To begin ...

As the twentieth century fades out
the nineteenth begins
it is as if nothing happened
though those who lived it thought
that everything was happening
enough to name a world for & a time
to hold it in your hand
unlimited.......the last delusion
like the perfect mask of death

Monday, February 14, 2011

Outsider Poems, a Mini-Anthology in Progress (22): Aloïse & the Theater of the Universe

"Aloïse was born Aloïse Corbaz in Lausanne in 1886 and never showed any interest in pictorial art before her confinement for schizophrenia in 1918. … She successfully finished her schooling at the age of 18 and then trained in a dressmaking school. In 1911, after a passionate love affair had been broken up by her elder sister Margueritte, she left for Germany. William II’s chaplain engaged her as his children’s governess in Potsdam. There she conceived a violent passion for the Kaiser himself. The outbreak of war in 1914 and her return home to Switzerland had catastrophic effects on her mental health.

"Four troubled years later, in 1918, she was diagnosed as schizophrenic and confined to the Cery Psychiatric Hospital near Lausanne. At Cery, she began an elaborate cosmogonic system which, paradoxically, changed the world she had fled in madness, into a metaphysical theater, the Theater of the Universe. Here, neither time, nor space, nor dimension exists; forms are metamorphosed and matter becomes essentially unstable.

"The world as recreated by Aloïse is cosmic and insubstantial, free of physical contingencies, in opposition to the old natural world she knew before her ‘death,’ that is before her illness. It is a supernatural world, theater of the Universe, thronged with immutable, hieratic actors whose deeds and feelings are expressed by the tiny hieroglyphic figures around them. Furthermore, their very essence is uncertain. They may be themselves and yet simultaneously represent something else. A woman may be herself and at the same time her icon … or a living lantern … or an allegory.

"Around 1920, Aloise began to draw in secret. However, from 1941 onwards, she experienced an outburst of artistic freedom which led her to cover rolls upon rolls of large sheets of paper with dazzling paintings, thus giving life to her cosmogonic theater. She pursued her work [after] 1953 with gradually decreasing intensity, until her death in 1964. She had been confined to hospital for 46 years."
— Jacqueline Porret-Forel (translated into English by Patricia Forel-Thrussell)

[The following are excerpts of texts embedded in a 1941 sketchbook, as transcribed by Jacqueline Porret-Forel. They can be read here as small poems or as markers of the range of interests in the larger works.]

The living Lantern of Ouchy Opera
Ida Deriaz Chief Yersin Lila Goergens
Raise high the torch of Saillens
Manon’s Blue Train
The General’s Coat
Fly to this Woman
Casino Tell-tale
Holding the Berlin banner
+ Belgian star Stretching Rome
Cleopatra weds in a palanquin
Peacock bed Pharaoh Master of Egypt
The Quirinal mermaid
I carried you off in Grenadille wedded … blue …
The pink pearl of India
The Delhi throne
Gobelin tapestry
I ravished you
They embraced at length
Woman showing picture on Montreux banner
Pius XI
French ladies’ embroidery
The word is the flame dancing before our eyes in the Arabian Nights’ Dream
Always Pius XI at the foot of the Cimarosa throne
My country the amphitheater
Austria est orbi universo
In the Swiss flag
Pius XI on his knees Ite missa est
Theater’s living lantern must be seated
Adoration of the Three Wise Men
Small palace at Grenoble
The town jewels
Glory to God in the Highest
Lifting Gustave III’s coat at Tusseau
Sketch of bank-note
Delhi carpet
The bridal Mikado veil embroidered in gold of the Walewska
Napoleon standing on the altar of the world
I adore you sun when you throw roses in the air and rosy earth into space
N story of the Empress of roses outside the Bastille
Love Story to Napoleon
Adoration of the Magi
The flowery earth and its work by
The Doge of Venice gondolier
Painting adored in the coat of Nature
Chief Yersin
The Doge of Venice carried by his gondoliers as pope
in sedia
Carried in the mermaid’s royal coat
Pegasus as Pius XI coiner carried off in
The mermaid’s imperial coat
Rose magic wand motreux
Luther will find the rose You o life
The great Victoria saves the rich exiles in Switzerland
Printers of bank-notes
Chateau de Prangins
St. Francis of Sales and Jane d’Albret
Joan of Arc rainbow in hair
Indiana in the king’s mantle
Artist’s dressing room
Madame Schrath hanging on the balustra
Opera fresco villa Chantereine for her
Gardens of the worlds of Italy and Armide
Kaiser William II’s love story

[See also the entry "Four from Adolf Wölfli" for an overview of the subject & the work of the other great figure from the classical period of outsider poetry & art. Of interest too is the “Aloïse Opéra” (2010) by Swiss composer Thüring Bräm, puporting to use poems by Aloïse in the libretto.]

1 comment:

Ed Baker said...

"Theatre of the Universe"


where-in the crazy-outsiders are the sane ones
the sane-insiders are the crazies

(and I should know!

in most "backward" cultures weren't / aren't the "crazies" elevated to the status of .. (sort 'uve "saints" or holy people..

shamans and shamanesses sort of Divine Beings here on Earth,..

seems to me from this that Ms Corbaz "pinned-the-taii-on-the jack-ass"