In Munich Ball was associated with Wedekind in the court theatre, the Kammerspiele. An actor who actually enlisted when the First World War began, Ball was in the army when German invaded Belgium, upon which he concluded that "the war is founded on a glaring mistake, men have been confused with machines.” He deserted, emigrated to Switzerland, and pursued art and anarchism, translating Bakunin.
A few years later, however, he followed a spiritual tendency, perhaps similar at root to that animating Arp and Huelsenbeck, but which, for him, resulted to orthodox Catholicism and a pious and quiet lifestyle.
Ball was a major practitioner of the sound poem. In the Dada Manifesto of 1916, he says “I let the vowels quite simply occur, as a cat meows,” and that document itself several times leaves off attacking the philistines to lapse toward abstract sound. His most celebrated work of this sort “gadji beri bimba,” was performed by The Talking Heads on a 1979 album.
Ball’s other work includes a biography of his friend Hermann Hesse, a novel titled Flametti or The Dandyism of the Poor, and a number of plays, including Michelangelo’s Nose.
jolifanto bambla o falli bambla
großiga m'pfa habla horem
higo bloiko russula huju
blago bung blago bung
ü üü ü
schampa wulla wussa olobo
hej tatta gorem
wulubu ssubudu uluwu ssubudu
ba - umf
The Dance of Death (Ball)
to the tune of “That’s how we live”
That’s how we die, that’s how we die,
We die every day.
Because it is so comfy to let go.
Mornings still in sleep and dream,
Noontime already there,
By evening at the bottom of a grave.
Slaughter is our house of joy.
Blood is our only sun.
Death is our sign, our magic word.
We leave both wife and child,
What have they to do with us?
If one relies
on us alone . . .
So we murder, so we kill.
We murder every day
our comrades in a dance of death.
Brother, figure it out with me –
brother, your breast,
brother you must fall and die.
We don’t murmur, we don’t growl,
We’re quiet every day.
Until the joint of the hip-bone turns.
Our camping ground is hard.
Our bread is dry.
Bloody and soiled our dear god.
We thank you, we thank you,
Dear Kaiser, for your grace
in deciding to lie down and die.
Just sleep, sleep soft and still.
Until you waken our poor body,
Now covered by the lawn.