Outside the Asylum (Zero: The Fool)

Postmarked February 29, 2000   (From Somerville, MA)

Design: Julia C. Tenney

I don't know if there are men on the moon, but if there are, they must be using the earth as their lunatic asylum.
-- George Bernard Shaw

I really wanted to do a card for leap day, waited till the last minute, and hoped to maybe actually get another Tarot Card done. The most relevant to Leap day, and certainly to year Zero, seemed to be The Fool.

Many of my cards have been essentially designed, like in pencil, but not in state where I'd proudly make them postcards. I knew I wanted *my* Fool to be "Outside the Asylum", a reference to a scene in Douglas Adams' Hitchiker's Trilogy. "Wonko the Sane" realizes the World is Crazy, and recreates his home to be a refuge from that insanity.

My scholarly research on the historic "Fool" character convinced me that the most significant role of a Fool is that [he] is Outside Society. While this excluded him from the respect and rituals of the rest of the Court, it also gave him a lot of freedom. He might be the sole voice who could protest (royal) injustice without punishment. The Tarot Fool is noted for its duality - as the first, and last, of the Major Arcana. For me, this duality is expressed in the potentially powerless, yet powerful, role of the historic Court Fool.

I hoped to find a simple photo of "the Asylum", a private co-op in one of my social groups, in any of its incarnations. It started in San Francisco and is now in Cambridge, MA. I found nothing but one that had already been too altered for the further alterations I'd envisioned.

Instead, I tried for the simpler idea of a [Green Man] Leaping Outside our society, [the Earth], with the pale yellow backdrop of a spring bloom.


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Updated: May 2000 tenney.org