TABLE OF CONTENTS

EMPYRRHICAL THINKING (AND WHY KANT CAN’T)

THE CRITICAL LITERATURE portrays many different Marcel Duchamps: Arturo Schwarz’s alchemic dabbler, Octavio Paz’s tantric initiate, the full-scale occult master described by Jack Burnham, the publicity-seeking self-mythifier of Gianfranco Baruchello, the critical rationalist of the dialogues with Pierre Cabanne, André Breton’s “most intelligent man of the 20th century, “the failed artist and tragic neurotic portrayed by Alice Goldfarb Marquis, John Canaday’s “most destructive artist in history,” mand others.1 Most of these models hinge on interpretations of events between mid 1911 and mid 1913, that is, around Duchamp’s 25th year, for this brief period saw a sudden and thoroughgoing change in the form, material, purpose, and style of his work, a change that suggests a major shift in his attitude toward life.

As Paz says, 1912 was the “climactic year of [Duchamp’s] most important oil-on-canvas

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