Design Your Life: The Pleasures and Perils of Everyday Things
Wandering about the French Quarter on a recent trip to New Orleans, I chanced upon a book signing by Andrei Codrescu, the Romanian writer who has taught for decades at Louisiana State University.
To an audience of about fifty (including a few adoring LSU co-eds), Codrescu read from his new book The Posthuman Dada Guide: Tzara and Lenin Play Chess. Written as a dictionary of Dada players and principles, the book proclaims Dada as the triumphant art form of the twentieth century and beyond. Ideologies come and go, but Dada’s revolutionary insolence has endured.
The Posthuman Dada Guide speaks with credible authority about its subject, yet its language is poetic, polemic, and fictionalized. (The central conceit is a chess game between Tzara and Lenin that may or may not have actually occurred.) Like many self-help manuals, the book opens with direct advice to the reader: “This is a guide for instructing posthumans in living a Dada life. It is not advisable, nor was it ever, to lead a Dada life…because a Dada life will include by definition pranks, buffoonery, masking, deranged senses, intoxication, sabotage, taboo breaking, playing childish and/or dangerous games, waking up dead gods, and not taking education seriously.”
Slim and narrow as a tour guide, the book invites the reader to jump in and out. Codrescu, who is a frequent NPR commentator as well as a poet, novelist, and critic, succeeds in merging popular communication with scholarship. Closely tuned to the short duration of the posthuman attention span, he is a consummate entertainer, both at the podium and on the page.— Ellen Lupton · 2009-03-25