Why Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend by Duncan Smith

Why are diamonds a girl’s best friend? Diamonds, the most popular gemstone, are also the symbol for steadfast love. 

BOMB 1 Spring 1981
001 Spring 1981

Why are diamonds a girl’s best friend? Diamonds, the most popular gemstone, are also the symbol for steadfast love. A girl’s best friend finds symbolic expression in the idea of the diamond. However, a diamond’s not a friend, nor a lover, and then it is in very odd ways.  

“A diamond is forever,” so say those advertisements for diamonds, the female being quietly embraced by the man she is either engaged or married to. Her ring indicates lifelong friendship with the companion. The ring can be worn until she dies and thus she may pass it on as an heirloom, a testament to her brief stay in the world of the living, a monument of her former life. Or she may discard it as soon as that love has corrupted into divorce, a broken engagement, her partner’s death, and so forth. Even off one’s finger, diamonds are still around, they still “ring” and are not necessarily on one’s finger.

When we hear a record being played, we know that a record player’s pick-up and its needle are composed of a perfectly hard substance, a diamond. Rubies, the next hardest, are not as strong as the diamond, probably because of the diamond’s four-carbon molecular structure, a structure that pervades the entirety of the diamond, making it the hardest, the most “invincible” of all matter.Adamas is the Latin word for diamond, “diamond” being a corruption from that adjective, invincible. Steadfast, invincible love has the diamond as its metaphor, but the music or song heard by those two lovers is facilitated by the very substance they wear on their fingers.

To hear a song off of a record has the diamond as its medium. The sound of the record is thus transmitted by a diamond and the lovers who are staring at their diamond sanctifies precious, steadfast love, the diamond “rings” in front of their ring.

When lovers say, “Darling, this is our song,” they may or may not be aware that “their song” is rung into their ears by a diamond. A song that memorializes a love is also the diamond ring or “ringing” diamond stylus memorializing their love.

A diamond stylus is only heard, not seen. The brilliance of a diamond ring is also met by the brilliance of sound waves meeting the air, the sound waves reverberating by means of the faculty of a diamond stylus’ perfect contact with two sides of a record’s groove. The jewel that is seen is also the jewel that is heard.

A diamond in contact with one’s eye, the diamond ring, is also the diamond in contact with one’s ear. The heart, the place where love builds its figurative home, has “ear” within the heart of the word h(ear)t. And “hard” is allophonic with “heart,” just as “heard” is also euphonious with those two words. A hard diamond is placed in conjunction with the hearts of lovers and with their “ears,” the sound of the diamond that falls into the hearts of lovers, into the “ear” which is in the heart of h(ear)t or h(ear)d. Pearls, too, have “ear” within their heart, p(ear)l. Steadfast, invincible, “hard” love builds its home around the hard diamond seen or around the hard diamond heard in the ear over a record player, the immortal song now deep in the hearts of lovers. The “song in my heart” has been heard and seen, since within our hearts lives a diamond, a four-cornered, four-chambered object, just as our heart is. (There are heart-shaped diamonds.)

The strength of the diamond, its uniform, crystalline structure, has no air within it, no air for sound to reverberate within it. The heart, however, is quite loud, for even in the greatest of silences, we can always hear our hearts. Remember when Rachel Welch had to close her ears in the movie Fantastic Voyage? The microscopically shrunken vehicle ventured into the comparatively gigantic chambers of the man’s heart, and the sound of the muscle beating was unbearably loud for the voyagers. There is no sound within a diamond, no pockets of air, at least in flawless diamonds. When the diamond performs its function as stylus, the sound has the diamond as its point of origin, albeit the perfectly faceted and angled sides of the diamond can register all the variations felt along the record’s groove. Never, never, never though can the diamond have sound pass through it for the diamond’s symmetry and the ensuing vibrations can only issue upon contact with the diamond’s outside, while this jewel’s inside, its heart, its airtight interior cannot carry sound within it.

Furthermore, this diamond-idea is related to the idea of the Holy Trinity, particularly in relation to the Holy Spirit of the Holy Ghost. The correspondence of the Mystical Kabbala has the diamond represent the idea of one in three. God is the three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost/Spirit represents the love between the father and son, between the unbegotten Father and the begotten Son, Christ. The Virgin Mary was infused with the spirit of the Holy Ghost at Annunciation. At Christ’s Baptism and the Pentecost are also where the Holy Ghost made its divine presence felt.

The angel Gabriel at Mary’s Annunciation was never really seen, for according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, careful inspection of the New Testament reveals that the angel imparted some kind of inner voice within the “silence of Mary’s soul.” God spoke to Mary via the angel at the moment where the Holy Ghost, represented by the form of a dove, was present as well. A dove, with its wings outspread, forms a diamond shape, four diagonals join its tail, two wings and beak. The spirit or breath of God, his ‘’sound,’’ in its broadest figurative sense, is effectuated by the dove, the Holy Spirit in its diamond shape.

Furthermore, at Pentecost, when Christ promised the Holy Spirit would visit Mary and his disciples, the Holy Ghost was described as “a roar like that of mighty winds filled the house and tongues like tongues of fire rested in everyone present.‘’ Old Testament meanings concerning spirit are often concerned with breath, the breath from God’s mouth that gave life to Christ, that breath being the Holy Spirit with its “mighty winds” and “tongues like tongues of fire.”

Back to diamonds. If diamonds facilitate the transmission of sound to our ears, conceivably we are in the position of duplicating the Trinity. Singer-musicians breathe into our ears when we hear the record. Singer-God has a diamond-Holy Ghost for us Gods on earth, us Christs who are Gods in the flesh. This voice from afar, God, enters our ears, as the Virgin was inseminated with Christ’s embryo through her ears. (St. Augustine thought that Mary was fertilized in such a fashion.) We, as listeners to music, to the diamond ring, receive the spirit, the voice, the breath.

The eternal love of the Holy Spirit for the Father and the Son congrues with the diamond, this symbol of steadfast love. The Holy Ghost, as a four-cornered dove, or diamond stylus, is eternal, despite the relative duration of a diamond stylus being only 100–500 hours of playing time. The record’s grooves wear down the stylus into unplayability, an argument against its steadfastness in playing or ringing out those songs of love.

Synthetic diamonds are made from graphite when extremely high temperatures and pressures are exerted on the substance that allows us to write, the pencil with its graphite. A stereo pick-up has a diamond stylus for writing out the record grooves into the air, and it is a diamond, derived from carbon, just as another writing implement has only simple carbon within it. Imagine writing with a diamond tipped pencil. Also, in order for oil to be mined, synthetic diamonds bore into the earth’s crust so as to unearth the crude. This is odd, since oil is what makes up record discs, them being played by diamonds, and them being mined by diamonds.

Heroin users may have what are called “works,” the usual needle, syringe, and cooking spoon. Heroin and its necessary needle also entail the necessary “pick-up needle” with its diamond stylus. This association finds its truth in the myths of junk taken by musicians. They may have made albums or not and what albums they play a pick-up needle is needed, or if their need for junk is great, they use a needle full of prepared heroin to pick them up. A diamond stylus, if pressed hard enough, could puncture your skin, while a needle and syringe will accomplish the act. Even with “glass works” the (sharp) diamond stylus finds its companion in something else crystalline, a glassy needle. These associations should be placed next to the mythology of drug-taking musicians or music lovers, reinforced by the stylus that lets them hear their own music. It is an alignment to an object that resonates a primary masochism, crystalline drugs the interiorized object that magnifies the external world’s cruelty on its recipients. The heroin and cocaine addict demonstrates, though not completely, that such consumption is an allegory of a pulverized diamond stylus.

The ritual of cocaine or heroin ingestion through the nose remains within this general crystallization that the diamond idea secretly originates. The crystal powder is cut into lines over a pane of glass or mirror. A razor is often used, a highly sharp tool whose cutting power metaphorically resides with the cutting power of the diamond. If glass or a mirror is used for the razor to cut the dust up on, we then encounter a crystal cut by a near crystal on a crystal; crystals are cut by crystals on crystals; diamonds are cut by diamonds on a diamond; diamond styluses are cut by diamonds on diamond records, enabling more pulverization, the pulverization of the diamond stylus that fictively becomes the precious powder we put into our bodies. And all of this is accompanied by a loud rapping of the razor on the mirror as it divides up the powder. A diamond stylus elicits sound just as the razor, another sharp implement, elicits peals into the air.

One procedure in coke or heroin taking consists of using a pen empty of its ink-filled cartridge. The hollow tube allows easy suction of whatever drug under question. Again, another writing implement enters into a ritual of drug taking.

A few words on the nose. The nose is a prosthetic extension of the body, it is an appendage of the body, particularly the face. The nose “sticks out,” it juts into the air. One’s profile has the nose as its distinguishing mark, a kind of “prow” or “stylus” or more cryptically, a permanent “dais” of the body that writes itself through the empty air. Figuratively, the diamond resembles the nose for the nose forms a small “V” reproducing the diamond’s point that is either placed in platinum or on record grooves. The nose is a diamond also in terms of a topography of the ego; every ego is a bubble of sorts, an envelop of skin and with the nose, this raised platform, this “dais,” or organ, is a bump in the ego-bubble. Jacques Lacan said that recognition of an ego is recognition of a nose. The diamond, since it is attached to the body, a “hump” of sorts on the body, resembles the nose in the object’s interruption of the body’s relatively smooth homogeneity. They are, in a broad system of substitutive terms, lumps, outgrowths, cysts, pockets, lobes, and so forth. Indeed earlobes can bear diamonds, earrings, and like fingers, another bodily appurtenance, they can bear diamonds with their customary diamond rings. Even the head, the body’s biggest “bump,” can bear a necklace at its base.

The cocaine or heroin that goes back into the nose goes back into the diamond-hood these drugs are metaphorically derived from. From the pulverized diamond stylus to the lines on a diamantine surface to the diamond in the nose-diamond. The song played by a diamond corrupts into dust which returns to the most diamond-like part of the body, the nose. Similarly, too much dust inhaled collapses the diamond-nose just as the diamond stylus had collapsed from too much playing. People who snort too much diamond dust also lose their diamond, their nose, since the ample diamond dust was derived from playing the diamond too frequently, the ambiguity here residing in either snorting too much dust or, because they are saturated with music, diamond-written sound.

Yet have we answered the question “Why are diamonds a girl’s best friend?” Perhaps the discussion should explore the role of Norma Jean as the quasi-authoress of this invincible demand.

Is a platinum record playable or not? Can I play a platinum record with a diamond stylus? Then it will really be a diamond ring, since diamond rings are set in platinum, and the platinum record played by a diamond needle is also a diamond ring, a diamond supported by platinum.

The next transition: from gold records to platinum records to diamond records. A diamond record played by a diamond stylus. An invincible record and its invincible pen. The love between those two diamonds will be invincible, the record that never warps played by its stylus that would never corrupt or bore (as synthetic diamonds do) into the oil record, since this record is now a diamond and not vinyl/oil. Now laser beams are being used as styluses on video-discs, the beam in question will never warp the record, although its incredible cutting power is capable of boring holes through diamonds.

One question has plagued me during this discussion: what other jewels could be used for a stylus? Besides the diamond, what could be substituted, what would allow the divine breath to vibrate perfectly throughout the air? A ruby stylus, an emerald stylus, a pearl stylus, a sapphire stylus, a topaz stylus, lapis lazuli, amethyst? Rubies might be appropriate since they are the next hardest gem to the diamond, and indispensable in the formation of laser beams. Emeralds are much too precious, rare, and expensive to be used, besides we would be straining ourselves terribly to see such an exquisite though tiny stone, once made into a nearly invisible writing point. Sapphires were originally used as styluses, and like the emerald we would be despondent not to be able to see the pale, cross-shaped star draped over these magnificent gems. I will discuss pearl styluses further on.

Certainly the listener is not at a loss when the music compensates for the absence of the visual brilliance of the diamond or any of its equivalents. Listening to the compositions of musical geniuses must face the inevitable loss of those prismatic gleams when light strikes these jewels under question. The tininess of the diamond stylus cannot shed the treasured refraction; placing one’s finger under the pick-up needle asserts the diamond’s presence, albeit by mere touching—and if the stereo’s “power” button has been pressed—a finger’s pores and rippling array of lines, swirls, “grooves” again, facilitates the diamond to register the sound of such a fingertip’s landscape. We can then “hear” the finger that only feels hot or cold, rough or soft—and another argument for the diamond’s perfection—sound for the touch, sound for the short interval of pain at the stylus’ sharpness, and while under such a delicious sensation, we beg our ears to receive the equivalent; oddly, it all started since the prism was never seen.

Pearls, however, would not hurt whatsoever if they were made into styluses. Their roundness and smoothness would be a welcome sensation to the finger dismayed by the surgical potential of the other gem. Oddly enough, inside the pearl is a sharp object, a chip off of the oyster’s exterior. The oyster’s outside, composed of calcium, grows layers and layers of shell. These encrustations are what pearl divers chip off and insert into the oyster’s lip. Once inside the oyster, this formerly “outside” chip irritates the soft, fleshy interior, thus propelling the oyster to cover the hard edge of the chip with what will eventually become the ideally smooth surface of the pearl. From the, outside of the oyster to its inside, and once inside, the chip is then a “foreign” body (although it is part of the oyster, hence not so foreign) about to become reconciled with the interior; whenever the oyster is happy with the very thing that caused so much discomfort, the pearl diver may remove the former chip. The pearl is thus a prophylactic to the pain of the oyster’s inside. Eventually, the pearl consecrates the oyster’s relative ugliness, the oyster’s exterior layers of unsightly calcium growth, when that ugly exterior was the very origin of the pearl, before it evolved into its hemispheric perfection. A pearl, like a diamond, is really a chip, a hard, knife-like surface. (If you have ever dived for oysters for perhaps eating them on the half-shell, your fingers get sliced up terribly.) But only in the heart of the pearl does the chip exist. To touch a pearl stylus is a comfort in comparison to a diamond stylus. Indeed, if such a stylus existed, the pearl just might (a hypothesis) wear down and become the chip it began building itself upon. Then that chip would be diamantine. The heart of the pearl has a diamond, however odd that may strike your ears.

All record grooves are now suited for the purposes of a diamond’s point to travel along. What would a record’s grooves evolve into if a pearl, a round pearl, were so be used. Instead of V-shaped valleys we would have U-shaped ones; the pearl would have to touch on grooves that were essentially curved, not angled as with a diamond. And what would that sound like? What would a pearl stylus do to a record’s sound, what would the sound sound like? Would the music become softer, fuzzier, slower, what? To hear a gem “clearly” has always had the diamond as its standard. Could there be a pearl sound standard where the category of “clarity” and “sharpness” no longer applied, but the predicates of “subtlety” or “softness” did? Conjecturing a pearl stylus, even in the shape of a record’s grooves, seems at best fantasm; its only truth is that diamonds and pearls are gems, and hence interchangeable; if not, the imagination leaves the pearl to a future of silences, whereas the diamond maintains both visual and acoustic brilliance. All those pearl divers have to do then is to drop diamond chips into the oyster and see whether calcium by-products will make the nacreous shell of the pearl. A diamond is now in the heart of a pearl. That double gem will elicit delicious sound, eventually after the pearl dust has scattered itself over the record disc. As the pearl wears down, casting the sheeny black surface into one that is more opalescent, this hybrid stylus then advances the sound’s quality and clarity once the strange stylus is fully a diamond.

This hypothetical situation with a pearl-diamond stylus, this pulverization of the pearl as it transforms itself into a diamond in the process, could happen with a diamond as well. The 500th playing time of the diamond stylus signals the diamond stylus’ vulnerability, its breakage. Could the diamond stylus be shedding itself along the way?

Let us suppose that a diamond does just that, that by wearing down, it chips off, it crumbles through strain towards its 500th playing time. And where do these diamond morsels go, where do these even tinier fragments of the diamond stylus go? A transformation of the diamond stylus takes place, and, conceivably, diamond dust results. This is quite possible with the fabulation of a diamond record and its diamond stylus, since the cutting of a diamond has to take place with a diamond, the diamond record’s grooves doing the pulverizing, the cutting. Powder then fills the air and enters into ourselves in the strangest of ways.

Since my entire argument is replete with hypotheses, I shall make another. After the diamond’s fictive wear-down into diamond dust since it played so many times on the record, the dust became transformed, alchemized if you will into the pharmacological habits of a record’s listeners, the drugs cocaine and heroin.

With all this dust traveling through the air, this precious dust from the diamond playing on record grooves and its being pulverized by such grooves, the dust enters our bodies. If the similarity between cocaine or heroin or any other dust-like drug is justified, then this dust enters, as is a common practice, through the nose. Of course, rock musicians will snort “rocks,” the rocks in question being more precious than gold, a rock not as expensive as the rocks that are diamonds. A bird of paradise flew up my nose could mean the four-cornered dove of the Holy Ghost is flying up my nose and into my lungs, the very site of breath or spirit again. “Angel dust” resonates with the idea of the angel Gabriel accompanied by the Holy Ghost at Mary’s Annunciation when she is about to hear God. The head that is suffused with diamond dust, or sound for that matter, cannot ingest diamonds per se, only their closest equivalents: substances that are crystalline, expensive, and in association with the non-representational, non-worldly commonplaces of music, “Getting high” on music or drugs finds the diamond-standard always within the two categories. Besides the music industry attempts to saturate its viewers with scopic or visual spectacle as well as aural spectacle. Here, the thing that is missing is the drive of the heaving of the lungs, satiated by near diamond dust, an illegality and the envy of those hungry spectators who think that rock musicians get all the “dust” or “rocks” they want.

1 Smith 18 Body

Film still from The Misfits.

Norma Jean starred in a film All About Eve, a film that appeared in conjunction with Sunset Boulevard with its Norma Desmond. Both films were up for the 1950 Academy Awards and are often billed with each other in movie houses not to mention the instance of seeing Sunset Boulevard on television when All About Eve was playing on another channel, the two films having begun at the exact same time.

Norma Jean appeared outside of Sunset Boulevard, but she was inside it, inside that film by virtue of the one name that was “inside” of her, the “Norma Jean” inside Marilyn Monroe. Norma Jean is, however far-fetched this sounds, the Norma Desmond played by Gloria Swanson. Norma Jean-Desmond is the star who can cross either place, either film, her only ticket being “Norma,” Marilyn’s original name, a strange entrance to the All About Eve/Sunset Boulevard sepulcher buried within ourselves.

Norma Desmond can flip into Norma Diamond, the “diamond” being the first word Norma Desmond called out in the bridge game sequence in Sunset Boulevard. Diamond and Desmond both have an initial “d” to their sequence of identically numbered letters as well as the final “mond.” Now that Norma Desmond is Norma Diamond, Norma Jean is Norma Diamond as well.

“Norma” refracts into the French word for love, amour. With Norma Diamond or Norma Jean we can obtain the transformations of “love diamonds” or “love jeans,” sinceamour or love lies buried in Norma. I have already shown how “love” and “diamonds” symbolize each other, the diamond “ring” that is already a diamond stylus that “rings” out songs of love. Such a diamond reverberates Neil Diamond singing “Forever in Blue Jeans.” (His first name is an anagram for “line,” the lines or grooves his voice sings from? He is also the one who sings the Jazz Singer lyrics “Love on the rocks …”). “Forever in Blue Jeans” translates into “Forever Listening to Blue Diamonds”; there are blue diamonds (blue diamond styluses?), like the Hope Diamond, as there are blue jeans. Neil Diamond sings the “blues.”

Jeans are made of denim. “Denim,” as anagram, is “mined.” The mining of oil needs diamond drills, the playing of vinyl records diamond styluses. Our dancing to this sound is fulfilled when we wear jeans or “denim,” such sound the vinyl oil that has been “mined.”

Jean, the word jean, cryptically advocates identity since “jean” angulates into “I am,” the “I am” a translation of “jean,” the piece of cloth or the Jean in Norma Jean. “Jean” is also a homonym for “gene,” the repository of the DNA molecule and the building blocks for chromosome formation, a 20th-century positivist’s pleasure-word. (DNA, a pleasure-word too, has at least two letters in common with jean; besides, are not jeans also called “denim jeans”? Respelled, “d[—] [—]an[-]” echoes DNA, a significant idea when one confronts genetic scientists who like to wear denim jeans.) The Je in jean is identical to the French “I,” made possible by our memories of that language as well as j’s proximity to i in the alphabet. (A study of American culture and its origin in the thinking of Jean-Jacques Rousseau would be interesting; Davy Crockett with his racoon hat and blue jeans is echoed by Rousseau’s similar head-piece, but did he wear the cloth of/de Nimes as all those 1950s youngsters did?) Furthermore, “denim”’s anagram, “mined,” congrues with the “I am” idea within “jean,” my jeans, the jeans of mine, etc. (Homosexuals usually wear a pair of denim to the Mine[d]shaft.)

Even in “diamond” there is this “I am” moment. The letters after its initial “d” are “i,” “a” and “m” exhibiting the “I am” that is a refraction from “jean,” or the proper name “Jean.” Diamonds can then be respelled into “djeamonds.” Furthermore, in “America” one finds the “I am”: “I am erca,” or “I am e car”. The latter phrase could translate into “Jean a car” or “Jean, a car,” a truism for stars (Norma Desmond/Jean) are supposed to be cars. Getting into a pair of jeans is an allegory of getting into a car. (Jeans that cover legs for walking are met by cars that somewhat dispense with legs for driving.) Besides every American has a particular brand of jeans as they have a particular model of a car, a Levi’s or a Ford. And every American takes care of their jeans or car, the phrase “I am erca” from “America” now splintering into “Jean care,” “care” embedding “car” and “ear” as well. (“America” also anagrammatizes into “I camera.”)

The car’s affinity with the diamond stylus is proved by styluses played on vinyl grooves while cars drive over asphalt roads. A car is a stylus (related to the prows of ships, ships substitutive with cars), thereby displaying the idea that a car in transit is an allegory of a diamond stylus in transit, grooves and roads the paths on which the respective objects travel along. The tire of the car is a stylus too, styluses write as do tires write, tire always already an anagram for “rite,” a homonym with “write.”

Of course Marilyn Monroe would think “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend” since within “diamonds” lies buried the “Jean” she kept buried. Marilyn Monroe’s best friend is her name “Jean” long after she had left that name for one that is new, rewritten and non-original. Marilyn will always be the friend of “Jean” since that name was bestowed to her at birth, but “Jean” never issues from her lips in her films, whereas diamonds will, djeanmonds/djeamonds/diamonds being the place of her secret name. Yet she wears jeans inThe Misfits and was married to Joe DiMaggio, “Joe,” an “O, je,” this “je” buried in “jean.” Meanwhile, Norma inSunset Boulevard falls for Joe (Gillis). Diamonds are Marilyn Monroe’s friend (Monroe’s sounding like Mon-rose) because she had lost the buried name Jean (buried in diamonds/Desmond), once stardom demanded a pseudonym.

As well, “diamonds” are going to be Marilyn’s “best friend” since the “dia” in this word can be easily transformed into “die” or its homonym, “dye” (as in hair-dye). She sung of “diamonds” and she “died,” killed herself or was murdered, along with her dyed blonde hair of the hue called “platinum,” echoing the platinum that diamond rings are set in. Norma Djeanmnnd will die young and she will dye her hair. Americans will love (amour) jeans forever or they will love Norma Jean forever. Furthermore, they will listen to diamonds forever while wearing their blue jeans, the jeans whose ’’blue’’ color is always already in conjunction with “blue” diamonds or Neil Diamond’s “blues.”

The diamond that is worn, is also a part of the “Norma” in the Desmond/Jean constellation, “worn” a distorted anagram of “Norma” as “Morn[a]/Worn[a],” the “M” always reversible into a “W” in this mythological hieroglyphic. Worn diamonds are a translation of Norma Desmond/Jean; to wear jeans occurs when we wear diamonds, those diamonds usually styluses, the “wear” having “ear” within it for wearing jeans occurs when our ears hear diamonds as we dance in nightclubs in our jeans.

Maybe the ultimate mystery in “jean” is its refraction into “jest,” “r” a truncated “n”; the ear and the meanings that issue forth from this aperture are always the most unconscious, “jear”/“I ear”/“I hear”/“I here”/“I am” accounting for the unconscious in “jean.” (“Jear” is close to “year”; we wear our jeans for years, our diamond styluses last for years; the fading of our jeans took years, etc.)

The above is a cryptonomy of the word “jean,” the secret surname of one of America’s legends, Marilyn Monroe. That word is thus in intimate conjunction with the word “diamond,” but what are the other facets of the diamond, this jewel whose letters can gleam like jewels?

After all this discussion of the “dia” in this word, what about the “monds” in “diamonds”? Monde is French for world, in German Mond is its word for moon. But none of these words confirm the sound-related nature of diamonds. “Monds” is simply a refraction thrown off by the word “sound.” (Yes, “sound” can sound differently.) Already the closest anagram from “intends” to sound is “somnd.” We can obtain “sownd” (reversing the “m” again). “Sownd” is the closest to “sound,” sound is phonetically “sownd,” the “on” of “sound” having an “ow” sound. “Diamonds” gleam like the diamond into “dia-sound,” or “dias-sound,” a dias or podium or stylus like the diamond.

Dia, respelled into die, is now in association with sound, producing “die sound.” In Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend, the advent of a “girl’s” death has diamonds to prevent its approach. The die sound/diamond(s) speaks of death at the very moment it assures the girl of life, security, attractiveness. She may begin to look old, but diamonds prevent that aging, this symbol for steadfast love ignores flesh’s decay (diamonds, like love, are forever) while reminding ourselves that its ring(ing) and singing is death, diamonds, a “die sound.” (The author’s name will ring throughout his lifetime “Duncan Smith,” or “D.S.,” a die sound.)

When Norma Jean/Marilyn Monroe sings “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’’ we do not notice the “are” is an anagram for “ear.” Of course the diamond is in our ear, particularly when we hear, “Diamonds Ear a Girl’s Best Friend.” But what probably happens is that girls get earrings, diamond earrings, a demand they place on the partner who has assimilated their “cry” for diamonds. But the “demand” resounds with “diamond,” here the “diamond demand” an allophonic tautology. Girls demand diamonds, they cry for diamonds.

Diamonds, too, are a girl’s best friend only when we bear in mind that a gift is implied, the demand for a gift fulfilled, the diamond for a gift, here diamonds, fulfilled. (“TGIF”, an anagram for “gift,” is an abbreviation for “Thank God It’s Friday,” the Friday evening when people go to dance halls to listen to music played by diamonds.) But what returns? Surely not diamonds in the form of rings, earrings, magical powders or money, but the paltry substitute of just the music, the “ring” of a diamond stylus, the “ring” in the ear, the “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” played over the film sound track, record player or radio. Without diamonds, girls settle on diamond styluses, the invisible ear-ring. The song “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” thus confirms that the mere hearing of the song is the fulfillment of the diamond demand, the only diamond obtained being the “ring” in the air or in the ear in light of the absence of a “ring” on one’s finger. At the moment Marilyn Monroe strikes one’s ear, a diamond hovers, propelling the deprived listener a vague sense that their friend, whoever it may be, is nearby.

Everybody Wants Exposure by Duncan Smith
​Marilyn Monroe 001
The Kardashians by Brienne Walsh, Chelsea Knight & Elise Rasmussen
Kardashians 01

“They own their own image. In a world where image is everything, that’s a very serious kind of ownership.”

Everybody Wants Exposure by Duncan Smith
​Marilyn Monroe 001

When photographs are developed the originally white printing paper becomes impressed with the effects of light upon it. 

Natasha Stagg’s Sleeveless by Eugenie Dalland
Sleeveless Cover

Stagg’s essays, stories, and profiles on art and fashion speak to the new spaces and meanings created by the Internet.

Originally published in

BOMB 1, Spring 1981

Betsy Sussler by Craig Gholson, Carl Apfelschnitt by Sarah Charlesworth, Michael McClard by Kathy Acker, Eric Mitchell, Becky Johnston, and Amos Poe. Cover design by Sarah Charlesworth.

Read the issue
001 Spring 1981