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Why Did He Scream So?   Jun 24 2005

Filed under Menticulture by Ewen Shearer

Painters, such a sad old bunch
None it seems more so than Munch
Upon that bridge with skies afire
A meme took flight to never tire

   ~ Ewen

On August 26-27, 1883, the island Krakatoa tore itself apart, literally vaporizing to journey around Earth as airborne ash for several decades. As spectacular moody sunsets both fazed and fascinated people around the globe, the paranoid fared worst.

This acutely intrepid reporter, after viewing a documentary on Krakatoa referring to William Ashcroft’s meticulous paintings of orange ruby skies, and shortly afterwards while polishing up some SheepOverboard trivia (you might have been so unfortunate to have read) suddenly – without prior cues – wondered if Munch’s inspiration for The Scream originated in the Krakatoa sunsets that would have persisted for maybe a decade or more after the years commonly ascribed.

That thought, damn it, is not only well taken care of by all and sundry in the art business but probably was obvious to Munch’s contemporaries and everyone since. Not to be so easily thrown to the mat of unoriginal thoughts, I have a new theory, having read his bio, that the sky’s redness was due to bloodshot eyes of our guzzler-artiste.

Before sending you to some resources on this fascinating Munch meme, and dabbling in the sandbox of mirth spawned lovingly from simulacra daubings, one ponders historical accuracy of accounts attributed to Munch, explaining his thoughts leading to painting The Scream. What did he really say?

Firstly, replicating on the Internet, are these apparent quotes:

I was going down the street behind two friends” wrote Munch in 1892. “The sun went down behind a hill overlooking the city and the fjord. I felt a trace of sadness and the sky suddenly turned blood red. I stopped walking, leaned against the railing, dead tired. My two friends looked at me and kept on walking. I watched the flaming clouds over the fjord and the city and my friends kept on. I stood there shaking with fear and I felt a great unending scream penetrate unending nature.”

Another passage:

I felt a loud scream and I really heard a loud scream…. The vibrations in the air did not only affect my eye, but my ear as well because I really heard a scream. Then I painted The Scream”   ~ wrote Munch in 1892. Edvard Munch, from unpublished notes, kept in the Munch Museum, Oslo.

Second, this 2004 archived page from The Munch Museum. The article on this page at the Internet Archive has almost completely disappeared, save for fragments, like this quotation. It is worth a visit to the Wayback Machine to read in entirety. The author is Arne Eggum:

I was out walking with two friends – the sun began to set – suddenly the sky turned blood red – I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence – there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city – my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an endless scream passing through nature.

Or Norwegian source:

Jeg gik bortover veien med to venner – så gik solen ned – himmelen ble pludselig blodrød – jeg stanset, lænet mig til gjærdet træt til døden – over den blåsvarte fjord og by lå blod og ildtunger – mine vænner gik videre og jeg stod igjen skjælvende av angst – og jeg følte at det gik et stort uendelig skrig gjennem naturen

Edvard Munch biography at the new Munch Museum website

Now to the real purpose of this page.

Searching for Scream images on the web showed dozens of variations of his original, most of them cheeky, and might we say, “fair use”?

We all love The Scream, we worship it – craven with graven images, mimicry, caricature! So I collaged them into a giant image, and at the same time created a new verb from the noun ‘collage.’ There are hundreds more to add but, well, life is short.

Click here to view the montage below shown in full size. Warning, it takes a while to download and display. Quite large. Remember to scroll down after it appears.

Down Under


Ink Irresistable

Not the NYT Montaigne's what would I know? Huxley's almost anything about almost everything. Or Bierce and nothing matters. Codifying life's inimitable impromptu inclines irrestistably to essay.

Civilization ..

   defiles itself

Times past when warlords, priests and royalty hoarded luxury, life was a short grim struggle. Today most want for little yet still deny dignified survival to working poor, and ravage entire countries as collateral to our laissez faire fiesta.
double arrowOn not shedding a tear ..

A Century of Imperialism

     ..hasn't dulled the urge

American foreign policy never a pretty sight, finesse of the mobile crane chase from Terminator 3. Export democracy? Cure worse than disease. double arrow Read more ..


~ its own reward

And what's going on in Land of the Free, Home of the Brave? As 40% of kids fail graduation the Iraqistan wars suck $2.4 trillion [CBO 2017 est]. Imagine this staggering sum applied to rebuilding The Great Society. Think of others.
double arrow Where Charity Begins

This lazy unemployed

..crack-smoking welfare queen ran up U$15 trillion debt

lazy homeless scum
Odd how the ultra-wealthy gull even working poor to blame unemployed, disabled, weak, and vulnerable while but for the grace of God go all.

If he's a welfare leech then your soul is with the sociopaths and predators who own Warshington and its minions, the Repugnicans and Dumfocrats, gutting a once noble nation that aspired to equality.

This elite will survive the US economic train wreck, land softly on 300 million plundered taxpayers, then from fortresses of luxury and privilege prey elsewhere for spoils.

The dawn of civilization was greatly exaggerated.

Munch Montage

Painters, such a sad old bunch
None it seems more so than Munch
Upon that bridge with skies afire
A meme took flight to never tire.
2arrow gif

Quote Me

"I am an obsessive rewriter, doing one draft and then another and another. In a way I have nothing to say but a great deal to add
~ Gore Vidal

"Rulers of state are the only ones who should have the privilege of lying" (Well, that explains the last 2500 years)
~ Plato

"By 'known unknowns' I was referring to the universe's dark matter.."
~ Donald Rumsfeld

"I have neither time nor inclination to communicate the fullness of my heart in speech, I am resolved to do it in writing, and to print myself out.."
~ Joseph Addison