Nuclear Mysticism

Nuclear Mysticism

IN THE 1950’s SALVADOR DALI wrote a manifesto on Nuclear Mysticism, perhaps foreseeing what we now call Quantum Mysticism… -Iona Miller’s neo-Nuclear Mysticism reinvokes the power of the surrealist vision as a valid means of scientific investigation of the inner world where psyche is not different from substance in imaginal reality. When we look inside, we see the dynamics of the universe, even the multiverse. Dali was an apparently prescient visionary artist, as well as surrealist. Whereas Picasso based his Cubist vision largely on angles, Dali’s vision was informed by the spiral, which he iconized in his reiterative use of the rhinocerous horn.

Nature works in sacred geometry, curves, fractals, chaotic emergence, reiteration, complex dynamics, embedded imagery. So did Dali. Dali asserted that matter is not at all like it seems, but has attributes even he was only able to guess at symbolically. As nuclear physics continued to mature, Dali was somewhat ‘vindicated’ in these beliefs, once the true nature of matter as paradoxical wave/particle began to be unveiled.

Beyond the extreme eccentricity and publicity-generating antics of Salvador Dali lies an intensely potent spiritual vision, an ability to see through matter, into a more elemental reality. His foresight was truly prodigious and a productive forerunner of the coming age. The hyper-reality theme of nuclear mysticism is present somewhat in nearly all Dalinian work since 1950. Atoms explode into cubes and spheres, the material world is broken down into disconnected particles, and swirling cones (“rhinoceros horns”) symbolise manifestation, appearance and purity. Other ontological symbols are used throughout Dali’s version of the Tarot, where they often take on a hermetic, alchemical quality.

Dali’s later art explores the subjects of quantum physics and genetics with a metaphysical vision. Evidence of the divine began to appear to Dali in everything. In paintings such as The Madonna of Port-Lligat (first version) of 1949 and Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubicus), 1953-54, Dali­ attempted to reconcile Christian iconography with images of dematerialisation inspired by the discoveries of particle physics and atomic energy. Dali described this new phase of his art as “Nuclear Mysticism,” which led him to create such monumental works as The Railway Station at Perpignan, 1965.

After the disenchantment of Post-modern deconstructionism, what we need is a neo-Nuclear Mysticism to heal the fragmentation and atomization of our psyches which have been blasted by the future-shock of post-postmodern life. Looking within for a moment of stillness, we cannot help but find imagery of our most fundamental being, that threshold where psyche, matter and energy share the same essence.

Dali’s paintings began to reflect his thoughts and he renewed his associations with one of his previous paintings by painting the “The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory” between 1952-1954. In this painting, the persistence of memory is fragmented and breaking down into particles, Dali’s way of acknowledging modern science and technology.

Many of Dali’s paintings during this period portray the concept that everything is in a state of suspension through the repulsion of protons and electrons. Dali’s painting “Leda Atomica” where we see a nude Gala sitting on, not surprisingly, air, is a fine example of this concept. Many other objects in this painting show a similar suspended effect.

Dali’s opponents have criticised him for his total absorption in his art, arguing that it is self-indulgent and not relevant to the world. Nothing could be more distant from truth. Dali’s interest in the evolution of the planet was intense, but finding the present time so barren, Dali addresses himself to the future.

In 1976, Dali said, “The progress of the sciences has been colossal … but from the spiritual point of view, we live in the lowest period of civilization. A divorce has come about between physics and metaphysics. We are living through an almost monstrous progress of specialization, without any synthesis.” This Synthesis, Dali declared, would be brought about by the mystification of science. Dali’s various works in holographic cylinders are only a few examples of his attempt to illustrate and symbolise the synthesis vital to the future.

If you look at him grappling with post-impressionism, cubism, right through to his earliest investigations of Vermeer-like realism, you get a much stronger understanding of the surrealist work to come. His late work reveals a kind of secret history. Here’s an artist relevant to contemporary artists because of the way he uses science and technology and the scale of his work. From Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, right through to Matthew Barney, Alex Grey, and Jeff Koons, many artists are aware of Dali’s impact. Dali becomes someone who is important not just for that 1929-39 Surrealist movement, which in itself is enough to put him in the history books, but for science and technology. He became important as a figure in the 40s, 50s and 60s as a precursor to pop art, as a precursor to the way artists work today. Many of his antics were dismissed as bufoonery in his time but now would be recognized as performance art.


~ by ionamiller on July 14, 2008.

One Response to “Nuclear Mysticism”

  1. Can you give me a specific year in the 50’s that he began his movement

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