The cut-up technique


The cut-up as a method of writing was invented by Brion Gysin in the 1950's
After using some newspapers as a cutting mat to protect a tabeltop he noticed that the
different layers when read across the cut pages made new and interesting juxtapositions
This prompted a series of experiments that culminated in the publication of "Minutes To Go"
Gysin introduced William S. Burroughs to the technique and he began to use it extensively
The cut-up fitted in with Burroughs notion of the word as a virus
The technique rendered the virus harmless as all meaning of the words and sentences was
corrupt and lost, only the reader can provide meaning and so has regained control of the
word, the virus is rendered harmless


At its most basic a page of text is split vertically into four columns, the page is cut and
the strips are rearranged and the newly formed page is read from left to right across the cuts
Two texts can be cut in a similar fashion and the strips mixed, combining the two separate
texts to create a new and often drastically different "sense"
The strips can be cut horizontally and the bottom sections moved to the top creating
narrative time shifts
The possibilities are endless
You do not even need to use paper and scissors any longer
Any good internet search engine will provide you with websites that can cut text for you online
Word processing and spreadsheet pacakages can be utilised and there are even specific cut-up
applications available

As with Gysin and Burroughs experimentation is still the key to sucess