Tristan Tzara

By: Mark Kingwell
April 16, 2012

In honour of TRISTAN TZARA (born Samuel Rosenstock, 1896-1963), Romanian-French poet, playwright, journalist, artist, filmmaker, and founder of Dada — a manifesto! Let it be proclaimed to everyone and no one: there is a kind of artist whose career makes no sense. His work shall have its own perverse and ironic dislogic, at every moment joyously inconsistent and inconsequential, driven by a supreme egoism. Rough, bouncing, riding on hiccups! Every page an explosion! This artist shall be generous and difficult, frenzied and calm, a furious wind. This artist shall not begin or end, shall not mourn or weep, shall replace tears with sirens screeching from one continent to another. He shall find himself imitated and parodied, celebrated and misunderstood. He shall find himself a character in a play, where he will claim to be “the natural enemy of bourgeois art and the natural ally of the political left,” though that is not quite right; and where he will be criticized by James Joyce for being “an overexcited little man, with a need for self-expression far beyond the scope of his natural gifts,” though that is not quite right either. Because this artist, no nihilist after all, will know, alive or dead — especially dead! — that playful deconstruction is the highest calling of modern art. Boomboom, boomboom, boomboom! Das ist Dada, chaque dear reader. (That’s a pun.) The rest is fish!


On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: Kingsley Amis.

READ MORE about members of the Hardboiled (1894-1903) Generation.


HiLo Heroes, Poetry