Saturday, September 16, 2006

Dada Iraq

Hugo Ball performing "Karawane" at Cabaret Voltaire, 1916

From the diaries of Hugo Ball, one of the founders of Dada:

18 may 1921

“Some strange things happen. In the English budget a thousand pounds are requested to build a mosque in Mesopotamia as compensation for a tree that English soldiers pulled down. According to tradition, this tree was the genuine ‘tree of knowledge’ from the Garden of Eden from which the serpent seduced Eve. The tree of knowledge collapsed under the weight of the soldiers who were having their photograph taken in its branches.”

From Flight out of time [English translation of Die Flucht aus der Zeit]. Viking Press, 1974.

After those elephant days at the Cabaret Voltaire, Ball re-joined the Catholic church and became something of a mystic. He studied the saints John Climacus, Dionysius the Aeropagite, and Simeon Stylites, and wrote two religious works: Byzantinisches Christentum and Die Folgen der Reformation [The Consequences of the Reformation].

Meanwhile, after the British destroyed the Tree of Knowledge, their empire went into permanent decline.

Though they did manage to produce the Beatles.

Iraq, on the other hand, did smashingly well. At least if you were Sunni. And later a Bathist. And you didn't look at Saddam Hussein in the wrong way. And you didn't happened to be living there when the New Brits - whose leaders hadn't bothered to read Hugo Ball or a simple history on the British in Mesopotamia - blessed the country with Democracy. (Afterwards the New Brits' Empire went into permanent decline.)

Democracy, version 2.0

For more information on Hugo Ball, try

For more information on Dada, take today's newspaper and turn to page 13. In the bottom right-hand corner, you should see some text or an image from an advertisement. Cut it out. Take the clipping outside and hand it to the first stranger you see wearing a hat. Next, remove your left shoe, place it on top of your head and begin chanting, "There are no chickens in the warehouse! There are no fish in the matrix!" When you are tired of this, or the police have come, return to your home, throw away the newspaper and write down the first 20 words that come into your head. Mail this to five friends and ask them to do the same thing. You have started a revolution. You are Dada.

Or, you can go see the big exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, which runs until last Monday, September 11th. (Dada in an art museum. Like making a plastic mould of your breath.)

For more information on Iraq, stop reading this idiotic post and go to Juan Cole's website.

For more information on Simeon Stylites, one must definitely waste time at, which offers an animated website about St. Simeon.

For more information on St. John Climacus and his Ladder of Divine Ascent (or, The Stairway to Paradise) [see image, left] go to Orthodoxwiki. Or listen to this recording.

For a good time, call (631) 902-3177.

For more information about information, or information about cyberspace, or nothing in particular, or nothingness in particular try this.

jolifanto bambla ô falli bambla

1 comment:

Liam said...

Supurb post, Guillaume. I especially like your dada-friendly links.