[Dixielandjazz] Dadaism

Rob McCallum rakmccallum at hotmail.com
Wed May 28 21:30:13 PDT 2003

Hi Bill and Listmates,

While agreeing that the dadaists were cynical, I don't think that, in its
historical context, it is, or was meant to be, trivial.  After all, they did
not desecrate the actual Mona Lisa.  The dadaists were, for the most part,
young men who survived the trenches and the gas of WWI and watched as their
homelands were pulverized over trivial power struggles.  To react cynically
is justifiable.  There were others who reacted in a much less cynical manner
(ex.  All Quiet on the Western Front).  I don't think that Dadaism attempts
to reduce "all human endeavor into trash," as has been suggested, but rather
to react to the absurdities of what was experienced at a particular point in
time, with an absurd gesture.  They were not the only ones disillusioned and
cynical in the late teens.  Wasn't the entire freestyle youth culture of
free love and alcohol of the 1920's and in which jazz blossomed, born of the
exact same issues (disillusionment after the war, the failure of the League
of Nations, a peace treaty that set the stage for more conflict, and the
suspicion that it was all in vain?).

All the best,

Rob McCallum

----- Original Message -----
From: Bill Gunter <jazzboard at hotmail.com>
To: <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>
Sent: Wednesday, May 28, 2003 6:53 PM
Subject: Re: [Dixielandjazz] Dadaism

> Listmates,
> It has been writ:
> >The
> >dadaists rejected the notion that society was a steady stream of
> >chronological improvement through the ages and that the slaughter of WWI
> >proved this.  Therefore, the dadaists were basically pointing out that
> >presumptions of the art world up to that point (what is, is not, art and
> >great art), had to be re thought, because the premise that mankind was
> >advancing was false.  Even though the cynical humor of the dadaists is
> >is generally remembered today, drawing a moustache on the Mona Lisa was
> >actually a very serious statement underneath.
> This is, of course, trivial and is not a serious statement, it is a
> one which attempts to reduce all human endeavor into trash.
> If dadaists wish to take the position that all is basically rubbish and
> there is nothing of value which transcends ordinary things, that is just
> fine. But for dadaists to pretend that this is a profound observation on
> nature of human affairs they are members of the class of people (and a
> class it is, too) known as fools.
> You can take all the dada doodoo and stick it in your ear.
> I'm not saying the surrealism of artists like Dali are worthless - I find
> them hauntingly evocative. But the catch is that if Dali has merit then it
> is no longer da da.
> If the antithesis of "serious" has merit then it is, ipso facto, a
> contradiction and an absurdity. Hence the only way to appreciate dadaism
> to ignore it.
> Respectully submitted,
> Bill "I Draw A Mustache on the Average Atmospherocephalic Bureaucrat in
> Act of Milking a Cranial Harp" Gunter
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