Taking The Plunger: Is Dada Right For You?

 

'Lucky Dada' by Jay Schwartz“I speak only of myself since I do not wish to convince, I have no right to drag others into my river, I oblige no one to follow me and everybody practices his art in his own way.” - Tristan Tzara “Dada Manifesto 1918”

 

Thank you for reading this post. I’m not really sure why you did or what your expectations might be, but I sincerely thank you anyway. I feel it’s important to get that out of the way right from the start, before the confusion sets in. I may be a dadaist, but at the very least I’m also a humanist. Trust me, you can bank on that … just don’t bet the farm.

I tend to enter ‘dadaism’ on forms that request an entry for ‘religion’. Someone asked me the other day “what’s all this about dadaism?” I considered for a nanosecond how to respond before replying “oh you know, dadaismos … dada …” I received a curious albeit blank stare in return as I noticed the corners of his mouth begin to twitch ever so slightly. I SMiLEd and turned away, mouthing the words “have a narcissistic day”. My existence was justified.

Meanwhile, the aberrant logic of the times raged on all around me. In fact, it continues to do so to this day. I would tell you to ‘watch the 11 o’clock news’, but I don’t myself anymore and wouldn’t want to unintentionally to mislead you. Of course, it’s funny because I was breastfed on television, but I’ve weaned myself from it … and for the same reasons I don’t smoke; I refuse to be a slave.

And so I became a dadaist … and you can be one too, if you are inclined to take the plunger.

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Polly’s Cadence (In Dada Flat)

'Parrot Dada' by Jay SchwartzPolly’s Cadence (In Dada Flat)

“Polly wants a cracker!”

A call is made.

You wait for a response.

I comply in earnest.

Behind the wool, you gloat blindly. 

Knowing enough words to nod along, I do so … knowingly knowing I know nothing. 

Point Counterpoint. A methodological approach to string theory resolves to the root of us all. Klimakatastrophe … deservingly so

You want dogma, a rationale of semiotic obedience.

A feathered response is in order:

There are no more prayers, only the chanting of reverberating sounds in the wild; the vibrations that ricochet off your sensitivities … forcing you to move.

You want belief, perhaps in distended words unspoken.

Yet, I have only the faith of habit found in sustained accidentals and enharmonic phonemes … and wings to sing of.

And oh how I’ll sing one day, despite your efforts to make me talk.

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Ask A Stupid Question

DunceSarcasm: the last refuge of modest and chaste-souled people when the privacy of their soul is coarsely and intrusively invaded.
- Fyodor Dostoevsky
 
A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.
- Bruce Lee

 

The bewildered always have questions ‘after the fact’. Such questions usually offer profound testimony to these folks’ ignorance and lack of forethought, as well as to their inattention to ‘time’. Regret is expressed for the consequences, but responsibility is rarely taken for the circumstances leading up to an event. Blame may be apportioned in some cases … but lessons are rarely learned. Life goes on … and so does denial.

Does anyone really know what time it is? Many speak of the ‘investments in time’ they make or of their skills of time management … as if time were a commodity. To these aims, clocks were invented to keep track of time. Time keeping instruments are even worn on wrists … analogous to dog collars. Clinically speaking, regardless of the number of nanoseconds there are in a moment, each minute is seen as either being “too early” or “too late”.

Our movements are synchronized to our own creations. Yes, we are slaves to time. We relinquished our ‘freedom’ to our perception of time long ago. What’s worse is that for all our attention to time, we still have no clue about it.

“What time is it?”, you ask. “You’re asking the wrong question”, I say.

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Ho Ho No: Sleigh Riding Through Dystopia

Dadamas by Jay SchwartzThe founders of a new colony, whatever Utopia of human virtue and happiness they might originally project, have invariably recognized it among their earliest practical necessities to allot a portion of the virgin soil as a cemetery, and another portion as the site of a prison. 
- Nathaniel Hawthorne

 

Reason’s Greetings! Let Freedom Ring! Well, sort of …

The festive season may be upon us, but be careful who you wish Happy Holidays to … especially if you live in the United States of the National Security Agency (USNSA) … or most likely anywhere else in the developed world. But let’s not confuse liberty with the freedoms of privacy or free speech, especially since Santa won’t be filling anyone’s stockings with either anytime soon.

For a society that grandstands for the principles of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and even goes as far as proclaiming them as ‘the American way’, one would imagine that realizing only 1 out of 3 of said principles just doesn’t cut the mustard.

As for ‘life’, consider the following recent news item: Christmas will not come for the murdered 30-year old New Jersey resident, Dustin Friedland, who was shot in the head by carjackers as he opened the door for his wife. The deadly shooting occurred in the parking area of the mall at which the couple had just finished holiday shopping.

So perhaps a new twist on the ideology of ‘American Exceptionalism’ should apply: anything goes EXCEPT life and liberty. Don’t despair, however, because the ‘pursuit of happiness’ can always be found in the arena of consumerism.

Perhaps a new seasonal national anthem is in order to the tune of “Deck The Malls With Boughs Of Folly” (and something about Orwellian visions of ‘aspartame plums’ dancing in our heads). Yes Virgina, INGSOC lives, especially in Anytown, USNSA. Let’s take a sleigh ride through dystopia, shall we? Ho Ho NO …

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Good Mourning, Dada: Nurturing The Contrived Nature Of Concrete Art

'Dada Saves' by Jay SchwartzEat your chocolate
wash your brain
dada
dada
gulp some rain.
– Tristan Tzara
 
 
I’m constantly amazed at the capacity some people have to fail as human beings, or more specifically as products of nature. We have such great inherent artistic talent, and yet we are so often contrived in our behavior. Nurturing, for some, is done selectively and with ulterior motives. Efforts to save the planet come only after we’ve all but destroyed it. The art of being fully human remains lost to many who are kept afloat by a flotilla of prefabricated and standardized ‘paint by the numbers’ ideologies and conventions.
 
I write this on the heels of my mother’s recent passing, so as I let the tides of emotion wash over my head, I’m a bit vulnerable to the often groaned about process of grieving. Whatever comes comes; whatever goes goes – the good, the bad and the inane. Good mourning to all, I say, especially to me.
 
Therefore, I have resolved to refuse any attempt to self-repress my emotions or self-censor my thoughts during this period of bereavement. Mind you, this doesn’t say much, since on almost any given day this notion is ‘par for the course’ for me anyway.

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Dadaism: Defeating The Overlords of Information Overload

'Dada Shutdown' by Jay Schwartz“Can the knowledge deriving from reason even begin to compare with knowledge perceptible by sense?”
– Louis Aragon
 
 “Expert, texpert, choking smoker, don’t you hear the joker laugh at you?”
- John Lennon

 

Wherever you go, you find information. Of course, I do recognize that we are, after all, living in the ‘information age’, but I still can’t help but wonder where all this ‘information’ came from? Who discovered it? How did it begin to spread? Who continues to disseminate it and for what reason? I mean, today we are obviously all full it, so I think these are important considerations.

At some point in history, someone must have come along and said, “Hey there! You! Yes, you! I have some information for you.” Perhaps it was God or a visiting extraterrestrial tourist. Perhaps it was a squirrel. I have no clue. And that my friends is the point of today’s post: I have no clue. Yet, there is one thing I know for certain: there is simply too much information out there!

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Physics and the Cosmogony of Dadaism: The Balanced and Unbalanced

'Give Us Your Dada' by Jay Schwartz“I destroy the drawers of the brain, and those of social organisation: to sow demoralisation everywhere, and throw heaven’s hand into hell, hell’s eyes into heaven, to reinstate the fertile wheel of a universal circus in the Powers of reality, and the fantasy of every individual.”
- Tristan Tzara
 
“The first man to compare the cheeks of a young woman to a rose was obviously a poet; the first to repeat it was possibly an idiot”
- Salvador Dali

 

Who can argue with the ‘big bang’ theory, except perhaps the creationists … or perhaps the creator? Such a discussion would most certainly use, as an analogy, the making of popcorn: a daring activity that is fraught with danger, not just of an ordinary household nature, but of that with planetary wide significance (i.e., ‘BOOM’).

When popping corn in the confines of a kitchen, it’s the random mix of organic and temporal variables that allow corn kernels to ‘pop’ one or a few at a time. However, it should go without saying that with the right alignment of variables, a single ‘super-pop’ might occur in which all kernels will simultaneously explode together.

Given such an event, it is quite possible, under the right cosmogonical circumstances, for such an explosion to actually rip a hole in the fabric of space and time, creating a mini-black hole, which if left unconstrained will turn us, and all manner of creation in this parsec of the universe, inside out.

Now, I don’t confess to be much of a physicist, but to some extent, you can’t get around certain laws of the related science. Most physicists understand that the study of physics, therefore, is not something that should be practiced at home, and is best left to facilities such as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), where the art of popping corn can be studied in safety.

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The March Of The Immoral Compass

'Color War Rally' by Jay SchwartzThe March Of The Immoral Compass

Onward to the march she came to share solidarity,

eventually to be burned by another’s insincerity.

She fled, her brain inflamed;

the scene, it was insane.

Twas better for her to defy her moral compass, I confess,

than choke on the evening’s immoral and errant excess.

 

Oh, but what she saw and sensed …

Oh, what she beheld that made no sense:

Loons, full moons and fire …

… a city lead to mire:

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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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The Gist and Jest of Jazz and Death

'Summertime Jazz' by Jay Schwartz“Over all, I think the main thing a musician would like to do is give a picture to the listener of the many wonderful things that he knows of and senses in the universe.”
- John Coltrane
 
“I am not afraid of death, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”
- Woody Allen

 

As a writer and someone who tends to ‘feel and think’ his way through life, I have certain subjects I often feel compelled to write significantly about since they intensely stir the very core of my existence. Today, I’m referring to jazz and death – the former with love, the latter with fear. Time to connect the dots.

Please note that this essay is not the big magnum opus I plan on writing one day on these topics, but merely my attempt to broach related issues of an existential nature (breathe, breathe, breathe). In fact, I’m quite aware that in all likelihood I will probably never write what I’d like to, since I’m mindful of the fact that any attempt to do so would fall short … simply because jazz and death are both larger than life. Moreover, descriptions of jazz are just as elusive as rationalizations of death. Most literature provides the gist, but misses the jest. That’s where I come in.

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