Dadaism

Eat the Meat in My Bone Soup

by
Daulton Dickey.

 

 

img_4466Daulton Dickey is a novelist, poet, and content creator currently living in Indiana with his wife and kids. He’s the author of A Peculiar Arrangement of Atoms: StoriesStill Life with Chattering Teeth and People-Shaped Things, and other storiesElegiac Machinations: an experimental novella, and Bastard Virtues, a novelRooster Republic Press will publish his latest novel, Flesh Made World, later this year. Contact him at lostitfunhouse [at] gmail [dot] com

Existentialism in 60 Seconds

ex·is·ten·tial·ism
ˌeɡzəˈsten(t)SHəˌlizəm/
noun
noun: existentialism

A philosophical theory or approach that emphasizes the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining their own development through acts of the will.

Taped in front of a live studio audience.

daultondickeyDaulton Dickey is a novelist, poet, and content creator currently living in Indiana with his wife and kids. He’s the author of A Peculiar Arrangement of Atoms: StoriesStill Life with Chattering Teeth and People-Shaped Things, and other storiesElegiac Machinations: an experimental novella, and Bastard Virtues, a novelRooster Republic Press will publish his latest novel, Flesh Made World, later this year. Contact him at daultondickey[at]yahoo[dot]com.

Andy Kaufman and the Physics of Human Response

by
Daulton Dickey.

1.

andykaufmanoncreatingrealityNear the end of his life, Andy Kaufman planned a college tour—but not as a performer. Instead, he envisioned a series of lectures entitled On Creating Reality: the Physics of Human Response. Although he died before delivering a single lecture, his agent had printed promotional material in the form of postcards. The material teased the lecture would discuss Andy’s career in relation to “the dynamics of human behavior.”

No known notes exist for this lecture and its contents remain as enigmatic as the man himself. His career in shambles, Kaufman had hoped to legitimize himself by touring the lecture circuit. Of all the titles and all the approaches to a tour, On Creating Reality seems most apt for a man who built a career on challenging peoples’ perceptions of reality.

To watch an Andy Kaufman performance is to experience the panoply of human emotions and experiences within the span of only a few minutes. Kaufman didn’t aspire to entertain—although he occasionally called himself an entertainer; instead, he manipulated and challenged reality itself. At his peak, those aware of him expressed strong opinions. Many people despised him, which he probably found more exciting than praise. But few people understood him—and it’s easy to assume he liked it that way.

Andy was playing a game, after all, and people took it seriously. Like most games we play in our day-to-day lives, his game wasn’t trivial or inconsequential. In fact, he did more to expose the illusion of objective reality while shedding a light on personality and persona than any artist, philosopher, or scientist of the twentieth century. (more…)

Interview with Artist Graeme Jukes

by
Daulton Dickey.

Slope 01`08`17 a (1)I came across Graeme Jukes’s mixed media on Ello. The images immediately arrested me. Steeped in early 20th century avant-garde movements, especially the Dadaists, his art expressed a nightmarish yet strangely familiar quality—the kind of familiarity you intuit, unable to articulate.

Captivated by his imagery, I decided to ask him about his work, his inspirations, and his need to create.

Your work seems paradoxical in that it rejects aesthetics while establishing one—or, the very least, coherence; the illusion of one. Is this conscious on your part?

Rejecting aesthetics? Possibly rejecting conventional aesthetics but I think it is part of a well-established Dadaist aesthetic. I don`t really think about it that much, I do what feels natural and as such it is not a conscious decision on my part. Paradoxical is good, however—I like that.

How did you settle on collage and mixed media? 

Look To The Sky 30`01`15 aThat was largely accidental. I discovered collage back in the 1980s and decided to try my hand. I did thirteen collages and then abandoned the idea, turning to oil painting instead. These early collages are not on Ello.co but can be seen on my DeviantArt site

I gave up on art altogether in the 1990s, destroying most of my work. In 2012 I became seriously ill with cancer. That brush with mortality made me determined that if I survived I would start making art again. I was given the all clear early in 2014. Around the same time I discovered the collages I had done thirty years earlier, which had somehow survived the 90s immolation. Simultaneously there was a major exhibition of the work of Hannah Hoch at the Whitechapel Gallery. I was absolutely bowled over by the beauty and the absurdity of her collages so I decided to have another go myself. Initially the work had a retro-scifi-popart feel before turning darker and more dada. (more…)

Andy Kaufman: Architect of Reality

by
Daulton Dickey.

During his truncated career, Andy Kaufman inspired a variety of emotions. People loved him, despised him, hated him. Others called him a genius, a surrealist, or a Dadaist. His detractors denounced him as unfunny. ‘He’s not a comedian at all,’ they might say. ‘He’s a whackjob.’ Questions about his mental health surfaced. Amateur psychologists diagnosed him with split personalities or schizophrenia. No one knew what to make of him yet everyone tried. A unique, singular performer, Kaufman destroyed every preconception about comedy and the performing arts. He didn’t blur fantasy and reality—he created reality wherever he went, and few people, it seemed, could grapple with it.

No one attending one of his shows knew what to expect. No one interacting with him—either on or off the stage—knew to whom they were speaking. Is this a character? A put on? Is there a real Andy? His last girlfriend, Lynne Margulies, considered the latter question absurd. There was no real Andy, she’d say. She expressed this sentiment to Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, the screenwriters of Man on the Moon, the Kaufman biopic starring Jim Carrey.

Until that moment, they couldn’t get a handle on the “real” Andy Kaufman. Without determining who Kaufman was, Alexander and Karazewski couldn’t envision a movie at all. Margulies’s insight changed everything. (more…)

Another excerpt from a novella that I’ll eventually finish

by
Daulton Dickey.

A woman hangs from a window over the street. Two, maybe three, stories above the pockmarked sidewalk. She’s hanging from a cord—elbows stiff, fists clenched. A skintight unitard reveals her breasts and cunt, each rib, every curve and dimple. She swings back and forth, back and forth. A featureless white theater mask obscures her face, and two eyeholes allow for sunlight to bounce off her eyes and sparkle.

She swings back and forth, back and forth.

She sings as she swings—a trilling howl, an atonal screech, beautiful in its portrayal of compulsion.

People on the street below march to work. Men and women carrying briefcases and bags, playing on phones or tablets, hustling north or south, east or west; many cross or sidle along the sidewalk beneath her; no one glances at her.

Gears in a machine are not capable of hearing their squeaks or mistimed thumps.

###

The woman stops swinging, hangs from the cord. She lowers her head and gazes down at me—her eyes shine through the eyeholes and radiate heat.

I wave.

She gazes.

I lay on the sidewalk and wave.

People flow around me.

The woman splays her legs and spins. She flips her arms and catches the cord and climbs into a nearby window.

###

The window closes, a blind drops and blocks the sun.

###

Lying on the sidewalk, I stare at the clouds, at the gray and black wall filtering the light of the sun. Faces crawl by. People flow around me. Flesh screeching in the machinery of the moment, all automatism and no verve. Screams and screeches and howls—silent yet audible. Meat machines programmed for busy bee antics.

Below me, the ground roils and rumbles, flops and floats, as though I’m lying on a waterbed. I perch my arms behind my head and close my eyes. Light taps my eyelids. Pink bleeds into black. Smells of diesel fumes assault and soothe me. The hum of stomping feet, of marching corporate soldiers, relaxes relaxes me.

Then I feel it: a shadow grows over me. I open my eyes. The white-masked woman is standing beside me, hunched over and staring at me. Her hair—knitted into a ponytail—hovers between us. Her eyes break through the darkened holes in her mask. She studies me, her eyes comb over me, her breath smacks her mask, vibrates it and reverberates inside it. It implants chills on my spine and arms.

—You can see me? she says.

—Watching you, up there, was like listening to poetry.

—But how can you see me?

—The same way you see me, I suppose.

I sit up. Then I get to my feet. White Mask jumps back, hunches. Her forearms tighten and ripple.

—What do you call it? I say. I point to the cord hanging in front of her window.

—Loneliness, she says. —Confusion.

—I’d call it beauty.

She and I raise an island from the trembling earth. The sea of busy bees does not penetrate our cliffs.

—Would you like to see beauty? she says. —And loneliness? And confusion?

—Absolutely.

—Then come with me.

###

She leads me into her building, up a flight of stairs and into her apartment. Roses grow in cracks in the walls. Clocks are planted in the floor. Couches and chairs are hanging on the ceiling and sprouting from the walls. Sculptures of flowers and legs—without genitalia—are settling and drying in the corner of the room.

I’m standing on a clock, watching time squirm beneath me, when White Mask crosses the room. She stops near the window, back to me, and pulls her arms from her sleeves and wiggles out of her unitard.

Her back is smooth like glass and it ripples—fills the glass with rainbows and bubbles—when she contracts her muscles. She keeps the mask on her face and she stands in front of the window and spins toward me. Centered in the window, backlit by the gray haze of the muffled sun, she is darker, faded—a double exposed form languishing inside a silhouette: she’s built like a pin-up, all tits and curves.

She says something, but she whispers it and the mask muffles it.

—I don’t know, I say.

In that mask, only her eyes are alive.

—Would you like to see it now? she says.

—This isn’t it? I brush the air between her body and me.

—You can’t see it from here.

She opens the window, crawls onto the sill. Then she climbs onto a perch outside and disappears.

I slip out after her and follow her from windowsill to windowsill, up and over four stories and to the roof. A billboard as wide as the building sprouts from the rooftop. White Mask is climbing a ladder another story; she sits on the platform at the base of the billboard—still naked—and swings her legs to and fro.

I climb the ladder and sit beside her, catch a glimpse of the city: glass and concrete and steel; man made chrysanthemums towering over the land; concrete grows on horizons, blurs the curves and melts the edges.

Streams of worker drones scurry around the sidewalks below. Cars and buses god the streets. Feet-slapping thunder and murmurs, engines and horns float up, up and enshrine us in the symphony of routine.

The face of a woman beams on the billboard behind us. Airbrushed, practically painted, the woman is smiling beside a logo and a slogan promising more bang for my buck. She stares off into space, frozen in a drum beat of recycled air.

A horn rises. Tires screech. A car below nearly slams into a bus. A half dozen cars riff in similar keys, and the bus makes a hard left, turns into an adjoining street. And the people clotting the sidewalks flow and flow. The line churns forward, ever forward, and no one stops or pauses or even turn their heads.

—Millions and millions of people, White Mask says, —and yet no one notices me. They never acknowledge me. How do I know I’m not dead?

—Are you afraid?

—Sometimes.

—Then you’re not dead.

She glances at me. Eyeballs swollen behind the mask.

—How do you know you’re not dead? she says. —Do they ever see you?

—I don’t think so.

—So you might be dead, too. Maybe this is our eternity. Condemned to silence and anonymity.

—If so, I would say this is heaven, not hell.

—Look at them down there, she says. —Just look at them: always on the move. I swing and swing, or I sit up here, like this, naked, and still they don’t notice me. If we’re not dead, maybe we’ve been sucked into a parallel universe.

—They see what they want to see, I say. —We live outside their realm because they can’t squeeze us into any picture they might have.

—Or they’re simply incapable of seeing us.

—It’s not that they’re incapable; they’ve spent so much time ignoring us that they can’t see us any longer. But this is temporary.

—How do we get them to see us?

—We make them confront our traces, I say. —We leave signatures in space and time, signatures from which they infer us.

—But then, to them, we are not alive. To them, if they infer us, we’re merely hypothetical.

—It’s a start.

—I’d prefer to be dead than to be a nameless and faceless, a featureless, figment of someone’s imagination.

—I’d rather be a figment of the imagination than dead, I say. —And how do you know we’re not a figment of the imagination? here and now?

—If we were a figment of the imagination, then someone would acknowledge me.

—I am. Right now.

—But what if I’m dead and you’re a figment of my eternity?

—Do I feel real to you? Right now?

She brushes my cheek, lowers her hand to my hand and slips her fingers into my fingers and weaves a flower, and the flower blooms when she unfurls her fingers.