Hugo Ball

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undated photo of Hugo Ball by anonymous photographer - original source: De Stijl, Vol. 8, nr. 85/86 (1928), p. 98; publisher Theo van Doesburg

Hugo Ball - in quotes. Hugo Ball (22 February 188614 September 1927) was a German author, poet and one of the leading Dada artists; he founded in Zürich the 'Cabaret Voltaire'. He wrote also the 1916 Dada Manifesto. Circa 1917-18 he left Dada; in the Summer of 1920 he returned to the Catholic religion.

Quotes of Hugo Ball[edit]

chronologically arranged, after date of the quotes of Hugo Ball
Hugo Ball, 1916: acting in the Dada show in 'Cabaret Voltaire', in Zurich
Hugo Ball, May 1916: frontcover of his first publication of the Dada 'Cabaret Voltaire', in Zürich
Hugo Ball, 1916
Hugo Ball, c, 1919: text of his Dada-poem 'Karawane', in the Dada Almanac, Berlin: Erich Reiss Verlag, 1920, p. 53
Hugo Ball, 1919: front-cover of his publication 'Zur Kritik der deutschen Intelligenz. Bern
Hugo Ball and Hans Arp in Pompeii, photo 1927
Tomb of Hugo Ball and Emmy Ball-Hennings, graveyard San Abbondio (Gentilino, municipality Collina d'Oro, Lugano, Kanton Tessin, Switzerland, photo by Ansgar Walk, 2007
  • The war [World War 1.] is founded on a glaring mistake, men have been confused with machines.
    • Quote from 'Life and Work', in Hugo Ball on Wikipedia
    • his remark after witnessing the invasion of Belgium by the German armies, in the start of World War 1. in 1914
  • Our cabaret 'Cabaret Voltaire' is a gesture.. .Every word that is spoken and sung here says at least this one thing: that this humiliating age has not succeeded in winning our respect.
    • quote from Ball's diary entry, 1916; as quoted in Looking at Dada, eds. Sarah Ganz Blythe & Edward D. Powers - The Museum of Modern Art New York, ISBN: 087070-705-1; p. 3
  • We were all there when Janco arrived with his masks, and everyone immediately put one on. Then something strange happened. Not only did the mask immediately call for a costume; it also demanded a quite definite, passionate gesture, bordering on madness. Although we could not have imagined it five minutes earlier we were walking around with most bizarre movements, festooned and draped with impossible objects, each one of us trying to outdo the other in inventiveness.. .What fascinated us all about the masks is that they represent not human characters and passions, but.. ..passions that are larger than life. The horror of our time [World War 1., a. o.], the paralyzing background of events, is made visible.
    • quote from Hugo Ball's diary entry, 24 May 1916; as quoted in Looking at Dada, eds. Sarah Ganz Blythe & Edward D. Powers - The Museum of Modern Art New York, ISBN: 087070-705-1; p. 4
  • I have invented [c. 1915-1916] a new series of verses, verses without words, or sound poems, in which the balancing of the vowels is gauged and distributed according to the value of the initial line.. .With these sound poems we should renounce language, devastated and made impossible by journalism. We should withdraw into the innermost alchemy of the word, and even surrender the word, thus conserving for poetry its most sacred domain. We should refuse to make poems second-hand; we should stop taking over words (not to mention sentences) which we did not invent entirely anew for our own use. We should no longer be content to achieve poetic effects which, in the final analysis, are but echoes of inspiration..
  • In these phonetic poems we the Dadaist artists totally renounce the language that journalism has abused and corrupted. We must return to the innermost alchemy of the word, we must even give up the word too, to keep for poetry its last and holiest refuge.
    • Quote of Hugo Ball, as cited by Steve McCaffery, in The Darkness of the Present: Poetics, Anachronism, and the Anomaly; publ. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2012, p. 16
  • I have examined myself carefully. I could never bid chaos welcome, blow up bridges, and do away with ideas. I am not an anarchist.
    • quote from Hugo Ball's dairy on Dada, in Flight out of Time, 'Introduction'; University of California Press (1996)
  • It is true that for us art is not an end in itself, we have lost too many of our illusions for that. Art is for us an occasion for social criticism, and for real understanding of the age we live in.. .Dada was not a school of artists, but an alarm signal against declining values, routine and speculations, a desperate appeal, on behalf of all forms of art, for a creative basis on which to build a new and universal consciousness of art.


'Dada Manifesto, 1916' by Hugo Ball[edit]

Quotes from: 'Dada Manifesto' 1916, Hugo Balls - which he read at the first public by Dada soirée, Zurich, July 14, 1916 in Cabaret Voltaire, taken from Wikisource
  • Dada is a new tendency in art. One can tell this from the fact that until now nobody knew anything about it, and tomorrow everyone in Zurich will be talking about it. Dada comes from the dictionary. It is terribly simple. In French it means 'hobby horse'. In German it means 'good-bye', 'Get off my back', 'Be seeing you sometime'. In Romanian: 'Yes, indeed, you are right, that's it. But of course, yes, definitely, right'. And so forth.
  • An International word. Just a word, and the word a movement. Very easy to understand. Quite terribly simple. To make of it an artistic tendency must mean that one is anticipating complications. Dada psychology, dada Germany cum indigestion and fog paroxysm, dada literature, dada bourgeoisie, and yourselves, honoured poets.. .Dada world war without end, dada revolution without beginning, dada, you friends and also—poets, esteemed sirs, manufacturers, and evangelists. Dada Tzara, dada Huelsenbeck, dada m'dada, dada m'dada dada mhm, dada dera dada, dada Hue, dada Tza.
  • How does one achieve eternal bliss? By saying dada. How does one become famous? By saying dada. With a noble gesture and delicate propriety. Till one goes crazy. Till one loses consciousness. How can one get rid of everything that smacks of journalism, worms, everything nice and right, blinkered, moralistic, europeanised, enervated? By saying dada..
  • I shall be reading poems that are meant to dispense with conventional language, no less, and to have done with it. Dada Johann Fuchsgang Goethe. Dada Stendhal. Dada Dalai Lama, Buddha, Bible, and Nietzsche. Dada m'dada. Dada mhm dada da. It's a question of connections, and of loosening them up a bit to start with. I don't want words that other people have invented..
  • It will serve to show how articulated language comes into being. I let the vowels fool around. I let the vowels quite simply occur, as a cat meows . . . Words emerge, shoulders of words, legs, arms, hands of words. Au, oi, uh. One shouldn't let too many words out. A line of poetry is a chance to get rid of all the filth that clings to this accursed language.. .Dada is the heart of words.
  • Each thing has its word, but the word has become a thing by itself. Why shouldn't I find it? Why can't a tree be called Pluplusch, and Pluplubasch when it has been raining? The word, the word, the word outside your domain, your stuffiness, this laughable impotence, your stupendous smugness.. .The word, gentlemen, is a public concern of the first importance.


'Gadji beri bimba' (c. 1916)[edit]

Quotes from his poem 'Gadji beri bimba' (c. 1916), Hugo Balls; as quoted from 'Gadji Beri Bimba', in Flight Out of Time: A Dada Diary, ed. John Elderfield, trans. Ann Raimes; Viking Press, New York 1974, p. 70
  • gadji beri bimba glandridi laula lonni cadori
    gadjama gramma berida bimbala glandri galassassa laulitalomini
    gadji beri bin blassa glassala laula lonni cadorsu sassala bim
    gadjama tuffm i zimzalla binban gligla wowolimai bin beri ban
    o katalominai rhinozerossola hopsamen laulitalomini hoooo
    gadjama rhinozerossola hopsamen
    bluku terullala blaulala loooo
  • zimzim urullala zimzim urullala zimzim zanzibar zimzalla zam
    elifantolim brussala bulomen brussala bulomen tromtata
    velo da bang band affalo purzamai affalo purzamai lengado tor
    gadjama bimbalo glandridi glassala zingtata pimpalo ögrögöööö
    viola laxato viola zimbrabim viola uli paluji malooo
  • tuffm im zimbrabim negramai bumbalo negramai bumbalo tuffm i zim
    gadjama bimbala oo beri gadjama gaga di gadjama affalo pinx
    gaga di bumbalo bumbalo gadjamen
    gaga di bling blong
    gaga blung
    • In 1916 at the 'Cabaret Voltaire', Ball presented six poems, which he described as 'Verse ohne Worte' (Poems without words) or 'Lautgedichte'(Sound poems); 'Gadji beri bimba' was one of them.

Quotes about Hugo Balls[edit]

chronologically arranged, after date of the quotes about Hugo Ball
  • ..for Ball, Dada represented the culmination of his revolt against external authority, and at the same time a means of breaking through the surface appearance to the realms of the spirit beyond. But Dada turned against him and threatened to destroy him.
  • quote of Rex William Last, in German Dadaist literature: Kurt Schwitters, Hugo Ball, Hans Arp; Twayne Publishers, New York, 1973; as quoted in 'Hugo Ball - Critical Essays' at the bottom
  • After 1920, when he and [his wife] Hennings moved to the small Swiss village of Agnuzzo, Ball became increasingly mystical and removed from political and social life, returning to a devout Catholicism and plunging into an ambitious study of fifth- and sixth-century Christian saints. He began revising his personal diaries for the years 1910–1921, and in 1927 these writings were published as 'Die Flucht aus der Zeit' ('Flight Out of Time'). Containing philosophical writings and acute observations of Dada performances and personalities, it ['Flight Out of Time'] remains one of the seminal documents of the Dada movement in Zurich.

External links[edit]

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