World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Cut-up technique

 

Cut-up technique

The cut-up technique is an aleatory literary technique in which a text is cut up and rearranged to create a new text.

The concept can be traced to at least the Dadaists of the 1920s, but was popularized in the late 1950s and early 1960s by writer William S. Burroughs, and has since been used in a wide variety of contexts.

Contents

  • Technique 1
  • History in literature 2
  • Musical influence 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Technique

The cut-up and the closely associated fold-in are the two main techniques:

  • Cut-up is performed by taking a finished and fully linear text and cutting it in pieces with a few or single words on each piece. The resulting pieces are then rearranged into a new text.
  • Fold-in is the technique of taking two sheets of linear text (with the same linespacing), folding each sheet in half vertically and combining with the other, then reading across the resulting page.

History in literature

A precedent of the technique occurred during a Dadaist rally in the 1920s in which Tristan Tzara offered to create a poem on the spot by pulling words at random from a hat. Collage, which was popularized roughly contemporaneously with the Surrealist movement, sometimes incorporated texts such as newspapers or brochures. Prior to this event, the technique had been published in an issue of 391 in the poem by Tzara, dada manifesto on feeble love and bitter love under the sub-title, TO MAKE A DADAIST POEM [1]

Burroughs cited T. S. Eliot's poem, The Waste Land (1922) and John Dos Passos' U.S.A. trilogy, which incorporated newspaper clippings, as early examples of the cut ups he popularized.

Gil J. Wolman developed cut-up techniques as part of his lettrist practice in the early 1950s.

Also in the 1950s, painter and writer Brion Gysin more fully developed the cut-up method after accidentally re-discovering it. He had placed layers of newspapers as a mat to protect a tabletop from being scratched while he cut papers with a razor blade. Upon cutting through the newspapers, Gysin noticed that the sliced layers offered interesting juxtapositions of text and image. He began deliberately cutting newspaper articles into sections, which he randomly rearranged. The book Minutes to Go resulted from his initial cut-up experiment: unedited and unchanged cut-ups which emerged as coherent and meaningful prose. South African poet Sinclair Beiles also used this technique and co-authored Minutes To Go.

Gysin introduced Burroughs to the technique at the Beat Hotel. The pair later applied the technique to printed media and audio recordings in an effort to decode the material's implicit content, hypothesizing that such a technique could be used to discover the true meaning of a given text. Burroughs also suggested cut-ups may be effective as a form of divination saying, "When you cut into the present the future leaks out."[2] Burroughs also further developed the "fold-in" technique. In 1977, Burroughs and Gysin published The Third Mind, a collection of cut-up writings and essays on the form. Jeff Nuttall's publication My Own Mag was another important outlet for the then-radical technique.

In an interview, Alan Burns noted that for Europe After The Rain (1965) and subsequent novels he used a version of cut-ups: "I did not actually use scissors, but I folded pages, read across columns, and so on, discovering for myself many of the techniques Burroughs and Gysin describe".[3]

Argentine writer Julio Cortázar often used cut ups in his 1963 novel Hopscotch.

In 1969, poets Howard W. Bergerson and J. A. Lindon developed a cut-up technique known as vocabularyclept poetry, in which a poem is formed by taking all the words of an existing poem and rearranging them, often preserving the metre and stanza lengths.[4][5][6]

Musical influence

From the early 1970s, David Bowie has used cut-ups to create some of his lyrics. This technique influenced Kurt Cobain's songwriting.[7] Thom Yorke applied a similar method in Radiohead's Kid A (2000) album, writing single lines, putting them into a hat, and drawing them out at random while the band rehearsed the songs.

Burroughs taught the cut-up technique to musician Genesis P-Orridge in 1971 as a method for "altering reality". H/er explanation was that everything is recorded, and if it is recorded, then it can be edited (P-Orridge, 2003).

Stephen Mallinder of Cabaret Voltaire reported to Inpress magazine's Andrez Bergen that "I do think the manipulation of sound in our early days - the physical act of cutting up tapes, creating tape loops and all that - has a strong reference to Burroughs and Gysin...."[8]

See also

References

  1. ^ "manifestos: dada manifesto on feeble love and bitter love by tristan tzara, 12th december 1920". 391. 1920-12-12. Retrieved 2011-06-27. 
  2. ^ Break Through in Grey Room
  3. ^ David W. Madden. "A Conversation with Alan Burns". Retrieved 2013-06-05. 
  4. ^  
  5. ^  
  6. ^ Bishop, Yvonne M.; Fienberg, Stephen E.; Holland, Paul W. (2007). Discrete Multivariate Analysis: Theory and Applications. Springer. pp. 340–342.  
  7. ^ See the notes for The "Priest" They Called Him, a 1993 collaboration between Burroughs and Cobain, released by Tim/Kerr records.
  8. ^ "Vintage Cab Sav," Andrez Bergen. Inpress, 1996.

External links

  • UbuWeb: William S. Burroughs featuring a cut-up, K-9 Was in Combat with the Alien Mind-Screens (1965), made with Ian Sommerville
  • the ultimate cut-up machine a free digital version of the cut-up technique
  • The Tristan Tzara Arcade is a collection of Cut-up pieces composed from text found in the public domain. These pieces can be further arranged by the reader using an automated (jQuery script) reTypesetting function (which illustrates how possible variant compositions can be achieved using the Cut-up technique).
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.