Dali’s timepiece in a world of strange places

Well, I’m finally back on the Internet. Somewhat intermittently, but here. I’m still handicapped. My wonderful scanner broke en route. My poor packing techniques, no doubt. Anyway, that will cut down significantly on the pictures I can include in these posts.

The intermittent quality of my Internet experience probably has to do with Hughesnet’s poor saucer. The thing is lost in a fog today, as am I. A cold low-hanging mist veils the woods around the house. Where I lived in California, being shrouded in fog was not uncommon, but I was surrounded by other houses and other people who were similarly cut off from the world. Here, today, my chief company consists of red squirrels and chickadees.

Which brings me to the subject of today’s post. What shall we call the world around us when it’s unfamiliar? “Surreal”signifies a weirdness that’s made up of unlikely combinations of elements. Limp watches in a barren landscape. A red PT Cruiser in the snow (okay, not yet, but soon!). Not altogether unlike my present situation, but the weirdness lies more in my not being used to my surroundings. I’m the odd element instead of the limp watch or the dirty red Cruiser.

This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons. Information from its description page is shown here. Commons is a freely licensed media file repository. You can help. Salvador Dalí. (Spanish, 1904-1989). The Persistence of Memory. 1931. Oil on canvas. Salvador Dalí, Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

When we’re used to things, when they’re as familiar as old clothes, old wallpaper or mashed potatoes, when day after day they lie close to hand—we wear them, live in them, eat them—we almost don’t see them anymore they’re so much part of us. Travel brings us to another reality where the houses may seem as unlikely to us as Dali’s limp timepiece. Where, if we’re not careful we could, like Alice in Wonderland, begin to lose ourselves.

The same phenomenon occurs when we buy something new. For a few hours, or even a few days or weeks, it keeps its newness and everything around it shares in the wonderful shine that new things have. But all too soon, it’s worn and familiar.

But back to the more wrenching experience of a new environment, an experience that reveals how vulnerable we are. How much our identity is wrapped up in places and their trappings.

And, in the case of artists of every kind, if they’re involved in bringing together what has been disparate, if they’re creating new places and new worlds, how very, very vulnerable they are!

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4 thoughts on “Dali’s timepiece in a world of strange places

  1. Good post–this blog is fascinating.
    I’ve just prepared my place for winter–the old white rug is down, and I got a small red one to cover the hole in it. The bright pink satin spread is on the futon in the bedroom, made for me by my Gambian friend and sent to me last year (I wouldn’t have chosen pink, but it is bright indeed, and unusual). There are always some changes, but the main thing is it gets dark early and I don’t care–I’m cheered by all the brightness and color in the house. But then, I’ve got long roots here.

  2. Welcome back to Vermont! I see on Google maps that we’re living at opposite ends of the state. I do get up to King Arthur Flour every now and then, so maybe we could meet for tea. There’s a book I want to suggest to you, but would rather do it through email. I assume your old address won’t work. Can you send me the new one? Thanks. Best wishes in your new home. paula at Birds

    • Thank you so much for the words of welcome. So far my old address is still working, but I feel a bit shaky about it! King Arthur sounds like a good idea, maybe next spring??? Elaine

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