In this blog entry, I will give a quotation, a couple links, a picture, and I’ll also record myself reading from my own strange book.
I’ll divide the post into sections and label them by the following words, in all capital letters: DADA, KAUFMAN, EXTRA, IMAGE, READING, and POSTSCRIPT. Because I think that it makes sense to do so, I’ll start with the first section, which contains a simple quotation from a book that I often re-read:
Here are some words from the chapter called “Beginning at Zero” in Calvin Tomkins’s biography of Marcel Duchamp – they do a good job of hinting at what attracts me to the so-called Dada movement, especially Tristan Tzara’s version of it:
[They] had all come to neutral Switzerland for the same reason: they wanted nothing to do with the suicidal horror of the Great War. It is no coincidence that the Dada movement was launched in the spring of Verdun, whose combined casualties would number more than 750,000 dead and wounded. Dada’s organized insanity was a direct response to the nightmare of unending, meaningless slaughter in the trenches. [...]
It can be argued that Dada was not new, nor was it art. Dada’s spirit of anarchic nihilism had appeared again and again in world literature, from Aristophanes to Rabelais, from Rimbaud to Jarry and beyond. According to Tzara, whose statements and polemics would largely define the movement, Dada was “not at all modern”; it was, in fact, “more in the nature of a return to an almost Buddhist religion of indifference.” As for art, Dada was and remains the only true antiart movement. “Art is not serious I assure you,” said Tzara, while Arp, the mildest of the original dadas and the only one who became, almost in spite of himself, an important artist, once said that “the Dadaists despised what is commonly regarded as art, but put the whole universe on the lofty throne of art. We declared that everything that comes into being or is made by man is art.” The original dadas disagreed with each other on principle, the principle laid down by Tzara when he said that “the true dadas are against Dada,” but they were united in their belief that life was what mattered, not art. The great masterpieces in the museums were tainted, along with the books and the noble ideas of a murderous society that was tearing itself to pieces on the Western front. [...]
For anyone who shares my admiration of Charlie Kaufman, below are a couple things that a recent conversation with a friend caused me to relocate. Neither of the links are new, but I’m posting them in case anyone missed their first appearance.
Link 1: Charlie Kaufman BAFTA Screenwriting Lecture — Kaufman delivered this in 2011. I shared it a while ago, but it’s too good not to share again. Note that the page contains a short video of highlights at the top; then, below that is the full audio file (about an hour long); and lastly there's also a transcript.
Link 2: Theater of the New Ear (two audio plays: Sawbones and Hope Leaves the Theater) — a playlist on YouTube, containing two sound-only productions (they’re divided into 8 separate parts on the playlist): Sawbones is an audio play written and directed by the Coen brothers; it’s about 16 minutes long – the playlist gives full credits, but I’ll just say that one of the actors is Philip Seymour Hoffman. And Hope Leaves the Theater is an audio play written and directed by Charlie Kaufman; starring Meryl Streep, Hope Davis and Peter Dinklage – it’s about an hour long, and I think it’s really great.
This has nothing to do with anything above, but, in case you want something more to listen to, here is something that Mr. Carr's blog introduced me to: it's a video of Norman Mailer and Marshall McLuhan debating each other in 1968. I think it’s interesting to contemplate what each of them is saying, whether you agree with one, both, or neither. (Don’t forget to argue with a member of your family today!)
Here below is a photograph of one side of a silver bag that has a number of strips of transparent tape upon it.
I read another brief passage from my own text: it’s from Gabella St, which is available either individually or in my collected writings. I’ll try to embed it here — if you can't see it from your world, here’s a direct link. And a full transcript of the text is directly below.
Now, if you’re really starving for one more thing to listen to, here’s my latest Furniture Beat.