Raymond Queneau: the graph of 100,000 billion poems
"In 1960, the Col- lège de Pataphysique founded its own literary chapter, the Oulipo (Ouvroir de littérature potentielle, “Workshop of Potential Literature"). Its core members were Raymond Queneau and mathematician François Le Lionnais. Earlier in 1947, Queneau had spelled out his own obsessions with mathematics, encyclopedism and street slang in the Exercices de Style, a narrative of one short everyday scene in 99 different stylistic variations.46 In 1961, he extended this concept into a computational poem, the 100,000 Billion Poems, a combinatory sonnet in ten variations.47 It was printed in a book whose lines were individually sliced so that each line of poem could be turned like a page and picked from ten alternatives. From ten alternatives for the twelve sonnet lines, 1012 possible poem combinations result. Queneau subverts the rigorous classicism of the sonnet form and its Alexandrine meter through slang colloquialisms and through stereotypes sarcastically perpetuated in the poems."