In 2009 I found through Google’s website [I was searching for “computer writing”] a software program called Pyprose. Pyprose was build by professor Charles O. Hartmann. Mr. Hartmann teaches English at the Connecticut College in the United States of America.
With this software program the poems in “at random 1 – 20” were initiated.
Pyprose is a word which is a combination of the first two letters of the Python programming language and prose refers obviously to prose, but in this context it was used for poetry. Pyprose contains two databases. One database contains an American-English dictionary and the second one contains syntactic rules. By activating these two databases a computer text file opens up.
The person behind the keyboard generates sentences by pressing the space bar. These sentences are made at random by connecting the words and the grammatical rules. Actually these sentences make no sen[ten]se at all, but in fact they actually do build real sentences. The syntactic rules which form the basis of the digital program generate texts. These texts can be seen as useful or as totally meaningless according to your own beliefs. These texts I then translated them into my native Dutch language by using the translation program Babelfish.
The digital software and the internet translations made the 20 text files even more incomprehensible than they already were. So I started creatively to re-write these texts into comprehensible [?] poetry while retaining most of the words that were generated by the computer. Also I used synonyms, antonyms and/or had to find words to fit better within the supposed direction that the poem needed from my point of view. The basics of these poems have a content which is made at random, and at the same time they are full of meaningful elements. Also men, and as such the creator of these poems, tend to see specific meanings within a syntactic environment which have to be expressed. However not one of these poems can be seen as completed. They can be seen by the reader as meaningful or as meaningless as they prefer. Many words are not mine. However the poems are up until a certain degree and I have to admit this degree is closer to 100% than it is to 1%.
This project took me 5 years to finish and I published these 20 poems under the Dutch title “willekeur 1 – 20” [which means arbitrariness] at the end of 2014. In 2015 I started again with translating them back into American-English with the use of Google Translate, Interglot, a digital thesaurus and my personal linguistic knowledge of this language, which is not my native one.
Ever recurring themes in poetry are easily to recognize. Life, death, love, desire, boundaries, infinity, why?, answers!, beauty, taciturnity, atrocities, time, freeing from time, pain, strings, luck, crisis, power, nature, creation, mankind, world, chaos, breathing, space, consciousness, matrix, brainwaves, order, elements, connecting, battle, peace, soul.
The tone is set. These words were typed. This is not easy poetry. It pinches. Shows the wrong and the good as well. Gives meaning and nonsense. “Why all this work?”, you might be wondering. I think that is a fair question. Because that is a question I have asked myself many times since I started creating this body of poetry.
Well. Here maybe a meaningful response. We, or at least those who live with and in the digital world, are familiar with this new virtual membrane that surrounds our lives for some decades. For many this one is the new matrix that has replaced the old one. A new shell has grown around us and this one here creates distance to our inner nature. This distance is greater than ever, but this virtual world that contains ones and zeros conceals and reveals synchronically and simultaneously.
Paradoxically it puts the desire for reaching and connecting with our inner core in a higher gear. This desire is more and more exposed than ever. So this is about this new [dis]order and our renewed awareness of our one and most true identity and our attempt to [re]connect with it.
adamadams “at random 1 – 20” was written from November 2009 up until March 2015.