (or as 
                       2, 3, or more stanzas)
      b. variation: the lines from B.2 must be placed between the stanzas from 
                       step A (which are themselves placed at the beginning and end 
                       of the poem as per step A.3.e)

The goal is to produce a text that balances coherence and randomness to produce a text open to a variety of meaningful interpretations on the part of the reader.

btw I think the human parts of this method could be automated. They’d have high error rates, of course, but poetry is a forgiving domain. (I don’t think I’ll do it though.)

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