ONE! HUNDRED! DEMONS!

Posted: January 23, 2016 in Chat
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Many books I blog about have been shared by my wife. This is another one.

One! Hundred! Demons! By Lynda Barry. Sasquatch Books, Seattle. ISBN 1570614598. 2002.

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What is it? What’s it about?
It’s an illustrated book drawn and fully illustrated throughout its 224 pages by Lynda Barry.
It’s all about energising yourself by clearing your workspace.
When you’re ready to get on with some work, your own work, what happens? Those little niggles, discomforts, and what is worse bad memories, negative voices, the whole shebang of undermining emotions and thoughts pop up and want attention.

This book’s raison is based on a painting exercise technique Lynda learned from a chance encounter with the book of a 16th century Japanese monk, Hakuin Ekaku.
She uses ink block and brush throughout. Her book is lovely. The more you do… the more you understand.
She catches some lovely poignant moments, just in a sketch.

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The aim is to identify these little demons that hold you back, capture them in a picture, or set of pictures as here, see them for what they are.
Her list is semi-autobiographical; she catches eighteen of her semi-own little blighters in this book.

Some are surprising, like Resilience.
“When I was little,’ she writes, ‘bad things had gone on, things too awful to remember but impossible to forget.  When you put something out of your mind, ‘she asks pertinently, ‘where does it go?’
Kids are young enough to bounce back, we say. Ok, some are, yes. But once we bounce we have to keep bouncing, every time it comes back to us. A lifetime of bouncing. How do we learn to cope?

Acknowledge this demon and have a good look at how it works, and how it works you.
This is why this illustrated narrative format is so good: if you have the skill to draw you can do this. And some of them are the ones that say/shout You’re Wasting Paper And Time! And also You Can’t Draw!
The trick is the time you put in to drawing, catching the drawing, undermines its hold on you. You look intimately at its contours, its space/environment, you ‘know’ it. After that the question is: just who is in control now, eh?

Then they need to have their own little place, as you put them back. And not all mixed in with the others causing a rumpus.

Divide and Conquer?

The little Lynda in the book isn’t a pretty, a princess, a girly girl, she’s toothy, gobby, weak, credulous but also heartbreakingly hopeful – and constantly let down by the world. Sound familiar?

In another section she ponders Hate. Authority denounces hate from on high: parents, teachers: Thou Shalt Not Hate!
This just confuses growing emotions all the more. A substitute teacher stood in: It is possible to Hate something about a person you Like. And to Like something about a person you generally… Don’t Like.
It was a revelation to growing minds!

The teacher, of course, was reprimanded.

What about the little girl she used to play with? She was a couple of years younger, but lived nearby, and was a good playmate. Until that age when those two years began to make a difference, and maturity stepped in. And the young person felt so let down by you going off with the others – after all, in your young days you had sworn everlasting friendship. That sense of betrayal.
You were becoming one of those grown-up who let kids down.
Oh, it was years ago, kids forget. But here it is. Again.

 

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And what about Lynda Barry?
Part Filipino, part Irish, a bit of Norwegian there too. And Wisconsin – Seattle based for her earlier life
After graduation her cartoons were taken on by some American newspapers. A friend of Matt Groening from college days.
She has taught in and been Artist in Residence at several American colleges.

Oh, and she hates wind farms.

 

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