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

Es­ti­mated reading time is 5 min­utes.

THERE IS A LITERATURE 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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