I am researching parallels between contemporary art and mythology. But I noticed this as a student studying Duchamp a long time ago, I am now getting back to this.
Duchamp is an intelligent trickster himself so it is not a surprise he identifies with Hermes. It is even more telling that his wings are made of soap bubbles for this “Obligation Monte Carlo” bond.
Hermes himself among other things was considered the giver of wealth and good luck (ploutodotês), presided over the game of dice, and those who played it threw an olive leaf upon the dice, and first drew this leaf. (Hom. Il. vii. 183; Aristoph. Pax, 365; Eustath. ad Hom. p. 675.)
Another one of my favourite pieces “With hidden noise”.
Famously even he didn’t know what is inside. Hermetically closed, it playfully jokes with the mystery and power of the unknown. The fact that it is unknown, secret is the primary source of that power. Secret societies and ritual mysteries use this trick. I would like to draw a parallel between this object and an amulet.
Duchamp is laughing at the world in most of his work, but benevolently he ends with a positive image. He likes the traditional symbolism of male-female as matter- spirit. This is most obviously shown in the chess with the naked lady. The final revelation is hidden behind a door and can only be glimpsed.
The carnal matter carries the light, the matter being necessary for the light to burn at all.