Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Orwell on Dali

As mentioned on one of the comment threads below, the on-going case of Roman Polanski, and the indulgence some are prepared to hand him over the small matter of drugging and raping a child, reminded me of Orwell's essay 'Benefit of Clergy', on the subject of Salvador Dali. It's a favourite essay of mine, because it made me think in a different way about something, and made me see the decadence all around us that we have been conditioned to accept almost unconsciously.

Here's the first paragraph - read the rest here.

"Autobiography is only to be trusted when it reveals something disgraceful. A man who gives a good account of himself is probably lying, since any life when viewed from the inside is simply a series of defeats. However, even the most flagrantly dishonest book (Frank Harris's autobiographical writings are an example) can without intending it give a true picture of its author. Dali's recently published LIFE comes under this heading. Some of the incidents in it are flatly incredible, others have been rearranged and romanticised, and not merely the humiliation but the persistent ORDINARINESS of everyday life has been cut out. Dali is even by his own diagnosis narcissistic, and his autobiography is simply a strip-tease act conducted in pink limelight. But as a record of fantasy, of the perversion of instinct that has been made possible by the machine age, it has great value... (cont)"

(Click here for explanation of the term 'benefit of clergy') (pic)

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