Friday, January 1, 2010

Darger on the Battery, or "Radio Waves are Alive!"

The little girl daydreaming in this photo sits on a rock on 'The Rock,' Newfoundland. She spends her bleached days under a bakeapple tree in the Battery, overlooking The Narrows between the natural Harbour of St. John's, and the open Atlantic. Not far from her perch, Marconi received the first wireless Transatlantic signal, a repeating beep representing the letter 'S.' Marconi was told many times that it would be impossible, yet, on December 12th 1901, the signal sent from Poldhu, Cornwall in the UK reached Marconi's receiver on Signal Hill.

What strikes me about this little dreamer from the Battery is that she looks exactly like one of Henry Darger's gender defying Vivian Girls, the warrior innocents that populated his Realms of the Unreal, fighting dragons, insects, and adults in the paintings and novel found in Darger's Chicago apartment after he died. The little Vivian Girl from the Battery has left her fictional realm to guard The Narrows where the open, unknown, and undefined realm of the impossible meets the Harbour of what is known, accepted, safe, and predictable.

What we live with today is not all we will ever be stuck with. As my friend Chris Korte often says, quoting the late Zoe Lund, "That which is not yet, but which ought to be, is more real than that which merely is." Or as Herbert Marcuse put it in One Dimensional Man, "...the artistic universe is one of illusion, semblance, Schein. However, this semblance is resemblance to a reality which exists as the threat and promise of the established one." Like this Vivian Girl, and the radio signal that reached the hill behind her in 1901, the impossible things the dreamer sees eventually come to life, interrupting the course of the world we know.

1 comment: