Microsoft Word has a wonderful non-sequitur device called AutoSummarize. For those of you who've never used it, it's sort of a cross between Cliff's Notes and William Burroughs. The function ranks a document's sentences by relevance (using an algorithm based on word frequency) and then cuts the less-relevant ones, creating a textual decollage of whatever length you specify.
It's no big surprise that the summaries are mostly incoherent: they consist of short, disjointed paragraphs centered on the same word or phrase like psychotic poetry. The repetition can be dull or hilarious depending on what source you use. Texts with eccentric diction, or that repeat a particularly weird phrase, can generate immensely entertaining results.
To show you what I mean, I've unleashed AutoSummarize on some classic literature - classic works having weirder language and thus more comedic potential. The results range from funny to funny and surprisingly accurate. Some, I'd argue, even improve upon their source in overall entertainment value.
We'll start with an epic maritime adventure. Herman Melville's Moby-Dick is regarded as one of the greatest novels of all time, and it yields one of the greatest summaries of all time as well.
or, THE WHALE
"Very like a whale." "Whales in the sea God's voice obey."
A shoal of Sperm Whales!
-CURRENTS AND WHALING. -CRUISE IN A WHALE BOAT.
-WHARTON THE WHALE KILLER.
"WHALING VOYAGE BY ONE ISHMAEL.
"Lost by a whale! THE WHALE NO FAMOUS AUTHOR, AND WHALING NO FAMOUS CHRONICLER? WHALING NOT RESPECTABLE? Whaling is imperial! NO DIGNITY IN WHALING?
A hot old man! There are whales hereabouts!
A white whale-did ye mark that, man? I. THE FOLIO WHALE; II. the OCTAVO WHALE; III. the DUODECIMO WHALE.
The SPERM WHALE; II. the RIGHT WHALE; III. the FIN-BACK WHALE; IV. the HUMP-BACKED WHALE; V. the RAZOR-BACK WHALE; VI. the SULPHUR-BOTTOM WHALE.
Among the fishermen, he is indiscriminately designated by all the following titles: The Whale; the Greenland Whale; the Black Whale; the Great Whale; the True Whale; the Right Whale. Broad-nosed whales and beaked whales; pike-headed whales; bunched whales; under-jawed whales and rostrated whales, are the fishermen's names for a few sorts.
If any of the following whales, shall hereafter be caught and marked, then he can readily be incorporated into this System, according to his Folio, Octavo, or Duodecimo magnitude:-The Bottle-Nose Whale; the Junk Whale; the Pudding-Headed Whale; the Cape Whale; the Leading Whale; the Cannon Whale; the Scragg Whale; the Coppered Whale; the Elephant Whale; the Iceberg Whale; the Quog Whale; the Blue Whale; etc. "What do ye do when ye see a whale, men?"
"A dead whale or a stove boat!"
"God bless ye, men. Horrible old man! white whale, shirr!
Terrible old man! "Ship ahoy! Have ye seen the White Whale?"
Jesu, what a whale! Pictures of Whaling Scenes.
The White Whale, the White Whale!"
All men live enveloped in whale-lines.
whale eat him, 'stead of him eat whale.
Genius in the Sperm Whale? "WHAT whale?"
"The WHITE Whale-a Sperm Whale-Moby Dick, have ye seen him?
Ship, old ship! old Ahab! the White Whale; he'll nail ye! "Ship, ahoy! Hast seen the White Whale?"
"Hast seen the White Whale!"
the White Whale spouts thick blood!"
Old man of oceans! "Aye, aye, men!" cried Ahab. Pip jumped from the whale-boat. Captain Ahab! "Thank ye, man. "Hast seen the White Whale?"
Have ye seen a whale-boat adrift?"
"Hast seen the White Whale?"
Forty years of continual whaling! Is Ahab, Ahab? "Man the mast-heads! Boats, boats!"
Man, man! "Mark well the whale!-Ho! "The whale! the ship! "The whale, the whale! "The ship! "The ship?
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