Potential literature

Jerome Boue (boue@laas.fr)
Mon, 10 Jan 1994 08:44:48 +0100

Hello literature folks,

(Sorry for my poor english, any corrections welcome by private e-mail)

Somedays ago, When I was buying Christmas presents for my family, I
saw a wonderfull book from a french poet :

"Cent mille milliards de poemes" from Raymond Queneau (100000000000000 poems !)

In fact, it was composed of 10 poems with 14 verses each, 1 poem on 1 page,
and you could turn, not the entire page, but only 1 verse, in order to
construct a new poem. All the combinations lead to 10^14 poem as announced
by the title.

I thought that the actual potential of this work could only appear with a
computer, and especialy with a WWW browser : you select a verse and it changes,
you select a special link and a new random poem appears.

Raymond Queneau was a member of the OuLiPo -- Ouvroir de Litterature
Potentielle. The goal of that group was to explore new forms of literature
and in particular the links between literature and mathematics. Another
remarkable book of this group is "La disparition" from Georges Perec which
does not contain the 'e' letter.

I have two questions:

- What are the laws which prevent someone from copying such a work on a
computer and broadcast it ?

- Is there Potential Literature on the web, or people able to write such
things ?

Answer in this forum please.