: Walter Serner
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A cofounder of Dada and its enfant terrible, Walter Serner was a brilliant observer of society - his activities in the 1920s have been called "a dance on the rim of a volcano." His Last Loosening: A Dada Manifesto was written in 1918 and published in 1920. Slightly revised later as Serner became disgusted with Dada, it forms the first part of this volume, its philosophical foundation. A playful "moral codex" to subvert the illusions and stereotypes underpinning society's views on morality and decency, it attacks the contradictions between appearance and reality: "The world wants to be deceived, and is enraged when you do not oblige." Serner's publisher, Paul Steegemann, in a fit of promotional zeal, sensationally claimed that it had been "compiled across the entire continent by the notorious international con man Dr. Walter Serner."The volume's second part, "The Handbook of Practices," was written in Geneva in 1927 and offers a practical guide in gnomic prose for the modern amoralist, the con man. A cynical vision to be sure, Serner has set out a list of precepts to arm us in a world where boredom prevails and nothing but self-interest is a motivator, a shameless, bigoted world wallowing in an orgy of narcissism, where it is either fool or be fooled. His smugness and indifference, his "Jesuit snobbery" as one critic called it, gave his work an explosive force that was unsurpassed by his contemporaries.