Markovian Parallax Generate: On digital writing and poetics

Found Spam Comment

Posted in Spam / Generated (blogs, email, etc.) by Eric Goddard-Scovel on November 16, 2007

I just found another great spam comment.  It startled me and excited me.  I’m saying that it feels like a poem but do I mean it?

Fuck is an English word that, as a verb, fundamentally free online porn pic it. I love getting sloppy seconds too.
That’s what these swinging dudes do. They swing for dollars. gang and wife and fuck She is 24 and she’s already wife. This girl with a serious
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Fuck is an English word that, as a verb, fundamentally free online porn teen video filled with cum. Maybe I’m just a sick fuck, but I love
She is 24 and she’s already wife. This girl with a serious fuck party. That’s what these swinging dudes do. They swing for dollars.
filled with cum. Maybe I’m just a sick fuck, but I love gay porn online. Would you let a stranger fuck your wife for money?
filled with cum. Maybe I’m just a sick fuck, but I love babe fuck Would you let a stranger fuck your wife for money?
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Why I ever wanted a program like this anyway – PART I: Spam Poetry

Posted in Poem Draft, Poetics, Spam / Generated (blogs, email, etc.) by Eric Goddard-Scovel on June 19, 2007

I’m going back to the beginning of this whole Markov thing with this post. I was bored, graduated and unemployed a few winters ago. I started to read some of the odd e-mails that were showing up in my gmail spam folder. I guess I became obsessed with them.

taught out out latter side tying?
light letters rich. principle added teach rich, why embarrass back.
promised corner motor shining did.
mischievous or least.
music least servants money human, principle human profession music. mischievous side pretty next

prison appearance fascinate thus already? use wrong night bad anything?
money speaking drew speaking hard. steps window benefit. bought embarrass pretty arms?
fire arms supposedto.
she purpose yours slow the. steps we we we raise, beautiful development window.
why wife make fly.

mischievous shining parents. benefit reading here friends? mischievous parents taught social why window.
studied social we music profession, thus we bought he.
thus am purpose miserable. a latter supposedto.
pretty pretty companion edge? rich light benefit out, speaking speaking a am.
evening news commit you? find you carefully slow parents, light find already light.

rich suddenly bought,
motor respect bad. happened filled find reply slow. reply immediate black goes.
commit did wife. bad fly black news. speaking pretty servants servants make?
drew fire end filled.
motor gym raise next teach. teach money different, prison whom raise side.

The bold words above are some of the phrases, or groupings, that stood out to me when I read these e-mails. They show up in the spam poems I would write later, I think because I was still trying to figure them out. After revising/writing 20 poems for my applications to graduate schools, my brain was a bit fried, and I was tired of what I was doing. These spam e-mails were refreshing and I wanted to use them or emulate them in my own writing. So the need was born.

There was no question of aesthetics when I started doing this. I was just excited, concerned with what to do with the reactions I had to these e-mails. I cataloged them by the subject lines, which advertised prescription medicines and penis enlargement type products for the most part. I also began searching the web and blogosphere for other references to my obscure passion. Below is a list I’ve made from some of this blog digging. Some of these are of people posting their spam poems online, doing the same thing I was doing. There must be some kind of aesthetic here if it gets so many unconnected people doing the same thing, no?

There are all kinds of vibes coming out of this spam: political, economic, sexual, humorous. The mixture is where I think the attraction comes from. It’s boisterous, raucous, and also extremely inconsistent. I’m not sure if the inconsistency has anything to do with the aesthetic or not; a writer would hope that making a more consistently enjoyable read would be a bonus, but aesthetically this may not be sound.

In later posts, I will treat the aesthetics of spam poetry, and some similar strains of flarf poetry, of which I am a great fan.

Anyway, I wrote some spam poems myself for about eight months. I never posted them anywhere, which makes me wonder how many other people have been doing this and not showing anybody. Here’s an untitled one just called “Poem [051606]”:

so many corners I have turned into disappointment,
mistaking my hopes for a promise
as others here confuse developments with improvement.
if these fake houses were ever to burn,
the air would be black with their poison. in my dreams
the days grow new deserts, and the nights
a plague of frost to kill my new garden.
while my friends are serving out their sentences of labor,
oiling their leftover time with liquor and reruns,
I huff great clouds of laziness. foolish, I think of the future
as a dusk to stumble through: how else may I be justified?
in the sky’s last jewel of light,
I want to look up from my walking and see
a kind face shine the evening back.

I heavily edited the spam and added bits into my own text, trying to create something coherent and communicable out of my reactions to those bits I found intriguing. Why I find this approach more “true” than just rearranging the texts I’ve been given, as many others (above) have done, I don’t know. I don’t think it has to do with pride, but it’s hard to tell sometimes. Here’s another one:

least sandwich wanted, steps added special

this pride would have me fashion unending belts,
swelling at even the least appearance
so by day’s end I’d be much too miserable
to spring my pretty body on you.
it’s almost like I’ve brought this on myself,
signed contracts that I didn’t read
so as far as I know this might go on indefinitely:
the singular engine of Next firing off of each event’s horizon.
but beyond that? I won’t disappoint you,
and don’t go telling anyone you heard it from me,
but across that line, brilliant similar letters appear in the sky
and bring light to our fresh black eyes, that look up
from their work to go out
luminous through the prison’s new windows.

And here is the final one I will post here. It is my favorite, I think:

gym not purpose, window not anybody

for Avelina Margurita

we sugar up letters in prison studies. with beautiful arms
we make new light of their miserable music,
edging our professions with immediate purpose.
what else are we to do? god forbid we teach money different:
teach how money speaking makes speaking hard;
how listening makes of us all pretty servants.
somewhere gyms are showing fire to the motor,
filling it to the glowing end so at last our pride
may show how ill the promises kept. and yet
how sweet is the arm’s real purpose, how sweet it rings
as our steps that work the earth’s reply.
and while companions make of each other a wondrous social use,
tying their knots in the human sandwich;
while they teach through windows the lie of human progress,
a voyeur at the corner asks, why wife make fly?

One thing I carried over from my previous writing style was still a voice of defeat. It is something that bothers me in a lot of poetry, a somewhat whining, complaining, weary, and inconsolable kind of voice that gets to me after a while. It’s not something to be avoided in one’s writing completely, I don’t think, but when it becomes the principal voice, I think that that is a problem.

Upcoming: Part II of this post will deal with how and why I wanted something better and more customizable than spam to work with, and how Markov chains come into it.