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Generating Books: Paradoxical Print Snapshots of Digital Literary Processes

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Abstract (in English): 

Since the advent of the internet, advocates and critics alike have heralded the end of the book. George P. Landow observed that hypertextuality and poststructuralism emerged at the same moment, both due to dissatisfaction with the printed book and hierarchal thought. Derrida argued the question of writing could only be opened if the book was closed. Consider, then, the paradoxical position of Vienna-based publishers TRAUMAWIEN. Recognizing that although the vast majority of the text produced by computer systems – protocols, listings, error logs, binary codes – is never seen or read by those who consume it, this text is internal to our daily thoughts and actions and is thus literary. TRAUMAWIEN conceives of the print books it publishes as snapshots of computer generated literary processes which would otherwise be disappearing as soon as they are written. This paper will discuss the iterative processes by which I generated one such book published by TRAUMAWIEN in 2010. GENERATION[S] expands upon a series of short fictions generated by Python scripts adapted (with permission) from two 1k story generators written by Nick Montfort, and incorporates GORGE, a never-ending tract spewing poetic paroxysms on food, consumption, decadence and desire, a hack of Montfort’s elegant poetry generator Taroko Gorge. There was only one rule in creating GENERATION[S]: No new texts. All the texts in this book were previously published in some way. The texts the generators produce are intertwined with the generators’ source code, and these two types of texts are in turn interrupted by excerpts from the meta narrative that went into their creation. Most of the sentences in the fiction generators started off as Tweets, which were then pulled into Facebook. Some generated comments which led to responses which led to new texts. All these stages of intermediation are represented in the print book iteration of GENERATION[S].

Pull Quotes: 

I set only one rule for myself in creating the book iteration of GENERATION[S]: No new texts. All the texts in the book were previously published in some way.

The texts the generators produce are intertwined with the generators' source code, and these two types of texts are in turn interrupted by screenshots from Facebook, excerpts from emails and blog posts, and other fragments of meta narrative which went into the individual sentences’ creation.

Publishers referenced

Title Location
Traumawien
Austria

Events referenced

Date Location
Mapping E-Lit: Lectura i anàlisi de la literatura digital 24.11.2011
University of Barcelona
Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 585
Barcelona
Spain

Critical writing that references this

The permanent URL of this page: 

http://www.elmcip.net/node/2931

Record posted by: 
J. R. Carpenter