The Secret Life of Salvador Dali (9 page)

BOOK: The Secret Life of Salvador Dali
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But I had not yet had time to begin my operation when already the adored girl got up and in turn ran to the fountain to fill a little jug. I dashed over to the bench to leave my present, just as it was, on a newspaper lying on the seat. But at this moment I was again seized with a mortal shame and I hid my ball under the paper. The possibility and suddenly the hope, more and more violent, that the little girl would come and perhaps sit down again on the newspaper which now concealed my little ball became for me something so upsetting that I was seized by a slight trembling which would not leave me. My mother came down to fetch me. She had been shouting for me for some time without my hearing her in the least. She was afraid I had caught cold and she rolled a great scarf around my neck and chest. She was terrified. When I tried to speak my teeth chattered; at first I followed her, holding her hand, dazed, resigned, although the regret at leaving this spot, just at this moment, devoured my bowels.

But the story of my beloved little ball has but just begun. Listen patiently, therefore, to the account of the amazing and dramatic circumstances which surrounded the new encounter with the fetish of my deliria. It is well worth your while.

The snow disappeared and with it the enchantment of that transfiguration of the town and the landscape which accompanied those three exceptional days when I did not go to school and during which I lived in a kind of waking dream—through the adventures that have already been described so passionately and minutely. The return to the soporific monotony of Senor Traite’s school appeared agreeable to me as a rest after all these vicissitudes, but at the same time the return to reality wounded me with the birth of a sadness which, I felt, would be slow to heal and which the loss of my dwarf-monkey, of my beloved little ball, rendered poignant in the extreme.

The great vaulted ceiling which sheltered the four sordid walls of the class was discolored by large brown moisture stains, whose irregular contours for some time constituted my whole consolation. In the course of my interminable and exhausting reveries, my eyes would untiringly follow the vague irregularities of these mouldy silhouettes and I saw rising from this chaos which was as formless as clouds progressively concrete images which by degrees became endowed with an increasingly precise, detailed and realistic personality.

From day to day, after a certain effort, I succeeded in recovering each of the images which I had seen the day before and I would then continue to perfect my hallucinatory work; when by dint of habit one of the discovered images became too familiar, it would gradually lose its emotive interest and would instantaneously become metamorphosed into “something else,” so that the same formal pretext would lend itself just as readily
to being interpreted successively by the most diverse and contradictory figurations, and this would go on to infinity.

The astonishing thing about this phenomenon (which was to become the keystone of my future esthetic) was that having once seen one of these images I could always thereafter see it again at the mere dictate of my will, and not only in its original form but almost always further corrected and augmented in such a manner that its improvement was instantaneous and automatic.

The sled in which Galuchka was seated became the panoramic view of a Russian city, bristling with cupolas, which would change into the bearded and somnolent face of Senor Traite, which in turn would be transformed into a fierce battle of furiously famished wolves in the middle of a clearing of virgin forest, and so on, the stains becoming metamorphosed into a cavalcade of ever-renewed apparitions which served as an illustrative background to the copious and dreamy course of my violent imagination, which would project itself upon the wall with the maximum of its force of luminous materialization, all as if my head had been a real motion picture projector by virtue of which everything that occurred within me was simultaneously seen externally by my own eyes, astonished and absorbed by that great hallucinatory stain from a leaking gutter
produced by the melting of the snow of my fairytale ball in the ruin-menaced vault which protected Senor Traite’s dreams and mine within the mouldy curve of its thick walls.

One evening as I was even more absorbed than usual in the contemplation of the spots of moisture, I felt two hands gently placed on my shoulders. I jumped, swallowing my saliva the wrong way, which made me cough convulsively. I welcomed this cough, for it excused my agitation and made it less noticeable. I had in fact just blushed with crimson on identifying the child who was touching me as Buchaques.

He was considerably taller than I and he was nick-named Buchaques because of his extravagant costume which had an exaggerated and unusual number of pockets—pockets in Catalonian being called
buchaques
. For a long time I had noticed Buchaques as being the handsomest of all the boys, and I had only dared to look at him furtively; but each time our glances accidentally crossed, I felt my blood congeal within my veins. Without any doubt I was in love with him, for nothing could justify the emotional disturbance that his presence caused me, much less the preponderant place which his image had occupied for some time in the flow of my reveries, appearing to me now confused with Galuchka and now as her antithesis.

I was not quite aware of what Buchaques said to me because of my dizziness, which filled my ears with that delightful buzzing whose mission it is to efface all the sounds of the surrounding world in order that you may hear more clearly the accelerated beating of your own heart.

Certain it is that Buchaques immediately became my sole friend and that each time we separated we exchanged a long kiss on the mouth.

He was the only one to whom I felt capable of revealing my secret of the dwarf-monkey. He believed, or pretended to believe, in it, taking an interest in my story; and we went on several occasions, at nightfall, to the Discovered Fountain, to try again to “hunt” my dwarf-monkey, my beloved little ball, which in my imagination now appeared endowed with all the most minute attributes of a genuine little living being.

Buchaques was fairhaired (I brought home one of his hairs, which I kept preciously between the pages of a book and which seemed to me to be a thread of real gold), his eyes were blue, very bright, and his pink and smiling flesh contrasted violently with my olive and meditative palor over which seemed to hover the shadow of that dark bird of meningitis which had already killed my brother.

Buchaques appeared to me beautiful as a little girl, yet his excessively chunky knees gave me a feeling of uneasiness, as did also his buttocks too tightly squeezed into pants that were too excruciatingly narrow. Yet in spite of my embarrassment an invincible curiosity impelled me to look at these tight pants each time a violent movement threatened to split them wide open.

One night I told Buchaques all about my feelings toward Galuchka. His reaction was totally devoid of jealousy and his attitude in regard
to her was absolutely similar to the one he had adopted toward my little ball; like myself, he was going to adore both it and Galuchka.

We spoke constantly and endlessly of these two creatures of delirium, while embracing each other with our caressing arms, but our kiss was always reserved for the end and the very moment of taking leave of each other.

We would await this delightful moment with a growing emotion which we tried to exasperate to the extreme by the tacit conspiracy of our prolonged chatting. Buchaques became everything to me: I began to make him presents of my dearest and most precious toys, which progressively disappeared from my house to go and enhance the stock of my presents which Buchaques amassed with a growing avidity. When my toys were liquidated in this fashion I undertook a veritable rifling of all sorts of other objects, beginning timidly with my father’s pipes and a silver medal adorned with a moiré silk ribbon which my father had won in an Esperanto congress; the following day I brought a porcelain canary which adorned one of the cabinets of the living room. Buchaques, becoming very quickly accustomed to my generous offerings, began to exact them. Thus one day I ended by bringing him a large china soup-bowl which appeared to me wonderfully poetic—it was adorned with an image of two blue-gray swallows in full flight.

Buchaques’ mother must have judged that my gift exceeded the volume that could be allowed to pass unnoticed and brought it back to my mother, who thus discovered the cause of the disappearance of so many objects, until then inexplicable, and which had been stripping our house in such a disturbing and accelerated fashion. I was profoundly unhappy and vexed at having to stop my presents and I wept bitter tears, and cried: “I love Buchaques! I love Buchaques!”

My mother, who was always of an angelic tenderness, consoled me as best she could, then bought me a sumptuous album in which we pasted hundreds of transfer pictures, so that as soon as we had filled it we could make a present of it to my friend, my lover, Buchaques.

Later my mother drew astonishing pictures of fantastic animals on a long strip of paper with colored pencils. She then carefully folded this strip where each picture stopped, so that the whole could be reduced to a small book which unfolded like an accordion. This was another present for Buchaques!

But the increasing intervals between my gifts, and their diminishing material value, cooled Buchaques’ attitude toward me, and he again began to play with all the other children and devoted to me only brief spells between his turbulent games. I felt that I was losing forever the sweetness of my former idyllic confidant who at each new recreation period became as if possessed by the frenzy of the most noisy and violent games; the germinating force of his exuberant health seemed no longer capable of being contained within the limits of that flesh, which was so smooth but which the slightest agitation caused to become quickly congested
and disagreeably bloodshot. On the slightest pretext he would come and push me over or brutally pull me by the sleeve to make me run with him. One evening I pretended I had rediscovered my little ball, my dwarf-monkey! I thought that perhaps by this strategem I would succeed in winning back his interest. And indeed he absolutely insisted on my showing him my monkey and accompanied me as far as to the entrance to my house where we hid behind the large door in the stairway where it was already dark. With infinite care, and with trembling hands, I unwrapped a plane ball which I had picked up at random in the street and which I had kept hidden inside a handkerchief.

With a single brutal gesture Buchaques tore the ball and the handkerchief from me. He was so much stronger than I that I could never have resisted him. Then, with an abominably mocking gesture, holding up to me the little ball hanging by the tail, he went out into the middle of the street. Whereupon he threw the ball into the air as high as he could. I did not even make an effort to go and pick it up, because I knew perfectly well that it was not my “real” ball. From this time on, however, Buchaques became my enemy. He went off spitting several times into the air in my direction. Painfully I swallowed my saliva and I ran to my room to have a cry. I would show him!

I was convinced that I was in Russia, yet there was no snow. The absence of this phenomenon, which until then seemed to characterize all the visions I had had of that country, did not astonish me. It must have been toward the end of a hot summer afternoon, for they were sprinkling the central avenue of a great park where a fashionable crowd, in which the feminine element predominated, was lining up on either side, settling down slowly and laboriously in the complicated labyrinth of chairs to watch the scheduled military parade.

Myriad-colored towers and cupolas
6
(like those I had seen inside Senor Traite’s theatre) emerged from the great, dark masses of trees, sparkling with all their teeth and with all their gleaming polychrome in the progressively oblique rays of a sun that was beginning to set.

On a platform that seemed to be made entirely of stonework, a military band was parsimoniously beginning to tune its instruments; the brasses intermittently cast savage flashes, blinding as those of the monstrance in country Masses.

BOOK: The Secret Life of Salvador Dali
12.28Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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