On Dalí’s mustache

The only thing that I will ever have in common with Salvador Dalí is the mustache. In fact, even say that, that we have our mustache’s in common is a lot of wishful thinking, hot air, and posturing. Actually, it is a mustaches which keep us apart–his a scandalous handlebar, mine, a conservative brush of gray that barely reaches my lip. In fact, we have nothing in common at all unless it is our love for the surreal, the absurd, and the fractured. Born in different parts of the twentieth century, he has fifty-five years on me, a different mother tongue, and our birthplaces are six thousand miles apart, but we both have mustaches. Dalí is uber-famous for his outrageous, if not outlandish, paintings and art, which reflect his fractured, discontinuous, and illogical view of the general, received view of regular society. His rejection of convention is a complete rebellion against the conservative values of a general neo-liberal hyper-consumerist society. In other words, he takes all the markers of society and throws them into the air, disregarding where anything might land. His complete disregard for propriety also leads him to sport a mustache that was as surreal as any of his work. Since I am not a plastic artist as was Salvador, my mustache is pretty plain. Dalí was as much a happening himself as was his work–dripping clocks, jumping tigers, a skull morphing out a a matador. Though one should always separate the artist from the art, in the case of Dalí, the artist is just another work in progress. I would like to think that I might understand Dalí in some way, having learned Spanish and having learned to live with the Spanish, but I’m afraid that his work transcends all of those boundaries in broad ways. The problem, however, with both the mustache and his paintings is the same problem that any work of art has in the age of mechanical reproduction, which turns the work of art into just another part of consumer society, nullifying its unique nature and voiding its value as a creative venture. The mustache is iconic of something incredibly unique, but the industrial society consumes everything in its path as if it were a hoard of locusts, which is both the reality and the tragedy of capitalism. So even being rebellious is a useless objective because even rebellion turns into a commodity which may be manipulated, bought and sold independently of its meaning, which then falls to zero. Today, a retrospective of Dalí’s work might signify many things, but it most certainly signifies that Dalí has become a commodity, that surrealism is a commodity, and that his outlandish mustache is a commodity. Yet, I would still love to believe in the spirit that informs the art of Dalí, independently of how various societies have conventionalized the strange nature of the man and his work, still exists and means something outside the boundaries of accepted behavior. Tomorrow I will still have a mustache, and it will still be the only thing that Dalí and I have in common.