As you may – or may not – have noticed, I have re-published a couple of interviews with the experimental writer Jean-Pierre Sertin. During the course of these interviews, he mentions something called ‘Intercutting’. Those with fine and delicate memories may recall that Underneath the Bunker used to have a page dedicated to ‘Intercutting’. Alas, no longer. But fear not: ‘Intercuttings’ will return.
Before they do, I suppose I ought to explain what it is that they are. This is not easily done. Fortunately I have to hand a description written by Sertin himself:
In the simplest sense, an ‘intercutting’ is a piece of prose spanning thirty lines, consisting of two seperate fifteen line stories ‘cut’ into one another. The significance of this exciting medium is best explained from within the form itself, like so:
Living in the city, or simply in the modern world, we are almost
in films, an intercut happens when two different streams
always surrounded by myriads of stories: fiction and non-fiction
of narrative are spliced together, or perhaps sliced
beckoning us from advertising boards, snatches of mobile phone
apart, in order to produce a spark of creative contrast
conversations, news reports, books we’re reading, music we’re
in the space between their divergent images – this
listening to, even our thoughts: our memories and our fantasies – all
cinematic technique offers all sorts of possibilities if
these narratives competing for space, sometimes all at the same
reconceived to work in a written context. One of the most
time. Some people call it information overload. And yet most of
obvious, if surface, pleasures is the unexpected marriage
us have developed the curious talent of compartmentalising, so
of phrases or images that the conscious mind would have struggled
that we are able to jump from a story about a deadly famine to a
to produce, though this is necessarily elusive, based as it is
a review of a children’s film without thinking it odd. Intercutting,
on chance. Of deeper significance is the way in which
on the other hand, confronts this absurd world of alternate
the pair of narratives can work to undermine the
narratives, telling two stories at once, which are to be read as one.
complacency of each other by offering an oblique
It plays with juxtapositions, relying both on surrealist accident and
commentary or criticism, by approaching the same idea
deliberate contrast; the stories chosen to go together, but ordered
in a different tone or voice, by taking a repeated word
without reference to the manner in which they form a single story.
or image and spinning an alternative world – a partial truth.
There you have it.