Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Monday, January 24, 2005  

Fascination with Madness

I was watching the movie critics' TV show last night, Ebert and Roeper, when they featured a documentary about so called Outsider artist, Henry Darger, who lived in complete obscurity and lonliness while creating a 15,000 page fantasy world with pictures.

The documentary looked interesting so I began googling today to find out more about the film and the man.

Many of Darger's pictures
are quite amazing like this one.

One description is:

Epic, too, is a poor word choice. Darger's "book" is doubtless among the longest ever written, running 15,145 pages in all -- single-spaced, typed, legal-size pages, mind you -- not including the hundreds of accompanying watercolors, some as long as 10 feet, depicting a world that looks something like The Wizard of Oz as seen by a pedophile on a bad acid trip.

I would at that there is an oriental or Japanese quality to the art, a kind of early anime.

Another article which describes Darger's work is here.

Reading Darger is like listening unrelieved to a child chatter all day long. There are going to be funny bits, even brilliant ones, and little unexpected phrasings that will make you smile or blink; but by nightfall, those clever moments are going to shimmer as oases in a vast desert of repetitious nonsense. Children never find their own stories and songs dull, no matter how often they voice them.

The artworld is making quite a big deal of Darger (or any sad case who happens to throw some color on paper in a way that has momentary appeal).

People once made a small deal out of the mad English poet, John Clare, who wrote a few okay poems (while sane), but doesn't come close to the greatness of William Blake, whom he was often compared with.

I'd say that the documentary on Darger, In the Realms of the Unreal, will be worth seeing, but the whole notion of mad geniuses, fashionable outsiders, and utter eccentrics making great art demonstrates more the poverty of many critics and voyeurs than the richness of crazy minds.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 10:19 AM |