Cut-up 2: Burroughs

Brion Gysin and William Burroughs developed a technique of cutting through pages of a found text, shuffling and recombining them. A page can be cut in many ways: in half lengthwise, into columns, into four or six squares. This method leaves some of the syntax intact allowing for more of a narrative feel than Tzara's method.

“Take your own words or the words said to be 'the very own words’ of anyone else living or dead. You'll soon see that words don't belong to anyone. Words have a vitality of their own and you or anybody else can make them gush into action.” - Gysin and Burroughs, The Third Mind


  • Take a page each from two different books.
  • Fold each page in half once lengthwise and twice widthwise.
  • Cut along the folds.
  • Shuffle the squares and reassemble at random.
  • Read across the lines, trying to make sentences.
  • Feel free to skip words or alter them if you like in order to smooth out the syntactic joins, but sometimes it's good to leave the breaks visible.