« Not ugly enough to appreciate? | Main | Growth »

sublimating my rationalizations on a nonexistent day

My whole ambition in the pictorial domain is to materialize the images of my concrete irrationality with the most imperialist fury of precision...

-- Salvador Dali

Today is March 1 -- a strange day for several reasons. According to Wikipedia, today is the first day of Spring in Denmark, while in Australia, today is the first day of Fall.

Moreover, today is Day One in the old Roman New Year -- a fact which has left its historical residue depending on how we count days:

If one begins each year on March 1, till the next March 1, then each date will have the same day number in this year, regardless of whether it is a leap year or not (e.g. December 25 is always day 300), unlike counting from January 1. This is due to the fact that the Gregorian and Julian calendars are based on the old Roman Calendar, which had March 1 as the first day of the year. The addition of the leap day of February 29 (which is what causes the days of leap years to fall on different day numbers) is a continuation of the February placement of the old Roman calendar's Mensis Intercalaris (a shortened extra month inserted to bring the 355 day long calendar into rough alignment with the seasons).
That's enough to drive anyone crazy.

What I'm trying to figure out is why the day does not appear on my calendar.

What? You don't believe me?

Check out the photograph I just took:


While the easiest explanation for the disappearance of March 1 is that a simple misprint occurred, I'm not so sure, because this is the official Salvador Dali calendar. Considering the following:

  • Dali was a surrealist who relied on the paranoid critical method (which assumes, among other things, that nothing is coincidental, and that mistakes are important).
  • The theme of the March calendar is the geodesic ceiling of the Dali Museum in Figueres, Spain, which is surrounded by strange figures arranged in a manner evocative of a calendar (albeit 16 of them instead of 12).
  • The blank box in the calendar which ought to belong to March 1 is directly underneath the the figure at the bottom of the calendar which is being pointed to by the index finger of the floating hand.
  • The calendar has an international flavor, as it is translated into five languages and includes more holidays and religious observances than I knew existed.
  • The cosmic significance of the galactic-like dome speaks for itself.
  • I know this doesn't prove that there's any significance to today's missing date, but considering its importance, I suspect cosmic significance of some sort.

    Whether this cosmic significance is accidental or deliberate is beside the point.

    I think Dali would agree. Consider Dali on mistakes:

    Mistakes are almost always of a sacred nature. Never try to correct them. On the contrary: rationalize them, understand them thoroughly. After that, it will be possible for you to sublimate them.
    Far be it from me to correct the sacred.

    What to do on a missing date which will live in mistakenly unmistakable cosmic significance?

    I think I'll try to rationalize the sublime, and sublimate the rational.

    MYSTERY DISAPPEARANCE UNRAVELS AS IT DEEPENS: In another amazing "coincidence," it was on March 1 that Dali's depiction of the crucifixion (which he had done for the Rikers Island jail) disappeared. As it turned out, it was stolen by prison guards and officials.

    Interestingly, Dali intended it for the prisoners' dining room so that prisoners could appreciate it, and dedicated it for that stated purpose in writing. Jail officials moved it to the prison lobby, to which inmates had no access, and from where it was stolen:

    The drawing, a surrealist image of Jesus being crucified, hung in the prison cafeteria for years before being moved to a lobby where officials thought it would be safer.

    Riker's Island's roughly 15,000 prisoners do not have access to the lobby, which is used only by prison personnel.

    "Who knew that it might have been safer left in the cafeteria?" a spokesman for New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg asked.

    Who knew? Dali knew, that's who! That's why he wrote on the dedication -- right on the painting -- that it was for the prisoners' dining room, dummy!

    Here's a picture of the missing work:


    (Link via Wired New York Forum, which has a detailed article on the case.)

    It's tough to read the inscription in that picture, but according to the BBC it read as follows:

    "For the dinning room of the Prisoners Rikers Ysland [sic] - SD".
    That's certainly typical of Dali's mangled way of writing in English, but the sincerity of his message is obvious.

    The crucifixion is still missing, and I think it's appropriate that March 1 is missing from the calendar. It's as if Dali having the last laugh. At disobedient bureaucrats, and malignant prison officials. While there have been a couple of convictions for the theft, according to the testimony, the main culprit seems to have been the assistant deputy warden, who was acquitted:

    A former Rikers Island assistant deputy warden has been acquitted of charges that he masterminded the theft of a $250,000 Salvador Dali sketch from the prison.

    A jury acquitted Benny Nuzzo, 51, on Friday after a monthlong trial in State Supreme Court in the Bronx. Nuzzo had denied any role in the theft of the sketch, which was reported missing on March 1, 2003 when someone noticed that the original had been replaced by a copy. Three other men were charged in the theft, correction officers Timothy Pina and Greg Sokol and former assistant deputy warden Mitchell Hochhauser.

    Hochhauser pleaded guilty in September to one count of attempted grand larceny and was sentenced to one to three years in prison.

    Sokol, who cooperated with prosecutors, testified against Nuzzo at trial. Sokol and Pina still face charges in the case.

    Dali created the ink and pencil sketch, which depicts the crucifixion of Jesus, after he called in sick to a planned visit to the prison in 1965.

    The sketch has not been seen since it was reported missing, and Hochhauser has claimed that Nuzzo destroyed it.

    Nuzzo, who was fired after his arrest, plans to try to get his job back, his lawyer said.

    Former Assistant Deputy Warden Nuzzo did sue to get his job back, but he lost. Here's what the appellate court said in rejecting Nuzzo's appeal:
    Respondent's findings that petitioner took property from its facility at Rikers Island without proper authorization, provided false entries on his work time sheets and then provided misleading testimony during his official interview are supported by substantial evidence
    Hmmmm.... From a legal standpoint, I wonder whether the fact that the findings were supported by substantial evidence means that it's not defamatory to say they're true. (Would it be defamatory to say that OJ killed Nicole, for example, because of a civil jury's findings?)

    I'm more concerned with the destruction of art than with theft. Stolen property can always be returned. Destruction of art might not be a crime against humanity in the legal sense, but I think it's a crime against culture -- something IMO morally worse than theft.

    Post a comment

    (If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)