A Morning with a Young Salvador Dali

A work of fiction.

The sun is rising and the buildings are casting magnificent shadows upon the water. The humid summer air smells of salt water and shellfish as I approach the shore. The bay's surface is surprisingly flat and calm. There are white rocky islands in the distance. Each is powerfully pushing out of the water to assume their proud stance one by one. To gaze at them is to be transported to another world.

"There he is! The man I have been waiting for." The row boat comes sliding ashore carrying a slender man with slick black hair and piercing eyes. “Como Estas Senor!  Hace calor afuera pero el día es hermoso! As-tu tes pinceaux? Do you have your brushes? Habla Anglais? Si? Oui?! Are you ready to do important work?” he says with a quick discerning glance, a whole lot of rolled R's, and a preoccupation with a list of things he means to do. He seems to be enthusiastically fascinated by the great potential for confusion and chooses to embrace the language barrier by communicating with a heavily accented Spanglish at best. Whether or not he is able to speak eloquent English seems to be irrelevant at this point as the man is getting his boat ready for launch once again and gesturing an invite to me to leave shore with him. I grab my bag and enter the boat enthusiastically.

As soon as the man rows past the first marker, our interaction slows to a patient drift. As we float along the water, the conversation seems stern in tone but casual and otherwise playful in subject.

As I wonder if i’m hearing him correctly, the man lets me know about his plans to visit a place where dreams and waking-life overlap.

He tells of a place he keeps a pet rhinoceros, giant hedgehogs, a flaming giraffe, and an island where the people have no faces. Seeing I am at loss for words, we both revel in a wonderful confusion with broken speech. After sharing some laughs, I tell him I am inspired to paint and I would like to pick up my supplies at the lodge on the way. He doesn’t give me the chance and takes a seemingly unplanned route. I see he has already brought supplies as i spot him gripping a sketchbook with ink. He hands me a large quill nib pen.

Now since the boat is clear from obstructions and land on all sides, we silently gaze into the passing landscape for several moments. All of a sudden, contrary to what I would have expected from our earlier experience, with his moustache sharpened, Senor asks me a question in plain English. “What did you dream about just now?” I was dreaming! I saw a fish with its fin gripping a stick and swimming forward from a bulbous heart-shaped object. I feel compelled to and take up the pen to draw what I can remember of the fleeting vision while our rowboat continues to slowly float across the water. As I draw, my companion has begun truncating my attention by speaking understandable English, and the sketchbook gets little to no attention but the drawing happens nonetheless. Our conversation diverts to interpreting and theorizing about the work of the early psychologists (namely Jung and Freud), painters like Magritte, Bosch, Chirico, the Impressionists, Turner, Japanese print-makers, what it means to be avant-garde , Dadaism, Surrealism, "the Womb", and on and on as the rocks floating by seem to get bigger and more extreme in their forms. I see a rock that looks like a penguin and I begin to draw while the conversation drifts with the boat into the calmer and more casual. I soon realize my companion is sleeping. I recount the situation to myself in bizarre disillusionment since I have not touched the rows at all up until this point. As we float along, I decide to take the time to elaborate on some of the drawings I started.

As I gaze at the landmasses passing by, images are seen in the landscapes: reclining female nudes, distorted faces, lizards, and desert sand-dunes in the water. I’m dying to spend the time and render meticulously but the glimpses of parallel visions just keep coming one after another. I don’t put down the pen. I see a white rock that resembles a rhinoceros. As we float past it, our new perspective clearly reveals the rhinoceros to be eating out of the hands of another rock that has a happily long and pointy moustache. I look over at the man who I thought was sleeping. Startlingly, he is now wide awake and looking straight at me. He enthusiastically and happily remarked as if some great success had been achieved but his speech was a stream of words that may have contained some Spanish but I surely, wouldn’t have had hope of understanding. I consider asking him if he had dreamt but I held back out of embarrassment for not understanding the language he chose to use and impatience for being promised so much but receiving little more than a boat ride "around the mulberry bush" with a sleeping guide.

He diverts us to land and escorts me off the boat. We walk past the rocky waterside and up an enormous grassy hill. At this point I am psyched and ready to see just a fraction of the wonderful things he said he would show me. We arrive at a one-room house of simultaneous curvilinear structure and angular shape. I walk into the room and the whole thing is arranged like a face with the two windows for eyes, fireplace for a nose and a bed for a mouth. This is introduced to me as my friend's working space.  “I see no easels or benches or even chairs! All I see here is a bed” I said.  “Precisely!” he responds.

Estimating about 11 to noon or so, I look at my clock, which happens to have melted off the surface of my arm.

Having gotten over the alarming sight of my time-piece, and reveling in good company, time itself, however, seems to been forgotten. We have been enjoying hard-boiled-eggs while discussing passionately some kind of scheme; the engineering of an intentional dream space for visionary purposes. We continue at length as we pool our stories and hypotheticals of trial and error. We seem to both enjoy the idea of a room where we allow ourselves to have parallel visions in and paint what we see in place. After a long-winded discussion about the day and having satisfyingly taught his "Paranoiac Critical Method", Dali finishes his egg and walks over to an enormous paint brush with black ink. He grips the brush, laps up some black, and as if a master duelist handling a sword, he broadly, quickly, and intently marks the scene with his name. He then walks outside as I contemplate the meaning of what he has done.

I sit down on the bed.

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