The region where I live — a normally peaceable realm where birds sing, the sun shines, and summers maintain a blissful eighty-odd degrees with light breezes — is in the midst of a heat wave. Besides feeling cheated of their expected temperate June, the citizens are baffled: how long will it go on, when it shouldn’t be happening at all? Yours Truly, gazing out into the heat, equally baffled, realised the world had become a Surrealist landscape.
Watching the heat shimmer up from the pavement, the streets begin to sway and roll. Normally tranquil trees sag downward and the grass below them retreats in confusion. Flowering plants are arrested in motion, unsure whether to go on. Cars in belts ring the city, though the roads they are on seem to ooze to new destinations under my eyes. Water looks out of place, and the sky is brilliant, cheerful blue, untouched by the undulating surface. Physics says the sun should reach its zenith just after mid-day, and the temperature reach its peak around five, but between five and eight the heat stands still, pressing on the face of the clock, melting the bottom out of the hours.
And suddenly I understood what art historians have for decades failed to realise. Quite simply and clearly, Salvador Dali didn’t have air conditioning either.