Sunday, 31 July 2011

The Book Machine

From Kenneth Patchen, Memoirs of a Shy Pornographer (1945):

‘Would you like to see my laboratory?’
‘I’d like to very much,’ I said.
He led me into a room which I’d like you to look up a description of in some treatise on the scientific.
‘This is a machine that writes books,’ the Inventor said. ‘See these buttons – Description, Characters, Setting, Plot, Type – Well, first you press the Type key – that’s type of book – All right, you want a Light Novel. Set where? New England, OK. “Light Novel” under Type. “New England” under Setting. You like nice characters or meanies? Meanies, eh? We push down Characters . . . “Sophisticated.” Description - Let’s make it, “Not too well done.” OK. Plot – “Mama Don’t Love Papa No More.” We’re all set now. [. . .] It’s really a simple matter of ascending progressions; until we get back to one set of people out of the millions of possibles, one house, one chair, one particular incest, adultery, rape, or talk around a cocktail table about them . . .’
‘And what do you do with it?’ I asked him.
‘Why, write books of course,’ Mr Wan answered. ‘Would you be surprised to know that about ninety percent of the stuff you see reviewed was written by this machine?’
‘Even in the Times!’
‘Over there I've got a machine that writes the reviews for the Times –’
‘For the Times Book Section?’
‘Sure. Why, before long I’ll invent something that will even read them.’

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