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.
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.