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William S Burroughs Explorer

http://www.bigtable.com/

The Web browser joke in the title seems appropriate. Coming soon: the Genetscape Navigator? Burroughs has always been fascinated by technology but there remain inescapable paradoxes in this neatly linked and layered account of the literary outlaw. Still, it's comprehensive and useful stuff, with the complete text of Naked Lunch, a detailed autobiography and cultural background to Uncle Bill's career. Best is the online version of the "cut- up" technique he used in the Sixties: enter a paragraph of your choice and it will be returned in various random permutations. The site's own author presents himself as a sort of Internet squatter - his pages occupy a "storefront" he says has been abandoned by the original owners of the URL.

One Thousand Valentine Poems

http://valentine.chadwyck.co.uk

Feeling tongue-tied as Valentine's Day approaches? Turn Romantic with a capital "R" this Friday and regale your loved one with poetry from Byron to Wordsworth, courtesy of this extensive database from online publisher Chadwyck-Healey. Search for the name of the beloved to produce a customised sonnet, or enter half-remembered lines for the full text: no entry for "Roses are red, violets are blue", but when you do strike lucky, a little palpitating heart highlights the result. The recipient(s) will be bowled over by your eloquence and command of the English literary tradition. Alternatively, they may actually prefer Hallmark and Gordon Fraser.

Grand Illusions

http://www.grand-illusions.com/places.htm

This UK site trades in scientific puzzles, the psychology of perception, "even a little magic". Explore - and demystify - magic mirrors, the Chinese singing-fountain bowl, why the moon seems larger as it approaches the horizon, and how Napoleon was poisoned by his wallpaper. It's less spectacular than some sites dedicated to optical and other trickery, but it delves more deeply into the explanations for such phenomena and challenges assumptions about the way we see things. As Professor Richard Gregory here points out, the perception of an object is never more than a likely hypothesis.

The Search for the Green Man

http://www.dent.demon.co.uk/

The term "click on the icon" acquires a new meaning when a real icon is involved - a medieval sculpture or a stained-glass panel in Notre Dame. Songwriter, comedian and travel writer Mike Harding has been pursuing representations of this mythical lord of misrule for 20 years and his account of the quest is amusing and unpretentious, despite some Golden- Boughish gestures: "Jesus is Osiris is Odin is John Barleycorn is the Holly King who is victorious over Winter and Death." There are lots of images from his photo album, and a personal enthusiasm that suggests Harding, a jester himself, of course, may be in search of his own archetypal roots.

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