Friday, January 23, 2009

The Worms That Crawl The Earth

Abandonment is a key element of horror.

And a primal human fear.

When it occurs, especially when one is young, the consequences can last forever.

Hideshi Hino, the celebrated (by some) Japanese artist, depicts the subjects of abandonment and alienation with a mastery that is unequaled.
This amazing image of an unwanted, mutant child, staring out at the cruel world from its junkyard home, is beautiful and troubling.

Hino's ability to find beauty in the grotesque inspires sympathy in the viewer.

His work is totally unique. He patrols a world that festers beneath us. Where the unwanted, the misshapen, and the disfigured struggle for survival, only to be annihilated once gaining a tentative foothold.

Sympathy is a fascinating emotion, strangely out of vogue in our modern culture.

"I don't want your sympathy!" is a cry often heard.

The receiver of sympathy can feel reduced by its expression. Disempowered. The sympathizer can appear to be taking a higher status postion than the one receiving the sympathy, so it is repelled. As a result, sympathy is often withheld, at least in its purist form.

It's human to sympathize. Natural. Sometimes, it is harder to emphasize, which is why empathy is often invited.

So where does all the sympathy go?

Perhaps it goes somewhere where it will not be rejected, where it can be fully expressed.

To the realm of art.

Art makes us feel. Specific art elicits specific emotions.

For me, an important function of my love for art of this nature is the sympathy it brings out of me. It's a pure, intense sympathy that is not stopped at the border by human rejection or a false show of strength.

We need to feel. We have so much inside us, so much history, that has produced feelings and reactions.

Accompanying sympathy is nurture. The desire to cradle. To make something "right", at least temporarily.

My personal relationship with horror involves the internal expression of love and sympathy for the oppressed, the rejected, the misunderstood, and those deemed way beyond redemption... or undeserving of sympathy.

I collect deformed and abandoned dolls for the same reason.

I can't possibly ignore them.

They always get a home with me.

But what happens when human rejection is absolute?

Where does one go next?

Hino's world is a world of unexpected possibilities and unlikely alliances.

Something need not be sanctioned in order to be embraced.

If one has been rejected by the world, one rejects the world in turn. Then embraces another.

In the foreword to Hino's "Hell Baby" (Blast Books, 1995; (c) 1989 Hideshi Hino), the following captures the zeitgeist of the artist's universe:

"Like the Worms That Crawl the Earth..."

Living like the worms that crawl the earth
Discarded like the worms that crawl the earth
Squashed like the worms that crawl the earth
Burdened with grief like the worms that crawl the earth
Holding your breath like the worms that crawl the earth

Let us return to the tender darkness
Into the silent, infinite darkness
We shall some day return

-- Shin-iye Antsu, Poetry of Darkness


"The Art of Hideshi" is published by Presspop Gallery; year of publication is not listed.


  1. Hideshi Hino's works are thrilling.
    You should write on William Essex (Pseudonym is John something).

    He wrote such horror classics as Slime, The Pack, and some other novels. Haven't read them in years.

  2. I plan to write on William Essex; I have all his novels and love them.

    Thank you for the suggestion.

    Yes, Hino's work IS thrilling.

  3. Wow. Great! I first stumbled upon Essex as a child when I purchased a "lot" of horror novels. In them was The Pack. I began to read and eventually tossed out all the other novels. I have had over 3 copies of this book and read it numerous times. What an experience.

  4. Essex has a very definite style. Essex or Excess? Not sure what his real name was. Like Guy N. Smith, he created a unique "world" in his novels.