“Kenosha Kid (@YouNeverDidThe)” by Darius Kazemi

 Profile summary Kenosha Kid Tweets Following Followers 2,576 1 35 Kenosha Kid @YouNeverDidThe  Brute-forcing an episode from Gravity's Rainbow. Tweets every two hours. By @tinysubversions.  Kenosha · itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagel… Bot Bot BestOf TheBots Matt Schneider Bot Performance  Followed by Bot Bot, BestOf TheBots, Matt Schneider and 4 others.      Kenosha Kid ‏@YouNeverDidThe 39m      You! Never, did the Kenosha Kid...     Details     Kenosha Kid ‏@YouNeverDidThe 3h      You never! Did... The. Kenosha! Kid...     Details  Go to full profile
Open “Kenosha Kid (@YouNeverDidThe)” by Darius Kazemi

This bot is “brute-forcing an episode from [Thomas Pynchon’s novel] Gravity’s Rainbow” by tweeting the words “you never did the Kenosha kid” with different punctuation every two hours. The bot description links to a Language Log entry that explains the episode– basically about a man who, under the effects of sodium amytal, goes on “an obsessive meditation on alternative possible analyses of the six-word sequence ‘you never did the kenosha kid.'” Inspired by the algorithm described here, Darius Kazemi created a bot that seeks all the possible combinations of that word sequence with punctuation (and appropriate capitalization). The result is a tour-de-brute-force of different syntactic structures and meanings that can emerge from this simple string of words. Try reading the following tweets out loud.

And it goes on. Some versions are more grammatically correct than others, but even when the punctuation doesn’t make grammatical sense, it can prompt a unique reading performance from a reader. Reading these lines aloud reminds us of how, like programming, language and punctuation can be executable when treated as a score or notation to produce a vocal performance. Writing doesn’t always render phonetic results, of course, as can be seen in Kazemi’s witty use of the bot’s name and Twitter handle.

Closeup of Twitter name and handle: "Kenosha Kid / @YouNeverDidTHe"

Conceptually, this bot is akin to other generative works, such as the recently reviewed @BabellingBorges, @DiGRAthemes, and @PERMUTANT. The amount of possible combinations of punctuation is astronomical, enough to last many years of tweets, and that is with a conservative set of punctuation marks. Imagine the possibilities for even greater diversity if the bot expanded its repertoire to include line breaks or some of the new rhetorical punctuation marks generated by @SketchCharacter. Scanning through the tweets reveals some repetition (see this tweet and this earlier one), which suggests that we have a randomly generated process which doesn’t try to avoid repetition– which is fine, but it indicates that even if you read every tweet, you will never see the bot completely “do” all the combinations of the “Kenosha kid” phrase.

Coda: When searching GitHub to see if Kazemi had published the code, I found an empty repository named kenoshakid. There’s no information about who created the account, so I’ll just take the opportunity to publicly ask Kazemi (or whoever created it) a quick question: You never did the kenoshakid?

Update: Darius Kazemi’s brilliant response when I posed the question on Twitter:

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