Tristan Tzara Poetry Analysis Essay

Tristan Tzara 1896–1963

(Pseudonym of Samuel Rosenfeld) Rumanian-born French poet, dramatist, essayist, critic, and novelist.

Tzara is best remembered as a proponent and practitioner of Dadaism, an intellectual movement of the World War I era whose adherents espoused intentional irrationality and urged individuals to repudiate traditional values. Tzara and other European artists sought to establish a new style in which random associations challenged logic and grammar, and promoted an individual vitality free from the restraints of artistic, historical, and religious authority. Tzara's career included other artistic and political movements, including Surrealism and communism. His work often defies standard classification: He wrote dramas as well as poetry, criticism on both art and poetry, and essays on a range of social and cultural issues. Although his work is largely ignored by most English-speaking scholars, Tzara is esteemed in France for his large and diverse body of poetry.

Biographical Information

Tzara was born Samuel Rosenfeld in Moinesti, Bacu, Romania. Some sources date his birth April 4, 1896; others claim April 16, 1896. His first published poems appeared in a Rumanian literary review in 1912. Many of these poems, written in Rumanian and influenced by French symbolism, appear in a later volume of collected works, Les premiers poèmes (1958; Primele poèmes: First Poems). Tzara studied at Bucharist University from 1914 to 1915, during which time he also founded two journals in Romania: Simbolul (1912) and Chemarea (1915). In 1916 Tzara left Romania and immigrated to Switzerland. Together with Jean Arp, Hugo Ball, and others he created Dadaism and staged Dadaist performances at the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich. Tzara then moved to France, settling in Paris in 1919. There he engaged in Dadaist experiments with Andre Breton and Louis Aragon. Serious philosophic differences caused a split between Tzara and Breton in 1921; soon after, Breton created the Surrealist movement, and by 1922 Dadaism had dissolved. From 1929 to 1934, Tzara participated in the activities of the Surrealist group in Paris. In 1934, he joined France's Communist Party, becoming a life-long member. Tzara served with the Loyalists during the Spanish Civil War, and he directed the cultural broadcast of the French Resistance in the south of France from 1943 to 1944, and also wrote for Resistance magazines. At the end of World War II he became a naturalized French citizen. In 1961, he was awarded the Taormina International

Grand Prize for Poetry. Tzara died December 24, 1963, in Paris.

Major Works

Tzara's early Dadaist verse, written between 1916 and 1924, utilizes agglomerations of obscure images, nonsense syllables, outrageous juxtapositions, ellipses, and inscrutable maxims to perplex readers and illustrate the limitations of language. Volumes such as Vingt-cinq poèmes (1918) and De nos oiseaux (1923) display the propositions outlined in Tzara's manifestos and critical essays, often blending criticism and poetry to create hybrid literary forms. Tzara's Surrealist poetry, written between 1929 and 1934, places less emphasis on the ridiculous than his Dadaist verse. Tzara's works published during this period include L'homme approximatif (1931; Approximate Man and Other Writings), an epic poem that is widely considered a landmark of twentieth-century French literature. This work portrays an unfulfilled wayfarer's search for universal knowledge and a universal language. This and Tzara's later Surrealist volumes—L'arbre des voyageurs (1930), Oú boivent les loups (1932), L'antitête (1933), and Grains et issues (1935)—reveal his obsession with language, his vision of humanity as afflicted by tedium and alienation, and his concern with the struggle to achieve completeness and enlightenment. As Tzara's interest in politics and his commitment to Communism increased during the thirties, his poetry included greater political content. It stressed revolutionary and humanistic values while maintaining Tzara's life-long interest in free imagery and linguistic experiments. Midis gagnés: poèmes (1939) focuses on Tzara's impressions of Spain during that country's civil war. The prose poems Sans coup férir (1949) and À haute flamme (1955) address political topics related World War II. Critics generally regard such later works as Terre sur terre (1946) and Le fruit permis (1956) as less vigorous and inventive but more controlled than his earlier poetry.

Critical Reception

One of the difficulties in evaluating Tzara's poetry, particularly his Dadaist works, is distinguishing between his poetic vision and his poetic pranks. Tzara deliberately confounded and confused his readers. He even mocked them for their difficulty reading his poetry. In "Le géant blanc lépreux du paysage" Tzara wrote, "Here…the reader begins to scream…he is skinny, idiotic, dirty—he does not understand my poetry." Some critics argue that the chaos of his poetry is only apparent and that the many challenges he poses to his readers have a serious, unified purpose. Other critics question whether it is possible to find what Mary Ann Caws calls an "interior ordering" in his poetry. Tzara himself observed that "Dada proclaimed the negation of theory and the expression of naked personality." Caws also says: "We may, perhaps most wisely, follow his insistent advice that we look at the Dada poem as a simple spectacle, as creation complete in itself and completely obvious." Roger Cardinal observes that "Tzara's ideal text would seem to be one in which words emerge in a naked state, not as carriers of meaning proper but as manifestations of a kind of pure electrical energy." Cardinal argues that Tzara approached this ideal, and he praises his poetry for "the naked energy of his singular consciousness."

Cinema Calendar Of The Abstract Heart - 09 the fibres give in to your starry warmth a lamp is called green and sees carefully stepping into a season of fever the wind has swept the rivers' magic and i've perforated the nerve by the clear frozen lake has snapped the sabre but the dance round terrace tables shuts in the shock of the marble shudder new sober Tristan Tzara Proclamation Without Pretension Art is going to sleep for a new world to be born "ART"-parrot word-replaced by DADA, PLESIOSAURUS, or handkerchief The talent THAT CAN BE LEARNED makes the poet a druggist TODAY the criticism of balances no longer challenges with resemblances Hypertrophic painters hyperaes- theticized and hypnotized by the hyacinths of the hypocritical-looking muezzins CONSOLIDATE THE HARVEST OF EX- ACT CALCULATIONS Hypodrome of immortal guarantees: there is no such thing as importance there is no transparence or appearance MUSICIANS SMASH YOUR INSTRUMENTS BLIND MEN take the stage THE SYRINGE is only for my understanding. I write because it is natural exactly the way I piss the way I'm sick ART NEEDS AN OPERATION Art is a PRETENSION warmed by the TIMIDITY of the urinary basin, the hysteria born in THE STUDIO We are in search of the force that is direct pure sober UNIQUE we are in search of NOTHING we affirm the VITALITY of every IN- STANT the anti-philosophy of spontaneous acrobatics At this moment I hate the man who whispers before the intermission-eau de cologne- sour theatre. THE JOYOUS WIND If each man says the opposite it is because he is right Get ready for the action of the geyser of our blood -submarine formation of transchromatic aero- planes, cellular metals numbered in the flight of images above the rules of the and its control BEAUTIFUL It is not for the sawed-off imps who still worship their navel Tristan Tzara The Great Lament Of My Obscurity Three where we live the flowers of the clocks catch fire and the plumes encircle the brightness in the distant sulphur morning the cows lick the salt lilies my son my son let us always shuffle through the colour of the world which looks bluer than the subway and astronomy we are too thin we have no mouth our legs are stiff and knock together our faces are formeless like the stars crystal points without strength burned basilica mad : the zigzags crack telephone bite the rigging liquefy the arc climb astral memory towards the north through its double fruit like raw flesh hunger fire blood Tristan Tzara To Make A Dadist Poem Take a newspaper. Take some scissors. Choose from this paper an article the length you want to make your poem. Cut out the article. Next carefully cut out each of the words that make up this article and put them all in a bag. Shake gently. Next take out each cutting one after the other. Copy conscientiously in the order in which they left the bag. The poem will resemble you. And there you are--an infinitely original author of charming sensibility, even though unappreciated by the vulgar herd. Tristan Tzara Vegetable Swallow two smiles meet towards the child-wheel of my zeal the bloody baggage of creatures made flesh in physical legends-lives the nimble stags storms cloud over rain falls under the scissors of the dark hairdresser-furiously swimming under the clashing arpeggios in the machine's sap grass grows around with sharp eyes here the share of our caresses dead and departed with the waves gives itself up to the judgment of time parted by the meridian of hairs non strikes in our hands the spices of human pleasures Tristan Tzara

Tristan Tzara's Eighth Symphony
or How Dada came to me in the form of this self-contained manifesto


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.


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.)


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 Caf� in Zurich by the slippery hand of Tristan Tzara, despite any malicious claims to the contrary made by the intelligent but foul-smelling Andr� 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.


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!


(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.


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.


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.


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.



"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.



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



You see, DADA is 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.)


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.



DADA is our intensity: it erects inconsequential bayonets and the Sumatral head of German babies; Dada is fife with neither bedroom slippers nor parallels; it is against and for unity and definitely against the future; we are wise enough to know that our brains are going to become flabby cushions, that our antidogmatism is as exclusive as a civil servant, and that we cry liberty but are not free; a severe necessity with neither discipline nor morals and that we spit on humanity.

DADA remains within the framework of European weaknesses, it's still shit, but from now on we want to shit in different colours so as to adorn the zoo of art with all the flags of all the consulates.

We are circus ringmasters and we can be found whistling amongst the winds of fairgrounds, in convents, prostitutions, theatres, realities, feelings, restaurants, ohoho, bang bang.

We declare that the motor car is a feeling that has cosseted us quite enough in the dilatoriness of its abstractions, as have transatlantic liners, noises and ideas. And while we put on a show of being facile, we are actually searching for the central essence of things, and are pleased if we can hide it; we have no wish to count the windows of the marvellous elite, for DADA doesn't exist for anyone, and we want everyone to understand this. This is Dada's balcony, I assure you. From there you can hear all the military marches, and come down cleaving the air like a seraph landing in a public baths to piss and understand the parable.

DADA is neither madness, nor wisdom, nor irony, look at me, dear bourgeois.

Art used to be a game of nuts in May, children would go gathering words that had a final ring, then they would exude, shout out the verse, and dress it up in dolls' bootees, and the verse became a queen in order to die a little, and the queen became a sardine, and the children ran hither and yon, unseen ... Then came the great ambassadors of feeling, who yelled historically in chorus:

Psychology Psychology hee hee
Science Science Science
Long live France
We are not naive
We are successive
We are exclusive
We are not simpletons
and we are perfectly capable of an intelligent discussion.

But we, DADA, don't agree with them, for art isn't serious, I assure you, and if we reveal the crime so as to show that we are learned denunciators, it's to please you, dear audience, I assure you, and I adore you.


The magic of a word- DADA-
which for journalists has opened
the door to an unforeseen world,
has for us not the slightest importance.

To launch a manifesto you have to want: A.B. & C., and fulminate against 1, 2, & 3,

work yourself up and sharpen your wings to conquer and circulate lower and upper case As, Bs & Cs, sign, shout, swear, organise prose into a form that is absolutely and irrefutably obvious, prove its ne plus ultra and maintain that novelty resembles life in the same way as the latest apparition of a harlot proves the essence of God. His existence had already been proved by the accordion, the landscape and soft words. * To impose one's A.B.C. is only natural - and therefore regrettable. Everyone does it in the form of a crystalbluff-madonna, or a monetary system, or pharmaceutical preparations, a naked leg being the invitation to an ardent and sterile Spring. The love of novelty is a pleasant sort of cross, it's evidence of a naive don't-give-a-damn attitude, a passing, positive, sign without rhyme or reason. But this need is out of date, too. By giving art the impetus of supreme simplicity - novelty -we are being human and true in relation to innocent pleasures; impulsive and vibrant in order to crucify boredom. At the lighted crossroads, alert, attentive, lying in wait for years, in the forest. I am writing a manifesto and there's nothing I want, and yet I'm saying certain things, and in principle I am against manifestos, as I am against principles (quantifying measures of the moral value of every phrase - too easy; approximation was invented by the impressionists).

I'm writing this manifesto to show that you can perform contrary actions at the same time, in one single, fresh breath; I am against action; as for continual contradiction, and affirmation too, I am neither for nor against them, and I won't explain myself because I hate common sense.

DADA - this is a word that throws up ideas so that they can be shot down; every bourgeois is a little playwright, who invents 1 different subjects and who, instead of situating suitable characters on the level of his own intelligence, like chrysalises on 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.

Every spectator is a plotter, if he tries to explain a word (to know!) From his padded refuge of serpentine complications, he allows his instincts to be manipulated. Whence the sorrows of conjugal life.

To be plain: The amusement of redbellies in the mills of empty skulls.


If we consider it futile, and if we don't waste our time over a word that doesn't mean anything ... The first thought that comes to these minds is of a bacteriological order: at least to discover its etymological, historical or psychological meaning. We read in the papers that the negroes of the Kroo race call the tail of a sacred cow: DADA. A cube, and a mother, in a certain region of Italy, are called: DADA. The word for a hobbyhorse, a children's nurse, a double affirmative in Russian and Roumanian, is also: DADA. Some learned journalists see it as an art for babies, other Jesuscallingthelittlechildrenuntohim saints see it as a return to an unemotional and noisy primitivism- noisy and monotonous. A sensitivity cannot be built on the basis of a word; every sort of construction converges into a boring sort of perfection, a stagnant idea of a golden swamp, a relative human product. A work of art shouldn't be beauty per se, because it is dead; neither gay nor sad, neither light nor dark; it is to rejoice or maltreat individualities to serve them up the cakes of sainted haloes or the sweat of a meandering chase through the atmosphere. A work of art is never beautiful, by decree, objectively, for everyone. Criticism is, therefore, useless; it only exists subjectively, for every individual, and without the slightest general characteristic. Do people imagine they have found the psychic basis common to all humanity? The attempt of Jesus, and the Bible, conceal, under their ample, benevolent wings: shit, animals and days. How can anyone hope to order the chaos that constitutes that infinite, formless variation: man? The principle: "Love thy neighbour" is hypocrisy. "Know thyself" is utopian, but more acceptable because it includes malice. No pity. After the carnage we are left with the hope of a purified humanity. I always speak about myself because I don't want to convince, and I have no right to drag others in my wake, I'm not compelling anyone to follow me, because everyone makes his art in his own way, if he knows anything about the joy that rises like an arrow up to the astral strata, or that which descends into the mines strewn with the flowers of corpses and fertile spasms. Stalactites: cook everywhere for them, in creches magnified by pain, eyes as white as angels' hares. Thus DADA was born*, out of a need for independence, out of mistrust for the community. People who join us keep their freedom. We don't accept any theories. We've had enough of the cubist and futurist academies: laboratories of formal ideas. Do we make art in order to earn money and keep the dear bourgeoisie happy? Rhymes have the smack of money, and inflexion slides along the line of the stomach in profile. Every group of artists has ended up at this bank, straddling various comets. Leaving the door open to the possibility of wallowing in comfort and food.

Here we are dropping our anchor in fertile ground.

Here we really know what we are talking about, because we have experienced the trembling and the awakening. Drunk with energy, we are revenants thrusting the trident into heedless flesh. We are streams of curses in the tropical abundance of vertiginous vegetation, resin and rain is our sweat, we bleed and burn with thirst, our blood is strength.

Cubism was born out of a simple manner of looking at objects: Cezanne painted a cup twenty centimetres lower than his eyes, the cubists look at it from above, others complicate its appearance by cutting a vertical section through it and soberly placing it to one side. (I'm not forgetting the creators, nor the seminal reasons of unformed matter that they rendered definitive.) The futurist sees the same cup in movement, a succession of objects side by side, mischievously embellished by a few guide-lines. This doesn't stop the canvas being either a good or a bad painting destined to form an investment for intellectual capital. The new painter creates a world whose elements are also its means, a sober, definitive, irrefutable work. The new artist protests: he no longer paints (symbolic and illusionistic reproduction) but creates directly in stone, wood, iron, tin, rocks, or locomotive structures capable of being spun in all directions by the limpid wind of the momentary sensation. Every pictorial or plastic work is unnecessary, even if it is a monster which terrifies servile minds, and not a sickly-sweet object to adorn the refectories of animals in human garb, those illustrations of the sad fable of humanity. A painting is the art of making two lines, which have been geometrically observed to be parallel, meet on a canvas, before our eyes, in the reality of a world that has been transposed according to new conditions and possibilities. This world is neither specified nor defined in the work, it belongs, in its innumerable variations, to the spectator. For its creator it has neither cause nor theory. Order = disorder; ego = non?ego; affirmation = negation: the supreme radiations of an absolute art. Absolute in the purity of its cosmic and regulated chaos, eternal in that globule that is a second which has no duration, no breath, no light and no control. I appreciate an old work for its novelty. It is only contrast that links us to the past. Writers who like to moralise and discuss or ameliorate psychological bases have, apart from a secret wish to win, a ridiculous knowledge of life, which they have classified, parcelled out, canalised; they are determined to see its categories dance when they beat time. Their readers laugh derisively, but carry on: what's the use?

There is one kind of literature which never reaches the voracious masses. The work of creative writers, written out of the author's real necessity, and for his own benefit. The awareness of a supreme egoism, wherein laws become insignificant. Every page should explode, either because of its profound gravity, or its vortex, vertigo, newness, eternity, or because of its staggering absurdity, the enthusiasm of its principles, or its typography. On the one hand there is a world tottering in its flight, linked to the resounding tinkle of the infernal gamut; on the other hand, there are: the new men. Uncouth, galloping, riding astride on hiccups. And there is a mutilated world and literary medicasters in desperate need of amelioration.

I assure you: there is no beginning, and we are not afraid; we aren't sentimental. We are like a raging wind that rips up the clothes of clouds and prayers, we are preparing the great spectacle of disaster, conflagration and decomposition. Preparing to put an end to mourning, and to replace tears by sirens spreading from one continent to another. Clarions of intense joy, bereft of that poisonous sadness. DADA is the mark of abstraction; publicity and business are also poetic elements.

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.

A philosophical question: from which angle to start looking at life, god, ideas, or anything else. Everything we look at is false. I don't think the relative result is any more important than the choice of patisserie or cherries for dessert. The way people have of looking hurriedly at things from the opposite point of view, so as to impose their opinions indirectly, is called dialectic, in other words, heads I win and tails you lose, dressed up to look scholarly.

If I shout:
Ideal, Ideal, Ideal
Knowledge, Knowledge, Knowledge,
Boomboorn, Boomboom, Boomboom

I have recorded fairly accurately Progress, Law, Morals, and all the other magnificent qualities that various very intelligent people have discussed in so many books in order, finally, to say that even so everyone has danced according to his own personal boomboom, and that he's right about his boomboom: the satisfaction of unhealthy curiosity; private bell-ringing for inexplicable needs; bath; pecuniary difficulties; a stomach with repercussions on to life; the authority of the mystical baton formulated as the grand finale of a phantom orchestra with mute bows, lubricated by philtres with a basis of animal ammonia. With the blue monocle of an angel they have dug out its interior for twenty sous worth of unanimous gratitude. If all of them are right, and if all pills are only Pink, let's try for once not to be right. People think they can explain rationally, by means of thought, what they write. But it's very relative. Thought is a fine thing for philosophy, but it's relative. Psychoanalysis is a dangerous disease, it deadens man's anti-real inclinations and systematises the bourgeoisie. There is no ultimate Truth. Dialectics is an amusing machine that leads us (in banal fashion) to the opinions which we would have held in any case. Do people really think that, by the meticulous subtlety of logic, they have demonstrated the truth and established the accuracy of their opinions? Even if logic were confirmed by the senses it would still be an organic disease. To this element, philosophers like to add: The power of observation. But this magnificent quality of the mind is precisely the proof of its impotence. People observe, they look at things from one or several points of view, they choose them from amongst the millions that exist. Experience too is the result of chance and of individual abilities. Science revolts me when it becomes a speculative system and loses its utilitarian character -which is so useless - but is at least individual. I hate slimy objectivity, and harmony, the science that considers that everything is always in order. Carry on, children, humanity ... Science says that we are nature's servants: everything is in order, make both love and war. Carry on, children, humanity, nice kind bourgeois and virgin journalists ... I am against systems; the most acceptable system is that of having none on no principle. To complete oneself, to perfect oneself in one's own pettiness to the point of filling the little vase of oneself with oneself, even the courage to fight for and against thought, all this can suddenly infernally propel us into the mystery of daily bread and the lilies of the economic field.

*In 1916 at the CABARET VOLTAIRE in Zurich.


What I call the I-don't-give-a-damn attitude of life is when everyone minds his own business, at the same time as he knows how to respect other individualities, and even how to stand up for himself, the two-step becoming a national anthem, a junk shop, the wireless (the wire-less telephone) transmitting Bach fugues, illuminated advertisements and placards for brothels, the organ broadcasting carnations for God, all this at the same time, and in real terms, replacing photography and unilateral catechism.

Active simplicity.

The incapacity to distinguish between degrees of light: licking the twilight and floating in the huge mouth filled with honey and excrement. Measured against the scale of Eternity, every action is vain - (if we allow thought to have an adventure whose result would be infinitely grotesque - an important factor in the awareness of human incapacity). But if life is a bad joke, with neither goal nor initial accouchement, and because we believe we ought, like clean chrysanthemums, to make the best of a bad bargain, we have declared that the only basis of understanding is: art. It hasn't the importance that we, old hands at the spiritual, have been lavishing on it for centuries. Art does nobody any harm, and those who are capable of taking an interest in it will not only receive caresses, but also a marvellous chance to people the country of their conversation. Art is a private thing, the artist makes it for himself; a comprehensible work is the product of a journalist, and because at this moment I enjoy mixing this monster in oil paints: a paper tube imitating the metal that you press and automatically squeeze out hatred, cowardice and villainy. The artist, or the poet, rejoices in the venom of this mass condensed into one shopwalker of this trade, he is glad to be insulted, it proves his immutability. The author or the artist praised by the papers observes that his work has been understood: a miserable lining to a coat that is of public utility; rags covering brutishness, horse-piss collaborating with the heat of an animal incubating the baser insticts. Flabby, insipid flesh multiplying itself with the aid of typographical microbes.

We have done violence to the snivelling tendencies in our natures. Every infiltration of this sort is macerated diarrhoea. To encourage this sort of art is to digest it. What we need are strong, straightforward, precise works which will be forever misunderstood. Logic is a complication. Logic is always false. It draws the superficial threads of concepts and words towards illusory conclusions and centres. Its chains kill, an enormous myriapod that asphyxiates independence. If it were married to logic, art would be living in incest, engulfing, swallowing its own tail, which still belongs to its body, fornicating in itself, and temperament would become a nightmare tarred and feathered with protestantism, a monument, a mass of heavy, greyish intestines.

But suppleness, enthusiasm and even the joy of injustice, that little truth that we practise as innocents and that makes us beautiful: we are cunning, and our fingers are malleable and glide like the branches of that insidious and almost liquid plant; this injustice is the indication of our soul, say the cynics. This is also a point of view; but all flowers aren't saints, luckily, and what is divine in us is the awakening of anti-human action. What we are talking about here is a paper flower for the buttonhole of gentlemen who frequent the ball of masked life, the kitchen of grace, our white, lithe or fleshy girl cousins. They make a profit out of what we have selected. The contradiction and unity of opposing poles at the same time may be true. If we are absolutely determined to utter this platitude, the appendix of a libidinous, evil-smelling morality. Morals have an atrophying effect, like every other pestilential product of the intelligence. Being governed by morals and logic has made it impossible for us to be anything other than impassive towards policemen - the cause of slavery - putrid rats with whom the bourgeois are fed up to the teeth, and who have infected the only corridors of clear and clean glass that remained open to artists.

Every man must shout: there is great destructive, negative work to be done. To sweep, to clean. The cleanliness of the individual materialises after we've gone through folly, the aggressive, complete folly of a world left in the hands of bandits who have demolished and destroyed the centuries. With neither aim nor plan, without organisation: uncontrollable folly, decomposition. Those who are strong in word or in strength will survive, because they are quick to defend themselves; the agility of their limbs and feelings flames on their faceted flanks.

Morals have given rise to charity and pity, two dumplings that have grown like elephants, planets, which people call good. There is nothing good about them. Goodness is lucid, clear and resolute, and ruthless towards compromise and politics. Morality infuses chocolate into every man's veins. This task is not ordained by a supernatural force, but by a trust of ideas?merchants and academic monopolists. Sentimentality: seeing a group of bored and quarrelling men, they invented the calendar and wisdom as a remedy. By sticking labels on to things, the battle of the philosophers was let loose (money-grubbing, mean and meticulous weights and measures) and one understood once again that pity is a feeling, like diarrhoea in relation to disgust, that undermines health, the filthy carrion job of jeopardising the sun. I proclaim the opposition of all the cosmic faculties to that biennorrhoea of a putrid sun that issues from the factories of philosophical thought, the fight to the death, with all the resources of


Every product of disgust that is capable of becoming a negation of the family is dada; protest with the fists of one's whole being in destructive action: DADA; acquaintance with all the means hitherto rejected by the sexual prudishness of easy compromise and good manners: DADA ; abolition of logic, dance of those who are incapable of creation: DADA; every hierarchy and social equation established for values by our valets: DADA; every object, all objects, feelings and obscurities, every apparition and the precise shock of parallel lines, are means for the battle of: DADA; the abolition of memory: DADA; the abolition of archaeology: DADA the abolition of prophets: DADA; the abolition of the future: DADA; the absolute and indiscutable belief in every god that is an immediate product of spontaneity: DADA; the elegant and unprejudiced leap from one, harmony to another sphere; the trajectory of a word, a cry, thrown into the air like an acoustic disc; to respect all individualities in their folly of the moment, whether serious, fearful, timid, ardent, vigorous, decided or enthusiastic; to strip one's church of every useless and unwieldy accessory; to spew out like a luminous cascade any offensive or loving thought, or to cherish it - with the lively satisfaction that it's all precisely the same thing - with the same intensity in the bush, which is free of insects for the blue-blooded, and gilded with the bodies of archangels, with one's soul. Liberty: DADA DADA DADA ; - the roar of contorted pains, the interweaving of contraries and of all contradictions, freaks and irrelevancies: LIFE.



preamble = sardanapalus
one = suitcase
woman = women
trousers = water
if = moustache
2 = three
stick = perhaps
after = sightreading
irritant = emerald
vice = screw
october = periscope
nerve =

or all this together in any old savoury, soapy, brusque or definitive order - drawn by lot - is alive.
It is thus that over and above the vigilant spirit of the clergyman built at the corner of every road, be it animal, vegetable, imaginable or organic, everything is the same as everything that is not the same. Even if I didn't believe it, it's the truth of the fact that I've put it on paper - because it's a lie that I have FIXED like a butterfly on a hat.
Lies circulate - welcome Mister Opportune and Mister Convenient: I arrest them-they're turning into the truth.
Thus DADA takes on the job of the two-wheeled cops and of undercover morality.
Everyone (at a certain moment) was sound in mind and body.
Repeat this 30 times.
I consider myself very likeable.

-Tristan Tzara


A manifesto is a communication made to the whole world, whose only pretension is to the discovery of an instant cure for political, astronomical, artistic, parliamentary, agronomical and literary syphilis. It may be pleasant, and good-natured, it's always right, it's strong, vigorous and logical.

Apropos of logic, I consider myself very likeable.

-Tristan Tzara

Pride is the star that yawns and penetrates through the eyes and the mouth, she insists, strikes deep, on her breast is inscribed: you will die. This is her only remedy. Who still believes in doctors? I prefer the poet who is a fart in a steam-engine - he's gentle but he doesn't cry - polite and semi-homosexual, he floats. I don't give a single damn about either of them. It's by pure (unnecessary) chance that the first should be German and the second Spanish. Far be it from us, in actual fact, the idea of discovering the theory of the probability of races and the epistolary perfection of bitterness.


We have always made mistakes, but the greatest mistakes are the poems we have written. Gossip has one single raison d'etre: the rejuvenation and maintenance of biblical traditions. Gossip is encouraged by the administration of the post office which, alas! is perfecting itself, encouraged by the state-controlled tobacco company, the railways, the hospitals, the undertaking industry and cloth factories. Gossip is encouraged by the culture of the family. Gossip is encouraged by Peter's pence. Every drop of saliva that escapes from a conversation is converted into gold. Since the people have always needed divinities to protect the three essential laws, which are those of God: eating, making love and shitting, since the kings are on their travels and the laws are too hard, the only thing that counts at the moment is gossip. The form under which it most often appears is DADA.

There are some people (journalists, lawyers, amateurs, philosophers) who even think that other forms: business, marriages, visits, wars, various conferences, limited companies, politics, accidents, dance halls, economic crises, fits of hysterics, are variations of dada.

Not being an imperialist, I don't share their opinion - I believe, rather, that dada is only a divinity of the second order, which must quite simply be placed beside the other forms of the new mechanism of the religions of the interregnum.

Is simplicity simple, or dada?
I consider myself rather likeable.

-Tristan Tzara


Is poetry necessary? I know that those who shout loudest against it are actually preparing a comfortable perfection for it; they call it the Future Hygienic.
People envisage the (ever-impending) annihilation of art. Here they are looking for a more art?like art. Hygiene becomes mygod mygod purity.
Must we no longer believe in words? Since when do they express the contrary of what the organ that utters them thinks and wants?*
Herein fies the great secret:

Thought is made in the mouth.

I still consider myself very likeable.

-Tristan Tzara

A great Canadian philosopher said: Thought and the past are also very likeable.

*Thinks, wants, and wishes to think.


A friend, who is too good a friend of mine not to be very intelligent, said to me the other day:

a shudder
a palmist IS ONLY THE
WAY PEOPLE SAY good morning AND
good evening
TO its forget-me-not
his hair

I answered
we hesitate WE ARE NOT (DO NOT)
right. I am called THE OTHER
wish to understand

Since diversity is diverting, this game of golf gives the illusion of a "certain" depth. I support all the conventions - to suppress them would be to make new ones, which would complicate our lives in a truly repugnant fashion.

We wouldn't know any more what is fashionable: to love the children of the first or the second marriage. The "pistil of the pistol" has often landed us in bizarre and restless situations. To disorder meanings - to disorder notions and all the little tropical rains of demoralisation, disorganisation, destruction and billiardbreaks, are actions which are insured against lightning and recognised as being of public utility. There is one known fact: dadaists are only to be found these days in the French Academy. I nevertheless consider myself very likeable.

-Tristan Tzara


It seems that this exists: more logical, very logical, too logical, less logical, not very logical, really logical, fairly logical.
Well then, draw the inferences.
"I have."
Now think of the person you love most.
"Have you?"
Tell me the number and I'll tell you the lottery.


A priori, in other words with its eyes closed, Dada places before action and above all: Doubt. DADA doubts everything. Dada is an armadillo. Everything is Dada, too. Beware of Dada.

Anti-dadaism is a disease: selfkleptomania, man's normal condition, is DADA.
But the real dadas are against DADA.

The selfkleptomaniac.

The person who steals - without thinking of his own interests, or of his will - elements of his individual, is a kleptomaniac. He steals himself. He causes the characters that alienate him from the community to disappear. The bourgeois resemble one another -they're all alike. They used not to be alike. They have been taught to steal - stealing has become a function -the most convenient and least dangerous thing is to steal oneself. They are all very poor. The poor are against DADA. They have a lot to do with their brains. They'll never get to the end of it. They work. They work on themselves - deceive themselves -they steal themselves - they are very poor. Poor things. The poor work. The poor are against DADA. He who is against DADA is for me, a famous man said, but then he died. They buried him like a true dadaist. Anno domini Dada Beware! And remember this example.



Take a newspaper.
Take some scissors.
Choose from this paper an article of the length you want to make your poem.
Cut out the article.
Next carefully cut out each of the words that makes up this article and put them all in a bag.
Shake gently. Next take out each cutting one after the other.
Copy conscientiously in the order in which they left the bag.
The poem will resemble you.
And there you are ? an infinitely original author of charming sensibility, even though unappreciated by the vulgar herd.*

when dogs cross the air in a diamond like ideas and the appendix of the meninx tells the time of the alarm programme (the title is mine)
prices they are yesterday suitable next pictures/ appreciate the dream era of the eyes/ pompously that to recite the gospel sort darkens/ group apotheosis imagine said he fatality power of colours/ carved flies (in the theatre) flabbergasted reality a delight/ spectator all to effort of the no more 10 to 12/ during divagation twirls descends pressure/ render some mad single?file flesh on a monstrous crushing stage/ celebrate but their 160 adherents in steps on put on my nacreous/ sumptuous of land bananas sustained illuminate/ joy ask together almost/ of has the a such that the invoked visions/ some sings latter laughs/ exits situation disappears describes she 25 dance bows/ dissimulated the whole of it isn't was/ magnificent ascent has the band better light whose lavishness stage music?halls me/ reappears following instant moves live/ business he didn't has lent/ manner words come these people


There are some people who explain, because there are others who learn. Abolish them and all that's left is dada.
Dip your pen into a black liquid with manifesto intentions ? it's only your autobiography that you're hatching under the belly of the flowering cerebellum.
Biography is the paraphernalia of the famous man. Great or strong. And there you are, a simple man like the rest of them, once you've dipped your pen into the ink, full of


which manifest themselves in forms as diverse as they are unforeseen, which apply to every form of activity and of state of mind and of mimicry: There you are, full of


to keep yourself on the dial of life, in the place where you've only just arrived, to proceed along the illusory and ridiculous upward path towards an apotheosis that only exists in your neurasthenia: there you are, full of


greater, stronger, more profound than all the others.
Dear colleagues: a great man, a little one, a strong, weak, profound, superficial one,
that's why you're all going to die.
There are some people who have antedated their manifestos to make other people believe that they had the idea of their own greatness a little earlier. My dear colleagues: before after, past future, now yesterday,
that's why you're going to die.
There are some people who have said: dada is good because it isn't bad, dada is bad, dada is a religion, dada is a poem, dada is a spirit, dada is sceptical, dada is magic, I know dada.
My dear colleagues: good bad, religion poetry, spirit scepticism,
definition definition,
that's why you're all going to die,
and you will die, I promise you.
The great mystery is a secret, but it's known to a few people. They will never say what dada is. To amuse you once again I'll tell you something like:
dada is the dictatorship of the spirit, or
dada is the dictatorship of language,
or else
dada is the death of the spirit,
which will please many of my friends. Friends.


It is certain that since Gambetta, the war, Panama and the Steinheil affair, intelligence is to be found in the street. The intelligent man has become an all?round, normal person. What we lack, what has some interest, what is rare because he has the anomalies of a precious being, the freshness and liberty of the great antimen, is


Dada is working with all its might towards the universal installation of the idiot. But consciously. And tends itself to become more and more of one.
Dada is terrible: it doesn't feel sorry about the defeats of intelligence.
Dada could rather be called cowardly, but cowardly like a mad dog; it recognises neither method nor persuasive excess.
The lack of garters which makes it systematically bend down reminds us of the famous lack of system which basically, has never existed. The false rumour was started by a laundress at the bottom of her page, the page was taken to the barbaric country where humming-birds act as the sandwich?men of cordial nature.
This was told me by a watch-maker who was holding a supple syringe which, in characteristic memory of the hot countries, he called phlegmatic and insinuating.


Dada is a dog - a compass - the lining of the stomach -neither new nor a nude Japanese girl - a gasometer of jangled feelings - Dada is brutal and doesn't go in for propaganda -Dada is a quantity of life in transparent, effortless and gyratory transformation.


gentlemen and ladies buy come in and buy and don't read you'll see the fellow who has in his hands the key to niagara the man with a game leg in the game box his hemispheres in a suitcase his nose enclosed in a chinese lantern you'll see you'll see you'll see the belly dance in the massachusetts saloon the fellow who sticks the nail in and the tyre goes down mademoiselle atlantide's silk stockings the trunk that goes 6 times round the world to find the addressee monsieur and his fiancee his brother and his sister-in-law you'll find the carpenter's address the toad-watch the nerve like a paper-knife you'll have the address of the minor pin for the feminine sex and that of the fellow who supplies the obscene photos to the king of greece as well as the address of l'action francaise.


DADA is a virgin microbe
DADA is against the high cost of living
limited company for the exploitation of ideas
DADA has 391 different attitudes and colours according to the sex of the president
It changes ? affirms ? says the opposite at the same time ? no importance? shouts ? goes fishing.
Dada is the chameleon of rapid and self?interested change.
Dada is against the future. Dada is dead. Dada is absurd. Long five Dada. Dada is not a literary school, howl

-Tristan Tzara


To "prettify" life in the lorgnette - a blanket of caresses - a panoply with butterflies - that's the life of life's chambermaids.

To sleep on a razor and on fleas in rut - to travel in a barometer - to piss like a cartridge - to make faux pas, be idiotic, take showers of holy minutes - be beaten, always be the last one -shout out the opposite of what the other fellow says - be the editorial office and the bathroom of God who every day takes a bath in us in company with the cesspool clearer - that's the life of dadaists.

To be intelligent - respect everyone- die on the field of honour - subscribe to the Loan - vote for So-and-So - respect for nature and painting - to barrack at dada manifestations - that's the life of men.


DADA is not a doctrine to be put into practice: Dada - is for lying: a successful business. Dada gets into debt and doesn't live on its well-filled wallet. The good Lord created a universal language, that's why people don't take him seriously. A language is a utopia. God can allow himself not to be successful: so can Dada. That's why the critics say: Dada goes in for luxuries, or Dada is in rut. God goes in for luxuries, or God is in rut. Who's right: God, Dada or the critic?
"You're deviating," a charming reader tells me.
-No no, not at all! I simply wanted to reach the conclusion: Subscribe to Dada, the only loan that doesn't pay.


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Who still considers himself very likeable

-Tristan Tzara

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