Culture, Visual Arts

Because Dalí was from another world

Watch out, fellow travellers, lovers of Walt Disney, when you take the flight to Paris, get off at Charles de Gaulle and hail the closest taxi to take you to Place de la Bourse, Metro Bourse. There you will find the temple of the love of money.


Sergio Berrocal*


And I’m not referring to the stock market, a sort of Greek temple which on the May of ’68 caught fire while a Spanish journalist rather than Catalan genius, Xavier Domingo, announced through the tickers of the Agence France Presse for the Latin American and Spanish press: “The temple of money was burning this afternoon”.

In front of the stock market, that market that has accompanied us into the ruin of the Western world, there is an establishment. Le Vaudeville, café, brasserie, beer, or whatever you want.

It is a temple of good taste, of good food, and good drink. You sit among the rarest marbles, with waiters that do not feel disgusted when handing you a rich man’s cheque.

Le Vaudeville has witnessed many fortunes made in the stock market and many monetary disasters that have happened across the world.

The father of neorealism of nineteenth century literature, Émile Zola, some call it naturalism, states that L’Argent (money) in 1928 resulted in one of the masterpieces of French cinema, that under the same title told of the glory and hell of L’Argent, of Marcel L’Herbier, in 1928.

During filming 15 cameras were used simultaneously and a thousand extras were used to recreate the insane movement of the stock market at the height of the silent film era.

Zola bit into workers, capitalists and others with an almost carnivorous fury. He wanted to tell the story of the people, the history of the society that was taking place before his eyes, with the French Empire, with the defeat of Mexico, with the Baron Haussman who had turned Paris into a metropolis that not even Batman would have any objection to.

Zola’s characters, bankers, high-flying prostitutes such as the heart-warming and impalpable Baroness Sandorf, a dark creature whose gods prevented her from physical enjoyment, for greater enjoyment of the male, living only for the money which is the title of his novel, and that gave name to the masterful film of L’Herbier, of an overwhelming modernism.

I met Salvador Dalí when I had just returned from Paris with a more than pretentious pretence of revalidating my journalism degree which I boldly and unconsciously obtained in the weekly Cosmopolis of Tangier, located on Boulevard Pasteur of the international city, where you could be Santa Teresa and live without living because I die and I don’t die.

It occurred to me to go and see the launch of a sumptuous book of lithographs in love with the talent of the Catalan that idiots are still chasing many years after his death, because they say he loved Franco and said politically incorrect things.

Dalí was from another world. It had nothing to do with the crippled and mentally backward Spain from the years before the death of Francisco Franco.

Dalí was generous and invited me one autumn afternoon to his suite at the Hotel Meurice in Paris for tea, served by the ineffable Gala, his muse, his wife, his love, of whose death he died of.

It was so deep the “crush” I felt for this apparition smiling wearing a Chanel suit and with cups of Chinese porcelain from the previous Chinese, I didn’t dare say that I hated tea, that I preferred whiskey and Perrier. The malicious crippling of a small and empty brain still chased this part of the genius who invented part of the surrealist film with Luís Buñuel.

In L’Argent, there is a completely immoral banker who invents some silver mines in Lebanon, marinated with the Catholic, Apostolic and Roman religion, attracting thousands of Frenchies who subscribe empty obligations.

A scam very similar to that which twenty-first century bankers  have invented to submerge us into in the United States of 1929. To rush us into the most complete and absurd ruin.

The banker becomes a billionaire and on one of Vaudeville’s tables he has his board of directors, his court of unsuspecting Marines, willing to skin every dime of Franco.

But as Émile Zola was also a fair enough social millionaire and writer, his banker will fall into the worst nightmare of ruin at the hands of another Jewish banker, characters who at the time of the great writer were the bad guys of all films.

One argument that Adolf Hitler would use later on for his most vicious genocide, even though as well as Jews, he murdered Germans, French, homosexuals and other archetypes in cold blood, that did not fit with his concept of the perfect German male.

Except in May of 1968, when students took to the streets of Paris to end the society in which they lived, the Place de la Bourse of Paris has always been a quiet place and Vaudeville a bar-brasserie-café where you can eat the most sumptuous oysters and drink the best champagne by the glass, in other words, you do not need to order a bottle.

I do not know if Dalí ever went to the Vaudeville, when the waiters of the 60’s sketched like an uncontrollable lithograph each person’s cheque on paper tablecloths.

Dalí preferred the Ritz, and especially the Meurice on Rue de Rivoli. Now he’s involved in the Centre Pompidou, the most absurd art museum of Paris due to the shapes that would provoke that silly laugh Dalí used to dazzle art dealers who never understood anything because he was not of this world. (PL)

* Journalist and film critic.

(Translated by: Sophie Maling – sophie_maling@hotmail.com)

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