Category: Writing Techniques

Cobralingus Engine - Metamorphiction Process

Cobralingus Engine - Metamorphiction Process

by Jeff Noon

Instructions

It uses the Metamorphiction process to apply the techniques of electronic dance music to the production of words, dissolving language. In this mutated, liquid state, words are manipulated into new forms; borrowed text is sampled and transformed.
The Cobralingus Engine allows the user to manipulate language into new shapes and new meanings. The device takes an inlet text as a starting point, which is then processed to create another text entirely, known as the outlet. This outlet text can be seen as the ghost, or the unconscious desire, haunting the original text.

The Cobralingus Engine makes use of the Metamorphiction process. This process imagines text to be a signal, which can be passed through various filter gates, each of which has a specific effect upon the language. Each gate allows the writer to access different creative responses within his or her imagination. The effect of each gate is to produce an interim text, which is transmitted further along the pathway. For instance, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein contains the following sentence: 'I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open.' This text could be pushed through the randomise gate, producing: 'I lulled open the creature of the eye's low way.' We could then enhance this, by changing way into direction, and by adding another letter 's': 'I lulled open the creature of the eye's slow direction.' The words can be altered in these and other ways until, finally, the outlet text is created. This progress is entirely dependant on the user's inspiration, moment to moment, as the text makes its journey through the machine.

This book contains various examples of the Cobralingus Engine in operation. In each case a word-snake diagram allows the reader to follow the transformation of the text as it travels from gate to gate. Along the way it is hoped that each interim text will be of individual interest; however, the real pleasure of Cobralingus comes from enjoying the pieces as a whole. From inlet to outlet, the journey is the goal.


Filter Gates

START
Denotes that the Cobralingus device has been activated.

INLET
The start-up text. The initial signal on which the device will act.

CONTROL
Brings the text down to earth. Forces language to behave itself.

DECAY
Gently breaks down the text. Dissipates. Introduces corruption to the signal.

DRUG
Injects artificial stimulant into the language. Type of drug will always be specified.

ENHANCE
Creates elements of beauty.

EXPLODE
Breaks up signal into highly disordered fragments. To be used with caution.

FIND STORY
Forces text into the nearest possible narrative, however nonsensical.

GHOST EDIT
Kills the text. Calls up a ghost to haunt the language.

HOLD
Temporarily halts the Cobralingus process.

INCREASE SENSE
Significantly enhances text. Increases readability.

MIX
Combines all elements into a single entity.

OVERLOAD
Drastically increases image density of text. To be used with caution.

PLAY GAME
Mischief maker. Encourages craziness. Results may surprise the user.

PURIFY
Loses deadwood. Selects images or phrases from the text.

RANDOMISE
Disorders text. Parts of text may be lost or changed.

RELEASE VIRUS
Attacks text, changing words of choice into others of a similar sound. Recommended for advanced users.

SAMPLE
Introduces new element to signal. Source of sample to be specified.

SEARCH & REPLACE
Uses machine function to introduce new elements to text. Elements always specified. For example, 'Search and Replace: day with night.'

OUTLET
The final result of the filtering process.

SAVE
Denotes that the Cobralingus device has been deactivated.

Cobralingus Source: Instructions
Cobralingus Example
Cobralingus Source: Filtergates


Category: Creative Writing Techniques