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Search and ye shall find

So there I was, hoping to get another cheap post out of my referral logs, when I realised the truth. The folk who are directed to from search engines and find, or melancholically fail to find, their informational quarry are not just a congeries of atomised seekers after truth, but make up a hive-mind, coalescing into a Geist, the Spirit of the Internet. And the Spirit of the Internet, I came to believe, is trying to communicate with us – by writing poetry.

As a self-elected amanuensis to the Geist, I have laid out below each search-phrase exactly as it was entered, one per line, and added punctuation merely in order to bring out the inherent sense. The rhythmically compelling result could easily be sung to the tune of REM’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It”, or, if you prefer, Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire”. I call it emergent literature.


Unspeakable yearnings #1

Soothing sayings websites,
intelligent sounding phrases,
vocabulary words and phrases smart people use say:


david.aaronovitch annoying:
why is it wrong to kick in the groin?
beat someone without leaving bruises
(is violence bad for kids in one paragraph?);
all great neptune’s ocean wash the blood from my hand.


snooker bow tie doctor,
body language pulling up socks:
                                             humble squid.


astronaut wife anywhere in the universe myspace.


britney spears’ genitalia,
britney spears panties limo
(fair fighting females testicles groin) –
ann coulter and melanie phillips,
oliver kamm modus operandi –
britney spears sticking a carrot up her fanny.
(bishop to the barmaid try it another way.)


– so i am a pig and david frum is not?

posing somdomite.


world in which we’re living:
global warming is false scientists trying to scare you
(obscure facts about antarctica?
                                             fuck kyoto!);
bad behaviour in children;
grunge idioms;
          bush euphemisms;
               axl rose narcotics;

(effects of singing in the military:
                                              hot sexx.)


what happens when the body goes without food for a long time?
is instant coffee bad?
(is this a metaphor; my thoughts are getting tangled in my intestines.)


bath clothed:
head means confusion metaphysically.

  1. 1  lamentreat  January 31, 2007, 12:41 pm 

    “emergent literature” is a really beautiful and accurate coinage.

    (I googled “e.l.” but it seems to be used only in a very different sense, as in “scholarly material only just now beginning to be written on a topic.” I had the feeling that most people using it in this sense were trying to include themselves in the “e.l.” and to deftly give the impression that a) there’s enough literature on their chosen topic that they’re not academic loner-weirdos but b) not enough that they’re reaping an already ploughed field. Original, but not, like, scarily so.)

  2. 2  Gwynn Dujardin  January 31, 2007, 2:08 pm 

    Brilliant. I have always wanted to post on the strange ways (here we come) that bring people into my site, but didn’t want readers to feel self-conscious. But now that you’ve coined it as emergent literature (and I feel less guilty), I present the following haiku of search terms, from the past few hours:

    sun pun headlines

    merkin spanking

    Minnesotans are like Canadians.

    P.S. Monsieur Poole, are you aware that Britney Spears’ scantily clad image is now adorning your site (via (at least she’s got knickers on). And “Baby One More Time” is nested between the cloth and paper versions of Unspeak. For only one pound.

  3. 3  lamentreat  January 31, 2007, 2:24 pm 

    Were the parentheses originally around “(is this a metaphor; my thoughts are getting tangled in my intestines.)” or did you add them? The semi-colon and the parentheses make it just heartbreaking.
    It’s quite reminiscent of Caroline Bergvall:

  4. 4  Steven  February 1, 2007, 12:48 am 

    The semicolon was there already, but the parentheses (or lunulae) are an editorial “improvement”. (My rather arbitrary rule was to impose no punctuation in the middle of given lines, only at the the beginning or end.) Glad you approve!

    I’m slightly amazed that “emergent literature” hasn’t been used in that way before. Perhaps I should ™ it.

    Britney belongs here, if anywhere.

  5. 5  Richard  February 1, 2007, 5:42 am 

    I think that’s actually a David Byrne song. Watch out for his record company sueing you for copyright infringement.

    It’s good of you to find a home for Britney. Careful with the carrots.

  6. 6  dave  February 1, 2007, 10:20 pm 

    It reminds me vaguely of Christophe Bruno’s work, e.g. amongst other efforts his Human Browser. He theorizes rather enjoyably about it all too. You Parisians!

    Or, for another effect, try spinning Baidu’s search statistics page through Babelfish. I particularly like the instantaneous weathervane.

  7. 7  dave  February 1, 2007, 10:55 pm 

    And here’s a Googled-up homage to P.A.L.F. which was my own effort at emlit after reading Christophe Bruno…

    passages at sea
    Since radiation fog is generated by near surface cooling by radiation loss during the evening hours, the we-passages in Acts present sea voyages. A survey is made of narrative style that understands the complexity of the folk narrative style. The we-passages fit the genre of sea voyage narratives. In Laurent Cantet’s films, the ice originally appeared to be mixed in with the lunar regolith: surface rocks or the ice storm that leveled electrical gantries outside Montreal. Characters shed their everyday selves and go on. You consult your table of weather histories, choose your storm and go: many, if not most, of these impactors contain water ice, and the lunar fans deep in storm and peeling layers off characters to reveal their deep sense of unease. Gaines’ narrative style and storytelling technique allow the characters to reveal regolith: loose layer of rocky material overlying bedrock.

  8. 8  Steven  February 2, 2007, 12:47 am 

    I wasn’t aware of Christophe Bruno (you’d think I would have run into him at the Deux Magots), but his doomy pronouncements about the internets are fun:

    Internet has become an unrivalled tool for surveillance and control. Its economic dynamics relies on trend analysis and prediction: anticipate on what you think at any time to be able to sell you what will fulfil you.

    In this pact you exchange a promise of happiness against a narrowing of your intimacy. You become predictible, transparent, commonplace even in your wildest dreams…

    So, so true of the blogging life.

    The Chinese search wind and cloud announcement is truly wonderful. But what is this P.A.L.F. to which you are paying homage? I am somehow reminded by your mysterious prose of the brooding, stormy farce of Tabrizifar’s Weathermen.

    The epigraph to my first anthology of emergent literature will be:

    These fragments I have shored against my ruins.

    Arguably he was doing more or less the same thing, just without google.

  9. 9  dave  February 2, 2007, 2:24 am 

    Production Automatique de Littérature Française was apparently (I know no more than ten minutes on Google told me) a 1964 collaboration between Georges Perec and Marcel Bénabou, through which they joined OuLiPo. Take a word, go to the dictionary for its definition. Take each word in the definition and repeat the process. Iteratively unpacking the potential of the word in this way produces a huge text which comes to include all language. It doesn’t matter whether you start with the word ‘priest’ or the word ‘worker’…
    My game was only semi-automated. I started by Googling ‘passages at sea’. I selected from the top ten hits, a result including ‘…’: the pair of phrases were inserted at different positions into the text, changing punctuation as minimally as I could in order to produce continuous prose. Then the phrases were fed back into Google, and the process repeated until I wanted to get up and make a cup of tea. Something like that.

  10. 10  lamentreat  February 2, 2007, 7:56 am 

    You made Tabrizifar up! I googled it and…nuttin’. You beast.

    “Arguably he was doing more or less the same thing, just without google.” would look great on a gravestone.

  11. 11  Steven  February 2, 2007, 11:44 am 

    I assure you that the drama in question exists, though it does not appear on google…

  12. 12  Steven  February 2, 2007, 5:10 pm 

    Dave: fascinating stuff. Iterative emergent literature. Was what Perec and Bénabou did already deconstruction taken to its implicit logical endpoint?

  13. 13  mike  February 19, 2007, 7:44 am 

    oh man that is fucking brilliant. oh, can i say that here? i will revise, fucking cool. there.

    i get an inordinate (to my mind) number of searches for: big boob(s), masturbate(s)(tion), and of course, pirates.

    i have no explanations. i would organize them into poems but perhaps they would better form the outline for notes on the US’s next political/church scandal?

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