ALOUD from LA

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It is not advisable, nor was it ever, to lead a Dada life.

— Andrei Codrescu

The Los Angeles Public Library runs a wonderful speaker series called ALOUD (really it is “lectures, readings, performances & discussions” according to its billing) at the Central Library). These sessions are free of charge, but it is a good idea to reserve tickets in advance, since they sometimes “sell out.” Better still, readers should definitely subscribe to the mailing list to get helpful reminders of what is coming up.

This Tuesday I had the great pleasure of seeing a relic of DADA, in from LA, New Orleans’ and Louisiana State University’s Andrei Codrescu. Somewhere before his LA to LA trip, our poet had some vampiric Transylvanian origin, much as did his favorite subject of the evening Samy Rosenstock (sometimes known by the more Romanian sounding “Tristan Tzara”), and also did Codrescu’s charming young interlocutor Oana Sanziana Marian (Transylvanian Yankee poet).

For this evening, we had a discourse on the post-human, roughly in relation to our accumulation of machines that now make up more than half of our bodies (by weight, volume, importance, whatever).  In Codrescu’s newest book, The Posthuman Dada Guide: tzara and lenin play chess, Codrescu sees machines in that old Dada tradition (later picked up by, say, Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, and the Situationists): not just of metal parts, but of social institutions.

In the game between Lenin and Tzara, the workers revolution had the upper hand for 70 years, but ultimately it is the Romanians who come out ahead. Dada, of course, but also that other national custom: vampires. In other words, all things LA (two of my favorite television series have been Angel and True Blood, so I think the vampires are equally split on just what those letters “L” and “A” stand for also, much as I am and Codrescu is.