Last Loosening: A Handbook for the Con Artist & Those Aspiring to Become One

Walter Serner (Author) Mark Kanak (Translator)
Pre-Order   Ships Oct 12, 2020


A cofounder of Dada and its enfant terrible, Walter Serner, whose demeanor has been called "a dance on the rim of a volcano," was a brilliant observer of society. His Last Loosening: A Dada Manifesto was penned in 1918 and published in 1920. Slightly revised later as he became disgusted with Dada, it forms the first part of this volume, its philosophical foundation. It presents a playful "moral codex" to subvert the illusions and stereotypes underpinning society's views on morality and decency, attacking the contradictions between appearance and reality. 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, in his view 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.

Product Details

$21.00  $19.32
Twisted Spoon Press
Publish Date
October 12, 2020
5.4 X 0.8 X 7.5 inches | 0.8 pounds

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About the Author

Walter Serner was born in 1889 to a Jewish family in Carlsbad, Bohemia and studied law in Vienna. When World War I started, he escaped to Switzerland in 1914 and participated in Dada activities in Zürich, Geneva, and Paris, editing and writing for numerous magazines and composing his infamous "Dada Manifesto" in 1918. His books were banned and burned by Nazi Germany. He ultimately settled in Prague in the 1930s with his longtime partner, Dorothea Herz. They unsuccessfully tried to escape to Shanghai when Nazi Germany occupied the country and were deported "East" in 1942, perishing near Riga.


"[Serner] loved people that made their way through life on unstable paths, smiling dandies, modern misfits. [...] He had the gait of an artiste, who is proudly hopping across the safety net to the thunderous applause of the audience, dancing off lightly." -- Hans Arp
"No one brings the intellectual perspective of Serner's ... he is at once nihilistic and utterly tranquil and serene, encountering nothingness with cold, dispassionate, playful lines." -- Jörg Drews, Süddeutsche Zeitung
"Serner's manifesto is written in a provocative, new, highly suggestive style that has been quickly imitated. With its appearance Dada, which before was a rather amorphous grouping of modern artists having an original name, has been given a mode and way of speaking." -- Hamburger Correspondent