Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Read Dali's surrealist lips

I've been doing some research today on false memory and autobiography in order to generate a list of good books to include in my current project. I came accross a whole mess of articles about how Dali, along with so many others, has written a memoir called The Secret Life of Salvador Dali that is absolutely littered with false narratives and permutations of actual events. A lot of press and public opinion reported feelings that Dali was a pretty sick and evil man to have intentionally lied about his life, which I thought was really interesting. I mean, look at the guys paintings-- did they really expect a chronological and dry rendition of autiobiographical events?

According to one article (although, if this project is teaching me anything it is to doubt the sanctity and truth of things that I read) Salvador DalĂ­ once wrote the following, "The difference between false memories and true ones is the same as for jewels: it is always the false ones that look the most real, the most brilliant." Isn't that lovely? Who can hate a man who writes such eloquent things, even if he does make psychedelic paintings?

One of the funniest parts of my readings on Dali was the criticism on his 'feeble attempts to validate his own sexual impotency by attributing them to Freudian analysis of his own childhood.' First of all, it's amusing to me that everyone seems to know that this painter had such a hard time in the sack. Secondly, the story that Dali claims stunted his sexual performance was one describing his father leaving an illustrated medical book on the family piano, open to a page on venereal disease in order to scare his sons' pants on. I understand the critics incredulity, but find their nastiness directed towards Dali totally warranted-- I mean, everyone tries to make sense of their insecurities by evaluating the past through their incredibly selective memories. I think that I started stealing things when I was little because my brother Will was born, but that doesn't mean I was stealing things because he was born-- the two events just coincide, and it makes sense to tell them together. Autobiographies are a weird genre, and, I'll say it, perhaps an impossible one. Maybe autobiographies are the most true for the person who wrote them.

No comments: