With secret sound. The liberation of the subjective self. Magic squares and alchemy in art lending hermetic interpretations to deciphering works of art.It was the irresistible lure of certain of the Magic Squares of the Third Book, and their tendency to draw the sensitive and overly curious into an obsessive circumstance. It was the occultist as an artist and a symbolist. In this modern occultism , a popular concept of magic was amalgamated into symbolist thinking, particularly that which refers to the visual arts, transforming itself into what would be known as modernist art theory. Dada, an anarchistic blast at bourgeois rationality, was the central vehicle for these esoteric premonitions first articulated by Eliphas Levi, as “anxiety induced” reactions to the modern condition.
But Dada may have actually begun in New York, germinating in the salons of Arensberg and Stettheimer, and its anti-historical anti-art implications would carry far into the immediate future; art and the individual as a commodity and how art would be morphed into the entertainment complex where anything can be trivialized to the service of commercial interests. Its role as a reinforcer of male patriarchy, and an overall aesthetic…Like comparing Otto Dix to the film Cabaret gives an example.
Perhaps, as the controversial Rudolf Herz photo montage of the Heiz Hoffman photos of Duchamp and Hitler revealed; the odd juxtposition is not as incongruous as it first appeared. …
Kuspit:”I don’t think it’s so bizarre at all. Duchamp was a terrorist, wasn’t he? [Microphone disturbances] I just wanted to say that I don’t think it’s so bizarre at all. Duchamp was a terrorist and so was Hitler, and Duchamp was a fetish object, as Hitler is. And a lot of art historians, there are a whole group of art historians who click their intellectual heels and make the Duchamp salute these days. They are both fairly disruptive figures. I think Duchamp was an extremely disruptive influence on art, despite the rationalization of it as, quote, conceptual and so forth. So I think it is a wonderful and actually rather insightful connection to put Hitler and Duchamp together.” Read More:http://www.toutfait.com/issues/issue_2/Notes/barowitz.html
So, much that underlined Duchamp’s ouevre was rooted in the esoteric. It was a recycling of hermetic messages with a wide range of accompanying textual variations which nonetheless convey the same , essentially, hermetic message of alchemic allegory. Some of the symbolism, Moffitt claims, involved direct copying from earlier texts on the newer context of visual commercial art with; attention to other elements, namely the decidedly overt erotic factor, the references to contemporary science and technology, and the unmistakable presence of fourth-dimensional geometric ﬁgures. It is unmistakable, as John F. Moffitt has asserted , that there are important esoteric conclusions to be drawn from Duchamp and his role as pop culture icon at the vanguard of consumerism. The implications can even be stretched to encompass Keynes economic theory , the expansion of the money supply and the role of art in mechanical reproduction as outlined by Walter Benjamin as a culture industry…. Marinetti: Poets and artists of Futurism… remember these principles of an aesthetic of war, that they may illuminate… your struggles for a new poetry and a new sculpture! Benjamin: [Humankind’s] self-alienation has reached the point where it can experience its own annihilation as a supreme aesthetic pleasure. Such is the aestheticizing of politics, as practiced by fascism. Communism replies by politicizing art.
Moffitt: l’allégorie of Duchamp’s Large Glass can, on at least the purely iconographic level, be nothing but Hermeticism, particularly as expressed through its alchemical, orstrictly physical, applications. In 1916, for in-stance, Duchamp also collaborated with Arensberg in the cryptic redoing of an ordinary dog’s grooming comb; relabeled Peigne , and once secretly inscribed, it rose to new heights of Arensberg-like occult signiﬁcance(as is revealed in chapter 6). Another blatant example of an interest in thatliterally secret writing and enciphering that was equally shared by Arensbergand Duchamp is the art object called À bruit secret.
“With Secret Sound” was fabricated by Duchamp on Easter Sunday,April 23, 1916. This curious artifact consists of a ball of twine held between two brass plates that are joined together with four long bolts. This was trulya work of collaboration. Just before its completion, Arensberg put somethingsecret into the ball of twine. Today, that still unknown metallic device stillmakes the object mysteriously rattle when shaken. Not even Duchamp waslet into the secret of Arensberg’s hidden bruitist addition. On the top andthe bottom plates of À bruit secret, there are inscribed three lines of jumbledFrench and English words, many of which are incomplete. Each letter wasplaced into its own square of a uniform size. The results of the inscribedsequences look like this—with a peto signify a missing letter and a slash to indicate the spaces deliberately left blank:
1. TOP PLATE:P . G . / / . E C I D E S / / D E B A R R A S S E .L E / / D . S E R T . / / F . U R N I S . E N TA S / / H O W . V . R / / C O R . E S P O N D S2. BOTTOM PLATE:I R . / / C A R . E / / L O N G S E AF . N E , / / . H E A . , / / O . S Q U ET E . U / / S . A R P / / B A R . A I N
The idea was that the dots indicated missing letters, which are to befound somewhere in the same vertical column. The “sentences” apparentlybegin on the bottom (or upper?) plate and are supposedly completed, orbrought to completion, above, in the top (or lower?) plate. Although the results of my attempts to translate the whole text remainotherwise tenaciously devoid of any apparent sense, the format overall, nowrevealing his previously hidden authorship, appears to be derived from atraditional esoteric scheme unquestionably familiar to Arensberg, namely magic squares.A number of these Carées magiques were recorded in the grimoires , the old French books of magic. A notable example was translated “from an oldand rare French manuscript in the Bibliothèque de l’Arsénal at Paris” into English, and ﬁrst published in London in 1898 by a noted British occultist,S. L. MacGregor-Mathers. ( Moffitt )
The typically ponderous title of this esoteric publication is The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abra-Merlin, the Mage asDelivered by Abraham the Jew Unto His Son Lamech. A Grimoire of the Fifteenth Century.Arensberg probably had access to this publication, or at least to The inscribed plates of the Duchamp-Arensberg cryptographic effort,evidently “a Magical work of much importance from the Occult standpoint,”have sixty squares below and seventy-ﬁve above. According to MacGregor-Mathers, the granddaddy of all such “Qabalistic Squares of Letters” is the“Key of Solomon,” and this arcanum is found “inscribed within a doublecircle”; in this case, the hidden message corresponds to Psalm 77:8 in theBible. Nevertheless, the prototypical occultist magic square transforms thetext; as was explained by MacGregor-Mathers,…
…In the Hebrew, this versicle consists of exactly twenty-ﬁve letters, thenumber of the letters of the square. It will be at once noticed that boththis form and that given by Abraham the Jew [a legendary Alchemist]are perfect examples of double acrostics, that is, that they read in everydirection, whether horizontal or perpendicular, whether backwards orforwards. . . . It is also to be observed, that while many of the SymbolicSquares of Letters of the Third Book present the nature of the double Acrostic, there are also many which do not, and in the case of a greatnumber the letters do not ﬁll up the square entirely, but are arrangedsomewhat in the form of a gnomon. Others again leave the center part of the square blank.( Moffitt )
As we may now observe besides appearing to have the composition of a grimoire -derived, “symbolic square of letters,” Duchamp’s À bruit secret —evidently standing for what MacGregor-Mathers calls “things carefully hid-den and concealed”—is bilingual. The Arensberg group, which supported Duchamp in a very tangible way, and whowere dedicated to the interpretation of indecipherable textual esoterica, insteadpresented a much more secretive or literally occult face. As now appearslikely, equally Arensberg and Dreier meant to impose essentially timeless occult systems upon seemingly straightforward modernist materials and per-ceptions. It is most likely that Duchamp actively participated, even colluded,in these overtly esoteric schemes. Read More:http://www.scribd.com/doc/46327185/Alchemist-of-the-Avantguard
Once Nature has been transcended, then, says Steiner (just as did Kandinsky!),“for the ﬁrst time, large numbers of people will feel spiritual life to be a vital necessity, when [through Art] spiritual life and practical life are ﬁnally brought into direct connection with each other. Because [only] Spiritual-OccultScience [ die geheime Wissenschaft , or ‘Secret Science’] is able to throw lighton the nature of matter, so will Art, which is born of Spiritual-Occult Sci-ence, attain to the power of giving direct form to every chair, every table, toevery man-created object.”
It is signiﬁcant that Arensberg and Dreier, both of whom were knowl-edgeable students of and ardent subscribers to the Esoteric Tradition, were the sole ﬁnancial and moral mainstays of the art of Marcel Duchamp duringhis ﬁrst American period. This period is certainly the most important—andcryptic—phase of Duchamp’s entire career. A perhaps inescapable conclusion is that the content of Duchamp’s art at this time must have reﬂected the Occultist interests of his patrons. And why not assume this symbiotic rela-tionship? If we were, instead, dealing with the case of a standard Renaissanceartist, for instance Albrecht Dürer, rather than a modernist paragon of mental purism, Marcel Duchamp, then the tangible effect upon his art-works of the wishes of his muniﬁcent patrons would be taken for granted.But in Duchamp studies, alas, the authorities generally reject the logical,easier explanations of the kind belonging to traditional kunstwissenschaftliche
publications. Read More:http://www.scribd.com/doc/46327185/Alchemist-of-the-Avantguard
…The Real Thing is one example of how history, politics and art intersect in terms of the artist, gallery, audience and the media. Schechner’s artwork makes references to consumerism and media imagery and these are formally associated with the spread of modern corporations and the expansion of the spectacle of capital. Schechner’s work, although indirectly, also raises questions concerning the place of Israel in the political and economic New World Order, as well as drawing out some of the similarities between corporate advertising and Nazi propaganda. Many of his works involve complex and challenging messages and raise issues concerning the Holocaust, Nazi Germany as well as late-Capitalist society. Does Schechner’s work trivialize the murder of six million Jews as critics of Mirroring Evil have claimed? Or does it reinvigorate debates about an issue that has been analyzed and debated almost to saturation and which could be argued to have lost its capacity to shock and horrify?…
…In many ways Schechner has reworked the Holocaust into a new set of interpretative paradigms and this re-signification relates to the crime of the Holocaust, though it enters into an unstable process of interpretation, re-contextualization and semiotic disorder.Read More:http://www.drainmag.com/contentFEBRUARY/RELATED_ESSAYS/boundaries.htm