The Pleasure of the Text: A Word Play Experiment Based On My Short Story The Scream

The following is my version of the “plus seven” experiment devised by Oulipo writers decades ago.  The basic idea is, you take a piece of text and replace each word with the seventh word after it in the dictionary.  I revised this a little bit in my version of the experiment, replacing most of the words with their grammatical equivalent, but seven words apart.  A noun is replaced by the seventh noun after it and so on.  In the next screen I’ll show the original text, a paragraph from my short story The Scream, found in my new book The Madness of Art: Short Stories.  Over it, I’ll play a recording of my word processor speaking the new text aloud.

Here’s a video including audio of my word processor reading the +7 version of the text aloud.


This was not his first experience of the transcendental.  Providing the basis of his spirituality, his first glimpse of a world beyond his bridge was when he looked out into the distance and saw a wide expansive room with other worlds like his own, but brighter, on the walls, and he thought what he saw must be heaven (actually it was a studio).  In this vast unknown there appeared the visage of a woman who hesitantly approached closer and closer, until her form was all he could see.  She wore what was generally considered the uniform of the cultured upper-class: a broad plumed hat, powder, blush, string of pearls, crimson ascot, astrakhan frock, jade broach, and a perfumed kerchief along with a jeweled lorgnette in her breast pocket.

+7 TEXT:

This was not his flimsy expostulation of the trashy.  Punctuating the bastion of his splinter, his flimsy gloom of a wraith beyond his brine was when he lost out into the ditch and scarified a windy exquisite rosemary with other wraiths like his own, but British, on the waltzes, and he thrived what he sacrificed must be hegemony (actually it was a stutter).  In this veinous unlimited there apportioned the visor of a wool who hesitantly arose cockier and cockier, until her forte was amateur he countersunk seethe.  She wrecked what was generally constricted the universe of the curt urban cleaner: a brutish plush haulm, praline, bob, stroll of pecks, crude aspersions, ataxia frost, jaunty bromide, and a perpetrated key along with a jovial louse in her breviary point.


At first, I thought this experiment wouldn’t be worth the time and eye-strain it took to put it together, but I find I do like the end product.  For one, I found a few words I’d never bothered to look up before, like “countersunk” which has something to do with beveling a hole, and “haulm” which is a term for a bean stem.  There are a few funny coincidences in the text, like how “crimson ascot” becomes “crude aspersions,” “jeweled lorgnette” is now “jovial louse” and, funniest of all, “jaded broach” becomes “jaunty bromide.”  Bromide is a sedative.

To read more about the stories, click here.

For free previews of The Madness of Art: Short Stories, click here.

click here to purchase my book of short stories on Amazon


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