Dada was a movement that wanted to be free, real, outrageous and idiotic. The tendency of the day was bourgeois and entrenched, and to achieve their goals in this stifling milieu the group of artists and reactionaries determined to oppose a wide range of things including: rationality, banality, armies and militarism, nationalism, brokers, personal identification and nostalgia.
I think we are in a similar place – bourgeois and entrenched – and that the dadist prescriptions from almost a hundred years ago are appropriate again for our time.
Following are some of the precepts of dada direct from the mouths of group members:
Intelligent man is now a standard type, but the thing we are short of is the idiotic. Dada is using all its strength to establish the idiotic everywhere.
Tristan Tzara, 1915
We wanted to bring forward a new kind of human being, free from the tyranny of rationality, of banality, of generals, fatherlands, nations, art dealers, microbes, residence permits and the past. To outrage public opinion was our basic principle.
Hans Richter, Dadaist painter
People think they can explain rationally, by means of thought, what they write. But it’s very relative. Thought is a fine thing for philosophy, but it’s relative. Psychoanalysis is a dangerous disease, it deadens man’s anti-real inclinations and systemizes the bourgeoisie.
Tristan Tzara’s Dada Manifesto
Filed under: departure lounge | Tags: Fictions, Filip Dujardin, photography
Filip Dujardin photography
illustrations from Vaught’s Practical Character Reader
Filed under: the sweet life, unseen world | Tags: delight, persona non grata, The Principles of Psychology, unnoticed, William James
“Have you ever been delighted in?” a counsellor once asked me, and I knew right away that I had. My ex girlfriend had that rare human ability to delight in another person and I felt in spades. It was a pure, innocent, abandoned love. I’m lucky to have felt it; it hasn’t happened since; and there’s the off chance I may feel it again some day. But I’m not holding my breath: as I’m sure you are aware, to be delighted in is a rare gift.
Have you ever felt invisible? That’s an experience we can all relate to. It’s on the opposite end of the scale from being delighted in. Where being delighted in floods us with a sense of worth and fulfillment, being ignored empties us out and leaves us cold and isolated. Delight inspires and being unnoticed ‘cuts us dead.’ Given the option between inspiration – life – and being cut to death, choose life: delight in someone and in turn let yourself be delighted in.
Here is a description of what it means to be unnoticed:
No more fiendish punishment could be devised, were such a thing physically possible, than that one should be turned loose in society and remain absolutely unnoticed by all the members thereof. If no one turned around when we entered, answered when we spoke, or minded what we did, but if every person we met ‘cut us dead,’ and acted as if we were non-existent things, a kind of rage and impotent despair would before long well up in us, from which the cruellest bodily torture would be relief.
William James, The Principles of Psychology, Boston, 1890
Filed under: brave new world, the sweet life | Tags: alain de botton, bohemian, bourgeois, failure, success
In our recent economic downturn, people say that there is a culling happening, that the brightest and the best are being retained in their companies while the dubious and slovenly are let go. They say that this is a good thing, as the fit become fitter and human progress is assured. No one really says what happens to all the people that slip through the cracks: trampled underfoot perhaps, but anyway out of sight out of mind.
This version of who sinks and who swims doesn’t fully square with my experience. I have found that, at least sometimes, the loyal and boring tend to rise quickly and entrench, while the smart get restless and make waves and are let go, or get bored and leave of their own accord.