Thursday, June 7, 2007

Definitional Literature

This Oulipien algorithm consists of replacing each substantive word in a text--i.e. nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs--with their dictionary definitions. In this case, the dictionary is the American Heritage Dictionary as accessed through, and the text is the lyrics to Pere Ubu's song "Dub Housing." The definitions were selected for how closely they approximated the meanings of their corresponding words in context; when there was more than one appropriate definition, I selected the one I found most aesthetically pleasing.

"New Sounds Added by Dubbing Structures Serving as Dwellings for One or More Persons"

Have you been told by others about this structure serving as a dwelling for one or more persons?
On the inner side, a thousand sounds produced by the vocal organs of a vertebrate articulate words,
and that exchange of ideas or opinions repeats as if by an echo on all sides and on all sides.
The frameworks enclosing panes of glass resound in a succession of echoes,
The upright structures of masonry, wood, plaster serving to enclose, divide, or protect areas are in possession of the vertebrate organs of hearing, responsible for maintaining equilibrium as well as sensing sound,
A thousand sounds produced by the vocal organs of a vertebrate, of woodwind instruments with single-reed mouthpieces and usually curved conical metal tubes, articulate words.

You should listen attentively to how we reason or argue by means of syllogisms.
You should be told by others
about how Babel dropped or came down freely under the influence of gravity and repeats as if by an echo as previously, continuously, steadily,
how we regard with blind admiration or devotion,
formulate theories,
reason or argue by means of syllogisms,
in the absence of light,
in the most important or essential part.

All I perceive by the ear is...
Exchanges of ideas or opinions!
All I perceive by the ear is...
Exchanges of ideas or opinions!
Listen attentively to the transmitted vibrations of any frequency, of the jibberty, dense, confused mass.
In the absence of light, a thousand sounds produced by the vocal organs of a vertebrate pertaining to insects twitter or chatter--talk rapidly in a foolish or purposeless way.

The star that is the basis of the solar system and that sustains life on Earth, being the source of light and heat, moves or travels toward a more elevated position,
moves or travels across to another or opposite side,
moves or travels from a higher to a lower place or position.
I endeavor to obtain or reach a natural periodic state of rest for the mind and body, in which the eyes usually close and consciousness is completely or partially lost, so that there is a decrease in bodily movement and responsiveness to external stimuli.
I fall asleep,
I cease remembering.

And the original:

"Dub Housing"

Have you heard about this house?
Inside, a thousand voices talk
and that talk echoes around and around
The windows reverberate
The walls have ears
A thousand saxophone voices talk

You should hear how we syllogize
You should hear
about how Babel fell and still echoes away,
how we idolize,
in the dark,
in the heart

All I hear is...
All I hear is...
Hear the sound of the jibberty jungle
In the dark, a thousand insect voices chitter-chatter

The sun goes up,
goes over,
goes down.
I seek sleep,
I sleep,
I forget.

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