I decided to take on even bigger constraint with my movie line project. First, I tried using only movie lines from sports movies or movies containing sports, to make my paragraphs. I had a lot of fun with this, and found it to be quite easy after doing the previous constraints. I also found some interesting irony in what I was doing. I found that all of the movie lines from sports movies that I had choosen, actually had nothing to do with sports. When I put together the paragraph, there was not any mention of sports. It was kind of cool. Because this constraint was fairly easy, I decided to try and take a big step up. I decided to try and re-tell the three little pigs using only movie lines. This was not easy. I found myself staring at my computer for hours. I wondered why I chose this assignment. But, all it took was for me to find one quote that would work, and then the ball jsut started rolling from there. When I finished with the story, I took a moment to reflect back on my process. I realized that I had done something that I don't usually do when I set out to complete a project. I realized that after trying to put a story togeher with no luck for hours, I finally just let my mind go blank. It was when I did this, that I was abel to start putting the story togther. I realize that the freeing of the mind is a huge part of the OuliPp. It's not an easy task to do, but when you do it you are surprisingly creative. Things come much easier to you when you just let your thoughts freely flow in and out.
"The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees oneself of the chains that shackle the spirit... the arbitrariness of the constraint only serves to obtain precision of execution."
- Igor Stravinsky
This is a quote on top of http://www.nous.org.uk/oulipo.html, a website dedicated to the OiLiPo.
I have been thinking about the fact that the Oulipian theory can be applied to more than just writing. How great would it be if people applied to all that they do in life? I think much of the ideas and thoughts behind the OiLiPo is to welcome change-be spontanious. So much of our life revolves around routines. If you thin about it, it is ncredibly hard to change daily routines. I think that if we just let ourselves go, much like you do in Oulipian writing, then much of the rigidness in society would be gone. People would be more relaxed and comfortable being themselves. It would be great, but it would also take some training, mayeb even years of training. An Oulipan lifestyle would be hard to live at first. But, just like the writing- it gets easier as you go. I wonder if
A fellow classmate brought in a book by Daniel Nussbaum titled "PL8SPK". The entire book is stories made using only personalized license plates from the state of California. It's actually quite amazing. Talk about someoen who is using an Oulipian type style of writing. Nussbaum clearly understands and appreciates the OuLiPo's ideas on creativity in writing, expanding when you applying constraints. It sounds weird but OuLiPo and many others, including myself, have realized that when you apply constraints to your writing, it's actually not a constraint. It opens up your mind to creativity.
This reminded me of a class period when I told the story of my childhod and my creative writing. I used to use this program call Reader Rabbit. This program would provide a story, but they left blanks in certain areas of the story and in certain sentences. They then allowed you as the user to fill in the blanks with whatever words you chose to. Well, I used to make some really weird and silly stories using this program. When my parents got a hold of some of these stories, they decided I wasn't using or taking the program seriously, so they didn't really allow me to use Reader Rabbit anymore. This led to the discussion in class about how often parents tell their kids "Oh that's too silly", or "that could never happen". I believe that this happens all too often, and that parents are taking away from children's want and ability to write creatively. This is probably why it's so hard for many adults to write creatively.
I tried my first OuLiPo-type constraint entry tonight. It was interesting to see how my mind responded to this. It was honestly hard at first. I just stared blankely at my computer screen for a while. My brain was not used to this constraint...it had been so used to following the "rules" of literature, that it almost mafunctioned when I introduced the constraint. But, after a few minutes and a few deep breathes, I just started to let my mind go. After I put together the first few sentances, it became somewhat easy to not comply with typical rules. I kind of liked it! I think that the more that I do this, and break the rules, the easier it will be to thin outside the boys and play around with more constraints.
Constraints can free you from the tyranny of infinite possibilities by channeling you into the form and meaning of a constraint; it can make you aware of the rules you are following. Benjamin Perec wrote a novel without using the letter e, a novel about disappearance. Arbitrary constraint and theme spoke to each other.
The mathmaticians, historians, writers, and miscellaneous others in the group were fascinated by what happened when you impose some arbitrary rule more drastic than classical dramatic form or the Renaissance sonnet. The rule acts as both constraint and stimulus. Remember essay tests when you had to come up with five reasons for the Civil War? That constraint forced you to cull up from memory more reasons than you might have been inclined to go on about in your exam.
Constraints and rules as such interested the OULIPO group, but also the nearly infinite permutations possible in a relatively small mechanism of constraints.
In fact, one Oulipean algorithm (formula for varying an "original") is to take a passage and substitute for each of its nouns or noun-substitutes the seventh noun that follows it in a dictionary. Sound strange? It can produce interesting results (you can't count or use derivatives of the same noun--"mankind" for "man," for example; go for the really different)..
This is an excerpt from the site http://www.english.vt.edu/~siegle/Comp/Oulipo_s_N_7/oulipo_s_n_7.html. It gives a brief history of OuLiPo and the motives behind their work. I am doing a project that is using something like that of an Oulipean constraint. I am putting entries into my blog, that are made of only movie lines. This is going to be very interesting to see how I deal with this constraint. I truly believe that what the OuliPo believes about constraints is true. In typical literature, we ar too often confined to what is done and what has already been done. We never step putside the box to see what can be done. We'll see what happens with my movie lines.