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December 03, 2007

words in a cloud

Look, Stranger! (1936) was Auden's "wonder volume" his second book of lyrics, the collection which won him the King's Gold Medal for Poetry in 1937. I took the entire text (minus title page, colophon etc) of the book and I uploaded it to Daniel Steinbock's "TagCrowd" site.

Steinbock, a Stanford doctoral student in Design and Education, explains that, when a user performs these homely actions, by analyzing word frequencies his site will crystallize a word cloud out of the grainy vapours of language: an "informative, beautiful image that communicates much in a single glance. We see a whole new approach to text" including such uses as "visual summmaries for speeches and written works" and new sorts of "visual poetry".

I agree completely. Who does does not see something better for seeing it estranged, defamiliarized? After digital processing, here is the "reading" (poetry made out of rearranging poetry) which Steinbock's algorithm generated from Auden's words in Look, Stranger!. And, "stranger, look" which two terms migrated to the centre of this iconic representation of a volume from a decade of crisis —— love and, slightly smaller, night:

created at TagCrowd.com

Posted by njenkins at December 3, 2007 02:52 AM

With the exception of interspersed quotations, all writing is © 2007-09 by Nicholas Jenkins