6. (In Delay of) Rrose Sélavy, or The Trans-Formation


In the midst of the most vulgar and literal putting into play of its queerness, which precipitates the identification of the couple Duchamp-Stieglitz with the popular comic strip characters Mutt and Jeff, Fountain will soon receive its due from its most playful viewer. Without delay, or almost, the Fountain of life [Fontaine de vie] will rise up again proper from ‘the dew of Eros [rosée d’Éros]’ (a golden shower?), on the border between ‘arrose [sprinkle]’ and ‘c’est la vie [that’s life]/c’est le vit [it’s the prick]’, as Rrose Sélavy. Duly détourned and machined, this name, twice improper given the double disjunctive synthesis that it articulates, acquires (and these are Lacanian formulae) a ‘flying function’ that derails its ‘false appearance of suture’—only to contradict its gendered identification in the form of an étrou and a stopgap [bouche-trou].

‘The word Arrose [sprinkle] demands two Rs, so I was attracted to the second R, which I added’ to Rose, an anagram of Eros and a word which has both a feminine and a masculine declension: La rose (the flower) and le rose (the colour pink)—two Rs indeed, then, for a Rrose through which Duchamp changes sex, but not without changing (‘en vit-il’, and that’s how he lives) sex itself, by changing life [vie]. A change from the penis [vit] along with a change of sex into l’asexe, heard phonetically in a rather uncommon feminine (trans)gender—la (sexe)—and with a petit a preceded by a virga based, even, on an an-archics of the other (sex) rather than on phantasm alone (whether the ‘little girl’ or the ‘woman who gets hard’)…