Sunday, June 10, 2007

The great masturbator, Dali

The most mesmerising and truly visually creative documentary that I recall watching for YEARS, was Dirty Dali on Channel 4 last week at midnight.
I am newly insomniac (hence this post being written long past my bedtime) and after a certain hour, all television and radio takes on a surreal visual or tonal quality.
One of my strongest and strangest memories from my late childhood was sneaking down late at night and cajoling my babysitter into letting me watch Pauline à la plage by Eric Rohmer. The treatment of an anxious and naive adolescent sexuality and its intertwining with more urgent, sordid adult desires, was something so foreign - literally- to my pre-pubescent, catholic, English sensibility. Yet at the same time I felt an immediate and intimate connection to Pauline, hot and physically opening up as her girlhood phase passed into something more serious, more exciting and risky - entailing as it did, initiation into a petty adult world of jealousies and often desperate lust.
Art critic, Brian Sewell's Dirty Dali, that I came upon past midnight - my struggling, tired self willing to be pulled into a truer, more vivid dimension, was a revelation. I would watch it again and again, because it told me little in some ways, but showed and suggested something more profound - a possibility of another sort of relationship to the material world and to the interior one. Dali was an obsessive masturbator, and liked to invite young men to lie next to his crucified Christ in the garden and masturbate, while he 'fumbled in his trousers'. Dali claimed that all geniuses were impotent. Dali was impotent. He also denied he was homosexual and married an older women who seemed to manage his affairs greatly to her own advantage and less and less with a thought to his posterity.
My only reluctant loss of innocence came when Sewell, who was long ago an intimate of Dali's over several summers, retold the story of Lorca's failed seduction - literally penetration - of Dali. I admit to feeling a little disillusioned; this was my great and beloved Lorca of Bodas de Sangre and La Casa de Bernado Alba, and the strong and beautiful Yerma. Why must I now remember him as trying to penetrate an uptight Dali?

No comments: