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Tristan Tzara's 8th Symphony

or How Dada came to me in the form of this self-contained manifesto

I.

We began with the possibility of NOT writing : hence our timely arrival. Having chosen between apples & oranges, and opting for beef, we now sit at the feast of social construction, napkins on our heads. We give grace to our silent potentials, then eat them raw with an air of arrogant indifference. The scraps, bones and tendons, the parts of the animal they don't sell in stores, these constitute the foundation of make-up to which I will apply the blush of ontological negation, the no, the I-am-not, saddened and victimized individual eyeliner of intention. All of this just to say : we don't look like this in the morning; we're actually quite ugly but we like ourselves.

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TRIUMPH #1 FOR THE INSCRUTABLE POWER OF CONSCIOUSNESS!!
SCREAMS KOKO THE CLOWN.

If I am soon to be knocked unconscious, this will be the end of the manifesto : thank you for joining us, now go on home, move along, nothing to see here, nothing to see. Please deposit your bloodshot eyes at the door, give up your lightning-flash wit & tip your hat to the policeman while spitting on his shoes. Listen, it's a new era, we've all got short memories, and videocameras are the DADA instrument par excellence. (I didn't say that.)

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TRIUMPH #1 FOR EMBRACING CONTRADICTION!!
SCREAMS KOKO THE CLOWN.

He carries me across the threshold of pain, we risk devaluation, death, deconstruction, the tearing-down of our Lincoln Log platitudes. ONWARD!! There are many more triumphs to behold. (Tristan Tzara says to you : "Thought is made in the mouth." That's why I'm not thinking.)

II.

You imbeciles and Spanish teachers would perhaps like to know : what? when? whom? why? and other such insignificant questions. I don't like you, but I'll do what I can. DADA was born on the 8th of February, 1916, at a Café in Zurich by the slippery hand of Tristan Tzara, despite any malicious claims to the contrary made by the intelligent but foul-smelling André Breton, that green-eyed Pope of Surrealism, which, incidentally, is very much NOT DADA, especially in that it advocated descending into the streets with a revolver in each hand and shooting people at random. DADA, however, would most certainly opt for water pistols filled with Nair, and T-shirts proclaiming "There's no such word as superfluous in auto racing!" In fact, most of what I've just told you isn't true. DADA was not even born per se, but erupted with all the predictability of spontaneous volcanic activity on a planet similar to ours, but millions of light-years away. Go figure. Tristan Tzara, "a small, absurd, and insignificant individual," barely twenty years old, had already begun to accomplish what every BFA artist dreams of, and what never shows up on their tax returns. The essence of that Thing is NOTHING. The existence of this Thing is DADA.

III.

The Gyoto monks are DADA! Beggars who scoff at Yuppies are DADA! The potted plants on the windowledge of run-down apartments are DADA! Wet fish and dry land are DADA! The apparently limitless conglomeration of incoherent descriptions is DADA!

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TRIUMPH #1 FOR CONFUSION AS ENLIGHTENMENT!!
MUMBLES KOKO,
INCREASINGLY DRUNK.

(Triumphs, too, are DADA!) DADA, however, is not concerned with enlightenment -- it would rather sniff out snuff films, or propose the abolition of psychoanalyses of popular culture. We loved Pee-Wee Herman, now look what happened.

IV.

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They say that DADA was "a reaction against the unprecendented carnage of the world war." So what? Tristan Tzara says to you : "DADA is a virgin microbe that insinuates itself with the insistence of air into all the spaces that reason hasn't been able to fill with words or conventions." Now just whom will you believe, and what are you willing to pay for it? DADA is about endlessly choosing your sword, then dropping it in favor of laughter at a most inappropriate moment. And it's dead serious. Dead. But what's death these days but an epithet? We've abolished History, Art, Authors, and soon enough, we shall be out of cellophane. It's a bad rap. That's yesterday's bad joke. DADA had accomplished the entire repertoire of postmodern psychobabble criticism before the short algerian was even trying to suckle his maman's left nipple.

V.

We are against MTV, which is DADA + capital, and therefore not DADA. We kill televisions to amuse ourselves, or simply destroy the picture-tube so nothing but an orange glow emanates from the screen. Make popcorn, sit down, & discuss the relative values of eastern philosophy & college-level poetry writing classes. We have a love/hate relationship with the Tao, and don't understand T.S. Eliot.

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TRIUMPH #1 FOR THE BUDDHA MIND!!
SAYS KOKO.

But we really couldn't care less. Intelligence is a double-entendre, which is french, you know, but that doesn't make the French intelligent, or even intelligible.

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TRIUMPH #1 FOR...OH SHIT I CAN'T REMEMBER,
SAYS KOKO.

VI.

"DADA -- this is a word that throws up ideas so that they can be shot down; every bourgeois is a little playwright, who invents different subjects, and who, instead of situating suitable characters on the level of his own intelligence, like chrysalises or chairs, tries to find causes or objects (according to whichever psychoanalytic method he practises) to give weight to his plot, a talking and self-defining story."
-- Tristan Tzara, 1918. He considered himself very likable.

(SO DO I! ADDS KOKO THE CLOWN.)

VII.

The score thus far :
Telephone calls : 3, Mail-Pak Coupons : 0
Riot Photographs : 15, Sleeping In : 2
Industrial Chaos : 23, Anthropomorphism : -5
Bee Baa Bo : 1, Boo-Boo-Gaga : 0
Cigarettes at night : 5, Cigarettes in the morning : 5
Self-Parody : 62, Truth in Love : 12
Radio Static : 10, Manifestos : 0
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TRIUMPH #1 ALL AROUND!!
BELLOWS KOKO.

IX.

You see, DADAis a myriad of self-defeating footballs teams of wisdom. We don't like winning, which signals the end of the game. We don't even mind being misunderstood, which gives us reason to write more manifestos.

(NO MORE MANIFESTOS! interrupts Tristan Tzara.)

(BUT HE'S DEAD! SCREAMS KOKO, OBVIOUSLY SURPRISED.)

And DADA, too, which died even before it was born, nonetheless makes cameo appearances around the globe in various disguises, most of them too obscure to hit the front pages. (Those, too, are DADA!) The Cravats, the Very Things, the Babymen, and D.C.L. Locomotive; Nurse With Wound, David Thomas, and D.D.A.A. have animated the underbelly of DADA's corpse. Monty Python was the paramilitary wing of DADA's Politics of Humor campaign. The marriage of Xerox machines and street lampposts is a veritable DADA museum. Politicians are NOT DADA no matter how hard they try. Tristan Tzara, whose name is virtually synonymous with Tristan Tzara, is still very DADA. And if you've understood nothing, that's DADA Zen.

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NOW GO HOME!!

SHOUTS KOKO THE CLOWN,
A CIGARETTE DANGLING FROM HIS HAPPY-SMILE LIPS.

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