Historiograph: Cabaret Voltaire (1983)


THE SCENE: The Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich on 5 February 1916. A cramped barroom filled with tables and chairs. On the walls, lithographs, paintings, collages, and posters by Italian futurists, Picasso, Arp, Janco, etc. In the audience, a packed, murmuring crowd of about fifty local bourgeois, tourists, university students ostentatiously smoking long clay pipes, prostitutes, spies, and assorted bohemian types. On the small stage, a thin woman of about thirty with close-cropped hair, and, at a piano, a gaunt, pale man of about the same age. {1}

VOICE-OVER: “Cabaret Voltaire. Under
this name a group of young artists and
writers has been formed whose aim is to
create a center for artistic entertainment.
The young artists of Zurich are invited to
present themselves at Spiegelgasse 1 with
suggestions and contributions of all kinds.” {2}

THE WOMAN, EMMY HENNINGS: A song about a subject with which you will all empathize, even if you do not empathize with the song:

It never seemed worthwhile
I never got that far
Now I’ve got the clap
I’m in jail
In Saint Lazare
{3}

FROM THE AUDIENCE: If this is artistic entertainment, where’s the art? ANOTHER VOICE: Where’s the entertainment?

HENNINGS, grinning: A love song our pianist wrote a few years ago—banned in Munich, but not yet in Zurich:

Oh, Mary, yours
The blessed egg
While the wanton firebrand
Runs down my leg
{4}

FROM THE AUDIENCE: Squeeze my lemon, sweetheart! ANOTHER VOICE: The criticism of religion is the prerequisite of all criticism!

A FEW DAYS later, the PIANIST, HUGO BALL, joined onstage by several young men who appear to be talking to themselves: A few of our reviews from the local press: “They call themselves ‘entertainers,’ but they might best be termed ‘nihilists’…” Enough of that. “A rather interesting combination of prank and negation…” And that. “…ought to be deported…” Thank you. “The talk of the town…” Good enough. Next, a bit of ancestor-worship: a piece from Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi, followed by a reading from Apollinaire, still alive— {5}

FROM THE AUDIENCE: Boring

STILL LATER: A scene of terrific confusion. Onstage, masked figures representing TRISTAN TZARA, a Romanian poet, MARCEL JANCO, a Romanian painter, HUGO BALL, a German poet and dramatist, RICHARD HUELSENBECK, a Ger­man poet and medical student, EMMY HENNINGS, a German cafe singer, and HANS ARP, an Alsatian artist. They are creating an unholy din. The members of the audience are shouting, laughing, and clapping their hands over their heads. The company replies with sighs of love, belches, poems, with the “moo moo” and “miaow miaow” of medieval Bruitists. TZARA is shaking his buttocks like the belly of an Oriental dancer. JANCO is playing an invisible violin and bowing to the ground. HENNINGS, with the face of a Madonna, is doing the splits. HUELSENBECK is banging a drum non-stop, while BALL accompanies him on the piano. BALL rises and advances to the lip of the stage. {6}

BALL, shouting over the melee: In the midst of the best war of all time in this best of all possible worlds, with severed legs in your laps and corpses in your mouths— {7}

FROM THE AUDIENCE: A general raising of glasses and stamping of feet.

BALL: —I give you dada, a revolutionary—

BALL is replaced onstage by a SALESMAN with a sample-case at his feet and a square bottle in his hand. THE SALESMAN: —new shampoo, the most extraordinary breakthrough in personal hygiene of 1913! Available right now at Bergmann & Co., just across the river at Bahnhofstrasse 51, this remarkable product— {8}

THE SALESMAN is replaced onstage by BALL. BALL, in a furious voice: —is all we have to offer you, and all you will ever need. GADJI BERI—

bimba glandridi laula lonni cadori
gadjama gramma berida bimbala glandri

galassassa laulitalomini
gadji beri bin blassa
glassala laulu cadorsu
sassala bim
gadjama tuffm i zimzalla
binban gligla wowlimai
bin beri ban
o katalominari
rhinozerossola
hopsamen laulitalomini
H000
zim zim urullala zimzim
urullala zimzim zanzibar
zimzalla zam
tuffm im zimbrabim negramai
bumbalo negramai bumbalo
tuffm i zim
gadjama bimbala gadjama
gaga {9}

BEHIND BALL, the members of the company are replaced by young black men in chartreuse suits, who sway from side to side and are heard simultaneously with BALL:
SHA NA NA NA
SHA NA NA      NA NA
SHA NA NA NA
SHA NA NA      NA NA
YIP YIP YIP YIP      YIP YIP
YIP YIP
MUM MUM MUM MUM MUM
MUM
MUM MUM
GADJA JOB {10}

RICHARD HUELSENBECK, as himself, a cruel-looking man in his mid-twenties, emerges from the company in his chartreuse suit, and as the remaining black singers begin a complex display of hand-clapping and finger-popping makes himself heard from behind the drum as BALL removes his mask and returns to the piano.

HUELSENBECK: Not bad! And nothing compared to what we did next! We made marvelous authentic Negro music with primitive instruments—and I played the cantor, an almost mythic personality— {11}

THE SCENE shifts to a tiny recording studio. The last notes of “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” sparked by electric guitar, fade in the air. ELVIS PRESLEY, nineteen, a somewhat older GUITARIST, and a still older BASS-FIDDLE PLAYER put down their instruments. From a glassed-in booth, a dark-haired man of about thirty, SAM PHILLIPS, the producer: Fine, fine, man—hell, that’s different! That’s a pop song now, nearly ’bout! That’s good! {12}

THE SCENE shifts back to the Cabaret Voltaire. HUELSENBECK: —half-black, half-white: UMBA UMBA— {13}

THE SCENE shifts back to the recording studio. The GUITARIST, to ELVIS PRESLEY: Too much Vaseline! Damn, nigger!” {14}

THE SCENE shifts back to the Cabaret Voltaire. HUELSENBECK: —UMBA UMBA, with plenty of Vaseline! Smeared right into the poem that got me out of the Army— {15}{16}

THE SCENE shifts to the site of the Cabaret Voltaire sixty-five years later, now occupied by the Teen ’n Twen Disco. A sparse crowd of young people dance to a bouncy disco medley of old Sex Pistols hits. {17}

BALL, from the disc-jockey booth: What began as an angry joke and a way to beat working, as our little Candide against the times, swiftly grew beyond our control. In the middle of the night, as the students pretended to fight and the philistines pretended to be outraged and we pretended we knew what to do next, spirits dropped on us. Sometimes we were not ourselves and when we were we could never be sure of so remaining. Once a line from Nietzsche came out of my mouth—“He who looks long at monsters must take care he does not become one”—I turned to see whose words these were, but the rest were dancing and their faces were covered with masks that threw the words back upon me. Janco had made us masks out of paper, hair, cardboard, wood: they were meant to change our faces, but instead they changed us into the people the masks represented, and they were not— {18}{19}

THE SCENE shifts back to the Cabaret Voltaire in 1916. As the original company arrays itself in a ludicrous pantomime, BALL continues to speak from the piano.

BALL: —people. In an instant, we became centuries older, and decades younger. Dancing on our stage, we saw the past trying to catch up with us, and the future chasing the past.

FROM THE AUDIENCE, GUY-ERNEST DEBORD, a young man with short dark hair, glasses, and “I’Internationale lettriste” painted down one leg of his trousers, “Ne passera pas” down the other: Lovely words, Herr Ball! But do you and your friends realize that the novelty most discussed in Paris in the Year of the Toad of Nazareth 1957 is something called “dada”? Or that in New York City coagulated undertakers’ mutes are stuffing their mouths with a corpse called “neo-dada”? Tzara, that decrepit Stalinist, is still trying to get his name in the papers, no less Hausmann, that photo-meliorist fraud, while your buddy Huelsenbeck, his pockets bulging with the dollars he’s swindled from neurotic Americans, collects pounds, francs, and marks for the last word on the whole affair, claiming you left it to him in your will! Aren’t you glad you’re dead? {20}{21}

BALL: I was dead when I—

THE SCENE shifts back to the Teen ’n Twen Disco. BALL continues to speak from the disc-jockey booth: —was carried onto the stage. My legs were encased in bright blue cardboard up to my hips so that I looked like an obelisk. I wore a high cardboard collar—

VOICE-OVER, BALL: “—that was scarlet
inside and gilded on the outside. The neck
of the costume was constructed in such a
way that whenever I raised and lowered my
elbows I could raise a kind of wing, which
reached to the floor. My hands were
cardboard claws. I had a blue and white
striped top hat. The crowd was screaming.
And I was recited—” {22}

IN THE Teen ‘n Twen Disco, three female musicians—guitarist, bassist, and a singer banging a cake pan with a ladle—appear onstage dressed in pieces of BALL’s costume, and begin a violent, confusing piece of music announced as “Eisiger Wind.” After a minute, HUELSENBECK, wearing a monocle, joins the three women onstage. As he speaks the music recedes just enough to allow him to be heard, but rushes back at full force whenever he pauses for breath.
{23}{24}

HUELSENBECK: Music of whatever nature is harmonious STROLLING ALWAYS an activity of reason THE TOWN but every movement produces noise, bruitism, ABOUT BLOWED THEM DOWN and bruitism is life itself, it TO TURN BACK cannot be judged like a book, but rather it is GAMBLED AWAY a part of our personality, which attacks us, and pursues us FROM MY WAY and tears us to pieces. SHE’S STROLLING bruitism is a view of life ABOUT THE which compels us to make an ultimate decision: THINGS ROUND with bruitism death ceases to be an escape of the soul YOU NEED TO from earthly misery, and becomes a vomiting, FOR MY SAKE a screaming— {25}

FROM THE AUDIENCE: A teenager sticks a finger down his throat, vomits into his cupped hands, and hurls the result onto the performers. The three women stop playing; HUELSENBECK, wiping his face with his hands and his hands on his suit, continues speaking, dancing jerkily as he does so. {26}

HUELSENBECK: On this spot we took over bruitism without suspecting its philosophy. We desired its opposite: a lullaby for the war. And this bruitism withheld from us. On this spot, the same initiative that in America made ragtime a national music led to the convulsion of bruitism. Every body is doing it, doing it, doing it—And now, for our next attraction, Pere Ubu will give you “(Pa) Ubu Dance Party,” followed by “Blow Daddy-O”—you remember Daddaio, don’t you? {27}{28}{29}{30}

THE SCENE shifts back to the Cabaret Voltaire in 1916. BALL, onstage in his costume:

jolifanto bambla o falli bambla
grossiga m’pfa habla horem…
. {31}

A POWERFULLY BUILT MAN dressed in a dark overcoat and wearing an enormous death’s-head mask enters the cabaret. As BALL begins to chant in a recognizable language, the man takes off his mask, revealing himself as GEORGE GROSZ in his mid-twenties, his face covered with white powder so thick it seems to reach to the bone. He moves from table to table in the cabaret—aging, as he does so, into his late fifties—distributing early twentieth-century postcards of a young mother and child, of a businessman, of an advertisement for shoes, of a camera, each of which features a tiny death’s head: on the face of the child, on the face of the businessman, on the lens of the camera, on the peeled-back sole of the shoe. {32}{33}

VOICE-OVER, BALL: “I became an
alchemist. I was given a guided tour of
Hell. I became a Bishop. On the altar, I
practiced alchemy. I went back to the
church of my youth, and I rode the Holy
Trinity as if in a saddle. I went back a
thousand years, and when I returned I was
a thousand years old. And I was carried off
the stage. {34}{35}

THE SCENE shifts to a large lecture hall in Dresden in 1920. Banners hang over the stage: “JUDGMENT DAY” “NO ONE IS INNOCENT” “THE DECLINE OF THE WEST.” A line of police blocks the stage. In the audience of about two thousand, several hundred people are cursing or blowing whistles and horns. {36}{37}

HUELSENBECK, from the stage: You call yourselves Germans! You believe in the Nation! But a nation is at best a cartel of pelt merchants and at worst a cultural association of psychopaths—wholike you, march off with a volume of Goethe in your backpacks, ready to skewer anyone else with the good conscience of Kultur. But dada! With dada for the first time in history the proper conclusion has been drawn from the question you have refrained from asking yourselves: What is German culture? The answer, Meine Damen and Herren, is shit— {38}

FROM THE AUDIENCE, small bands of spectators make abortive attempts to breach the police line. HUELSENBECK, and RAOUL HAUSMANN, a short, beetle-browed man with the physique of a wrestler, and JOHANNES BAADER, a much older, bearded, bald man, rush across the stage in irregular fashion.

HAUSMANN, yelling: So! You’re not satisfied! The dadaist heroism of the Council of Non-Salaried Workers didn’t satisfy your spirits, and the meals you’ve made of the flesh of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht haven’t satisfied your palates! {HAUS­MANN takes hold of the “JUDGMENT DAY” banner and pulls it to the floor.} And I will not satisfy you with this: {39}

fmsbwtözäu
LSMFT
pggiv—..?mu {40}

VOICE-OVER: “Words do not play, nor
do they make love, as that somnambule
Breton thought—they work, as Carroll
knew, and on behalf of the dominant
organization of life, which is why Breton
satisfied himself with a call for poetry in
the service of the revolution and we live for
a revolution in the service of poetry. Save
for those moments that have been written
out of the history books, small circles of
poetic adventure are the only places where
the totality of revolution subsists.
Certainly, dada realized all the possibilities
of language: but the realization of poetry
means a world where everyone is the creator
of his or her own life. As we put it years
ago:
YOUNG GUYS, YOUNG GIRLS
Talent wanted for getting
out of this and playing
Whether you’re beautiful
or you’re bright
History could be on your
side
WITH THE SITUATIONISTS
No telephone.
Write or turn up:
32, rue de la Montagne-Genevieve,
Paris 5e.
“Who ever made a better offer? But even
after dada a new literature of passivity
continues to thrive. Why? Because there
can be no freedom to ‘say everything’
without the freedom to do everything.” {41}

THE SCENE shifts to a pleasantly furnished living room. HAUSMANN, as an old man, speaking through a long tube, then hefting it like a harpoon and high-stepping: {42}
OFFEAHBDC
BDG—

HAUSMANN, hammering his tube to the floor: Enough, enough! You don’t think I remember this 1918 crap by heart, do you?

THE SCENE shifts back to the Cabaret Voltaire in 1916, but now festooned in the manner of the Dresden lecture hall, and with brutal photomontages of HAUSMANN’s face spewing letters re­placing some of the art on the walls. HAUSMANN, HUELSENBECK, and BAADER are onstage, chanting. {43}

FROM THE AUDIENCE, GUY-ERNEST DEBORD: “pggiv—… ?mu”—of course! But there can be no freedom to say everything without the freedom to do everything. Dada had a chance to realize itself with the Spartacist revolution, but its failure made your failure inevitable: dada has become merely the expression of un­conscious everyday liberty, of its conscious nothingness. {44}

THE SCENE shifts to a Paris nightclub. The walls are covered with identical posters:

ISIDORE ISOU PRESENTS
AT THE TABOU
THE UNIVERSE OF “NOISE”
THE ONLY
music poetry
POSSIBLE
13 LETTRIST POETS 13
14 OCTOBER 1950

GIL J WOLMAN, a young man with a thin moustache, stands on a table. {45} WOLMAN: Hugo Ball said we must withdraw into the innermost alchemy of the word. We have done it. Isou says that truths no longer entertaining become lies–we cannot stop where Ball stopped. And now we know that to be against the power of words is to be against power. {46}{47}{48}

WOLMAN proceeds to create a pre-phonetic explosion that supersedes any lexical description. Unknown tongues flow from his mouth, but not tongues in the sense of languages—these are the organs as such, searching the air and slamming against the cheeks and teeth. The two dozen or so people in the Tabou, all standing, lean forward, some grasping their companions; WOLMAN’s performance seems to create an absence they can feel. Hideous, barely human noises shoot through the room. WOLMAN sounds like a primeval Homo erectus on the verge of discovering speech but not yet ready to recognize it. Clicks, coughs, grunts, and broken moans reach crescendos and dissolve. Suddenly, WOLMAN seems to form an actual signifier, and panic invades his performance. Like a man trying to catch a fly in his fist, WOLMAN struggles to hold onto the phonemes, but they escape. {49}

THE SCENE shifts back to the Cabaret Voltaire in 1916. BALL, onstage in his cardboard costume, is flanked by WOLMAN. The two continue their performances simultaneously, until after a half-minute WOLMAN is replaced by a SHADE of BALL in identical costume, to whom BALL speaks.

VOICE-OVER: “All mystics start their
psychic adventures with a profound
introversion—as adults, they live through
the distorting fantasies of infancy. Like a
patient in a successful psychoanalysis, a
mystic may emerge as a more integrated
personality. But the mystic may also
introject the gigantic parental images in
their omnipotent, most aggressive aspects
, and emerge as a nihilistic megalomaniac.
Such was the case with the adepts of the
Brethren of the Free Spirit in the
fourteenth century.” {50}

BALL: Whence have you come?
THE SHADE: I come from nowhere.
BALL: What are you?
THE SHADE: I am not.
BALL: What is your name?
THE SHADE: I am called Nameless Wildness.
BALL: Where do you lead?
THE SHADE: Into untrammeled desire.
BALL: What is untrammeled desire?
THE SHADE: When a man lives according to all his caprices, without distinguish­ing between God and himself, and without looking before or after. {51}

ON THE STAGE of the Cabaret Voltaire, the SHADE is replaced by WOLMAN, who continues his performance as BALL collapses and is carried off the stage by four members of the original company. {52}

THE SCENE shifts to a small, crowded lecture room in Berlin in February 1918. HUELSENBECK is alone behind a lectern on which is mounted a poster that reads:

CLUB DADA
Wonder of Wonders!
The Dadaist world can be realized in a
single moment!
Rhythms International: Director, R. Huelsenbeck
Applications for membership taken at the
Business Office:
Charlottenburg, Kanstrasse 118 #3 {53}

HUELSENBECK: I am here tonight to be the first to bring you the word dada, which stands for a revolutionary new innovation in the arts—and in life—an innovation that as one of my situationist epigones put it in 1958 promises all of you the possibility of a radical change in your way of life, a change you will experience right away, a movement—dada is not a movement, it is movement—that to cite my friend once again finally brings us face to face with the question of a popular avant-garde. This extraordinary breakthrough in spiritual hygiene was brought forth two years ago in Zurich, at a cabaret that called itself Voltaire. But of course what you really want to know is: where does dada stand on the war? I can tell you: dada is for the war and dada has always been for war. Life must hurt—there aren’t enough cruelties!{54}

FROM THE AUDIENCE, a ONE-LEGGED YOUNG MAN in an Army uniform rises on his crutch and shouts: What do you know, you shit-eating punk? Where is your wound? Who are you to speak? {55}

HUELSENBECK: Life must hurt those who are so stupid as to think they can wring glory from cruelties—or art from Expressionist omphaloskepsis—and, obviously, you have not been hurt enough. Better that you should have lost your head. Who am I to speak? I am he whose poetry was so disgusting the recruiting officer would not have me: SHA NA NA, Mein kleiner Kerl. Clearly, you were not a poet. {56}

AS THE members of the audience leap from their seats the ONE-LEGGED YOUNG MAN advances on the stage. THE SCENE shifts back to the Dresden lecture hall, where groups of spectators brandishing legs they have broken off their chairs smash through the police line. {57}

HUELSENBECK, shouting over his shoulder as he, HAUSMANN, and BAADER head for the wings: Ever had the feeling you’ve been cheated? {58}

THE SCENE shifts back to the Cabaret Voltaire in 1916. GUY-ERNEST DEBORD leaves his table and climbs onto an empty stage; BALL, HUELSENBECK, and the rest of the company are seen at the bar. Reaching into his pockets, DEBORD removes rolls of crepe and unfurls them into the crowd. The audience stretches them from table to table to read their inscriptions: “NEVER WORK!” “FREE THE PAS­SIONS” “IF WE DON’T DIE HERE WILL WE GO FARTHER?” “CULTURE IS THE INVERSION OF LIFE” “NO CARS SOLD HERE.” {59}{60}{61}{62}{63}{64}

DEBORD, from the stage: Ever had the feeling we’ve been cheated, Herr Huelsen­beck? Every day, in a world where everything that was once lived has been made over into a representation, just as your last performance was a facile representation of the revolt you discovered on this very stage but were never able to move off it. Every day, when we face the fact that the creation of real novelties—what you would probably call history—stopped dead somewhere between the time the revolutionary councils of Petrograd and Berlin were erased by the social democrats and the Bolsheviks—surely you remember the Council of Non-Salaried Workers, Herr Huelsenbeck, or was that just a press release?—and Durruti was shot; somewhere between the time M. Tzara capitulated to the surrealists, the surrealists capitulated to the art they pro­moted, Herr Ball died, I was born, and you escaped from Germany, thus standing on its head a moment we remember as if we made it— {65}

THE SCENE shifts to the Convention in Paris on 3 March 1794. In the well of the assembly, at the podium, LOUIS ANTOINE SAINT-JUST, a man in his early twenties, with smooth, soft features that belie the command in his voice and make him seem almost a teenager, continues speaking: —when Europe learns that you no longer desire misery on French soil, then will this example bear fruit across the Earth; when the love of virtue and happiness spreads everywhere! Happiness is a new idea in Europe. Thus I propose to you the following decree— {66}

THE SCENE shifts back to the Cabaret Voltaire.

DEBORD: —and abandoning us to realize it on our own. And while we have, as you and everyone else would understand it, spent the last years doing nothing, we have not been idle: we have learned the first principles— {67}
AS BALL and company head back from the bar to the stage, DEBORD scatters a handful of bright orange leaflets over the heads of the crowd. BALL and the rest rather drunkenly elbow DEBORD off the stage; sneering, HUELSENBECK retrieves one of the orange leaflets and loudly reads it out. {68}

HUELSENBECK: “If you think you’re a GENIUS—or merely brilliant—address yourself to the LETTRIST INTERNATIONAL, 32, rue de la Montagne-Genevieve, Paris 5e.” Odd—our young friend here doesn’t seem much of a genius. What’s your problem, son—looking for someone interesting to talk to?

THE SCENE shifts to a 1920 Munich lecture room. About one hundred people sit politely as HUELSENBECK, at a lectern, speaks. {69}

HUELSENBECK: The unprecedented efflorescence that is dada began in 1916 in Zurich. Then and there, Hugo Ball, Tristan Tzara, Emmy Hennings, myself, and others brought forth a cabaret that called itself “Voltaire.” But of course what you really want to know is: whence came the magic word “dada”? Allow me to tell you. It was in March of that same year that I— {70}

THE SCENE shifts to a subterranean London nightclub, the Roxy, in early 1977. A noisy, sweating crowd jams itself against a three-foot-high stage, where three male teenagers—guitarist, bassist, and drummer—and two female teenagers—saxophon­ist and singer—stand laughing. In the audience, young people in various gender combinations, dressed and made-up in a style that might be called neo-traffic acci­dent, grab each other around the necks. Slogans are painted up and down their clothing: “KILL ME” “DEMAND THE IMPOSSIBLE” “WHERE IS DURUTTI?” “DATSUN” “WHO IS DURUTTI?” “NO FUTURE” “NO CARS SOLD HERE.” In the back of the room, GEORGE GROSZ, again in his death’s-head mask, at­tempts to pass out his postcards to people on the fringes of the crowd. The singer, POLY STYRENE, a pudgy, dark-skinned girl with short curly hair and braces on her teeth, pulls her microphone out of its stand. {71}

POLY STYRENE: IMPROVE YOUR MIND! Some people say that little girls should be seen and not heard. But I SAY— {72}

THE SCENE shifts to a cafe in the rue de Four in Paris in 1953. Several people are dispiritedly arguing; more are sleeping in their chairs or on benches up against mirror-lined walls. DEBORD, WOLMAN, and a few others sit around a table covered with wine bottles and glasses. {73}

DEBORD: The new beauty can only be a beauty of shuations. I’ve said it a hundred times in a hunerd different ways. Why can’t I make you understand? {74}

AT THE table, a YOUNG WOMAN: Guy­

DEBORD, bitterly: Art is dead.

THE SCENE shifts back to the Cabaret Voltaire in 1916. TRISTAN TZARA, a small, dark man wearing black eye make-up and black lipstick: Art is dead!

HUELSENBECK, from behind the drum: Elvis is dead!

FROM THE AUDIENCE, MALCOLM McLAREN, a red-haired man in his early thirties with bright, gleeful eyes: Huelsenbeck is dead! Only a year too soon and too bad! He would have loved it! {75}

BALL, from the piano: Not to be born prevails over all meaning uttered in words; by far the second-best for life, once it has appeared, is to go as swiftly as possible whence it— {76}

HUELSENBECK: You’re out of your mind.

THE SCENE shifts back to the Munich lecture hall in 1920. HUELSENBECK, at the lectern: Thus it must be clear to any thinking person of the New Age that—

FROM THE AUDIENCE, a WELL-DRESSED INTELLECTUAL: Herr Huelsen­beck, is the rest going to be as boring as what we have heard so far? We can’t just sit here and let everybody read from his Ph.D. thesis. {77}

THE SCENE shifts to the Park Avenue consulting room of a psychoanalyst in 1950. HUELSENBECK, as a rather heavy-set middle-aged man in a double-breasted suit: I—I am, do not have a Ph.D. I am a doctor of medicine. I am a colleague of Dr. Karen Horney, and my name is Charles R. Hulbeck. {78}{79}

THE SCENE shifts back to the Munich lecture room. FROM THE AUDIENCE, a YOUNG MAN with sensual Semitic features and curly black hair beginning in an elephant’s trunk and ending in a D.A.: Herr Huelsenbeck! Are you acquainted with M. Tristan Tzara? {80}

HUELSENBECK: Why, he was my comrade at the Cabaret Voltaire! Everybody knows that!

THE SCENE shifts to a Paris lecture room in 1947. HUELSENBECK, as Dr. Charles R. Hulbeck, is in the audience, as is MALCOLM McLAREN, who has fallen asleep. At the lectern, the YOUNG MAN with black curly hair. {81}

THE YOUNG MAN: So much for Tristan Tzara. I am Isidore Isou, author of The Real Creators and Falsifiers of Dada, among several dozen other works, a complete bibliography of which will be made available after my manifestation to any member of the audience who might wish to examine it. Now, what you fail to understand about dadaism, Dr. Hulbeck, is that it contains, indeed encapsulates, the culmina­tion of a system, a system inherent in the very mechanics of invention, a system which I am the first to discern, and that system is lettrism— {82}

THE SCENE shifts back to the Cabaret Voltaire. ISOU is seen in the audience; onstage, HUELSENBECK, as a very old man with a riding crop in his hand, flails the air with such force each stroke can be heard. {83}

HUELSENBECK: What I do not understand about dada could fill the ocean—and neither your so-called system nor that of anyone else can ever be more than a drop in the ocean—TRABDYA LA MODJERE MAGAMORE MAGA— {84}{85}

HUELSENBECK continues to chant and slash at the air, swiftly receding in age as he does so. An obviously drunken EMMY HENNINGS appears behind him and collapses onto his unattended drum. She rises, reaches beneath her skirt, pulls out a bloody rag, raises it over her head, and as the audience recoils in horror flings it into the crowd. Most of the audience heads for the door; the rest of it attempts to climb the stage to attack HENNINGS, who is defended by JANCO, ARP, TZARA, and HUELSENBECK from the stage and by GROSZ and a few others from the floor. A man pulls HUELSENBECK from the stage and begins to kick him; assuming a boxing posture, GROSZ shatters the man’s jaw. HENNINGS, pointing down at a man and a woman from the crowd who have grabbed her legs, begins to shout—a shout that BALL, hitting the piano keys, and TZARA, squealing and stamping on the arms of the couple, instantly turn into a piece of rhythm. {86}{87}

HENNINGS: Like your blouse, baby—

I can see through that
Makes me want to take you home
And fuck you
{88}

THE SCENE shifts back to the Roxy, with POLY STYRENE and her band in the middle of a performance. As the crowd begins to spill onto the stage, POLY STY­RENE thrusts her microphone into the hand of a young woman in the front line of the audience, snatching it back after a few garbled expletives course through the P.A., and handing it to a young man, who offers more weightless curse words. In the middle of the crowd, a THIN MAN dressed as a Quaker, but with his linen stained with tobacco juice, strips off his garments and dashes naked to the edge of the stage. He grabs the microphone from the young man. {89}{90}

THE THIN MAN, in a high, keening voice: Fuck, you say. Fuck your mother. Fuck your father. Fuck the King. Bugger the Queen. You say it but you don’t know it. I know it. I am Abiezer Coppe, I make all things return to their Original, into God and out of Him. It prevails over all meaning uttered in words to fuck Him—I have done it—

THE SCENE shifts back to the Cabaret Voltaire. BALL is onstage in his cardboard Bishop’s-alchemist’s outfit, reciting a sound poem. His SHADE appears in identical costume.

BALL: gaga di bling bong gaga blung gaga blung gaga— {91}

HIS SHADE, simultaneously: Man, no. Prick and cunt, cunt and prick— {92}

BALL stops speaking. The SHADE breaks off pieces of his costume, revealing him­self, naked, as COPPE. From the company, HENNINGS steps forward, drops to her knees, wraps her arms around COPPE’s waist, and buries her face in his buttocks. BALL, the company, and the audience are frozen. {93}

COPPE: Thus saith the Lord: Go up to London, that great city, write, write, write. And behold I writ, and lo a hand was sent to me, and a roll of a book was therein, and a rock of wisdom, and before the time. Whereupon it was snatched out of my hand, and the roll thrust into my mouth, and I eat it up, and filled my bowels with it, and it lay broiling, and burning in my stomach, till I brought it forth in this form— {94}

COPPE vomits into his cupped hands, and drips the result down his naked body. {95}

COPPE: Thus saith the Lord, that I overturn, overturn, overturn, THAT I FUCK, that I am UNIVERSAL LOVE, and whose service is perfect freedom, and pure LIBER­TINISM— {96}

HENNINGS and the company come to their senses, and carry a still-immobile BALL off the stage. As BALL disappears into the wings, COPPE vanishes.

THE SCENE shifts back to the Dresden lecture hall in 1920. The members of the audience, faced with an empty stage, drop their broken chair legs and turn toward the exits, muttering and cursing. Onstage, BAADER reappears from the wings.

BAADER: One more thing: I am the Oberdada, I am Josephus Smith, I am Johannes B. Krystuus, I am the President of the Christ Society, Inc., God can do nothing without me, if you want the sun to rise tomorrow, listen up— {97}{98}

THE SCENE shifts back to the Cabaret Voltaire. From the audience, a YOUNG MAN in a dandified 1830’s suit, with slicked-back dark hair and aquiline Semitic features, takes the vacant stage. He rips open his vest, throws off his coat, and exposes a t-shirt on which “YOUNG HEGELIANS” is spelled out in block letters. {99}

THE YOUNG MAN, spreading his arms: All right! The criticism of religion is the prerequisite of all criticism: we’re through with that. We move on to the world of which religion was the halo, and that world is beneath all criticism, but it remains an object of criticism in the same way that the criminal who is beneath the level of humanity remains an object for the executioner. The object of criticism is its enemy, which it aims not to refute but to destroy­. {100}

FROM THE AUDIENCE: Hey, if you can’t sing, can you dance?

THE YOUNG MAN, rattled: Now, now, this dadaism is a stratagem by which the artist imparts to the citizen the inner unrest that keeps him from falling asleep—it is a compensation for the citizen’s lack of urgency—the important thing is not to permit a moment of self-deception or resignation— {101}

FROM THE AUDIENCE, a YOUNG ARAB: Boredom is always counter-revolutionary! A TOURIST: Speaking of boredom— {102}

THE YOUNG MAN, almost hysterical: The actual burden of life must be made even more burdensome by creating an— {103}

FROM THE AUDIENCE, the YOUNG ARAB, shouting down the YOUNG MAN: —humiliation that must be made even more humiliating by making it public! {104}

VOICE-OVER, the YOUNG MAN, beside
himself: “These petrified conditions must
be made to dance by having their own tune
sung to them. The people must be put in
terror of themselves in order to
give them courage.” {105}

THE SCENE shifts back to the Roxy. Pushing and shoving members of the audience from the stage, POLY STYRENE and her band reassemble and face the crowd.

POLY STYRENE: I—AM—A—CLICHE! {106}

THE BAND launches into a song, led by a shattering, finger-painting blast from the young female saxophone player.

THE SCENE shifts back to the Cabaret Voltaire. A huge, serpentine comic strip made up of cartoons, drawings, and photos with balloons and side panels crammed with lettering covers the walls. Random images are glimpsed: a Trojan horse, a movie star, an orgy, two mounted cowboys (“But what do you really care about?” says one. “Reification,” says the other), children playing, a golem, a medieval banquet. From the audience, the sounds of impatience and disgust are overwhelming. HUELSEN­BECK, in blackface, leads the company out of the wings and pitches the YOUNG MAN into the audience. {107}{108}

HUELSENBECK, switching his riding crop from hand to hand as the company arrays itself about him in a moving circle: The point is to create a situation that goes beyond the point of no return—we have not done it. But what we are going to do in Strasbourg will for all its triviality threaten the world! {109}

FROM THE COMPANY: OOOOOOOO!

HUELSENBECK: Our reviews will prove it!

FROM THE COMPANY: AHHHHHHHH!

HUELSENBECK: As the Bishop said 599 years ago: “They believe that all things are common, whence they conclude that theft is lawful for them”—of course! How many of you paid to get in? The theft of goods is the prerequisite to the theft of the ruling idea; the theft of a bottle is only the precursor to the theft of the moment! {110}

FROM THE COMPANY: OOOOOOOO!

HUELSENBECK: Look at yourselves in this mirror: every ideological explanation of the world has collapsed, and not a minute too soon. The ideologist is the man who falls for the fraud perpetrated by his own intellect, and the dadaist is the freest human being on earth. Life is made up of moments— {111}{112}

FROM THE COMPANY: AHHHHHHHH!

HUELSENBECK: —everything you have witnessed has been only a moment—

FROM THE COMPANY: OOOOOOOO!

HUELSENBECK: —and the ideologist wants only the tyranny of one moment over all the others—

IN THE back of the room, a modestly dressed YOUNG WOMAN enters the cabaret, looks nervously from side to side, then takes a step back as she sees the spectacle on the stage. {113}

THE YOUNG WOMAN: My God, Richard, what have you got on your face?

HUELSENBECK: —the exemplary gestures of avant-garde minorities are the only form of radical— {114}

THE YOUNG WOMAN: Richard, if you don’t get down from there this moment, I won’t—I, I won’t ever!

HUELSENBECK glances wildly from side to side, and then jumps from the stage and rushes to the YOUNG WOMAN. BALL, dressed in a plain suit, follows, and grabs HUELSENBECK by the coat.

BALL: Get back up there! We’ve got a show to do!

AS THE CROWD hoots and cheers, the YOUNG MAN and the YOUNG ARAB along with everyone else, HUELSENBECK turns to face BALL, turns again to the YOUNG WOMAN, and breaks BALL’s grip. Accepting a handkerchief from the YOUNG WOMAN, HUELSENBECK wipes off the blackface and follows the YOUNG WOMAN out of the cabaret. The YOUNG ARAB beats BALL back to the stage, and bows to the company.

THE YOUNG ARAB: We admire you, and so we had to go farther. The few would-have-been Strasbourgeois who understood what we had been saying since we announced that history was on our side took over their university and invited us to help turn it upside down. I held their hands. They fucked in the student union, put the psychiatric faculty out of business, used student funds to produce a manifesto denouncing students and every stupid hope you put in their heads, raised the Bishop from a grave 649 years cold and forced him to tell the world who they were and what they wanted. We had a good time. We did little that you didn’t, except that— {115}

BACK AT THE piano, BALL begins “It’s a Long, Long Way to Tipperary.” The audience joins in. {116}

THE YOUNG ARAB, shouting, and smiling: —we didn’t do it in a nightclub. We forced society to finance, publicize, and then broadcast a revolutionary critique of itself, and then to confirm that critique by the hysteria and violence of its reaction to it. Imagine: we played with a mere school, and got the notices you’ve only dreamt of: “. . . a systematic rejection of all forms of social and political organization in the West and the East, and of all the groups trying to change them . . . based on the methods of the anarchist Durruti, who during the Spanish Civil War went from village to village destroying the entire social structure and leaving the survivors to rebuild everything from scratch . . . these cynics do not hesitate to commend theft, the abolition of work, and an irreversible worldwide proletarian revolution with ‘un­trammeled desire’ as its only goal—” God save the Queen, the fascist regime. Thank you.
{117}{118}{119}{120}{121}

THE YOUNG ARAB leaves the stage. From the audience, MALCOLM McLAREN and a friend leave their table and begin to cover the comic strip on the walls with posters. {122}

McLAREN, holding a poster that reads, “WE HAVE A WORLD OF PLEASURES TO WIN AND NOTHING TO LOSE BUT BOREDOM”: I know what the politics of boredom are! If you talk about revolution without talking about the life we live everyday, you have a corpse in your mouth! {123}{124}{125}

McLAREN and his friend push their way onto the stage, where they nail up a huge poster. COPPE, naked, reappears from the audience and reads the poster aloud as McLAREN and his friend return to the audience and move from table to table attempting to sell copies of their work.

COPPE: “LAST DAYS—OFFICIAL WARNING—CLOSING DOWN SALE—Buy now while stocks last!—This establishment will be closing soon owing to the pending collapse of monopoly capitalism—” {126}

BALL rises from the piano in his cardboard costume. COPPE takes the stage. The YOUNG ARAB is seen in the audience, choking with glee; DEBORD is seen; GROSZ is seen, holding his mask in his hands. Beer is hurled at the stage; a curtain of spit follows it. No one retreats. From the audience, an INTELLECTUAL in his seventies rises.

THE INTELLECTUAL: Enough! What good is this, what good is your thinking, your writing, your acting, if your only possible achievement is to add to the line of failure and self-destruction that runs from Jude to Artaud? This leads to nothing but stupor and death— {127}

A NOISE, like that of POLY STYRENE’s band or that of the three women seen earlier—but slower, more implacable, less forgiving—takes over the room. From the audience, an UGLY YOUNG MAN, hunched over, with spiked orange hair, shat­tered clothing, and unblinkingly cruel eyes, climbs onto the stage.

BALL, from the stage: Oh Mary, yours the blessed egg- {128}

DEBORD, from the audience: —of the witch-doctor of Bethlehem! {129}

HENNINGS, from the stage: —I never got that far— {130}

HAUSMANN, as an old man, emerges from the wings and jabs COPPE off the stage with his long speaking tube. {131}

HAUSMANN, shouting through his tube and dancing: Dada was the issue of an indifferent Creator, and you could not abide the destruction of your idols, the Beautiful, the Good, the Truth, by the Innovator, the fearless and intransigent DADA— {132}

THE NOISE rises. THE UGLY YOUNG MAN takes HAUSMANN’s tube and shoves him to one side. DEBORD laughs. Onstage, the UGLY YOUNG MAN stares down the crowd like a man from another planet. In the audience, GROSZ replaces his death’s-head mask.

BALL, in his costume, calmly: zingata pimpalo ögrögöööö— {133}

COPPE, from below the stage: Did you not see? You did not see. I have seen—

THE UGLY YOUNG MAN: I am the Antichrist— {134}

BLACK OUT


Common Knowledge, 1993 (originally written in 1983)


NOTES

(19 October 1983, revised 31 October 1992, updated 10 June 2017)

“Historiograph” was a first attempt to wrestle with the material that ultimately found its way into my book Lipstick Traces. That book never rediscovered—or found a way to really use—the voice in “Historiograph,” but in the same way the book, more than the following reference notes, constitutes the footnote to “Historiograph.” On the other hand, the footnotes, which were written not for publication but simply as an attempt to keep the story straight, may be easier to follow. Over the years, many sources that in 1983 were fugitive or unavailable in English have appeared in book form or in translation; I have updated these notes only to cite a minimum of relevant new publications.

As to the form of these notes: Distortion means that while the passage referenced is substantively accurate in terms of time, place, speaker, actor, and words or actions attributed, aspects have been altered, rewritten, compressed, etc. Transposition means that while the incident in question took place or that the words cited were written or spoken, such did not occur in the context indicated, or cannot actually be attributed to the person here held responsible.
– GM


1. “The Cabaret Voltaire…” See Annabelle Melzer, Latest Rage the Big Drum: Dada and Surrealist Performance (Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1980), 12-13.

2. “Cabaret Voltaire. Under…” Press notice by Hugo Ball (1886-1927), along with his wife-to-be Emmy Hennings (1885 —1948), the originator of the Cabaret Voltaire. The notice appeared in the Neue Ziircher Zeitung on 4 February 1916. See Ball, Flight Out of Time (New York: Viking, 1974; originally published in 1927 as Die Flucht aus der Zeit, trans. from the German by Ann Raimes based on the 1946 edition {Lucerne: Joseph Stocker}), 50. The book is drawn from Ball’s diaries from 1914 through 1921, much revised and self-censored in light of Ball’s post-dada reconversion to Catholicism. Notice slightly compressed and rephrased.

3. “It never seemed…” Transposition. From “A Saint-Lazare,” a song by the French cabaret satirist Aristide Bruant (1851-1925), which Emmy Hennings sang in Ferdinand Hardekopf’s translation from the French to the German in 1914 in Munich, at a “one-night” cabaret called the Red Line. See Marietta (Marie Kirndorfer), “Klabund,” in Paul Raabe, ed., The Era of German Expressionism (Dallas: riverrun press, 1980, trans. from the German by J.M. Ritchie). The second line is very slightly rephrased for more likely English, though the translation, at least from French-German-English, seems quite off. In Raabe it is “It’s never seemed worth while/I never got very far/Now I’ve got the ‘clap’ in jail/In Saint Lazare.” In Bruant’s original the first verse is:

C’est de d’la prison que j’t’ecris,
Mon pauv’ Polyte,
Hier je n’sais pas c’qui m’a pris,
A la visite;
C’est des maladi’s qui s’vioent pas
Quand fa s’diclare,
N’empech’ qu’ aujourd’hui j’suis dans tas,
A Saint-Lazare!

See Bruant, Dans la Rue: Chansons et Monologues (Paris: Bruant). There is no reason to think that Hennings ever sang this song in the Cabaret Voltaire, or any reason to think that she did not.

4. “A love song our pianist…” Transposition, distortion. The “song” here is from Ball’s poem “Der Henker” (The Hangman), which appeared in the first (January 1913) number of the review Revolution, founded by Ball and Hans Leybold in Munich, and was collected in Ball’s Der Henker von Brescia (Munich: Rowolt, 1914). From Hans J. Kleinschmidt’s “The New Man—Armed with Weapons of Doubt and Defiance,” the introduction to Richard Huelsen­beck’s Memoirs of a Dada Drummer, ed. Kleinschmidt (New York: Viking, 1974; Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991); trans. from the German by Joachim Neugroschel of Mit Witz, Licht and Griitze: Auf den Spuren des Dadaismus (Wiesbaden: Limes Verlag, 1957), xvi. Kleinschmidt comments: “Revolution did not survive 1913, dying after five issues. The very first number was confiscated by the police because of Ball’s poem… in fact, for a while it looked as if Ball would have to stand trial for blasphemy.” The trouble was caused by the lines quoted, the first of which I have vulgarly rewritten for rhyme; the original is “Oh, Mary, you are blessed among women.” The translation of the poem from the German is by Kleinschmidt. There is no indication that Ball or anyone else ever sang or recited these lines at the Cabaret Voltaire.

5. “A few of our reviews…” Distortion, transposition. The first and third quotes are versions of press comments on the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich. The third is my invention. The fourth is a post-1916 generic comment. There is no reason to think reviews were ever read out at the Cabaret Voltaire. However, readings from both Apollinaire and Jarry were featured at early performances; see Dawn Ades, Dada and Surrealism Reviewed (London: Arts Council of Great Britain, 1978), 57.

6. “A scene of…” Distortion. A rewrite of a passage from “Dadaland” by Hans Arp (1887-1966), a description written in 1948 of the lost 1917 painting Cabaret Voltaire by Marcel Janco (1895-1984), a reproduction of which can be found in Ball, Flight. See Arp, Arp on Arp: Poems, Essays, Memories, ed. Marcel Jean (New York: Viking, 1972, trans. from the German by Joachim Neugroschel), 234. Arp writes that the figures in Janco’s painting were “repre­senting” the Cabaret Voltaire company, but they were not, in his description or Janco’s depiction, masked, as I have it. Nor did Arp identify the participants by first name or vocation, as I have done.

7. “BALL, shouting…” This speech is invented. Regarding the transposition “with corpses in your mouths,” see note 125 below.

8. “BALL is replaced…” Transposition. Dada shampoo was advertised in Zurich in 1913 and marketed by Bergmann & Co., etc. See Hans Arp and Richard Huelsenbeck, eds., Dada in Zurich (Zurich: Peter Schifferli Verlag, 1957).

9. “…GADJI BERI…” From Ball’s 1916 sound-poem “Gadji beri bimba,” which was read out at the Cabaret Voltaire. For the text see Karl Riha, ed., 113 dada gedichte (Berlin: Verlag Klaus Wagenbach, 1982), 34. The poem as cited here is not complete, and a few lines have been dropped internally. “Gadji beri bimba” was used as the basis for Talking Heads’ “I Zimbra,” on Fear of Music (Sire Records, 1979).

10. “BEHIND BALL…” Transposition, distortion. The “black men” are the doo-wop quartet the Silhouettes, and the lines are from their 1958 number one hit, “Get a Job” (Ember Records).

11. “We made…” Transposition. From Richard Huelsenbeck (1892-1974), “First Dis­course on Dada in Germany,” 18 February 1918, at the New Secession Room of the Neumann Gallery, Berlin; see Dada Berlin: 1916-1924 (Paris: Musee de l’Art Moderne, c. 1976), 7. Compressed and slightly rewritten. I do not have the German text of this talk; the version quoted here was trans. from the German to French by Raoul Hausmann, and trans. from the French by Jo Ann Fordham. The excerpted version of this talk included in Richard Huelsenbeck, ed., Dada: Ein literarische Dokumentation (Hamburg: Rowolt Verlag, 1964), includes none of this material.

12. “…to a tiny recording studio…” Studio dialogue from Elvis Presley’s first official recording session, 5 July 1954, as reproduced on Good Rocking Tonight, a bootleg rockabilly anthology (Bopcat, Holland). A bowdlerized version appears on Elvis Presley, The Complete Sun Sessions (RCA). See my Mystery Train (New York: Dutton, 1975, 6th ed., 2015), 156.

13. “…UMBA UMBA—” From Huelsenbeck, Memoirs, 9: “My Negro poems all ended with the refrain `Umba, umba,’ which I roared and spouted over and over again into the audience.” From the same book, Kleinschmidt, xiii: “At the beginning of an extended lecture tour in the winter of 1970, Richard Huelsenbeck gave a talk on dada at the Goethe House in New York… The audience responded with delight when he described how he had chanted his early ‘African’ poems to the accompaniment of a tom-tom, shouting at the end of each poem: `Umba, umba.’ I was very good at “Umba, umba” in those days,’ he said…”

14. “Too much vaseline…” Good Rocking Tonight, bootleg. Slightly rewritten and compressed. For the actual dialogue, see my Mystery Train, 156.

15. “…with plenty of vaseline!” Transposition. Huelsenbeck, “First Discourse,” Dada Berlin, 7.

16. “…the poem that got me out of the Army—” Transposition. For somewhat different versions see Huelsenbeck, Memoirs, 29-30, and also his “Dada, or the meaning of chaos,” adapted from a talk Huelsenbeck gave at the Institute for Contemporary Arts, London, on 1 October 1971 (Studio International, January 1972), 26.

17. “…the site of the Cabaret Voltaire sixty-five years later…” As of July 1983, the site of the Cabaret Voltaire—adorned with a commemorative plaque attached by the city of Zurich, itself adorned with graffiti (“Lebt,” for dada, and “6 Colonne”)—was occupied by the Teen ‘n Twen Disco. In 2004 it reopened as Cabaret Voltaire. Don’t miss the Dada Sour.

18. “BALL, from the…” Transposition. Save for the phrase “our little Candide against the times,” which is Ball’s (with his “our kind of” for my “little”), Ball, Flight, 67, this speech is invented. Ball was, though, a devotee of Nietzsche; the distorted quote (Nietzsche said “fights monsters”), which there is no reason to think Ball used, is from Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil (1885).

19. “…Janco had made us masks… ” For a picture of one of Janco’s masks, see Melzer, Latest Rage, 10, or Dada in Europa (Berlin: Dietrich Reimer Verlag, 1977), 54.

Ball’s comments on Janco’s masks, in Flight, 64-65, are worth repeating: “Janco has made us a number of masks for the new show, which bear the marks of something more than talent. They recall the Japanese or Ancient Greek theatre, and yet they are wholly modern. They are designed to make their effect at a distance, and in the relatively small space of the cabaret the result is astonishing. We were all there when Janco arrived with the masks, and each of us put one on. The effect was strange. Not only did each mask seem to demand the appropriate costume; it also called for a quite specific set of gestures, melodramatic and even close to madness. Although five minutes earlier none of us had had the remotest idea of what was to happen, we were soon draped and festooned with the most unlikely objects, making the most outlandish movements, each out-inventing the other. The dynamism of the masks was irresistible… The masks simply demanded that their wearers should start up a tragico-­absurd dance.

“We now took a closer look at the objects in question, which were cardboard cut-outs, painted and glued. Then, inspired by their Protean individuality, we invented a number of dances, for each of which I improvised on the spot a short piece of music. One of the dances we called ‘Flycatching.’ This particular mask went with clumsy, tentative steps, long-armed snatching gestures and nervous, shrill music…

“What fascinates us about these masks is that they represent, not humanity, but characters and emotions that are larger than life. The paralyzing horror which is the backcloth of our age is here made visible.”

20. “GUY-ERNEST DEBORD…” Transposition, distortion. Guy-Ernest Debord (1931-1994)—he dropped the “—Ernest” in the late fifties—was the central member of the Parisian Lettrist International (1952-57) and of the Situationist International (1957-72). The trouser-inscription, however, was worn not by Debord but by Jean-Michel Mension in 1952-­53; see Ed van der Elsken, Parijs! Fotos, 1950-54 (Amsterdam: Bert Bakker, 1981), where in fact “L’INTERNATIONALE LETTRISTE NE PASSERA PAS” covers one pants-leg and “‘Hurlements en faveur de Sade’—film dynamique” (this last an advertisement for Debord’s 1952 film of the same name) covers the other. For a different photo of Mension’s outfit see photo number 2 (nicely titled “l’affiche vivant”) in Elaine Brau, Le Situationnisme ou la nouvelle internationale (Paris: Nouvelle Editions Debresse, 1968).

21. The speech attributed to Debord is invented, but bits and pieces are transpositions of real LI or SI statements:

“The novelty most discussed…” From Potlatch: bulletin d’information de l’internationale lettriste (Paris), no. 28, 22 May 1957, in the lead article “LES DEBATS de ce temps”: “Le dadaisme paraît être la nouveauté la plus discutée de ce printemps 1957.” Collected in Potlatch: 1954-57 (Paris: Lebovici, 1985), 222.

“…the Toad of Nazareth…” A situationist epithet for Jesus Christ that turned up in May 1968 graffiti. See René Viénet, Enrages et situationnistes dans le mouvement des occupations (Paris: Gallimard, 1968), 82.

“…coagulated undertakers’ mutes…” A situationist insult cited in Guy Atkins, Asger Jorn: The Crucial Years (London: Lund Humphries, 1977), 63.

“…stuffing their mouths…” See note 125 below.

“…the last word… claiming you left it to him in your will!” A reference to a letter from Ball to Huelsenbeck, 8 November 1926, supposedly settling the controversy over whether Cabaret Voltaire cofounder Tristan Tzara (1896-1964) or Huelsenbeck discovered/invented/divined/received the magic word “dada” and then applied it to the activities of the Cabaret Voltaire: “Would you care to write a few lines for the Literarische Welt about my new book, Flight Out of Time, a diary of 1913-21, Duncker & Humbolt? I would be very grateful, so that no Berlin wiseguy gets hold of it. I am going to have the publisher send you the book. At long last I too have described dadaism (cabaret and gallery). You would then have the last word in the matter, just as you had the first…” The letter is collected in Hugo Ball Briefe: 1911-1927 (Einsiedeln, W. Germany: Bensiger Verlag, 1957), and quoted from Kleinschmidt in Huelsenbeck, Memoirs, xix, trans. from the German by Kleinschmidt.

22. “…My legs were… top hat.” Ball’s description of the performance during which he introduced his “Verse ohne Worte” (poems without words) or “Lautgedichte” (sound poems). According to Ball, Flight, xxv, 70-71, this performance took place on 23 June 1916 in the Cabaret Voltaire. According to “Dada: A Chronology,” ed. Stephen C. Foster and Rudolf Keunzli in New Studies in Dada, Richard Sheppard (Driffield, England: Hutton Press, 1981), 168, this performance “probably” took place at the first “Dada Soiree” in the Zurich Zunfthaus zur Waag on 14 July 1916. Photos of Ball in this outfit can be found in most books on dada, including Ball, Flight, which also includes a photo of Ball in a costume which is, if anything, odder: he is shown wearing a long dark coat, a long tube with the number “13” on it replacing his head, and on top of that a formal hat. The passage from which I have drawn has been slightly rephrased. The lines from “The crowd…” to “… And I was recited” are invented, as is “my hands were cardboard claws,” though they were.

23. “…three female musicians…” Transposition. A description of the Zurich punk band Liliput (Marlene Marder, 1954-2016, guitar, Klaudia Schiff, 1955—, bass, Astrid Spirit, 1954—, vocals and percussion), as of 1983, performing its 1981 single “Eisiger Wind,” the title of which was taken from a newspaper headline, “Cold Wind from Moscow” (Rough Trade, U.K.). Marder, Schiff, and Chrigel Freund, the band’s then-vocalist, appear on the “Eisiger Wind” sleeve in cut-ups of Ball’s bishop’s-alchemist’s costume. Spirit, who joined the band later in 1981, often performed this song and others with cake-pan-ladle percussion. The band unfortunately never played the Teen n’ Twen Disco, or, after breaking up in 1983, reformed to play the new Cabaret Voltaire.

24. “HUELSENBECK, wearing a monocle…” Transposition. Huelsenbeck brought dada from Zurich to Berlin in 1917, and thereafter affected a monocle as a parody of the German ruling class, as did other dadaists (Tristan Tzara, Raoul Hausmann, George Grosz, etc.). See Richard Huelsenbeck, ed., Dada Almanach (Berlin: Erich Reiss Verlag, 1920; facsimile edition, New York: Something Else Press, 1966), photo facing p. 8.

25. “HUELSENBECK: Music of…” Transposition, distortion. A rewrite of the passage on bruitism from Huelsenbeck’s pamphlet En Avant Dada: Die Geschichte des Dadaismus (Hanover: Paul Steegmann Verlag, 1920; facsimile edition, Hamburg: Edition Nautilus, 1978). Taken from Robert Motherwell and Jack D. Flamm, eds., The Dada Painters and Poets (1951; 2d ed., Boston: G.K. Hall, 1981), trans. from the German by Ralph Manheim, 26, and interpolated with lyrics from Liliput’s “Eisiger Wind.” The complete lyrics are: “She’s strolling always restless about the town/The things round about blowed them really down/You need to turn back but you’ve gambled away/For my sake I’ve never requested to soften from my way.”

26. “… A teenager…” Transposition. When the Sex Pistols began regular shows in early 1976, their performances effected a certain reversal of entertainment values; among other manifestations, spitting by the performers on the audience, or vice versa, became a sign of approval and celebration. Spitting—gobbing—soon became a craze, to the point that punk bands were regularly forced to perform in a virtual rainstorm of saliva. Numerous fans from 1976 through the end of the seventies took the practice one step farther by purposely throwing up and assaulting the performers with vomit instead. The practice died down only when a few performers contracted hepatitis and had to be hospitalized. For a hilarious account of the ethics of the matter, from the musicians’ as from the fans’ side of the stage, see Lester Bangs, “Lester Bangs Meets the Clash: Six Days on the Road to the Promised Land,” New Musical Express (London), 10 December 1977, 17 December 1977, and 24 December 1977, collected as “The Clash” in Lester Bangs, Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung (New York: Knopf, 1987), 224-59. For an even more hilarious account of punk as a musical movement actually based in the contraction of disease, see Kill It, the parody punk fanzine distributed as program notes for C.P. Lee’s 1977 London theatrical satire Sleak and quoted in my Lipstick Traces (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989), 76-77 (2009 edition, 71-72).

27. “…we took over bruitism…” Transposition. A slight rewrite of the passage on
bruitism from Huelsenbeck, En Avant Dada, in Motherwell, Dada, 26.

28. “Every body is doing it…” Transposition. A line from the English section of “L’amiral cherche une maison a louer,” a simultaneous poem in German, English, and French by Richard Huelsenbeck, Marcel Janko (Janco), and Tristan Tzara. First performed at the Cabaret Voltaire on 31 March 1916, and published in Cabaret Voltaire (Zurich), the sole number of which appeared in late May 1916. Commonly reprinted in most books on dada; see Motherwell, Dada, 241.

29. “…Pere Ubu will give you…” Transposition. Reference to songs from the Cleveland dada-punk band’s album Dub Housing (Chrysalis, U.K., 1978; U.S., 1979).

30. “—you remember, Daddaio…” Transposition. A reference to Richard Dadier, the well-intentioned high-school teacher in the 1955 film Blackboard Jungle, played by Glenn Ford, whose students torment by, at the mildest end of the scale, mispronouncing his name as “Daddaio,” which as “Daddy-O” became a catch phrase that lives to this day.

31. “BALL, onstage…” Riha, 113 dada gedichte, 34.

32. “A POWERFULLY BUILT MAN…” Transpositions. George Grosz (1893-1959), the “Marschal-dada,” was an active member of the Berlin Dada Club in the late ‘teens and early twenties. He performed in cabarets in Berlin during the First World War, but had nothing to do with the Cabaret Voltaire. He often wore thick white make-up, accentuating his pose as “the saddest man in Europe.” The description of his long coat and death’s-head mask is taken from a photo in Rose Lee Goldberg, Performance: Live Art 1909 to the Present (New York: Abrams, 1979), 44, which is captioned: “George Grosz as Dada Death, a costume in which he walked the Kurfiirstendamm in Berlin in 1918.” Almost identical costumes multiplied into the thousands in the course of late seventies-early eighties West German anti-nuclear protests (see, for example, Time, 30 November 1981).

33. “…distributing early twentieth-century postcards…” Transposition, distortion. An invented incident based on Grosz’s photo-collage “Untitled,” c. 1950, which represented a violent return to the images and themes he had earlier repudiated both in his postwar work in America and in his autobiography Ein kleines Ja and ein grosses Nein (Hamburg: Rowolt Verlag, 1946), trans. from the German by Lola Sachs Dorin as A Little Yes and a Big No (New York: Dial, 1946); later English editions under different titles are in many ways inferior. For “Untitled” see Joshua Kind, “The Unknown Grosz,” Studio International (London), March 1967, 144, or as repro­duced in my Lipstick Traces.

34. “I became an alchemist…” This speech is entirely invented. However, see Ball, Flight, 71, where he describes what happened when, having finished his first two sound poems while dressed in his costume, he turned to the last, “flapping my wings energetically”: “…my voice had no choice but to take on the ancient cadence of priestly lamentation… I began to chant my vowel sequences in a church style like a recitative, and tried not only to look serious but to force myself to be serious. For a moment it seemed as if there were a pale, bewildered face in my cubist mask, that half-frightened, half-curious face of a ten-year-old boy, trembling and hanging avidly on the priest’s words in the requiems and high masses in his home parish. Then the lights went out, as I had ordered, and bathed in sweat, I was carried down off the stage like a magical bishop.” Variant translations sometimes render the last two words “mystical bishop” or “alchemist.”

35. “…I rode the Holy Trinity as if in a saddle.” Transposition. This line is an interpolation from the testimony of Swabian heretics of 1270, whom Norman Cohn associates with the Brethren of the Free Spirit, and who “claimed to have such command over the Holy Trinity that they could ‘ride it as in a saddle’.” See Cohn, The Pursuit of the Millennium: Revolutionary Millenarians and Mystical Anarchists of the Middle Ages (1957; 3d ed., New York: Oxford University Press, 1970), 175.

36. “…a large lecture hall in Dresden…” Distortion. A composite of accounts of the 1919 and 1920 dada tours of Germany and Eastern Europe organized by Huelsenbeck, Raoul Hausmann, and Johannes Baader. See, for example, Huelsenbeck, En Avant Dada, in Moth­erwell, Dada, 45-46.

37. The references to the “banners” are a distortion of a description by Huelsenbeck of the first full-scale Berlin dada performance, 12 April 1918, in his article “Die Dadaistische Bewe­gung,” 1920, quoted in Raabe, Era, 353: “The poor fools {the audience, naturally} did not perceive the note of Judgment Day, which—paradoxical as this may seem—was, for the perceptive person, present in Dadaism and could be heard, roaring, screaming and shouting. The extreme relativity of things and ideas, the veiling and death agony of every form of faith—the ‘Decline of the West.'” The reference for the “banner” “NO ONE IS INNO­CENT,” a transposition, is from the transcript of an interview with Jamie Reid (1947— ), the art director and visual propagandist for the Sex Pistols. Reid has often cited the phrase as “an old situationist slogan,” though it seems not to have been. The phrase was also used as the title of a single that Sex Pistols Paul Cook and Steve Jones recorded in Brazil in early 1978 with Great Train Robber Ronald Biggs. Credited to the Sex Pistols, it was also released as “Cosh the Driver” and “The Biggest Blow” (Virgin, U.K., 1978).

38. “You call yourselves Germans!” Transposition. Huelsenbeck’s speech here is a rewritten composite taken from his En Avant Dada, Motherwell, Dada, 23, 44.

39. “HAUSMANN, yelling…” Raoul Hausmann (1886-1971) was the “Dadasophe” of the Berlin Dada Club. During the dada period he created violent photo-collages and remarkable “lettriste” sound-poems; he later turned to photography, returned to photo-collage for some exceptionally strange montages of faces, and in the fifties and sixties published numerous books and articles on dada.

While the dialogue here is entirely invented, the references are not. Some of the Berlin dadaists were inspired by the Spartacist movement led by Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Lieb­knecht, and devastated by their assassination on 15 January 1919 by the right-wing Freie Korps, an event that put an end to the revolutionary Berlin uprising that began in November 1918 with the revolt of radical sailors. (See Huelsenbeck’s Deutschland muss untergehen!, sub­titled “Memoirs of an Old Dada Revolutionary” {Berlin: Malik-Verlag, 1920}, ill. by George Grosz.) For “…the meals you’ve made of the flesh…” see note 125 below.

Revolutionary if rudimentary workers’ and soldiers’ councils sprang up during the No­vember rising, as earlier in Russia. According to Hausmann in “Les Six Soirees et Matinees du Club Dada de Berlin, 1918-1919” (credited only as “translated by R.H.”), in Dada Berlin, 10, the second dada evening in Berlin, at the Cafe Austria in June 1918, offered information about “the Council of Non-Salaried Workers,” which, if such an organization ever really existed, would have represented an attempt at solidarity between workers and bohemians/artists. However, the date given here is in error. Correctly it would have been 18 June 1919, well after the appearance of councils in the rebellions of 1918-19. See also the exhibition catalogue The Twenties in Berlin (London: Annaely Juda Fine Art, 1978-79) 24, for mention of the perhaps identical “Council of Unpaid Workers.”

40. “fmsbwtözäu…” From Hausmann’s 1918 letter poem of the same name, Riha, 113 ada gedichte, 98.

41. “Words do not play…” Transpositions, distortions. A composite and rewrite of items from Internationale Situationniste (Paris), the principal journal of the Situationist International (the twelve numbers are collected as Internationale Situationniste: 1958-69 {Paris: Champ Libre, 19751), taken from “All the King’s Men” ((I.S. no. 8, January 1963), as quoted in Ken Knabb, ed. and trans., Situationist International Anthology (Berkeley: Bureau of Public Secrets, 1981), 114, 116, 115, and from Mustapha Khayati, “Captive Words: Preface to a Situationist Dictionary” (I.S. no. 10, March 1966), in Knabb, Anthology, 171, 172. The recruitment notice “YOUNG GUYS…” appeared at the close of I.S. no. 1, June 1958, and is quoted from Christopher Gray, ed. and trans., Leaving the 20th Century: The Incomplete Work of the Situationist International (Croydon, U.K.: Free Fall/Suburban Press, 1974), 1.

42. “…a pleasantly furnished living room.” These scenes and the included dialogue are taken from film shot of Hausmann in 1968 and later used in Helmut Herbst’s documentary John Heartfield: Photomontagist. For stills of these scenes, see Raoul Hausmann, Am Anfang war Dada, Karl Riha (Steinbach/Geissen, West Germany: Anabas-Verlag Giinter Kampf, 1972), appendix.

43. “…now festooned…” Transposition, distortion.

44. “…GUY-ERNEST DEBORD…” Transposition, distortion. From “…there can be…” to “…inevitable,” taken from Khayati’s “Captive Words,” in Knabb, Anthology, 172. The rest is invented.

45. “…a Paris nightclub.” Transposition, distortion. Gil J Wolman (1929—1995) joined Isidore Isou’s Parisian lettrist movement (see notes 80-81) in 1950, and appeared at the Tabou, 33,rue Dauphine, Paris 6e, along with twelve other lettrist poets, on 14, 15, 21, and 22 October 1950. For a reproduction of the poster announcing the event, see Wolman, Résumé: les chapitres precedents (Paris: Editions Spiess, 1981), 13, or my Lipstick Traces, 275 (2009, 256). The wording of the poster has been played with in my translation, and “ISIDORE ISOU PRESENTS” added.

46. “Hugo Ball said…” Transposition. From Ball, Flight, 71. Wolman was certainly aware of Ball, but whether he knew this passage, let alone ever cited it, I have no idea.

47. “Isou says…” Transposition. Isou’s phrase “les verites qui n’amusent plus deviennent des mensonges” is quoted in Internationale Lettriste no. 1 (2 November 1952). From 1952 to 1954, I.L. was an erratically published bulletin of the Lettrist International, which constituted itself as a radical tendency within Isou’s lettrist movement and announced itself with a demonstration against Charlie Chaplin in Paris in October 1952. Isou’s phrase was used against him by the LI, which definitively split from the orthodox lettrists after Isou disavowed their anti-Chaplin action. Titled “Death of a Salesman,” the LI manifesto was signed by Wolman, Debord, J.L. Brau, and Serge Berna. See Wolman, Résumé, 26, or my Lipstick Traces, 323-43, but especially 341-42 (2009, 300-19, 317-18).

48. “And now we know…” Transposition, distortion. An interpolation of the motto of Wolman’s artist’s book Duhring Duhring (Paris: Vigie, 1979)—“nous étions contre le pouvoir des mots/contre le pouvoir”—itself a reference to Wolman’s involvement in the LI from 1952 through 1957.

49. “WOLMAN proceeds…” Possible transposition. This description is a rendering of Wolman’s sound poem “Improvisations—Mégapneumes” (Achele Records, France, 1965, recorded 1963), a work which in terms of form dates to 1950 or a bit later, and which is a signal example of what Isou denounced as “ultra-lettrism.” It is not unlikely that this work or one very much like it was performed at the Tabou on the dates in question.

50. “All mystics…” From Cohn, Pursuit, 176, slightly compressed and rewritten.

51. “Whence have you come…” Transposition, distortion. This sequence is taken from a dialogue written by the Catholic mystic Heinrich Suso in about 1330, and quoted in Cohn, Pursuit, 177, as an evocation of “those qualities of the Free Spirit which made it essentially anarchic.” I have replaced Suso’s words (or Cohn’s translation of same) “untrammeled freedom” with the situationist version, “untrammeled desire.” This dialogue was also featured in King Mob Echo no. 1 (London), April 1968, the magazine published by Christopher Gray (1942-2009), Donald Nicholson-Smith (1943—), and T. J. Clark (1943—) after they were expelled from the Situationist International in December 1967. Running under the headline “The Prehistory of the Id,” it appeared as a sidebar to an excerpt on dada from situationist Raoul Vaneigem’s Traité de savoir-vivre des jeunes générations (Paris: Gallimard, 1968), trans. from the French by Nicholson-Smith as The Revolution of Everyday Life (London: Rebel Press, and Seattle: Left Bank Books, 1983). Cohn’s book, originally published in 1957, had an enormous impact on the situation­ists in France (as Les Fanatiques de l’Apocalypse)—see, for example, I.S. no. 11, October 1967, 25—and Vaneigem’s book draws on Cohn in many instances, particularly in celebratory references to the Free Spirit. See Vaneigem, Revolution, 45, 128, 158, 165, 181, 185, and 191.

52. “as BALL collapses…” As above, Ball was carried off the stage after his performance in his bishop’s-alchemist’s costume, not because he collapsed, but because the costume made it impossible for him to walk. Ball, Flight, 70-71.

53. “…a small, crowded lecture room…” Transposition, distortion. The scene is that of Huelsenbeck’s “First Discourse on Dada in Germany,” as referred to in note 11 above. The Berlin Dada Club had not yet officially formed, or anyway had not announced itself. The recruitment poster is taken from the inside front page of Club Dada (Berlin), 1918, edited by Huelsenbeck, Hausmann, and Franz Jung; see the facsimile edition in Dada Zeitschriften (Hamburg: Edition Nautilus, 1980).

54. “HUELSENBECK: I am here…” Distortion, transposition. Most of this speech is invented. The situationist quotes come from I.S. no. 2, December 1958, quoted from Gray, Leaving the 20th Century, 128 (box). The lines from “where does dada” to “not enough cruelties” are from Huelsenbeck, “First Discourse,” Dada Berlin, 7.

55. “…a ONE-LEGGED YOUNG MAN…” Distortion, possible transposition. Ac­cording to Huelsenbeck, his line about there not being “enough cruelties” (or, variantly, “the war isn’t bloody enough”) brought on a threatening response from a soldier in the audience, who, along with the rest of the crowd, drove Huelsenbeck from the stage.

“At the first dada evening, at the Neumann Gallery, Berlin…I said that the war was not bloody enough by far. Horror! An invalid with a wooden leg got up and the audience rose to their feet and accompanied his exit with applause.

“At that time a case of lynching almost happened in Germany. The audience not merely rose to their feet but moved toward the rostrum in order to hurl themselves at me. But as is usual in such situations (I went through many like it in my dada time), public fury was checked by a kind of awe.” “Dada—Existentialism,” 1957, in Huelsenbeck, Memoirs, 144-­45. John Elderfield identifies the “invalid” as a “war-veteran”; see “Dissenting Ideologies and the Weimar Revolution,” Studio International (London), November 1970, no. 5, 187 ff.

56. “Life must hurt…” Entirely invented. For “the recruiting officer would not have me,” see note 16 above.

57. “…groups of spectators brandishing chair legs…” From Huelsenbeck’s account of the dada performance in Dresden, 19 January 1920 (date from “Dada: A Chronology,” in Sheppard, New Studies, 178), Raabe, Era, 353.

58. “Ever had the feeling…” Transposition. Johnny Rotten’s last words at the last Sex Pistols performance, San Francisco, 14 January 1978.

59. “GUY-ERNEST DEBORD leaves…” Transposition, distortion. The Lettrist Interna­tional practiced graffiti in the streets of Paris—for that matter, they made attempts to determine what specific defacements were appropriate for which streets.

60. “NEVER WORK!”: This best-known LI motto dated to 1953, reappeared as May 1968 graffiti (see I.S. no. 8, January 1963, 42, and I.S. no. 12, September 1969, 14, respectively), and thirteen years after that in Bow Wow Wow’s single “W.O.R.K. (Nahnono My Daddy Don’t),” written by then ex-Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren (E.M.I., U.K., 1981). The roots of this slogan are surrealist.

61. “FREE THE PASSIONS”: see Brau, Le Situationnisme, 76.

62. “IF WE DON’T DIE HERE…” from Potlatch no. 23, 13 October 1955, collected in Potlatch, 176. (The French, designated for rue Sauvage, 13e, is “si nous ne mourons pas ici irons-nous plus loin?”)

63. “CULTURE IS THE…”: May 1968 graffiti of situationist origin. Harold Rosenberg’s comment on this slogan: “‘Culture,’ said a Paris wall inscription, ‘is the inversion of life.’ But this statement is itself culture, since it is inherited from the radical art movements of fifty years ago.” (Rosenberg, “Surrealism in the Streets,” in The De-Definition of Art {Chi­cago: University of Chicago Press, 1972, 1983), 51.

64. “NO CARS SOLD HERE”: Distortion. From Potlatch no. 23, in Potlatch, 176. (The French, designated for rue Lhomond, 5e, is “l’autobazar, que ion dit merveilleux, ne vient pas jusqu’ici,” literally, “Auto row, that great marvel, doesn’t reach this far.”)

65. “DEBORD, from the stage…” Transposition, distortion. While Debord never directly challenged Huelsenbeck, his Lettrist International comrade Ralph Rumney, leader (and sole member) of the “London Psychogeographical Committee,” disrupted a “magisterial, purely psychological interpretation of dada” given by Huelsenbeck in 1957 in London, principally because to the LI Huelsenbeck had turned his back on dada by accepting “a post as a professor of psychology at an American university.” See Potlatch 28, 22 May 1957, in Potlatch, 222. The speech here attributed to Debord is invented; parts are composites of situationist statements. “…everything that was once lived has been made over into a representation” is from the first thesis of Debord’s La Societe du Spectacle (Paris: Buchet-Chastel, 1967; 3d ed., Paris: Gallimard, 1992); trans. from the French as The Society of the Spectacle by Donald Nicholson-Smith (Cambridge: Zone, 1994). The notion of “history stopped dead” can be found throughout Lettrist International and situationist writings, from Debord and Wolman’s “Pourquoi le lettrisme,” Potlatch no. 22, 9 September 1955, in Potlatch, 152-54, to Vanei­gem, Revolution, 111.

66. “…the Convention in Paris…” From Louis Antoine Saint-Just (1767-94), “Rapport sur le Mode d’Execution du Décret Contre les Ennemis de la Révolution,” 13 ventôse, an II (3 March 1794), from Saint-Just, Oeuvres Completes (Paris: Champ Libre, 1984), 714-15. Slightly rephrased.

67. “—and abandoning us…” Transposition. The first line is invented. The second is a rewrite and composite from “…une Idée Nueve en Europe,” Potlatch no. 7, 3 August 1954, in Potlatch, 45-56, a manifesto affirming leisure as the true revolutionary battleground and signed by Michèle Bernstein, André-Frank Conord, Mohammed Dahou, G.-E. Debord, Jacques Fillon, Véra, and Gil J Wolman. For an earlier proto-situationist (for that matter, proto-Lettrist International) use of Saint-Just’s phrase, see Debord, Oeuvres Cinématographiques Complètes (Paris: Champ Libre, 1978), in the text of Debord’s first film, Hurlements en faveur de Sade, 1952, 8.

68. “…bright orange leaflets…” Transposition. A Lettrist International recruitment notice, made for sticking up on telephone poles, etc., 1955. See my Lipstick Traces, 364, for a black-and-white version.

69. “…a 1920 Munich lecture room…” This scene is taken from Kurt Wolff, “Publishing in general and the question: How do publishers and authors meet?” in Raabe, Era, 282-83. Wolff (1887-1963) was the leading publisher of German Expressionist writings; this essay includes his almost entirely negative recollections of his involvement with various da­daists—whom he regarded nearly without exception as imbecilic pedants—notably Wolff’s account of a February 1918 lecture by the violently anti-Expressionist Huelsenbeck in the Kurt Wolff Verlag lecture room on “The Aims and Essence of Dadaism.” (For Huelsenbeck’s attacks on Expressionism see his En Avant Dada, in Motherwell, Dada, passim, and his famous “Dada Manifesto,” reprinted in its original German format in Huelsenbeck, Dada Almanach, 36-41, and in English in Motherwell, Dada, 242-46, trans. from the German by Ralph Manheim, where it is misdated to 1920; it was in fact delivered at the first Berlin Dada Evening on 12 April 1918; see also Huelsenbeck, “Dada, or the Meaning of Chaos,” 26, and Huelsenbeck, Memoirs, passim.)

70. “The unprecedented efflorescence…” This speech attributed to Huelsenbeck is invented, but see the report on Huelsenbeck’s lecture in the Munich daily Neueste Nachrichten, in Raabe, Era, 282: “Despite pressing inquiries from members of the audience, the lecturer would not or could not give any more than the vaguest general comments on this the latest of the modern movements and these were directed partly against Expressionism, partly against the bourgeoisie and partly against reason itself in the broadest sense. He just kept on repeating that Dadaism had had tremendous success and had spread throughout the world with its Cabaret scandals, hoaxes, propaganda methods and riots.”

71. “…a subterranean London nightclub…” Transpositions, distortions. The Roxy was the principal London punk venue in early 1977; for a remarkable aural documentary of its ambiance, see The Roxy London WC2 (Jan. Apr. ’77) (E.M.I., U.K., 1977). The description of the band is of X-Ray Spex during this period; the band can be heard on The Roxy LP. As to the slogans:

“KILL ME”: generic London punk, 1976-77.

“DEMAND THE IMPOSSIBLE”: a version of the common May 1968 graffiti, “Be real­istic—demand the impossible,” which appeared in Anarchy in the U.K., the fake (i.e., professional) fanzine put out by Glitterbest, Ltd., as promotional material for the Sex Pistols (London: 1977). For a satirical recycling of this graffiti as junk-culture-ten-years-after, see Chris Garratt and Mick Kidd, The Essential Biff (London: Pavement Press, 1982), “What Makes a Popular Teenager Part 2.”

“WHERE IS DURUTTI?”: from the Anarchy fanzine. A reference to the Spanish anarchist leader Buenaventura Durruti (1896-1936), a favorite of the situationists; see, for example, Raoul Vaneigem, “Basic Banalities (II),” originally published in I.S. no. 8, January 1963, in Knabb, Anthology, 133: “The conditions for a concentrated power and mass representation exist potentially in the SI when it states that it holds the qualitative and that its ideas are in everyone’s mind. Nevertheless we refuse both concentrated power and the right of representation, conscious that we are now taking the only public attitude (for we cannot avoid being known to some extent in a spectacular manner) enabling those who find that they share our theoretical and practical positions to accede to revolutionary power: power without mediation, power entailing the direct action of everyone. Our guiding image could be the Durruti Column, moving from town to village, liquidating the bourgeois elements and leaving the workers to see to their own self-organization.” See also La Retour de la Colonne Durutti, a situationist-influenced comic-strip/polemic/manifesto by André Bertrand issued by the student government of the University of Strasbourg (Association Federative Generale des “Etudiants” de Strasbourg, October 1966, broadside), and plastered across the walls of the city. Bertrand, however, misspelled his hero’s name—and, as passed down over the years by situationist fans Malcolm McLaren and Jamie Reid, “Durutti” rather than the true “Durruti” entered the punk lexicon. Thus the two spellings used here. Much of the strip was translated and reproduced in Ten Days that Shook the University (London: Situationist International, 1967), the U.K. version of De la misère en milieu étudiant: considerée sous ses aspects économique, politique, psychologique, sexuel et notamment intellectuel, et de quelques moyens pour y remédier (Strasbourg: A. F. G. E . S., November 1966, pamphlet, reprinted Paris: Champ Libre, 1974), credited to “the Situationist Interna­tional and the students of Strasbourg” but in fact written by situationist Mustapha Khayati. For the text of De la misere, generally known in English as “On the Poverty of Student Life,” see Knabb, Anthology, 319-37; excerpts from the comic strip, poorly translated, can be found in Steef Davidson, The Penguin Book of Political Comics (New York: Penguin, 1982), 56-57.

“DATSUN”: a reference to the 1978 London punk fanzine of the same name, edited by Terry Wells and Denis Browne, and named for Wells’s much-hated car. In its sole number Datsun featured an update of Wyndham Lewis’ 1914 “Blast” Manifesto (Blast No. 1, London: John Lane, 20 June 1914, 11-28; facsimile edition as Blast 1, Santa Barbara: Black Sparrow, 981), as applied to then-current punk concerns, and was altogether one of the funniest and most suggestive punk fanzines.

“WHO IS DURUTTI?”: invented.

“NO FUTURE”: from the Sex Pistols song “God Save the Queen,” unreleased in early 1977 but known from performance and at the time titled “No Future” (Virgin, U.K., 1977).

“NO CARS SOLD HERE”: a vulgarized transposition from Lettrist International graffiti; see notes 59-64 above.

72. “POLY STYRENE…” Born Marion Elliot, Poly Styrene (1958-2011) was the lead singer of X-Ray Spex; as a singer, songwriter, kitsch-recycler, and all-around presence, she had an enormous impact on early punk. “IMPROVE YOUR MIND!” is a transposition from the Glitterbest fanzine Anarchy in the U.K. “Some people say…” is the spoken opening to X-Ray Spex’s cataclysmic debut single, “Oh Bondage! Up Yours!” (Virgin, U.K., 1977).

73. “…a cafe in the rue de Four…” The scene is Chez Moineau, or Moineau’s, 22 rue de Four, Paris 6e, and based on photos in Ed van der Elsken’s photo-novel Love on the Left Bank (London: Deutsch, 1957), much of which is “set” in Moineau’s. (See also the photos in Brau, Le Situationnisme.) Some of van der Elsken’s photos were appropriated by Guy-Ernest Debord for his book Memoires (Paris: l’Internationale Situationniste, December 1958, dated 1959).

74. “The new beauty…” Drawn from Potlatch no. 5, 20 July 1954, in Potlatch, 38: “La beauty nouvelle sera DE SITUATION, c’est-à-dire provisoire et vécue.” The line is a variation on Debord’s signature motto, “The art of the future will be the overthrow of situations, or nothing,” which first appeared in his “Prolégomènes à tout cinéma futur,” in the lettrist review Ion (Paris: April 1952), 217.

75. “…MALCOLM McLAREN…” Transposition. McLaren (1946—2010), in the 1960s an art student and sometime activist, and in the early to mid-seventies a boutique owner and clothes designer, was the manager and Svengali of the Sex Pistols. (Huelsenbeck died in 1974; the Sex Pistols’ first significant public manifestations took place in 1976, though their first performances took place in late 1975.)

76. “BALL, from the piano…” Distortion. Ball never spoke these words, which are taken from Hannah Arendt, On Revolution (New York: Viking, 1965), 285, and are her translation from the Greek of a “famous and frightening” passage from Oedipus at Colonus.

77. “…a WELL-DRESSED INTELLECTUAL…” Kurt Wolff, in Raabe, Era, 282-83, quotes the Expressionist artist Richard Seewald’s recollection of Huelsenbeck’s Mu­nich lecture: “Huelsenbeck the poet was supposed to talk about Dadaism before a select and invited audience. And he spoke. After about a quarter of an hour paralysing boredom began to spread through the room, and I expressed the general feelings of the audience when I called out to the platform: ‘Herr Huelsenbeck…'”

78. “…to the Park Avenue consulting room…” Huelsenbeck was in medical school in Germany when he left to join the Cabaret Voltaire, and he continued his studies in Zurich on the sly. (“I couldn’t {tell} anyone because they would have thought I was a terrible liar and bourgeois. ‘In the morning he goes to the University and at night he makes umbah-umbah.'”). After returning to Berlin as a dada courier, he completed his studies, received his degree, and in 1922 left Berlin and dada for Danzig, now Gdansk, where “he became an assistant to Professor Wallenberg, a leading authority in the field of neuropsychiatry” (Kleinschmidt, in Huelsenbeck, Memoirs, xxi). He left Danzig for Berlin in 1923, after writing and producing a play, and in the following years continued his literary career while making extensive sea voyages to the Far East and the Caribbean as a ship’s doctor. After escaping from the Nazis in 1936 (Hitler was a sworn enemy of dada), Huelsenbeck arrived in New York; “Motivated by a desire to relinquish dada completely, he changed his name to Charles R. Hulbeck” (ibid., xxiii), and eventually met Dr. Karen Horney, with whom he founded the Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis, which argued for a more social, environmental approach than did orthodox Freudianism. “All of a sudden,” Huelsenbeck said late in life, “I became a rich man,” with an office on Park Avenue. (“Dada, or the Meaning of Chaos,” 27-29.)

79. “HUELSENBECK…I—I am, do not…” Transposition. According to Richard Seewald as above, after his challenge to Huelsenbeck during the Munich lecture, “Everybody laughed and applauded my dadaistic interruption, incidentally the only thing in this line there had been so far. The unfortunate character on the platform began to stammer, he apologized, said this wasn’t a Dada evening, he was dealing with the history of Dadaism, etc.! He tried to read his own poems. But he didn’t have much luck with them either. It had turned into a Dadaist evening after all. There were shouts of ‘Goethe’ from one corner, ‘Rilke’ from another and so on.”

80. “…a YOUNG MAN with sensual Semitic features…” The YOUNG MAN is Isidore Isou (1925-2007), born Jean-Isidore Goldstein, in Romania, and the founder of the lettrist movement. As to my description of him, photos of Isou show him as close to a dead-ringer for either Elvis Presley (Ion, 1952) or Tony Curtis (in Isou’s Fondements Pour la Transformation Intégrale du Théâtre {Paris: Bordas, 1953), frontispiece).

81. “…a Paris lecture room in 1947.” Transposition (regarding audience). Isou, having escaped from the Nazis, arrived in Paris in 1945 and delivered his first lecture on lettrism in 1946 (see Jean-Paul Curtay, La Poésie Lettriste (Paris: Editions Seghers, 1974, 12, 13). Huelsenbeck lectured on dada in Paris after the war, but while Isou was likely in attendance at Huelsenbeck’s talks, there is no reason to think Huelsenbeck ever returned the favor. McLaren would have been a babe in arms, if not a fetus.

82. “…The Real Creators…” Transposition. Isou’s Les Véritables Créateurs et les Falsifacteurs de Dada, du Surréalisme et du Lettrisme was published in 1973, in Lettrisme (Paris, nouvelle serie, 16-20, April—August 1973, combined number). Isou credits himself with dozens of works, but in 1947 he had published only three books, two articles, and one letter to the editor of Combat. See “Oeuvres de I. I” in Le Lettrisme et I’Hypergraphic dans la Peinture et la Sculpture Contemporaires (Paris: Grassin, 1961), 4-6.

83. “…with a riding crop in his hand…” Huelsenbeck often performed in this manner in the Cabaret Voltaire.

84. “What I do not understand…” Transposition, distortion. This speech is invented, but the central metaphor—“a drop in the ocean”—is a generic Free Spirit expression; see Cohn, Pursuit, 172, 184, 290.

85. “TRABDYA LA…” Huelsenbeck had been reciting what he called his “Negro poems” as far back as an Expressionist soirée he and Ball had staged in Berlin on 12 May 1915 (see “Dada; A Chronology,” in Sheppard, New Studies, 164), and he continued in that vein when he rejoined Ball at the Cabaret Voltaire, now ending each piece with “Umba umba.” After one such performance, the owner of the Cabaret, Jan Ephriam, a Dutch ex-seaman, took him aside. “They sound very good,” Huelsenbeck, in his autobiography, reports Ephriam telling him, “but unfortunately they’re not Negro poems. I spent a good part of my life among Negroes, and the songs they sing are very different from the ones you just recited.” On advice from Ball—”Perhaps it would be interesting to recite something authentic”—Huelsenbeck asked Ephriam for a contribution, and in a few days Ephriam presented three lines, from which “Trabdya,” etc., is taken, and composed new poems around them. “I recited my new ‘authentic’ Negro poems,” Huelsenbeck writes, “and the audience thought they were wonderful. Naturally, no force on earth could have gotten me to leave out the ‘Umba’ at the end of every verse, although my Dutchman shook his head disapprovingly.” See Huelsenbeck, Memoirs, 8—9.

86. “…An obviously drunken EMMY HENNINGS…” Transposition, distortion. The acts attributed to Hennings are taken from an incident that occurred at the Cathay de Grande in Los Angeles in 1981, during a performance by the local punk group Vox Pop. Byron Coley, “California Screamin’,” New York Rocker , September 1982, 37: “{Vox Pop} were eventually awarded ‘semi-house band status’ after a show in which a friend named Sherry tore her clothes off, walked on stage nude, passed out with her head in the bass drum, and finally pulled out her tampon and winged it into an audience that parted like the Dead Sea (Grown men­—skinheads—turned white and ran away).”

87. “…the rest of it attempts to climb the stage…” Fights of this sort often took place in the Cabaret Voltaire; Huelsenbeck spoke of “beat{ing} people up and… {being} beaten up of course too.” (See Huelsenbeck, “Dada, or the Meaning of Chaos,” 26.)

88. “HENNINGS: Like your blouse…” From “Fuck You/Live,” recorded in 1977 by the Avengers, a San Francisco punk band, vocal by Penelope Houston; see Avengers (C.D. Records, 1983).

While the outrages attributed here, above, and below (see note 93) to Hennings were certainly not hers, they may not be contrary to the spirit of her performances. Melzer, Latest Rage, 26-27, cites a review by one Ravien Siurlai, from the 15 June 1912 number of the radical review Die Aktion (Berlin), of the nightly shows Hennings was then giving in the Lindenkavett: “She stepped onto the cabaret stage her face waxen, ribboned about the neck, with her cropped yellow hair and the stiffly layered ruffles of her skimpy, dark velvet dress, she was separated from all of humanity… many yeared and ravaged {Hennings would have been about 27 in 1912}, Madame Emmy Hennings. A woman has infinities, Gentlemen, but one does not absolutely have to confuse the erotic with prostitution… Not polite enough to mask herself, Frau Emmy Hennings revealed to the cavalier that he is the aphrodisiac of the pimp. And again applause indicated that prudence slept… Who can prevent this girl that possesses hysteria, that incendiary quality, from swelling to an avalanche… Emmy Hen­nings, very made up, hypnotizing by Morphine, Absinthe, and the bloody flame of the electric ‘Gloire’ torn in extremist distortion of the Gothic, her voice hops across the corpses and will mock them, soulfully trilling like a yellow canary.” Translated (brilliantly or weirdly) from the German by Melzer.

89. “…POLY STYRENE thrusts her microphone…” A common occurrence at punk shows; the only word anyone in such audiences seems able to summon up when confronted with a microphone is “Fuck.”

90. “…a THIN MAN dressed as a Quaker…” Transposition, distortion. Abiezer Coppe (1619-72) was the most famous of the Ranters, a small, disorganized radical sect that emerged from much the same milieu as produced the Quakers, and gained much notoriety and persecution in England during the late 1640s and early 1650s. The Ranters were known and feared for their denial that those possessed of true knowledge of God could sin; for their celebration of drinking, smoking, swearing, and promiscuity; and for disrupting church services and shouting down preachers. Cohn, Pursuit, 150, 287-330, sees the Ranters as a full-blown revival of the medieval heresy of the Free Spirit.

Coppe, Cohn writes, was afflicted as an adolescent with Coprolalia, the uncontrollable urge to curse and swear. He suppressed the disorder until 1649, when it broke out upon his conversion to Ranterism—this time accompanied by a religious and moral ideology to justify it. Coppe became, Cohn continues, “the leader of the drinking, smoking Ranters… Coppe adopted the usual Neo-Platonic pantheism of the Free Spirit, holding that God ‘is in Heaven, Earth, Sea, Hell… is All in All,’ and that `all things are returning to their Original {God).’ He seems also to have adopted Adamitic ways {a reference to the Adamite sect, dating to the 14th century in Germany, the members of which saw themselves as in Adam’s state of innocence before the Fall; they held that for adepts ‘sexual intercourse cannot under any circumstances be sinful’}”, ibid., 179-80. Cohn goes on: “‘Twas usual with him {Coppe}’ says Wood in Athenae Oxonieses, ‘to preach stark naked…” Cohn accepts the accusation that Coppe often preached naked to naked acolytes of both sexes (ibid., 316-17); A. L. Morton, in The World of the Ranters (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1970), is slightly dubious (80-81). Be all this as it may, the words here attributed to Coppe are invented, except for “Bugger the Queen,” which is taken from William Burroughs’ “Notes on Writing World Revolution,” in The Revised Boy Scout Manual, a cassette novel (1970), collected in RE/SEARCH (San Francisco), no. 4/5, 1982, 9-11, and on its own terms a shockingly precise presaging of the Sex Pistols’ “God Save the Queen.” Burroughs appropriated that song’s key line—”God save the Queen/the fascist regime”—for poetry readings in the late 1970s.

91. “BALL: gaga…” Riha, 113 dada gedichte,

92. “Man, no…” Invented.

93. “BALL stops…” All invented.

94. “COPPE: Thus saith…” From the Preface to Coppe’s first A Fiery Flying Roll (London: 1649), his testimony to conversion and gnosis, excerpted in Cohn, Pursuit, 321. Slightly rephrased and repunctuated. “…and a rock…the time” is added.

95. “COPPE vomits…” Invented; it is not clear that if, in the previous quote, “till I brought it forth in this form” is a bodily metaphor, or, if it is, it refers to regurgitation rather than defecation.

96. “COPPE: Thus saith…” Cohn, Pursuit, 321, but from chap. 1 of A Fiery Flying Roll. “THAT I FUCK” is invented.

97. “BAADER: One more…” Johannes Baader (1875-1955), a member of the Berlin Dada Club, declared himself the “Oberdada” in 1918. He was an admirer of and thought of himself as a new Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormons; having been declared mentally incompetent because of his oft-professed claim to be Jesus Christ returned from Heaven, he frequently signed his name “Johannes B. Krystuus.” For Raoul Hausmann’s account of “the Christ Society, Ltd.,” see Hans Richter, Dada: Art and Anti-Art (1964; New York: Oxford University Press, 1965, 1978), 125, citing Hausmann’s Courrier Dada (Paris: Terrain Vague, 1958), 74-75.

98. “God can do nothing without me…” Transposition. This was a claim sometimes made by those who considered themselves the most advanced adepts of the Free Spirit—a claim that must be understood as quite different from, and in some ways far more radical than, the sometime claim of various medieval heretics (including some of the Free Spirit) that they were See Cohn, Pursuit, 172-76, especially 176.

99. “…a YOUNG MAN in a dandified 1830s suit…” Transposition, distortion. The apparition of the young Karl Marx is taken from the portrait of Marx on the cover of Oeuvres Philosophiques, Vol. 1 (Paris: Champ Libre, 1981). As a student in Berlin in 1837, Marx joined the “Young Hegelian” Doktorklub, a philosophical society/drinking club devoted to radical atheism and to opposing orthodox Hegelianism. The group was in some ways comparable to the Lettrist International and the Situationist International, both of which certainly considered it an ancestor. “Young Hegelians” t-shirts were likely not in style, but you never know. A punk band calling itself The Young Hegelians began appearing around New York City in 1983 (see the ad for CBGB nightclub in the 15 November 1983 Village Voice, 127), so there probably are YOUNG HEGELIANS t-shirts, at least now.

100. “The criticism of religion…” Transposition, distortion. A composite drawn from Karl Marx, “A Contribution of the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right: Introduction,” 1843-­44, taken from Marx, Early Writings (New York: Vintage, 1975), 243-47. This essay had such a strong effect on the situationists—perhaps more for its style than anything else—that it sometimes seems to have been the only text by Marx they ever read.

101. “Now, now, this dadaism…” Transposition, distortion. A compression of a statement by the Berlin critic Udo Rukser, cited in Huelsenbeck, Dada Almanach, 41-42. In English in Richter, Dada.

102. “…a YOUNG ARAB…” The Young Arab is Mustapha Khayati of the Situationist International; see note 71 above. “Boredom is always counter-revolutionary” was a basic SI slogan.

103. “The actual burden…” Marx, Early Writings, 247.

104. “….humiliation that…” From Khayati’s Strasbourg pamphlet De la misère, trans. in Knabb, Antholog, 319. As “On the Poverty of Student Life” this manifesto was first published in the U.S. in 1967 and has since been retranslated and republished many times.

105. “These petrified conditions…” Marx, Early Writings, 247.

106. “POLY STYRENE: I—AM…” From “I am a Cliché,” the flipside of “Oh Bondage! Up Yours!” X-Ray Spex’s first single (Virgin, U.K., 1977).

107. “A huge, serpentine comic strip…” The comic strip is La Retour de la Colonne Durutti; see note 71 above. The strip itself is an exuberant combination of under­graduate puerility, obscenity, Free-Spiritisms (no doubt taken from Cohn), anarchism, and violence, attacking everything from complaining landlords to rationalism per se, and celebrating theft, the anarchist bomber Ravachol, and the SI (“the ‘occult’ International”).

The panel with the dialogue between two mounted cowboys is of special interest. Slightly rephrased, it is taken from a crucial passage in situationist Michèle Bernstein’s novel Tous les Chevaux du Roi (Paris: Buchet/Chastel, 1960), 29-30, where “Gilles,” a character based on Guy Debord, is asked by his new girlfriend what he does with himself, since he seems to have no job, no work; his work, he says, is “reification.” The panel was reproduced and translated (as “What’s your scene, man?” “Reification”) in the U.K. Situationist International pamphlet Ten Days that Shook the University, and reappeared as intellectual kitsch fifteen years later on the Biff postcard “A Short History of Western Philosophy” (Biff Products, London, 1981), where a steely-eyed cowboy drawls, “The way I see it, Brad, somewhere between the Puritanical practice and the hedonistic gullibility is the fusion of permanence and change, madness and cool reason—yeah?” “Absolutely, Zeke,” replies the second cowboy, thinking: “This geezer’s totally ga-ga!” Artist Mick Kidd of Biff, who acknowledges the influence of situationist comics (where, say, Terry of Terry and the Pirates was made to speak with feeling and pedantry of revolution and class struggle), has since turned this scene into posters and t-shirts.

108. “HUELSENBECK, in blackface…” Huelsenbeck sometimes performed in the Cabaret Voltaire in blackface.

109. “The point is… of no return…” The line is from the Strasbourg pamphlet De la misere; see “On the Poverty of Student Life,” Knabb, Anthology, 331. The rest is invented.

110. “They believe that all things…” From the report of the Bishop of Strasbourg, 1317, on the heresy of the Free Spirit; see Cohn, Pursuit, 182. Cited in “If You Make the Social Revolution, Do It for Fun,” the postscript to Situationist International, Ten Days that Shook the University, 24. The rest is invented.

111. “…every ideological… collapsed.” From Ten Days, 27, slightly rephrased.

112. “The ideologist… on earth.” From Huelsenbeck’s introduction to his Dada Almanach, cited in Kleinschmidt’s introduction to Huelsenbeck, Memoirs, xliv.

113. “In the back of the room… ” Though the dialogue and some of the details of the following scene are invented, the gist of this incident took place in the Cabaret Voltaire in 1916, and involved Huelsenbeck and his then-girlfriend “L.” Appalled by Huelsenbeck’s carrying on at the cabaret, she finally agreed to come and see for herself, and then stormed out; Huelsenbeck, willing to do almost anything to get his girlfriend to sleep with him, leaped from the stage in pursuit. However, after Huelsenbeck stood riveted in the vestibule between Ball and his girlfriend “like a mule that doesn’t know whether to turn left or right to get his bundle of hay,” Huelsenbeck’s girlfriend stalked out, and he returned to the stage. See Huelsenbeck, Memoirs, 21-22, and for the aftermath, 23-25.

114. “—the exemplary gestures…” From “If You Make the Social Revolution,” in Situationist International, Ten Days, 26.

115. “We admire you… ” A generic account of goings-on at the University of Strasbourg after situationist-inspired students won control of the student government in the fall of 1966.

116. “BALL begins…” From Tristan Tzara’s “Chronique Zurichoise, 1915-1919,” first published in Huelsenbeck, Dada Almanach, 10-29, and cited from Moth­erwell, Dada, 235, this song was performed at the Cabaret Voltaire.

117. “We forced…that critique.” From “If You Make the Social Revolution,” in Situationist International, Ten Days, 26, slightly reworded.

118. “‘a systematic rejection…'” From Le Monde (Paris), report on Stras­bourg events, 9 December 1966, cited in Knabb, Anthology, 382.

119. “‘based on the…'” From “Enter, far Left, in tinted glasses, K. and his situationists,” Sunday Telegraph (London), 11 December 1966. Report on Mustapha Khayati in Strasbourg.

120. “…these cynics…'” From the summation of Judge Llabador of Strasbourg, dissolving the student government of the situationist-influenced Strasbourg stu­dents, 13 December 1966, cited in Knabb, Anthology, 382. The words “untrammeled desire” have been substituted for Knabb’s “unrestrained pleasure.”

121. “God save the Queen…” From the Sex Pistols’ single “God Save the Queen” (Virgin, U.K., 1977).

122. “…and a friend…” McLaren is seen accompanied by Jamie Reid; see note 37 above.

123. “WE HAVE A WORLD…” The last line of the postscript to the 1972 French edition of Vaneigem, Traité; see Vaneigem, The Revolution of Everyday Life, 235.

124. “I know what the politics…” When Malcolm McLaren briefly managed the proto-punk band the New York Dolls in 1974, he dressed them in red and decorated their stages with hammer-and-sickle banners that read “WHAT ARE THE POLI­TICS OF BOREDOM?” The latter derived from the situationist emphasis, from before 1957 on, on boredom as a basis for revolution in advanced industrial society.

125. “If you talk about revolution…corpse in your mouth!” (See notes 7, 21, and 39.) This passage is a drastic rewrite and compression of a famous passage from Vaneigem, Revolution, 15: “People who talk about revolution and class struggle without referring explicitly to everyday life, without understanding what is subversive about love and positive in the refusal of constraints, such people have corpses in their mouths” (last clause slightly rephrased for grammar). For the curious history of this passage, see “A Corpse in Your Mouth: Adventures of a Metaphor, or Modern Cannibalism,” in my Dead Elvis: A Chronicle of a Cultural Obsession
(New York: Doubleday, 1991).

126. “LAST DAYS—” The text of a sticker in the form of a supermarket sale announcement made up by Jamie Reid in 1974, in association with Suburban Press, meant for posting in stores.

127. THE INTELLECTUAL…” Transposition, distortion. “The Intellectual” represents the Marxist sociologist Henri Lefebvre (1901-91), a mentor and comrade of Guy Debord and other situationists in the mid- and late fifties. The words attributed to “The Intellectual” are a rewrite of a passage implicitly attacking the situationists, from Lefebvre, The Survival of Capitalism, Frank Bryant (London: Allison & Busby, 1976), 41.

128. “Oh Mary…” See note 4.

129. “…the witch-doctor of Bethlehem!” A situationist locution for Jesus Christ.

130. “I never got…” See note 3.

131. “HAUSMANN, as an…” See note 42.

132. “Dada was the issue…” A slight rephrasing and connecting of passages from Hausmann, “Club Dada Berlin, 1918-1921,” written 24 July 1966, in Dada Berlin, 5.

133. “zingata…” Riha, 113 dada gedichte, 34.

134. “I am the…” Transposition, distortion. The first line of the Sex Pistols’ first single, “Anarchy in the U.K.” (E.M.I., U.K., 1976) was “I am an Antichrist.” In performance singer Johnny Rotten (Lydon) often changed the “an” to “the.” How could he resist?

(Same footnotes with visuals and links etc. are available here, albeit in reverse order.)


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