Baby Boomers '52

Born a third the way into the 18-year Boom

we 1952-ers travel just ahead of the crest of the wave . . .

. . . we're the froth.

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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Leaving Salvador Dali's House

It is a long time now since leaving Salvador Dali's home.

Of course. How else would it be? At its most concrete, time is ephemeral; once an instant passes, once a breath passes, then the time of now is gone.

When that instant was,
when that breath was,
that is what time becomes.
Here and now
whatever time was
time is now ago
And there it will stay forever.

But is it gone?

The heads atop Salvador and Gala Dali's home still overlook the Mediterranean Port Lligat, even if the lens that captured this moment is not there.
They are there.
They are not ago.
This photograph is real,
right now.

You can't really help yourself thinking like this after you've been to Salvador Dali's house, the timelessness of it is omnipresent. Rock. Sea. Sun.

Surrealism arrived about the time scientists started adding dimensions to the long held Reality of Three. Come to find out, as the 20th Century rolled along, Time, the absolute yardstick of Life, and thus of Death, was bendable.

Up until then Life was measured in what seemed a one-dimensional way, Time was so one dimensional it wasn't even considered a dimension. Then, Wham!
Not only is Time dimensional, it's such a flexible dimension it can verily double back on itself.

Freud, whom Dali called "my father," found the same thing in the human psyche: Time stretches -- forward, backward, every which where. Memory, conscious and un-, overtakes even the all-powerful present and spills forward into dreams, and obsessions, carving out needs even before desire arises; shaping our destinies.

Dali's best known canvas is about Time and titled The Persistence of Memory.

Perhaps there is no true leaving of Salvador and Gala Dali's house.
It is like the inside of a very bright egg, a stucco cocoon full of open-air windows.
The eccentric couple bought it as a fisherman's hut in 1930 and began shaping it around themselves.

Like the artist and his muse, the house is unusual, its impact sensual and breathtaking.

Although shuffled in, shuffled through, shuffled out the door,
the timelessness of sea and sun and stone remains. Either in memory or planted by Dali whose so named "Paranoid Critical Method" called upon his own "irrational knowledge" to trigger the release of others' -- this was the method to seeing Reality in its multiple Dimensions. Surreal.

The home is as though stucco grew around the light and sheltered the correct womb for Dali's studio, rigged for accommodating even huge canvases; then a few stucco stairs -- this is all white. White, white, white, white -- and it is the right place for the shelf for the stuffed swans and there a small altar space for some shells.

It is right to say Dali's home/studio grew organically -- as if the stucco grew around Dali's outrageous genius made live from the brimming brew of the omnipresent Gala.

Just to convey again: The ceiling, the stairs, the walls are white. They are white, white, white, white, white.

It is the same white hot light inside as out.

Egg atop the summer dining room
Anchors the courtyard.
Sun, sun, sun.
Sea, sea, sea.

Then something else. Georgia O'Keeffe?

Then inside, a grand piano, nestled and defunct within crumbling rock.

Meanwhile, playing on the white, white, white stucco wall is The Magician himself.

It would be easy to dismiss Salvador Dali on so many levels -- as George Orwell tried in 1946 in an essay discussing Dali's promiscuous and distasteful subjects:

He is a symptom of the world's illness. The important thing is not to denounce him as a cad who ought to be horsewhipped, or to defend him as a genius who ought not to be questioned, but to find out why he exhibits that particular set of aberrations.

But by the next decade, as time warped and dreams became potentially more real than what had once been Reality, Dali added complex mathematics and Einstein and DNA theories into the visionary work he produced on canvas and in objects; seeking to provoke in others the "irrational knowledge" that layers our Reality and telescopes our vision into other Dimensions.

Perhaps, to try to answer Mr. Orwell from this more distant vantage, from the future, Dali is trying to warn us of something.


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