Saturday, January 19, 2019

Down Below


This is an autobiographical account of Leonora Carrington's brief time in a mental asylum after she's been diagnosed incurably insane.

First of all.. who is Leonora? She's not at the top of our minds when I mention her name, so I'll introduce her to you by her art..




She's an artist, mainly surrealism which bloomed shortly before WWII, but she remained well-known for her work afterwards too.

She's born into English middle-class, fitted for a life that wasn't made for her. It made her break free en flee to Paris, where she met the artist Max Ernst, also a surrealist painter. They have an affair, but when Ernst is captured at the beginning of WWII and put into a concentration camp, Leonora briefly loses her wits about her.

Because of her steadfast decline she ultimately ends up in an asylum near Santander, Spain. She is subjected to painful injections that cause epileptic seizures, before a befriended doctor can set her free.

What we get isn't a objective view of her time in that asylum, seen through the eyes of a sane person who's been subjected to a terrible injustice.
What we get in these pages is a view of that temporarily insane person who suffers her delusions and confused thoughts while getting a completely wrong treatment.
She isn't cured by it, she merely is conditioned into 'good' behaviour.
She needs to channel her crazy thoughts into her writing and painting.
Luckily she got out in time for her unique self to survive.