Friday, July 6, 2012

Exquisite Cadaver

Years ago, I discovered a game invented by the surrealists early in the twentieth century. The idea is to spontaneously create a sentence based on a grammatical model structure. I learned the model sentence as "The exquisite cadaver shall drink new red wine," though I have heard other variations on the same.

Breaking the sentence down into its grammatical components, one gets: Article, adjective, noun, verb, adjective, adjective, noun. While playing exquisite cadaver with my family (one of our favorite things to do together, incidentally), we discovered that we prefer to add a preposition between the verb and second adjective. Once you have the structure, a piece of paper for each person, and a writing instrument for everyone, you're ready to play. Everyone starts by writing an article ("a," "an," or "the") at the top of the page. The person then folds the word back over the top of the paper so that it cannot be seen, then hands the paper to the person next to them. Once everyone has handed papers over, each writes down an adjective, folds the paper over, hands it to the next person, and so forth. The idea is not to give too much thought to the word one writes down. Just write something, anything, and pass it along.

Most of the time, the result is garbage. Once in awhile, though, the group comes up with something that *almost* makes sense. Once in a great while, the cosmos are kind and distill upon us a sentence that really does make sense. No matter how nonsensical the resulting sentences, though, the results (which should always be read aloud and with a straight face, if possible) tend to warp one's mind into new thought patterns, new shapes of thinking. The other night we played a couple of rounds as a family, resulting in twenty sentences, most of which were, as expected, garbage. But here are few that kind of, sort of, in some twisted way, if you let your subconscious fill in the gaps, almost, possibly, nearly make sense:

"The incestuous thermometer defile parallel to fuzzy rusty breadcrumbs"

"The androgynous script commiserated within vivacious Lebanese skinny jeans."

And, my favorite:

"The obese infidel dallied after metallic wart-covered sewer pipes."

Enjoy the game, and if you see me at a convention and need something to do, I have a hard time resisting a good round or two or ten of Exquisite Cadaver!

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