The Ministry of Information

We should be grateful to the Spanish painter Salvador Dalí, (1904-1989), not only for hundreds of his incomparable visions, but also for the dozens of the prescient, and usually witty, remarks he uttered during his time with us on earth. Probably the most well-known is: “I don’t take drugs. I am drugs.”

My favorite quote, however, is this one: “So little that can happen does…. For instance, when you order lobster in a restaurant, why don’t you get instead a telephone book on fire?”
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Body of Fate

It seems natural that visual artists, painters, film makers and photographers, would be most interested in painting or photographing what they can see.  In other words, revealing what’s “real.

However, many artists are intrigued by what we can’t see, by what is hidden from our sight. We’re aware of the presence of something– in ourselves or out-there somewhere– but we can’t see it. How do we then give it a form; how do we reveal it so that other people can be as aware of its presence as we are?

Here’s a poem by the Nobel prize-winning Spanaird, Juan Ramón Jiménez  (1881-1958) that points to the heart of the matter (translated by Robert Bly):

I am not I.

I am this one
walking beside me whom I do not see,
whom at times I manage to visit,
and whom at other times I forget;
who remains calm and silent while I talk,
and forgives, gently, when I hate,
who walks where I am not,
who will remain standing when I die.

The first response of many of us is to demand answers: what in the world is he talking about? The spirit? Life after death? The soul? Reincarnation? Where do Jesus, or Buddha fit into all of this?
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