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«Donald Trump reminds me of Beyoncé»

Greil Marcus, pop critic and cultural analyst, discusses the Dadaism of Donald Trump, why modern stars like Beyoncé don’t move him and why he hates Leonard Cohen.

Wohin will Donald Trump sein Land führen? Greil Marcus ist überzeugt, dass seine Wähler «die lustvolle Zerstörung herbeisehnen». Foto: (Agentur)
Wohin will Donald Trump sein Land führen? Greil Marcus ist überzeugt, dass seine Wähler «die lustvolle Zerstörung herbeisehnen». Foto: (Agentur)

When we first met, that was 1997 in Zurich, you told me that you had written «Lipstick Traces» (his book about Dada, Punk and the Situationists) because you were so disgusted with America under Ronald Reagan. Now you are coming to Zurich to talk about Dada while Donald Trump is being nominated as the presidential candidate for the Republican Party. How does Dada relate to Donald?

Well, you know, people have often said that one version of Dada before Dada is Alfred Jarry’s «Ubu roi». And there has never been, in the history of American politics – and they have been some close calls –, there has never been a political candidate more like Ubu, more taking Jarry’s dramatization past itself than Donald Trump. It’s almost as if he read the play and said, «This will work! People will go for this!» There’s a way in which the Dadaists’ mockery of the world, their way of pushing things to the point where even they might get afraid of their own creation is absolutely exploding today. Nobody has ever seen anything like this where it’s pure Id and pure Ego: You’re the only person that exists. Nothing else is of modest importance. Everything you say is a work of genius. Anyone who questions anything you say is not human. And every time you feel the last line has been crossed this genius of malevolence and absurdity manages to shock you again. And people keep saying, «Well he’s going to blow up. He’s going to go to far.» And there are a large number of people in the United States today who would be recognized by the original Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich and in the Berlin Dada club. Because they were entranced by the society blowing itself up. And taking its own premises as far as they possibly could be taken and then farther still – to a point when destruction becomes an end in itself, becomes a pleasure.

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