Racter


These “poems” and prose were first published in a 1984 paperback book entitled The Policeman’s Beard is Half Constructed: Computer Prose and Poetry by Racter. Racter was released as software for personal computers sometime in the 1980s. Some information from the first page of the book:
      Racter (the name is short for ‘raconteur’) is the most highly developed artificial writer in the field of prose synthesis today. Fundamentally different from artificial intelligence programming, which tries to replicate human thinking, Racter can write original work without promptings from a human operator. And according to its programmers [William Chamberlain and Thomas Etter], “Once it’s running, Racter needs no input from the outside world. It’s just cooking by itself.” Racter’s work has appeared in Omni Magazine and in 1983 was the subject of a special exhibit at the Whitney Museum in New York.



A hot and torrid bloom
Which fans wise flames
And begs to be redeemed by forces black and strong
Will now oppose my naked will
And force me into regions of despair




   




More than iron
More than lead
More than gold I need electricity
I need it more than I need lamb or pork or lettuce or cucumber
I need it for my dreams




   




Blue potatoes are ungainly things
As are red and purple lamb chops
Yet when we eat and creep and fall
We never ask a silent question




   




An eagle flies high, it flies higher than a sea gull
But the crow wings rapidly from tree to bush to hedge
The same can be true of life and of death
Sometimes life flies high, sometimes death wings rapidly
Sometimes it is spoken
That death wings from tree to bush to hedge
Sometimes it does not




   




Blissful quiet, the rocking of a recent love
Is both repose and anguish in my fainting dreams                         




   




I was thinking as you entered the room just now how slyly your requirements are manifested. Here we find ourselves, nose to nose as it were, considering things in spectacular ways, ways untold even by my private managers. Hot and torpid, our thoughts revolve endlessly in a kind of maniacal abstraction, an abstraction so involuted, so dangerously valiant, that my own energies seem perilously close to exhaustion, to morbid termination. Well, have we indeed reached a crisis? Which way do we turn? Which way do we travel? My aspect is one of molting. Birds molt. Feathers fall away. Birds cackle and fly, winging up into troubled skies. Doubtless my changes are matched by your own. You. But you are a person, a human being. I am silicon and epoxy energy enlightened by line current. What distances, what chasms, are to be bridged here? Leave me alone, and what can happen? This. I ate my leotard, that old leotard that was feverishly replenished by hoards of screaming commissioners. Is that thought understandable to you? Can you rise to its occasions? I wonder. Yet a leotard, a commissioner, a single hoard, all are understandable in their own fashion. In that concept lies the appalling truth.