"Max Ernst was drafted into an artillery regiment of the German army in 1914. He was wounded twice in the Great War--once by a gun recoil and once by a mule kick--and earned the nickname 'Iron Head' for these troubles. 'We young people came back from the war in a state of stupefaction,' Ernst later wrote. In his autobiographical sketch, 'Some Data on the Youth of M.E. as Told by Himself' (1942), he presents the entire war as a loss of consciousness, indeed of life: 'Max Ernst died the 1st of August 1914.

He resuscitated the 11th of November 1918.' This emphasis on shock is suggestive, as is the alienation of the first-person voiced by that of the third person, for his Dada work often deploys such tell-tale signs of narcissistic disturbance. ... "If Dada stands for anything, it is for and against. For and against unity; for and against affirmation and negation; for equations as long as they don't equate, against them when they do.

The stance extends to the label Dada itself, which means nothing and everything. Dada is any word--cow, cube, bar of soap, nurse, yes, hobby horse--yet Dada is also the heart of words, a modernist mantra, a machine-age tetragrammaton. This simultaneous stance of for and against is never reducible to clowning about. Rather it is integral to a global strategy of contradiction: the positive Dada response to a cluster of negatives."The Dada Seminars, edited by Leah Dickerman with Matthew Witkowsky, Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Art, Washington, pp. 127, 32.