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CUT-UPs

I attended William S Burroughs’ lectures’ on cut-ups at Naropa in 1976 (the summer I was cool), and was impressed with them and worked with them for a few years on and off. pasted them up and xerox’d them into little booklets and I left them in phone booths and sent them through Clay Geerdes’ Comix World Co-op and others working in mail art and dada.

I won’t comment much because there’s very little new I can say

My technique differs from Burroughs in that I consciously edit from the beginning cut.I go for odd corners of specific language, clinical or emotional, and recombine them in a way that’s pretty flexible; sometimes I’ll change a tense or pronoun, or sometimes I leave abrupt the angles of syntax intact. I think the cut-up preserves the content of the source; the language, and therefore, the emotion, while removing the context, and I think new use of language surprises our brains in a nice way

If any of this seems interesting to you, you should try a few. There are several cut-up engines on the internets, but I don’t like them, they’re too random, and repeat sections more than once without ever building up a rhythm or tension. It’s an interesting process and you can take any approach you like – my friend Joey Vojtko did a lovely canvas using one inch pieces of text meticulously torn from a porn novel – and in these days of easy computer access and online clip art anyone can make a broadside for the local phone post or start their own post-apocalyptic cult.

above: The CIA Stole My Brain (Plot to Enslave World) undated, early 1990s

below: Truth or Lie? By Evangelist T K Christopher (abridged) 1982


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