Have you seen artist Salvador Dali’s work? It’s officially categorized as surrealism, which for many people means: incomprehensible, strange, bizarre.
The moment when I first saw an exhibit of Dali’s work is as vivid now as it was decades ago.
It was at the Tate Gallery in London on a drizzling and grey January day. I was twenty years old on my first trip abroad. As a teen in the US, I was captivated by the French surrealist writers, especially their command to simply write stream-of-consciousness, and not edit.
When I read about stream-of-conscious writing in Surrealist Manifesto, I felt validated. That’s what I’d been doing in my journals for so many years already. Who knew it was the basis of a movement that encouraged spontaneous expression over technique?
I wasn’t sure if it was the weather in London that day, or the show that drew such a crowd, but was impressed that throngs of people showed up to an art exhibit. I still feel this way whenever I go to a poetry reading or show, and see people lining up to get in. Evidence that art and creativity are alive and well.
I remember that the at the exhibit seemed small. The spaces crammed with people, paintings and objects.
It was Daii’s Lobster Telephone that struck me still.
This is art? I thought, and probably said out loud to the friend who was with me.
The piece is was what the title describes: a telephone with a handle in the shape of a lobster.
I felt a sense of the possible and the improbable all at once.
If this is art, then what else is true or not true about my beliefs about my own art-making?
A mindset of asking potent questions is what I’ve found helpful when facing the blank page.
This is one reason that using quotes and quick writes of spontaeous, stream-of-conscious writing is something that I do in all of my workshops.
We are habiting ourselves to the dazzle – the calm curiosity of not knowing.
This is the mindset that allows us to bypass things like judgment and doubt that the rational mind loves to put in our way.
If art can include a telephone in the shape of a lobster, then what else?
“Have no fear of perfection…you’ll never reach it.”
Salvador Dali said that.
Imagine he’s just phoned you up from his Lobster telephone to let you know this good news.
What would you say yes to next, in your own creative adventure?