Digital Cut Up: Amy + Robert

I got way more intimate with Python this week, getting a chance to make my very own digital version of Tristan Tzara’s Dadaist poem.

I wanted to work within the parameters of Robert Frost’s traditional prose, and at the same time utilize the absurdist transcription of Amy Sedaris’ totally weird and wonderful TV show about being alone. Essentially, I wanted to create a duet of Robert’s carefully considered, elegant prose and Amy’s perky and unfiltered dialogue.

I’ll be honest, I enjoyed the process way more than the output. I got sucked into this strange black hole of variables within variables within variables. Is that something that people actually do? I spent a great deal of time figuring out how to pare down and clean up Amy’s dialogue. I filtered out all the lines that were longer than the longest line of Frost’s poem, so that everything I folded back into his structure would make more sense- well, visually at least.

Any line greater than 39 characters was out.

Each time I omitted something, like a name or syntax, I created a new variable. Then using that new variable, removed another specific word, and on and on and on. Seems kind of tedious, no? And most likely messy. It felt cathartic, though, like organizing a messy desk drawer.

One of the many variables within variables

My biggest roadblock and frustration was at the end when I had parsed out 10 lines from each piece and wanted to mix them. Here, I thought the shuffle function would work, but I was struggling with it. I used the sorted function instead. It irks me that they’re alphabetical, but I’m going to keep trying to find another way to randomize it.

What even is this poem?! I’d like it to be shuffled instead of alphabetized.

Like I stated earlier, I’m not sure I could ever take this poem seriously, but I think that most likely has to do with the secondary text I selected. I can’t read the contrasting lines without switching accents- from a soft, transatlantic to a nasal, North Carolinian.

You can find the code on my Github.

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