What I Learned From Salvador Dali
The lovely Robert Hruzek over at Middle Zone Musings organises a regular group writing project in which the title always begins with ‘What I Learned From…’ followed by that month’s theme. This month, the theme is ‘What I Learned From… People’. I’ve never participated in one of Robert’s writing projects, but I knew I wanted to contribute a post to this one, so I’ve been wracking my brain trying to think who I should focus on. I considered family members, colleagues, past teachers, and current teachers, and although all of these people in my life have taught me more than I could possibly sum up in a blog post, I wanted to choose a personality that everyone would recognise. As the title of this post suggests, I ultimately chose Salvadore Dali.
Now this might seem a somewhat surreal(!) choice to make, but what led me to it was the following YouTube clip.
This is a 10 min clip of Dali as the guest on the 1950’s American show ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’ that I found on haha.nu this morning, and which made me laugh uproariously! The premise of the programme is that the four panelists are required to ask questions concerning the identity of the guest, and the guest must answer them with a “yes” or a “no”. What tickled me so much about his appearance on the show, is that his unwillingness to categorise himself leads to the panelists’ utter confusion. He does not conform to the tight constrictions of a pigeonhole, therefore making it extremely difficult for the panelists to discern his identity and his occupation. When asked if he’s a writer, he responds, “Yes”. When asked if he’s a sportsman, he says, “Yes”. When asked if he’s a performer, he says, “Yes”. Dali conceived of himself as possessing many roles, but what he always was, was himself. As he once famously said, “Each morning when I awake, I experience again a supreme pleasure – that of being Salvador Dali.”
Now, I am not for one minute suggesting that when I rather ingloriously drag myself out of the depths of sleep at 6.30am, that I also bask in the ‘supreme pleasure’ of being Amy. What I learned from Dali has more to do with his determination not to close off any avenues to opportunity, to creativity, to self-expression and that rather than focussing on one area and truly excelling at it, that I should, perhaps, focus more on excelling at being me.
I think this line of thought has partly arisen because lately I’ve been considering the evolution of this blog, as I tried to come up with a way to encapsulate what I do here in one concise sentence. I always find that if I can articulate a project in one sentence, then I know that I have a good understanding of it. However, I’ve always really struggled to do this when I try and explain to someone what I blog about. After watching this Dali clip, I feel that I have a better grasp of what it is I do here. I haven’t yet condensed it into a sentence, but I know that it has to do with my own determination not to close off any avenues to opportunity, creativity and self-expression, whilst simultaneously hoping to inspire others to do the same. Its definition is tightly bound up with my own identity, rather than a niche, as such. And just as keen as I am to evade classification, I am also keen to extend this evasion to the blog itself.
So those are a few of the lessons which I learned from Dali this morning. What do you make of the clip? What lessons did you derive from it?
PS There’s more from the arch-surrealist over at the Tumblr blog.