The Persistence Of Memory Analysis Essay

On By In 1

Holly Hixon

English 102

SLN 13380

Visual argument essay

The Persistence of Memory

Unlike other notorious paintings, the title of Salvador Dalí’s famous painting The Persistence of Memory has a very strong correlation to the meaning that the painting conveys. The Persistence of Memory is an oil on canvas painting created in 1931 by Salvador Dalí that now proudly hangs in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.The painting has a setting of a barren desert landscape. There is a small canyon in the top right corner, and a vivid lake next to it. The background of the painting is brightly lit up, however the front and main objects of the painting are covered by shadows. In the bottom front of the painting consists a creature lying on its side with its eyes closed. There is a desk like object lying next to the creature, and both the creature and the desk are covered in melting clocks. This painting with unidentified obscure objects is just one of Salvador Dalí’s many thought provoking masterpieces. This masterpiece is meant to provoke the thought that when in a dream, time stops. The meaning of this painting, that time stops when in a dream state can be discovered logically by looking and analyzing the objects in the painting. Also by looking at the time that the painting was created, and the medium that Salvador Dalí used.

The painting conveys the meaning that time stops when in a dream state. To be sure of this, one must first be convinced that the painting represents a dream state. The way to perceive this is by looking at the objects in the painting. One way to tell is by looking at the large brown creature in the bottom center of the painting. This creature is obviously some animal type for it has long eyelashes, a distinguishing feature of animals. This creature is laying on its side, and it has its eyes closed indicating an unconscious state. The main way to tell that this creature and painting is meant to represent a dream state is by looking at the fact that the creature is unidentified, which is a distinguishable characteristic of a dream. From the Department of Philosophy at the University of Adelaide in Australia comes a very relatable article from ‘Consciousness & Cognition’. In the article philosophers show how unidentified objects and creatures are very common in dreams (Gerrans 221-227). This article also supports Sigmund Frued’s Dream Theory which states that our unconscious speaks to us using symbolic language. In Sigmund Frued’s Dream Theory he suggests that

Freud suggests that in our dreams we see unidentified creatures, however these creatures are all people that we know. We do not always remember or recognize the people in our dreams because our ‘superego’ (a term coined by Sigmund Frued) censors our conscious from the unconscious. According to Frued ‘superego’ has a job of “protecting the conscious mind from the disturbing images and desires conjured by the unconscious”  ("Dream Moods"). By supporting the fact that most people have unrecognizable creatures in a dream state, Sigmund Frued helps support claim that Salvador Dalí’s painting The Persistence of Memory is set to portray a dream state, thus supporting the argued meaning of Salvador Dalí’s painting that when in a dream state, time stops.

The theories of Sigmund Freud are very likely to be the desired interpretations of Salvador Dalí’s audience when he created The Persistence of Memory. This can be conjectured by logically looking at the time period that the theory and painting came out. Freud released his Theory on Dreams shortly before Salvador Dalí released The Persistence of Memory. Once convinced that the painting represents a dream state, one must then look to the objects in the painting to be convinced of the meaning of the painting, that time stops when in a dream state.

The primary objects of the painting that represent time stopping are the melting clocks. Salvador Dalí is notorious for his use of melting clocks in his paintings and in The Persistence of Memory he uses three. These melting crippling clocks represent time melting, or slowing down. Another distinct feature of the painting that represents time stopping in the dream state is the animals that are in the painting. In The Persistence of Memory, Salvador Dalí uses ants and flies to symbolize death. He places several ants on one clock in the bottom left corner of the painting. The ants appear to be eating the clock, representing the death of the clock, also the death of time. Since the painting is represented as being in a dream state, the death of the clocks in the painting represent the death of time in the dream state. If still not convinced, one can be assured that this is the meaning of the piece of art because of the medium.

The medium of this masterpiece, an oil canvas painting, assists in conveying the meaning of the art to the audience of art viewers. The fact that it is a painting created out of a blank canvas lets the audience know that the artist really manipulated the painting exactly the way that he wanted. Every stoke of the paint brush had intention, and the finished product is precisely what Salvador Dalí wanted. Therefore an audience member can be sure that the ants eating the clock in the bottom left corner are intentional, and are intended to portray the meaning of the death of the clock. The audience member can also be assured that the creature in the center, lying on its side was meant to have its eye closed. A painting is a piece of artwork where every square centimeter of the painting has purpose. It is unlike a photograph, where the artist could have wanted the eye of the creature to be opened, but the eye was close when the artist took the photograph. In Salvador Dalí’s The Persistence of Memory the audience can draw meaning from the eye of the creature being closed, because they can be sure that is exactly the way that Salvador Dalí wanted it.

The Persistence of Memory is a painting meant to portray and important yet somewhat obvious meaning. The meaning that it is meant to portray is that when you are in an unconscious dream state, time does not matter. The message of the painting is verified throughout various scientific studies on dreams. In one study a scientist at the University of Bern in Switzerland conducted a study that concluded that in a dream average activities, such as walking, take up to 50 percent longer in a dream state than they do in a conscious state. (Hamzelou 4-5). This study, which was conducted in 2011 proves what Salvador Dalí thought up seventy years prior that when in a dream state, time has no meaning. 

From looking at his painting The Persistence of Memory Salvador Dalí intended the audience to take away this meaning that time stops when in a dream state, however he intended to provoke thought in his audience, before they took away that message. Perhaps the most difficult part of composing this visual argument was not the actual writing part, but the research that came before the writing. Analyzing the painting and researching the history of the time period that Salvador Dalí composed his masterpiece were some of the most difficult parts of composing the argument because from that research came the difficulty of trying to get inside Salvador Dalí’s head, to try to figure out the precise meaning that he meant to convey. Although that was probably the most difficult component of composing the argument, that does not mean the others were easy. Putting all of the thoughts of an image into one cohesive essay of only words also proved to be very difficult. When revising this essay after reading the peer reviews the most significant change that was made was to enhance the argument and point of the essay. It is so easy to get lost in the beauty and description of the painting, that at times throughout the essay the argument fell short. However with careful time management it was all accomplished.

Salvador Dalí manipulates his painting perfectly to convey the meaning that he was trying to get across in 1931 when he created the painting. He uses color to highlight the back and shadow the front of the painting to signify night time. In the night time shadows he draws the unidentified dream like creature lying asleep. The final touch to convey the meaning is the ants eating away at the insignificant stopping clock as the creature drifts into dream land. Salvador Dalí is a magnificent artists who’s masterpiece The Persistence of Memory creates a message and meaning to the audience that is ahead of its time, the message that time does not matter when you are dreaming. 

Works Cited:

"Sigmund Frued." Dream Moods. Dream Moods Inc., 1/20/2012. Web. 1 Apr 2012. <>.

Hamzelou, Jessica. "Reality gets a kick via dream control." New Scientist. 212.2844/2845 (2011): 4-5. Print.

Peer Reviews:

Your Name:_______Shelby Garcia_____________

Writer’s Name: _____Holly Hixon____________

Visual Argument Peer Review

The visual image should contain a clear and specific statement of claim being made. The written text should address the process of completing the visual argument. To what degree does the writer:

•&νβσπ;Use clear and effective visual representation of support to claim, that is, how effective is the image they’ve chosen and why and how is it (or isn’t it) effective?  Explain.

The image they have chosen to convey the meaning of the paper is effective because the paper is about the image. But I’m a little confused on what the paper is supposed to be about. The dream state itself or Sigmund Freud’s theories. But none the less the image is very effective in how it represents the essay.

•&νβσπ;Use design principles effectively? How well does it follow the principles of design explained in the textbook chapter on visual argument? Please indicate how they do this or how you interpret what they’ve done.

There is only one photo is the visual design of the website. It is placed well and made the center of attention but if the essay was about dreams and/or Sigmund Freud’s theories then I would’ve added more photos of dream stages or of Sigmund Freud himself. But it does follow the principles of design

•&νβσπ;Make effective incorporation of ethos, pathos, and logos in the visual representation of the argument? Please explain what you notice.

The project as a whole has more logos than anything. It’s lacking pathos and ethos but in the essay it explains it. But the visual image and essay do not correlate together in ethos and pathos.

•&νβσπ;Who is this visual image/argument geared toward? Who is the target audience? How do you know that?

It’m s geared toward educated people who want to know more about dreams, the target audience is anyone, I know this because there isn’t a specific target or audience that the writer is leaning to.

•&νβσπ;How well does the written text provide thorough, clear, and thoughtful answers to questions in the essay? Explain.

The written text is a little confusing because I don’t fully understand what point the writer is trying to get across, the text explains somewhat but if there were more images I think that would help. The answers are thoughtful and clear I’m just confused and what the topic is. 

Visual Argument Peer Review

Your Name:_______Jake Slatnick_____________

Writer’s Name: _____Holly Hixon___________

The visual image should contain a clear and specific statement of claim being made. The written text should address the process of completing the visual argument. To what degree does the writer:

•Use clear and effective visual representation of support to claim, that is, how effective is the image they’ve chosen and why and how is it (or isn’t it) effective? Explain.

The images do a  good job representing the argument. The picture chosen is a very famous picture that has ALOT of meaning and can be interpreted in many ways. I think it would look more effective though if it had its title and was on a separate background besides black.

•Use design principles effectively? How well does it follow the principles of design explained in the textbook chapter on visual argument? Please indicate how they do this or how you interpret what they’ve done.

 The only visual argument is the picture front and center on top of the essay. I would again like I said above to put the title of the picture of above it because its a very strong name and it should have a different background other than black to make it pop more than it does. I would also say put a higher resolution picture and make it bigger.

•Make effective incorporation of ethos, pathos, and logos in the visual representation of the argument? Please explain what you notice.

 I would say the project is mostly logos over pathos and ethos. 

•Who is this visual image/argument geared toward? Who is the target audience? How do you know that?

I would say this is geared towards the more creative thinkers, higher educated, and people into psychology. It is more of something that people have to think about. Other essays are blunt arguments, are video games bad, is cyber bullying bad, but this is more of a thinker.

 •How well does the written text provide thorough, clear, and thoughtful answers to questions in the essay? Explain.

It is all well thought out and well written and it isn't choppy or anything but the overall point of the essay is a bit unclear.

Salvador Dali's World In The Persistence Of Memory

Salvador Dali's World in The Persistence
of Memory

Swept up by the complexities and urgency of our modern world,
humankind has seemingly lost faith in such clichés as "good things
come to those who wait." Commercialism has contributed to this effect,
driving people to come out ahead in the rat race, and has concreted
the postulation that success can be measured in gold. However, the
simple, observant mind of an artist claims contrary: a higher level of
importance lies in placidity and complacency, rather than earnings. In
The Persistence of Memory, Salvador Dali illustrates a surreal
landscape that suggests peacefulness is to be cherished and time has
no relevance in an effort to reshape public mindset.

In the distance of The Persistence of Memory, a rocky waterfront is
exhibited. The cliffs are a depiction of Salvador's beloved Cape Creus
of Spain. There he often sat among the hills and soaked in the amazing
surroundings, searching for inspiration. One hot August day while he
ate his lunch, overlooking the water, he noticed that his Camembert
cheese became increasingly runny. Mesmerized by this sight, he became
compelled to incorporate the principle of the misshapen substance into
his paintings, thus creating the famous melting watches
( In tribute to the place that birthed such an idea,
he used Cape Creus as his backdrop because it was a definitive symbol
of his personal peacefulness. He claimed that while on the crag, time
slipped by as if it didn't exist, and therefore included the
comparison to demonstrate their homogeneity. Time and calmness are
congruent because both progress unwavering since time manages to pass
freely without any necessary consciousness. Even the bluff itself
appears to be calm, as morning sun casts over its crevices, mollifying
the rocky peaks as it surmounts the watery base. The sea follows suit,
in that not a ripple taints its glassy surface, maintaining a hyaline
exterior into the horizon. Without any sign of disturbance, the serene
landscape consequently immerses the observer, preserving the peaceful
ultimate reaction.

Dali uses thought provoking images to stimulate personal response in
this painting. At first glance, the viewer's eye is directly brought
to the image of the melting clocks. These timepieces appear to be
hanging from a tree, sliding off a table, and resting on a face. They
give the impression that time has no limits and is completely
amorphous. In addition to the melting clocks, there is a gold pocket
watch swarmed by ants. Throughout his painting career, Dali used ants
as a symbol of death and decay. The apparently impertinent images
intend to portray the idea that time is expired, disintegrating, and
limitless, however, the two share relevance. The condition of the two
types of clocks represents the...

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