The Policeman’s Beard Is Half-Constructed [...]

Book cover
Book cover

Book of prose and poetry completely written by a computer, using the Racter program. It was an early example of computer generated poetry and prose and claims to be the first computer-generated book.

It appears to have used more of a “mad libs” approach to text production than other approaches. (wikipedia)

The book is freely available as a pdf. (pdf)

Some selections from the work below, including the beautiful illustrations by Joan Hall.

“Helene spies herself in the enthralling conic-section yet she is but an enrapturing reflection of Bill. His consciousness contains a mirror, a sphere in which to unfortunately see Helene. She adorns her soul with desire while he watches her and widens his thinking about enthralling love. Such are their reflections. “

“Many enraged psychiatrists are inciting a weary butcher. The butcher is weary and tired because he has cut meat and steak and lamb for hours and weeks. He does not desire to chant about anything with raving psychiatrists but he sings about his gingivectomist, he dreams about a single cosmologist, he thinks about his dog. The dog is named Herbert.”

Sample page layout:
Sample page layout: “Can maids know galaxies and even stars…”


Joan Hall is still a working artist and has a site for those interested in her art. (site)

The question of whether algorithms can be art is well-studied. See Computational Creativity

Some of these illustrations are reminiscent of the graphic novel Asterios Polyp

The text often resembles Markov chain text, like that found at this Darwin/Cormac McCarthy experiment. (Link)

Newer methods of computer writing are more sophisticated. See Philip Parker.

via The Policeman’s Beard is Half Constructed.