Dadaisn’tism: Copious Habeas (and other assorted frothy nothings)

Dada - Jasyaspora by Jay Schwartz“I know that you have come here today to hear explanations. Well, don’t expect to hear any explanations about Dada. You explain to me why you exist. You haven’t the faintest idea.”
 – Tristan Tzara
“I like to sleep. There is no set time of day for sleep. You sleep when you’re tired, that’s all there is to it.”
Thelonious Monk


It’s not easy tipping the planet back on it’s axis. Somewhere along the way, our way of life fell into a form of ‘gimbal lock‘. With reference to the Apollo 11 Moon mission, I could explain what this condition means, but doing so would detract from its poetic ‘bombasity’. And, after all, what would be the point of enjoying poetic license if I couldn’t take liberties with the ‘unliberated’? Which brings me to the point of this post …

Detail_Hoch-Cut_With_the_Kitchen_KnifeOver the coming weeks, I’ve decided to write a manifesto of sorts. I think everyone in existence should do so at one point or another in his or her life … to one extent or another. You see, as a society, we have fallen victim to complacency and convenience. Rather than taking an active role in shaping our society, or lack thereof, we have grown accustomed to waiting for the terms of liberty to be dictated to us, rather than asserting them for ourselves. We have allowed ourselves to be conditioned into waiting in ‘standby mode’ for a new set of directives to come sloshing down though the ‘mainstream media’ pipeline. In the meantime, we whittle away our time fashioning mental sticks upon which we will hang the carrotesque objects of our desire, described to us in tantalizingly delirious detail in advertisements big and small (quantities limited, operators are standing by to take your order once you have mortgaged yourself into oblivion).

For every action there is a reaction. Did the chicken come before the egg? No one needs to be told how to breathe. Get my point? I think you do. As such, I hereby declare the following declaration of non-conformity (and other assorted cognitive constructs of jiggery-pokery):

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

The following proclamation approximates an authentic simulation of the original message known by all. Therefore, while it’s pointless to rehash that which is obvious, the public is hereby served notice that the information the follows serves the common good of all disinterested parties. So there.

That on this day of this month, in the year of the snake, two thousand and thirteen, all persons held as slaves to the establishment, be it social structure or etiquette, fashion, academia, Wall Street, or their own peculiar aberrant mindsets, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free. I call upon the ‘powers that be’ and all good men to recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons (such as myself) and to do no act or acts to repress such persons in any efforts they may make for their actual, intellectual or creative freedom.

In making this statement, no rights are reserved, except for the right to silence, which has now been waived. Obviously.

Finally,  I hereby enjoin upon the people, so declared to be free, to abstain from all forms of violence, unless in necessary self-defense; and I recommend to them that, in all cases when allowed, they abstain faithfully from all forms of labor for unreasonable wages.

And now the legal mumbo-jumbo for those of the establishment oriented persuasion:


There are no exceptions since there are no rules. Nonetheless, this proclamation may only be rescinded under the threat of transmutation or transmogrification.

Fair Use Statement

Notwithstanding yet to be written sections, the fair use of this non-copyrighted declaration, including such non-use by reproduction for purposes such as criticism, lavish praise, comment (non-sequitur or otherwise), news creation, teaching, brainwashing, kindergarten scholarship, or pseudo-intellectual research, is not an infringement of copyright, but rather an impingement of wit. Let the buyer beware, too.

The fact that this work is published at all shall not itself bar a finding of unfair use if such finding is made upon consideration of other factors (the usual suspects) conspicuous by their absence.

Perambulatory Post-Preamble

The property of this subject is under the public domain of the people since the ’eminent domain’ of the state was far less than interested in it. Nevertheless, constituents of state or anyone who acts for themselves in good conscience may use and even alienate or destroy such property, not only in the case of extreme necessity, which may come at any moment, but for ends of public utility, to which ends those who founded civil society must no doubt be opposed. It is to be added that when this is done the state or its duly authorized representatives are  bound to make good the loss to those who lose their property on a regular basis. Given that even private persons have a right over the property of others, the author of this work would like a cut of the action, as well.

Writ Of Execution

Ready. Set. Aim. Fire. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Literature Review

In his magnum opus, ‘Dada Manifesto’, Tristan Tzara states, “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.”

Tzara further explains that “Dada is a state of mind. That is why it transforms itself according to races and events. Dada applies itself to  everything, and yet it is nothing, it is the point where the yes and the no and all the opposites meet, not solemnly in  the castles of human philosophies, but very simply at street  corners, like dogs and grasshoppers. Like everything in life, Dada is useless. Dada is without pretension, as life should be.” I concur. So there.

Jazz bassist extraordinaire Charles Mingus (1977) suggests that “Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.” Dissimilarly, Max Ernst (1996) claims that “Art has nothing to do with taste. Art is not there to be tasted.” Moreover, Hugo Ball (Eiger, 2004) concludes that “What is generally termed reality is, to be precise, a frothy nothing.” As such, any conclusion by this author on the nature of dadaisn’tism is eschewed with open arms. Suffice it to say that as much as Dada is and Dada isn’t, I declare my abstraction from conformity … and convention!


Following the reading of this text, tell your doctor immediately if any of these unlikely but serious side effects occur: persistent nausea/vomiting/diarrhea, muscle cramps/weakness, irregular heartbeat, dizziness, decreased urination, mental/mood changes (such as confusion).


Tristan Tzara From “Dada Manifesto” [1918] and “Lecture on Dada” [1922]. Unless you are academically anal-retentive, look it up on Google. For the aforementioned pseudo-intellectuals, however, I suggest this: Dada Painters and Poets, by Robert Motherwell, New York, pp. 78- 9, 81, 246-51 ; reprinted by permission of George Wittenborn, Inc., Publishers, 10l8 Madison Avenue, New York 21, N.Y.

Eiger, D. (2004). Dadaismus. Taschen.

Ernst, Max (1996). Sculptures by Max Ernst, Jürgen Pech, and Ida Gianelli, p.11 

Mingus, Charles, 1977. Mainliner (July 1977), as quoted in Creativity and the writing process (1982) by Olivia Bertagnolli, p. 182


Suggested Dada Links

On Tristan Tzara from the The Art History Archive


From MoMA Learning: Discover how Dada artists used chance, collaboration, and language as a catalyst for creativity.

Don Dada (When Words Fail) … [Note: I wrote this thus making it a ‘must read’]

Cabaret Voltaire

Occupy Dada!

Archives Dada – More dada art than you can shake your head at … 

Suggested Viewing

Dada – Some HIstory – Your Dada aBc’s from on Vimeo. For YouTube, click here (in 3 parts):


Suggested Reading




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