Week 6: ‘Disassemblaging’, a product of Collaborative Writing

Is the combined smell within a train a product of the people or a product of the mode of transport?

I was on the Bakerloo line from start to finish. I got on at Elephant and Castle and went all the way to Harrow and Wealdstone.
It was a god-awful journey, a piece of immaterial performance fart.
There was a woman with sweaty armpits, a little boy picking his nose and a business man who seemed to have smoked a whole pack of 20 Sterling Fresh Clicks before his morning commute.
Why does the Bakerloo line smell like your grandma’s garage? And why does the Jubilee line smell like a hospital?
I don’t know, maybe a case study is needed.

When on a train, we associate smells within it to other things we have previously seen or smelt in life. This is called nostalgia, a condition in which your nose takes you back to a time when you last smelt that familiar odour.

A lot of people think Carroll was on drugs while writing the story and that is how he came up with Wonderland, but I believe he got his inspiration from the Bakerloo line – Sometimes it’s beautiful and sometimes it’s horrid.

Think about it… The queen of hearts must smell like raspberry pies, the Mad Hatter and March Hare, like custard cream and Earl Grey, the caterpillar surely smells like tobacco and the white rabbit, like a wet dog after a rainy day.
These are all smells you are not only likely but almost certain to find within the Bakerloo line. Can you see it now? The Bakerloo line as Wonderland, beautifully decorated with the caption ‘KILL’ underneath?


The text above is a compilation of re-arranged ‘stolen’ bits and sentences from a piece of collaborative writing – derived from an editing exercise –, with some additional text of mine, composed into a new satirical piece of writing.

The exercise – ‘Disassemblaging’ – consisted in experimenting with the process of collaborative digital writing – in this case, several people writing individually and simultaneously in one shared Google document –, creating an interactive dialogue of unedited, live text.

With no rules or limits to what we could do, destruction and corruption became a way of creating new bits of text, meaning we could cut into, interrupt and edit the content and context of each other’s original pieces of writing to create a collaborative outcome.

Something I found quite interesting about this experiment was our attitude towards each other and the exercise itself. We started off by being very polite and respectful of each other’s space, having only one paragraph each and writing only about our given themes, but as soon as realised we had no rules or limits, we dived into a loop of profanity and ridicule. “Interesting two-way dialogues were formed, topics expanded beyond the frame, humour and images were added”, Josefin (*) wrote on her blog.

In conclusion, ‘Disassemblaging’ proved itself to be a blast and exceeded our expectations, both in the matter of interest – for it was much more fun than we thought it would be at first – and functionality – I wasn’t sure good pieces of writing would come from it but I’m glad to confirm I was wrong. Collaborative writing is, in fact, a revolutionary method to an art that is – and has always been – traditionally solitary.

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