by Jake Anderson
[cover image from Codex Seraphinianus]
The modern world doesn’t churn out grimoires and Books of the Dead at the same rate as our “black magic” inspired ancestors but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some pretty horrifying texts from the last century. You’ve probably never of these books because people are scared of them. They’re like the kid at the party with all black pupils who stands in the corner, smiling. I repeat: these books are not normal books. They come from minds that have gone to the very edge and, in at least one case, swan-dived right on over.
The book is actually similar to the legendary Voynich Manuscript in its largely unintelligible, syntax-less text and fascination with fauna and floral specimen. It also features “trucks with human heads, skeletons getting fitted for new bodies, and weird animals that don’t exist.”
This book was published in the early 80s, which probably added to its pop lore – it’s a book that went viral before viral was even a thing.
On the Writing of the Insane
This book may very well be the eeriest text of all time. Written by G. Mackenzie Bacon, medical superintendent at the Fulbourn asylum near Cambridge, England, the book contains the complex diagrammatic writings of an asylum patient who filled every centimeter of his pages with wild musings and diagrammatic text.
He was asked to abandon this writing style, to which he replied: “Dear Doctor, to write or not to write, that is the question. Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to follow the visit of the great ‘Fulbourn’ with ‘chronic melancholy’ expressions of regret (withheld when he was here) that, as the Fates would have it, we were so little prepared to receive him, and to evince my humble desire to do honour to his visit. My Fulbourn star, but an instant seen, like a meteor’s flash, a blank when gone. The dust of ages covering my little sanctum parlour room, the available drapery to greet the Doctor, stowed away through the midst of the regenerating (water and scrubbing – cleanliness next to godliness, political and spiritual) cleansing of a little world. The Great Physician walked, bedimmed by the ‘dark ages’ the long passage of Western Enterprise, leading to the curvatures of rising Eastern morn. The rounded configuration of Lunar (tics) garden’s lives an o’ershadowment on Britannia’s vortex…”
He later drowned himself in public.
The Story of the Vivian Girls
The Story of the Vivian Girls is an unparalleled example of “Art Brut,” or “Raw Art” (art made by the truly eccentric). After his death in 1973, it was discovered that reclusive American writer Henry Darger had penned a 15,145-page, single-spaced fantasy manuscript called The Story of the Vivian Girls, In What is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion.
The book contains graphic color illustrations and ranges in content from floral landscapes to child torture.
[Excerpts originally published on ODDEE.com]