The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinnian War Storm, as caused by the Child Slave Rebellion

My Netflix queue was getting a bit low, so I started looking for more films to add. Okay, more documentaries, as I haven't been in a mood to watch fiction for some time now. During my search, I came across In the Realms of the Unreal, a documentary on Henry Darger, a recluse that lived in Chicago, working as a janitor who in his spare time wrote a 15,000 page novel The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinnian War Storm, as caused by the Child Slave Rebellion (the book takes place on a different plant, larger than Earth, about a war that is lead by seven little girls (the Vivian Girls) leading a rebellion against the Glandelinians, who enslave children just for the fun of it). Along with the book he painted over 300 images (may not be work safe as they include nudity) that is considered some of the best examples of outsider art.

He also wrote a 5,000 page autobiography (about 200 pages cover his life—after that it goes non-linear into wild flights of fancy) and an 8,000 page sequel to The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinnian War Storm, as caused by the Child Slave Rebellion nominally named Further Adventures in Chicago: Crazy House which continue the adventures of the Vivian Girls in Darger's native Chicago (it was never given a title by Darger).

It's not clear if Henry Darger was insane or not—clearly he didn't fit in with society, living along in a one room apartment with his only employment being as a janitor, with no friends at all. His childhood was horrible—his mother died during childbirth when he was three or four (and the sister that was born was given immediately up for adaption—he never saw her again) and at eight, his father sent him to live in an orphanage since he was unable to take care of Henry. He then lived at orphanages and mental institutions until he escaped at 16 or 17. From then on, he worked as a janitor and at night, wrote what is considered the longest novel ever written (I mean, fifteen thousand pages for a single novel—Ayn Rand didn't write a novel that long, and even L. Ron Hubbard's Mission Earth Series is only about half the length of The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinnian War Storm, as caused by the Child Slave Rebellion).

And all of this might have gone unnoticed except his landlord, famed photographer Nation Lerner recognized what he had after his tennent Hanry Darger died (in 1972 or '73). It was clear that Darger never intended anyone to see any of this, and because of that, it has an emotional truthfulness to it (enough such that most that see his artwork feel uncomfortable) and that makes him all the more interesting.

After all that, I just had to see “In the Realms of the Unreal” and added it to my Netflix queue.

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