Mystery words on With Hidden Noise:
P.G .ECIDES DEBARRASSE.
LE. D.SERT. F.URNIS.ENT
AS HOW.V.R COR.ESPONDS
Convenablement choisie dans la meme colonne
.IR. CAR.E LONGSEA—
F.NE .HEA. .O.SQUE—
TE.U S.ARP BAR.AIN—
Remplacer chaque point par une lettre
Any hope that the engravings might offer some clue as to what has been hidden in the ball of twine seems futile. According to one of Duchamp’s letters, the words were nothing but “an exercise in comparative orthography (English-French). The periods must be replaced (with one exception: debarrasse[e]) by one of the two letters of the other two lines, but in the same vertical as the period--French and English are mixed and make no ‘sense.’ The three arrows indicate the continuity of the line from the lower plate to the other [plate] still without meaning.”
Frustrating. Particularly since to read the nonsense sentences according to Duchamp’s instructions would require that WHN be turned end over end which would cause the secret object to make its hidden noise.
But there in the museum, in its new role as untouchable icon, the Readymade has been rendered impotent, its noise perpetually silenced.