Today a copy of the catalytic poetry volume, Pense Bête, arrived at our doorstep, hand-carried by a friendly book dealer from London. Happily for us—and for you, should you come for a visit—this is not just any copy of Pense Bête. As if that were possible.
This copy has been annotated by Broodthaers himself, apparently in anticipation of a reprint. Like any of us, when the book first arrived from the printer and Broodthaers flipped through it, he could already see how the writing needed to be fixed.
There's more. Somehow this copy ended up as part of the infamous sculpture pictured above that announced the end of his career as a poet and the beginning of his career as an artist. There is a moldy water line throughout the book marking the exact depth at which the plaster set.
Perhaps it's fitting that this copy, of all copies, was doomed to be cast forever into the dustbin of the art world, only to be rescued by Broodthaers himself and given, as a gift, to the eminent art historian who sold it to the amiable bookseller from whom the BSA acquired it.
There's still more. Whereas the distributed copies of Pense Bête had rectangles of colored paper tipped in over some of the poems so that you had to lift each little flap in order to read them, in this copy Broodthaers has glued the paper rectangles down for good. There will be no reading of poetry here.