Mr Rubenking’s ‘Breakdown’, by John Tranter
The utilisation of digital computers in the deconstruction and reconstruction of writing
“History works through hindsight; and the spectacles of hindsight are tinted with irony. The model of art versus disorder was renovated early in the Industrial Revolution in the service of a Romantic idea: the construction of a role for the author as a unique creative presence rescuing spiritual value from chaos — the aristocracy were dead, God had fled, and Nature was covered with factories — and whose job it was to certify the value of a literary work on behalf of its consumers, the bourgeoisie. The project has seen strange and powerful acids attack this central role as the twentieth century progressed, until the structure is now almost reversed — it’s now the reader who validates the work which constructs the author — if she’s lucky.”
«Brekdown» is a text analysis and text generation program written in Turbo Pascal for IBM-compatible personal computers, devised in 1985 by the San Francisco programmer Neil J. Rubenking.
First published in «Meanjin» magazine, Vol 50, No 4, 1991
Published on the early internet in September 1992 at http://pmc.iath.virginia.edu/text-only/issue.992/pop-cult.992
More in Jacket 4 at http://jacketmagazine.com/04/rubenking.html …