Dada, The Waste Land and… Memes?

The issue I picked is another from 291, the April issue. I found a rather interesting image within it that reminded me of The Waste Land as well as some image macros I’ve seen today. Here’s the link and the image: blog post.lpgThe image is largely unintelligible, with seemingly random geometric shapes abound. However, a loose narrative does appear. “It” seems to be about a woman contemplating not only her place in the world and her relationship, but the place of all women in general. The image might be an abstraction of her mind.

I think the image fits the “Active Simplicity” tenant of “Dada Manifesto 1918.” Tzara writes, “What we need is works that are strong straight precise and forever beyond understanding. Logic is a complication. Logic is always wrong” (4). I believe Meyer’s above image perfectly embodies Tzara’s assertion. There is a certain logic and understanding to be derived, enough to evoke feelings and ideas, but portions of it are never going to be fully understood. For example, the jumbled words of “Red dots on whiteness” towards the middle-left of the image. What could that possibly mean? It’s precice, strong, and precice, for sure, but it is still largely beyond understanding and lacking in logic.

I do see elements of this image in The Waste Land. For example, the intrusion of art and objects into conversations and trains of thought. The Shakespearian Rag infiltrating the conversation in A Game of Chess reminds me of the line, “Whenever I pass that canvas I want to put my foot through it” at the bottom left part of Meyer’s image. The freeform insertions of these moments deny a certain logic and make them much harder to understand. They also serve to demonstrate the overstimulation of the modern world. The debate that the Shakespearian Rag caused in class is a fine example of how it’s difficult to ever fully pin down, just like how Tzara wants art to be. And in Part III, we get fragments of words and phrases thrown at us just like in the image, on lines 266-291. Both in the image and The Waste Land, we get intentional disorder, and an arguable lack of logic.

Now for fun, I think there are some distinct parallels between the time of Dada and today. There seems to be skepticism, especially among younger, educated people, that liberal democracy and market capitalism are not the best of all systems. Some of the internet content I’ve seen is becoming more and more disordered and Dada-like to the point of Tzara-esque nihilism, and it even resembles Meyer’s image. Here are some funny examples that clearly aren’t intended to be high art, but may mirror some Dada sentiments.

modern dada 1dada 2Is Dada really just dank memes? Here’s the link to the Facebook page these images originated from:


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