A weighted soul who believed in the purity and vitality of poetry,the poet Paul Carroll inherited from Dada and Surrealisman undisguised passion and iconoclasm.”The Wicked and Unfaithful Song of Marcel Duchamp to His Queen”of 1961 seems to resonate with a consequential reading of postmodern thought–“meaning” is literally a mere perception residing in the human mind … perhaps nothing more, and the presence of Duchamp’s posthumously revealed
Given: 1. The Waterfall, 2. The Illuminating Gas (1946-66),by musing on “Death” as “the only good joke.” In 1979, composer John Austin conducted a vocal piece based on the very same poem. Tout-Fait is delighted to present the juxtaposition of text, sound, and visual images
in order to induce an enchanted experience of various dimensions in simultaneity.
– Compiled by Ya Ling Chen
click to enlarge
Marcel Duchamp,Dust Breeding,1920,
from the Green Boxof 1934
Marcel Duchamp,Cemetery of Uniforms
and Liveries, No. 2, 1914
Photograph of Duchamp’s studio,
Duchamp’sUnhappy Readymade (1919) taken
by Jean Grotti or Suzanne Duchamp Grotti, 1920
A trifle pompously, your move, my love, among the mass of nerve- tissues in my cranium;and as you move you have become the last of my inconsequential ironies. At best,chess too just a question of pure chance.Films of dust girdle your body: for once
I shift you on the chess board, sweet, you will become a solution for which there never was a problem:that old itch for order which we like to hint exists in what we do. And yet, that blueprint I fashioned once for the motions of the body ended nice-ly in a cemetery
of empty uniforms: priest and bus-boy, butler, gendarme,undertaker, horseman—jointless.Art? A form of intimate hygiene for the ghosts we really are. More work, those wolftraps for the intellect (one must always work, sweet, to contradict one’s taste)— the hanger tack-
ed upright to the floor; that urinal I signed: R. Mutt; and that geometry textbook I tied to dangle in diagonal at a corner of my porch until, buffeted by raw winds, bleach—
ed by sun & sleets, it got the facts of life; or those glass discs twirling on the phonograph
to tease the ear and eye. How predictable poor Picabia became! And such a fool to bitch all day and thrash about and sob how slovenly God goes about his job. I’ll let you sit,
sweet, and move the Rook instead. Why not? Death is the only good joke.
A drawing by John Austin (1979)
Diane Ragains, Soprano
Robert Morgan, Oboe/English
Horn Michael Gamburg, Bassoon
NOTE: THE TEXT AND MUSIC OF “THE WICKED AND UNFAITHFUL SONG OF MARCEL DUCHAMP TO HIS QUEEN” ARE UNDER COPYRIGHT; DOWNLOADING OF THIS PERFORMANCE IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED.
thanks to Maryrose Carroll and Luke Carroll for authorizing Tout-Fait to publish this poem.
©2002 Succession Marcel Duchamp, ARS, N.Y./ADAGP, Paris.All rights reserved.