Listening to Art

08.06: Salvador Dalí, Lobster Telephone


Download (MP3).


Listening to Art, by William Denton.

Volume eight, number six: Lobster Telephone by Salvador Dalí.

Hello, and welcome to Listening to Art. I’m William Denton.

Dalí’s autobiography The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí was originally published in 1942, translated by Haakon M. Chevalier. I quote from the 1993 Dover edition (p. 271):

I cannot understand why man should be capable of so little fantasy. I cannot understand why bus drivers should not have a desire once in a while to crash into a five-and-ten cent store window and catch a few toys on the fly for their wives, and amuse the children who happen to be around.

I do not understand, I cannot understand why toilet manufacturers do not put concealed bombs into the flushing compartment of their products which would burst the moment certain politicians pulled the chain.

I cannot understand why bath-tubs are always made in approximately the same shape; why no one invents taxi-cabs more expensive than the others fitted inside with a device for making artificial rain which would oblige the passenger to wear his rain coat when he got in while the weather was fine and sunny outside.

I do not understand why, when I ask for a grilled lobster in a restaurant, I am never served a cooked telephone; I do not understand why champagne is always served chilled and why on the other hand telephones, which are habitually so frightfully warm and disagreeably sticky to the touch, are not also put in silver buckets with crushed ice around them.

Telephone frappé, mint-colored telephone, aphrodisiac telephone, lobster-telephone, telephone sheathed in sable for the boudoirs of sirens with fingernails protected with ermine, Edgar Allan Poe telephones with a dead rat concealed within, Boecklin telephones installed inside a cypress tree (and with an allegory of death in inlayed silver on their backs), telephones on a leash which would walk about, screwed to the back of a living turtle … telephones … telephones … telephones …

This is a sculpture, made of plastic, painted plastic and mixed media, fitting in a volume roughly 35 cm wide, 20 cm high and 20 cm deep.

Now let’s listen to Lobster Telephone by Salvador Dalí, recorded at Dalí Paris, in Paris, on 14 July 2019.

Waveform of the field recording.

That was Lobster Telephone by Salvador Dalí. I hope you enjoyed listening to it as much as I did.

For more information and links to things I’ve mentioned, please visit listeningtoart.org.

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Bibliography

All web sites accessed as of date of publication.

Dalí Paris. “Dalí Paris.” Dalí Paris. https://www.daliparis.com/.

Dalí, Salvador. The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí. Translated by Haakon M. Chevalier. New York, Dover: 1993.

Wikipedia, s.v. “Lobster Telephone,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lobster_Telephone.

Wikipedia, s.v. “Salvador Dalí,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salvador_Dalí.