Immortal Monkey Writes Best-seller

The universe may be infinite, but good ideas are not, and it seems that we passed the last one some time ago. All Dax can write are sequels to something he’s already written. He has Sequel Syndrome, one of the side-effects of finishing a novel.

The other side-effect is a never-ending cycle of elation and self-disparagement. Part 1: I finished! Yeah! And it’s good! (Imagines himself discussing his book with Oprah.) Part 2: This is no good – I’m a terrible writer! What was I thinking? (Imagines rejection letter that begins: Dear Author of the worst book ever written…)

Everything has already been said. It’s just that everyone hasn’t said it yet. When that happens, we will know that the end is near. The world will end when every person on earth has written a novel about vampires.

Dax is a pessimist, but there is no reason to expect Armageddon any time soon. In the mean time, he will keep writing and remind himself about the Shakespeare-writing monkeys. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infinite_monkey_theorem )

money-on-typewriter

We’re not going to debate whether it’s possible for those monkeys to produce the complete works of Shakespeare or not. We’re not going to ask ourselves whether those monkeys are immortal, or take time out from writing to produce offspring who begin banging on typewriters the minute they leave the womb. Nor will we wonder why they don’t use computers. Obviously, immortal monkeys care nothing about spell-check and have the leisure to type slowly if they feel like it.

What we are asking ourselves is, “What else would the monkeys produce?”

Theoretically, they would produce every possible sentence that can be written or spoken. It’s quite possible that one of them will write something better than the last novel Dax wrote. (Imagines Oprah interviewing monkey.)

Dax suspects that it would be much easier to write if he had monkeys. All he would have to do is edit their work by crossing out sentences like Monkey breaks an engaging religion into the relaxing cry. Shakespeare bolts the message on top of the postponed moral. Monkey abstracts a herd before the violin. Monkey recycles the positive mumble into a knife. The volunteer jams against the cathedral.

In the real world, monkeys are not necessary. People have invented programs that can produce infinite sentences. The paragraph you just read was not written by monkeys, but by a sentence generator. (http://tiny.cc/osaTN) Keep clicking the ‘new sentence’ button, and you’ll eventually get Hamlet. Or the next best-selling novel.

Is the Random Sentence Generator a cure for Idea Deficiency Syndrome? Probably not, but it’s a good way to waste time while pretending to write.

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