March 6, 2004

The Spam of William Burroughs

William Burroughs, an ancient and honorable beat Junkie now gone to his reward, came in his dotage to the concept of the 'cut-up.' The "Cut-Up" was a literary theory only a junkie or those who admire junkies could love. It held that you could shred up any item of print and, putting the pieces back together at random, wrest meaning out of gibberish.

And I am here to tell you that, if you were young enough, and had smoked enough dope, this theory was pure gold. It was instant literature for pot heads. Best of all, it took no thought whatsoever. (Always a plus for dope smokers.) Thought was anathema to the cut-up. What it took was a book, a pair of scissors, a pot of paste, and some blank paper. Whammo, snip and clip, cut and paste and art pure of heart and bereft of intent or cognition was yours for the asking.

Burroughs dined out on this theory for years, but I had thought that the practice and performance of this method had died with him.

So it was with renewed joy and the knowledge that, in modern art, no bad idea is ever really dead that I noted that The Cut-Up, in theory and practice, has found new life in the most recent incarnation of Spam.

Yes, as the Spammers grow ever more desperate to get their scams in front of your glazed eyes, they have now resorted to the Burroughsian Cut-Up Method for generating subject lines. A brief dip into my Junk folder today gave me these subject lines, presented verbatim and in order:


contemporaneous march
pawnshop bath
no risk anneal
lugging combination
aerobacter insolent

trait clean
huntington embassy johns borate
yogi silhouette
belittle guerdon chandler

no waiting room in clinic bulblet
gush domesday programmer intrude daredevil
moan saw agile sinter

An excellent tone poem on the nature of chaos, wouldn't you say? Just break them up a little and they seem as if they almost, but not quite, make sense.

Sort of the point of cut-ups and Spam actually. I'm looking forward to more of this poetry in the near future. Just before I "Select All" and hit "Delete."

Posted by Vanderleun at March 6, 2004 4:51 PM | TrackBack
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