The various findings in “Chicago Typewriter”: More on Dali + parallelism + deers
Hello, I’m @__jesse from Soompi, and thanks Mathed and Furbabe for inviting me to post on SikSeekLand. Previously, Furbabe shared a very interesting write-up on Salvador Dali’s melting clock. Here’s my own interpretation of the artwork’s relevance to the drama.
The Persistence of Memory
In this famous 1931 painting, we see pocket watches melting away under the sun in a desolate and barren landscape. The orange clock at the bottom left is covered with ants, which symbolise decay. This impermanent nature of time and life seems to contradict the artwork’s title, “The Persistence of Memory”. How can memory withstand the test of time and – in Chicago Typewriter’s context – reincarnation? For this, I’d like to suggest that while memories may appear to have faded from our consciousness, they are merely being transferred to a backup hard disk called the unconscious mind.
Salvador Dali was heavily influenced by surrealism, and notably Sigmund Freud’s writings on psychology. According to Freud, the unconscious mind stores all of our forgotten or repressed memories and past experiences, which influence and form our behaviours, habits and beliefs. In the same way, even though Se Joo and Seol have reincarnated, the memories of their past lives remain in their unconscious and continue to affect their thoughts, feelings and actions in their present lives.
Surrealists like Dali are fascinated with dreams because they provide clues on how the unconscious mind works. Freud described dreams as “the royal road to the unconscious” as it is in dreams that the ego’s defenses are lowered so that repressed memories may surface. In order to tap into his unconscious, Salvador Dali self-induced hallucinations in a process he called the paranoiac-critical method.
In Provenance is Everything, Bernard Ewell described how Dali worked:
“Sitting in the warm sun after a full lunch and feeling somewhat somnolent, Dali would place a metal mixing bowl in his lap and hold a large spoon loosely in his hands which he folded over his chest. As he fell asleep and relaxed, the spoon would fall from his grasp into the bowl and wake him up. He would reset the arrangement continuously and thus float along – not quite asleep and not quite awake – while his imagination would churn out the images that we find so fascinating, evocative, and inexplicable when they appear in his work.”
Dali floats in and out of sleep to conjure dream imagery from his unconscious. In the same way, Se Joo’s dreams and hallucinations tap into his unconscious, take him back to 1930 and unlock the secrets of his past life.
Note: There is a slight difference between the terms “subconscious” and “unconscious”. The subconscious, which Freud referred to as the preconscious, refers to the part of our minds that store memories which may be retrieved by choice at any time. Memories in the unconscious mind, however, cannot be retrieved by choice.
Parallels between 1930 and 2017
Maybe it’s fate. Or maybe it’s the unconscious mind at work. But for some reason, we often see history repeating itself in 2017…
Hwi Young crashed his bike; Se Joo crashed his car.
Hwi Young broke his arm and Soo Yeon became his typist; Se Joo broke his arm and Seol became his typist.
Twice, they dropped the pocket watch when running for their lives. It was a keepsake from Hwi Young’s dad, then it became a keepsake from Seol’s dad.
Lastly, Soo Yeon wanted to save her country but had to kill people; Seol wanted to save animals but ended up killing more.
Sejoo: By any chance, did you just get a strange feeling too?
Seol: Wait, you too?
Sejoo: It felt as if time and space were collapsing.
Not only did the past and present overlap, the present also served as a continuation of the past. The pocket watch stopped moving, presumably when Hwi Young died, and continued to tick when it reunited with Se Joo. This implied that the unfinished business of 1930 will need to be resolved in 2017.
In 1930, Hwi Young was a romance writer. But in 2017, Se Joo “abhors dating” and only writes thriller novels. It suggests that he was betrayed by his loved one.
In 1930, Soo Yeon was a gunman. But in 2017, Seol couldn’t hold a gun without thinking that she had killed someone before. Could it be that the person she killed was Hwi Young?
Sejoo: The garden looks too dreary. Should we raise a deer?
Besides Eugene O’Neill, the other portraits in Se Joo’s room are of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce, all of whom were influential writers in the 1930s. So it got me wondering if the deer head trophy hanging on the wall represents Hwi Young, suggesting that he had been hunted down. If Soo Yeon were the hunter, then it would explain why she unconsciously aspired to become a vet in her next life. And the “animal” she saved, was none other than Se Joo.