I am indebted to the erudite Dr Champagne, leading occult psychogeographer and English Heretic, for pointing out to me the resemblance between the seed pod found recently on Peacehaven beach, and Dali’s 1929 painting Accommodations Of Desire, reproduced above. The Doc has been an enthusiastic email correspondent and supporter of this blog, and it was a pleasure to meet him in the living flesh at the recent GHostings 7 event at Senate House, London, where we discussed this painting and other matters of mutual interest.
Dali was only 25 when he painted this (strictly speaking, a mixture of painting and collage, as the lion heads are cut from a picture book rather than painted), supposedly commencing work on it after returning home from a walk with Gala, the woman who would become his partner, Muse, and surrogate mother figure, but who at this time was still married to Paul Eluard. Dali knew his infatuation with her was indeed a kind of seed pod: all kinds of future complications were gestating in the fertile ground of amour fou.
The painting is commonly interpreted as a pictorial itemisation of Dali’s anxieties about this future, though one could in fact see it as embodying a ritual practice through which the artist attempts to take possession of his fears and master them by the very act of depicting them- thus giving them form– and then taking charge of these forms (artistically, psychologically, magically) by containment, in the strange white seed-stone-egg vessels of the painting. Either way, it is notable that the title refers to accommodations of desire, rather than of fear. The suggestion is that Dali, who at this time was enamoured of Freudian ideas, suspects that while he fears the oncoming storms, he also desires them. Or, at least, his desires are such that he must accept the turmoil they will inevitably bring.
The desire thus accommodated has something in common with the seed pod and the womb, the vessels of gestation and creation. Desire, after all, is crucially involved in the creation of new life (perhaps not in plants, but the messy drama of the human condition is what concerns us here). More generally, we can say that desire is implicated in manifestation- because desire, in this context, implies absence: a yearning for that which is not here, not manifest. The wish for presence from absence, and the calling forth of that presence.
Yet this is the essence of of any creative act: the summoning and shaping of new forms. Words made flesh.
It was thus entirely fitting that the tagline of the GHostings event was:
An evening of interdisciplinary talks and presentations exploring the desire to materialise what is absent.
The forces of synchronicity continue to crackle around the Shoreline, of course, and the day after my conversation with Dr Champagne, my daughter brought home this picture from school… apparently it shows a lily pond…
Jump right in.. the water’s lovely…