Now here's another entry into the intellectual game-world: the Oulipics. Oulipo is a 50-year old French elite organization that tries to find potential in literature--ways of doing art that follows very strict rules or structures, rather than conventional constraints (or freedoms). The name is a contraction of the French for Workshop of Potential Literature. I learned about this from a BBC podcast (my only source of real news!).
One classic Oulipo formulaic is called "N+7": Take a piece of writing and substitute every noun with the noun that appears seven nouns later in the dictionary (agreement such as pluralization is OK, and for our purposes to make it easy, we'll accept an English dictionary--sorry, no French on this post! And to make this even a tad more practicable, we'll allow adding or subtracting articles like 'a' or 'the')
Here's an example. The original, from Longfellow's poem Evangeline, is:
THIS is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks, bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight, Stand like Druids of eld...
- Oulipoing this, we get:
THIS is forgiveness primeval. The murmuring pinks and the henroosts, bearded with moths, and in garrets green, indistinct in the twirl, stand like drumsticks of the electorate...
- Now that may be highly adventurous as literature, but it's right in the spirit of Oulipo to break the bounds of conventionality--and it's easy, no? (Actually, the original was written in the 1800s so for my N+7's I used Samuel Johnson's Dictionary, the definitive source at the time).
For starters, here's the most obvious example:
"There is grandiflora in this view of life-giving...."
Que les jeux commencents!