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Tristan Tzara, Surrealism and the Postwar Era, Part One (Prague Dada Miscellany – Part Eight)

Tristan Tzara, Surrealism and the Postwar Era, Part One (Prague Dada Miscellany – Part Eight)

Tristan Tzara’s lecture, delivered in March 1946 in Prague, is introduced with an apology for “the Munich betrayal” and French political participation in it. Tzara then presents a thorough reflection on the birth and development of the Dada movement. Emphasising the feelings of frustration of the 1914-1918 war generation, he shows how “Dada was born out of moral necessity, out of the unshakeable determination to achieve moral absoluteness.”  As one of Dada’s lasting contributions he singles out choosing “spontaneity” as “our one life rule”. Without disregarding the movement’s scandalous aspects, Tzara carefully and eruditely points out its continuity with the revolutionary spirit of French poetry, esp. Rimbaud, Verlaine, Jarry and Apollinaire.This excerpt ends on Tzara’s noting how “out of the ashes of Dada that saw its role as finished” surrealism was born.

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"Modernity today is not in the hands of the poets, but in the hands of the cops" // Louis Aragon
"It is the business of the future to be dangerous" // A.N. Whitehead

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“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we are reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for?…we need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us” // Franz Kafka, letter to Oskar Pollack, 27 January 1904
March 2019
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