In his ‘Dada Manifesto’, Tristan Tzara questions how it’s possible for anyone, or any institution, to expect to put order into the chaos that constitutes the “infinite and shapeless variation” of ‘man’. He suggests that Dada was “born of a need for independence”, and of “a distrust toward unity”. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps …
To me, the state of mankind has fallen from grace. Whose conception of grace I can’t say for sure, but I would suggest our own state of godliness, because at this stage of our evolution we should know better. Yet, the more we divide ourselves according to the lines of nationalism, politics, religion and even art, the more a large portion of us becomes mired in denial as to our own humanity.
Where did we as a society go wrong? When did the ‘art’ of being human change from ‘form to function’? Perhaps it’s time we should hold a candle to (pregnant pause and drum-roll) … kindergarten and its schizophrenic type orientation to social order it embeds in children.
Wikipedia suggests that the tenets of kindergarten include “playing, singing, practical activities, and social interaction”. It all sounds swell, but this politically correct and sugar-coated conceptualization belies something perhaps more sinister, intentional or otherwise: social engineering and behavior modification to ensure crowd control. For good measure, you can also add brainwashing and conditioning in to the mix, as well.
Now I would argue that as a whole my kindergarten experiences were not that unpleasant. However, being somewhat precocious and self-aware of my own sentience as a youth, I can confess to being confronted with a variety of situations that gave me pause to think. It’s clear to me now, that such moments would most likely generate deep inner-conflict in the psyche of some.
For example, once during a ‘playtime’ break, most children romped and frolicked around the classroom. The teacher was up and preparing milk and cookies in an adjacent room, her helper organizing ‘activities’. Wandering around through the cacophony, I eventually found myself joining three other children sitting under the teacher’s desk. Incredulously, they were illicitly sucking their thumbs!
As they sat with blank expressions on their faces, their eyes darted around nervously at each other. While shouts of laughter and unbridled merriment reverberated all around us, I remember sitting there sucking my middle and ring fingers (note the non-conformist tendencies even at the age of five years old) and wondering why I was there. No one said a word, but we all stared at each other knowingly; we were clearly not where we belonged and engaging in an unlawful activity and assembly. It was a very significant moment in my early life and I believe it to be my first exposure to a form of existential-angst-ridden, anti-social and subversive behavior.
In terms of telling the truth, no one likes a snitch, especially one who acts in his own self-interest. However, whistle blowers acting in the common good, like Edward Snowden, as well as Bradley Manning and Julian Assange of Wikileaks fame, are vilified when the covert interests of our governments and other power-mongering institutions are compromised. More often than not, our demands for transparency in government are met with indignation, and dismissed in the name national security … and sometimes apple-pie.
As for sharing, it should be clear that the basis of our very existence today as a species stems from our age-old penchant of communing with each other to share resources. Nevertheless, ‘the powers that be’, acting on the behalf of the profit bug-eyed, big-business, entertainment industry, are moving quickly to stamp that idea out. Something as innocuous as sharing a song or movie with a friend, especially over internet based ‘file sharing’ networks, has been deemed illegal. Copyright law trumps goodwill.
The entrainment industry would sooner use ‘Pirate Bay’ founders, Gottfrid Svartholm, Fredrik Neij and Peter Sunde as poster boys for heinous criminal activity than deal with their own impotence at creating a more fair, realistic and economical model of product distribution to serve the public interest and meet the demands of modern human consumption practices.
In kindergarten, it’s so much easier. They just bribe children into submission with milk and cookies; comfort food provided to heal the broken psyche. Moreover, in kindergarten we are conditioned to respect authority in the form of the teacher archetype.
Similarly, as adults we are corralled with such duality. We are fed comfort and distraction in the form of materialism and celebritism. Meanwhile a battle-strength, armor coated, and armed to the teeth ‘officer friendly’ patrols his beat, awaiting his chance to mete out a different form of education. And, coming soon to your neighborhood, a drone will fly high overhead to monitor your compliance. INGSOC lives.
At the outbreak of Word War I, the Dadaists proposed an answer to the absurd logic of bourgeois capitalist society that would eventually lead to people into mutual destruction. Today the battlefields are different, but we face the same money and power-hungry aggressors.
I suggest that before our concept of human nature falls victim to revisionist history, we must embrace Dada and trumpet our anti-establishment and anti-authoritarian sentiment. The hypocrisy of our institutions and the corruption of our values and human nature must therefore be seen for what they really are.
And, while were at it, we might as well rethink kindergarten, too. In true Dada fashion, we can reverse this academic trend by turning classrooms into ‘clash-rooms’ to better embrace our own humanity and to ensure our very survival!
Dada, dada, dada …
My Other Posts On Dadaism
- Dadaisn’tism: Copious Habeas (and other assorted frothy nothings)
- Don Dada (When Words Fail)
- In Dada We Trust
- TPB AFK: The Pirate Bay Away From Keyboard
‘Why Not’ Reading Links
- FLY/FLY: YOKO ONO’S SKY CINEMA and PROPOSITIONS FOR A SCORE BASED ART PRACTICE
- ACLU: Edward Snowden is a Whistleblower
- The Baffler: A Practical Utopian’s Guide to the Coming Collapse
- The International Dada Archive
- Dada News Daily
- Dada 100 (celebrating 100 years of Dada)
“The Undiscovered Self” by The Agent-K Quartet - Help support independent artists!