This volume purports to be the recovered work of a 1920’s surrealist poet and artist – or perhaps a collective of artists – named VOMISA, which was recently re-discovered and is the first re-publication of that work in almost 100 years.
The bulk of the book itself, apart from the preface and introduction (written by Claude, and ChatGPT respectively) is all human-written in a free-association/stream of consciousness style. It’s a kind of writing I explored a little some 20 years ago myself, but neglected for a long time, so interesting to crack back open.
I have more to say about this, and will drop it into a separate post that better illustrates it, but I’ve found through this process and some other ones that LLMs are positively *terrible* at this style of stream of consciousness or free association. They seem to be massive shibboleths for these systems, and you can spot instantly how non-human and how crummy these systems actually are when you try to push them in this direction. They just can’t do it and fail spectacularly.
Is it possible that somewhere wrapped up in stream of consciousness writing is some kind of proof of sentience? Perhaps, perhaps not. It’s probable many humans when pressed would also come up with bland or bad stream of consciousness writing. But it’s also possible that human-generated free association might have some kind of statistical or other markers or hallmarks that might help indicate a system’s level of creativity in this regard. It’s not something I’ve heard anyone else bring up really. But I guess you can’t have a ‘stream of consciousness’ if you have no consciousness?
The notion of the Dissolving Factory of the book itself is only loosely defined in the work, but I had envisioned it both as a factory where people are sent to be dissolved, and/or that the factory itself is also possibly dissolving, and we don’t know why. So reading the book becomes a sort of act of dissolution, as the text radically attacks the notion of story and narrative as we know them, leaving you with a kind of smear…
Some art samples from the book:
This book also stands with some others in this series that are thematically linked to massive overwhelming pollution and decay, such as:
One interesting thing in this process was watching how Midjourney interprets very free-associative text of varying degrees of English-compatibility. I honestly thought the results would be more “out there” but something about Midjourney still has a way of leveling off the highs and lows, and making the outputs always look, well, Midjourneyish. I’m still satisfied with the image quality, but find myself wishing for ways to escape what has become the ordinariness of the depictions contained within the Midjourney image objects.