Posted by: glue | December 5, 2012

Fable faible

LaFontaine1

What resources are available for inquiry and expression in the conditions after Nietzsche, the history of an error, after the simultaneous withdrawal of the true world and the apparent world along with  it?  The time is noon (the  shortest shadow).  What remains is fable.  What are the possibilities of fable as genre?  Duchamp improvised one approach, perhaps not even yet fully appreciated.  His Readymades are fables, albeit weak (faible) fables, in that they constitute the illustrations only (the emblems, impresas).  He intimated his variation on the mode with his most notorious instance, whose title “Fountain” translates “La Fontaine,” antonomasia between common and proper noun, evoking the name of the author of many fables.  Duchamp’s commitment to the punnng bachelor machine logic central to modernism is well known.  He acknowledged his attendance at a performance of a stage adaptation of Raymond Roussel’s 1910 novel Impressions of Africa as a turning point in his career (Roussel’s method of composition used generative puns).  It has been suggested that some of the Readymades at least are comments on dreams described in Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams, hence that they use rebus methods (visualizations evoking words).  The text of the fabled fountain is provided by its history, being as it is the most influential (if not the  “best”) art work of the twentieth century, including its status as a prank, and all the manipulations Duchamp performed to put the image of La Fontaine into circulation, recorded in Thierry De Duve’s Kant After Duchamp.  What is the moral of the readymade fable?

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