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Erin Stigers
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Les Dizains is a combinatory program/ text generator created by Marcel Bénabou. The work was presented at the Pompidou Center in 1985. The online version for the ALAMO website was made by Eric Joncquel. The program generates “dizains” (poems consisting of ten lines) in an exponential method. The “texton” (the original text the program uses to generate new poems) is one ten-line poem with five pairs of rhymes. The program allows the reader to access different permutations of these ten original lines. The generator uses a randomization function with stylistic constraints related to the rhyme structure. The constraints make it so that any two lines that rhyme can only be separated by 0, 1 or 2 other lines. These constraints yield a large but not unmanageable number of “scriptons” (possible new poems) (145,920). For example, it would not be impossible to read all of these poems over the course of several years. In this program, the role of the reader is to interpret the different permutations produced by the randomization function of the generator. The reader clicks on the arrow at the bottom of the web page to signal the creation of a new variant of the “dizain.” The following is an example of one possible permutation: On entre en souriant dans le berceau de l'ombre La vie s'est réfugiée au profond des miroirs Les rues muettes me regardent sans me voir Pour retrouver l'enfant survivant aux décombres Le feu du ciel alors s'est éteint brusquement Encore enveloppé des ruses du printemps Je débarque parfois dans ma ville déserte Tout est rêve et la vie et l'amour et la mort Au-dessus de la craie qui poudre les fleurs vertes Quel cadavre la nuit ne reprend son essor The themes found throughout the poem can be best summarized by what here is line number 8. « Tout est rêve et la vie et l'amour et la mort ». (“Everything is dreams and life and love and death”). The lexis used in the poem includes numerous references to sad and somber subjects. There are also several references to distinct actions. (« Le feu…s’éteint » « on entre » « je débarque ») (“The fire goes out” “One enters” “I disembark”). When they are read in a different order, the reader can interpret the story differently. The distance between the rhyming lines can also have an effect on the reader’s interpretation. The different permutations can connect or isolate certain lines, changing the overall meaning of the poem. The program creates a “prise” effect because the reader can familiarize his or herself with the ten lines and can continue to generate new poems according to his or her preferences. The reader therefore develops a sense of ownership over the poem that he or she chooses, even though he or she cannot directly manipulate the order of the lines or rhymes.(Source: Erin Stigers)