and Text Concrete

"Art is fifty years behind painting," William S. Burroughs declared. Indeed Cut-Up Theory, formulated by Brion Gysin and refined by Burroughs, is most directly related to Cubism, an artistic innovation itself spurred by the advent of still photography. As with Cubism, a Cut-Up presents a multifaceted, pan-optic view its subject.

Cut-Up methodology varies greatly. Most often, text from several contradictory sources are cut into small blocks. These blocks are chosen randomly and placed upon a page. The final product is transcribed by simply reading across as naturally as possible. While this basic method often produces strange and portentous combinations of images and ideas, it just as frequently dissolves into dictionless nonsense.

Bearing in mind the example of Cubism, Burroughs tinkered with Cut-Up methodology until he produced a workable literary device. At first, Burroughs sought merely to streamline the process. In many of his early Cut-Ups, a page of text was cut into just four sections and two diagonal sections were transposed. No foreign material was introduced.

Eventually, Burroughs began to combine several drafts of a given scene into a finished whole using the Cut-Up method. The queer juxtapositions remained, now combined with repetition of key images and random shifts of emphasis to truly capture the spirit of Cubism in written form.

Of course, many other artists have utilized Cut-Up Theory, but few with the sophistication and care Burroughs brought to bear. His best work in this area appears in his 'Cut-Up Trilogy' The Soft Machine, Nova Express, and The Ticket that Exploded, as well as the novels immediately following Exterminator! and The Wild Boys.

"" - A cut up generater.
Scrapbook - unofficial Finnish site about burroughs.
THE CUT-UP METHOD OF BRION GYSIN by William S. Burroughs from "the third mind".
Toad Head - a cut-up project.
Travesty Machine - a cut-up machine.

To the Doctor's Skin - David Hurwitz from Anthology 1
If You Continually Give - Marla Mealey from issue 29pi/3 (1993, Collage)
And All Steroids - Various Artists from issue 29pi/3(Collage)
Piled Mice - Dale Jensen from issue 8pi(1994, For Publication Only)
Most Tourists Don't Realize - Dale Jensen from issue 8pi(1994, For Publication Only)