Sunday Comics 

“Duchamp Is Our Misfortune,” a comic strip by Art Spiegelman. From MetaMaus (Pantheon, 2011), and originally published in the New Yorker in 2002.

Paradise, Adam and Eve — Marcel Duchamp

Calvin and Hobbes Take on Marcel Duchamp


To Have the Apprentice in the Sun — Marcel Duchamp

After Love — Marcel Duchamp


Selected Details after Cranach — Marcel Duchamp


Network of Stoppages — Marcel Duchamp


Man Seated by a Window — Marcel Duchamp


Selections from One-Star Amazon Reviews of Joyce’s Ulysses

[Ed. note: The following citations come from one-star Amazon reviews of James Joyce’s Ulysses. To be very clear, I think Ulysses is a marvelous, rewarding read (more on that here). Today, February 2nd, is Joyce’s birthday—let’s celebrate by enjoying the observations of some readers who were unimpressed by his masterpiece. While one or two of the reviews are tongue-in-cheek, most one-star reviews of the book are from very, very angry readers who feel duped]

I can sum this book up in two words: “Ass Beating”.

What an awful book this is?

I bought this having been a huge fan of the cartoon series, but Mr Joyce has taken a winning formula and produced a prize turkey. After 20 pages not only had Ulysses failed to even board his spaceship, but I had no idea at all what on earth was going on. Verdict: Rubbish.

When an English/American writer try to explain his/her ideas about life(I mention ideas about meaning,purpose and philosophy of life)and when he/she try to do this with complicated ideas and long sentences(or like very short ones especially in this particular book);what his/her work become to is:A tremendous nonsense!!!

Thi’ got to be the worst, I- I – I mean the worst ever written book ever. Know why? ‘Cause he’ such a showoff, know what I MEAN? He’s ingenious I’ll giv’ ’em that, but ingenuity my friends tire and enervate. Get to the point and stick to it ‘s my motto.

This is one of those books that “smart” people like to “read.”

The grammar is so disjointed as to make it nearly impossible to read.

Ulysses is basically an unbridled attack on the very ideas of heroism, romantic love and sexual fulfillment, and objective literary expression.

What’s with all the foreign languages?

It has no real meaning.

It is a blasphemy that it ever was published.

Anyone who tells you they’ve read this so-called book all the way through is probably lying through their teeth.It is impossible to endure this torture.

A babbling, senseless tome upheld by “literary luminaries” who fear being cast into the tasteless bourgeois darkness for dissent? Yes, that’s the gist.

I discovered that the novel was not what I though it would be.

Joyce is an aesthetic bother of Marcel Duchamp (known for The Fountain, a urinal, now a museum piece) and John Cage (the composer of pieces for prepared piano, where the piano’s strings are mangled with trash.

Two positive things I can say about James Joyce is that he has a great sounding name and he gives wonderful titles to his works.

Ask yourself – are you going to enjoy a book that neccesitates your literature teacher lie next to you and explain its ‘sophistication’ to you ?

It’s the worst book which has ever been written.

Unless you really hate yourself, do not attempt to read this book.

The truth is this book stinks. For one thing it is vulgar, which, I hate to disappoint anyone, requires no talent at all. This is a talent any six year-old boy possesses.

The book is not so good, it is boring, it is a colection of words and a continuous experimentation of styles that, unhappily, do not mean anything to the meaning of the story; that is, the book’s language is snobbish and useless. Those who say that “love” such a writing are to be thought about as non-readers or as victims of a literary abnormality.

…the single most destructive piece of Literature ever written…

I’m all for challenging reads, but not for gibberish which academics persist in labeling erudition.

This book is extremely dull!!! My book club decided to read this book after one of the members visited the James Joyce tower in Ireland, which the author supposedly wrote part of the book in.

Ulysses is a failed novel because Joyce was a bad writer (shown by his other works).

In conclusion, Don’t read the book. Burn it hard. Do not let your children read the book—it will mutilate their brain cells.

Given: 1. The Waterfall, 2. The Illuminating Gas — Marcel Duchamp

World in the Balance (Book Acquired Some Time Last Week)


Robert P. Crease’s World in the Balance is now out in trade paperback. I wasn’t sure how interesting a book about the history of measurement could be, but when I flicked it open randomly to a chapter about Marcel Duchamp I found myself intrigued.

From Laura J. Snyder’s review at The Wall St. Journal:

‘The non-scientific mind has the most ridiculous ideas of the precision of laboratory work, and would be much surprised to learn that . . . the bulk of it does not exceed the precision of an upholsterer who comes to measure a window for a pair of curtains.” So wrote the American philosopher and scientist Charles S. Peirce (1839-1914).

Peirce may have been giving the general public more credit than he intended; most people don’t think much about the precision of scientific measurements, let alone question where the standards of measurement have come from in the past or where they are headed today. These topics are addressed by Robert P. Crease’s educational and often entertaining book, “World in the Balance.” While some readers might be put off by the episodic and occasionally repetitive structure of the book—belying its origin as the author’s columns for Physics World—those who are not will be amply rewarded with a sweeping survey of the history of measurement and the search for universal and absolute standards, from ancient China up to practically yesterday.


Marcel Duchamp Interview (Segment from The Shock of the New, 1980 BBC Documentary)

Portrait of the Artist’s Father — Marcel Duchamp

John Cage’s A Year from Monday (Book Acquired 2.21.2012)


I found this one at random in my favorite used bookshop last week. Had never heard of it before, but it’s really neato—Cage’s lectures, notes, letters, etc. on  a range of subjects, including Charles Ives, Marcel Duchamp, and making the world better. Cover’s in rough shape, but it’s a first edition paperback, so all’s well &c.

A few pics from the strange interior (no worries, I will be plundering the book for posts in the months to come):



Duchamp Is Our Misfortune — Art Spiegelman



Anemic Cinema — Marcel Duchamp

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Men Are Mortal, Pictures Too

Discs avec Spriales -- Marcel Duchamp

We picked up a pretty cool book last weekend at the Friends of the Library Sale–Pierre Cabbanne’s Dialogues with Marcel Duchamp. Duchamp is way more straightforward than you would think, and also quite funny. He’s also, as his work would attest, often reflective and philosophical. Here, he waxes heavy on art, beauty, transience, and mediocrity:

I think painting dies, you understand. After forty or fifty years a picture dies, because its freshness disappears. Sculpture also dies. This is my own little hobbyhorse, which no one accepts, but I don’t mind. I think a picture dies after a few years like the man who painted it. Afterward it’s called the history of art. There’s a huge difference between a Monet today, which is black as anything, and a Monet sixty or eighty years ago, when it was brilliant, when it was made. Now it has entered history–it’s accepted as that, and anyway that’s fine, because that has nothing to do with what it is. Men are mortal, pictures too.

The history of art is something very different from aesthetics. For me, the history of art is what remains of an epoch in a museum, but it’s not necessarily the best of that epoch, because the beautiful things have disappeared–the public didn’t want to keep them. But this is philosophy…

So, I guess all those urinals Duchamp made aren’t so fresh today.