Memoir V: Let the Unconscious Mind Run Rampant

Before we start, Happy New Year everyone

For those who do not know, I am the chairman of my university’s Hip Hop and RnB society. As well as that, last year I was the society’s Vice President. From those two statements, you would think that I am a diehard Hip Hop/RnB fan and I am kind of However, I truly discovered the two genres when I was 17.

Around my early teens and childhood, I was listening to everything, from Chicago’s Drill artists to East Asian Composers. It was a disgustingly large range. I partially blame my mum but not in a bad way. She had a weekly “tradition”, whenever a new number one would be released. She would go to HMV and buy the song. When I was 7, she stopped doing that. In total she bought over 100 CDs. If I were to bring those CDs and play them now. We would have a few gems, but the rest would be classed under cheesy pop

By my mid-teens, I went through an electronic phase. While people my age were discovering 50 cent, Kanye West and Kid Cudi. I was listening to the likes of MGMT, La Roux and Chiddy Bang. Chiddy Bang was as close as I got to rap music, they were alternative rap

However, the one electronic artist I loved listening to and I would say religiously was the artist Adam Young or Owl City or as everyone else knows him as, the guy who sang fireflies. Adam Young’s music holds a special place in my life. Even to this day I still listen to him.What drew me to him, was the fact his lyrics and sounds would transport me to a different place.  It was a form of escapism. After listening to a song, my imagination was allowed to just bolt around freely. Song titles alone, such as “Umbrella Beach” and “Strawberry Avalanche”, dared you to dream.

I even remember 12 year old me, burning his album “Ocean Eyes” onto an empty CD. There was even a time, 14 year old me was listening to the previews of his album “All Things Bright and Beautiful”, while on a coach to Birmingham. By the time I got there, my battery was finished There were days I would put on repeat the song “Brielle”. That song came from his side project, “An Airplane Carried Me to Bed”. He recorded the album under his other name “Sky Sailing”

Moreover, as I entered year 10. I started to leave that electronic phase. I still listened to Owl City, but I was not an avid fan. He released “Midsummer Station”, which was a bit too pop for me. He then followed that, with an EP called “Ultraviolet” and that was meh. In 2015, he released the album “Mobile Orchestra” but even that was meh as well. Too Christian pop for me However last year, even though we are a day into 2019 he released the album “Cinematic”, which I was actually looking forward to. The album made me feel like the old Owl City was partially back. (Fun fact: The album was released the same day as Kanye’s “ye” album. I’ll allow you to guess which one I listened to first and which I appreciated more

This may feel like I am fanboying about Owl City, but songs like “Dreams Don’t Turn To Dust” or “Gold” or even his recent song “Winners Never Quit” from Cinematic, made me feel like I could conquer tomorrow, even though I had a rough day.

So, if Adam Young used his music as an outlet for his imagination. Then who did the equivalent for their unconscious mind, with regards to art? Because the unconscious mind is the part of the iceberg, that is under the sea. It has all our deepest, darkest and dirtiest desires. However, because of us conforming to society’s norms, those desires are kept in order and as a result gives us our conscious mind.

But enough sociology, the answer to that question in my opinion is the artist known as Salvador Dalí.

Born May 11th 1904 in Catalonia, Spain, to both Salvador Dalí Cusi and Felipa Domenech Ferres. Dalí was always a mischievous child. His mother would always spoil him rotten. His father on the other hand, was the opposite. A stern and authoritarian parental figure.

Dalí grew up in Cadaqués, Catalonia and he adored it. Even in his work, he always used the town’s coast as a source of inspiration. Fact: Cadaqués is known as the “White Pearl of The Catalan Coast”

Fast forward to 1921, and tragedy strikes Dalí. His mother, who had been battling breast cancer dies. It has a profound effect on Dalí, since the two were inseparable. His relationship with his father becomes worse; his father marries his mother’s sister, a year after her death. talk about quick recovery

1922, Dalí attends Madrid’s San Fernando Academy of Art and studies Fine Art. It is here that Dalí grows his famous persona. He was always timid and shy as a boy. But during his time at the academy, he grew out of his shell. You could even say, he got too big for his boots. Because after a couple of years he was expelled. Dalí thought the teachers were inadequate, that they could not grasp his work and talent. This seems to be a recurring trend for 19th century and 20th century artists, they’re always getting expelled from establishments

Moreover, it is around this time, that Dalí hears about the surrealism movement. He is intrigued by the movement and their values. 1929 and Dalí unveils his first film called “Un Chien Andalou”. The film is full of shock and horror; dreamlike sequences such as rotting corpses that are spewing out ants. The film for its time is a bizarre spectacle indeed. However, to his own surprise it was a success. The film received such a positive reception, that it captured the attention of Andre Breton the leader of the surrealism movement.

On a side note, during the film’s debut screening, Dalí had stones with him. This was just in case the audience booed the film. Whilst boos would fill up the room, he would throw the stones into the audience and make his escape.

1930s, Dalí is living and breathing surrealism. It is during this decade he paints his most famous piece, The Persistence of Memory (painted 1931). What I adore about this piece in particular, is the melting clocks motif. The melting clocks are like melting cheese. It’s as if Dalí is saying to the viewer; everything comes to an end, even time. The piece unapologetically says, our mortality is something we have no control over. As much as we see time as our friend. It’s this complex and abstract concept, that has its own agendas. As David Tennant once said “time is essentially wibbly wobbly timey wimey” Furthermore, if you look to the right upper corner, you can see a yellow cliff; this is probably inspired from the cliffs found in Cadaqués, Dalí’s hometown.


1934, Dalí marries his wife Gala. Gala definitely played an instrumental role in Dalí’s life. She handled all of Dalí’s finances and managed his career up until her death. 1936, Dalí appears at an international surrealist exhibition in London. His attire, a diving suit. As well as that, during that year he appeared on Times Magazine. Dalí would go on to appear on the magazine, 6 times within his lifetime

Moreover, during this decade, Dalí became so invested in surrealism, that he came up with his own technique called Paranoia Critical Method. He wrote papers on this and other related topics. Once published, an enthusiastic Dalí relentlessly asked Fraud to read his work.

Although, not all of Dalí’s work was met with a warm attitude. 1934, he was summoned by André Breton. Why? Dalí included Hitler in his work. A man who was a symbol of fascism, in a surrealist work. No chance Breton was disgusted and wanted answers from Dalí immediately. As Dalí continued to be controversial in his work, it led the movement to eventually expel him.

1940 and World War 2 sweeps over Europe. Dalí creates a response to the war, The Face of War (painted 1940). This piece cleverly puts it’s point across about the effects on war on the human body. It would be easy for Dalí to paint a human body missing some limbs, but instead he uses a different approach. Trypophobia, the phobia of irregular clusters of small holes. By Dalí doing this, it causes me and other viewers to feel uneasy. Faces with holes that have faces coming out of those holes. It is trypophobia at its finest.


Moreover, Dalí and Gala did not stay in war torn Europe, they fled to the States. While there, he made Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening (painted 1944). The piece is dreamlike indeed. A pomegranate, evolving into a fish which evolves into a tiger and then into a gun pointed at a naked woman. It’s simply wonderful nonsense, an impossible world drawn in such a realistic way.


Moreover, when Dalí arrived in America, he set his sights on the film industry. 1944, famous English director Alfred Hitchcock calls Dalí to work on the dream sequence for the film “Spellbound”. People at the time thought this was done for publicity. But Hitchcock defended his actions by stating, “It was Dalí’s ability to show the vividness of dreams”.

1945 and Japan faces its darkest time, the detonation of the atomic bomb. Dalí was fascinated by the destructive power of the atom. He referred to this phenomenon as “nuclear mysticism” and this fascination even spilled into his work. 1946 and at this point you would think fame fatigue would set in, but no. Dalí is still hungry. He now turns his attention to animation and begins working with Walt Disney.

By the 1950s, Dalí began to develop an interest in religion. He produced both, Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubicus) (painted 1954) and Christ of Saint John of the Cross (painted 1951).Both pieces present an interesting interpretation to the crucifixion. In Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubicus) Christ is on a polytetrahedron. If you focus on the picture you can see Gala looking onwards at Christ. Perhaps Gala is taking the role of Mary. What we see in this piece, is the mixing of both mathematics and religion.


With Christ of Saint John of the Cross, we see a crucified Christ in a black sky. With his crucifix and body hovering over a coast. You could argue that Dalí is showing the ascension of Christ. Or in fact, a dying Christ visiting his hometown, Cadaqués.


This new found interest in religion was so powerful, that he decided to remarry Gala in a catholic church. This was an interesting move by Dalí, because when he joined the surrealist movement he denounced ideas such as religion, family and his birthplace Catalonia.

The turn of the 60s and Dalí is still pushing boundaries, he is exploring concepts such as space and science. He starts delving into the idea of immortality. During this decade he begins working on what would eventually become the “Dalí Theatre Museum”. By this decade, Dalí is an international star. He is assisting and appearing in adverts. For instance, he designs the “Chupa Chups” logo and even works on a Eurovision advert. Nothing is uncharted territory for the artist.

1980 and Dalí returns to Catalonia, with his health declining tremendously, the artist senses death to be imminent. The idea of immortality plagues the artist during his elder age, like all of humans, Dalí just can’t accept the end.  1982 and Gala dies. Dalí enters a deep state of melancholy and refuses to leave his house.

January 23rd 1989 and Dalí dies from a heart attack. Originally, he wanted to be buried next to his wife. However, before his death he changes his mind and asks to be buried in his museum. What I find interesting, is that the Dalí Theatre Museum is both his own museum and his own mausoleum. For a man who always searched for the answer to immortality, he essentially found it. Bury yourself with your work

When I look at the life of Salvador Dalí, I see this young timid teenager, who’s experimenting with art. As a teenager, Dalí’s work would range from impressionism to cubism. However, when he discovers the surrealist movement, I see a man who evolved into this mad yet playful individual who revolutionised the world and it’s thinking. Dalí was an individual who was meticulous when it came to his work. At times he would even paint with a magnifying glass.

Dalí adored fame. He captured his audience with his absurd antics and enlightened them with his work. He and along with many surrealists, taught the world to appreciate the bizarre, unexpected and the irrational.

I personally think all the fashion fanatics, the Lady Gagas and our current advertisement industry owe him a great debt.

Like any human, Dalí was not a perfect individual. During his life he did some questionable things. On one occasion he dashed a bag of sperm at his father. In fact, he even urinated on Warhol’s work. But as he rightfully said, “There is only one difference between a madman and me. The madman thinks he is sane. I know I am mad.”.

All in all, Dalí was a person who mastered the element of surprise. But most importantly, as the title of this memoir states, he let his unconscious mind run rampant.

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