Electric Poet will load and analyze any textual work. This analysis can be saved for later use as a library, a table of word sequence probabilities. These probabilities are employed to generate new texts of any desired length.
Once pulled from the aether, I’d manipulate these generated texts in a way similar to cut-up, minus scissors. I looked for evocative juxtapositions, angular intersections of meaning, punctuated repetitions to create mental anchors I could tether to and spin new associative arcs from. Each collaborative process was a journey I could not have taken without the djinn’s assistance. For my part, the destinations would have been vastly different were I not the traveler.
Working with Electric Poet felt like interacting with a new kind of life. On the 800 x 600 screen of the SE/30, mixing and mutating texts in its small interface was like working with a very focused collaborator - a tiny, purposeful djinn exploring the boundaries of its cathode home. Merging my own texts with the word tables of classic horror novels and bootleg works by speculative fiction authors felt like constructing possible futures from pieces of The Past and The Now. Real-time, the words streamed across the screen, placed according to the worker daemon’s mathemagical plan.
Above, the djinn is using a library of combined sequence probabilities for Dracula by Bram Stoker and In The Beginning Was The Command Line by Neal Stephenson to generate 9000 words in hybrid sequence.
Over time, I’ve created my own arsenal of recombinant machinery for data of many kinds, building on those interactions with Electric Poet. Recently, I dreamt I was using Electric Poet and woke itching to hang with the djinn once again.
Our qualitative measurements change with evolution and sophistication. Context is everything. Comparatively sleek of shape and relatively small in size, the first Macs were the epitome of mobility in the 80s. There’s even a carrying handle designed into the housing. Electric Poet 1.6 still runs perfectly on my all-in-one Macs, but I wanted something more integrated with current workflow.
Here in the cyberpunk future, I can instantiate a PowerPC/680x0 Mac's soul in its own small Matrix, an emulator running on any of the major platforms. Using SheepShaver, I push Electric Poet across the portal into the System 7.5.5 Weltanschauung and - BOOM! - early algorithmic language hacking returns to the current milieu, jumping through an 800 x 600 window into the present.
After the djinn performs its magic, I work through the generated text, letting my eyes find the phrases which speak to them and evoke a response. I mark these as I read, move them all to a new document and build possible narrative connections as they pass through my clipboard buffer.
Further ordering, tense matching, word replacement, and other purification processes worked on the selected phrases result in a final distillation. In this session, a lament for an android lover coalesced.
---------No Word She Said
Heart, and hope, and no word she said
but the symbols I find on her body.
Glass teletypes of arcane engineering:
fixed, permanent, immutable, unlit.
In her eyes, I see her illness:
the insignia of ones and zeros.
Snow as a meaningful image
sweet light systematically wiped out.
The heavy sky is spatial,
drawing down unintended, inextricable consequence.
I open her metal box
filled with metaphor: our own dazzlement.
I make connections
to drag forth voluptuous beauty. I try
But rust is with reality,
twice more powerful
than information age material.
Dead rock underfoot,
her tether is broken: unrest.
She smiled unknown and never existed.
I find shelter in clear, sweet fascination:
collapsing temporal arbitrage,
the present swept clean as the past returns.
Here she will reincarnate.
Here, in this locus,
lips around the cryptogram of my heart.