Rambllings On Henry Darger

For the summer reading will involve the book on Henry Darger by Klaus Biesenbach, In the Realms of the Unreal by John G.H Oakes and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr and several self help books and art books.

As well as raiding the local library, setting myself 10 figure drawings, face studies and artist studies a day as well. For the sake of discipline and improvement it seems important, and in general to feel more confident with the way rendering works for me.

You’ll also probably see unrelated comics, some things about signs, layouts, learning programs, (hopefully getting better at) book binding, collaborations potentially with friends and the like. It should be a good summer.

A bit of a summary on what I know of Darger so far through the medium of a chat log with a friend:

[23:08:43] Lili:the darger dude I mentioned earlier
[23:08:43] Lili: lived till he was 80
[23:08:55] Lili: though his life arguably was a long string of sadness….
[23:09:03] Lili: even if he did leave a huge impact on the art world.
[23:09:07] Bente: ugh
[23:09:12] Bente: poor dude
[23:09:20] Lili: yeah
[23:09:24] Lili: he lost his mum
[23:09:29] Lili: then his dad gave away his sister
[23:09:35] Lili: who she died giving birth to
[23:09:41] Lili: then his dad got too old to work
[23:09:42] Bente: ah
[23:09:44] Lili: so he was in a boys school
[23:10:14] Lili: then either he was acting up in class or was caught wanking and was sent to a school for “the feeble minded”
[23:10:21] Lili: escaped when he was 16-17
[23:10:31] Lili: (so he was there for 5 years)
[23:10:39] Lili: (it was apparently a hellish mental place)
[23:10:52] Lili: didn’t get to finish his education or anything
[23:10:58] Lili: walked 170 miles to chicago
[23:11:02] Bente: sigh, prudish old people
[23:11:15 | Lili: and lived his life working as a janitor in a string of hospitals.
[23:11:25] Bente: I’d take the walk over the feeble minded place
[23:11:33] Lili: well he certainly did
[23:11:43] Lili: I seen a document reporting the abuses they seen in that place
[23:11:44] Lili: it was
[23:11:46] Lili: horrific.
[23:12:07] Lili: and then his three constants in life were his work, home and going to church
[23:12:09] Bente: yeah, old places like that… yikes
[23:12:16] Lili: and he had very few people in his life
[23:12:23] Lili: his pastor and a best friend
[23:12:34] Lili: and for most of his adult life wanted to adopt a child
[23:12:44] Lili: but, couldn’t for one reason or another
[23:12:55] Bente: 😦
[23:13:04] Lili: so the thing he is famous for
[23:13:06] Lili: or rather
[23:13:07] Lili: things
[23:13:15] Lili: is that he made these extremely extensive stories
[23:13:20] Lili: 15000 pages
[23:13:33] Bente: wow
[23:13:45] Lili: of the stories of seven girls called the Vivian girls who are fighting against an evil adult empire who like child slavery
[23:13:53] Lili: 60 years he spent on that
[23:14:05] Lili: and 10 years documenting weather reports
[23:14:11] Lili: binders and binders of reference materials
[23:14:15] Lili: (he was a hoarder)
[23:14:24] Bente: 😮
[23:14:30] Lili: a 5000 page biography
[23:14:54 | Lili: (260 pages are actually about him, the rest are a fictionalised raving story about a tornado called “sweetie pie”)
[23:15:17] Lili: and the 360 page script for the 15000 thing
[23:15:20] Lili: it is
[23:15:22] Lili: certainly
[23:15:25] Lili: damn impressive
[23:15:34] Lili: and they only found all of it after he died.
[23:15:48] Lili: so, he literally didn’t show anyone his work for his entire life
[23:15:52] Lili: had little education
[23:15:55] Lili: no art education
[23:16:06] Lili: but was heavily influenced by pop culture, literature, film and comics.
[23:16:16] Bente: hmm…
[23:16:29] Bente: insane internal drive
[23:16:35] Lili: yes
[23:16:43] Lili: a lot of people think he had autism
[23:16:48] Lili: because he certainly was obsessive
[23:16:54] Lili: he had to be doing something every minute
[23:17:04] Lili: if he ran out of things to do he’s start copying the bible
[23:17:05] Lili: as in writing it out
[23:17:32] Lili: but yeah
[23:17:37] Lili: I have to do a thing on him
[23:17:40] Lili: that’ll be….
[23:17:43] Lili: quite something.
[23:17:55] Bente: yeah:)
[23:18:02] Bente: the book thing
[23:18:11] Lili: it’s kinda…
[23:18:23] Lili: difficult to think about condensing or focusing on one aspect of someone like that
[23:18:40] Lili: since I’m just filled with an overwhelming sense of loss at how much he was deprived of
[23:18:44] Lili: and if he did have autism
[23:18:55] Lili: how he must’ve, possibly found it impossible to communicate conventionally
[23:19:17] Lili: (I was crying when I first read about him…)
[23:19:31] Bente: hit you hard
[23:19:51] Bente: maybe it’s the angle you should go for right there?
[23:20:10] Lili: yeah possibly
[23:20:15] Lili: it makes me reeeally sad
[23:20:38] Lili: I’ll play around with it either way, always lots of things to consider
[23:20:45] Lili: he spent a lot of time in church
[23:20:53] Lili: sometimes going at much as 8 times a day
[23:20:58] Lili: and rummaged in trash
[23:21:00] Bente: o_0
[23:21:11] Lili: and talked to himself loudly into the night
[23:21:14] Lili: arguing with himself
[23:21:16] Bente: and none of the good christians bothered to make friends
[23:21:17] Lili: swearing at god
[23:21:24] Lili: he was friends with the pastor
[23:21:37] Bente: yeah.. except the pastor
[23:21:48] Lili: it’s kind of a relief he at least had some kind of communication there
[23:22:00] Lili: when I read about him originally it had no mention of him interacting with anyone
[23:22:03] Lili: and it was like
[23:22:12] Lili: what would your be like
[23:22:15] Lili: if you couldn’t
[23:22:19] Lili: communicate properly
[23:22:31] Lili: and also had no one in a close relationship
[23:22:36] Lili: that’s mostly what upset me
[23:23:03] Lili: but yeah sorry for the big tangent
[23:23:09] Lili: just find it all so fascinating
[23:23:18] Bente: don’t worry
[23:23:30] Bente: you should probably copy paste all that
[23:23:37] Bente: and add that to your work
[23:23:41] Bente: 🙂
[23:23:52] Lili: good idea!
[23:23:58] Lili: I might put it on my blog.
[23:24:05] Lili: I’ll edit out your name if I do though.
[23:24:30] Bente: it’s fine 😉
[23:24:46] Lili: (I didn’t even get into the subject matter of his work)
[23:24:54] Lili: (people think he was one of three things)
[23:24:57] Lili: (a pedo)
[23:25:03] Lili: (a gay man)
[23:25:08] Lili: (or a man who thought he was a child)
[23:25:17] Bente: the usual suspects
[23:25:21] Lili: yes
[23:25:28] Lili: had this conversation with my dad last night
[23:25:42] Lili: he drew a lot of children with erect penises
[23:25:43] Lili: or
[23:25:46] Lili: girls
[23:25:49] Lili: (previously)
[23:25:53] Lili: suddenly with boy parts
[23:26:16] Bente: ah… or he had some hang ups from child hood
[23:26:19] Lili: so everyone is like, is this
[23:26:22] Lili: representing him
[23:26:25] Lili: yes very likely
[23:26:32] Lili: he had an obsession with innocence i think
[23:26:49] Lili: because he was constantly using little girls as his main characters against forces who were oppressing them
[23:26:59] Lili: and he was very big into like women’s rights and children’s rights
[23:27:25] Lili: so possibly it was simply that he wanted a story which represented reality to some degree and his headspace and ….
[23:27:39] Lili: that could lead to a better situation for things he had suffered himself
[23:27:50] Bente: yeah
[23:27:51] Lili: he was a bit like a fan fiction writer at points though
[23:28:03] Lili: inserted himself, other characters from things he liked, again and again
[23:28:11] Lili: multiple universes and endings for the story
[23:28:15] Lili: revisions and rerevisions
[23:28:24] Lili: one thing no one can deny is his obsessiveness.
[23:28:36] Bente: hehe… a person with no editor
[23:28:40] Lili: yep
[23:28:52] Lili: George RR Martin’s Victorian counterpart.
[23:29:00] Lili: or…
[23:29:08] Lili: actually i don’t know if 1900s were victorian
[23:29:13] Lili: world war time counterpart.

(It was Edwardian).


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