Friday, October 24, 2014

Arty Farty Friday ~ Edward Gorey - Quirk without Qualm, Outstandingly Outlandish.

Whatever else he did, cartoonist, illustrator and writer Edward Gorey inspired numerous other writers and artists to use multiple adjectives when describing his work, and himself: merry but macabre, eclectic and eccentric, whimsically wicked...and more. He's a good candidate, then, as Arty Farty Friday subject for the week leading to Hallowe'en.

Edward Gorey was born on 22 February 1925 in Chicago, at 7:25 PM, according to Astrodienst. He suspected that he had inherited his, mainly self-taught, artistic talents from a great grandmother who had been a popular nineteenth-century greeting card writer and artist. Sources describe Gorey as having been something of a child prodigy, exceptionally bright for his age. He grew up in Chicago and in teenage years started his artistic career early, publishing illustrations in the local newspaper. His time in Art School was cut short by world War II when was drafted into the U.S. Army. After the war he attended Harvard, studied French, was involved in the theater, graduated in 1950. He spent some time in Boston before moving to New York City to work for Doubleday Publishers, illustrating books and book covers.

Gorey published his own first book in 1953, an illustrated novella, The Unstrung Harp...or Mr Earbrass writes a novel. While continuing to illustrate for magazines and other authors, he began producing his own work, selling it in New York's Gotham Book Mart. In 1961 he founded his own publishing firm, Fantod Press.

“Mr Earbrass stands on the terrace at twilight. It is bleak; it is cold; and the virtue has gone out of everything. Words drift through his mind: anguish turnips conjunctions illness defeat string parties no parties urns desuetude disaffection claws loss Trebizond napkins shame stones distance fever Antipodes mush glaciers incoherence labels miasma amputation tides deceit mourning elsewards...”

Edward Gorey used many pseudonyms over the years, often based on anagrams of his own name. His pseudonyms included Ogdred Weary, Raddory Gewe, Wardore Edgy and Eduard Blutig… He never married and said he considered himself "asexual". He was a fan of ballet and theater, worked on stage design for a company in the town where he had a summer home, in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. In 1977, his design for a Broadway revival of Dracula won him a Tony award for costumes.

Gorey's cartoons and illustrations depict a weird Edwardian world inhabited by formally dressed men and women, often alongside strange but relatively harmless fantastical creatures. He occasionally offered thinly veiled cynical comment on the social scene. Alphabets, a parody on tarot cards, stories of children, not necessarily for children, limericks - all were treated to Gorey's signature whimsical weirdness, always with a faint hint of benign or comical menace.

Gorey, personally, is described like this at a PBS website devoted to their Mystery series for which illustrations of his are used as introduction:

Tall and lean, Gorey was bearded, but otherwise gloriously bald. He wore earrings and used to go about in long fur coats before his conscience got the better of him and he earned the blessing of animal rights activists by shedding his furs permanently. Gorey never married and admitted to no romantic relationships. He lived by himself in a rambling home in Yarmouth on Cape Cod, that dated back nearly 200 years. When he was not working on the 100 or so projects he had outlined for himself at any given time, he cared for his brood of six cats or indulged himself in one of his many special interests, mostly sedentary pursuits like watching old movies he taped off his satellite dish or zoning out on his favorite television shows, such as The X-Files.

Though Gorey has was called a recluse, he really did not behave like one. For nearly 30 years, he attended every performance of the New York City Ballet until the death of his artistic idol, choreographer George Balanchine. He ate both breakfast and lunch each day at Jack's Out Back restaurant in Yarmouthport, where he happily signed autographs for the occasional fan.

Often mistakenly labeled as "morbid," Gorey is was in fact a rather cheerful individual, whose sharply pungent observations were laced with a ready wit. He was a superbly entertaining conversationalist who frequently enlivened a chat by humorously slipping into a falsetto voice or punctuating his remarks with a "turkey gobble" sound that one isn't likely to hear ever again.

Gorey's friend, author Alexander Theroux, wrote about him:

" Gorey was a man of very peculiar habits: "I still see myself just sitting in his kitchen. There was always a melancholy tone to his voice, and he would give you white toast with a cinnamon shaker...........He was very campy, in the Susan Sontag sense," Theroux continues. "He could also be very serious. He read every book possible. He had wide interests. There wasn't a subject that didn't interest him. I always said I wondered which Edward Gorey would show up on a given day. He was a film critic, he was interested in cooking. He was a man that would seem to be a bird of paradise, very ornate — but he could be a quiet and subdued and fairly shy person." And you wouldn't know it from looking at his drawings, but Gorey also loved soap operas, especially All My Children.

"He would sew beanbags while he watched television," Theroux says of Gorey's eclectic habits. "He went to the movies almost every night. He could segue from reading a book on Wittgenstein to watching The Golden Girls. He was curious about everything, which is a great virtue in a person. He needed to have a lot of movement in his mind, a lot of water going over the stones in his mind."

Theroux says his old friend was a true free spirit; a curious, kind and adventurous soul.
"Edward was one of the few people I ever knew who did exactly what he wanted," he says. "He went his own way."

Edward Gorey died in April, 2000.

Other sources: Wikipedia; Info please; The Comics Journal.

Please click on any image for a sharper, clearer view of it.

These are my two favourites...


Data from Astrodienst:
born on 22 February 1925 in Chicago, at 7:25 PM. (AA rating - very reliable)

What do you get when a heavily concentrated dose of Aquarius and Pisces is mixed with multiple aspect patterns linking up any stray, spread, planets harmoniously or otherwise? A weird and rather wonderful personality such as Edward Gorey!

It'd be hard to find another chart with such a strong mix of Pisces/Aquarius - his Sun and Moon conjoined, and Uranus are in Pisces. Mercury and Venus are next door in Aquarius, Venus (the arts) making semi-sextile aspect to Uranus (eccentricity). Gorey simply had to develop into some manner of creative eccentric didn't he?!

His rising sign, Virgo, has reflection in his artwork - in the meticulous hatching and detail present in a lot of his drawings.

Pluto in Cancer and Saturn in Scorpio link by harmonious trine to one or other of the Pisces planets, forming a Water Grand Trine, adding hints of a certain darkness to an established creative eccentricity.

There's a chart configuration astrologers call a "mystic rectangle" (the green oblong with red diagonal cross), and a Grand Square (the red square with red cross), both quite easy to see in the illustration. Rather than going into detail about planets and signs involved, which could take many paragraphs(and become confusing for both writer and reader), I think it's sufficient to say that his chart is so well-integrated, his personality, eccentric though it may have been, would not have been a difficult one for him to deal with - he was able to embrace it, warts and all.

Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s).


mike said...

I wasn't familiar with him, per se, but definitely his art work that I've seen in several places, regularly on PBS' "Mystery". I like his quirky art, but very much his written accompaniments to his art.

His chart is rather exceptional for all its various inter-related aspects...aspect within aspects. His Venus-Mars-Saturn T-square may explain his sexuality (or lack). He also has a Jupiter-Uranus-Neptune yod, that turns into a kite, with Venus at the Jupiter-Uranus mid-point. This kite formation, with Venus in the 5th opposed Neptune, would certainly push the creative boundaries, as he displays.

He's another of your Arty-Farties that I would enjoy as a neighbor or friend...LOL.

mike (again) said...

A bit off topic - One of my observations of social interaction and astrology is how an individual perceives their own positioning. Some perceive the world as their own, the master of their own boat, the aggressive personality. Others perceive the world as to how they fit-in to the world, one of many players with others more in charge of the boat, the passive personality.

The astrology charts that I've cast for individuals that I know well enough to determine this feature, those that are more take-charge tend to have their Moons in the first quarter and to a lesser degree, the second quarter. The more inward, passive individuals tend to have their Moons in the balsamic, fourth quarter, and to a lesser extent, the third quarter.

Gorey's Moon is JUST prior to conjunction to the Sun, but essentially within a few minutes of new Moon conjunction with the Sun. He's a perfect example of someone that doesn't seem to have had much concern for others' perceptions of himself and was more of a take-charge personality.

Previously, I thought this could be due to Cardinal-sign influences, but over the years, I've found it correlates best with the phase of the Moon. Have you (or other commenters) noticed this?

anyjazz said...

Cartoonists are the premier impressionists. They can portray a mood, an expression, a message, a world with just a line or two.

Twilight said...

mike ~ Yes -I don't think I've seen more inter-related configurations in a chart. I thought mine contained a lot until I saw his!

I'd have enjoyed knowing him too. I discovered him first a couple of years ago. I bought a box of Christmas cards on e-bay with a selection of his work as decoration. I'd never heard of him until then, but searched around for information. I later bought slim large size book of some of his work (Edward Gorey - The New Poster Book ) which contains my favourite - the last of the string of images in this post. I love that one, have been going to extract it and have it framed, but don't want to destroy the book. One of these days I'll buy a proper print of it.

That's an interesting finding, mike - re Moon's quarters. I don't take note of that at all - maybe I should.

Gorey was an odd mix though - he took charge of his own little world, but didn't seem the type to, for instance, take charge of a factory or company or class of students.
But he was hardly passive, either.

Twilight said...

anyjazz ~ They can - I've always admired a good quirky cartoonist. Ronald Searle for instance...and James Thurber's little bits of artwork are wonderful.

Gorey put a lot of effort into some of his drawings - great amount of detail which isn't always the case for cartoonists proper, but those drawings still have a wonderful quirk in their content.

Some of his cartoon captions remind me of some of your jocular captions to vintage photos, by the way. :-)

Sonny G said...

I like his art but my fav is the Park People.. I may print that out and frame it..

thanks Annie

ps- read Mike's comment and have to go figure out where my moon is lol

LB said...

What a unique character! I'm encouraged to discover an artist with a Virgo Rising and Gemini MC, one who reads, goes to movies, enjoys the arts and is interested in a variety of subjects . . . but who also watches TV.:)

Ruler of his Midheaven, Mercury, is found in the 5th (his creations) conjunct Venus (art), ruler of his 2nd (talents, values and resources).

His clever use of words in combination with the images he created, and the story they tell, the way they make the viewer *think*, also fit with his Gemini MC and Mercury-Venus conjunction in quirky but big-thinking Aquarius. His art had a messsage.:)

My chart's Mystic Rectangle involves the same houses but different signs, although I also have a Virgo Rising and Gemini MC. It makes me think of my own need to create art with a deeper message (Mercury in Scorpio).

Are you feeling any better today, Twilight? You've been in my thoughts.:)

Twilight said...

Sonny ~ Park People - is that the one with the woman spread-eagled across tree branches, or the one with five guys sitting around in (I guess) a park?

I shall go look at my own Moon too.

LB said...

LOL! I'm with you Sonny, after reading mike's comment I had to figure out my and my husband's Moons. Maybe this will help:

I'm one of those First Quarter 'aggressive' types, whereas my husband was born during the Third Quarter of the Moon. I have to admit there's a noticeable difference in our basic approaches to life, though other things in our charts tell the same story.

Thanks, mike. One more thing for me to pay attention to.

And thanks Twilight, for taking the time (even as you're recovering) to shed light on another interesting artistic talent.

Something about Gorey's art reminds me a bit of a book I own, "The Book of Qualities" by J. Ruth Gendler. It's beautifully written with a few sparse, yet magical drawings. Kind of the opposite of Edward Gorey's work, which is more art and fewer words. Here's a link:

LB said...

This link will give you a better idea of what I mean about J. Ruth Gendler's work:

Twilight said...

LB ~ Thanks for the extra astrological pointers. Yes, his way with words is as quirky and clever as his artwork.
Behind some of the quirk and "snark" in some of the cartoons there's a subtle message embedded. Then at times he can just be silly - which I like too. His tarot deck ought to be fun!

Thank you for asking - my nauseous feelings have subsided a little today, after just one anti-fungal pill, but my foot is very sore...must be the gel going to work. One side effect of the gel is said to be burning, soreness, itching, at first, which is supposed to subside as body gets used to it. If it doesn't ease off tomorrow we shall go ask the pharmacist what I should do. Doc not on duty Friday and weekend.

Twilight said...

LB ~ Yes, Ruth Gendler's style would appeal to me too. thanks for the links. Her ability to do so much with so little in her sketches is priceless.

My Moon was First Quarter, husband's waxing gibbous. Don't know if that fits us or not. I'd have said we're more similar (probably due to his Aries Sun/Leo Moon; and my Aries Moon.)

LB said...

You and your husband have nice synastry between your luminaries - unlike me and my hubby. What's that like? Do you guys ever argue, lol?

My Moon is exactly square my husband's Sun! And his Moon in Virgo forms no aspects with my Libra Sun - that I'm aware of anyway.:) Like I've always said, I'm glad I didn't turn to astrology to help determine whether or not we were a LOVE match!

Twilight said...

LB ~ We argue occasionally - in a mild way, there's vary rarely any big serious "fight"...nothing's that important anymore.

I knew anyjazz and I would be compatible from the very first line he wrote. :-) I didn't know his birthday at that point, just his age.

Relying on astrology to define compatibility, too early, could mean a person missing what might have been a super relationship. As you know, LB. :-)

LB said...

Twilight ~ Yeah, I'm not sure about using astrology for anything other than helping us understand our challenges.

I don't think I'd use it to determine the viability of a particular relationship, though it might help clarify or back up my sense of things.

Am I imagining it or the tests we have to pass to prove we're not robots getting tougher?

mike (again) said...

LB - These robot tests do seem to be more vague and blurry...LOL. If I can't decipher, I copy my comment, then reload the page...voila...another choice. I've reloaded the page several times in a row attempting to find one I can possibly read.

Thanks for the link for Moon phases. That doesn't answer my question, though. I never felt that this was my world...more like I am one of the many and that I needed to fit-in somehow by obeying rules and regs. I have noticed that there are others that believe this is their very own world and they are assertive and aggressive with their agendas...they often ignore rules or redefine them to suit their purpose.

LB said...

mike ~ Mercury must be retrograde still cuz I definitely misunderstood the point of your observation.

I don't think it's my world either (where I can do whatever I please without considering others), though I do try to live according to my conscience rather than trying to align myself with popular opinion. Don't know how well I explained it, maybe you know what I mean.

I thought the difference in my husband's and my approaches had something to do with all the cardinal energy in my chart.

mike (again) said...

Re using astrology to predetermine a relationship. A couple of years ago, I used Solar Fire's synastry software to see how it would compare to a number of known, past relationships of mine, several romantic, several platonic, several doomed from the beginning. I was very amazed that the software was highly accurate on virtually all accounts and the software certainly passed the test. It made me wish that I'd used the software to evaluate the associations prior to forming the relationships! I lost the software when my computer crashed a couple of years ago, unfortunately, and haven't replaced it. The synastry feature is available on several websites, but I haven't tested those.

Twilight said...

LB & mike ~ Sorry about the robot test thingie - it appears we're stuck with it for the moment. I noticed that I'm getting hardly any spam in old comment threads - caught in a separate file (it didn't bother me - just a couple of clicks to delete all), but maybe Blogger had reason to try to eliminate it entirely.
I've looked around at the Help forum and didn't see anyone mentioning the robiot problem.
So...sorry, again, for the inconvenience. If you ever visit another Blogger blog and it doesn't have the robot thingie, do let me know with the URL, and I'll go ask the blog owner how they got rid of it. :-)

Unknown said...

He is one of my absolute favorite illustrators and now I can see why. Many of his planets hit my angles and planets. He was such a creative genius. Thank you for sharing!

Twilight said...

Unknown ~ He has become a favourite of mine too. Glad you enjoyed the post. :-)