A Dadaist creative exercise which works in a few ways. The exquisite corpse poem is either created by random word selection (such as drawing words out of a hat or blindly stabbing at words on flipped dictionary pages) or by passing a paper around in a circle and having everyone add a word to the poem without looking at the prior text. The first poem generated by this means read: "The Exquisite Corpse shall feast on the new wine" (Well, "Le cadavre exquis boira le vin nouveau") and the name stuck.

Exquisite corpse drawings are created in a similar manner, but with pictures instead of text - often depicting a human figure divided up into head, torso, legs, and feet each by a different artist and in a different style.

The drawing method is the way I prefer to play. Of course, last time we played, there was oil paint involved, which made everything messy. I stuck with black marker, making my section of the corpse more minimalist.

To do this, fold a long piece of paper over 3 or 4 or 5 times, then on the top section draw something resembling a head, maybe try and get the neck section to go a little bit onto the next folded piece, then fold it around such that the next section (below your just drawn head) is visible, pass it along. Repeat. Then hopefully when you unfold the thing you have a full body.


Also refered to as exquisite cadaver. Well described in the book "Games Surrealists Play", along with other similar mental exercizes.
Admittedly, I'm a bit confused about the difference between Dadaism and Surrealism.

The Exquisite Corpse is also the name of an e-zine at corpse.org.

American literary journal edited by Andrei Codrescu, founded in 1983. Happy to enrage academia, the journal was called "lively," "contreversial," and sometimes the New Yorker of the Avant-garde. (Not meant to be a compliment). Codrescu and staff relished debate and good writing. Gaining more mainstream popularity in the 1990s, its essays were reprinted in Harper's, Playboy, and the Utne Reader. In 1998, paper publication ceased and the journal moved entirely to the Web at http://www.corpse.org.

Exquisite Corpse is Poppy Z. Brite's third novel. It is described as "two serial killers looking for love in New Orleans".

It appears to be inspired by Jeffrey Dahmer. Certainly Andrew's escape seems inspired by a quotation Brite puts between the title page and the story proper:

"Records of the 1994 autopsy of serial killer Jeffey Dahmer reveal that officials kept Dahmer's body shackled at the feet during the entire procedure, 'such was the fear of this man', according to pathologist Robert Huntington." (Milwaukee Journal - AP, 17 March, 1995.)
Perhaps Brite read this and thought, "What if Dahmer had got up from the autopsy table?" The character of Jay, in particular, seems based on Dahmer: Jay has sex with, kills and eats his victims. He dissolves the bodies in vats of acid and keeps several body parts in a storeroom. An incident towards the end of the book, where Tran escapes from Jay, only to be returned to him by the police, is reminiscent of Konerak Sinthasomphone (as described by burkingman and jonrc in the Jeffrey Dahmer node). Even the names are similar: Dahmer claims Sinthasomphone was called John Hmong, while Jay claims Tran is called John Lam. Another similarity with Dahmer is that Jay lures victims by asking if they will pose for photographs.

In a nutshell, the plot is as follows (spoilers here - I am going to tell you how it ends):

Andrew Compton is a HIV-positive, necrophiliac serial killer doing life in Lower Slaughter prison, England. He fakes death in an Indian-mystic kind of way, escapes from the autopsy and catches a plane to America. There, in New Orleans, he meets Jay Byrne, a sadistic, cannibalistic serial killer. They become lovers, and Jay attempts to introduce Andrew to cannibalism. Andrew convinces Jay to kill Tran Vinh, a young Vietnamese drug dealer who is besotted with Jay. Before this can happen, Luke Ransom, Tran's HIV-positive, heroin-addicted, permanently angry ex-lover shows up, although he fails to rescue Tran due to Jay's bribing the police. On his second attempt, Luke shows up after Jay and Andrew have killed Tran, and kills Jay in return. The book ends with Jay and Tran rotting, Luke shooting up and Andrew on a plane having a Jay sandwich. Got that?

Not her best book, but certainly her most disturbing1, and extremely well-written.

Exquisite Corpse was published in England in 1997 by Phoenix, and my copy cost £5.99. The cover art shows a blindfolded male head and shoulders.

1Update: having finally read Drawing Blood, I'd now say "joint most disturbing".

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