The cut-up method is best-known as a literary technique in which a written text is cut up and rearranged to create a new text. The cut-up has received some mainstream recognition as a way of brainstorming in the “creative industries.”
In the 1950s, Artist Brion Gysin had stacked newspapers on top of each other to protect a tabletop and noticed, upon cutting them with a razor, that the clippings interacted with each other in his head to produce interesting results. He accidentally rediscovered the cut-up method, a technique that can be traced back to at least the 1920s, even to this 1883 poem from Lewis Carroll (who wrote Alice in Wonderland):
For first you write a sentence,
And then you chop it small;
Then mix the bits, and sort them out
Just as they chance to fall:
The order of the phrases makes
No difference at all.
Gysin then introduced his friend, the author William Burroughs to the technique at the Beat Hotel. Burroughs went on to create a number of experimental novels that drew on text revealed by the cut-up method.
Try it for yourself!
Text mixing desk
A Cut-Up Generator