« Le cœur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît point : on le sait en mille choses. » (“The heart has reasons which reason knows nothing of. We know it in a thousand things.”)
– Blaise Pascal, Pensées
Modern civilizations often pride themselves on rationality and spirit of free enterprise. These ideals, however, were thrown into doubt with the conclusion of the First World War. Blaming the deadly global conflict on, among other things, excessive rational thought and capitalist values, artists, musicians, filmmakers and writers voiced their protest through Dadaism, a cultural movement that embraced irrationality and disorder. Abstract artist Jean Arp, for instance, dropped paper shapes randomly on a background and glued them on the spots they landed on. Others drew up elaborate diagrams crammed full of gears, pistons, levers, pulleys and dials that explained nothing. Poets like Hugo Ball wrote sound poems (e.g. “gadji beri bimba glandridi laula lonni cadori […]”) that rejected language conventions and showcased pure sounds possessing only their own primal meanings. To the Dadaists, they were merely replacing the “logical nonsense” prevailing in Western societies with “illogical nonsense,” engaging in antics no more absurd than the war.
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