The Unspeakable Confessions of Salvador Dali
I just finished Salvador Dali’s autobigraphy Maniac Eyeball: The Unspeakable Confessions of Salvador Dali, which was quite a trip. I appreciate his personality and his creations much more now. He has a cosmic/mystical aspect to his thinking that I didn’t fully appreciate until reading these explanations of his thinking as well as the different observations and stories of his life. He has a fixation/identification on the significance of the geometrical curvature of the horn of the rhinoceros that he sees as being extremely significant. Generally, he has a number of fixations (as many of us do) on seemingly arbitrary things observed in life that he sees as vivid, poignant clues to secret truths or whatever you might like to call them. His intensity is great and his formidable intellect makes for consistent surprises of entertaining wit and thought provoking angles. I’m not turned off entirely by egomania as long as it’s at arm’s length and there are some other details about the person’s thoughts/life/work,etc. that can be chewed on for a while. He is unapologetic and honest about his megalomania, which in this case I find kind of admirable, mostly because I feel that the strength of his ideas and the importance of his vision were worthy of the self-important, defiant force that brought it to light.
(all quotes are from p. 253, Ch. 17 in the above pictured printing of the book.)
“Each work is like a Eucharist that helps digest the real, i.e., by supplying the gastric juices with materialized images of irrationality.”
This quote strikes me in a special way because in my own life I’ve spent a fair amount lately talking with people about probiotics, amino acids, fermented foods, etc. which help break down nutritional elements in the body for full digestion/assimilation into the system. I apply my thoughts about the magic of digesting physical matter into the human body to the concept of “digesting” thoughts and it makes more sense. Utilization of this analogy is the raw apple cider vinegar that my brain takes with the bites of thought about Dali’s use of “materialized images of irrationality” to digest reality.
“We are at the borderline of dematerialization of matter by the sole power of the mind. Beyond, there are only energy and life tamed and maintained in artificial shapes.”
This sort of reminds me of some ideas in Carlos Castanada’s books, as well as a zillion other mystical pieces of thought by other people. Mainly what brings the Castanada reference for me is the implication that the first sentence is literally true. Otherwise maybe we’ve got Plato’s allegory of the cave, an idea I remember from Black Elk Speaks (“Crazy Horse dreamed and went into the world where there is nothing but the spirits of all things. That is the real world that is behind this one, and everything we see here is something like a shadow from that one.” ) or that sort of thing going on. I was caught off guard to find that he thought about these things so much, though not really too surprised. That he is always surprising becomes not surprising.
He talks about his relationships with Picasso, Andre Breton, Coco Chanel, and a number of other interesting characters that I previously knew little to nothing about.
He talks about his childhood, his sexual awakening, his peculiar sexual turn-ons and habits, the development of his artistic vision, and many other aspects of his life in a chronologic line relative to each work as he created. There’s a good amount of background/insight provided for his major works, and information about some lesser known works that I found illuminating.
The book is an entertaining and invigorating read if you like eccentricity, explosive zest for life, weird art, Spanish culture, fetishism, mysticism, scatology…