El's Reviews > Flight Out of Time: A Dada Diary

Flight Out of Time by Hugo Ball
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's review
Apr 17, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: cultural-studies-and-other, 20th-centurylit-early, artsy-fartsy, lit-crit, put-it-in-your-journal
Read from April 17 to 30, 2011

I love when artists keep diaries. Their brains work in different ways sometimes, because they have to work differently to create something out of nothing. They put brushes to canvas and create something fantastic, duh, but often when they put pen to paper they also write a beautiful text. They see words differently, just like they see images and colors and emotions differently.

Hugo Ball was one of the founders of the Dada movement in Zurich in the early 1900s. Dada was not just about the visual arts though, and I think a lot of people tend to forget that - it was about poetry and theater and performance arts, literature and politics, philosophy, sometimes religion; but it's everything one really never expected any of those things to be. They broke ground. They created a new way of looking at everything, a new way of creating. It was, in other words, the anti-art.

During this period Hugo Ball kept a diary, and here are his thoughts on the whole kit and caboodle. I've seen his art before, but this is the first I really read of his words, and I loved it. The passages below are ones that spoke to me in one way or another - they surprised me, I found myself relating to them, they made me think, whatever. His thoughts on rebellion vs. revolution were inspiring. I haven't read a lot of the other philosophers he discussed, so I'm sure I missed some of the references, but it didn't detract from the connection I felt.

(Page 12)
Even the demonic, which used to be so interesting, now has only a faint, lifeless glimmer. In the meantime all the world has become demonic. The demonic no longer differentiates the dandy from the commonplace. You just have to become a saint if you want to differentiate yourself further.

(Page 56)
Adopt symmetries and rhythms instead of principles. Oppose world systems and acts of state by transforming them into a phrase or a brush stroke.

The distancing device is the stuff of life. Let us be thoroughly new and inventive. Let us rewrite life every day.

What we are celebrating is both buffoonery and a requiem mass.

(Page 96)
Emmy fainted in the street. We were waiting under a streetlamp for the tram. She leaned against the wall, staggered, and gently collapsed. I got help from passers-by, and we carried her to the first-aid post in the nearby police station. Her little head was resting so peacefully and comfortably on my shoulder as I was carrying her. A strange scene in the police station: the two of us on and by the bed, and six or seven worried policemen's faces around us, giving her some water and stroking her blond hair. On the way home she smiled and said, "Why is your mouth so bitter?"
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Reading Progress

04/26 page 50
15.0% "(page 17) Sharpen your eyes to see the extent of a person, real or possible."
04/01 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Velvetink (new) - added it

Velvetink What's he supposed to be in the photo? His hat looks like the first hat my mother made for me in primary school for an easter bonnet parade. I nearly died. :0

message 2: by El (new) - rated it 5 stars

El That is his "cubist costume" that he wore to the Cabaret Voltaire in 1916 while he performed his poem, Elefantenkarawane. Classy, right? :)

message 3: by Velvetink (new) - added it

Velvetink It's a bit like a cross between a Christmas bon bon and the Tin Man! The hands are freaking me out a tad. Though I can go with "Classy". Would be interesting to read his diary, you're right about people forgetting it was more than just the visual arts...so added it to my wishlist.

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