Posted by: admin
Perhaps my favorite work of Dali is The Metamorphosis of Narcissus (1936). Dali once remarked that the work was concerned with death and petrifaction of Narcissus (narcissism), and his transformation into a flower. Because Narcissus was so in love with his own reflection in a pool of water, because he could not touch the reflection he suffered, thus the gods “punished” him by transforming him into a flower. Let us use some psychology to attempt to understand what Dali’s goal was when painting this masterpiece.
Narcissism is the idea that one projects a “self” and broadcast this self out into the world. One wants everyone to believe what he or she believes himself to be. Let us be clear that this doesn’t necessarily mean egotistical, that just means believing you are best. One can have self beliefs that are negative, perhaps “I’m an unhappy and lonely, and I suffer for my art”, or positive “I deserve everyone’s respect and my emotions are important.” Whether or not the statesmen reflect something that is actually true in that person’s life is not important, it is the relationship we have with those statements. It is the idea that we want others to believe this about us, it isn’t good enough to just be those things, but have others know we are those things. In doing so we tend to objectify others (and ourselves) and because of this objectification we are unable to connect with others completely thus we suffer. In the painting Narcissus cannot actually connect or embrace his reflection, though he tries. This is akin to making others believe in what we want them to believe. While we might believe to convince maybe people we are a person, that person is ultimately an illusion. There is no “self” out there. Narcissus suffers because he wants so badly to have this self. Think about your fantasy life, the one you usually think about throughout the day; what my perfect significant other should be like, if only I had more money, if only I had a better this, lost some weight, it goes on and on. We want this things, but we don’t want to work for them, and usually we want this things so other’s notice them.
Dali beautifully portrays this struggle. Solidified is Narcissus, he is stuck viewing only his “reflective” self. We see his future life as a flower; he is transformed into an image of beauty. The flower though is less of a rebirth than a human, Narcissus had digressed in his life, he turned into just an image of beauty and nothing else. The flower, while beautiful, cannot really do anything else. This painting is Dali’s attempt to bring fourth powerful ideas set by Freud. His message here is that we transform into what we meditate on, going out and doing the actual things we want will makes us greater than we imagined. To be Narcissus is simple to contemplate on what we want, to evolve beyond that, we must actually go out there and do it.
What’s your favorite Dali???
Posted by: seanmitchell
“I know what I am eating, I don’t know what I am doing” – Salvador Dali
Pulpo y scorpa -1922