The Secret of DUCHAMP
1 Gradual Progress
2 The microcosm of body
The Secret of Marcel Duchamp's works /2008
In this sentence, the term of ‘delay’ appears. In The Green Box notes (1934) Duchamp called The Large Glass as “Delay in Glass”: Use ‘delay’ instead of picture or paining; picture on glass becomes delay in glass－ but delay in glass does not mean picture on glass－ It is merely a way of succeeding in no longer thinking that the thing in question is a picture…a delay in glass as you would say a poem in prose or a spittoon in silver.
2 The microcosm of body
The upper part of the Large Glass is called as the Bride and the lower part is called as the Bachelors. Duchamp might owe the positioning of the Large Glass to The I Ching (the Book of Change) ; a young man is below the young woman in the hexagram Sensing. According to the hexagram Sensing, the positioning of pair implies the harmony of Nature that is interpreted as the condition of stream from lake through mountain. There is an illustration of the internal alchemy called as the nei-jing-tu in which a body is depicted as a landscape of mountain and stream. In this section, I would discuss the parallels between the Large Glass and the nei-jing-tu.
James Miller argues in his book, Daoism/A short introduction (2003), that so far as the Taoist traditions of alchemy are concerned, there are two basic styles of alchemy. The one that is historically the earliest is the waidan that has the meaning of the outer alchemy and refers to the concoction of an elixir of immortality. The second form of alchemy is the naidan that has the meaning of the internal alchemy and uses the energies of the body as the ingredients for the alchemical reaction.
The nei-jing-tu, a kind of the nei-dan-tu, has been printed by Baiyun-guan in Beijing. A microcosm of body is depicted on the nei-jing-tu as a landscape of mountain and river in which a stream flows from the mountains to the sea. The brain is depicted as the mountains, and the two eyeballs are depicted as the moon and the sun. Besides, the internal organs are illustrated allegorically. The microcosmic orbit inverts the normal flow of jing (vitality) through the body, and this reversal refines jing into qi (energy). The most parts of the Large Glass are common to the “nei-jing-tu”. I would like to introduce the representative examples of them in the following paragraphs.
The Water Mill Wheel in the Large Glass is corresponding to the image of water mills that a boy and a girl are turning with their feet in the nei-dan-tu. They are turning the water mills to flow upstream the water of river to the mountains that are analogous to the figure of Milky Way in the Large Glass. It implies that the stream of qi is reversed through the spine to the upper cinnabar field in the head. The Water Mill Wheel is in the cube called as ‘Glider, Chariot or Sleigh.’ In the function of sliding, the sleigh is analogous to the plow controlled by a farmer on the immediate upside of the water mills in the nei-jing-tu.
The refined qui falls down again through the middle cinnabar field to the lower cinnabar field (dantian). The Chocolate Grinder on the Louis XV Chassis in the Large Glass is corresponding to the lower cinnabar field, which is depicted as the figures of t’ai-chi (taiji) shown as the yin-yang circles on furnaces in the nei-jing-tu. The Nine Malic Moulds in the Large Glass is corresponding to the image of a grove in the nei-jing-tu. And the Nine Malic Moulds relates to the flying costumes of the nine gods meaning the nine kinds of the refined qui in the nei-jing-tu.
I could point out the other parts in common to the Large Glass and the nei-jing-tu, but I would like to reserve them for my upcoming papers. I would end this argument, pointing out that not only The Large Glass but also Fountain (1917) and Given: 1. The Waterfall, 2. The illuminating Gas (1946-66) might in fact be based upon the “nai-jing-tu”. Fountain is a readymade porcelain urinal. When it is presented horizontally, the small holes lose the function for the draining. Given the term of ‘fountain’ for it, it might be meaning that the stream of water that is the flow of jing is reversed. As the stream of water represents the flow of jing, the reversal is meaning to refine jing into qi.. The readymade object represents the sitting figure of the naidan that has the meaning of internal alchemy.
Given: 1. The Waterfall, 2. The illuminating Gas is the last major work by Duchamp. While The Waterfall represents the normal flow of jing, The illuminating Gas is meaning the scene of passage from jing to qi, that was called as infra-mince (infra-thin) by Duchamp. The infra-mince is the translation of xuan-miao in The Wu Chen P’ien (the Understanding Reality) by Chang Po-tuan that is a Taoist alchemical classic. While the Chinese character of xuan has the meaning of infra, the character of miao has the meaning of mince. The motif of the last major work also is the naidan that has the meaning of internal alchemy.
from Takeshi YOSHIZUMI, The Secret of Marcel Duchamp's works, ( New english version:2008/Original:2004)