5.11.15

tt

 
Einstein explains that the Africanmask does not symbolize but, rather,
is

the god, and that consequently it‘signifies nothing’, we could imaginethe Jewish mysticism of the trans-xing but unknowable divinitdisplaced into avant-garde Afri-canism, and intthe ecumenicalagreement amongst the dadas thatdada too ‘signifies nothing.’
55
In fact,after dada turned gangrenous, Tzarainvoked Taoism in discussing themeanings of ‘nothing’ at the WeimarConstructivist Congress in 1922,
56
but that may have been in partbecause Taoism could be used to mask any attribution of specifically Jewishmysticism through the rhetoric of animpersonal dissolution of the self.Jewish mysticism, Einstein’s under-standing of African sculpture, Taoismand dada, could mask, frame, or alle-gorize one another.To return to Tzara’s arrival inParis: Everling, in whose apartmenthe stayed, remarked upon his prolif-eration of papers, his endless sending and receiving of mail, to the point that thepolice were tipped off by the post office and made enquiries, suspecting espio-nage. This, too, seemed absurd. Of course Tzara’s tactic of sending dada materialto everyone of influence or interest everywhere has left him susceptible to thecharge of being a mere self-promoter, rather than the high-minded
seeker of like-minded men
he claimed to Breton in their earlycorrespondence.
57
Indeed, Everlingspecifically remarked on Tzara’s harnessing of a supple and tenacious intelligenceto an ‘adaptive Semitic mentality’ devoted to the furthering of his cause as a‘virus’.
58
Troublingly, this
adaptive
Semitic mentality was a truism otherwise setout in the infamous
Protocols of the Elders of Zion
, translated into French in 1920 andreferring to the supposed Jewish strategy of concealment by adaptation to themores of the larger culture, particularly in order to manipulate the press.
59
Tzara’s proliferating papers also serve as a prolix demonic double to Breton’selegant romance of ‘leaving no trace’ (for which courage Breton was specifically applauded by Jacques Rivie`re, implicitly against Tzara, when
NRF 
was trying tomake dada an indigenous, French, literary form).
60
By 1922 Tzara ended up exiledfrom his own dada. Thrilling in print and letters, a giant at a remove – ‘I think about you as I’ve never before thoughtof anyone’, Breton had once written – Tzarawas a disappointing mail-order bride.
61
When Tzarawas first unveiled at the dada Matine´e of 23 January 1920, he readin a grating voice. Anticipating the embarrassment of his accent, he had itmasked by offstage electric bells manned by Breton and Aragon.
62
But his flam-
8 Man Ray 
, Untitled rayograph
, in
Les Champs De´li-cieux
, Paris, 1922. Gelatin silver print,22.2
Â
17.2cm. Photo: reproduced with thepermission of SODRAC.
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&
ASSOCIATION OF ART HISTORIANS 2009
 
Einstein explains that the Africanmask does not symbolize but, rather,
is
the god, and that consequently it‘signifies nothing’, we could imaginethe Jewish mysticism of the trans-xing but unknowable divinitdisplaced into avant-garde Afri-canism, and into the ecumenicalagreement amongst the dadas thatdada too ‘signifies nothing.’
55
In fact,after dada turned gangrenous, Tzarainvoked Taoism in discussing themeanings of ‘nothing’ at the WeimarConstructivist Congress in 1922,
56
but that may have been in partbecause Taoism could be used to mask any attribution of specifically Jewishmysticism through the rhetoric of animpersonal dissolution of the self.Jewish mysticism, Einstein’s under-standing of African sculpture, Taoismand dada, could mask, frame, or alle-gorize one another.To return to Tzara’s arrival inParis: Everling, in whose apartmenthe stayed, remarked upon his prolif-eration of papers, his endless sending and receiving of mail, to the point that thepolice were tipped off by the post office and made enquiries, suspecting espio-nage. This, too, seemed absurd. Of course Tzara’s tactic of sending dada materialto everyone of influence or interest everywhere has left him susceptible to thecharge of being a mere self-promoter, rather than the high-minded
seeker of like-minded men
he claimed to Breton in their earlycorrespondence.
57
Indeed, Everlingspecifically remarked on Tzara’s harnessing of a supple and tenacious intelligenceto an ‘adaptive Semitic mentality’ devoted to the furthering of his cause as a‘virus’.
58
Troublingly, this
adaptive
Semitic mentality was a truism otherwise setout in the infamous
Protocols of the Elders of Zion
, translated into French in 1920 andreferring to the supposed Jewish strategy of concealment by adaptation to themores of the larger culture, particularly in order to manipulate the press.
59
Tzara’s proliferating papers also serve as a prolix demonic double to Breton’selegant romance of ‘leaving no trace’ (for which courage Breton was specifically applauded by Jacques Rivie`re, implicitly against Tzara, when
NRF 
was trying tomake dada an indigenous, French, literary form).
60
By 1922 Tzara ended up exiledfrom his own dada. Thrilling in print and letters, a giant at a remove – ‘I think about you as I’ve never before thoughtof anyone’, Breton had once written – Tzarawas a disappointing mail-order bride.
61
When Tzarawas first unveiled at the dada Matine´e of 23 January 1920, he readin a grating voice. Anticipating the embarrassment of his accent, he had itmasked by offstage electric bells manned by Breton and Aragon.
62
But his flam-
8 Man Ray 
, Untitled rayograph
, in
Les Champs De´li-cieux
, Paris, 1922. Gelatin silver print,22.2
Â
17.2cm. Photo: reproduced with thepermission of SODRAC.
FAIRE DE SON HISTOIRE UNE BOUCLE (NOIRE)
153
&
ASSOCIATION OF ART HISTORIANS 2009
 
boyant rolling of ‘r’s seemed to sum him up:
63
his fricatives clacked like falseteeth and he made self-portraits out of sibilants, as the very fabric of his name,suitably abbreviated by Aragon into ‘Trtz’
64
: ‘Monsieur tzacatzac parasol cassecase´e glace glisse monsieur.’
65
In ‘Pe´lamide’ Tzara gives Rimbaud’s ‘
Voyelles
aSlavic waterlogging, thickening them with ‘th’ sounds: ‘a o u ith a o u ath’.
66
Germaine Everling reported that Breton would flee to an adjoining room withgrated teeth whenever Tzara started to recite,
67
and Aragon said that Tzara had tobe taught to say even ‘dada’ in a French way.
68
A paradox of this is that theraucous sounds of dada were to be, in Paris, pronounced correctly. Something of Tzara’s being wrong-footed in Paris dada relied on the fact that, by being foreign,his subversions of language were not first grounded in an inviolable French.
69
Forhis first Paris performance, Tzara came on to the stage reading one of Le´onDaudet’s speeches to the Chamber of Deputies.
70
While there is an clear irony tothe recitation of any politician’s speech in a dada context, there was a particularirony to the choice of Daudet (whoever made the choice), as Daudet as editor of 
Action Franc ¸aise
had notoriously promoted a
Protocols-of-Zion
-inflected fear of Jewishinfiltration of economic, political and cultural institutions, and the press.
71
Thatis, Daudet provided a perfectly negative frame for Tzara’s debut.Within Paris dada Tzara ultimately came up against this generic set of xenophobic and anti-Semitic predispositions. When the literary arbiters Andre´Gide and Jacques Rivie`re praised dada in
NRF 
, it was the dada of those ‘legitimateheirs’ of French culture – Aragon and Breton – whose work in language they found admirable or even mentionable. The dada project was the necessary ruin of 
notre
Verbe’; the ‘notre’ signifying ‘French’.
72
When Gide acidulously found thatthe two syllables of ‘dada’ had a ‘sonorous inanity’ and ‘absolute insignificance’he could attribute the origins of this distasteful term to those ‘strangers’ whoimport mediocrity and stagnation into French culture. These strangers include‘the inventor of dada’: young, charming, a foreigner, a – Jew! (‘I knew it,’ Gideassures the reader, signalling that such a character could only be a Jew). Worse:‘They tell me he doesn’t sign with his real name, and I’d easily believe that dadatoo is nothing but a pseudonym.’
73
Dada too is a Jew with an assumed name. TheGide point of view raises the problem that dada as avant-gardism could be alle-gorized by reference to that pernicious fraudulent account of internationalJewish conspiracy, the
Protocols of the Elders of Zion

: dada as a programme of demoralization and as subversion of all social institutions, relying on deliberatedisinformation and a hidden, parasitic, use of the press. Such spurious preceptsattributed to the Elders of Zion, as ‘no morality inpolitics’, ‘one must sow anarchamongst the masses’, ‘power and hypocrisy’, and ‘a senseless, dirty, anddisgusting literature’,

74

could be aligned with Tzara’s dada manifestos’ excoria-tions of morality, sense and logic.

75

On 1 September 1919 an anonymous note (immediately understood to be theeditor Jacques Rivie`re’s) appeared in

Nouvelle Revue Franc ¸aise

[

NRF 

], emphasizing the‘German origins’ of dada. This was a familiar echo of the rightist Frenchnationalist rhetoric crucial to Maurice Barre`s, who lumped the Jew with theHun.

76

Breton immediately informed Tzara of the note.

77

Tzara was apparently too weary, or too familiar, with this kind of rhetoric, to respond directly toRivie`re’s dig directly (‘I ordinarily never reply, outof laziness, to such stuff’),

78
butin a long letter to Breton, on 21 September, he outlined his views: ‘Today one does
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