You can see how Bowie performed his cut-up composition in the 1970s in the clip above, in which he demonstrates and explains his version of the method. “What I’ve used it for, more than anything else, is igniting anything that might be in my imagination,” he says. “It can often come up with very interesting attitudes to look into. I tried doing it with diaries and things, and I was finding out amazing things about me and what I’d done and where I was going.”
Given what he sees as its ability to shed light on both the future and the past, he describes the cut-up method as “a very Western tarot” — and one that can provide just the right unexpected combination of sentences, phrases, or words to inspire a song.
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