Friday, July 4, 2008

Wordle, William S. Burroughs

So there's this awesome, pointless little Web toy I've been screwing around with a little bit: Wordle. Found it through Rob Donoghue's blog a while ago, and I think a lot of folks have probably seen it, by now. Still, I have to talk it up now because I just found some fun text to material into it: the full text of William S. Burroughs' Naked Lunch.

Click for bigger, of course.

So, what Wordle does is take a pile of text and count up occurrences of each word. Then it assembles a big cloud of those words, making the more common words larger. The great big "like" in the middle of this cloud is the result of Burroughs' love of similes such as the following:

"like an obscene, festering mouth"
"like an Aztec Earth Goddess"
"like a great black wind through the bones"
"like a gorged boa constrictor"
"like a picture moving in and out of focus"
"like a old rotten cantaloupe"
"like music down a windy street"
"like an invisible blue blow torch of orgones"
"like death in the throat"
"like an Eskimo in heat"
"like an overloaded thinking machine"

I'm digging on Burroughs all over again, lately. I've got an audio version of Naked Lunch I've been listening to, but the damn thing's abridged. It's also read by the man himself, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. So, for the sake of completeness and clarity, I've also been following along on a text version I found on some Hungarian website.

And, man, Interzone is such a roleplaying game setting. I've been thinking a lot about what I could do with it, or with some bastardized, RPGed-up version of it.


B. Zedan said...

Chase spotted this entry before me (I swear his reader updates faster than mine) and was pretty stoked, as he's listening to the same audio book right now.

We both beg you kindly for a copy of the text as, yeah, Burroughs reading aloud can be so good/bad.

Matt Sheridan said...

No problem at all, Brenna.

B. Zedan said...

Awesome. Also, Burroughs is a genius idea to use Wordle with.

Michael J. Patrick said...

It's funny that you chose Naked Lunch as I just picked up my copy again a few days ago.

I also tried wordle and got this.

Matt Sheridan said...

Ha. The first thing I saw in that was "Wagner", and I more or less guessed where it came from.

Weird amount of Naked Lunch synchronicity going on, here. Very interesting. Maybe this is the time to run a game set in Interzone, after all.