Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Literary Mashups: a new game

I have invented a new game called "Literary Mashups." Here are the rules:

1. Pick a book at random, open it to a random page, and (without looking) point to a sentence. Write that sentence down.

2. Now choose another book -- something very different from the first book. Using the same process, pick a random sentence from this second book and write it down.

3. Pretend the two sentences are from the same book. Write a "bridge" between them so that they make sense together.

4. Try to make your bridge short and simple.


Here are some examples.:


The purpose of the table is to establish the connections between the nodes.
--"AI for Game Developers" by David M. Bourg and Glenn Seeman

I went in -- after making every possible noise in the kitchen, short of pushing over the stove -- but I don't believe they heard a sound.
-- "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald.


The purpose of the table is to establish the connections between the nodes. But even though they were all seated around it, they refused to talk to each other. They didn't react at all, even when I banged my fists on the table. Fine, I thought, be like that. I got up and walked out of there and into the kitchen, which was warm and homey. Why should I ever have to go back in that dining room with those nodes who care about nothing, who care about no one? But I know my duty. I went in -- after making every possible noise in the kitchen, short of pushing over the stove -- but I don't believe they heard a sound.

===

I own the property, my mother owns the property.
-- "Glengarry Glen Ross" by David Mamet

Through Uncle Abe, I was drawn into the history of "cold" light -- luminescence -- which started perhaps before there was any language to record things, with observations of fireflies and glowworms and phosphorescent seas; of will-o'-the-wisps, those strange, wandering, faint globes of light that would, in legend, lure travelers to their doom.
-- "Uncle Tungsten" by Oliver Sacks

I own the property, my mother owns the property. Uncle Able is just a lodger. Mother hates him. "No good layabout," she calls him. "Bum!" She shakes her head and says, "Stop staring at the chandelier. Stop playing with that candle. Do something useful!" Uncle Abe just laughs, turns to me and winks. Or he hands me an old cigarette lighter or sometimes a tiny flashlight. Through Uncle Abe, I was drawn into the history of "cold" light -- luminescence -- which started perhaps before there was any language to record things, with observations of fireflies and glowworms and phosphorescent seas; of will-o'-the-wisps, those strange, wandering, faint globes of light that would, in legend, lure travelers to their doom.

===

Ray Porter parks the car and enters the house in the most efficient way.
-- "Shopgirl" by Steve Martin

Now I do turn to look at her, too uncomprehending to conceal it.
-- "Spies" by Michael Frayn

Ray Porter parks the car and enters the house in the most efficient way. I follow him. She's waiting for us in the hall, below the stairs. She doesn't speak. Neither does Ray. He pulls a gun from his jacket and points it at her. I turn and peer out the window into the night. We're alone. We're miles from anywhere. "Well?" Ray asks her. "Well, what?" she says without a pause. I keep looking out the window, refusing to look into her eyes. She says, "Are you going to shoot me before you die or are you just going to die?" I don't know what she's talking about, but I hide my puzzlement. "You do know this house is surrounded, don't you?" Now I do turn to look at her, too uncomprehending to conceal it.

===

The head can go up and down, side to side, back and forth.
-- "The Animator's Survival Kit" by Richard Williams

Harry Levin, brooding on this, aptly described "Hamlet" as a play obsessed with the word "question" (used seventeen times), and with the questioning of "the belief in ghosts and the code of revenge."
-- "Shakespeare the Invention of the Human" by Harold Bloom

The head can go up and down, side to side, back and forth. But this outer movement is far outpaced by the movement within, which can zigzag, hop from one place to another, and even teleport -- for the mind's destinations needn't be contiguous. This extraordinary vehicle, the mind, is never so swift as when it's asking questions. And the supreme questioner was Shakespeare, who asked all the questions that needed asking. Harry Levin, brooding on this, aptly described "Hamlet" as a play with the word "question" (used seventeen times), and with the questioning of "the belief in ghosts and the code of revenge."

===

The four scientists were not the first to study frog vision.
-- "The User Illusion" by Tor Norretanders

"I am laying down good intentions, which I believe durable as flint."
-- "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Bronte

The four scientists were not the first to study frog vision. But they were certainly the last. One by one they died, until Jennings was the only one left. "We thought we could find a cure for blindness," he explained. "What fools we were." He said nothing for a minute, then, "You know, I was only trying to do some good in this world. Who knew good intentions could kill?" He sighed deeply, gathered his papers, and walked to the door. Before leaving he said, "I am laying down good intentions, which I believe durable as flint."

2 comments:

Daniel J. Geduld said...

"This rule refers especially to loose sentences of a particular type: those consisting of two clauses, the second introduced by a conjunction or relative." from The Elements of Style by William J. Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White

"The sickest part comes when he wears the skin of a woman he has just killed." from The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film by Michael Weldon

This rule refers especially to loose sentences of a particular type: those consisting of two clauses, the second introduced by a conjunction or relative. Still, I'm not going to let this legal mumbo-jumbo get me down. The appeals trial will sort it all out. Every night, my cell mate tells me stories of his happy life before incarceration. The sickest part comes when he wears the skin of a woman he has just killed.

Daniel J. Geduld said...

"New construction around the area, including the extension of Reseda Boulevard toward Mulholland Drive on the Santa Monica Mountain Crest, has destroyed some of the favorite paths of local hikers, and has made access to the canyon a little awkward." from Afoot and Afield in Los Angeles County by Jerry Schad

"Trying to save a stranded little kitty, our hero falls down a sinkhole and is flushed away into the labyrinth of debris-clogged and chemical-sotted subterranean conduits!" from Flaming Carrot Comics collected album No. 2: The Wild Shall Wild Remain! by Bob Burden

New construction around the area, including the extension of Reseda Boulevard toward Mulholland Drive on the Santa Monica Mountain Crest, has destroyed some of the favorite paths of local hikers, and has made access to the canyon a little awkward. But simple awkwardness does not stop him from his trip through the mountains of Southern California. Why should it? After the hell of that sewage-filled city of L.A. and the filthy people who mocked him, he smiles, knowing he would finally escape their cruely unwaware that it is that very cruelty which helps them all to survive in this harsh world. In the bushes, he hears a pathetic mewing. Trying to save a stranded little kitty, our hero falls down a sinkhole and is flushed away into the labyrinth of debris-clogged and chemical-sotted subterranean conduits!