Arriving on my desk this week — the result, apparently, of a quick visit to Philadelphia by Nick Montfort — is a remarkable excerpt from Montfort's 2018 work, Hard West Turn. This No Press pamphlet takes pages 213 through 216 from the work. Go here to find out how to acquire this or any of Nick's work. No Press is the wonderful ongoing creation of Derek Beaulieu of Calgary (now, precisely, of Banff). Hard West Turn was computer generated using text from the English Wikipedia and the Simple English Wikipedia. Information about the book can be found here. Information about No Press can be found here. Another recent work by Nick Montfort: “Leaflet of Eden,” a sheet folded twice, printed by Nick himself, in Cambridge, on a dot matrix printer.
Back in February, when I started this column, I wanted to interview Fernando Diaz about his sound art projects and also — because he's a computer scientist — about algorithms in poetry. The word "algorithm" appears often in critical analyses of conceptual writing, so I had been wondering what, if anything, conceptual writing and algorithms had to do with each other. I wanted to believe, but Fernando was skeptical about this metaphor. After 2.5 months of meeting, discussing, questioning, and haggling, we have only just begun to work through the chasm between our fields, our different values, histories, vocabularies, etc. Latour would be proud. It's been challenging and fun. And I'm grateful for Fernando's patience, generosity, and humor in working with me towards this provisional document.