From Surrealism and it s Others - Yale French Studies - Number 109
As early as 1922, Breton wrote to Jacques Doucet that Duchamp was "the man from whom I would be the most inclined to expect something, if he wasn't so distant and deep down so desperate. " Typical case of transference, for it was Breton who was desperate to delve programmatically into Duchamp's putative unconscious as he did with everyone in the surrealist inner circle. But as comments he made in the 1950s, disapproving of Michel Carrouges' study of "bachelor machines" amply indicate, Duchamp gave little credence to the theory of the unconscious. Consequently, Marcel Duchamp's (or, rather Rrose Selavy's) many salacious puns, which to Breton were the most remarkable poetic phenomenon in years, were to Duchamp expressions of fully conscious cognition.
If there was one study on his work that got him really worked up, it was Michel Carrouges' Bachelor Machines, first published with the Arcanes psychoanalytic publishing house in 1954. And in perfectly anti-psychoanalytic terms, he made perfectly clear to Breton what got his dander up and just how Carrouges missed the whole point (which was laughter): "Using the Green Box, Carrouges has brought to light the underlying process with the meticulousness of a sub-mental dissection. No need to add that his findings, even if they form a coherent whole, were never conscious when I was working out my strategy because my subconscious is mute like all subconsciousnesses and that my strategy had more to do with the conscious need to introduce some 'hilarity' or at least some humor into such a 'serious' subject." Duchamp's underlining, twice, of the word " conscious" speaks voluminously of his conviction (that jibes with that of Gertrude Stein, moreover) that there is only consciousness - no unconscious. And his dismissal of Carrouges and his book, Les machines celibataires, could not be more definitive: "For me, there is something other than yes, no, and indifferent - it's the absence of investigations of this sort, for example" ( to Breton, 4 October 1954, N° 235).
"Where's Duchamp? - Out Queering the Field" by Robert Harvey