Thursday, November 5, 2009

In the eye of the outsider

There are a lot of things you think you'll do when you suddenly have a lot of time on your hands -- a lot of things people hope on your behalf you will do.  Miss Bender is awash in others' hope that she will use this time to write "her novel."    And perhaps I will, if I can get around the no-mocking clause. 

Certainly, we have passed the biggest hurdle in writing our novels, which is getting over the publishing hump.  Now that self-publishing is easier, and more professional looking (though no less expensive than it ever was) the work really is in the writing, not the submitting, right?


I did a lot of submitting as a fearless child-novelist.  Do not imagine Mistress Caroline as Mozart.  (Unless he is drunk and giggling; that is fairly accurate)  More like Van Cliburn -- no, wait... Bobby Fischer.  I hope that it was obvious to the editorial assistants who opened the envelopes that the author was 11.  That they smiled wistfully, folded the rejection into the envelope I had provided (shadily typed with the E's all full of crud).  I think it is more likely that they imagined me as a crazy recluse. (you Bobby Fischer...)

Or Antoine Wiertz -- a Belgian surrealist before there was surrealism, Wiertz developed a matte painting technique that took the shine out of oils and gave canvas work the flat finish of a fresco.  This allowed him to work in the kind of details seen in "Premature Burial" above.  Wiertz had precise technical skill and a taste for the odd and bizarre, which 1850s Europe was not quite ready for.  Impressionism was 20 years away, cubism and abstraction as fantastically foreign as the space age.  Everyone else was painting heroic Biblical and Shakespearean scenes like this --->

<-- Wiertz painted this.
Zoom right in.  She is shooting her assailant in the face.


You can see the Wiertz collection on display in Brussels -- forever  -- because Wiertz took the self-publishing route before he died.  The artist formerly known as Weirdo (I made that up.  The appropriate term in Dutch is Zonderling...)  left his collection to the government to be displayed in perpetuity.  You wish you had thought of it.

Crazy like a fox, all right.  Not only are these paintings disturbing, they are enormous, as much as 50 ft tall.  The country kicked in for the building to house them in and eventually Wiertzmuseum joined the family of The Royal Museums of Art and History.  brilliant.

One last example, then I will link you to my earlier review of the Kervorkian collection.  They could have totally hung out.  This one is 1864, "Hunger, Madness, Crime."  That is some messed-up s**t.

You can see why I am writing this instead of anything else.

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