04 março 2006

"Every time someone dies, it is Jules Verne's fault,

I've heard many sins laid at the feet of science fiction before, but accusing an entire literary genre of murder is a new one for me. Salvador Dali, creator of extreme artwork, held extreme views as well, one of which I discovered quoted in the introduction to a new translation of one of Jules Verne's earliest works, The Begum's Millions. editorial1.jpg

"Every time someone dies, it is Jules Verne's fault," wrote the artist in Dali on Dali. "He is responsible for the desire for interplanetary voyages, good only for boy scouts or for amateur underwater fishermen. If the fabulous sums wasted on these conquests were spent on biological research, nobody on our planet would die anymore. Therefore, I repeat, each time someone dies it is Jules Verne's fault."

It made me think less of Dali, an artist I have always admired, when I found this passage so many decades after he wrote it. How could the old surrealist not have realized that he and Verne were in the same business, the distribution of dreams? Whether I'm contemplating Dali's melting clocks or Verne's gravity-defying vehicles, I am still being transported to worlds not like ours.

Accuse Verne of murder? If we're going to start doing that, we might as well accuse all creative artists, including Dali, of the crime of causing us to ignore the real world during the moments that we appreciate their art. Whatever Verne's supposed offenses, Dali was a co-conspirator in them, and should have known it.

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