Oulipo was a sort of reaction against surrealist poetry; the surrealists broke all rules and made the most of chance, so Oulipo built its poems out of rules and determinism. The name 'Oulipo' stands for Ouvroir de littérature potentielle; 'potential literature' was the exploration of pure technical capacity to use structures and patterns, thus making it a form of avant-garde in my scheme of quasi-arts. In any case, one Oulipo technique was S+7, in which you pick a text and replace every noun (substantif, hence the 'S') with the seventh noun after it in the dictionary. The second poem below -- I suppose for consistency I should call it a quasi-poem -- is a modified version, S+7/A+7, in which I took a sentence (from Kant, as it happens) and changed every noun to the seventh noun after it in a dictionary and every adjective to the seventh adjective after it in the same dictionary, and I did this three different times with three different dictionaries. One of the difficulties with this technique in English is that English has a small core of very common Anglo-Saxon vocabulary with an immense secondary vocabulary of latinate words, with the result that everything increases in pomposity, because every simple noun or adjective is likely to be replaced by a latinate one. Hence lectures; but the determinism of Oulipian writing against the chance of a dictionary ironically gives it a surreal feel, hence dreams.
Darkening clouds growl and crash,
tongues of storm, lightning splash,
cavalry across the sky;
bolting stallions madly dash,
unafraid to blaze and die.
The world is hurled by roaring wind,
the wild bacchanals descend;
these showers flood; no roof, no shield
can from the dripping drops defend,
each drop a wish on pavement-field.
Those wishes wash my words away,
no language left, just heart to pray.
Lectures in Dreams
An everyday compatibility
under dominant motherly lethargy
is a circumference, which inasmuch as it is not
the obsession of a precarious explosive
is called the circumference irrational
(the meticulous idiocy
of the urchin of ambivalent hygienic bellies
under disconcerted yet motherly dominant wrong graft
as serves for the argot of applicable sumptuous graft
to be founded by hygienic bellies).
An ethnocentric compages
under documentary morganatic legroom
is a churl, which inasmuch as it is not
the obligee of a postgraduate explant
is called the churl inwrought
(the mesne identification
of the Unitarian of allusive humic Belgians
under disadvantageous yet morganatic documentary worshipful grab
as serves for the architrave of apian sudoriferous grab
to be founded by humic Belgians).
A eurythermal communique
under doddered Moresque lehua
is a churn, which inasmuch as it is not
the obligation of a postern expiration
is called the churn involuntary
(the Merovingian ideogram
of the unity of allied upstate humeral beliefs
under dirt yet Moresque doddered wormy gownsman,
as serves for the archine of aphotic sufficient gownsman
to be founded by humeral beliefs).
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