The light went off,

a sign of her having gone to bed.

An earthquake may shake.


let us get up and quietly

talk to the cold moon.

-Takahashi Shinkichi


"Men argue, nature acts." ~Voltaire

I have had quite a difficult time in my attempt to describe the correlations between Zen and Dada. For about two years, Iíve been researching books and discussing the subject with anyone with two ears and have not yet found the words to explain anything satisfactorily.

While learning more and more about Zen I realized that even thinking about the idea of ZenDada was dualistic {Dualism is the conflict that arises when dealing with the paradox of the opposites: White=black, for example}.
"Easy is right. Begin right and you are easy. Continue easy and you are right. The right way to go easy is to forget the right way and forget that the going is easy." ~Chuang-Tzu}

I think now that Dada is one of many many many roads that can lead to Zen. It mixes up the mind and reorganizes a listenerís thoughts to come to a new state or a new attitude. It uses anti-language as its tool.

In the first few chapters of Hans Richter's Dada: Art and Anti-art, Richter describes the actions and ideas behind the Dada group at the Cabaret Voltaire. It seems to me that the group went through a Zen-like enlightenment. Chance, deobjectification and explorations into duality are some elements in their poetry, music, lectures and visual art that can be found in Zen. Their interest in Nothingness also corresponds. Their spewing of nonesense (or none-sense) confuses the listener just as the irrational sounding Zen koans push a student toward enlightenment. Richter wrote that Dada became a state of mind. Zen is a state of mind. Neither of these attitudes can be defined.

Tristan Tzara makes direct reference to Zen in his lecture from 1922:
Dada is not at all modern. It is more in the nature of a return to an almostBuddhist religion of indifference. Dada covers things with an artificial gentleness, a snow of butterflies released from the head of a prestidigitator. Dada is immobility and does not comprehend the passions. You will call this a paradox, since Dada is manifested only in violent acts. Yes, the reactions of individuals contaminated by destruction are rather violent, but when these reactions are exhausted, annihilated by the Satanic insistence of a continuous and progressive "What for?" what remains, what dominates is indifference. But with the same note of conviction I might maintain the contrary.

???ZenDada is Zen that is discovered by way of Dada action???
The acts of Dada could be seen as a version of the dualistic stage of Zen enlightenment just as my writing this essay is dualistic.

More ZenDada

On the other hand...

From my point of view, and coming from the background I came from, Dada has correlated with Zen. I understood Dada before I was introduced to Zen. For those who would have blown off Zen with disinterest or for those whose interest in Zen is based on popular myth (without their knowledge), Dada may shove them in the right direction.
But there is another point of view (out of many, I'm sure) that comes from the other side. Those who have taken Zen seriously and have lived most of their lives by it will have a different view of Dada. The following comments were written by a friend in response to reading Tristan Tzara's 1922 lecture:

"I read [Tristan Tzara's 1922 lecture]. I didn't get much out of it. I could have read it twice to pull some deeper meaning but chose not to. Unlike Zen philosophy [Tristan's lecture] made no attempt to make kids out of adults. It only fanned the flame of confusion and doubt. It makes the already confused person take a defensive stance on a new way of thinking. I was surprised to see the "simplicity" used. The passage is by no means simple. Shock therapy was never proved to be an effective way of reaching or curing the masses. Reading the passage with an open mind I struggled to find a reason why so many (of the wrong) words were being used to make such simple points. When I read Zen philosophy I willingly question the way I think. Zen doesn't challenge. It teaches you to challenge yourself to question. If what I read represents current Dadaist beliefs then I can safely say that my personality would not do well with Dadaism."

And so Dada may be a misinterpretation of Zen. _____________________________________________________________________________________

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