Dada and Donald’s tweet

A few weeks ago, friends and I attended a literary evening. As usual, the evening not only included recital of poetry, but also appropriate chamber music. This evening was a German one and its theme Dada.

Though Dada evolved into an international avant-garde movement, it started out as a German reaction against WWI. Dada artists protested against the senseless killing, destruction, chaos.

20170601 Kurt Schwitters last bird and flowers

Kurt Schwitters’ “Last birds and flowers”

The Branoul and NEUE members had put together a short Dada performance which took place in Amsterdam and The Hague a few weeks ago. The evening’s title was “Dada – Chaos as peace initiative”. Performed music included compositions by Erik Satie, Erwin Schulhoff and John Cage.

I had warned friends, it might be a rather adventurous evening. It might be too modern, too avant-garde for some (including me). So a few decided to attend a literary event at one of the embassies after all, which was taking place the same evening.

Well – adventurous the evening certainly was. But Dada turned out to also be moving, interesting, hilarious. Jan Hellberg recited poems and statements written by Hans Arp, Friedrich Glauser, Raoul Hausmann, Richard Heulsenbeck, Erik Satie, Tristan Tzara and Kurt Schwitters.

The public had been prepared, had been warned. Nevertheless, it did not take the 7-minute-long excerpt from Kurt Schwitters’ “Ursonate” – just three minutes of Jan Hellberg performing and reciting – to make us collapse with laughter.

Its English name is “Primal Sonata” and it’s an early example of Dada sound poetry. It was created in 1922-1923 and definitely needs to be heard, preferably witnessed; instead of read.

As usual, the evening was an excellent performance. Jan Hellberg’s excerpt from Schwitters’ “Ursonate” beat everything. Though Hanna Shybayeva gave a good piano and acting performance as well.

Beat everything? Well – until the reign of the potty potus reached another peak. He tweeted “covfefe”? Left it and the world dangling for about six hours? Then told all of us to figure it out ourselves? Ah well – an exasperated Sean Spicer once told journalists: “… tweets speak for themselves.”

So after pondering covfefe, after mulling it over, after discarding typos (for according to Sean Spicer this tweet contained none) … My only explanation is, Dumb Deal had a Dada moment. The potty president’s covfefe is an attempt to beat Kurt Schwitters’ Dada-Ursonate.

Who’d have thought the Donald had it in him!
Poetry! Sheer Dada poetry! Sheer raving, irrational Dada chaos!
No typos – just an attempt at art, literature, rhythm, rhyme, Ur-sounds!

A Dada chaos ode! To whom? Angela Merkel?

Too bad Trump’s performances will never reach the impressive heights of Jan Hellberg and Hanna Shybayeva as well as all the other actors, actresses, musicians, who help make each Salon Branoul evening such a delight.

Covfefe! Covfefe! Covfefe!
Keep at it Donald – one day, you may manage a true Dada tweet!

YouTube: a 3-minute-long sample of Kurt Schwitter’s Ursonate
June Salon Branoul will be the last before the 2017 summer holidays. It’ll be a Dutch recital with Spanish guitar music.

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