I could tell you how many steps make up the streets rising like stairways, and of the degree of the arcades' curves, and what kind of zinc scales cover the roofs; but I already know this would be the same as telling you nothing. The city does not consist of this, but of relationships between the measurements of its space and the events of its past...A description of Zaira as it is today should contain all Zaira's past. -Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Statistically improbable phrases

I am undoubtedly way behind the curve on this, but I just came across Amazon.com's statistically improbable phrases:

Amazon.com's Statistically Improbable Phrases, or "SIPs", are the most distinctive phrases in the text of books in the Search Inside! program. To identify SIPs, our computers scan the text of all books in Search Inside. If they find a phrase that occurs a large number of times in a particular book relative to all Search Inside books, that phrase is a SIP in that book.

So, I just had to play around...

spurious elements from The Tourist
our unfortunate client from The Complete Sherlock Holmes
waxwing slain from Pale Fire

Makes me want to compose my own story--I had to remove the spurious elements from our unfortunate client's story; he kept referring to the waxwing slain by a bird.

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