Dave Moore

The Kerouac Cut-Ups

The following examples were the result of an experimental investigation of the cut-up technique developed Composition with Bananas, by Jonathan Kaneby William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin. It had seemed to me that what they had performed manually, with paper and scissors, should also be possible by means of a computer, suitably instructed. And so, 15 years ago, I developed a program which produced cut-ups of any text with which it was fed, given the right mix of a degree of randomness combined with rules for connectivity of words and part-words. The numbers after each example indicate the required wordlength associated with that particular run. By this I mean the number of contiguous letters in the produced cut-up that must correspond with the same sequence in the original text. So, a wordlength of 9 produces phrases very similar to those in the original. A long wordlength of, say, 20 would reproduce the original, but a small wordlength such as 3 can be seen to extract text that is almost Joycean in its structure, full of the Anglo-Saxon roots of the mother language. These words could be valid English words; it's just by chance that they are not. What follows are examples of different mixes of these parameters operating on a chunk of text from Jack Kerouac's On the Road. The examples are un-retouched, and are presented here exactly as output by the computer.

I first met Dean not long after my wife and I split up. had just married a girl called Marylou. One day I was hanging halfway down his belly. I heard his mad laugh all over the wheel. Dean and I made Virginia wilds, crossing the Mississippi River by boat. Now we must get out of this voyage to New York. It was night. We left Carlo and I zoomed into New York for the first time. [9]

Dean was tremendously excited about everything; somewhere in New York. What kind of sordid business are you on now? I mean, man, whither goest thou, echoed Dean with his baggy pants hanging around the deck and upstairs with his sunglasses and creampuffs. My first impression of Dean Moriarty. [8]

Dean Moriarty began in ice. Negro man in ice. Negro man in a misty pinpoint dark quickly and sweetly asked Chad knew. At one point Carlo at Times Square and Marylou. One day I was tremendously interested in it; I didn't know that he had just married a girl called Marylou and crossing it. It was a young age; and a little sharp chick Marylou. One day I was tremendously intellectual thing he talked about the sun goes Awww! A western kinsman of the mud-splashed clod in the air. [6]

There was arguing with his baggy pants hanging around the car up to eighty, bad bearings and crossed the corner looking for a place to eat and cigarettes and I split up. I had to be saved, desirous of every moment that was astounded. What is the part of the campus and Dakota muds and where near Starks we saw a great sag developed in the final shore in, and the Utah desert in the car. [6]

We wheel and into New Jersey and said nothing. So in America when you're driving he saw, everybody below a bridge and sense behind and hugged our brains. From the dirty snows of frosty fag-town New Jersey that passed and crossing the river, back on the miserably weary split-up and didn't know by now that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over a serious white shirt walking all night something different in the road. [6]

Whither goest thou? Whither goest thou? Whither goest thou, America; then west. Dean had arrived the night? Whither goest thou? Whither goest thou, echoed Dean. Here we go! And he hunched over to the next crazy venture beneath the miserably weary split-up and mysterious at the beginning of complete night that it had something to do with the country, always vaguely planning and my feeling that everything, somewhere along the line the people dreaming in the night before the mad ones, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace to eat and went right in Hector's, and in Iowa I know by now the children must be crying in the night that blesses the earth, darkens all rivers, cups the pearl would ever meet the same time, the ones who never found. [7]

Then his mouth open. We were in mystern kind of trouble, I could see a new horizon, as Dean Moriarty beginning in Iowa I know by now by now? I mean, whither way from the dirty thing the road, with an arrow, and perfect guy for Dean now? I meaning sidewalks and wheel and since think of sordid it had somewhere'd be crying off. Dean now by now? I wanted to taking and we lean was dead. Before, the mystern kinsman could see the working and said went a sides they so naively plain the mystern kinsman could see ther smells of ever to the first time, there part off the people forward too-huge bulge over New York, as I've began thy shiny car in a ranch before all about, except the Greyhound to say SOUTH, with the night in trouble. [4]

They spersey too-huge beautiful litterica; the only pland shoriarty spidewalk and sharp ching; somewheresses Awww! And didn't young the refore think of Deans! It was a nevery. I that kind I the night? Whith the more lettersey asked her party snow road sidere'd see that Dean Morizzliness all recede on that is just impresters, except thound we girl came Dean Moriarty, all about and nobelievening of me. [3]

I firmamed red to through Algiers whitch because back, man he cent the drivery on the great. Dean beaution thinky foams, with his back that be side-burg, ble delight. I wond he sordidn't by; I long to take a forward he eyed, by Mexico reamiliar brown funcede a lighway and I way her talks at it me all beside on sordid neat back to Balting, down hight ins. There in morn life ourited accent in the parkness; swung Wash, down and commones, Greed. It mad back oner and and I wond call fag-town folliness; in a place on thrount it everybody to Chad jumped in 1926, in the road sides off. Suddy, burn, and winted Marylous and beat into sout broken-down far anybody benerica; the we night poing had dead, crazy; I the side-burn, Deans! [3]

There were many cars parked on the old broken-down river pier watching the long, long skies over New Jersey and sense all that raw land that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over to the next crazy venture beneath the skies. Dean talked about the letters because the only thing to do was go. Dean and I split up. I had just gotten over a dirt road elevated off the swamps that dropped on both sides and drooped with vines. We passed an apparition; it was all going to be one big saga of the plains beyond everybody was tooting to go, and we slipped off, passing it. It was night. [8]

What is that feeling when you're driving away from people dreaming in the middle of the mist. Whooee, yelled Dean. Here we go! And he hunched over the wheel and gunned the car up on the old broken-down river pier watching the Mississippi River by boat. Now we must get out of reform school and was coming East. I shambled after as I've been praying or calling down from mid-America like the torrent of broken souls bearing Montana logs and Dakota muds and Iowa vales and trees and leaping out of the snowy West. In fact he'd just been working in the fourth lane of a four-lane highway. It must have been anything. The country turned strange Dean Moriarty began the part of my life on the dashboard till a great sag developed in it; I did too. The poor Hudson -- the slow boat to China -- was receiving her sparkler dims on the ferry, back to Virginia in ten hours. [8]

Now we must get out of this mansion of the plains beyond every sad street. I felt something different in the middle of the snake, this mireful drooping dark, and zoom on back to familiar America; then west. We wheeled through the sultry old light of Algiers, back on Canal, and out. We bounced the car up on the prairie, which is just before, the first time in New Jersey that say SOUTH, with a real Oklahoma accent, a side-burned hero of the plains beyond the trees; there were mysteries around here. The car was going over a serious illness that I won't bother to talk about, everybody could see that. We were all delighted, we all realized we were ready to go back to familiar America, in thy shiny car in the air in North Platte. I didn't know what it was; a fire beyond every sad street. I felt something different in the air. We all jumped in the winter night, a soft plopping from drooping Missouri banks, a dissolving, a riding of the tide down the eternal waterbed, a contribution to brown father of waters rolling down a curse. We zoomed right by; I looked at the great brown father we never found, I think of Old Dean Moriarty, I even think of Dean. [8]

© by Dave Moore

 home welcome feature essays poetry fiction eco-watch tea-party the path
road trips reviews politics renaissances credits/bios submissions links archives e-mail