HYPOTHETICALLY LURID

Staying in the world of THE CUT-UP TECHNIQUE for another moment, over the past year I have been doing my own version of this process. Instead of physically cutting & pasting text, I first look through anything with words in it: catalogs, magazines, pamphlets, billboards. Then, after finding what I think works well together, I write them down in my small notebook I (try to) keep with me at all times…

For this particular version of ¨the Cut-Up Technique¨, I created a particular restriction: the words I pick must work not as prose; instead they must form a title. Moreover, it cannot be any title; they must be somewhat lurid, something that would fit nicely on the cover of an old pulp novel paperback, the kind usually found on a squeaky wire spin-rack in the back of a used book store or thrift shop.

To give you some examples, look at these covers:

Pulp Cover 1            Pulp Cover 2          Pulp Cover 3            Pulp Cover 4

Usually, due to years of wear and tear, they are scuffed at the edges, with the occasional crease mark and yellowed decaying pages inside.

So, listed below are a few of my LURID TITLES FOR HYPOTHETICAL PULP NOVEL PAPERBACKS*:

  • ¨One Hell of a Spree¨
  • ¨A Different Kind of Thrill¨
  • ¨Bait and Hook¨
  • ¨Whatever Became of the Doppelganger?¨
  • ¨Methinks the Lady Consents Too Much¨
  • ¨Billie is a Gun Thug¨
  • ¨The Phantom Gleam¨
  • ¨Remembered Footlights, Remembered Snow¨
  • ¨Bargain Freak¨
  • ¨Incomparable Acts¨
  • ¨Cryptic Tongue¨
  • ¨Police Blotter Witness¨
  • ¨Patent Leather¨
  • ¨Even Picasso Had His Blue Period¨
  • ¨Saturday Alice¨
  • ¨Manhunt in B-Flat¨
  • ¨The Very Devil¨
  • ¨An Indelicate Woman¨
  • ¨Part and Parcel¨
  • ¨Even Bedrooms Have Windows¨
  • ¨Population: 0¨
  • ¨Portrait of a Duplicated Man¨
  • ¨What Flickers Becomes Flame¨

*Please note that the majority of these titles have been copyrighted in my name. However, if a title interests you for a potential project of your own, I ask that you please contact me. Unless I am using the title in question for a current or future project, I will send you a letter of consent stating I am forfeiting the title over to you.

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REAL CUT-UPS

cut-ups 1

Although the infamous CUT-UP TECHNIQUE (a process in which a page of text gets manipulated by either being folded onto itself or by actually cutting out individual words with either an x-acto blade or scissors so that new words and/or sentences can be formed) is primarily known as the brain-child of writer / painter BRION GYSIN. In actuality this innovative process was first utilized in public during a 1920’s Dadaist rally. A French avant-garde poet named Tristan Tzara offered to compose a poem on the spot by pulling words at random from a hat.

Since that time this technique has been used by practically everyone, from writers T.S. Eliot, John Dos Passos, Julio Cortázar & Kathy Acker, to musicians such as David Bowie, Kurt Cobain, and Radiohead’s Thom Yorke.

The Cut-Up Technique gained the attention of the world art scene in the 1950’s, when Brion Gysin experimented with the procedure. He had placed layers of newspapers as a mat to protect a tabletop from being scratched, then cut into the papers with a razor blade. Gysin noticed that the sliced layers offered interesting juxtapositions of text and image. He began deliberately cutting newspaper articles into sections, which he randomly rearranged. He also applied this technique to audio recordings and printed media. Gysin’s friend, writer William S. Burroughs, found the method so compelling that he started using it with his own work. The two friends even collaborated on a publication, ¨The Third Mind¨,  a collection of cut-up writings and essays on the form.

Recently, I happened upon a book that looked somewhat like a journal in my shelves. Intrigued, I took it down and opened it up. To my amazement, I realized that it was a book that a good friend of mine–an extremely gifted musician who also dabbled in graphic arts on the side (creating works that are so unique and well-crafted I am positive he would cause quite a stir in the art world)–had presented to me some time back. It was a collection of his own cut-outs.

While I gleefully read through the pages I was fascinated all over again by his dedication to the technique [he simply cut out words and phrases from The New York Times, then meticulously picked out various selections and glued them back together]: the results were a cluster of intelligence, irony, with a touch of the unconscious at work, and often the end results were not only clever but frequently very funny.

The following are just some of the cut-outs he created:

cut-ups 2

VARIOUS PHRASES HE CUT OUT and then JOINED TOGETHER: 

  • Details of a reported three-day sex romp at a luxury hotel. It’s more about nostalgia than politics.
  • HELP SAVE A BABY. Let’s eat out!
  • SAVE THESE INSTRUCTIONS. Says WHO?
  • The articulation of space. There’s nothing for me here!
  • NEW TEETH. ¨Take a good look.¨
  • ¨Even models in bathing suits¨ carried HANDBAGS

VARIOUS WORDS THAT WERE CUT OUT and then JOINED TOGETHER:

  • Shadow THE POODLE
  • Swim AT Home
  • ¨I cant DISSECT MYself
  • ¨Fake I.D.’s ARE crucial
  • pictures of fragments
  • the DEAD BOX NOW ON SALE!
  • Jesus kissing Mary… BLOOD is NOT cheap

THESE ARE JUST A FEW OF THE MANY PAGES OF WONDERFUL CUT-UPS… I will add to these lists as I become better acquainted with this wonderful homemade book.