BALL Hugo—philosopher, literary critic, writer, b. February 22, 1886 in Pirmasens (the Rhineland Palatinate), d. September 1, 1927 near Lugano.
His views in social philosophy underwent radical changes, first when he left Catholicism, and later when he returned to Catholicism. He was associated with Dadaism. In 1906 and 1907 he studied philosophy and psychology in Munich. Under the influence of Nietzsche’s philosophy he left Catholicism. From 1910 to 1914 he was a stage manager of a theater in Bern and wrote texts for theater in Planen and Munich.
Ball’s most important works: Briefe 1911–1927 (Ei 19572); Zur Kritik der deutschen Intelligenz (B 1919, abridged version: Die Folgen der Reformation, Mn 1919, reprinted F 1980); Byzantinisches Christentum (Mn 1923, Ei 19582); Die Flucht aus der Zeit (Mn 1927, journal entries from the Dadaist period in Zurich); Hermann Hesse. Sein Leben und sein Werk (B 1927, 19335–6; Gesammelte Gedichte (Z 1963).
During World War I he fought on the Belgian front and thereafter became a committed pacifist and anarchist. In 1915 he went to Zurich where a year later he helped in founding the literary club “Cabaret Voltaire” which gathered followers of Dadaism together. In 1917 he became one of the editors of “Freie Zeitung”, which was published in Bern and called for the creation of a republic in Germany. In 1920 he was influenced by his own experiences and his wife’s religious life to return to Catholicism. He later resided in Bern.
Before his return to Catholicism he thought that the theater was the most effective way of creating society without religion and morality. He thought that the world reflects art, and since the society of Europe led to the outbreak of World War I, it should be reborn by all possible artistic means. This motivation was shared by most of Ball’s Dadaist collaborators. Hugo Ball’s creation of phonetic verse that eliminates the participation of human figures as representing unworthy and alienating attitudes (e.g., consent to war) is recognized as his most important contribution to Dadaism.
After his conversion to Catholicism he concluded that human liberation could happen only by man’s religious renewal. One must take the evangelical attitude: sacrifice and a desire for sanctity. In “Zur Kritik” he showed that the historical mission of the Germans had always been warped by militarism and a spirit of revenge, and thereby the German nation became isolated from the nations of Europe. The condition for reintegration is an honest examination of conscience and admission of fault. The work evoked many protests.
E. Ball-Hennings, Hugo Ball, B 1929; E. Egger, Hugo Ball, Olten 1951; E. Ball-Hennings, Ruf und Echo. Mein Leben mit Hugo Ball, Ei 1953; R. Schaumann, NDB I 559‐560; G. Stein, Die Inflation der Sprache. Didaistische Rebellion und mystische Versenkung bei Hugo Ball, F 1975; D. Kammler, Wirklichkeit als Sprachansicht, H 1987; E. Teubner, Hugo Ball. Eine Bibliographie, Mz 1992; F. Schaub, LThK I (19933 1373.