How Dalí Can Help Us Remember Our Joy
by Thea Fiore-Bloom, PhD
When was the last time you created something that made you laugh out loud or blush?
Constant work “building our online platform,” can leave us dull as dirt.
Fear too, can dampen down the once healthy fire that got us to jump up and join the dance of art in the first place.
When things get scary or stale we could allow Salvador Dalí (1904-1989) to give us a push back into the kiddy pool of wonder.
If this Dr. Suessian surrealist can’t inspire us to undo a few buttons and have some damn fun — we got issues.
6 Surreal Things You Don’t Know About Dalí
Fact 1. Dalí Thought Divinity Resided in the Cauliflower and He Had A Point
In 1955 Dalí drove a Rolls Royce Phantom packed with 500 Kilograms of Cauliflower from his home in Spain to the Sorbonne in Paris to deliver a lecture.
Dalí told Mike Wallace he chose the cauliflower because he was fond of its geometric curve (Fibonacci Sequence .)
During his talk Dalí pounded a breadcrumb strewn podium and declared universal energy departs via an exit in Vermeer’s painting “The Lace Maker,” but in the end, “everything ends up in the cauliflower.”
Tip 1 For Creatives: Practice Believing Your Obsessions Are Cool
People still talk about the cauliflower incident not just because it was a sensational stunt. The story is retold because Dalí’s obsessions were funny and fascinating.
Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins is a comic ode to another vegetable you’d think no one cared about— the beet. It’s one of the bestselling magical realism books ever.
There are other people out there equally fascinated by the passions you think only interest you.
Showcase your ardor for science, history, design, literature or music in your art.
Fact 2. Dalí’s Morning Spiel Was A Shocker
What do you say to yourself when you get up every morning?
Does it involve swear words?
Something like this ditty Dalí used, might be a fun way to start your day in future:
“Every morning upon awakening, I experience a supreme pleasure: that of being Salvador Dalí, and I ask myself, wonderstruck, what prodigious thing will he do today, this Salvador Dalí?”
Tip 2 For Creatives: Practice Speaking About Yourself in the 3rd Person
Read the quote again but substitute your whole name for Salvador Dali’s name.
Come on, Shaquille O’Neal speaks in the 3rd person to millions.
You can try it once in private. I did. I laughed out loud.
It’s liberating to even pretend to have tremendous confidence.
Fact 3. Dali Beamed after Freud Called Him A Fanantic
Sigmund Freud’s daring focus on dreams and sexuality made him a hero of Dalí’s.
Freud had Dalí to tea in his home outside of London on a July afternoon in 1938.
The father of psychoanalysis whispered to a colleague at the tea: “This boy looks like a fanatic.”
Supposedly, when word got back about this to Dalí, the artist was delighted.
Dalí admired madmen for their creativity and was fond of saying: “The only difference between me and a madman is that I’m not mad.”
Tip 3 For Creatives: Practice Being Immune To Being Called Crazy
Can you imagine possessing the security not be crushed by a judgment or criticism visited upon you by a massive authority figure or personal hero?
I think many extraordinary artists over time have purposefully grown healthy, hard shells because they didn’t want emotional upset to keep hurling them off the scent of what truly mattered–their work.
Fact 4 Dalí’s Marketing Was Not Separate From His Art
To the right you see a video still in which Dalí and his wife Gala are bursting out of a giant, milk-filled egg at the seashore.
Just another day for Dalí.
How liberating would it be if we all had the guts to do promo pieces where we jumped out of giant things like cakes or eggs and didn’t care if people thought we were kooks?
Tip 4 For Creatives
Practice Injecting Your Marketing With As Much Creativity As You Do Your Art
Infuse your marketing with as much joy, whimsy, wonder or pathos as you do your art.
The more we allow our marketing to be an authentic extension of our art and a celebration of our unique creativity, the less it will be a dreaded chore.
Fact 5. Dalí Bombed “What’s My Line?”
Dalí appeared as a guest on “What’s My Line?”. It was a classy, pre-internet, game show where a panel deduced the identity of a guest by peppering them with questions.
In 1957, blindfolded panelist Arlene Francis asked Dalí: “Would you be considered a leading man?” He answered— “Yes.” Much to the abject frustration of host John Charles Daly, Dalí went on to answer yes to almost every question posed by the panel, including:
“Are you a professional athlete?” And, “Do you perform in less clothes than you are wearing here tonight?”
Tip 5 For Creatives: Practice Shocking Others
I love Dalí for answering not as a Hollywood suck-up, but as a surrealist who saw everything humorously.
If his answers provoked, fine. In fact Dalí said:
“El que quiere interesar a los demás tiene que provocarlos.”
“He who wishes to interest other people needs to provoke them,” said Dalí.
If you are playful (and most creatives are) stay playful. Keep being your naturally charming, provocative or outrageous self.
Contrary to what relatives at the holiday table said, you can succeed in business by being yourself. In our line of work it’s often a plus.
Fact 6. Dalí Was a Polymath Who Tried Almost Everything
You may know Dalí made 1,5oo paintings.
He also designed the dream sequence for Hitchcock’s “Spellbound,” did a shocker of a window for Bonwit Teller and excelled in mixed media (see lobster phone).
He co-designed couture (like a fab inkwell hat and the”Lobster Dress” with Elsa Schiaparelli), and invented products like a transparent mannequin aquarium filled with live goldfish.
Dalí created historic films with Luis Bunuel. He invented the Lips Sofa (below).
But were you aware Dalí also wrote two works of fiction?
The first being his autobiography, The Secret Life of Salvador Dali; a refreshing read that scholars say has a very loose relationship to the truth.
The second was the novel Hidden Faces, a story of the dazzling intrigues among a circle of eccentric aristocrats.
Dali’s surrealist cult cookery book Les Diners de Gala includes an aphrodisia chapter and has original illustrations that some say lean toward cannibalism. It was recently re-published by Taschen.
Consider trying out an alternate set of creative muscles.
Writers benefit from making art and art journals .
What would it be like for artists to humorously create a mini-memoir, like the daring Dalí, that contained say, at most, 20 % truth?
Maybe a project like that is going too far.
But when people accused Salvador Dalí of “going too far,” he would reply: “It’s the only place I ever wanted to go.”
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*This post is dedicated to my friends, Lyn Matsuda Norton and William Norton, whose encouragement and wry humor are always a tonic.
Has Dalí ever inspired you? Tell me how in comment section below!
Bonus Link: 2 minute interview clip with poet Danez Smith on how creatives can use surrealism to benefit society: