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Assaulting the Order of Signs

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"Even signs must burn", Jean Baudrillard programmatically proclaimed in 1972. More than fifty years earlier, the Dadaists in Z├╝rich and Berlin both poetically effectuated and theoretically anticipated Baudrillard's call for the assault upon the order of signs as a strategy of cultural intervention. The Dadaists shattered the order of discourse, dissected language on different levels of linguistic organisation and waged a cultural war at the level of signs by means of giving priority to the signifiers at the cost of the signifieds. They withdrew the most fundamental prerequisite of cultural consensus: the adherence to given linguistic laws. The points of convergence of Baudrillard's notion of the radical implications of attacking the order of the dominant code and the Dadaists' poetic practice, theoretical incentives and revolutionary intentions, are striking indeed and entangled in a complex web of anticipation, practical realisation and theoretical radicalisation. But is the assault on the order of signs doomed to remain a merely symbolic gesture of protest, or is there more to it?

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 15, 2006

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