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About Karin

Yoga teacher, practicing yoga since 1997, teaching since 2003, writer/translator, global soul, world traveller (and sometimes beyond), passionate about eastern philosophy and western psychology, especially its application in mind-body practices such as yoga and somatic movement therapy, deeply in love with life, knows that our greatest teacher lies within, also sometimes a total mess - it's part of the package!

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    About TIME and its perceived (un)reality

    Thursday, April 1. 2010

    The Persistence of Memory (1931), Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York CityThe Persistence of Memory (1931, Museum of Modern Art in New York City) is one of the most famous paintings by Salvador Dali. Most of us know Dali as a great artist. Few people know that he was also a great thinker and philosopher. He had significant interests in science and psychology, studied the works of Freud and Nietzsche, and was known to often deliberately confuse people with his artwork. Dali once said he painted The Persistence of Memory to systematize confusion and thus to help discredit completely the world of reality.

    The Persistence of Memory represents a collection of ideas that are to do with our perception and interpretation of reality, in particular the reality of time. Dali seems to be raising some questions for the viewer:

    To what extend do we influence the world of reality?

    Do we really have such a firm grasp of reality as we think we do?

    Looking at the melting watches from a yoga philosophy perspective, Dali’s image gives us an instantly recognizable hint into the way our mind works, that is to say, by way of attachment to subjective beliefs, originating from limited feeling patterns that do not really hold, when we analyse in greater detail to what extend the mind manipulates them, thereby creating our world of reality and the world of illusion. The fine line between what we think we know and what we don’t know about reality becomes blurred. The differences may be very subtle but with sufficient reflection (meditation) they become apparent.

    What the Master of Surrealism superbly revealed on canvas in all of its simplicity and subtlety, our subjective mind and memory are trying to hide in all of their overwhelming coercive power and perpetual deconstruction. It is our mind’s subjective approach to objectively trying to interpret reality that creates the illusion of the reality of time. Mind and memory literally deconstruct the unity of reality by creating seemingly separate concepts of it. One such concept is the reality of time. Yogis call this conceptualization of reality Avidya or the veil of ignorance, referring to conditioned everyday perception leading to an abstraction from concrete reality through conceptualization of sensory perceptions.

    We do not see what is real because we are too much engaged in conceptualizing what is seen. The mind literally ends up seeing what it wants to see. And memory becomes its storehouse. As a result, awareness of the unity of reality is lost in the obsession of splitting it up into multiple concepts.

    Unity is reality. Multiplicity is illusion – Maya.

    Perhaps the differences between the world of reality and the world of illusion are not so significant as they may seem at first sight?

    The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory (1954)Additional notes:
    - In his autobiography, Dali wrote that the image of the melting watches in The Persistence of Memory was inspired in part by a melting round of cheese he observed while alone in his Paris apartment nursing a headache.
    - In 1954, in a revision of The Persistence of Memory and titled The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory, Dali used many of the same elements as in the original painting but changed them in important ways. The melting watches, for instance, are falling apart and the landscape exploded into a grid of blocks. To Dali, this new image was symbolic of the new physics – the quantum world, which exists as discrete particles, rather than continuous waves. This, Dali symbolized by "digitizing" the old image. Things may not be as solid as they look!
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