December 17, 2016

Dali's Sacrement and Bush's Body

Bush's bath painting is a self-person body view of the painters feet.

Philippe Rochat seems to claim that the intra-psychic Other argued by psychologists to be required for self-cognition (Freud's super-ego, Mead's generalised other etc) hangs out in our first person body view (Rochat, 1997, p.105, Rochat, 2009) . Under Rochat's interpretation, I believe, infants first get to know their first person self and then spectate their mirror reflected and pronounal selves ("I" "me") from the perspective of the first person self. In other words, our first person self sticks around to watch us. No wonder that for the longest time humans made models of it in the form of Venus figurines (McDermott, 1996), or that first person body may appear in various myths as headless or animal-headed giant such as the Buraq, Ganesh and Sphinx, and perhaps the eyes and nose of Izanami from Japan, and the brow of Puntan from Guam.

Salvadore Dali, in the only painting of his that I have hung on my wall (in postcard form) represented the Sacrament of the Last Supper, where presumably Jesus is saying, "do this in memory of me (breaks bread) this is my body". In Dali's rendition the disciples hunched over their own bodies, whereas Christ is pointing to his own and a giant headless one, corresponding to the self views of his disciples, floating over the room. It seems to me that Pure Land Buddhist monks sometimes find themselves likewise in lap of this vast self person that loves us so fiercely we tend to forget.

Bush is reported to have said that he intended his bath picture to shock. I think that when we really see our 'I see I' self-person-body view again it may be quite a shock. In his picture of himself in the shower Bush shows two third person reflections one of his face the other of his back. The person that sees us in the mirror is in fact, like the legs's in Bush's bath, someone else, and upside down. Dali knows that when he breaks bread, his self-person view body of his torso will always be that of someone else, his saviour. George W. Bush in his shower may be trying to persuade himself that all his bodies are his own. Or perhaps former President Bush knows all this. Similar to my picture of myself in front of a mirror, you can't see Bush's right hand.

The above image is the Google search results for George W Bush paintings, superimposed with the wikipedia image for Salvadore Dali's "Sacrement of the Last Supper" both reduced in size.
Should anyone wish that I cease and desist I will immediately. Please leave a message in the comments below or please send a missive to the mail link at

McDermott, L. (1996). Self-representation in Upper Paleolithic female figurines. Current Anthropology, 37(2), 227-275. Retireved 17th December 2016 from
Rochat, P. (1997). Early development of the ecological self. Evolving explanations of development, 91-122.
Rochat, P. (2009). Others in mind: Social origins of self-consciousness. Cambridge University Press.


Posted by timtak at December 17, 2016 03:08 PM
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