Psychedelic novelist Todd Brendan Fahey has purchased from the Amsterdam art gallery Anton Heyboerwinkel what is believed to be the bulwark of "The Logbook of the Ship Henry David Thoreau," an obsessive and intimate mixed media project of an expatriate American artist/mystic known pseudonymously as Viktor IV before his drowning death in Amsterdam in 1986.
While on assignment for Smoke magazine last November, Professor Fahey,
author of the incendiary underground LSD novel Wisdom's Maw, claims he was
"directed" to a particular shop on Prinsengracht, a canal street in
downtown Amsterdam; after entering the shop, he was immediately struck by
the idiosyncratic force of the works of a particular artist. "It was as if
I were being beckoned into Aladdin's Castle from way out in some super-mall
parking lot," says Fahey, of his experience. "I will never be able to put
it into words; but there was a pull, a connection, and then, after studying
the many `Logbook' pages for several days in this shop, there came a long
moment of illumination."
Fahey describes this "illumination" as an ecstatic vision, in which he
claims to have understood the mystical emphasis of much of the `Logbook'
"It's not entirely bizarre," says Fahey, who is currently completing his
Ph.D. coursework in English at University of Southwestern Louisiana. "Allen
Ginsberg had an experience one day, in his early twenties, where he heard
and witnessed, or believes he did, the voice and personage of the mystic
poet William Blake. Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote the poem `Kubla Khan'
completely whacked in an opium trance. I was using psychedelics pretty
heavily during the writing of `Fear & Loathing in Amsterdam' for Smoke, and
feel as if I were privileged for a few days to some kind of Source. I had
many things happen to me in Amsterdam -- very powerful moments of insight
and registrations of the cosmic flow of things -- and during one of these
moments, it was impressed upon me from without, that I should bring back to
the U.S. these `Logbook' drawings of Viktor IV."
Born Walter Karl Gluck, the artist Viktor IV traveled to Amsterdam in the
early 1960s and settled there, living on a ship he christened the Henry
David Thoreau, after the philosopher who he claimed as his chief
inspiration and muse. A burly, rugged figure, Viktor IV was recognizable
amongst the quiet Amsterdam populace as the barefoot American hippie artist
who dressed in black, loved cats and young women, and worked tirelessly on
deeply personal and largely non-commercial projects aboard his canal-bound
A master scuba diver, Viktor IV drowned in June of 1986, while
performing underwater repairs to the Henry David Thoreau.
Todd Brendan Fahey, a
novice art collector, perceives in the "Logbook" pages the artist's
fascination with the "ecstatic vision." In this way, he compares the
drawings to the poem-paintings of American surrealist Kenneth Patchen.
"There is that same relentless focus on the All-At-Once, that so
characterizes the experiences of mystics in every religion and culture. The
rich, interconnectedness of all things. That is what Viktor IV is
expressing in these pages. And that is what I was feeling for much of my
stay in Amsterdam; as much as I was really out of my head most of the time,
I was, in another way, very grounded."
Unconcerned with commerce, Viktor IV created hundreds of these "Logbook"
drawings in the original, with no known professional reproductions, from
between 1966 and 1976, after which he turned his artistic vision to
clockmaking. The bulk of individual pages of The Logbook of the Ship Henry
David Thoreau is held by the Fodor Museum and the Stedelijk Museum, in
Amsterdam, where the adopted artist is revered as a free spirit. Viktor IV
visited the United States only a handful of times after emigrating to
Amsterdam, and is believed to have held only one American gallery
exhibition in his lifetime.
Professor Fahey hopes to arrange a traveling exhibition of his 35 pages
from The Logbook of the Ship Henry David Thoreau, by the artist Viktor
IV. Interested museums and art galleries in major American cities
should contact Fahey at the following address:
Todd Brendan Fahey
c/o Far Gone Books