01 June 2016

Cash time life work art (just a couple quotes)

Dear diary,

Today I’m annoyed and exhausted. I don’t want to write any words. So I’ll hand over the blogging duties to two fine Frenchmen: I’ll just share passages from the books I was reading in the night. (By the way, the man behind the depiction of the Tower of Pisa in the image accompanying this entry is William Carlos Williams—this fact has nothing to do with anything, unless something beyond us is attempting to communicate to YOU while bypassing ME.)

This first brief quote is from Donald M. Frame’s translation of Montaigne’s essay “Of husbanding your will”:

No one distributes his money to others, everyone distributes his time and his life on them. There is nothing of which we are so prodigal as of the only things in which avarice would be useful to us and laudable.

This brought to mind a maxim from Marcel Duchamp — it was something like: Time is my money. And what he said surrounding this was interesting; but of course I couldn’t find the exact quote, when I looked through Calvin Tomkins’ The Afternoon Interviews, a thin volume that collects three conversations between CT & MD. So I’ll give a couple parts that I liked best while I was searching:

…I think the great man of tomorrow in the way of art cannot be seen, should not be seen, and should go underground. He may be recognized after his death if he has any luck, but he may not be recognized at all. Going underground means not having to deal in money terms with society. He wouldn’t accept the integration. The underground business is very interesting because an artist may be a real genius today, but if he is spoiled or contaminated by the sea of money around him, his genius will completely melt and become zero. There may be ten thousand geniuses today but they will never become geniuses, unless they have luck and very great determination.

I myself have very great determination, but no luck. But I’m not dead yet, so there’s still time for luck to kick in. But it’ll probably kick in after death, as usual. That’s a joke luck plays. (Is anyone laughing?) And I don’t believe I’m “contaminated by the sea of money”; so I haven’t yet melted.

Now I’ll give just one more excerpt—slightly longer this time—from the same series of interviews. (Again, these are the words of Marcel Duchamp, transcribed from one of his chats with Calvin Tomkins.) I won’t comment in reaction to the quote, beyond saying right here that I fully support his policies and endorse him for president.

…That’s our lot on earth, we have to work to breathe. I don’t see why that’s so admirable. I can conceive of a society where the lazies have a place in the sun. My famous thing was to start a home for the lazies—hospice des paresseux. If you are lazy, and people accept you as doing nothing, you have a right to eat and drink and have shelter and so forth. There would be a home in which you would do all this for nothing. The stipulation would be that you cannot work. If you begin to work you would be sacked immediately.

…Who invented the concept of exchanging? Why should one exchange on even terms? I don’t understand how it started, the idea of barter, in the mind of man.

…Who made all those little rules that dictate you won’t get food if you don’t show signs of activity or production of some kind? …I mean the give and take, for me, is a very amusing problem. I’m not talking about money now; I’m talking about barter or even the exchange between mother and child. For example, a mother generally gives and never takes from her child except affection. In the family there is more giving than taking. But when you go beyond the concept of the family, you find the need for equivalences. If you give me a flower, I give you a flower. That is an equivalent. Why? If you want to give, you give. If you want to take, you take. But society won’t let you, because society is based on that exchange called money, or barter. But I don’t know where it originated, as far as plain living is concerned. And don’t ask me who will make the bread or anything, because there is enough vitality in man in general that he cannot stay lazy. There would be very few lazies in my home, because they couldn’t stand to be lazy too long. In such a society barter would not exist, and the great people would be the garbage collectors. It would be the highest and noblest form of activity. And since the garbage collectors would do it out of pleasure instead of being paid for it, they would have a medal that would correspond to being the Duke of Windsor today.


Does anyone else share this habit? I drink vodka from a coffee mug, and coffee from a clear tall glass.

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