March 29, 2008
America’s Unfinished Revolution 1863-1877
Review by R.E. Prindle
Foner’s Reconstruction was originally published in 1988 some twenty years ago. Some water has passed under the bridge since then. For instance genetic advances have been startling. The role of biology in the various species of Homo Sapiens is becoming more apparent and clear. The question is now not one of prejudice but of science, of knowing. One imagines that Mr. Foner would have or should have incorporated these discoveries into his study. One might say that the study of history has been profoundly affected by the new findings.
Mr. Foner takes the old sentimental view of the race, or species rather, problem in the United States. While we may all agree that slavery is an evil that should never be tolerated in a society or be begun by one, slavery has nevertheless been ever present , even endemic, in human society for many thousands of years down to the present. Slavery has been practiced in every society on every continent, there are no innocents. There were slave cities in China at the beginning of WWII and there are those who say that current labor conditions in China differ not at all from slavery. Indeed there are tens of thousands of women and children serving as sex slaves on every continent at the present. Nothing is done about sex slavery, in fact, there is little or no publicity or protest.
Granting then that slavery is and has been endemic to human society, there is no reason to consider White slave owners in the South of the United States as worse than any other slave owners whether we are revolted at the concept of slavery or not. And, I might point out, not everyone is. As slave owners in Africa, for instance, had the right of life, death and mutilation over their slaves and the US slave owners didn’t it is clear that US slave owning was much more humane than the African. That’s not an awful lot to be proud of but, as I say, the issue of slavery in the world and in the US is not a dead letter yet. The future looks more bleak than promising.
While not unique, slavery in the US was characterized by one race or species being paramount and the other subordinate. A peculuarity of US slavery is that the slaves were classed as a sort of farm animal. I think it clear that we are dealing with two different Homo Sapiens species one of which is more highly evolved than the other. As the African was first evolved as all agree it would follow that the first evolved, the African, would be a predecessor to following more highly evolved human species. Thus the problem shifts from merely freeing equals to what to do with the less highly evolved species. That has been the central problem of Reconstruction past and present.
The reading of the human genome has proven the ongoing evolution of the human species to be true. The scientific fact or reality runs counter to human inner wishful thinking, at least White inner wishful thinking, that desires all Men to be equal. The majority prefer wishful thinking to reality. Reality must assert itself over wishful thinking however.
The myth that powerful White people went to Africa and ripped these poor defenseless Africans forcefully from their soil is also false. The slaves were legally sold by their chiefs to the Whites. It is erroneous to think that Whites were ever the uncontested lords of Africa. Until the introduction of modern firearms human physical realities were paramount and the Africans were physical equals. Europeans by no means have ever had a physical advantage. With the development of modern arms, military tactics and discipline Europeans developed a clear advantage over the mentally limited Africans. Still Europeans never had the will or were able to dictate to Africans in the manner that slave owners could dictate to their slaves.
The ability to command only came into existence briefly in the last quarter or so of the nineteenth century. African resistance movements began after this brief window opened and closed.
Whatever conception the average person has of Euroean-African relationships is certainly erroneous.
Now, the Africans who came out of the jungles to be taken to the United States were primitive beyond belief while all concepts of civilization as practiced in the United States were foreign to them The transition was no different than entering a parallel universe.
Indeed as Foner points out when the former slaves were encouraged to return to Africa, the return to the jungles after having been elevated by White civilization was no longer possible for them. The nation of Liberia created for them was not more enticing than discrimination against them in the United States. Those who could quickly returned from Liberia to conditions in the Reconstruction South.
The Southern planter who bought these slaves may perhaps be forgiven because he believed that he was dealing with a superior form of farm animal but a lower form of humanity- something between a cross of ape and human. I do not say this is true only that it was believed. As near as I can tell this was a common belief. Indeed, I know of no early African explorer who believed differently.
One has only to compare National Geographic photos of Africans from the twenties with current pictures to see that contact with Western civilization has worked a mremarkable transformation in the appearance of the of the African.
While African slavery began toward the end of the seventeenth century in the US importation was the heaviest from 1790 to 1860. A large number of Africans entered the country as slaves, albeit illegally, between 1810 and 1860. Thus at the beginning of the Civil War a fairly large number of Africans had had little time to become acclimated to civilization at the time of emancipation. Thus there were a fair number of literal savages that the North attempted to elevate over Southern Whites during Reconstruction.
Mr. Foner does not seem to take into account the impossibility of near savages and Africans who had been in slavery for actual generations becoming citizens capable of governing a heterogeneous population in a system that was completely foreign to their experience in Africa overnight if at all. This is to make no adverse reflections on the Africans as people. You might just as well take a homeless person from the streets and make him President of the United States.
The number of Africans in the South were almost equal to the Whites. In South Carolina, Louisiana and Mississippi the Africans were actually in the majority. Thus as Southern society disintegrated and the full weight of Northern bigots was thrown behind the Africans in order to subjugate the Whites there was a real recipe for trouble.
Nor was White society North or South all that developed in 1860 compared to that of today. Universal education was far from a fact with compulsary schooling still in the future. The University system was miniscule compared to the enormous industry of today. Illiteracy in fact was quite high North or South. Northern laborers in fact thought of themselves as wage slaves less well off even than the Southern Africans and this is too close to the truth to be lightly dismissed. Small White children were forced to work in mines, for instance, at wages that would have shamed an ogre let alone should have shamed an ‘enlightened industrialist.’ If that wasn’t child slavery then no African was ever a slave in the US.
So for the North to be condemnatory of the South was hypocrisy of the highest order. It is all in how you characterize yourself compared to the other fellow. Nevertheless there were different intellectual approaches to reality.
Mr. Foner, who is an Israeli citizen, has little to feel superior about himself. While Mr. Foner expresses great sympathy for the African while condemning Southern Whites, the Israeli solution to the Arab problem in Palestine makes one’s eyebrows rise, while they wish to expel recent Black African immigrants from the country so as not to pollute White Israelis. While condemning segregation in the South one can’t help but notice that Mr. Foner’s own Israelis have built a fence between Israelis and Arabs and allow no Arabs on their side. The Arabs are even Semites of the same human species as the Israelis and yet the Israelis call the Palestinians sub-human worthy of extermination.
The Israelis just pound their cousins to death too. I don’t even want to got into the detestable state of Lebanon. I suppose my question is from whence this moral superiority of Mr. Foner and his Israelis arises. His fellows even have terrorist camps like the ADL, AJC and SPLC that they run on American soil itself in order to control American opinion.
US race relations have never been anything like relations between the Israelis and the Palestinians or even between them and us. Thus while I’m sure that Mr. Foner has done quite a bit of research, at least as indicated by his footnotes, I’m not sure his vision is so unclouded as to make an accurate assessment of the facts. One feels what’s sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander in Mr. Foner’s book and with his Israelis as well.
I’m happy that Mr. Foner has made a lucrative home for himself here in the US with a darn good paying prestigious job in the University industry. I don’t quarrel with his scholarship, such as it is, but I think his interpretation is a trifle suspect.
March 26, 2008
Exhuming Bob VII: Blowin’ In The Wind
It is commonly believed that Bob’s protest catalogue of the early sixties is related to the Civil Rights Movement. It is further believed that Bob changed his direction or emphasis beginning with Another Side. I’m going to suggest that there is only one side of Bob and that that is continous from 1961 through 1966 after which a discontinuity did occur.
I recently viewed a video of Bob performing with Joan Baez. The video was undated and did not identify the performance but was of the period when Bob wore the napkin on his head. The video is a performance of Blowin’ In The Wind at the beginning of which Bob dedicates the song to Hibbing, Minnesota. He couldn’t or wouldn’t have done that unless the song applied. It follows then that Blowin’ In The Wind has nothing to do with the Civil Rights Movement but to Bob himself. I never understood at the time how people could relate the song to Negroes but they did.
The character may have been projected on it by the expectations of the time perhaps even taking Bob by surprise. Then perhaps encouraged by Suze Rotolo he was able to convert his resentments against Hibbing and U. Minnesota into Civil Rights ‘anthems.’
Even such songs as Masters Of War and Only A Pawn In The Game can be converted into reflections of Hibbing. The masters of war would be enemies in Hibbing while his being arrested and sent to Red Wing would make him only a pawn in their game.
Even James Meredith at U. Mississippi can be converted to the experience of Bobby Zimmerman attempting to morph into Bob Dylan at U. Minnesota.
In an exchange on Lipstick Traces IX correspondent RM and I have worked out an interlocking set of songs relating to Echo Helstrom’s betrayal of Bob and the subsequent term spent at Red Wing Reformatory. I will try to write this up soon.
While Bob first puts his complaints in song from 1961-66 he merely shifted the emphasis from John Wesley Harding on when he added his current complaints to his repertoir.
In any event it is now possible to interpret his catalogue from 1961-66 as one unit addressing one set of problems. Of course William Zanzinger does pose a problem but one may be able to find his counterpart in Hibbing if one can find the necessary information.
If Bob ever gets around to Vols. II and III of his autobiography I rather imagine he isn’t going to go into much detail on this matter. We would rather find the answer on the pages of his autobiography than blowin’ in the wind.
March 16, 2008
Greil Marcus In The Threepenny Review
Greil Marcus At Sea
When in doubt consult the internet. It would seem that the USS Hull along with the Monaghan and Spence is a celebrated episode in Naval history.
A history of the movements of the Hull during the war is to be found on Wikipedia. There have been several Hulls. The one is question is DD 350. Fox News appears to replicate whatever Mr. Marcus saw on TV. That site may be found at HTTP://www.patriotwatch.com/
These sites provide us with dates to deal with. The Hull went down on December 18, 1944. Therefore Mr. Marcus was born on June 19, 1945 or possibly July 19.
The Hull was active during the entire war having a very distinguished record. On August 25, 1944 it entered Puget Sound for repairs. Although the biography says Seattle, I suppose that means the Bremeton Naval Yards on the West side of the Sound opposite Seattle.
Depending on whether Greil Gerstley had been with the Hull several years or only recently he obtained a much needed leave heading for the flesh pots of San Francisco. The leave was probably a thirty day leave so he had to back in Seattle sometime in October. He probably left the ship at the beginning of September or shortly after so he may have been in San Francisco about September 10th. If he met and married Mr. Marcus’ mother in September that was indeed a whirlwind romance. I don’t mean to be snide but after several years at sea Gerstley was ready for anything. And then he may have thought it’s now or never, unlike MacArthur I may not return.
The Hull put out to sea again on October 23, 1944 so that the newly weds had probably less than a month together so truly Mr. Marcus’ mother had little to tell him other than that his dad was a nice guy.
And then on December 18th the Hull caught a wave and wiped out.
Now, was any one person responsible as Mr. Marcus thinks? I think not. Unless Mr. Marcus has a verifiable alternate version the official version is that the whole fleet under the command of Admiral Halsey was taken by surprise by the typhoon. Halsey didn’t maliciously order the three DDs into the typhoon to see what they were made of. I feel certain there was no talk of a mutiny involving Gerstley or anyone else. The storm hit, the ship sank within a day. No possiblity for mutiny talk. No reason for it. Mr. Marcus’ imagination is overheated by the Caine Mutiny nonsense aboard, get this, a Minesweeper.
In Seattle he (the former Captain) was replaced by a martinet from Annapolis, a man so vain and incompetent, so impatient with advice from experienced sailors and sure of his own right way, that…twenty men went AWOL… in Seattle.
The above is from Mr. Marcus’ article. It appears that he believes that Capt. Marks (for that was his name) came directly from Annapolis to assume command. If so, that is an impossibility. DDs (Destroyers) had a Commander as Captain. I served on a DE (Destroyer Escort) which required only a Lieutenant Commander as Captain. To become a Commander one must have first passed through the grades of Ensign, Lieutenant JG, Lieutenant and Lieutenant Commander so that apart from possibly over rapid wartime promotion Captain Marks was an experienced sailor. What his commanding syle was I can’t say but I wouldn’t take Capt. Queeg of the fictional novel The Caine Mutiny as a model for Naval officers. If anything both of the Captains I had were over lenient. Twenty men going AWOL, apparently wisely, to avoid entering a war zone doesn’t strike me as unusual.
Now, when the storm struck it caught Halsey and his fleet unawares. More damage was caused than most minor naval engagements. Not only were the three DDs lost but another 26 ships were seriously damaged while the carriers had 145 aircraft destroyed.
So while it is tragic for Mr. Marcus that his father was lost at sea that was only one very small part of a natural disaster no different than a hurricane leveling a midwest town. Mr. Marcus should get over this feeling of official dereliction on Halsey’s part. There was a war going on, the ships were involved in an invasion of Mindanao. Good god, somebody is going to die.
As it was the Hull came off better than the other two ships. Only six survived the Monaghan, twenty-four the Spence, while sixty-two survived the Hull. Whether Capt. Marks was a martinet or not he managed to save the largest proportion of his crew. He himself says he stepped into the water from the bridge as the ship rolled over. Sounds OK to me.
Now, sailing Tin Cans through typhoons. DDs and DEs were called Tin Cans hence I or any who served on them are called Tin Can Sailors. The Hull was relatively small for a DD at 341 feet and a beam of 34 feet. The DE I served on was only 306 feet with a comparable beam to the Hull. The DDs I saw were all of the order of 400+ feet.
Except for the Hull the ships were top heavy having deballasted preparatory to refueling at sea. Refueling became impossible as the seas rose. It is quite possible that with a normal center of gravity the ships would not have rolled. The Hull is stated as having 70% of its fuel so it was riding lower.
Next, Mr. Marcus blames Capt. Marks for being an inept sailor making a wrong decision in a ‘trough.’
A this point let me say that myself and my shipmates are of the few sailors to have experienced an actual typhoon. At the end of 1958 we were ordered to sail thorugh a typhoon two days sail above Mindanao off the coast of Japan. As the rest of the squadron sailed around the typhoon one may conclude our orders were of the malicious sort. If you want the whole story see Part V of my novel Our Lady Of The Blues especially Clip on my R.E. Prindle blog here on WordPress.
What is a trough? A trough is the depression between waves. A ship will have a crest fore and aft and a crest on both the port and starboard. In our case the trough was actually a good sized valley perhaps a half mile in circumference. As I describe in Our lady at one time we entered a trough crossing over a crest and descending head first toward the bottom. This is a heartstopper because when the ship levels at the bottom the whole ship from stem to stern except for the superstructure is under water. I know that’s an impossibility but it is also a fact. Good god almighty, one doesn’t say prayers, one says: Hello Davy Jones, good bye world. I can get tears in my eyes just thinking about it. Like now. The water is always moving under the ship so troughs are not stationary. They may lift you relative to your stem and stern or they may lift the ship broadside up the whole height of a seventy foot wave then rolling you over the crest and into the next trough. That one give a whole noter idea on the value you place on your life. But I and the crew sailed into Tokyo Harbor on the ship.
The question is then was our Captain a good sailor? Yes, I believe he was, but no matter how good he was survival was always a matter of luck. There were times when we had no control of the ship, one factor or another could have been the end. Perhaps a gust of wind at an inappropriate moment.
The next question then is was Capt. Marks at least a good sailor. The large number of survivors of the the Hull relative to the other two ships would indicate to me that he was a conscientious Captain and heads up sailor.
Anybody who would cut their engines at any point in a typhoon should have his head examined. You cannot maintain control without power. Also you cannot ‘break out’ of a trough. If the commentators suggest the trough was ‘stationary’ I suggest that the commentators have never been to sea let alone been in a typhoon.
I think I can state that the Hull didn’t go down because of a trough. It rolled, hence it was ascending or descending a wave. Case closed. You can’t ride out a typhoon without ascending or descending waves.
It is tragic that the Hull rolled over and Gerstley was killed. Still, the man was simply doing his duty and like a million or so others had his head up at the wrong time. Mr. Marcus should be proud of his father. He wasn’t one of the cowards who went AWOL.
As far as this convention in 2006, sixty years after the event, I wouldn’t take seriously anything these eighty some year old guys said. I couldn’t even remember my last Captain’s name the day after I left the ship. I have recently learned from a website that his name was Dodge. I can’t ever remember my mouth forming the name Dodge and Captain Dodge doesn’t even look like the Captain I remember.
Crews shift and change so often one can remember only the handful of men you were in constant contact with, if those. First Division, of which I was part, must have had six First Louies while I was aboard and I can remember the name of only the first one, Mossbarger. I wouldn’t be able to recognize him today.
So, I would suggest that these old duffs were just trying to make Mr. Marcus’ cute young daughter feel good. Telling her what they thought she wanted to hear. Perhaps what her father told her to ask.
I’m sure Mr. Marcus’ father was as conscientious and heroic as he could be. He was a fine man who went down with his ship. Mr. Marcus should be content with this proud fact. Indeed, he has no choice. Make a virtue of necessity.
Personally, if I knew my ship was going to be involved in a typhoon I would go AWOL too. Surviving one once is all luck. I might not be so lucky the second time.
What the hell. Greil Gerstley helped us win the war. It was the peace we lost.
March 16, 2008
Greil Marcus And His Problem Fathers
A Psychological Analysis
Greil Marcus has a new article on his old theme in the Spring 2008 Threepenny Review. The way it is written it appears to have been a talk or lecture at some unidentified place. His obsession must be intense for while the theme is of an interesting psychological motif I don’t really understand why he thinks the theme is of such general interest it bears repeating so often.
If he’s looking for a psychological interpretation I am prepared to offer him one. It must be understood that I offer an objective analysis of that which M. Marcus has publicly aired. Whatever I say is based on what he says. No unkindness is intended. This version of his obsession is the fullest he has yet offered. To read the article go to: http://www.threepennyreview.com/samples/marcus_sp08.html
The main facts are these: M. Marcus’ father and mother met in 1944 during WWII. She had just graduated from Stanford in May or June. He, Greil Gerstley, came from Philadelphia. He was an officer in the Navy, apparently a full lieutenant so he may have been in uniform since shortly after hostilities began. They met in San Francisco which was crawling with Navy in 1944. M. Marcus either doesn’t know or doesn’t tell us but it would appear that as a wartime romance they met and married within a week or two. M. Marcus doesn’t tell us what Gerstley’s social status in Philadelphia was but it appears as though he came from an affluent background. We are left uninformed as to the time of year they met. I’m guessing September or October. Shortly after marriage the couple left for Seattle where Gerstley shipped out. He was subsequently lost at sea six months and a day before M. Marcus was born in the summer of ’45.
Approximately three years later in 1948 his mother married Mr. Marcus whose first name, I believe is or was Gerald. He apparently married the mother and adopted the son in one swift movement.
Thus, and this is crucial, for the first three years of his life of which he says he has only haunting memories, M. Marcus was Greil Gerstley. Even though he has only faint memories of the period this dual identity has left an indelible impression.
Now we get into what C.G. Jung calls the collective unconscious. M. Marcus is not responsible for any of his reactions. They all emerge from the true unconscious.
Gerald Marcus and his mother gave him siblings. M. Marcus’ half-brother Bill looks out for him and runs an internet alert. I have been in communication with brother Bill. In 1955 the family moved into a fine new home in Menlo Park, California. Menlo Park is a very affluent suburb on the San Francisco Peninsula so Gerald Marcus was a good provider. M. Marcus seems to have no complaints about his step-father. Indeed as Gerald adopted him on marriage it would appear that he was trying to sidestep unconscious psychological animosities by making another man’s child his own, at least in name.
Shortly after moving into the house in Menlo Park M. Marcus was toying with the radio and heard an announcement about American GIs fathering babies on Korean mothers and then abandoning them. M. Marcus immediately related that announcement to his biological father’s marriage to his mother and subsequent death that struck a subliminal chord related to the abandonment of the Korean children. Now the response is not rational but unconscious and fully explicable on that level.
At some later time M. Marcus saw David Lynch’s movie Blue Velvet. Certain homey scenes struck the subliminal chord of his father’s abandonment making him believe that the idyllic scenes were what he had lost with his father’s death or abandonment. He subconsciously perceived his father’s death or non-return as abandonment.
These are the facts for Part I.
In analysis there seems to be a sense of loss between birth and the age of three when his mother remarried. A blank spot in his life. When he questioned his mother (now deceased) about his father she had nothing to tell him as she had only known the man for two months or even less. Thus M. Marcus virtually knew this man he had never met almost as well as his mother. Whether he has been able to accept her statement or not he doesn’t make clear but there seems to be some doubt. Some nagging sense of the need for closure which cannot be obtained.
Now, M. Marcus carries the genes of Greil Gerstley and not those of Gerald Marcus. Therefore Gerald and his progeny must always have seemed foreign to him. M. marcus may have resented Gerald’s co-habitation with his mother. For instance my mother divorced my father when I was three although I have plenty of memories of my first three years, remarrying seven years later. I never thought about it then but I always resented my step-father having access to my father’s woman at the same time, my mother. The attitude comes from the collective unconscious and is not a conscious reaction. There is no defense against it. Therefore from three to ten M. Marcus probably suffered a degree of alienation from his step-father with some lingering resentment of his mother and that resentment was brought into focus in this new house when he heard of the abandoned Korean children. Even though his step-father was providing well M. Marcus believed, thought or hoped that his real father would have provided even better. Once again, the reaction was unconscious and could not be helped. Still this attitude must have distanced him from his step father a little probably causing some resentment on Gerald’s part.
When M. Marcus saw Blue Velvet with its idyllic opening scenes the subliminal message was that life would have been like that with Gerstley but that had been irrevocably lost when he ‘abandoned’ M. Marcus in the same way the Korean children were abandoned. I’m almost surprised that he didn’t change his name back to Greil Gerstley.
A secondary problem is with his mother. I suspect that he has a haunting feeling that perhaps Greil Gerstley may not be his father and indeed there is a chance that this is so.
M. Marcus makes a point of saying he was born exactly six months and a day after his father was lost at sea. but, he refuses to give us his birth date instead saying that he was born between VE and VJ days which leaves some lattitude. Nor does he give us the date the couple were married or the date Gerstley shipped out. His mother destroyed any letters received from Gerstley so that resource is missing.
Certainly apart from the wartime conditions of romance the hasty marriage might have implications. No one can now know but I suspect the fear haunts M. Marcus.
I know that children in his situation have real difficulties with their fathers. I have known adopted children who went to great lengths to locate a biological parent inevitibly being disappointed. For myself I never saw my father again but neither have I had real curiosity about him.
Greil Gerstley is gone from M. Marcus’ life and his is stuck with the frustrating situation of being able to do nothing about it except possibly accepting the fact that that was the hand fate dealt him. That’s how I’ve always dealt with this early part of my life. What can you do but play the cards you were dealt. Wartime conditions produce wartime results. What can anyone say or do?
Then one day M. Marcus almost miraculously learned the details of the day his father’s ship went down.
That in Part 2.
March 15, 2008
A Contribution To The ERB Library Project
A Review of
Thomas F. Dixon Jr.
Review by R.E. Prindle
Of Thomas Dixon’s Reconstruction Trilogy- The Leopard’s Spots, The Clansman and The Traitor- only the last is found in ERB’s library. It would seem reasonably sure that he read the other two also. As The Traitor was published in 1907 it seems certain that the trilogy was read before ERB put pen to paper so that Dixon was influential on the whole of ERB’s career.
This is no small influence as the Civil War and Reconstruction are central to ERB’s works. Once again, one is amazed at how ERB could absorb so many influences and keep each nearly discrete. Further on I will postulate the possible influence of Alexandre Dumas’ French Revolution series.
Of interest to ERB’s reading habits Bill Hillman recently posted a list of books in ERBzine of ERB’s post WWII reading list that Burroughs described as a few of the books he’d read. As the list was substantial the complete list must have been enormous. The list mainly consisted of books in the areas of crime and other topics which certain minds share. As I happen to be one of those minds based on the internal evidence of the novels and shared intellectual direction I feel a fair amount of confidence in my speculations concerning his reading although I leave room for error.
I am also of the opinion now that he could have read from 500 to 750 books from, say, fifteen to thirty-five when he began writing. His consumption from 1911 to 1940 must have been enormous. Fortunately we can get a pretty good fix on the type of books he preferred from his library.
Thomas Dixon Jr. lived from 1864 to 1946. Reconstruction was in effect from 1865 to 1877 when the last occupation troops were withdrawn. Dixon grew up in Shelby, North Carolina where his father was an important figure in the first Ku Klux Klan. The Traitor is apparently based on his father’s career. It is said that because of corruption in the Klan his father was instrumental in disbanding it.
Dixon although young would then have had first hand experience with both Reconstruction and the Clan.
Dixon believed, and I second him, that Reconstruction was one of the most brutal crimes in history. It certainly ranks in the same category as the French Revolution’s criminal acts in The Vendee and Hitler and Stalin’s actions from 1925 to 1945. One should not underestimate the horrors of Reconstruction. Liberals, for their own reasons, have attempted to excise the period from US history while sanitizing what little is taught. One is certain than an inquiring mind like Burroughs sought out the true and whole story.
Liberals have blackened Dixon’s name as they have that of Dixon’s fellow Southerner, D.W. Griffith, who produced the Dixon trilogy as the most amazing movie of its time- The Birth Of A Nation. In 1915.
While both Griffith and Dixon have been defamed as racists in today’s multi-cultural society they must no longer be seen as racists merely as representatives of an anti-Liberal segment of White culture.
Dixon was one of the most popular American writers of the period to at least until the aftermath of the Russian Revolution when he and writers like him, including Burroughs, came under attack from the Communists. With the exception of Burroughs all have been defamed into oblivion today.
As we know Burroughs’ father, George T., served in the Union Army during the Civil War. His father’s more admirable attributes seem to have gone into the character of John Carter, the hero of the first three Martian stories. He seems to have been combined with a Confederate Officer of Virginia stock as well as a character of the nature of Count Caliogstro of the pre-French Revolution period.
Here the problem of Alexandre Dumas and his Revolutionary romances enters. John Carter’s tomb in Connecticut is probably based on Graham’s tomb in The Traitor. The similarity is striking. Carter’s longevity may be based in part on Dumas’ description of the charlatanry of Cagliostro who claimed to be as old as the Great Historical Bum while rationalizing his ability to survive much as the thousand year old Martians did.
The Martians were in fact deathless as was Cagliostro’s claim unless they were killed by some sort of physical accident. Dumas’ Caliogstro describes his situation in these exact terms. The novels in Dumas’ roman a fleuve are the Memoirs Of A Physician, Joseph Balsamo, The Queen’s Necklace, Ange Pitou, The Countess Of Charny, The Chevalier Of The Maison Rouge and The Blue And The White. I can recommend them highly. We know that Burroughs read The Three Musketeers and probably The Count Of Monte Cristo. He may have read one, two or more of the Revolution series also.
There is an interesting passage in the Physician in which an ignorant country boy teaches himself to write both printed and cursive letters after a very rudimentary instruction in reading. The passage bears comparison to Tarzan’s teaching himself to read and write. The point being that Burrough’s imagination was probably fired by this series.
Now, we know that Burroughs was always opposed to the Revolution. Dumas would have introduced him to conspiracy theory. I would guess that ERB read Dumas before 1900 but that is just a guess. Also bear in mind what we consider ‘classical’ literature was current in Burroughs’ youth. All these books would have been new and therefore doubly exiting. As David Adams noted to me concerning Baum’s Oz series the books would have been equivalent to a new Beatles record in the sixties when people rushed to stores at the earliest possible moment to get their copy. Knowing this stuff would have made one a very hep cat.
We also know that prior to 1911 Burroughs associated with several knowing people among which were Sweetser and Dr. Stace. These buys are always into conspiracy theory as, indeed, am I . As I have said as Burroughs and I share the same reading tastes I think it less than pure speculation that Burroughs also knew something about the Revolutionary conspiracy. Difficult to tell what.
It doesn’t appear that ERB was ever a Freemason. The Revolution was attributed to the Masons. The lodges then would have been thought Communist then by their opponents. Communist and Illuminated. The Illuminati are, of course, central to any conspiracy theory.
In theory and certainly in fact the lodges were instrumental in the overthrow of the French monarchy. I have even read that Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans were involved with the Rosicrucians, hence the Freemasons and hence the Masonic revolution against thrones. While I don’t find the idea improbable I haven’t got enough evidence to speculate one way or the other. I find it interesting though to see that John Adams was thought to be Illuminated. It is certain that Revolutionary cadres in the form of Libertines were active in England during the seventeenth century and were certainly instrumental in the destruction of London’s Newgate Prison some few years before the destruction of the Bastille.
It is also certain that Adam Weishaupt’s Illuminati infiltrated the French Freemasons some few years before 1789 and that the Jacobins arose from them. It is also clear that the Illuminatti infiltrated American Freemasons at least by 1799. There are those who believe with good evidence that Thomas Jefferson was Illuminated. Indeed, the Communists of the twenties called Jefferson one of their own. It seemed ridiculous until one looks a little further. Whether Lincoln was one of the Communists’ own along with Jefferson as they claim seems preposterous on the surface of it.
However an illuminated Mason by the name of Morgan was about to publish a book exposing the Masonic plot in 1843 when he was abducted and murdered. A symbol of the Illuminatti was the Phrygian Cap. The Union enlisted cap is nothing less than the Phrygian Cap with the front knob truncated and replaced by a flat board. So, shall we say that the Illuminatti took a prominent but disguised role in the Civil War.
If this Jacobin-Illuminatti attitude was in the Northern attitude then it must have been represented in the Abolitionist attitude. Their hatred always directed against authority was the directed against the Southern Whites and in favor of the Negroes. And in fact it was attempted to make Whites slaves to the Negroes. Just as in France the hatred was directed against not only Aristocracy but against peasants or anyone who resisted the Jacobin or Liberal will. In the Vendee of France which remained loyalist genocide was carried out on the Vendeans. I have no doubt out and out genocide would have been committed against Southerners if it had been possible. In that respect perhaps Sherman’s antecedents should be examined to determine unrecognized motives for the march from Atlanta to the sea.
There is no question that a great many of the post-Civil War immigrants were Communists or socialists and that they refused to accept a non-socialist America. Many if not most of the 48ers who fled Europe after the failure of the Revolution of 1848 were socialist while there is no reason to suppose that a large number of those were Jacobins or Illuminated.
Burroughs first contact with these people was as a child or teenager when he saw them parading through Chicago under the Red banner. It seems very unlikely that he wouldn’t have picked up a lot of anti-Socialist information. At any rate his hatred of German and things German began at that time developing into a near mania during the Great War and a firmest attitude by WWII.
I can’t guarantee that he read Dumas’ Revolutionary novels but there are enough seeming contact points in the novels to indicate that he may have. Thus John Carter’s longevity may be based on Dumas’ portrayal of Cagliostro. This input Burroughs combined then combined with his readings of The Virginian and the positive aspects of his father to create John Carter. It is probably significant that Carter was the main character in only the first three Martian novels before ERB’s father died. When George T. died John Carter ceased being the dominant character being replaced by his son Carthoris in the next novel, Thuvia, Maid Of Mars. Burroughs may not have been able to divide his own alter-ego between Carthoris and Tarzan as the former disappears being replaced by a number of different personae.
However ERB understood the Civil War and Reconstruction the two events were a significant part of his mental makeup.
The three Dixon novels were formative before he began to wirte while the Dixon scripted The Birth Of A Nation filmed by D.W. Griffith and released in 1915 had a terrific impact on Burroughs as well as the Nation.
The movie would have revived all his emotions on the two topics. I have read the novels of the subsequent years with this thought in mind but echoes may be there.
Over the following decades Liberals have succeeded in characterizing Birth Of A Nation as ‘racist’ which it is not. The story may be culturally centered on the White side of the story rather than the Black but this fact doesn’t make the movie any more racist than if it had been culturally centered on the Black aspect. The issue of race simply cannot be avoided.
The movie misunderstands the breach between the two White viewpoints of the North and the South. While the movie is plea for Whites to never do this again and to reunite as one people, the bigots of the North wished only for the destruction of Southern Whites. As the Jewish historian Eric Foner writes, Reconstruction is the unfinished Revolution that is still going on today and will culminate in the election of Barry Dunham-Obama and its sequel.
Eric Foner is part of the Foner dynasty of Communist historians. His uncle Phil Foner wrote distorted labor chronicles while his Pappy Jack was dismissed from his academic position in the ‘50s as a Communist.
The movie was the most successful of its time providing the funds for the MGM empire. Louis B. Mayer who was a theatre operator at the time made enough from the movie to go to Hollywood and establish the Mayer studios which Loews later combined into Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer when they crushed William Fox of Fox Studios which then was combined with Twentieth Century to become Twentieth-Century Fox.
The movie certainly was not considered racist at the time except by the Jacobin faction who were not as influential then as they have become today. The Democratic president of the time, Woodrow Wilson, thought it a superb movie.
Interestingly both Wilson (1856-1924) and Dixon were together at Johns Hopkins University with Dixon being a champion of Wilson. D.W. Griffith, from the South as was Wilson, was Burroughs nearly exact contemporary. Griffith was born in Louisville, Kentucky also in 1875 dying in 1948 two years before Burroughs. Griffith was another who was marginalized by the Communists.
Thus the essential Edgar Rice Burroughs was taking its final form in the years from 1900-1911. I would like to organize those years as part of his early married years. This is not easy. As we are aware when he and Emma returned to Chicago from Idaho and Salt Lake City in 1904 ERB was suffering from the excruciating headaches that lasted half a day incurred from his beating in Toronto.
His sojourn in Salt Lake must also be included as part of his education as with his innate anthropological curiosity he would have investigated the absurdities of that religion. Once again he was much closer to the origins of the religion as it had only about sixty years of history to deal with rather than one hundred and sixty.
Even on the train trip back to Chicago ERB would have traveled through an entirely different landscape along approximately the Mormon Trail than today. The geographic changes have been enormous. The earlier geography would have influenced Mormon memories and stories that he would have heard. As an example of a feature that has been completely destroyed is a description from a book titled: The Mormon Trail: Voyage Of Discovery, The Story Behind The Scenery by Stanley B. and Violet Kimball. Page 35:
Weary teamsters and tired oxen struggled onward despite the difficult, rocky terrain. Many journals commented on the hordes of grasshoppers that had helped deplete the area of grass. Still, the optimism remained high in camp for they knew the Sweetwater River was just around the bend. The ground here proved to be miry, “smelled bad”, was swampy and many oxen got “buried in the mud.” Mosquitoes and “Gad flies” were numerous, and both oxen and humans were plagued for miles. The water along this route was so bad that even the cattle refused to drink. Most of the time they had to use sage for firewood here because buffalo chips were scarce and so was wood.Among the several landmarks along this part of the Trail were the Avenue Of Rocks and The Devil’s Backbone. Today the quarter-mile-long Avenue Of Rocks is gone, a victim of road widening.
That’s how little Americans care for their environment. Possibly the Avenue of Rocks was used by Fennimore Cooper as a locale in his novel The Prairie that Burroughs was certain to have read.
The Mormons would have made the trip a scant thirty or so years before so Burroughs would have been regaled with stories by those who had made the trip, probably before Buffalo Bill cleared the prairie of buffalo. Certainly before the tremendous network of reservoirs that now cover the area.
Having returned to Chicago Burroughs had to get down to some serious living; something he wasn’t good at. One would imagine that his father with a long history in business in Chicago could have gotten him a decent job to start but for some reason of which we are not informed he seemed to be in disrepute. ERB literally started at the bottom taking jobs for which there were few applicants.
Burroughs ran through an odd assortment of jobs over the next seven or nine years. After all it was only seven years from 1904 to 1911. Short enough in the telling but the equivalent of several lifetimes in the living. I won’t do a recital of the jobs as I’ve done it before while everyone is familiar with the story.
Intellectually these were stimulating times for Burroughs. L. Frank Baum’s Oz books began at the turn of the century, Baum trying to end the series in 1910. The Oz stories had a great influence on ERB. Jack London began publishing whose hobo experiences probably rekindled Burroughs interest in that life find expression in the trilogy of novel involving Billy Byrne that began in 1913 shortly after ERB began writing.
Owen Wister published The Virginian that would be so influential on Burroughs’ writing going into the character of John Carter. The Graustark novels of George Barr McCutcheon also began appearing the memory of which ERB would cherish to his dying day.
And of course ERB had his relationship with Dr. Stace. Now, Porges gives us very little information on this period in ERB’s life. However John Dos Passos in his USA trilogy includes a character who closely resembles Burroughs. This is in the third volume, The Big Money. Dos Passos was a vicious little man. At the time he was an open Red. Somewhat later in life he supposedly became a ‘conservative.’ As Reds go becoming ‘conservative’ in my opinion merely means getting old. I don’t see how anyone who has based their life on Communist principles can ever embrace opposite principles but many people can, or at least, they allow themselves to think they can.
It would be absurd to think that there would be no stories circulating about one of the most successful writers in the world. Dos Passos was actually from Chicago although absent most of his life, still he undoubtedly picked up some stories on Burroughs who would have been thought of, at the very least, as a colorful character. Thus writing in the thirties Dos Passos may very well have picked up stories from people like Frank Martin himself. Can’t be sure at this time of course…but if you look…
Dos Passos carefully describes the type of businessman ERB was. There apparently was a type of scrabbler who while not being able to afford an office of their own would rent space for a desk in someone else’s office so they could have an address. Sort of like the mail box addresses existing today. As an independent businessman Burroughs was of this type. In this capacity Dos Passos has his character turn up with a patent medicine type who go through Michigan trying to sell their wares. Dos Passos details of the foray are unimportant and probably highly imaginative but definitely derogatory. But then his whole corpus is of a mocking nature.
The point is Porges describes about this time, 1907 or so, that Burroughs sent Emma a note from South Bend, Indiana lauding the town saying that he would be back home soon. Porges doesn’t say what he was doing in South Bend. We are left to guess.
I would imagine it was something along the lines that Dos Passos describes. Or perhaps this was about the time the Feds cracked down on the Patent Medicine business and Burroughs and Stace may have found it convenient to absent themselves from the Windy City. I haven’t been able to find a reference to such a trip in the corpus as yet.
More to follow.