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his flashing eyes

August 27, 2010

his flashing eyes his
flashing eyes his flashing
eyes his flashing eyes his

flung up momently the fountain momently the sacred
chasm which slanted floated
waves but oh that
waning moon was
woman wailing
wood and ever a sunny
ceaseless cedarn cover it was
ceaseless turmoil seething
far from far from far where

a miracle of pleasure
singing of pleasure and sank
a mighty fountain momently
the dome in tumult
momently the
dome of mount
momently was
mighty fountain momently
deep romantic
deep delight
deep romantic chasm


august 26, supervised selection from bigrams, source text: Coleridge – Kubla Khan, generator: ePoGeeS.

If computational poets should have a patron saint, it must surely be Grandmaster Flash.

now I know what you’re thinking: the guy can’t be a patron saint because he wasn’t catholic, he’s not dead, and besides, there was all that stuff with the crack and the underage groupies. but the miracles, man. there was the technology, and the subversion of accepted art forms. he put together his first sound system from junkyard pieces, patching together components the same way we patch together algorithms. Flash literally manipulated records rather than just play them – one of his early insights was that you had to put your hands on the records, touching them, which was taboo to contemporary DJs for whom the vinyl was sacred. Flash developed a scratching technique that was too far ahead of its time, so he backed off a bit, and played discos for a while where he learned that, scratching is all right but, you know, people just wanna party.

sometimes I worry that I think too much about the programming, about the authoring techniques. it’s all about the verse, man, the sounds, putting things together, making it sound good, taking the ideas, the images, playing them in your head, you know. I’m cool with theoretically interesting poetry, but sometimes I just wanna throw words around. the DJs picked the hook, the beat, the best parts of the song and put them together so people could get down, because it’s all about a party. so I picked Kubla Khan, a “traditional” poem I like and know pretty well, ran it through ePoGeeS, and broke it down, picked out the best parts, repeated them a couple times til I really felt it.

so next time you’re gonna write some comp-poetry and aren’t sure how to proceed, ask yourself: what would Flash do? (WWFD?)

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