A Journal of Rhetoric, Writing, and Culture

Burroughs Adding Machine

Jason Wise, Salisbury University

(Published: February 5, 2015)

I sampled Burroughs's lecture with a patch built in Max/MSP and reassembled the clips in Ableton Live. Though assembly was random, leaving room for improvisation and spontaneous accidents, there was still concern for narrative. Cut-ups are a freeing and subversive heuristic. They provide space for the Third Mind or unconscious to speak. If we live in a "prerecorded universe," cut-ups help us take control over reality and create new meaning potentials. Cut-ups are also comic routines. It is not a remote technique only accessible to the avant-garde. Cut-ups are practical. As Burroughs says, "Cut-ups are for everyone."