Down To Clown: Dadaism Meets Occupy Wall Street

'Dada Manisfestation' by Jay Schwartz“Every word that is spoken and sung here (the Cabaret Voltaire) represents at least this one thing: that this humiliating age has not succeeded in winning our respect.”
– Hugo Ball
 
“Apparently nothing will ever teach these people that the other 99 percent of the population exist.”
– George Orwell

 

It’s just another day on planet Earth. The warmongers are rattling their sabers. The power-mongers are scheming. Political pundits, regardless of their place in the political void, are preaching to their own choirs, and pseudo-intellectuals everywhere are mentally masturbating over whether or not the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement has faded away, even as its 2-year anniversary approaches.

Meanwhile, the rich (1%) are getting richer, the poor (99%) are getting poorer … and the ‘dadas’ are still creatively angst-ridden, at least this one is. Oh, and while we’re on the subject of existential angst, please note that I ‘might’ be facing deportation at sometime in the near future. Despite what my lawyer says, I reserve the right to be paranoid.

After all, having traded ‘standard of living’ for ‘quality of life’ about 18 years ago, I remain an American living in Greece, or so my pedigree and permanent resident papers claim, despite my personal non-conformity to either countries’ national norms.

Speaking of norms, I can’t help but draw a parallel between OWS and Dadaism, especially in regard to both movements’ anti-establishment stance on ‘the system’. In the faces of both personal and societal upheaval, both movements delight in rejecting the logic and reason of a fallacious zeitgeist that slavishly adheres to a system of personal slavery that’s been irrevocably broken for quite some time.

Of course, some people just don’t get it, claiming that it is human nature to bring order to what is perceived as chaos. Regardless of the fact that chaos may very well have its own brand of symmetry, hair-loss becomes rampant for some when presented with a square peg and a round hole.

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Free Dada Riot

'Dada Hero' by Jay Schwartz Dada is like your hopes: nothing.
Like your paradise: nothing.
Like your idols: nothing.
Like your heroes: nothing.
Like your artists: nothing.
Like your religions: nothing.
-Francis Picabia
 
“In those days we were all Dadaists. If the word meant anything at all, it meant seething discontent, dissatisfaction and cynicism. Defeat and political ferment always give rise to that sort of movement.”
– George Grosz

 

How often do you bang your head against the same wall? Why is it so hard to learn some lessons? Why are we addicted to stupidity and denial? Why are we suckers for flights of fancy? Why do we allow our egos to get the best of us?

These question are easily answered, but require large dollops of mind altering ‘faith’ that are not easily swallowed. In fact, by nature our egos detest blind-faith in anything. So instead we moan, groan and bitch about life and learn to mentally masturbate ourselves into insanity and denial.

Now, no one said life itself was easy. In fact, no one said anything of any nature! We arrive in this plane of existence with no guarantees. We have no receipt for the deeds of past lives; we are born with a clean slate. Our whole lives are ahead of us … followed by our inevitable deaths. Whether we will be granted another ‘go’ on the carousel of life is a matter of speculation … especially for the blind leading the blind.

In the meantime, God (fill-in this space with of your choice here or enter ‘not applicable’ if you are an atheist/agnostic) gives us different talents, abilities and proficiencies to help us get by in terms of finding happiness and maintaining our sanity. Yet, we regularly misuse or ignore these capacities, preferring instead to enslave ourselves to a system we call ‘the establishment’ that sucks away on our life force on a daily basis. This ‘golden calf’ keeps us distracted from what’s important in life, while it encourages us to look over ‘there’ to what we are ‘without’, rather than over ‘here’ to what would constitute as ‘within’.

Yet for some, questions persist …

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Dada Bing Dada Boom: The Art Of Human Ineptness

Dada Payload by Jay Schwartz“What we call dada is foolery, foolery extracted from the emptiness in which all the higher problems are wrapped, a gladiator’s gesture, a game played with the shabby remnants… A public execution of false morality.”
– Hugo Ball
 
“Dada aimed to destroy the reasonable deceptions of man and recover the natural and unreasonable order.”
– Hans Jean Arp

 

The other day I found a large dead cockroach laying upside down in the middle of the sidewalk in front of the post office. It was a variety of which I had rarely seen in the years I’ve lived here in Salonica, but very close to the type of palmetto bugs that are the norm in Miami, where I was born. I had no idea how it had gotten there, but I nonetheless had the distinct feeling it must have fallen from the sky. It certainly hadn’t mailed itself to Greece.

The sight of it took me off guard and I pondered its possible existential meaning for a few moments before I continued down the street towards a distant bus-stop. While riding the bus, I thought about the life of a cockroach … and its end, whether by poisoning, being cannibalized by other bugs, or falling victim to a crushing flip-flop. I confess trying to find some Zen-like answer for its sudden appearance in my life at that particular moment. In truth, I never found an answer, and in fact I still have no idea why I even feel compelled to write about it in this post.

It was just one of those insignificant transient moments in life that shake you to your very core. In the words of ‘Billy’ Shakespeare, however, it was really just ‘much ado about nothing’. Yet, even today, it’s still hard to just let go of the significance of that ‘unprocessed’ moment … because it remains an insult to both my ego the super-ego. (Note: the id conscientiously objected to comment.)

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Don Dada (When Words Fail)

Hoch-Cut_With_the_Kitchen_KnifeEclecticism is the word. Like a jazz musician who creates his own style out of the styles around him, I play by ear.
Ralph Ellison
Thought is made in the mouth.
– Tristan Tzara

I think the time has come to rewrite the dictionary. It’s not the words so much I have a problem with, as much as it’s the way we use or misuse them – some words as dictated by our standard dictionaries and so-called reference material, other words as dictated by the mainstream media (MSM). In both cases, we have established a penchant to parrot ad nauseam that which we hear or have been taught, very rarely taking liberty or poetic license with the same words, as I often do on this blog, more often than not in a wholly and ‘pseudolly suitable un-surreptitious’ manner.

Take for example the words ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom’. There are succinct published definitions to be certain, even in 10 words or less. Nevertheless, the ultimate application of their definitions is best defined by the actions of government officials, intelligence gathering agencies, the military, law enforcement personnel, and an entire legal profession of dark suited pontificators. Of course, Big Business interests figure into this conspiracy of terms, as well, but let’s not get paranoid!

So, it seems to me that no one really know what democracy means anymore. Countless definitions exist, but in reality the term has come to mean different things to different people. Perhaps it no longer matters, since the concept has very little ‘personally redeeming value’. In most cases, what you can count on, but can’t look up in your ‘Funk & Wagnalls’, is that both ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ are defined at the street level … when they are lost.

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Walking On Eggshells, Sticks And Stones

Censorship ends in logical completeness when nobody is allowed to read any books except the books that nobody reads.
– George Bernard Shaw
If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.
– George Orwell

Let’s pretend it’s kindergarten again and time for ‘show and tell’. Today, I’ve brought ‘my opinion’ to share.

Now, if that makes you nervous, so be it. However, know that I say that because only you can decide for yourself what offends you or incites you to violence. Hopefully, this post will do neither, but obviously it’s really up to you. Trust me, I understand.

These days, there is a rash of global protests, some violent, over a pretty lame anti-Islam film titled ‘Innocence of Muslims‘ produced in the United States. The zealous condemnation of the film by Muslims have triggered a rioting frenzy, including attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions and consulates, and resulting in at least 14 deaths and the murder of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens in Libya. This morning I awoke to a steady stream of ‘Twitter tweets’ suggesting that the protests were spreading like wildfire … and so was discussion of another form of righteous indignation: censorship.

Oh, how some have forgotten their kindergarten lessons: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

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The High Art And Crime Of Limb Jerking: Free Pussy Riot

“Without freedom, no art; art lives only on the restraints it imposes on itself, and dies of all others.”
– Albert Camus
“I thought the church loved its children … It turns out the church only loves those children who believe in Putin.”
– Maria Alekhina

 

Running within my veins is an international blend of blood cells owing their existence to a somewhat mixed and muddied heritage that is one part American, one part European and one part Russian. These days, my blood – and not just the Russian part –  is boiling, especially after witnessing the conviction of 3 young women, members of ‘Pussy Riot’, an anonymous Russian feminist performance art group/punk rock band.

A few days ago, Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, both young mothers, as well as Ekaterina Samucevich, were sentenced by a Russian court to two years each after being found guilty of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred”.

If you haven’t heard the story, here are the basics: In February of this year, the artists performed a ‘flash performance’ of their song titled, ‘Punk-Prayer: Virgin Mary, Put Putin Away’, at the altar of Moscow’s main cathedral. The stunt lasted approximately 30 seconds or so before the group were forced from the church.

Yes, the impromptu politically charged exhibition obviously rubbed many folks the wrong way – especially those it was aimed at, namely Russian President Vladimir Putin and church leader Patriarch Kirill, a staunch supporter of Putin’s re-election campaign; strange bedfellows given the supposedly formal separation of church and state.

Incredibly, the Russian court chose to dismiss the obvious political and personal aim of the song, as well as the artists’ actual testimony, and instead categorized their actions as essentially a ‘religious hate crime’ and act of ‘social disorder’. In this last categorization, the court referred to “devilish dances” and ‘limb jerking” (insert long pregnant pause here to collect your dropped jaws).

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