Sunday, May 18, 2014

Edward Gorey Documentary Needs Your Help : A Plea From Morbid Anatomy Provocateur in Residence Mark Dery

Mark Dery--Morbid Anatomy Provocateur in Residence and author of a forthcoming biography of Edward Gorey--has brought to our attention a Kickstarter project beyond worthy of our support, namely a new documentary on that inimitable artist/writer/eccentric Edward Gorey. Below is a characteristically brilliant guest post by Mr. Dery about the project, which you can support by clicking here, and learn more about in the Kickstarter video above. Also: word is that The Morbid Anatomy Museum might well be hosting a special screening for the film when completed, so stay tuned for more on that as it develops! And, if you love Edward Gorey as we do, please consider supporting this important and excellent project!
He shrank from the word “macabre,” routinely applied to his art and writing, yet the first novels he read, after teaching himself to read at the age of three, were of course Frankenstein and Dracula. He kept a mummy’s head in his New York apartment, the accidental discovery of which, while he was out, resulted in him being called down to the police station for a gentlemanly colloquy on suspicion of murder. He wrote stories about the infanticidal Moors Murderers and little innocents sacrificed to Insect Gods. He penned a deadpan parody of Edwardian pornography in which Gerald, infamously, “did a terrible thing to Elsie with a saucepan.” He was an ardent collector of post-mortem daguerreotypes—specifically, Victorian photos of dead babies, which he pressed a reluctant friend into procuring, surreptitiously, at postcard shows, back when such tastes were outré. An imperishable aesthete, he loved the proto-Surrealist melodramas of the silent-movie director Feuillade and the waspish wit of the screamingly gay Victorian novelist Ronald Firbank, yet was also an unapologetic fan of straight-to-video horror movies like Suture and insisted with a perfectly straight face that William Shatner was one of the great thespians of our age. Though endlessly tolerant of the black-clad fans who loitered palely on his doorstep, he is undoubtedly shoulder-rolling in his grave at his reputation, in some quarters, as the genial, bearded Granddaddy of the Goths—or would be, if he were buried, which he isn’t, having been cremated and scattered on Cape Cod, though he does have a disappointingly perfunctory grave marker—no urns, weeping willows, or lachrymose angels—in the family plot in Ohio, of all unimaginably perverse places.
He is, of course, Edward Gorey, legendary eccentric and the author and illustrator of such poisonous little morsels of black-comic camp as The Gashlycrumb Tinies and The Pious Infant.
And he needs your help.
Christopher Seufert, a Cape Cod-based photographer and documentary filmmaker who is sitting on top of an incredible trove of rare, never-before-seen video footage of the reclusive, brilliant Gorey, has launched a Kickstarter bid for his Edward Gorey Documentary Project, here:
Seufert’s interviews with Gorey, and his cinema-verite footage of Gorey being Gorey, are fabulous stuff, but you, along with other, far less deserving souls, will never see them if Seufert doesn’t make his modest funding goal, which is why I’m fervently hoping you’ll consider making a rattling sound in his Kickstarter cup.
In the course of interviewing Seufert for the Gorey biography I’m writing for Little, Brown, I’ve gotten a glimpse of Seufert’s Gorey archives, and can say with unfeigned enthusiasm that they constitute a cabinet of droll, delightful curiosities: Gorey herding his many cats (and conversing with them all the while) around a house overstuffed with finials and sugar skulls and teetering heaps of books; Gorey rehearsing puppet plays with his troupe the Theatricule Stoique; Gorey eating at and holding forth at the local cafe where he breakfasted and lunched every day; Gorey musing, idly, about the myriad subjects his restless, polymathic mind ranged over, from the grade-Z horror films he loved to Victorian nonsense verse to his own, utterly sui generis art.
If you are a person who has ever had a fantod stuffed and preserved under glass, or who owns a well-thumbed copy of the eleventh volume of The Encyclopedia of Unimaginable Customs, or who applauded when the infant’s trajectory passed him over the rectory/ and into a lily-choked pond, please consider donating to the Edward Gorey Documentary Project. Time flies! Think of the children. Specifically, of Fanny, sucked dry by a leech. And Titus, who flew into bits. And my personal favorite, Neville, who died of ennui. Like you, it has always been my life’s dream to die of ennui, but not before the Edward Gorey Documentary is fully funded. “Remember the widows and orphans,” as Edward admonished, in the little sign he drew for the Yarmouth Port café he frequented.
Morbidly, Mark Dery
(Fellow devotee of the Morbid Anatomy Museum and author of the forthcoming Doubtful Guest: The Mysterious Mind and Legendary Life of Edward Gorey)
Image via Flavorwire.

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