Challenge #17: The Crack-Up Quarry

For today’s poetry challenge, I’m inspired to create a poem using the fold-in technique, made famous by William Burroughs.


Splicing together paragraphs from different books offers interesting juxtapositions of text and image. “When you cut into the present the future leaks out.” said Burroughs. I walked over to my bookcase and selected the first two books that caught my attention.


I opened to a random page — The Crack-Up, a collection of writings by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The book fell open at page 161; Scott Fitzgerald’s Notebooks, Section J, Jingles and Songs.

This is the story of Fitzgerald’s “crack-up”, his quick descent from success to failure and despair and his determined recovery. Fitzgerald died in 1940 at the age of 44. “Sometimes,” Scott Fitzgerald once said: “I don’t know whether I’m real or whether I’m a character in one of my own novels.”

The second ‘fold-in book’ is a crime novel called The Quarry by Swiss writer Friedrich Dürrenmatt200px-TheQuarry

“Inspector Hans Bärlach, at the end of his career and suffering from cancer, is recovering from an operation. He witnesses how his friend Dr. Samuel Hungertobel turns pale and becomes nervous when looking at a photograph in a magazine he is reading. The person pictured is the German Dr. Nehle who carried out horrific experiments on prisoners in a concentration camp in Gdansk (Poland) and is believed to have committed suicide in Chile in 1945. Dr Hungertobel explains that his colleague Fritz Emmenberger, who was in Chile during the war, closely resembles Dr. Nehle.”

I opened The Quarry at a random page and used a piece of plain white paper to cover half the words on that page. I used the same technique with the Fitzgerald book.

I merged half lines of two verses from the poem ‘Clay Feet’ on page 161 of Fitzgerald’s book with a paragraph of half lines from Dürrenmatt’s book.

This is the result of the fold-in experiment. For clarification, Fitzgerald’s words are in regular typeface, Dürrenmatt’s words are in italics.

The Crack-Up Quarry

I can see them, sometimes



was completely baffled. 

Ghosts, slim

Girls and

Graces —

Glasses.  He always did that when he was…

Noon burns, and soon there come

Times said the Commissioner.  He readily 

The pale and ravaged places

Wasn’t always easy to give shelter to

ago adorned. — And Seeing, 

 and he, Barlach, would have to bear 

falters as an invalid…

Clandestine alcoholic.  He would


Did something in their being

to call the clinic Sonnenstein in Zurich. 

From them when my ideal did?

A bed for Barlach under the name of

Ghosts, cast down by that young damning,

He should describe him as a freshly 

answer:  I heard but you say,

but rich patient

weak.  We failed a bit in shamming.

Want to go to (his colleague Fritz) Emmenberger? Dr Hungertobel

Will freedom always weigh…

and sat down.

My heart?  For your defection,

answered Balach.

Who had me in your keeping, break!  Fall

(Doctor Samuel) Hungertobel, “I don’t understand you.”

Height to this great imperfection!

“is dead” corrected the old man.  “Now…”

weep. —  Yet can I hate you all?


32 Innovations That Will Change Your Tomorrow – Interactive Feature –

Recently fellow WordPress blogger Jonathan Becher posted “10 Ideas That Are Changing Your Life”

I read his post and was curious to discover what he thought IDEAS 11-20 might be?

His reply came back: “Thanks Michele. Predicting the future is a difficult business but the NY Times had ’32 Innovations That Will Change Your Tomorrow’ a few weeks ago.”

Here’s a rundown of what the futurists are predicting will change your tomorrow.

32 Innovations That Will Change Your Tomorrow – Interactive Feature –

Force Fields

The trend towards hyper-vivid style befits our maximum complexity culture.

French philosopher and mystic Teilhard De Chardin

(born May 1, 1881, died April 10, 1955)

predicts the culmination of evolution as unified consciousness:

“Pushed one against the other by the growth of their number and by the proliferation of their connections, approached one to the other by the reawakening of a common force and by the feeling of a common anxiety, the future human kind will form nothing but an unified consciousness….Willingly or unwillingly, all our directions and needs converge to the same place.”

“In this progression towards an ever increasing complexity, of which the human being is the highest grade, evolution is not linear but proceeds by a series of quantitative then qualitative leaps. When a level of complexity reaches its point of maximum complexity, it jumps to a new different level and organization of its wholeness. The more matter becomes complex, the more it approaches to awareness. The propellant force of this evolution comes from the cosmic and all-encompassing physical-moral force of Love.”

Part Two

The apprentice of the universe picks up The Spectrum of Reality handbook and opens it to the first page.

House Style 101

The apprentice casts her eyes over The Secrets of the Aeons:

In 5000BC the myths were reversed and Zeus went from being the Serpent King to the Serpent Slayer – we’ve been residing in our own destruction ever since…

The DJ spins dual turntables retrograde and progressive.

Ways forward: not mercenary, not mechanical, not from memory.

She continues down the page more confused than ever!

She’s wondering… where’s the triumph?

Where’s the dreamer dreaming romantic vocabulary?

Didn’t she come here specifically to arrest the engineers of hypocrisy?

She pauses in her disappointment to remember the trio of gifts in her jacket pockets.

The new honey color nail polish; the pair of rose colored spectacles; The Promise that bears her initials.

“Ah-ha, now that’s more like it”, her voice echoes off the walls of the bedroom in her spaceship.

She’s determined to reclaim peaceful latitudes from deep pockets and clouds of swirling dust.

Preserving what comes naturally to her…connecting the worldview.

She ripples her fingers over the map of the world on page two.

As she places her firm hands over countries in conflict she realizes, not for the first time, that her pockets are filled with love and reasons to fear nothing at all.