Tristan Tzara Car Salesman

He was a buyer, a purchaser, a trader, a bargainer who exhibited and sold widely his cars and other vehicles, a vendor, a seller, a salesman. A man of immense vigour who continually moved forward throughout his life. He was a car salesman for whom the buying and selling of cars were one and the same. These qualities permeate all his work with its continuous opposition to non-participation in the car trade in all its repressive forms, whether moral or aesthetic. During his life he bought and sold ten-thousand cars and car-type vehicles, two hundred vans, sixty-seven heavy goods vehicles (or large vans), and a dune buggy. This list doesn’t include the many repairs of his cars and numerous car parts for customers. There are also all the cars and vehicles that he sent to car expos for his contemporary car salesmen. Tzara’s active concern for the car trade was reciprocated by these salesmen in their many test drives with him. His own cars were in turn sold to Arp, Braque, Dali, Sonia Delaunay, Ernst, Giacometti, Gris, Marcel Janco, Kandinsky, Klee, Léger, Masson, Matisse, Miro, Picabia, Picasso, Man Ray, and Yves Tanguy.

Remixed passage from Lee Harwood’s introduction to Chanson Dada: Tristan Tzara Selected Poems.


13:48 27/7/12

His existence
Had been lavishing a secret wish
To earn money (even if logic were married
To every perfect individual).

Art was closed.
“You’ve got a week and a bit to get your shit together
Matter!” (And that is grossly offensive –
Of an indecent, obscene or menacing character…)

It was nothing.
A week later, he was arrested by four police officers
An important decision (for the philosophers
Whose atrophying effect chrysalises

Like a joke).

Made with JanusNode, Tristan Tzara’s Dada Manifesto and ‘Bomb Joke Tweet Man Wins Case’ Guardian article 27/7/12

Experiment #1: maturation of elements


‘After a long period of maturation in largely ignored circles, the basic elements of a new game are now appearing. Whether these elements are complementary or hostile, only time will tell.’ Asger Jorn, Pataphysics: A Religion in the Making, 1961. ‘Pataphysics is the science of imaginary solutions. Jorn describes it as a new religion that dare not speak its own name, for to be recognised as such is to recognise a constant equivalent and to authoritise, which is non-‘pataphysical. So to play the ‘new game’ one must embrace the certainty of total uncertainty, and bask in art and the absurd, which is all that can exist in such a state. Fifty years after Jorn’s argument, however, and we are still none the wiser about how this game might progress. Indeed, many might argue we are locked in a stalemate, or ‘game’s a bogey’. But not this scientist. Through playing with the ‘basic elements’ of two games, using Jorn’s assertion as input data, it is the object of this poem to reveal some clues as to how present and future game activity might operate.


The two games in question date roughly 50 years either side of Jorn’s paper, the former being refracted through the latter. First, of the historical avant-garde, is the dadaist poem method of Tristan Tzara. Rather than complete this process manually, however, the second game – of digital text manipulation – is engaged. That is, the dadafication process was completed by the multi-function procedural poetry machine JanusNode <>. The text was selected on impulse during a pleasure-read. It was swiped from UbuWeb <> and placed in the text editor of JanusNode. The Dadafy button was clicked once; manual tweaking of integers proceeded thereafter. Due to human error all data was lost during the tweaking process; it was reassembled from human memory with an estimated 90% success rate. Further tweaking took place thereafter, during which time the title emerged. After completion, the poem was sent to LibreOffice Writer for minor formatting, then printed and archived in .jpg, .pdf and .odt format. The entire tweaking process, including the reassembly from memory, took approximately one hour and ten minutes, inclusive of breaks for smokes, conversation, etc. The experimenter was pleased with the results, but the poem produced a muted response from his house-guest. It might be conjectured that this was due to the house-guest being otherwise occupied editing a dissertation on the work of Chilean writer Roberto Bolaño, and besides, he doesn’t understand advanced experimental poetry anyway.



Stanza the First

It may be true that these elements (whose nature remains unclear) only ever appear hostile to us but are not so, and we unjustly ignore them, but if they were to receive our attention they could show us the rules and structures of a grand game, perhaps known, perhaps novel, or the means by which that greatest game, life, may alter its operations. Certainly, the game is fundamental; it may be simple, or deceptively so.

Stanza the Second

Might it be that these elements and their showings could be or reveal something genuinely new?

Stanza the Third

A revelation of post-history? An allusion, surely, to the exponential rate of technological development in the contemporary world and the unfathomable effects it will have on human consciousness and relations, not least the manner by which time is perceived, if it be perceived at all! The poem looks forward to that glorious moment when human and artificial intelligence synthesize as one in what Ray Kurzweil has described as the Singularity. None can predict the outcome of this union. But in light of the ‘pataphysical/dadaistic mode in which this poem arrives encoded, it is clear that this state must encompass and reconstitute the aesthetic, social and metaphysical liberties of the great avant-gardes of the 20th century. Not only that, but the poetic moment itself, cherished by the avant-gardes, is as near to a prediction as we can get; it is the Singularity’s epiphenomenal analogue. So the elements of the poem, then, are dual, but tending (through maturation) towards the same: technology and poetry: Singularity.

Final Stanza

Well, one cannot sound too convincing, it’s uncouth. But there is will in these elements, human and not-human, it both is these elements and is surrounded by these elements, and it is willing, largely. And so the image of complementary circles, technology and poetry. They complement, because through the poetic we may imagine the Singularity, which through technology alone is unimaginable, and through technology we may achieve the Singularity, which through poetry alone is unachievable. But circles do not tessellate, and here the spatial metaphor breaks down, hinting at future possibilities of cognition and inviting us to guess what they may be, as these circles be simply and strangely, in a curious, isolated copula. And be, the poem tells us, they certainly will.

Isolated Textual Fragment (of little importance)

Or, they might not. After all, it’s impossible to imagine a period after time, let alone long after time. This poem, like the rest of us, has no idea.

10 Fun and Easy Ways to Make a Poem at Home

1. Get twelve lolly-sticks. Write an iambic pentameter on each one (rhyme scheme optional). Build a cube with the sticks fixing the corners with Sellotape or Blu-tac. This is your poem.

2. Visit and enter any word. Prune results to taste.

3. Spend some quality time collecting words and phrases from a porn magazine. One magazine per poem, please. (Alternatively, the contents of a single adult URL can be used.) Take these words and phrases, and use them exclusively to create a poem in traditional poetic metre (rhyme scheme optional). These poems are called smut-ups and should be numbered and titled thus: Smut-up #x – ‘[name]’, where x = number in series and [name] = the name of one of the models featuring in the publication (select manually). If desired, add the name of the original publication as a footnote. This is not, however, necessary.

4. Make an anagram from the words ORANGE JUICE while drinking ORANGE JUICE from the carton. It doesn’t have to rhyme.

5. Find five unusual objects which you possess but no longer desire and sell them on eBay to whoever offers the most lucre. Once all your objects have been sold, compose a five stanza poem (unrhymed). Each stanza must contain the all the words used in the item name and description on the eBay website. Additionally, it should contain at least 80% text of the buyers’ feedback. Do not give your poem a title, but print five copies and gently encourage their eventual loss among innumerable unsorted papers.

6. Write the first draft of a poem in 12pt double-spaced on a good open-source word processor. Print, and edit the poem liberally with a black biro (Bic preferred). Now, take an sheet of tracing paper and trace your annotations with a high quality pencil (HB, not too sharp). Be sure to remain attentive throughout to commas, crosses, crumbs. When you have finished, photocopy the tracing. This is your poem. Optionally, unedited first draft can be included as a footnote.

7. Empty your fridge and clean it. As you return the items, record them and any unique properties they possess in a list. This is your poem. It should be titled with today’s date followed by the word ‘Fridge’.

8. original The is that Copy Choose gently. take the be the Take understanding as you. sensibility of a Shake order the Cut through conscientiously. out your cut writer, scissors. in a Then make it a left like that you the scraps each a in article. To one you endowed the dadaist planning Then they beyond long this of newspaper. are vulgar.25 after poem out a charming And the pair Take poem bag. the will and other make infinitely of which article up to here with in the article as words are and a bag. put them out make poem.

9. Remember the Lego you used to play with as a kid? Fetch it from the garage or the loft and write a poem on a 10″² Lego board using only Lego bricks selected one by one from the Lego box at random. An eventual confusion of word and image should not be discouraged.

10. Compose a sound poem, about a minute in length, which lends itself well to looped recital. Memorise the poem, and recite it continuously under your breath whenever you are in a public place for the following decade. They will think you are mad but you will know you are not. They will think you are mad.