TABLE OF CONTENTS

PRINT February 1974

“Dada”: a Code for Saints?

A word was born, no one knows how.
—Tristan Tzara

I

THERE IS NO STRONGER LINK between the respectable world of professional scholarship and the far more glamorous world of fictional intrigue than in the case of disputed inventions. What follows is concerned with the word “Dada,” with the conditions of its discovery, and with the kinds of meaning that were attached to it.

A disputed invention in Dada is unlikely to produce a definite solution. It is as well to say this from the start. Much of the evidence is either hearsay or circumstantial; the. witnesses change their stories; and all of the suspects are only too keen to confess.

Perhaps the topic itself is not all that important to our understanding of the Dada movement. Hans Arp thought so. “Only imbeciles and Spanish professors can take an interest in dates,” he wrote on this very subject. “What interests us is the Dada spirit and we were all Dada before Dada came into existence.”1 In Zürich itself, Hans Richter adds, “no one cared in the least how or by whom [the word “Dada”] had been invented.”2 This is borne out by what remains from that period: the circumstances of the “invention” are not mentioned at all in any known Zürich document.

But once the Zürich episode was ended, a very different picture begins to emerge. This word which “ne signifie rien” (as Tzara had put it)3 became meaningful after all, and did so because Dada itself came to signify many different things as the years passed. In France and in Germany, Tzara and Huelsenbeck, the two principal couriers of the Zürich word, each wished to affirm that his interpretation of Dada was consistent with its original meaning. Whoever had discovered “Dada,” it seemed, had title to the movement as well. In consequence, they “set out, a posteriori, to cut off each other’s supplies of vital fluid even, as it were, in the womb.”4 The controversy still remains.

Now, the discovery of the word “Dada” did not make the original activities of the Cabaret Voltaire into a movement. It represents, rather, the first moment at which its members—or, at least, some of them—began to think of what they were doing in this light. The Cabaret Voltaire was founded on February 5, 1916, on the initiative of Hugo Ball and with the collaboration of Tristan Tzara, Marcel Janco, and Hans Arp. Richard Huelsenbeck, whom Ball had known in Germany since 1912, arrived approximately a week later, and these five, together with Ball’s mistress, Emmy Hennings, and some others, formed the core of the group. The Cabaret Voltaire lasted only a short period—until the end of June, 1916—but just before it closed, the anthology Cabaret Voltaire was published on June 4. Ball was the editor. His foreword to the volume, dated May 15, 1916, advertised a forthcoming journal, to be called Dada. This was the first appearance in print of the word “Dada,” and provides the starting point for our investigation. It was discovered somewhere in the preceding six weeks. But when? And by whom? And what does it mean, if anything?

Despite the many and contrasting statements by the Dadaists and their apologists, there are in fact two basic versions of what happened: one deriving from Tzara and Arp (and supporting Tzara); the other from Huelsenbeck and Ball (and supporting Huelsenbeck). The Tzara-Arp version is better considered first since it was the one that became most common in Dada histories. As Dada itself declined, Parisian Surrealism most evidently extended its initiative. The plurality of immediately post-Dada histories are, therefore, French, and tend to rely on evidence close at hand.

II

In George Ribemont-Dessaignes’ “Histoire de dada,” there is directly quoted Arp’s famous and humorous deposition that dates the discovery of the word “Dada”—by Tzara—to “February 8 1916, at six o’ clock in the afternoon: I was present with my twelve children when Tzara for the first time uttered this word which filled us with justified enthusiasm. This occurred at the Café de la Terrasse in Zürich and I was wearing a brioche in my left nostril. . . .”5 Arp’s account, widely repeated elsewhere,6 was originally published in Paris in September, 1921, in the journal Dada Intirol on the basis of a statement which Arp had read out to André Breton, Max Ernst, and Tzara when they were holidaying in the Tirol in the summer of that year. This assembly formed an important part of the Paris Dada circle, initiated when Tzara arrived from Zürich at the end of 1919 and made contact with what is usually called the Littérature group (led by Breton) and with Francis Picabia (who from November of 1919 published in Paris his review 391). By 1921, however, when Arp’s statement was made, Paris Dada was beginning to break at the seams. Both Breton and Picabia were questioning Tzara’s importance to Zürich Dada as a way of discrediting him in Paris. And their way of doing this was to say that Tzara had nothing to do with the discovery of Dada, movement or word. Rumors were circulating in Paris that it was, in fact, Arp who had discovered the word. It seems more than likely, therefore, that Arp’s deposition was made at the instigation of Tzara who was wishing to recover his prestige.7 Much later (in 1949), Arp confessed that it should be evident from its fantastic tone that his public declaration had been a Dada joke.8 Moreover, he put his name (with those of Duchamp, Ernst, Hausmann, Huelsenbeck, and Richter) to a document, prepared by Huelsenbeck, confirming Huelsenbeck’s claim that he and Hugo Ball were the ones who had discovered “Dada.”9 Tzara replied by saying that “except for Arp, how can the other signatories testify that description given by Huelsenbeck . . . since they were not in Zürich in 1916?“ and that “Arp has forgotten his contradictory declaration.”10 In the end, they all withdrew their signatures leaving Huelsenbeck and Tzara alone in their opposition.

Given his almost trantic insistence upon his own authorship, it is then surprising that Tzara’s Chronique Zürichoise, 1915–1919 (published in 1920),11 a series of dated entries covering the Zürich period, says on this point only: “A word was born no one knows how. . .” This in an entry headed “1916, June” noting the appearance of Cabaret Voltaire which, we remember, advertised Dada (the journal) for the first time. But Tzara’s first dated mention of “Dada” in the chronicle is in an entry for February 26, 1916. Headed “HUELSENBECK ARRIVES [in Zürich],” it states “DADA! latest novelty!!!” That Tzara chose the word at the time of Huelsenbeck’s arrival is suggested by Georges Hugnet in his “L’Ésprit dada dans le peinture.” He writes: “Tristan Tzara gave a name to this delicious malaise: Dada,” and then describes the circumstances:

. . . On February 8, 1916, a paper-knife was pointed at a page in a French dictionary opened at random, and a home was found for the manifestation of the new spirit—Dada. And a Dada celebration was arranged for Richard Huelsenbeck, a German writer who had just come from Berlin.12

But according to Tzara, Huelsenbeck did not arrive in Zürich until the 26th. So clearly Hugnet’s date derives from the Arp version of the story. And, just as clearly, the dictionary part coincides with Huelsenbeck’s own account.

In “Dada Lives,” 1936,13 Huelsenbeck’s most detailed description of the discovery of “Dada,” he wrote that they needed a slogan to affirm group solidarity and as the title for a proposed publication. He was, he said, with Hugo Ball in Ball’s room in a Zürich tenement flat. This is what supposedly occurred:

Besides his wife, I was the only person present. We were discussing the question of a name for our idea, we needed a slogan which might epitomize for a larger public the whole complex of our direction. This was all the more necessary since we were about to launch a publication in which all of us wanted to set forth our ideas about the new art. . . .

Hugo Ball sat in an armchair holding a German-French dictionary on his knees. He was busy with the preliminary work for a long book in which he wanted to show the deleterious changes German civilization has undergone as a result of Luther’s influence. Consequently, he was studying countless German and French books on history.

I was standing behind Ball looking into the dictionary. Ball’s finger pointed to the first letter of each word descending the page. Suddenly I cried halt. I was struck by a word I had never heard before, the word dada.

“Dada,” Ball read, and added: “It is a children’s word meaning hobby-horse.” At that moment I understood what advantages the word held for us.

“Let’s take the word dada,” I said. “It’s just made for our purpose. The child’s first sound expresses the primitiveness, the beginning at zero, the new in our art. We could not find a better word.” Emmy Hennings . . . too, thought that Dada was an excellent word. “Then we’ll take Dada as the slogan for our new artistic direction,” said Ball. That was the hour of the birth of Dadaism. The following day we told our friends, Tristan Tzara, Marcel Janco and Hans Arp what we had found and decided on. They were enthusiastic about the word Dada.

And so it happened that it was I who pronounced the word Dada for the first time . . . it is perhaps important to re-state the authorship of Dada since today Dadaism assumes once more a very special importance. My idea of Dada was always different from that of Tristan Tzara who, after the dissolution of the Cabaret Voltaire, founded and became the leader of Dadaism in Paris.

This is worth quoting at such length for the rare detail it possesses. No other version presents the same amount of specific incident. It was written, however, some 20 years after the events it describes. Is it to be believed?

The last quoted paragraph shows just how partisan was Huelsenbeck’s intent in recounting the story, and just how ideological his motive. He is thinking of the situation in Germany in 1936 and of his political-revolutionary interpretation of Dadaism. He goes on to particularize this, saying that Tzara’s transformation of Dada into an artistic movement was opposite to his own—and, he says, original—interpretation of the word. And yet, he has himself talking of “new art,” and his wish to set forth his ideas on it. Although Huelsenbeck’s political understanding of Dada does have its origins in his Zürich period, it was only fully defined after he moved back to Berlin. But if his interpretation of “Dada” is a matter of considerable hindsight, what of the conditions of the discovery?

In 1916 Ball was beginning to research post-Lutheran history for his book, Zur Kritik der deutschen Intelligenz.14 Moreover, he would, as a German national, be looking at French entries in his dictionary. “Dada” would not have appeared in the entries on the German side, nor would other than a French entry produce the definition “hobby-horse” which Huelsenbeck notes. Moreover, we have seen from other evidence that the Cabaret Voltaire members were consciously searching for a name for “a publication . . . to set forth our ideas about the new art.” Further, although Huelsenbeck’s claims are in principle as partisan as Tzara’s they have some kind of contemporary backing, which Tzara’s do not have, namely Hugo Ball’s diaries.15

Let us first note that Ball makes no mention of “Dada” around the 8th of February (Arp’s date for Tzara’s discovery). He has Huelsenbeck arriving in Zürich on the 11th. If “a Dada celebration” was arranged for Huelsenbeck’s arrival (as Hugnet claims) it is strange that Ball does not mention it by this name. If Huelsenbeck arrived not on the. 11th, but on the 26th, as Tzara claims, and it was then that Dada was the “latest novelty,” why is it that in his diary entry for that very same day Ball talks of the cabaret being “about to come apart at the seams?” Hardly the moment for group solidarity. If Ball’s diaries are to be believed, such solidarity was not evident for another two months.

In a diary entry for April 11th, Ball notes: “There are plans for a ‘Voltaire Society’ and an international exhibition. The proceeds of the soirées wilt go towards an anthology to be published soon.” Although he was at that time opposed to turning the Cabaret Voltaire, his “whim,” into “an artistic school” (and recorded Huelsenbeck’s opposition as well), it seems inconceivable that he would have used the phrase “Voltaire Society” had “Dada” existed on that date. April 11th rather, is surely the approximate date by which the idea of a group name, to be used also for a publication title, was aired. A week later (April 18th), Ball wrote: “Tzara keeps on worrying about the periodical. My proposal to call it Dada is accepted.”

“My proposal”: is this the same as my invention? Given the loudness of Huelsenbeck’s claims, most commentators have preferred to think not. Further, an explanation for Ball’s role as middleman would tie in the possibility that Huelsenbeck felt a proposal from Ball would be better accepted by Tzara, with whom his own relations had never been ideal. Thus, a collaborative Ball-Huelsenbeck discovery somewhere in the week April 11th to 17th seems a reasonable conclusion. But there is one more piece of evidence to consider which supports Ball’s individual claim to the discovery, and which suggests that the word “Dada” may have actually had a specific meaning.

III

Our next question, therefore, is this: Is there anything to suggest that when the word “Dada” was first chosen it was taken to mean anything? Huelsenbeck, we remember, after saying it was important “to re-state the authorship of Dada,” claimed that his interpretation of the word was always different than that of Tzara. Further, no sooner had the word “Dada” been discovered than instead of bonding and solidifying the group it broke it apart. Was there, in fact, immediate disagreement as to what “Dada” meant?

On April 18, 1916, it was agreed that the new periodical should be called Dada. The anthology Cabaret Voltaire was then in preparation, Ball having taken time away from the cabaret to do the editing. It appeared on June 4, 1916, and was the first publication of the Zürich group: the first time, that is, the activities of the Cabaret Voltaire were presented to a wider audience than that which attended the soirées. It advertised the forthcoming periodical, Dada. On July 14, the group presented a lecture and recitation evening at the Waag Hall in Zürich. (The Cabaret Voltaire had closed at the end of June.) This was the first properly public event in Zürich Dada. Ball read a manifesto.16 It was, he said, “a thinly disguised break with friends. They felt so too. Has the first manifesto of a newly founded cause ever been known to refute the cause itself to its supporters’ face? And yet this is what happened” (6.VlIl.1916). Ball, in fact, was opposed to Dada going public, to it becoming a “cause“ at all. As the Cabaret Voltaire closed down, Ball left Zürich for the village of Vira-Magadino in the Swiss countryside and severed—at least for the moment—his links with Dada. While he was away, Tzara took on the initiative. It was through Tzara’s efforts that Dada became a cause. In August, Ball learned that Tzara had initiated a publishing program under the Dada imprint. First to appear was Tzara’s own La première aventure céleste de Monsieur Antipyrine. “The celestial adventure for me,” Ball noted, “ . . . is apathy” (4.VIll.1916). In October, however, there were urgent letters from Tzara, Arp, and Janco begging him to return to Zürich. His presence was “urgently desired” (3.X.1916). A few days later he learned the cause of the trouble. Huelsenbeck wrote to him: “I decided weeks ago to return to Germany.” Huelsenbeck was suffering from a stomach complaint. “Perhaps the punishment,” he said, “for the Dada hubris that you now think you have recognized. I too have always been greatly opposed to this art” (6.X.1916).

It is evident what had happened. Ball had been the initiator and the leader of the Cabaret Voltaire. His leaving had brought on a crisis between the interpretations of Tzara and Huelsenbeck as to how Dada should be developed. Tzara’s “art” interpretation had won the day. Once Dada had a name the original Zürich group began to dissolve. If by Dada, then, we mean the Dada Movement, Tzara’s claim to its paternity is incontestable. It was he who created the movement, and it was his keen sense of publicity which fostered it. If, however, we see the Cabaret Voltaire as also part of Dada, we need to acknowledge Ball’s leadership in 1916, and his close affiliation with Huelsenbeck. For them, Dada was not an art movement at all, but an attitude. For Tzara, the word which “ne signifie rien” was no more than a convenient slogan for the movement he was creating. Huelsenbeck and Ball, however, do seem to imply that the word itself tells something about the nature of their attitude. Ball describes what “Dada” means in each of the languages of the Dadaists: “Dada is Yes, Yes in Roumanian, rocking-horse and hobby-horse in French. For Germans, it is a sign of foolish naiveté, joy in procreation and preoccupation with the baby carriage” (18.IV. 1916). The “infantile” meaning became the most popular one. According to Arp, the Zürich group wanted “an international word free from any political or partisan color, and even from any exact meaning.”17 Huelsenbeck came across the word “Dada,” whose childishness seemed to meet all the requirements. Huelsenbeck himself talked of “Dada” as “the child’s first sound,” but for him it was not “childishness” itself but the fact that: “the child’s first sound expresses the primitiveness, the beginning at zero, the new in our art.”18

“Primitiveness” was an important feature of Cabaret Voltaire activity. Janco’s stylized masks; the interest in child and African art; the so-called Negro chants and sound poems: all speak of an obsession with the “uncivilized” arts. Especially relevant here are the poems. The word “Dada” was discovered at the very same time that Ball was preparing his sound poems for their Cabaret Voltaire premiere. These were not abstract (nonsignifying) poems as is sometimes claimed, but a poetry of meanings: pseudomagical incantations deriving most immediately from Wassily Kandinsky’s concept of the “inner sound” (innerer Klang) of words.19 Kandinsky (whom Ball had known in Munich) had talked in Über das Geistige in der Kunst of the innerer Klang which “partly (perhaps mainly) corresponds to the object for which the word serves as a name.” By this he meant that there were spiritual archetypes for all objects in the world, that objects have an outer and an inner effect upon us, and that the Klang is the expression of the inner archetype. This notion of a two-part system of inner meaning hidden by an outer form from which it can be freed by spiritual exercise is, of course, a commonplace in the history of mysticism. Kandinsky was interested in “mystical books and lives of the saints.” Ball was too. Arriving in Switzerland in 1915, he immersed himself in mysticism (as well as in political theory): studies which eventually produced a “fantastic” novel (Tenderenda der Phantast)20 and Byzantinisches Christentum,21 a study of three early saints (Johannes Klimax, Dionysius the Areopagite, and Simon Stylites). The sound poems he was preparing in the spring of 1916 were close in spirit to Catholic chants. He talked of the “power” of words and of their possession of an “innermost alchemy” (24.VI.1916). “We have loaded the word with strengths and energies,” he wrote, “that helped us to rediscover the evangelical concept of the ‘word’ (logos) as a magical complex image” (18.VI.1916). Given, then, Ball’s obsession with the potency of words and with the power of their meanings, it seems inconceivable that he would have lightly accepted as a group title a word which “ne signifie rien.”

Huelsenbeck confirms that a “nonsense” interpretation of the word “Dada” was not what they intended:

To be sure, the choice of the word Dada in the Cabaret Voltaire was selective-metaphysical, predetermined by all the idea-energies with which it was now acting upon the world—but no one had thought of Dada as babies’ prattle.22

That is to say, it was not so much an infantile word as a primitive one: “The child’s first sound expresses the primitiveness, the beginning at zero. . . . ” Its archetypal implication was a part of its attraction. But was there another one? “All living art,” Ball wrote, “will be irrational, primitive and complex; it will speak a secret language and will leave behind documents not of edification but of paradox” (25.X1.1915). What we have considered is certainly paradoxical; but does “Dada” itself “speak a secret language?”

In Munich, Ball had coauthored poems with a young German writer called Hans Leybold.23 They had signed these works “Ha Hu Baley”: a simple kind of code using similar and repeated forms. On March 29, 1916, Ball signed a letter “Da Da.”24 This was, of course, around two weeks after the word “Dada” had been discovered; but the two-syllable division seems interesting. Could it have been that the word sparked off for Ball a special kind of association when he and Huelsenbeck alighted upon it in the dictionary? “Dadaism . . . was really my creation,” Ball wrote on July 23, 1920. He could, however, have been meaning the idea. Far more interesting is a diary entry from around a year later:

When I came across the word “Dada” I was called upon twice by Dionysius. D.A.—D.A. (H[uelsenbec]k wrote about this mystical birth; I did too in earlier notes. At that time I was interested in the alchemy of letters and words) (18.VI.1921).

“D.A.,” of course, is Dionysius the Areopagite, one of the three subjects of Ball’s Byzantinisches Christentum. Is Ball’s diary entry no more than hindsight fantasizing in the light of his more developed interest in early Christian theology, or had he, in fact, five years earlier, made this connection? Had he seen in “Dada” a double echo of the sixth-century neo-Platonist who was to obsess him in his later life? For Ball, Dionysius’ lesson was of an ascetic rebellion against a demonic and dissolute world—escaping (and reforming) this world in a new “mystical birth.” This is also Ball’s own understanding of Dada. He was, as he says, “at that time . . . interested in the alchemy of letters and words.” Beyond that, however, the issue is unlikely to be decided.25 But it would be strange indeed if hidden in the alchemy of letters that denotes the most scurrilous of modern movements lies a saint who dreamed of a hierarchy of angels.

John Elderfield

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NOTES

1. Dada Intirol Augrandair Der Sängerkrieg, Paris, 1921.

2. Hans Richter, Dada: Art and Anti-Art, New York, 1965, p. 31.

3. “Dada manifeste 1918,” in his Sept manifestes dada, Paris, 1924.

4. Hans Richter, Dada: Art and Anti-art, p. 32.

5. La Nouvelle Revue Francaise, XXXVI, 213, June, 1931, p. 868, quoting from Dada Intirol, 1921.

6. For examples see William Rubin’s account of the evidence in his Dada, Surrealism and Their Heritage, New York, 1968, pp. 189–190. A slightly different version appears in his Dada and Surrealist Art, New York, 1969, p. 64.

7. Ribemont-Dessaignes thinks so. According to his account, once Arp was outside the room where his statement was made he issued a disclaimer, saying he had found himself “under an obligation to make this declaration” but it was indeed he himself who had chosen the word (Déjà jadis, Paris, 1958, p. 121. This, however, is hearsay, for Ribemont-Dessaignes was not among those in the Tirol. His informant was presumably Breton, of those present the one most anxious to discredit Tzara. But whether Ribemont-Dessaignes’ report is authentic, and whether Breton’s—if it was his—is genuine are matters not easily decided.

There are further complications. If Arp did repudiate his statement as soon as it was made, why did it appear in print that autumn? There may be an explanation. While the group was meeting in the Tirol, Picabia published in July, 1921, a supplement to his magazine 391 called Le Pilhaou-Thibaou, and there wrote that he, Picabia, together with Marcel Duchamp had “invented” Dada, and that Huelsenbeck was as likely to have chosen the word itself as was Tzara. In Arp’s printed statement are mentioned the “imbeciles and Spanish professors” who are the only ones interested in dates. Is this a dig at Picabia, who was Spanish? And was Arp’s statement directed not principally against Breton (after all, he apparently had told Breton it was untrue) but against Picabia, who was continuing to attack Tzara’s claims to the invention. Is this why it appeared in print after the disclaimer had been made? It seems likely, for in a tract Picabia distributed at the Paris Salon d’Automne of 1921—and dealing mainly with his attitudes to Arp—he had ironically referred to himself as “an imbecilic Spanish professor.”

8. Robert Motherwell, ed., The Dada Painters and Poets, New York, 1951, p. xxxi.

9. The document was Huelsenbeck Dada Manifesto, 1949, published as a separate pamphlet in Motherwell. For details of the controversy see Motherwell, p. xxx.

10. Letter of 26.IX.1949, in Motherwell, p. xxxi.

11. In Richard Huelsenbeck, ed., Dada Almanach, Berlin, 1920, pp. 10–29. A “Chronique Zürich“ also appeared in Dada, 4–5 (“Anthologie Dada”), Zürich, May 15, 1919.

12. Originally published in Cahiers d’Art, VII, 1932, IX, 1934, and widely reprinted. See Motherwell, pp.126–127.

Another version of the invention linking “Dada” to a specific cabaret performance is worth noting here. In a diary entry for February 7, 1916, Hugo Ball notes the premiere at the Cabaret Voltaire of a singer he calls “Madame Leconte.” In 1920, Huelsenbeck wrote that “the word Dada was accidentally discovered by Hugo Ball and myself in a German-French dictionary, as we were looking for a name for Madame le Roy, the chanteuse at our cabaret” (En Avant Dada, 1920, in Motherwell, p. 241. Presumably “Leconte” and “le Roy” are one and the same. (A recent article by Huelsenbeck in Studio International, January, 1972, has her name as Lurois, but since the article is based on a lecture, the spelling may be a transcription error.) Since she began working at the cabaret on February 7, had Tzara mentioned her in his claims to have discovered “Dada” the day after—or had Arp mentioned her in his deposition—things would be a lot clearer. But she does not appear in any of the versions supporting Tzara—and, in fact, disappears from Huelsenbeck’s later accounts, when he insists that “Dada” was intended for the Dadaists alone. Of course, if “Dada” had been chosen for this enigmatic lady Huelsenbeck could not have had anything to do with it since the earliest date given for his arrival in Zürich is the 11th. Perhaps this is why she so conveniently disappears. To further complicate matters, however, Ball has a variant date for her Cabaret Voltaire premiere: the very first performance of the 5th (Preface to Cabaret Voltaire, dated May 15, 1916). We are forced to conclude that the Leconte-le Roy story is probably a red herring.

13. Transition, 25, Fall 1936, pp. 77–80.

14. Bern, 1919.

15. Die Flucht aus der Zeit, Munich & Leipzig, 1927. Further references to Ball’s diaries are given by date of entry. An English translation of the Flucht will be published next year by Viking Press, New York.

16. The first complete version of the manifesto is printed in the Viking Press edition of the Flucht.

17. Quoted in Gabrielle Buffet-Picabia, “Some Memories of Pre-Dada: Picabia and Duchamp,” in Motherwell, p. 265.

18. See note 13.

19. See Sixten Ringbom, The Sounding Cosmos, A study in the spiritualism of Kandinsky and the genesis of abstract painting, Åbo, 1970, pp. 118–119, 152–153.

20. Posthumously published, Zürich, 1967.

21. Munich, 1923.

22. Huelsenbeck, En Avant Dada, in Motherwell, p. 31.

23. They appeared in Die Aktion in March, May, June, and August, 1914.

24. Hugo Ball, Briefe 1911–1927, Einsiedeln, 1957, pp. 52–53. The letter is simply dated “Zürich, 29th” but on internal evidence the editor of the Briefe (Annemaire Schutt-Hennings) presumes a date in March, 1916.

25. We do not know, for example, when Ball was first interested in “D.A.” He began systematic study for Byzantinisches Christentum in 1919, but is likely to have known about its subjects earlier, if not from childhood, at least from his renewed interests in mysticism from 1915. For a linguistic study of “Dada,” but one which suggests no meanings: Jean-Claude Chevalier, “Dada, étude linguistique de la fonction d’un terme qui ’ne signifie rien,’” Cahiers Dada Surrealisme, 1, September, 1966. It may also be relevant that être sur son dada means to indulge in one’s hobby.