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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Outis (transliteration of Ancient Greek Οὖτις, in capitals ΟΥΤΙΣ, from οὔτις "nobody" or "no one") is an often used pseudonym. Artists, writers and others in public life use this pseudonym in order to hide their identity.

Origin of the name

"Οὖτις" was used as a pseudonym by the Homeric hero Odysseus, when he fought the Cyclops Polyphemus, and had put out the monster's eye. Polyphemus shouted in pain to the other Cyclopes of the island that "Nobody" was trying to kill him, so no one came to his rescue. The story of the Cyclops can be found in the Odyssey, book 9 (in the Cyclopeia). The name Nobody can be found in five different lines of Chapter 9. First of all in line 366:

  • "'Cyclops, you asked my noble name, and I will tell it; but do you give the stranger's gift, just as you promised. My name is Nobody. Nobody I am called by mother, father, and by all my comrades.'

Then in line 369:

  • "So I spoke, and from a ruthless heart he straightway answered: 'Nobody I eat up last, after his comrades; all the rest first; and that shall be the stranger's gift for you.'

Then in line 408:

  • "Then in his turn from out the cave big Polyphemus answered: 'Friends, Nobody is murdering me by craft. Force there is none. But answering him in winged words they said: If nobody harms you when you are left alone, illness which comes from mighty Zeus you cannot fly. But make your prayer to your father, lord Poseidon".

In line 455:

  • "Are you sorry because that wicked Nobody brought your master down with drink and blinded him?".

And in line 460:

  • "I should thus have some revenge for the harm that no-good Nobody has done me".

People with this pseudonym

  • Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849) In the New York Evening Mirror (January 14, 1845), Edgar Allan Poe launched an article denouncing the well-known poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow as a plagiarist. Longfellow remained silent on the matter, but a defender for Longfellow did appear, an anonymous writer who signed his letters only as "Outis," meaning "nobody." A great deal of speculation has centered around the identity of Outis, several scholars agree that he was none other than Poe himself. They believe that Poe himself wrote the defense of Longfellow, so Poe and Outis are the same person. Other possibilities suggested include Cornelius Felton and Lawrence Labree.
  • Henry Stevens of Vermont (1845–1886) American rare book dealer in England. He graduated from Yale. In 1845 he went to London 'on a book-hunting expedition' and remained there until his death. As an antiquarian he helped to build up several great American libraries. In 1877 under the pseudonym of ' Mr. Secretary Outis,' he projected and initiated a literary Association entitled The Hercules Club.
  • Hablot Knight Browne (1815–1882) British graphic artist, well known as Charles Dickens's illustrator. Among others he illustrated The Pickwick Papers, David Copperfield and Martin Chuzzlewit. Browne adopted the pseudonym "N. E. M. O." (Latin for "Nobody." Soon, however, he became "Phiz," this artistic pseudonym well suited for the creator of "phizzes"—delightful caricatures, as seen in his illustrations. Nemo is also the given name of the scrivener with a secret in Dicken's Bleak House.
  • Camille Claudel (1864–1943) French sculptor and graphic artist (she was Auguste Rodin's model, student and lover) had a domesticated canary (Serinus canaria) with this name: Nemo. The small songbird was mentioned as alter ego of Camille Claudel in some personal letters by Rodin.
  • István Orosz (1951-) Hungarian visual artist often used pseudonym is Utisz (the Hungarian spelling; Hungarian s is equivalent to English sh, and Hungarian sz to English s) The hidden meaning of the ancient tale is very close to the visual pitfalls created by István Orosz. He likes to use visual paradox, double meaning images and optical illusion – all of them are some kind of attack upon the eye, an Odysseus' gesture in a symbolic way.
"Orosz doubles even himself: from time to time, he signs his works as Utisz, the pseudonym borrowed from Cyclopeia. The most artful Greek, Odysseus, also used as a pseudonym the word meaning No-man, and as we know, with that exchange of names, then Polyphemos the Cyclops’ eye came into the world. The gouging out of the eye, or deception to the eye, also accompanied the works of Orosz/Utisz, if only metaphorically. Trompe l’oeil – we refer with an art historical expression to those images in which illusion guides the gaze. Orosz often uses such artifice, though he is completely aware of the danger of these deceptive procedures. He put it this way at a symposium a few years back: I hope my intentions are clear, in the ambitions of a Hungarian artist at the turn of the century, who does not tell the truth only to be caught in the act." (Introduction by Guy d'Obonner)
  • Little Nemo is the main character in a series of the comic strips by Winsor McCay (1871–1934). The weekly comic strips appeared in the New York Herald between 1905 and 1913. The strip related the surreal dreams of a little boy: Nemo (meaning "no one" in Latin).
  • Noname is a penname of Harold Cohen (1854-1927) American author. He wrote science fiction novels under the pseudonyms Harry Enton and "Noname." After some titles his well known series Frank Reade was continued by Luis Senarens (1865–1939) who used "Noname" as well.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Outis" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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