Friday, 15 April 2011

Dinosaurs, Dali & the art of being smug

Salvidor Dali (left) goes head to head with a rhinoceros (right) 

“So it wasn't a f***ing meteor, after all!" 
Thus spoke a smug, inebriate slob of an acquaintance apropos of the news that the giant meteorite that had apparently wiped out the dinosaurs may have occurred 300,000 years after they'd disappeared.

"Let's face it", continued Mr Slobby, "they'll never know what happened, so why don't they just admit it".
"I know what happened", said I, as smugly as I could, hoping to prove that it was a commodity in which no one had a monopoly.
"Oh yeah?" said he challengingly, "so what happened, then?"

“Well”, continued I, “together with other mammals and mammal-like lizards and reptiles, such as tritylodonts and sphenodonts, not to mention primordial crusacea, heterokonts, autotrophs and protozoa, they were transmuted into a liquefied, organic substance which we call oil. This is refined from the crude state into a volatile and highly flammable product called petroleum, the fuel used to power the internal combustion engine, such as that used in automobiles, though not the very first one, which ran on alcohol, in the same way that you do. So where did the dinosaurs go? They're in your tank every time you fill up at the pump. So now you know, fatso”.

He said nothing, just 'looked at me, silent', in parody perhaps of Shakespeare’s famous stage direction from Coriolanus: ‘Holds her by the hand, silent’. Not that El Slobbo would know anything about that.

It's good to be smug from time to time, a humorous distraction. But, as we all know, amusing diversions, like vain regrets, won't get the baby washed, so I really shouldn't be indulging in idle anecdotes when I have important stuff to relate about a visit a few years ago to Salvador Dali's hometown of Figueres in Catalonia, Spain.  

Courtyard of Dali Theatre & Museum in Figueres

I can't say that I'm a huge admirer of Dali, but I was in the vicinity, and the tour guides all recommended it, so who was I to argue with that? 

The main attraction of Figueres, and the reason for my visit, is the Dali Theatre and Museum. It was opened in 1974 and is a grand looking building with a glass dome and a fine courtyard.  

The museum is home to the world’s largest collection of Dali’s works including many from the artist himself. In addition to paintings, we find collages, sculptures, mechanical creations, and a room of furniture arranged in such a way as to resemble Mae West’s face. There is a piece entitled L'espectre del sex-appeal, and a definitely not-to-be-missed exhibit in the crypt of the museum, namely the artist's final resting place, his tomb.

Mae West Room, Dali Museum

Dali has become a huge success in the corporate museum sector with branches in London, Paris, Berlin, Florida and Costa Brava, and the man has every justification to be proud of his achievement, and even - why not? - a little smug.

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