Hugo Ball (essay date 1916)
SOURCE: “The First Dada Manifesto,” translated by Erdmute Wenzel White, in The Magic Bishop: Hugo Ball, Dada Poet by Erdmute Wenzel White, Camden House, 1998, pp. 228-29.
[In the following reprint of his “First Dada Manifesto,” originally delivered in 1916, Ball relates the significance of Dada.]
Dada is a new art movement. One can tell this from the fact that until now nobody knew a thing about it, and tomorrow everyone in Zurich is going to be talking about it. Dada comes from the dictionary. It is terribly simple. In French it means “hobby horse.” In German it means “so long,” “go fly a kite,” “I'll be seeing you sometime.” In Romanian: “Yes, indeed, you are right, that's it. But of course, yes, it's a deal.” And so forth.
An international word. Just a word, and the word a movement. Very easy to understand. Quite terribly simple. To make an art movement of it must mean that one wants to avoid complications. Dada psychology, Dada Germany cum indigestion and fog paroxysms, Dada literature, Dada bourgeoisie, and yourselves, most honored poets, who are always writing with words but never writing the word itself, who are always writing around the actual point. Dada world war without end, Dada revolution without beginning, Dada, you friends and also-poets, esteemed sirs, manufacturers, and evangelists Dada Tzara, Dada Hülsenbeck, Dada m'dada, Dada m'dada Dada mhm, dada dera dada, Dada Hue, Dada Tza.
How does one achieve eternal bliss? By saying Dada. How does one become famous? By...
(The entire section is 655 words.)