a roaring of tense colors and interlacing of opposites (on dada)

THERE ISLITERATURE that does not reach the vo­ra­cious mass. It is the work of cre­ators, is­sued from a real ne­ces­sity in the au­thor, pro­duced for him­self. It ex­presses the knowl­edge of a supreme ego­ism, in which laws wither away.

Every page must ex­plode, ei­ther by pro­found heavy se­ri­ous­ness, the whirl­wind, po­etic frenzy, the new, the eter­nal, the crush­ing joke, en­thu­si­asm for prin­ci­ples, or by the way in which it is printed.

On the one hand a tot­ter­ing world in flight, be­trothed to the glock­en­spiel of hell, on the other hand: new men. Rough, bounc­ing, rid­ing on hic­cups. Be­hind them a crip­pled world and lit­er­ary quacks with a ma­nia for im­prove­ment.

I say unto you: there is no be­gin­ning and we do not trem­ble, we are not sen­ti­men­tal. We are a fu­ri­ous Wind, tear­ing the dirty linen of clouds and prayers, prepar­ing the great spec­ta­cle of dis­as­ter, fire, de­com­po­si­tion.

We will put an end to mourn­ing and re­place tears by sirens screech­ing from one con­ti­nent to an­other. Pavil­ions of in­tense joy and wid­ow­ers with the sad­ness of poi­son.

DADA is the sign­board of ab­strac­tion; ad­ver­tis­ing and busi­ness are also el­e­ments of po­etry.

I de­stroy the draw­ers of the brain and of so­cial or­ga­ni­za­tion: spread de­mor­al­iza­tion wher­ever I go and cast my hand from heaven to hell, my eyes from hell to heaven, re­store the fe­cund wheel of a uni­ver­sal cir­cus to ob­jec­tive forces and the imag­i­na­tion of every in­di­vid­ual.

Phi­los­o­phy is the ques­tion: from which side shall we look at life, God, the idea or other phe­nom­ena. Every­thing one looks at is false. I do not con­sider the rel­a­tive re­sult more im­por­tant than the choice be­tween cake and cher­ries af­ter din­ner.

The sys­tem of quickly look­ing at the other side of a thing in or­der to im­pose your opin­ion in­di­rectly is called di­alec­tics, in other words, hag­gling over the spirit of fried pota­toes while danc­ing method around it. If I cry out:




I have given a pretty faith­ful ver­sion of progress, law, moral­ity and all other fine qual­i­ties that var­i­ous highly in­tel­li­gent men have dis­cussed in so manv books, only to con­clude that af­ter all every­one dances to his own per­sonal boom­boom, and that the writer is en­ti­tled to his boom­boom:

the sat­is­fac­tion of patho­log­i­cal cu­rios­ity;

a pri­vate bell for in­ex­plic­a­ble needs; 

a bath;

pe­cu­niary dif­fi­cul­ties;

a stom­ach with reper­cus­sions in life;

the au­thor­ity of the mys­tic wand for­mu­lated as the bou­quet of a phan­tom or­ches­tra made up of silent fid­dle bows greased with philtres made of chicken ma­nure.

With the blue eye-glasses of an an­gel they have ex­ca­vated the in­ner life for a dime’s worth of unan­i­mous grat­i­tude. If all of them are right and if all pills are Pink Pills, let us try for once not to be right.

Some peo­ple think they can ex­plain ra­tio­nally, by thought, what they think. But that is ex­tremely rel­a­tive.


Psy­cho­analy­sis is a dan­ger­ous dis­ease, it puts to sleep the anti-objective im­pulses of men and sys­tem­atizes the bour­geoisie. There is no ul­ti­mate Truth.

The di­alec­tic is an amus­ing mech­a­nism which guides us /

in a ba­nal kind of way /

to the opin­ions we had in the first place.

Does any­one think that, by a minute re­fine­ment of logic, he has demon­strated the truth and es­tab­lished the cor­rect­ness of these opin­ions?

Logic im­pris­oned by the senses is an or­ganic dis­ease. To this el­e­ment philoso­phers al­ways like to add: the power of ob­ser­va­tion. But ac­tu­ally this mag­nif­i­cent qual­ity of the mind is the proof of its im­po­tence. We ob­serve, we re­gard from one or more points of view, we choose them among the mil­lions that ex­ist.

Ex­pe­ri­ence is also a prod­uct of chance and in­di­vid­ual fac­ul­ties. Sci­ence dis­gusts me as soon as it be­comes a spec­u­la­tive sys­tem, loses its char­ac­ter of utility-that is so use­less but is at least in­di­vid­ual. 

I de­test greasy ob­jec­tiv­ity, and har­mony, the sci­ence that finds every­thing in or­der. Carry on, my chil­dren, hu­man­ity . . .

Sci­ence says we are the ser­vants of na­ture: every­thing is in or­der, make love and bash your brains in. Carry on, my chil­dren, hu­man­ity, kind bour­geois and jour­nal­ist vir­gins . . .


I am against sys­tems, the most ac­cept­able sys­tem is on prin­ci­ple to have none. To com­plete one­self, to per­fect one­self in one’s own lit­tle­ness, to fill the ves­sel with one’s in­di­vid­u­al­ity, to have the courage to fight for and against thought, the mys­tery of bread, the sud­den burst of an in­fer­nal pro­peller into eco­nomic lilies . . . 

Every prod­uct of dis­gust ca­pa­ble of be­com­ing a nega­tion of the fam­ily is DADA;

a protest with the fists of its whole be­ing en­gaged in de­struc­tive ac­tion: DADA;

knowl­edge of all the means re­jected up un­til now by the shame­faced sex of com­fort­able com­pro­mise and good man­ners: DADA;

abo­li­tion of logic, which is the dance of those im­po­tent to cre­ate: DADA;

of every so­cial hi­er­ar­chy and equa­tion set up for the sake of val­ues by our valets: DADA;

every ob­ject, all ob­jects, sen­ti­ments, ob­scu­ri­ties, ap­pari­tions and the pre­cise clash of par­al­lel lines are weapons for the fight: DADA;

abo­li­tion of mem­ory: DADA;

abo­li­tion of ar­chae­ol­ogy: DADA;

abo­li­tion of prophets: DADA;

abo­li­tion of the fu­ture: DADA;

ab­solute and un­ques­tion­able faith in every god that is the im­me­di­ate prod­uct of spon­tane­ity: DADA;

el­e­gant and un­prej­u­diced leap from a har­mony to the other sphere;

tra­jec­tory of a word tossed like a screech­ing phono­graph record;

to re­spect all in­di­vid­u­als in their folly of the mo­ment: whether it be se­ri­ous, fear­ful, timid, ar­dent, vig­or­ous, de­ter­mined, en­thu­si­as­tic;

to di­vest one’s church of every use­less cum­ber­some ac­ces­sory;

to spit out dis­agree­able or amorous ideas like a lu­mi­nous wa­ter­fall, or cod­dle them — with the ex­treme sat­is­fac­tion that it doesn’t mat­ter in the least — with the same in­ten­sity in the thicket of one’s soul — pure of in­sects for blood well-born, and gilded with bod­ies of archangels. 

Free­dom: DADA DADA DADA, a roar­ing of tense col­ors, and in­ter­lac­ing of op­po­sites and of all con­tra­dic­tions, grotesques, in­con­sis­ten­cies:

LIFE . . . 




From Dada Man­i­festo by Tris­tan Tzara on March 23, 1918, trans­lated from the French by Robert Moth­er­well in his book, Dada Painters And Po­ets (1951, pic­tured above). In­cred­i­ble ed­i­to­r­ial li­cense — bor­der­ing on the brazen the nos­tal­gic the wan­ton — taken by me in set­ting this to type for this post to make a point the point that Dada has no point as life has no point so get thee hence and be point­less and en­joy a roar­ing of tense col­ors and in­ter­lac­ing of op­po­sites this day every day!

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