For my final NetNarr electronic literature project, I decided to create a bot. How is that electronic literature? It’s technically generative literature, which falls under the e-lit umbrella. I made this bot to generate examples of one of my favorite literary devices: the “nounjective.” A nounjective is when a writer uses one noun to describe another instead of a traditional adjective. I’m sure there’s a real name for this technique, but I have always just called them nounjectives. I first became aware of nounjectives in the translated writings of Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez, and I was quickly enchanted with them. I use nounjectives regularly in my own creative writing, and my bot project is an answer to the question of whether or not a machine can create meaningful examples of this unique descriptive tool as well as a human author. It also raises the question, “Does knowing that a machine randomly selected the words decrease the impact of the nounjective statement?” With these questions in mind, the reader will look at the bot’s nounjectives differently from a human author’s nounjectives, thus giving new meanings to the words.
The bot I created can be found at its own Twitter account, @nounjective. It is scheduled to tweet out one nounjective descriptive statement every two hours. NounjectiveBot uses the SSBot v 0.4 framework created by Zach Whalen (@zachwhalen) and distributed to our class by Prof. Alan Levine. It draws from a spreadsheet of over 400 words and phrases to create nounjective descriptions in a pronoun-nounjective-noun formation (and I am continuing to add to the spreadsheet as I think of things!). The tagline I put in the bot’s profile reflects the types of tweets one might find in NounjectiveBot’s feed: “description, inspiration, nonsense.” Between the test tweets and generated previews, I have encountered some particular nounjective phrases that are better-sounding and more effective than something I would think of on my own. “My mollusk foot grasp”; “His brick chimney skin”; “Her silver arrow lips”; “Your adirondak chair dreams;” to name a few.
I know we were only supposed to come up with an e-lit concept, but considering I took the project in my own direction, I figured I should actually get it up and running. Hopefully that makes up for going off the rails a bit!
Check out NounjectiveBot here: https://twitter.com/nounjective