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    Words and worlds: Dada and the destruction of logos, Zurich 1916

    Scanlan, J (2003) Words and worlds: Dada and the destruction of logos, Zurich 1916. Tout-Fait: The Marcel Duchamp Studies Online Journal, 2 (5). ISSN 1530-0323

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    Abstract

    “If you are alive, you are a Dadaist,” Richard Huelsenbeck wrote in 1920. Huelsenbeck belonged to the now well-known group of poets and performers who came together in Zurich during 1916 under the name Dada. Whilst Dadaist movements appeared in other places, and took on different manifestations, the Zurich Dadaists were concerned principally with poetry and performance. And if Dada may be defined or understood in many ways, it is arguable that to those in Zurich in 1916 Dada was precisely about the ambiguity of language and its relation to the world, and this was not only demonstrated through performances and writing, but also in the attempt to resist the kind of identification that language, seemingly, cannot escape: 'Spit out words: the dreary, lame, empty language of men in society. Simulate gray modesty or madness. But inwardly be in a state of tension. Reach an incomprehensible, unconquerable sphere (Ball, 1996: 77). As the mediator of sense experience and as a regulator of ideas and concepts, the use of language--one may even say, of words--was extremely important to Hugo Ball and the Zurich Dadaists.

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