Thursday, December 22, 2005

Hugo Ball pre-blog dada diarist

Before there were online journals and blogs, people expressed their intimate or theoretical thoughts in book format diaries. These were generally made of cardboard, paper, ink, and glue.

Very few people could read these old fashioned curiosities called "books", unless they were printed, bound, and distributed. This cost a great deal of money, unlike the free publishing we have in blogs.

Even worse, the only way a reader could interact with the "book" was by underlining, circling, highlighting, or scribbling notes in the margins.

There were these primitive ways of interacting with the text, but not with the author. To interact with the author, to make a comment, to present a remark, you had to use a letter or a phone. But then the text was not usually there, present, like it is in a blog and its comment posting system.

Still, many great writers of the past tried their hand at this "pre-blog blogging" or physical realm journaling.

Hugo Ball was no exception. His haircut cut across the face of the earth, leaving it needing nothing more than bleeding. Such was the Dada Revolution, strange juxtapositions and fancy loops of what ticks and sticks.

Hugo Ball's Dada Diaries

from Prologue: The Backdrop

(the first pages of his diary)


The world and society in 1913 looked like this: life is completely confined and shackled. A kind of economic fatalism prevails; each individual, whether he resists or not, is assigned a specific role and with it his interests and his character.

The church is regarded as a "redemption factory" of little importance, literature as a safety valve. It makes no difference how this situation came about; it exists and no one can escape from it.

The consequences, for instance in the event of a war, are not encouraging. The masses will then be sent out to adjust the birth rate. The most burning question day and night is this: "Is there anywhere a force that is strong enough and above all vital enough to put an end to this state of affairs?"

And if not, how can one escape it? A man's mind can be trained and adapted. But can a man's heart be appeased to such an extent that we will be able to predict his emotional reactions? ...

* * * * * * * *

...The machine gives a kind of sham life to dead matter. It moves matter. It is a specter. It joins matter together, and in so doing reveals some kind of rationalism. Thus it is death, working systematically, counterfeiting life....Anyone who lasts a lifetime near such a machine must be a hero, or must be crushed. We cannot expect any spontaneous feelings from such a creature. A walk through a prison cannot be so horrifying as a walk through the noisy workroom of a modern printing shop. The animal sounds, the stinking liquids. All the senses focused on what is bestial, monstrous, and yet unreal....

...The war is based on a crass error. Men have been mistaken for machines. Machines, not men, should be decimated. At some future date, when only the machines march, things will be better. Then everyone will be right to rejoice when they all demolish each other...

...Do not attack abstractions and doctrines. Everyone thinks what he wants to about them, and many abstruse words are used. Attack prominent people and events. One single sentence is enough; it does not have to be the whole system.

...Something is rotten and senile in the world....There is need for a widespread conspiracy of eternal youth to defend everything noble....


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