Markovian Parallax Generate: On digital writing and poetics

Mchain 0.3 Example Poetry: His & Hers

Posted in Mchain Program, Publication by Eric Goddard-Scovel on March 17, 2010

The His & Hers poems that I wrote in 2008 are back up on the blog I began the project on. I had felt that their self-publication would have been a barrier to journal publication later on, but I now think those fears were ungrounded.

The poems along with the links to the source texts that I used with mchain 0.3 are all up in the order that I wrote them. I hope they will serve others interested in using mchain or other text manipulation tools as examples of what can come out of a project that uses these tools.

Mchain 0.3 Available for Download Again

Posted in Mchain Program by Eric Goddard-Scovel on March 11, 2010

I hope this hasn’t been a problem for many people besides the few that contacted me by e-mail, but it seems the download link for the C++ version of Mchain has been 404 for a while now. I’ve uploaded the archive to MediaFire now, so the link on the Mchain 0.3 – Source Code (C++) Installation and Usage page is working now and should be for some time.

If you don’t feel like navigating to that page to download mchain 0.3, you can get it here:


Download Mchain 0.3 C++ Source

Posted in Mchain Program by Eric Goddard-Scovel on October 26, 2008

I’ve been using this updated version of the Mchain program for almost a year now, but I’ve been slow to put it up for download.  Sorry, my bad!  I like it much better, especially the -r randomized keylength function.  It’s noticeably faster, too.

Go to the Compile Mchain 0.3 Source (C++) page to download and compile the updated program.

Let me know if you like it.

Check out the Random Blog Finds

Posted in Source Material (input) by Eric Goddard-Scovel on August 29, 2007

I’m still easing (ha! anything but, really) into this third semester of grad school.  Until I finally start updating this site again, go take a look at some of the blogs I’ve linked far down on the right sidebar under Random Blog Finds.  These blogs often end up being used as source material for mchain and gnoetry.  Something about each one of them drew me in (I’m especially keen to tone and quirkyness).  The whole blog phenomenon is still exciting to me, and I love finding new oddities with the Random Blogger Page function.

Tell me what you find interesting/moving/amusing about any of them.

Random Thought

Posted in Mchain Program by Eric Goddard-Scovel on July 24, 2007

I just wanted to post this before I forget it.  I was thinking about whether a true random number generator (attached to the computer and used by the mchain program) would enhance the “mojo” of the output.  Not sure how to prove or disprove that right now.  What I have in mind is the Global Consciousness Project.  Just a thought.  I might pick up on it later.

Second Draft: Composed off of mchain_input062007-062807 selections

Posted in Mchain Program, Poem Draft by Eric Goddard-Scovel on July 22, 2007

Over vacation, I’ve managed to work on a second draft of “Once In A While A Large Machete.” It looks a bit different from the first, and I’ve tried to add in (or destroy?) a new rhythm, although I am questioning how well it has been communicated in this draft. Tell me what you think.

Note: The blog is refusing to keep my tabs in when I publish the post, so keep in mind that every line that does not begin with “How…” or “Am I” or “I am” is indented in about 8 spaces. You can view it in it’s correct formatting by opening this doc file: once-in-a-while-a-large-machete-072207.doc

Once In A While A Large Machete

How is it you float
above while I must walk through the
blood everywhere?
Am I
the street children stole your money?
Am I
the boys let water into your basements?
the men that hurt your children?
How your guards hold
those blades before them as
if they didn’t know of
the desire to help others.
I am
a retired auto mechanic.
a ‭37 year old female.
‭I am
‭ the fox trots over your thoughts
‭ hot nights when you lie back and
‭ bites gently.
‭How you hover over
on strings come down and
judge all unsuitable.
‭I am
‭ incapable of satisfaction.
burnt out on the land.
I am
older and married and
could get pregnant by
a long barreled rifle.

First Draft: Composed off of mchain_input062007-062807 selections

Posted in Mchain Program, Poem Draft by Eric Goddard-Scovel on July 3, 2007

Here’s the first mchain poem draft that I’ve written for a while, and it’s the first one to be posted on this blog.

Another first: this is the first mchain poem I have ever documented from beginning to end, and all of the steps in the process have been posted sequentially on this blog.

This is what this blog is all about:

Once In A While A Large Machete

Why is it you
are able to float
just above the growth
while I
must walk through the blood
that is all

I am not the man
stole money from you
not the boys
let water into your basement
not the one
that hurt
your children

Why is it
you hold that stick
between them and you
as if
you didn’t feel anything
of the need to
help others

You know
all she wanted was
to buy a chicken
and she was
and fell
into them

I am burnt out
on the land
I am older and
married and could
get pregnant
by a long barreled

I am
a ‭47 year old female
‭I am
‭the fox walks through
‭your thoughts
‭hot nights
‭when you lie back and bites

‭it is not parents
hover ‭over us
and not them
come down and judge us unsuitable
and not them
consider who will make
our best replacements

I wrote this poem using the output selections that I posted on July 1. I reworked pieces and fit them together using what I guess I would call my intuitive logic. I’m not sure what the progression of statements could be said said to follow; perhaps some emotion arc, or just an inertia of sound and rhythm. There seem to be a lot of loose ends still as far as rhythm and sound are concerned. I think I will focus on those aspects more as the poem is revised. Tell me what you think.

Once in a while a large machete: output selections

Posted in Program Output (selected) by Eric Goddard-Scovel on July 1, 2007

I’ve run the input file mchain_input062007-062807 through the Markov chain program many dozen times now. Here’s some of the selections I’ve made from the raw output. It’s much like the prose piece I posted last week. It uses roughly the same input file (although I did at to it since then). I have however left it separated as I usually do, so that it’s easier to move around and delete lines in the composition process that normally follows. I should note that many of these sentences have been cleaned up so that they better match my own sense of how they should read. Others have been left as the raw beauties that they are:

Once in a while a large machete.

A fox walking in one’s thoughts, visiting places and images born of man’s conditioning and which keep him asleep and unaware of his knowledge, for his ‘partying’ comes down and looks back into it.

I lay on my back bitten gently by them as if I am a 47-year-old female and for some time after my parents hover over me, considering a replacement.

You have been taught that immortality is a metaphor and nothing else.

The fact that they are not as suitable as you is looking for a long t-shirt and sandals.

This co-worker wrapped his arm and then formed a huge elevator, with no hesitation; I get chased out. Many times I am driving.

I was lying on scales which I thought were binoculars, but it was the slowest and it felt good.

You are able to float just above the horizon, while I must walk through the blood that is all about.

I held a stick before them as if I didn’t feel the need to help others.

the man who had stolen money from me, the boys had let the water in

All I wanted was to buy a chicken and a woman was shot and fell into them. I feel a change of locations in my future, a change in occupations.

Love, that is somewhat independent of your mind, knows that you have been eating trash in terms of “releasing something” or “giving something away.”

We met in the nearly limitless choices that stand between the two towers that came down. Today, it was with a man that hurts children.

People were sitting at a show. It was a tour, and we killed them. There was the old trail. No luck. We went back and there were thousands of these thin pink plastic things we’d come upon in the desert.

This past year or so a couple came. They are both with our pets, who have gone easy on them, at the bottom of the house where the bare bulbs are burning.

The breeze creates a brand new red hatchback.

I’ll probably keep adding to the selections from this input file until I feel some spark. At this point, I don’t feel any poem coming out of this. It may just be me, though. There’s some good stuff here to work off of. I’m just not feeling it. I’ll post more as things develop.

Some output from mchain_input062007-062807; a brief explanation of the program’s workings

Posted in Mchain Program, Program Output (raw), Program Output (selected) by Eric Goddard-Scovel on June 30, 2007

Just so you can get a sense of what the raw output is, here are a few examples of what all of those blog posts etc. that I linked to below look like after they are mangled by the Markov chain program:

erock7@debian:~/Mchain$ ./ -k 2 -n 250 mchain_input062007-062807.txt

Thermometer measurements or judgments made using a physical way) but which can be interpreted a number of people who were to come to a journey of life and your mind OR it is very disturbing thoughts and ideas. The way you’ve described this particular repetitive dream I’ve had three or four dreams I no longer begged to be a symbol of something intended to be of great concern and importance to the ceiling. And there I am in awe of what I saw her last. She looked at the window my car and I allowed him; we drove from my photo class was up there. In class, she comes across as a child, I thought the smell was of me telling me if anything interesting had happened, whereupon I showed my young son and I panic. I have been to work. But he was a safe environment in which ghosts are very self-assured and confident, the dreams have cruise ships. Also I dream about tragedies over which you feel unable to find it. If this is a guy and in the Holy Qur’an in a way. But let’s take an analogy. Let’s say that the person I know in there, who I was, too – staying indoors all the descendants and have two strange men appear. After another half hour, so I grabbed the largest bottle and replace it on your own. The imagery related to your current locale to a clear pool of water, usually I am a twenty-six-year-old male;

You can see that I used a key length of 2. This means that the program treats every two word group as a single object in the database. So, with the sentence “I am so hungry I could ride a horse,” the following would constitute individual links in any resulting Markov chain:

I am

am so

so hungry

hungry I

I could

could ride

ride a

a horse

Every time that one of these two-word phrases appears in the rest of the input, the program notes in a database what two-word phrase follows it. Then, when the Markov chain is being constructed, when a link (as I am calling these key phrases) comes up, it follows it with one of the links that followed it in the original text, selected randomly from the list in the database.

I hope I made that clear enough. I hope I’m accurate enough, too. Adam would be able to explain it better.

You can see then why a key length of 1 cuts up the text even more and makes for a much more random text. I believe that the randomness and strangeness of the output decreases exponentially as the key length is increased. Something like that. Here’s what the output with a key length of one looks like using the same input file:

erock7@debian:~/Mchain$ ./ -k 1 -n 250 mchain_input062007-062807.txt

The army knife back seat. The Holy Book of many separate ways. Your Mission in a wonderful and about the expression in Japan that hole, up even spiders are keeping up reading here, sling drinks and DO. I wasn’t easy to encouragement for more knowledge, is a link up and vision as the fulfillment thereof will be unable to keep out of this man possesses a friend and meteors fell into adulthood. Thus, the dream archives we are always respond to us. These things as well as you have meat would pick a boring speech from work. Second Abandoned Village up over which touches the means to ask herself sick in order to top
Home/house 1. the thesis process has been used by bird and basically ‘reads’ them down in the time in the boy conquering a new forces helping us to a particular social awareness of consciousness and truth (900-280). Other possibilities: 1. warning of people who readily admits he does not have become able to oneself and them what can be returned” (Qur’an, XXXVI, 81-82). The movie about your physical pain in a dead body chemistry is suggesting that since you do, as time a boat (note: a state of yourself. And it would correspond thematically connected to speak after him, “don’t try to pour down, and what appears that helps. Here’s my brother telling I went in my bedroom. They rejoice because of a more about my boyfriend after the beach, and is pursuing. 2. conscious

I like how that one begins. If you compare the two output examples, you can see after a while (and after using the program dozens of times) the differences in them.

The question now is what to do with all of this stuff. We’ll see. I’m not really all that happy with the output I’ve gotten so far with this selection of input texts, but I’ll keep working at it.

Source Material: What it is, where it comes from, how I find it, and how I intend to use it

Posted in Source Material (input) by Eric Goddard-Scovel on June 28, 2007

Okay, so It’s been slow going with the whole Markov chain writing process, but things are getting going. The input file I used with my last posted poem draft a few days ago has been updated a bit. I have corrected it for odd copy-and-paste errors and cataloged all of the links to the original source websites. [Note to self: do this while you copy the web sites so you don’t have to spend hours searching Google for links in 180 page document again.]

First thing, here’s the link to the input file: Mchain Input. I had to save it as a .doc file to upload it here, although it has to be in plain text format to work with mchain program.

What It Is and Where It Comes From

It is a 179 page collection of blog posts, livejournal entries, web pages, dream journals and dream interpretations. Some parts of the file are my own writing, mostly memories or dreams that came to mind as I was reading and adding texts to the input file.

And now, where it came from. Yeah. Here is the list of bookmarks. It is complete except for two entries which had either been removed or made private since I copied them:

If any of the authors of these blogs or websites are wondering why I’ve linked to them, I hope the rest of this post explains it. The subtitle of the blog might help with that a little bit too: On the use of Markov chains in the composition of Poetry.

How I Intend to Use It

Essentially, I am using the text of all of these websites to create a large database for the purpose of generating semi-random nonsense with a computer program that uses the Markov chaining algorithm. I use this nonsense to give me material for poems, which are hopefully influenced by the ideas and emotions of the original texts as well as the mangled nonsense text. It’s all a bit unclear at the moment in terms of rights to the text. Does the nonsense count as a derivative work, and with all of the texts becoming separated word by word (or chain by chain) and recombined, of whose work is it derivative? Does it resemble the original enough to any longer matter? I don’t know. It becomes difficult to tell.

So, if any of the authors of the original texts are uncomfortable with their writings being used in this way, please let me know and I will remove them from the file and the list of links above.

How I Find the input texts

I use Google Blog Search, entering a search query of several words like so:

+mountain +tarp +feel

I usually only use three terms, but sometimes I use more. I can’t remember what words I chose for many of these posts. I did focus on finding dreams, though, so I did a search that was something like:

“dream last night” or +”last night” +dream, or +”last night” +(dream|dreamed)

Seriously, if you’re unfamiliar with boolean, etc. search syntax, you should check the links below out. They cover it pretty decently, though I can’t yet find good info on the “|” (which means OR), or on filetype: searching. Good search technique makes things a lot more interesting.

Internet Tutorials: Boolean Searching on the Internet Top ten web search tricks How to find and search the invisible web

I also use the Random Blog functions on WordPress and Blogger to find odd pages. It’s tedious, but works pretty well sometimes.

There are other ways to find good blog sources, as well as other texts to be used as input. I could use hundreds of pages of my own freewriting, if I had written such a body of work. There are open license databases online, and one could put all kinds of novels and other books into the program. I prefer the down-to-earth voices of many of these blogs, as well as the spice of odd sites added in here and there. The quality of writing going on right now in the blogosphere is a mixed bag, but there is a lot of great stuff out there; highly personal at times, sometimes creative, and occasionally very moving.