The Frankenstein Exquisite Corpse began with this passage from Frankenstein:
“I started from my sleep with horror; a cold dew covered my forehead, my teeth chattered, and every limb became convulsed; when, by the dim and yellow light of the moon, as it forced its way through the window-shutters, I beheld the wretch — the miserable monster whom I had created. He held up the curtain of the bed; and his eyes, if eyes they may be called, were fixed on me.”
In 1934, an edition was published with this woodcut by Lynd Ward illustrating the paragraph.
I sent the image, without any information about its original context (and strict instructions not to google it), to Yoz Grahame who answered a call for a writer on Twitter.
His reaction was this text:
I reach for support and find velvet under the rubble. I look up at more velvet, towering wings bathed in candlelight, going up and up and up to the bombed-out ceiling; then sky, stars, flashes of the battle.
“It’s too late for new, Mara!” She’s on the stage, capering around the candles. She bends to add another mark, then straightens up. Straight arms, straight teeth, eyes ready to pop. “It’s time to try some old.” The chalk tumbles from her fingers but I don’t watch it land: I’m looking at the curtains, because that can’t just be candlelight, and then the claws appear.
This text was then sent to the artist Sara Hames, who responded with this image:
The image was then sent to Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, where five people were given the chance to describe the image in a creative manner. They were paid $1 each, and spent an average of two minutes, 15 seconds on their responses. Although this is higher than most Turk rates, only three people attempted it in the first two hours.
I have no idea who or where they are except for their anonymized IDs.
The face of a Dead woman covered in her shroud that will be with her for all time. She will be buried with this and this will be the last image of her ever made.
Travelling too far out of the intricacies of universe, space, and even time itself can lead you to a middle age woman who controls everything that happens in the universe.
She spoke lies to me, I sensed this, but I could not hear them. Yet I could see it somehow, the bottom of her face melting away into what appeared to be a sculpture of silver, bone-like wire and fleshy triangular patterns. None of it made sense; the silver giving way to buried treasures and diamonds, colors flowing off into the distance… I wondered, as I watched her, if this spoke her true desires, wealth and freedom and pleasure beyond compare. But all I could see, all that stood before me, was a monstrously beautiful mystery.
This was the first forking event we defined, currently containing three possible new paths, though many others could also be started based on the above creations. By maintaining their connection to the original Frankenstein, perhaps in the digital margins of the e-book, and updating them continuously, we could trace the ripples created by the source material’s ideas. This kind of book consciously embraces its descendants.
I will admit, I am largely ignorant about gaming. I am not wholly ignorant…I have my intermittent addictions to casual iPhone games. I helped to advise a design thesis on gaming IRL (“in real life” for you other non-gamers). I think that captures just how far from a gamer I am. Part of the problem is that I get really sucked into the activity on the screen, enough so that my vestibular system is terribly confused and it looks like I’m moving when my body says I’m not. In short, I like games, but they make me want to throw up.
Recently, I have become really interested in a phenomenon I’m told happens in World of Warcraft, or WOW, as I’m told the more clued-in members of society call it. This is the phenomenon of raids.
I actually have never seen a raid. I’m not terribly curious to see one. What I love is to ask gamers about raiding, because raiders get very excited. Raids, it’s been related to me, occur when bands of players gather to take on a quest or a boss character. It takes social coordination, strategy, and patience to pull off a raid. In a raid, players need to forget themselves a little and dedicate themselves to some larger purpose. Raids are for people who can see the big picture. Raids are for people who really understand the world and their place in it, and that understand WOW is not just a game, but a parable for life and its challenges and how if you band together you can conquer anything. Or so I’ve been told.
I love hearing about raids in part because I am so much the solitary bookish nerd that I can hardly relate to the frenzied excitement gamers apparently feel for raiding. As I watch them gesticulating and feinting, reenacting their last raid in their retelling, I wonder what in my life would be raid-like. What would a literary raid be? Would we all take up our pitchforks and arrows and demand our favorite authors hurry up and write their latest magnum opus already? Would we all quest to translate obscure literary texts? Is a book club in any way raid-like?
Ah, I’m sitting next to Kiyash, and across from Lee. Let us consult the wisemen: “People need specific tasks and roles,” says Kiyash. Maybe you make a story appear in distributed books and pieces and people have to get together to reconstitute the story. Now Lee is involved: there’s something like this in William Gibson’s Agrippa (1992). Needs to be time constrained. Can’t be persistent. Maybe the bits and pieces need to appeal to different kinds of people with different skills so that you really need lots of people to put it together.
I think what I love about reading is in many ways that it is a quiet, solitary, cloistered activity. It is focused. It is contemplative. It is individualistic. It is personal. Reading occurs at a scale that is as large as my mind, and just as small. It might be the antithesis of the raid, with all its hurly-burly simultaneous collective action. Trying to think of a raid of readers takes me back to my grad school days at MIT. I would take the Red Line from Harvard Square to Kendall, a short two hops. On the platform, on the train, nerds everywhere. I read a research paper. You had the news. That lady there has a well-worn paperback. You could look up and down the cars and everyone would have their nose in a book. Often people couldn’t be bothered to stop reading even when they got to their stop and had to step off, make their way to the turnstile, go up the stairs. We were together, underground, moving in concert, going to the same place. And still. Still. Still. The thing that bound us was that we all had trouble stopping reading.
It begins with space. There is space to draw. That’s the most important feature.
The margin opens up into white space whenever you call on it. You can fill that space however you want. Sketches, scribblings, notes, doodles.
The book collects them, tags them to the places in the text that inspired them, and keeps them. Every time someone reads it, the collection grows deeper and broader.
For example, this passage has been illustrated five thousand times:
I suddenly beheld the figure of a man, at some distance, advancing towards me with superhuman speed. He bounded over the crevices in the ice, among which I had walked with caution; his stature, also, as he approached, seemed to exceed that of man.
This one has been illustrated only three times, but still:
I was partly urged by curiosity, and compassion confirmed my resolution.
It is possible to walk from sentence to sentence, from one end of Frankenstein to the other, stepping only on the images the text has inspired, without touching a single word. There are actually many such paths.
With each new reader, the text is growing and changing. Over time, these small additions—a stick-figure sketch here, a note there—accrue into a living record of the audience and their shifting perceptions of the story, the themes, the characters. You can view these illuminations alongside the text, or inline, or alone. You can plot them chronologically, or by subject. You can look at one scene a thousand ways. You can add to any image, recombine them in different sequences, create something wholly new from them.
This has led to all kinds of unexpected permutations of reading. Conversations are taking place in the margins. A phrase becomes an image, that image begets a new caption, and that caption leads to yet another image. All of these connections are preserved.
For many people, reading Frankenstein has become a game. There are no set rules, or rather, there is no single set of them. There are thousands of rules, thousands of variations. Some are written down, but many more are not. Folk games bubble up for a season, then disappear. A hundred pictures, each drawn in a different hand, showing only the monster’s nose, inexplicably appear on a single day, all originating from a town in southern England. Closer investigation reveals that the tenth graders of the local secondary school were reading Frankenstein at the time, but no one remembers exactly why all the noses got drawn.
There are many such exquisite corpses strewn across the landscape of the book.
Phrases from the text are starting to crop up in unexpected places in popular culture. When they do, they are tagged and added back into the text. The document becomes a magnet that attracts its derivations back to it, and re-enfolds them. A character in a popular television show quotes the first line of Chapter Five. A Top 40 song references Henry Clerval. Mary Shelley herself becomes a sort of cult heroine. Her face appears on t-shirts, tattoos. She and her creation are macro’d and memed in ways that make some Romantic scholars cringe. But the truth of this spreading, viral text is undeniable, and even the most stoic of academics celebrate it with a smirk: the text is alive. It’s alive.
Are words the same as meaning? Does the form in which you are writing influence the content of what you write? Here’s a game that explores the way form and word choice might influence meaning. For one or many players. Join in!
Rules of the Game:
- Rewrite a sentence or passage from the Declaration of Independence into a series of linked 17-syllable verses that, like haiku, follow a 5-7-5 sequence of syllables to the line.
- The text of the Declaration: http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html
- Try to stay close to the original meaning, but be open to re-interpretation, if the new form requires it.
- Must reference nature and the seasons
- Less is more
- Stop when you have written an ending
- Translate what you have written back into more straightforward prose
- Post the poem, the prose translation, and the original passage, in that order.
In the bright summer
Of human events
We dissolve our connections
Turn cold our eyes to
Take a place at the wellspring
Of power on Earth
We respect others
Enough to clothe our action
In modest Nature
Don’t argue with us
We are as good as you are
God tells us this. Splash!
The poem, restored to prose:
Now, in the harsh, dry reckoning of human events, we dissolve the bonds that have heretofore tied us to others and, eschewing subservience toward those from whom we have split, sit with them at the spot from which power emerges and men seize it. Out of respect to those with whom we are now competing, rather than serving, we assert that there is a higher law to which we conform, and a Deity who has given us the same rights that they claim.
The original text:
When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
Thinking about how to bring more fun into reading, two thoughts:
First, dramatic readings: This isn’t a new idea. Hollywood actors did it nicely a few years ago:
And the professional speakers at National Public Radio did this exercise several years ago as well, with different reporters speaking different sections.
I find myself wondering how Bullwinkle might have rendered it…
Second, annotation. This feels more like work than play:
We could make it current, not historical:
But I’m wondering if we could turn it into more of a sport.
What if we highlighted key phrases and words, and asked people to annotate or identify historical connections in competition with each other. I’m not sure what it would look like…working on a mock-up now.
One of my favorite classroom assignments is to ask students to write original fiction or poetry using words and phrases plucked from Google Autocomplete. Inspired by Kenneth Goldsmith’s Uncreative Writing (2011), the challenge requires them to use some kind of seed phrase (“how do I,” for example) and then add on words to get new language for their reuse. To give this constraint a little flexibility, I also allow students to elide the seed phrase and pluck other keywords out of the resulting text if they wish.
I’d like to think this is a kind of exquisite corpse where the collaboration happens between millions of strangers, most of whom have no idea they are playing the game. The result is powerful precisely because of this distributed network of textual ghosts: people who typed in phrases (often profound, or bizarre, or deeply sad) thousands or millions of times. The exquisite corpse that emerges is both improvisational and thoroughly grounded in a particular intentionality and history.
Consider this example, starting with the keyword “exquisite”:
This corpse is the artistic creation of one individual (breaking the cardinal rule of the game), but it is also a kind of collage that involves millions. The search bar is a vital interface between the collective id and the articulated consciousness of the Internet. It is a confessional and a space for interrogatory dialog. When we adapt the distinctively clipped, quasi-boolean voice of the search query to the ends of poetry, we get something that is perversely beautiful and multivalent. Each phrase drags along its own string of corpses behind it, the trial of inquiry and speculation that leads people to ask Google questions like how do you have sex.
I don’t know quite what game I’m playing here, or how this could become a multiplayer game like the real exquisite corpse. One variation might be to tell a story starting with a letter of the alphabet, using that letter to find an autocomplete phrase to add to the narrative. How else might we build this monster?
Hemingway is a text editor, created by Adam and Ben Long, inspired by the spare writing style of Ernest Hemingway. It analyzes the length and complexity of your sentences. It indicates how frequently you use adverbs and passive constructions.
Here’s a fun game you can play with Hemingway. Take a text, preferably a well-known text, and try to incrementally reduce its grade level. You can play the game on your own or in competition with others.
I’ve just played the game with a paragraph drawn from the Declaration of Independence.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
Hemingway dislikes this paragraph. Hemingway regards it as “Bad.”
As we can see, this paragraph of the Declaration reads at a Grade Level of 30. Four of its five sentences are Very Hard to Read. It uses more than zero adverbs. We are informed that two words or phrases could be simplified. The passive voice is used six times. We should aim for one or fewer passive sentences.
Step one of the game: Let’s get rid of these “errors” and see what we’re left with. We’ll need to do some reconstructive surgery on the original paragraph. How does this sound?
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that God creates all men equal. Their Creator endows them with certain unalienable Rights. Among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. To secure these rights, Men institute Governments. Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it. They can institute new a Government. People should make a new Government that seems most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence dictates that Governments long established should not change for light and transient causes. Experience has shown, that mankind would rather suffer than to abolish governments. But when enough abuses and usurpations pile up, people have a right and duty to overthrow the Government. They should provide new Guards for their future security. This has been the situation of these Colonies. And now it’s necessary to alter our system of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations. These injuries and usurpations aim to establish an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, we submit Facts to a candid world.
Now we have a text that Hemingway regards as “Good.” It’s at a Grade 9 reading level. So we’re making progress. Unfortunately, most Americans read at a 7th or 8th Grade Reading Level. So we’ll have to go through another round of editing. Let’s see how low we can get the reading level without losing the sense of the original text.
Here goes our paragraph from the Declaration at a 4th Grade Level:
We think God creates all men equal. God gives us some Rights. They are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. We make Governments to keep these rights. We give governments permission to rule. When governments become bad, people can fix or end it. They make new Governments. Good governments make us safe and happy. We shouldn’t end governments for small reasons. Most people would rather suffer than end bad governments. But when governments get bad enough, people should fix or end them. They should make sure that governments can’t be bad. This is our problem. We have to switch our Government. The King of Great Britain is a bad man. He’s a tyrant. We will prove it.
We’re getting there. But I think we can do better. Let’s try to get to Grade 0.
God makes us equal. God gives us Rights. They are Life, Liberty and Happiness. Rulers help us. We pick rulers. Some rulers are bad. We stop bad rulers. We pick good rulers. Good rulers make us safe and happy. Be careful when you pick a ruler. We do not like to get new rulers. But when rulers get bad, we get new rulers. We make sure rulers can’t be bad. This is our problem. We have to switch rulers. The King of Great Britain is a bad man. He’s a tyrant. We will prove it.
That’s the end of the game for me. If you’re playing with someone else, compare your Grade 0 rewriting to that of your opponent. Whoever best retains the sense of the original wins.
Let’s call this game Hemingway’s Declaration.
Report your points total in the comments.
The next stages could include:
• Automatically pull out short sentences from a text
• Assign difficulty ratings according to their readability score
• Play with your favorite books
• Have everyone at a dinner/party agree to play the game. People can call each other out at any time for saying what others think is their book phrase. If you’re right, you get 5 points and they have to get a new phrase. If you’re wrong, they get 10 points. See how that changes people’s conversation patterns.
• What else?
Today we consider reading as a game. Actually, I don’t consider reading to be a game, but perhaps the most serious thing around. At least the most serious way to impart and take in information. Nevertheless I can easily immerse myself into the game of “Translation Wars,” where we take something memorable and make it unintelligible. Move from one language to the next and on to the next using the wonderful bait-and-switch of automated Internet translation. Like that age-old game of Telephone, where we whispered into the ear of a friend and they whispered to another and then onto another, now we let the machine do the talking. And let’s see just what corner it talks itself into….
On the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s first visit to Castle Frankenstein, let’s see what the Wizard of Internet does with the famous encounter between the good Doctor and his Creature, traveling through one language to the next and then to the next and eventually back to the English in which we began.
“Devil,” I exclaimed, “do you dare approach me? And do not you fear the fierce vengeance of my arm wreaked on your miserable head? Begone, vile insect! Or rather, stay, that I may trample you to dust! And, oh! That I could, with the extinction of your miserable existence, restore those victims whom you have so diabolically murdered!”
“I expected this reception,” said the daemon. “All men hate the wretched; how, then, must I be hated, who am miserable beyond all living things! Yet you, my creator, detest and spurn me, thy creature, to whom thou art bound by ties only dissoluble by the annihilation of one of us. You purpose to kill me. How dare you sport thus with life? Do your duty towards me, and I will do mine towards you and the rest of mankind. If you will comply with my conditions, I will leave them and you at peace; but if you refuse, I will glut the maw of death, until it be satiated with the blood of your remaining friends.”
“Diable”, m’écriai-je, “avez-vous osé s’approcher de moi? Et ne craignez-vous pas la vengeance féroce de mon bras semé sur votre misérable tête? Va-t’en, insecte vil! Ou plutôt, séjour, afin que je puisse vous piétiner dans la poussière! Et , oh! que je pouvais, avec l’extinction de votre existence misérable, restaurer ces victimes que vous avez si diaboliquement assassinés! ”
“Je m’attendais à cette réception”, a déclaré le démon. “Tous les hommes détestent les misérables; alors, comment dois-je détestais, qui suis misérable au-delà tous les êtres vivants Pourtant, vous, mon créateur, détestent et méprisent moi, ta créature, à qui tu es lié par des liens que dissoluble par l’anéantissement! l’un de nous. vous but de me tuer. Comment osez-vous le sport ainsi avec la vie? Faites votre devoir envers moi, et je vais faire le mien vers vous et le reste de l’humanité. Si vous vous engagez à respecter mes conditions, je vais les laisser et vous en paix;. mais si vous refusez, je vais assouvir la gueule de la mort, jusqu’à ce qu’il soit rassasié avec le sang de vos amis qui restent ”
“Devil “, rief ich , ” kannst du es wagen mich zu nähern ? Und glauben Sie nicht den harten Rache meinen Arm auf Ihrem elenden Kopf gepflanzt fürchten? Begone , abscheuliche Insekten ! Oder eher , Wohnzimmer, so kann ich Ihnen in den Staub trampeln ! Und, oh , ich könnte , mit dem Erlöschen des kümmerliches Dasein , Wiederherstellung dieser Opfer den du so teuflisch ermordet zu haben ! ”
“Ich erwartete diesen Empfang “, sagte der Dämon. “Alle Menschen hassen die elenden , also wie soll ich hasste , der elend jenseits aller Lebewesen bin Doch du, mein Schöpfer, verabscheue und verachte mich , dein Geschöpf , dem du bist durch die Bande gebunden , dass auflösbar durch Vernichtung ! einer von uns. ihr mich zu töten . Wie können Sie es wagen und den Sport mit Leben? tun Sie Ihre Pflicht auf mich zu, und ich werde mir auf Sie und den Rest der Menschheit zu tun . Wenn Sie einverstanden, dass meine Begriffe , werde ich euch und Friede lassen . , aber wenn Sie sich weigern , werde ich die Klauen des Todes zu stillen , bis es mit dem Blut von deinen Freunden zufrieden ist bleiben ”
” Дьявол “, я воскликнул: ” Вы смеете подходить ? И не верьте суровую месть мою руку посадили на вашем несчастной головы страха? Прочь , отвратительные насекомые ! Вернее , в гостиной , чтобы я мог растоптать в пыль ! И, о , я мог , что вы убили так дьявольски с вымиранием жалкое существование , восстановить эти жертвы ! ”
“Я ожидал, что этот прием , ” сказал демон . ” Все мужчины ненавидятнесчастен, так как я должен ненавидел кто я несчастен за всех живых существ не менее вы , мой создатель терпеть , и презирать меня , твой существо , которому вы обязаны узами , что разрешимых путем уничтожения! Любой из нас . ей убить меня . Как ты смеешь и спорта с жизнью ? выполнять свой долг по отношению ко мне , и я собираюсь сделать с тобой и остальным человечеством . , если вы согласны на мои условия , я дам тебе и Мир может . , но если вы откажетесь, я остановлюсь челюсти смерти , пока она не удовлетворена кровью друзьями остаться ”
” Diablo, ” mi kriis , “Vi kuraĝas tuŝi ? Kaj ne kredu la malmolajn venĝo metas mian manon sur vian kapon mizera timo ? Away , naŭza insektojn ! Prefere en la salono do mi povus dispremi en polvon ! Kaj, ho, mi povis vi mortigis tiom damninda formorto mizeran ekziston , restarigi tiujn viktimojn ! ”
” Mi atendas ĉi akceptejo ,” diris la demono . ” Ĉiuj homoj nenavidyatneschasten , ĉar mi malamas kiun mi estis mizera por ĉiuj vivantaj estaĵoj tamen vi , mia kreinto rezistos, kaj malestimas min, via infanino, al kiuj vi ligis per obstakloj kiujn solvebla per detruo ! Ĉiuj el ni. Ŝia mortigi min. kiel vi kuraĝas sporto kaj vivo ? fari vian devon al mi, kaj mi faros kun vi kaj la resto de la homaro . , se vi konsentos miajn terminojn, kaj mi donos al vi Pacon povas. , sed se vi rifuzos , mi ĉesos makzelo morto ĝis ŝi ne estas kontenta kun sango restos amikoj ”
“Devil”, huudahdin, “Sinä uskalla pelata? Ja usko ankara kosto laittaa käteni pään kurja pelko? Away, ilkeä hyönteisiä! Edullisesti huoneessa niin voisin murskata tomuksi! Ja oi, voisin olla sinun tappoi niin pirun sukupuuttoon kurjaa olemassaoloa, palauttaa ne uhrit! ”
“Odotin tätä vastaanoton”, sanoi demoni. “Kaikki ihmiset nenavidyatneschasten, koska vihaan, että olin onneton kaikkien elävien olentojen, mutta minun luoja kestää, halveksi minua, olento, jolle sinä olet sidottu siteitä, jotka liukenee tuhoa! Jokainen meistä. Hänen tappaa minut. Kuten uskallat urheilun ja elämän? tee velvollisuus minua, ja minä teen sinun kanssasi ja muut ihmiset., jos hyväksyt ehtoni, ja minä annan sinulle rauhaa., mutta jos kieltäydyt, en lakkaa leuan kuolemaan saakka hän ei ole tyytyväinen veren pysyä ystävinä ”
and back to its mother tongue:
“Devil,” I exclaimed, “You’re afraid to play? And believe harsh reprisals put my hand on the head of a miserable fear? Away, nasty insects! Preferably in the room so I could crush into dust! And oh, I could have you killed so damn extinction miserable existence, restore those victims! ”
“I expected this reception,” said the demon. “All the people nenavidyatneschasten, because I hate that I was unhappy with all living things, but I take my God, despise me, creature, to whom thou art bound by ties that dissolves destruction! Each one of us. His killing me. As you dare to sport and life? Obliged to make me, and I will do business with you and other people., if you agree to my terms, and I will give you peace of mind., but if you refuse, I will never cease until the death of the jaw, he is not satisfied with the blood remain friends ”
And hear you may listen to the babelized mix, with the additions of Turkish and simplified Chinese mixed in…
And what can this teach us? That all the world’s a book, and stories are like monsters that take on a life of their own as we tell and retell them?
I’m not sure. But it sure is fun.
If I want to use a book as a paperweight, the author cannot stop me. If I want to use a book to level a chair, to flatten a flower, to use as a weapon, the author cannot stop me.
If I want to draw all over the pages, to carve my name into the words, to change the meanings with a scalpel or a Sharpie, the author cannot stop me. I can give my copy of your text to my dog, just to see what happens. You cannot stop me.
I want to take your text and give it to my algorithm. I want the words to react and to change. I want to create a million skewed copies, each with its own imperfections and improvements, for different readers, for different interactions, for new creations. I want to create fertile ground for a thousand flowers to bloom from a single seed.
The writer / philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti is quoted as having said that our souls all come from the same paper, but what makes us unique is the creases formed in the paper from all the folding and unfolding of our life experience. Give me your work in a thousand identical pages, and I will let the crowd start to fold.