Friday, June 29, 2012

Flight out of Time : A Dada Diary by Hugo Ball (1974)

Some excerpts:

The world and society in 1913 looked like this: life is completely confined and shackled. A kind of economic fatalism prevails; each individual, whether he resists or not, is assigned a specific role and with it his interests and his character. It makes no difference how this situation came about; it exists and no one can escape from it.

Standardization is the end of the world. Somewhere perhaps, there is a little island in the pacific ocean that is still untouched, that has not been invaded by our anxiety.  How long could that last? 
Then that to would be a thing of the past.

One thing is certain: men whose roots have stiffened and dried dout and who can no longer transplant and transform themselves stop having ideas and being productive.

We have to lose ourselves if we want to find ourselves.

It is imperative to write invulnerable sentences. Sentences that withstand all irony. The better the sentence, the higher the rank. In eliminating vulnerable syntax or association one preserves the sum of the things that constitute the style and the pride of a writer – taste, cadence, rhythm, and melody. The successors of flauert cultivated the sentence without sympathy for the magic of the vocables. But we must not overdo it in reverse. 

“Know thyself.” As if it were so simple! As if only good will and introspection were needed. An individual can compare himself, see himself, and correct himself wherever and eternal ideal is firmly anchored in closely knit forms of education and culture, of literature and politics. But what if all norms are shaky and in a state of confusion? What if illusions dominate not only the present but also all generations; if race and tradition, blood and spirit, if all the reliable possessions of the past are all profaned, desecrated, and defaced? What if all the voices in the symphony are at variance with each other? Who will know himself then? Who will find himself then?

It is necessary for me to drop all respect for tradition, opinion, and judgment. It is necessary for me to erase the rambling text that others have written. 

I notice that I am falling into a slight madness that comes from my boundless desire to be different.

Remove yourself as far as possible from the times in order to assess them. But do not lean so far out of the window that you fall out.

Nature is neither beautiful nor ugly, neither good nor bad. It is fantastic, monstrous, and infinitely unrestrained. It knows no reason, but it listens to reason when it meets resistance. Nature wants to exist and develop, that is all. Being in harmony with nature is the same as being in harmony with madness.

The days go by. To be able to think and do something serious one would have to live as methodically as the yogis and Jesuits. I would sometimes like to get lost and disappear completely. I have seen enough. To be able to sit in a cell and say: here is seclusion; no one may enter.

Let us be thoroughly new and inventive. Let us rewrite life every day.

[the artist] suffers from his time and his environment. Despite this, he has a conciliatory attitude to form and to life, and this produces the comedy.

As respect for language increases, the disrespect for the human image will decrease.

Judgments are hardly possible anymore; the sources have been forgotten. Everyone feeds on prejudgments, that is, on judgments that have been handed down and will be handed on again unthinkingly. 

Hell is deeper and more terrible than those who yearn for its flames could ever imagine.

The goethean spirit – does it not come from the difficulty of finding his own person among a hundred possibilities?

…that we, with thousands of lies around us, have to be identical with our visions….even if we are driven by an invisible hand to heights that mock our nakedness and weakness.

Everything that does not suffer, but inflicts suffering, is demonic 

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