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The Changing Worl...
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Gilles Néret
“A dandy," wrote Charles Baudelaire, "must be looking in his mirror at all times, waking and sleeping." Dali could easily have become the living proof of Baudelaire's dictum. But the literal mirror was not enough for him. Dali needed mirrors of many kinds: his pictures, his admirers, newspapers and magazines and television. And even that still left him unsatisfied.

So one Christmas he took a walk in the streets of New York carrying a bell. He would ring it whenever he felt people were not paying enough attention to him. "The thought of not being recognised was unbearable." True to himself to the bitter end, he delighted in following Catalonian television's bulletins on his state of health during his last days alive (in Quiron hospital in Barcelona); he wanted to hear people talking about him, and he also wanted to know whether his health would revive or whether he would be dying soon. At the age of six he wanted to be a female cook - he specified the gender. At seven he wanted to be Napoleon. "Ever since, my ambition has been continually on the increase, as has my megalomania: now all I want to be is Salvador Dali. But the closer I get to my goal, the further Salvador Dali drifts away from me."

He painted his first picture in 1910 at the age of six. At ten he discovered Impressionist art, and at fourteen the Pompiers (a 19th century group of academic genre painters, among them Meissonier, Detaille and Moreau). By 1927 he was Dali, and the poet and playwright Federico Garcia Lorca, a friend of his youth, wrote an 'Ode to Salvador Dali.' Years later Dali claimed that Lorca had been very attracted to him and had tride to sodomize him, but had not quite managed it. Dali's thirst for scandal was unquenchable. His parents had named him Salvador "because he was the chosen one who was come to save painting from the" deadly menace of abstract art, academic Surrealism, Dadaism, and any kind of anarchic "ism" whatsoever."

If he had lived during the Renaissance, his genius would have been recognized at an earlier stage and indeed considered normal. But in the twentieth century, which Dali damned as stupid, he was thought provocative, a thorn in the flesh. To this day there are many who misunderstand the provocativeness and label him insane. But Dali repeatedly declared: "... the sole difference between me and a madman is the fact that I am not mad!" Dali also said: "The difference between the Surrealists and me is that I am a Surrealist" - which is perfectly true. And he also claimed: "I have the universal curiosity of Renaissance men, and my mental jaws are constantly at work.”
Gilles Néret, Salvador Dalí: 1904-1989

Yuval Noah Harari
“In ancient agricultural societies, most religions revolved not around metaphysical questions and the afterlife, but around the very mundane issue of increasing agricultural output. Thus the Old Testament God never promises any rewards or punishments after death. He instead tells the people of Israel that ‘If you carefully observe the commands that I’m giving you [. . .] then I will send rain on the land in its season [. . .] and you’ll gather grain, wine, and oil. I will provide grass in the fields for your livestock, and you’ll eat and be satisfied. Be careful! Otherwise, your hearts will deceive you and you will turn away to serve other gods and worship them. The wrath of God will burn against you so that he will restrain the heavens and it won’t rain. The ground won’t yield its produce and you’ll be swiftly destroyed from the good land that the Lord is about to give you’ (Deuteronomy 11:13–17). Scientists today can do much better than the Old Testament God. Thanks to artificial fertilisers, industrial insecticides and genetically modified crops, agricultural production nowadays outstrips the highest expectations ancient farmers had of their gods. And the parched state of Israel no longer fears that some angry deity will restrain the heavens and stop all rain – for the Israelis have recently built a huge desalination plant on the shores of the Mediterranean, so they can now get all their drinking water from the sea.”
Yuval Noah Harari, Homo Deus: A History of Tomorrow

Walt Whitman
“To-day a rude brief recitative,
Of ships sailing the seas, each with its special flag or ship-signal,
Of unnamed heroes in the ships—of waves spreading and spreading
far as the eye can reach,
Of dashing spray, and the winds piping and blowing,
And out of these a chant for the sailors of all nations,
Fitful, like a surge.

Of sea-captains young or old, and the mates, and of all intrepid sailors,
Of the few, very choice, taciturn, whom fate can never surprise nor
death dismay.
Pick'd sparingly without noise by thee old ocean, chosen by thee,
Thou sea that pickest and cullest the race in time, and unitest nations,
Suckled by thee, old husky nurse, embodying thee,
Indomitable, untamed as thee.

(Ever the heroes on water or on land, by ones or twos appearing,
Ever the stock preserv'd and never lost, though rare, enough for
seed preserv'd.)

Flaunt out O sea your separate flags of nations!
Flaunt out visible as ever the various ship-signals!
But do you reserve especially for yourself and for the soul of man
one flag above all the rest,
A spiritual woven signal for all nations, emblem of man elate above death,
Token of all brave captains and all intrepid sailors and mates,
And all that went down doing their duty,
Reminiscent of them, twined from all intrepid captains young or old,
A pennant universal, subtly waving all time, o'er all brave sailors,
All seas, all ships.”
Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

Dava Sobel
“Halley had become England’s second astronomer royal in 1720, after John Flamsteed’s death. The puritanical Flamsteed had reason to roll over in his grave at this development, since in life he had denounced Halley for drinking brandy and swearing “like a sea-captain.” And of course Flamsteed never forgave Halley, or his accomplice Newton, for pilfering the star catalogs and publishing them against his will.

Well liked by most, kind to his inferiors, Halley ran the observatory with a sense of humor. He added immeasurably to the luster of the place with his observations of the moon and his discovery of the proper motion of the stars—even if it’s true what they say about the night he and Peter the Great cavorted like a couple of schoolboys and took turns pushing each other through hedges in a wheelbarrow.”
Dava Sobel, Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time

“Are you sure you want to quit? All unsaved progress will be lost.”

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