Pt. III: H.G. Wells, Sigmund Freud, Edgar Rice Burroughs And The Development Of Contermporary Sexual Attitudes
August 30, 2010
H.G. Wells, Sigmund Freud, Edgar Rice Burroughs
And The Development Of Contemporary Sexual Attitudes
Now we come to the 800 lb. gorilla on top the modern psyche: Sigmund Freud.
If anyone ever wrote to corrupt the morals of society or with more astuteness, that man was Herr Doktor Professor Sigmund Freud. Freud began as a medical researcher. Interestingly he was among the first to experiment with cocaine. He thought it was so beneficial he was pushing it on his wife, his friends, everyone including his own heavy usage. This rush to judgment was his outstanding characterisic. Thus with his ideas concerning psycho-analysis, without testing or validaation he pushed them as god’s own truth. With cocaine he was aced out as the discoverer of its numbing or anesthetic properties. As he was searching for ‘the thing’ that would make his name he took the situation rather badly. At some point he began looking around for some other avenue to attain his goal. His attention was drawn to psychology by the man who became his associate, Joseph Breuer.
Freud immediately recognized the potential of the amorphous body of speculation that psychology was. It was something that he could shape to his own purposes and appropriate as his own. All the elements were there but they just weren’t recognized. Freud essentially merely systematized existing knowledge adding little, if anything, of his own.
Psychology per se probably began with Anton Mesmer and his rediscovery of hypnotism then known as Animal Magnetism and then Mesmerism. The discovery of hypnosis was in fact the discovery of the subconscious which was then called the unconscious. The unconscious is the basis of psychology. It was the investigation of the unconscious that led to everything else. Thus psychology takes its form from suggestion and hypnosis. Whatever you can get into the subconscious will be realized thus the importance of the properly placed suggestion. All is suggestion.
May I refer the reader to Henri Ellenberger’s The History Of The Discovery Of The Unconscious? Ellenberger’s understanding of
the study of the unconscious is unparelleled. You must have the patience to read a thousand pages. I follow the literary approach to the subject. As Ellenberger points out the Baroque Era was followed by the Enlightenment and the Enlightenment by the Romantic Era, then the Positivist approach melding into the Scientific running concurently with the Neo-Romantic.
The Enlightenment essentially dispelled the notion of the supernatural that had prevailed since man’s mind first jelled. The elves and fairies and elementals were consigned to oblivion as, indeed, was God. However man’s mind doesn’t purge itself of the past so easily. So, in the reaction to the Enlightenment the Romanticists sought to revive the supernatural. The Romantics originated in and were most developed in Germany. Mesmer was already afoot so their romances were often quite psychologically penetrating. Freud was well read in the period. La Motte De La Fouquet, a Huguenot emigre from France, wrote an astonishing quartet based on the Elementals and psychology. Charles Nodier wrote the charming Trilby about a Scottish elemental that was very influential on the writings of the Neo-Romantic George Du Maurier. And of course the absolutely astonishing, even astounding, ETA Hoffman on whose stories Offenbach based his musical The Tales Of Hoffman. Sort of perverted gothic amazing stories based on psychological ideas overlooked by everyone but Freud. The Romantics produced the most wonderful of all literature.
The rational reaction to the Romantics, the Positivists, ran through mid-century into Darwin and full blown Science to be mixed with the next supernatural reaction, the Neo-Romantics of which Freud was one.
The Neo-Romantics forced to deal with scientific realities that hadn’t existed fifty years or so before couldn’t return even to the neo-spiritualism of the Romantics so they were forced to blend science and the supernatural hence we have spiritism, spiritualism, Theosophy, mediumship, channeling. Organizations such as the Society For Psychic Research, which by the way, Freud eventually joined, were formed to investigate the ex-supernatural now known as the ‘paranormal.’
Thus the ideas that Freud appropriated came from this body of ideas emanating from Anton Mesmer, and accumulating into this amorphous pool of knowledge and speculation say from 1860 to 1900. It was all there for Freud to pick and choose from as he and Joseph Breuer began to organize their ideas on hysteria. In 1895 the two published their book, Studies In Hysteria to be followed five years later by Freud’s solo effort The Interpretation Of Dreams. Whether or not Freud drew on previous dream theorists, which he did, he organized his material into a system that could be developed. The Interpretation Of Dreams is about seventy percent correct. The Dream book was based on what was the first recorded instance of psychological self-analysis which from my point of view is its main value.
Now, Freud began by studying hypnosis at both the main schools, the Salpetriere and Nancy. He began by actually hypnotizing his subjects. He then abandoned hypnosis per se for another form he called free association. In other words, he realized that a subject didn’t have to be hypnotized to access his sub-conscious. In the proper environment if the subject were allowed to ramble, psychobabble, he would begin to dredge up his subconscious fixations or what the French researcher, Pierre Janet, called idees fixe; some troubling incident that was so traumatic that it became fixed in the subject’s mind influencing and controlling his actions.
If the fixation could be brought to the surface and recognized its influence evaporated into the nothingness that it was. Whether Freud understood it or not he discovered the basis of suggestion and hypnosis. The post-hypnotic suggestion is merely an artfully implanted ‘artificial’ fixation. That’s all psychology is. The main thing is to create defenses against unwanted suggestion and subsequent fixations.
Freud at that point had all the essentials of psycho-analysis. Now we encounter the motivations of Herr Doktor Professor Freud which have nothing to do with science and everything to do with religion.
As unpleasant as it is to introduce such a topic into the discussion it is also unavoidable since it was the controlling aspect of Freud’s own psychology; it is necessary to mention that he was Jewish. As a Jew he had conceived a deep seated hatred of European civilization with the desire to destroy it. Lacking force he had to use guile. Thus while expressing a distaste for what Europeans called morals he set out to destroy them and replace them with his own image and that of his faith.
To correct a commonly held belief, Freud did not create psychoanalysis from whole cloth nor did he discover the unconscious. Psychology was being patiently investigated with fact being added to fact. So-called sexology was already established before Freud. He even acknowledges this while telling you that his Three Essays On The Theory Of Sexuality are based on their writings and not his own independent research. In the first note on page one of the Three Essays he says:
The information contained in this first essay is derived from the well-known writings of Krafft-Ebing, Moll, Moebius, Havelock Ellis, Scherenck-Notzing, Lowenfeld, Eulenberg, Bloch and Hirshfeld, and from the Jahrbuch Fur Sexuelle Zwischenstufen, published under the direction of the last named author. Since full bibliographies of the remaining literature on the subject will be found in the works of these writers, I have been able to spare myself the necessity for giving detailed references.
So we are told explicitly that Freud is interpeting the work of others while adding his own opinions giving their investigations his own imprint.
What Freud did was to make sweeping generalizations unsupported by any science. Having pre-empted essentially psychology Freud then created an Order whose business it was to make Freud’s opinions, for that’s all they were, orthodox while sealing off further investigation. Thus Freud’s vision of the unconscious became the orthodox view that couldn’t be challenged while all further investigation was suspended.
Once his notion of psychology became orthodox then its tenets, suggestions as it were, had to be realized. This effect was captured brilliantly by Fritz Lang in his silent films Mabuse, The Gambler (1923) and The Testament Of Dr. Mabuse (1933). In those movies Dr. Mabuse was placed in an insane asylum after failing in his attempt to overthrow society in 1923 where he was catatonic for a number of years, then he sat up and began writing his manifesto or testament that hypnotized the asylum director, Dr. Baum, who then set Mabuse’s plans or suggestions in motion.
In reality Freud completed his psychology by about 1915. At that time he commenced his meta-psychological writing to direct his goals into reality a la Mabuse, that is the destruction of Euroamerican ideals to be replaced by the Hetaeric ideals of his Jewish sect of Sabbatians.
Thus Freud’s Three Essays On The Theory Sexuality of 1905, translated into English in 1910. In the essays Freud undermined European notions of morality by justifying homosexuality the other perversions, suggesting the idea of child sexuality, discouraging the idea of chastity and the control of the sexual impulses which as Haggard said were formed for the purpose of creating a just society.
While Freud said that he abandoned hypnosis before 1900 in fact he probably realized the relation between suggestion and implementation. He must have known that all you have to do is get the suggestion in the mind and that they will then be acted upon. Hence Freud was associated with the B’nai B’rith from 1895 on. They must have discussed how to and been in collaboration to overthrow Western society. Thus in 1913 B’nai B’rith established the Anti-Defamation League in the US with its suggestions of anti-Semitism and anti-Semite with their paralyzing effect on Westerners.
Thus the Three Essays are three suggestions that would have certain corrosive effects if ingested, as they were. He was successful in implanting the suggestions, in other words having them taken seriously and then acted upon. That is not to say there wasn’t resistance, as Freud knew resistance was natural.
Freud’s goals were not scientific but religious in nature. He shaped whatever science he had to use to further his religious goals. Freud well understood that just as individuals have repetition compuslsions so do cultures. The complete future history of a culture can be determined by its founding myths. There can be no question but that Freud trimmed and conditioned his own Jewish culture to realize Jewish goals as set out clearly in Genesis within the limits of the Jewish psyche. If one reads the Pentateuch, the five books of Moses, what one has is a complete history of the world with a beginning, middle and end. The projected End Days occured with the transit from the Age of Aries to that of Pisces. At the time the notion of the End Days was taken very literally. That it didn’t happen as was expected required explanations that have confused the issue since extending the notion of the End Days down to our times with it resultant confusion of the West.
Then, following a cultural repetition compulsion as well as a personal one, Freud created a closed end psychology to which further development was denied. And he guarded against any attempts to do so expelling from his Order any who violated orthodoxy, then pursuing them with a vengeance to discredit them.
While his psychology was rejected by many Europeans as ‘Jewish psychology’ and was met with stiff resistance his fellow religionists understood the tools he was providing for their benefit and utilized them. Movements such as Dada, Critical Theory, and Primal Therapy arose.
Perhaps the most significant of these organizations arose in the United States under the guidance of Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays. Bernays was the son of Freud’s wife, Martha Bernays’, brother and Freud’s sister Anna. Bernays family emigrated to America in 1892. After the Great War he became a Public Relations and advertising expert.
To quote Wikipedia:
As a Jew who had witnessed the critical role that propaganda and mass media had played in creating anti-German sentiment in Britain prior to WWI and again during and after the Nazi’s pseudo-democratic rise to power in Europe, Bernay’s felt that the same unleashing of irrational animosity could happen in any democratic society. According to the BBC interview with Bernays’ daughter Anne, Bernays felt that the public’s democratic judgment was “not to be relied upon” and he feared that (the American public) could easily vote for the wrong man or want the wrong thing, so that they had to be guided from above.
Bernays’ public relations efforts helped to popularize Freud’s theories in the United States. Bernays also pioneered the PR industry’s use of psychology and other social sciences to design its public persuasion campaigns.
“If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, is it not possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing about it? The recent practice of propaganda has proved that it is possible, at least up to a certain point and within certain limits.”
Bernays referred to his technique of opinion moulding the ‘engineering of consent.’
Now, the above quote raises the question of whose will is ‘our’ will. Who is this ‘we’, Mr. Bernays?
To achieve his goals Bernays needed unlimited access to the media. He found this by welding Freudian ideas of conditioning and indoctrination to the advertisement of commercial products such as cigarettes. Thus in order to extend the market for Lucky Strike cigarettes he corrupted an unexploited segment of the public, women. Women were not smokers at the time so Bernays devised methods to eliminate women’s resistance to smoking. Thus ‘we’ used the democratic right of free speech or expression to undermine it. Who’s evil here? He used his ‘guidance from above’ to betray his trust. Nowadays, of
course, his work is being undone by those who find smoking evil and by extension, Bernays. So, in a way the democracy overturned divine ‘guidance from above’ in this situation.
The rise of Hitler while on the one hand disastrous for some Jews was extremely beneficial for the rest in both the short and long term. The Jewish intelligentsia including Freud was driven from Europe by Hitler. Most came to the US where they found a congenial reception from fellow Jews in the great cultural centers of NYC and LA. Between the two cities the culture of the US has been determined. Publishing and the theatre in NYC andf the movies in Los Angeles.
The psycho-analysts set to work to fasion movies that made sure that ‘our’ goals were furthered and the feared people subverted. Sex was the lubricant.
Now, the European morality Freud despised was based on the conscious mind controlling errant impulses toward evil. At the time the morals were developed the unconscious was known as Satan so the idea was to put Satan behind you. Freud severed the relation between the conscious and unconscious minds placing the emphasis on the unconscious or Satanic desires. He said that the unconscious was all important while the influence of the conscious was trivial.
In point of fact a healthy unconscious unites with a healthy conscious to form a healthy mind. The problem is to eliminate ‘viruses’ or fixations in the subconscious while creating a healthy moral mind to integrate the personality. This has been the goal of mankind from the beginning.
It seems impossible that Freud didn’t realize this. Instead he emphasized a demented sexual approach in which the more sexual intercourse you had the better a person you were. Easily shown as nonsense.
Freudian promotion of the unconcious rapidly brought a change in sexual attitudes aided by suggestion on the radio, TV and in movies but more especially by anti-biotics and the contraceptive pill. Thus by the sixties sexual abandon was the rule in New York City’s Bohemia.
While Burroughs and Wells can be associated there is no direct evidence that the first two ever met the last although it seems very probable that Wells would have made an effort to meet Freud. Burroughs, of course, never went to Europe. However both Wells and Burroughs were affected by Freudian psychology. Wells especially tried to incorporate Freudian psychology into his work. As to Burroughs, well, let us look at his sexual views in Part IV.
Pt. II: H.G. Wells, Sigmund Freud, Edgar Rice Burroughs And The Development Of Contemporary Sexual Attitudes
August 22, 2010
H.G. Wells, Sigmund Freud, Edgar Rice Burroughs
And The Development Of Contemporary Sexual Attitudes
To put our three protagonists into perspective: Sigmund Freud The eldest of the three was born in 1856, Wells in 1866 and Burroughs, the youngest in 1875. All three were heavily influenced by Charles Darwin and the various theories of Evolution. While today Darwin is touted as the sole source of evolution he was in fact one of many voices as the theory of evolution developed. Thus all three spent their formative years in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Freud was 44 as the century turned in 1900, Wells 34 and Burroughs 25 each neatly spaced 10 years from his predecessor.
Wells was the first to make the leap into prominence followed by Freud and then Burroughs. All three men were desperate to find fame and fortune. Freud even advtertised he’d sell his soul to do it.
Wells came from close to the bottom of the social ladder. His parents eked out a living as shopkeepers without commercial abilities on the edge of London. Wells’ father was an able cricket player who gained his self-esteem from that sport. The parents split up. His mother went into domestic service. She placed young Wells as a Draper’s assistant- a clerk in a dry goods shop. As one might well believe Wells rebelled at this dead end destiny in life. Possessing a good brain Wells began a series of educational maneuvers that led to his being a student of T.H. Huxley, an apostle of Evolution. A science career seemed to be opening for Wells but he was led away by his sexual needs. He married a cousin with whom he was a boarder in her mother’s house only to discover her Victorian notions of male-female sexual relations differed widely from his. He divorced her taking up with a fellow student. She was an able financial manager so he put her in charge and began chasing skirts. It didn’t seem to bother his wife Catharine who he renamed Jane. After a series of hairy but educational employments Wells began to find success in journalism and writing. With his story The Time Machine he broke into the bigtime giving Jane some real work to do. Quickly following The Time Machine up with his succession of sci-fi novels by 1900 he was assured of a lifetime income.
It was well because his work after 1906 while prolific was unlucrative except for 1922′s Outline Of History. There was a winner. The Outline was his second great break setting him up for the rest of his life along with the science fiction. Ah, those Seven Science Fiction Novels. And, of course, his close to amazing collection of short stories. There was another gold mine. Jane raked in the cash and Bertie, for that was how he wished to be called, spent it.
He associated himself with the socialist Fabian Society of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century with their ‘advanced’ sexual notions. Why the old Hetaerist notion of promiscuity is considered ‘advanced’ is beyond me. At the same time Bertie claimed to be a Feminist. The women’s Matriarchal movement was very active from mid-century on. His Feminism, however, was concerned only with eliminating chastity thereby allowing any man access to any woman at any time, anywhere. Purely Hetaeric, although Wells wouldn’t have understood his ancient roots in that manner.
It was when Wells turned to his sex novels that he put his reputation in jeopardy. After his intial spate of sci-fi his reputation slid, the only bright spot being The Outline Of History. While his later novels, tend toward the tedious and require a certain determination to read through they are almost always redeemed by the social context. I like Wells and don’t mind the stuff too much but I can’t recommend it very strongly. It’s a matter of taste, either you like Wells or you don’t.
Wells major themes are outlined in the last of the Seven Sci-Fi Novels- In The Days Of The Comet- when he shades into the sex novel. In my estimation this is a very fine book as utopian novels go. After Tono-Bungay and When the Sleeper Wakes it may be my favorite. The turn of the century was a hey day of the utopian novel with the dystopian novel being introduced. If you like the genre many fine ones were written: News From Nowhere by William Morris. I came to Morris late in life but if you like the mystical utopian or quasi-utopian novel Morris has a lot to recommend himself including several utopian forays. I’m sure he influenced both Wells and Burroughs; Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward is another fine example of the period. They’re all bushwa but fun to read. Utopian novels are usually a projection of the author’s own needs and desires into which all humanity is to conform. Usually by some miracle all humanity becomes reconciled to living in universal harmony with no unseemly disturbances of the temper. Museums and lecture halls flourish while dance halls and crime atrophy. Culture is much more elevated. To the most casual observor such an utopia is impossible without an alteration of the human brain. Only one utopianist I have read has addressed that problem and that one is H.G., our Bertie.
In The Days Of The Comet was published in 1906 at the time that Halley’s Comet was due to make its scheduled seventy-five year fly-by in 1910. It was projected to pass very close to the earth which it did unlike its 1985 appearance when you had to know where to look for it. Indeed, the comet came with trails of glory so bright you could read newsprint by it at night.
Thus Wells uses the comet as his agent to change the physical structure of the human brain. Wells fails to mention any change to the brains of the lesser animals and insects. Perhaps the lion really did lie down with the lamb. Before the comet, or the Big Change as the passing was referred to, people’s brains were as ours are now; after the Change they all resembled that of H.G. I am in sympathy with Wells; I fancy that one morning I will sally forth, flick my finger tips a couple times, say abracadabra and the people of the world will be tranformed into clones of myself. What’s holding me back is that I don’t know which will be the Big Morning and I don’t wish to be seen as an eccentric or worse who failed to take his medicine by repeatedly trying and failing. You know, out there flicking my finger tips into the empty air.
But, Wells had it worked out. The comet came trailing this tail of green gas. As the comet passed the gas enveloped the earth much like a magnetar, I suppose, knocking people out for several hours while the gas did its work. When England came to the world was changed and everyone thought like Wells. Sort of the same thing that was thought would happen when Obama was elected. The Magic Negro would save us all.
Actually the Comet reflected a change in Wells own circumstances. In 1898 when Wells published The War Of The Worlds he was balanced between hope and despair. He was close to financial independence but not quite there. Thus in WOW the tone is between hope and despair. The world is invaded by Martians who destroy everything in their path, themselves being destroyed by a virus taken in through their beastly habit of drinking human blood. One neglected detail is that the projectiles they arrived in trailed some green clouds. The last projectile had a larger one so that perhaps Wells was going to develop the notion but then couldn’t work it in. He did have the Martians project a black gas that killed people though.
By 1906 his success was assured, he was shooting his pistol off around London having several sexual affairs so his outlook was brighter and, hence, that of the planet, so the novel describes the transition from the evil old world to the brave new one In other words, Wells had passed from poverty to affluence.
Sex is the issue here.
Before the Comet Willie, the hero, was courting his childhood sweetheart Nettie from whom he expected to be her sole sexual companion. In the weird old world sex was exclusive. They had committed themselves to each other as children which remained a claim in Willie’s mind.
However Willie is a poor boy with no prospects. Nettie is courted by the rich guy’s son, Verrall with whom she runs off. Willie treks 16 miles to see her only to find she has abandoned her parents’ home in company with Verrall. Well, Willie’s not going to endure such treatment from Nettie or take that from Verrall so he steals some money, buys a revolver and a train ticket to track them down and shoot them dead. You see, in the days before The Big Change that was the way things were done.
In the meantime the Comet is getting closer, C-hour is near, and war breaks out between England and Germany, this is eight years before 1914 so Bertie exhibits his prescience. The details are well handled so we have the increasing color of the green cloud and the flash and boom of the big navel guns as the climax takes place by the seashore. This was really nicely handled.
Willie tracks the couple down to a Bohemian enclave on the East Anglian coast. Nettie and Verrall had gotten married so it seems rather odd that they searched out a Bohemian enclave. So, as the battle rages and the green cloud descends on the earth Willie is chasing the couple down the beach firing his pistol wildly. This is the moment of the Big Change. Everybody gets gassed for a few hours then arise, born again, in a new heaven and a new earth. Utopia!
The same device is used a few decades later in the great movie The Village Of The Damned. A good device. It won’t go stale.
In the new world, new rules and reasonings apply. Nettie no longer has to choose between Willie and Verrall. She can have both…and more.
As Willie comes to he hears groaning. The groaning is coming from a prominent politician who was out bicycling at two in the morning when the green fog descended and fell off his bike as he conked breaking his ankle. Thus Willie makes a connection changing the direction of his life allowing him to become prominent in the establishment of this brave new world. Thus he later meets Nettie and Verrall on equal terms.
Nettie informs Verrall that she wants a menage a trois with Willie to which, in this best of all impossible worlds, Verrall compliantly agrees. Later Willie marries making the arrangment a menage a quatre. Neato! Was this all? No…
In the frame for the story it turns out that the story teller is Willie. In the Frame Wells comes upon this white haired old dude, Willie, writing this memoir. He has pages clipped in fascicles of fifty that Willie allows the editor, H.G., to read.
Finishing the last fascicle the author asks if Nettie had sexual relations with others. The white haired dude replies somethng like this: ‘Oh, heavens, yes. Hundreds. You don’t think a beautiful girl like Nettie wouldn’t attract numerous suitors do you?’
So there you have it. In the brave new world the woman of Wells’ dreams is a mere sex object who spends her life being pawed by, shall we say, all comers. A Hetaerist’s dream. This is Wells’ sexual program. At this point he began to lose readers. Too avant garde; you don’t want to get too far out in front of the pack. In addition to the sexual proselytizing of his novels he carried his didacticism to extremes advancing educational theories for instance. For over a hundred years we’ve been told our educational system is faulty. New systems have succeeded new systems. After over a century of tinkering are people better schooled? No. They’re worse. There’s only one way to learn and that’s the drudgery of study. Not every mind is prepared to do that, somebody’s going to be left behind. Wells’ notions as everyone else’s is what they think they would have liked. No study. Lots of play.
At any rate carrying all these utopian notions Wells passed through the horrific war years to have all his expectations disappointed. Not surprisingly his mind broke and he went into a deep depression. First he tried the God trip and when that failed he embraced the Communist Revolution in Russia. He essentially became an agent of Moscow. As a very prominent writer he was a desirable acquistion for the Revolution. As a major theorist and propagandist he had an entree first to Lenin and then after 1924 when Lenin died, Stalin.
In 1921 he interviewed Lenin and received his instructions. the Soviets had a system of State prostitution. These women were assigned as agents to service writers while spying on them for Moscow. In 1921 he met Moura Budberg for whom he fell. At that time she had been assigned to manage a consular agent, Bruce Lockhart, who along with the agency was in process of being expelled. Wells became intensely jealous of Lockhart because of this connection badmouthing him from then on. In any case Moura Budberg was assigned to Maxim Gorky then living in exile in Italy with whom she stayed until Gorky was enticed back to the USSR at which time she was reassigned to shepherd Wells.
Now Wells became a Soviet literary hatchet man. It was his job to interfere and discredit writers who refused to propagate the Party line. Among these was Edgar Rice Burroughs who had proclaimed his anti-Communism with a tract or study titled Under The Red Flag of 1919. Publishers refused the piece. Wells anti-Burroughs campaign was so discreet that my discovery of it three or four years ago was the first mention of it. I repeat the story here for those who have not read my earlier essays.
In the first place all these writers read each other. Kipling and Haggard for instance read each other as well as writers like Wells and Burroughs and vice versa. They could pass disguised messages in their novels. As Burroughs was the last of these writers to begin writing and that in US pulp magazines in 1912 that may never have reached Europe while his book titles only reached print in 1914 after the Great War began and were only the Tarzan titles until the end of the decade Wells may not have read Burroughs until 1918 or slightly after. Nevertheless Burroughs influence shows in Wells’ 1923 effort Men Like Gods. This book also ridicules Burroughs.
Men Like Gods takes place in a parallel universe. There is some resemblance to the Eloi of The Time Machine. For the first time Wells’ characters are nearly nude. This was the only time he ever did this so he was probably under the influence of Burroughs whose characters never wore clothes or only minimally.
Burroughs apparently picked up the references or had them pointed out to him. In any event in 1926 he wrote The Moon Maid in answer to Wells, The First Men In The Moon. Wells’ book was pretty clumsycompared to that of Burroughs who demonstrated his imaginative superiority by running circles around Wells. The second part of the story was a rewrite of Under The Red Flag that was a direct challenge to the Soviets. By 1926 of course Stalin was directing the USSR.
Wells then countered with an undisguised attack that portrayed Burroughs as insane. This was Mr. Blettsworthy On Rampole Island. Here Wells parodied a pulp magazine story not yet in book form, The Lad And The Lion, and the last third of The Land That Time Forgot. Burroughs returned the fire with Tarzan At The Earth’s Core and Tarzan The Invincible that featured Stalin himself as a character.
At about this time Moura Budberg was assigned to Wells as a concubine as Gorky had returned to the USSR. This was to cause a falling out between Wells and Stalin while perhaps leading to Stalin’s assassination in 1953.
Burroughs’ entire series of novels from Tarzan At The Earth’s Core to Tarzan And The Lion Man deals with Wells and the Reds. The Communists attacked unrelentingly on several fronts probably robbing Burroughs blind in royalties while trying to squeeze off his sales. His British publishers did just that. Although it appears that they refused or were reluctant to keep his titles in print Alan Hodge and Robert Graves in their history of the twenties and thirties, The Long Weekend, twice refer to Burroughs’ great popularity, once in the twenties and once in the thirties.
In Germany the Communists attacked ERB for his anti-German comments in books written during the war
years thereby destroying that lucrative market. The Soviets never paid royalties anyway so there was no monetary effect from that market. In the US Burroughs had troubles with his publishers McClurg’s and Grossett & Dunlap who seem quite hostile to in the correspondence in the archives at ULouisville. ERB left McClurg in the late twenties going through two more publishers before winning the battle by publishing under his own imprint. Thus by 1930′s Tarzan The Invincible, note the title, he seemed to have won the battle if not the war.
However sound had come to the movies in 1927-28 which rearranged the playing field. Rather than just being ‘flickers’ they were now more on a par with literature while being even more influential. With sound the movie version of a story took pecedence over the book, heck, it took precedence over history. Thus the movie version took precedence as the canon over the book, the latter became an adjunct that few read in comparison to those who saw and heard the movie. As the movies paid in one lump sum what it might take years to dribble in as royalties authors were willing to give the devil a cut to have their novels produced. Books could be issued in their thousands of titles a year but there were only a couple hundred movies released in a year. The number of producers had been consolidated from many to a few after the shakeout of the twenties, hence combines like Metro, Goldwyn and Mayer, Radio-Keith-Orpheum- RKO- and the combine of Twentieth Century Pictures and William Fox.
MGM was of course top dog by far. There was no vacuum there but the Commies moved in anyway soon taking over de facto control. When Burroughs published his own books, quite profitably, he had slipped the noose but only temporarily. As a strategist he did poorly. In 1931, because Burroughs didn’t ever bother to dread his contracts, MGM finessed his meal ticket, Tarzan, from him thereby making him financially dependent on them. Even though they might have exploited the Tarzan character by making two or three movies a year and zillions of dollars they chose to make only six movies between 1931 and 1940 thereby keeping Burroughs on a short financial lease while depriving him of hundreds of thousands of dollars in income. Remember that at the same time Roosevelt after 1933 drove the income tax rate as high as 90% so there was some difficulty forcing a grin in those trying times.
This is a good story and I covered it in some detail in my ten part review of Tarzan And The Lion Man, expecially parts 6-10 to which I refer you if you’re interested. Wells and Burroughs bickered back and forth although it appears that Burroughs lost heart after Tarzan And The Lion Man. By that time he knew he had been had. He did concede defeat in the issuance of a book version of The Lad And The Lion in 1935; a notice to both Wells and Stalin. The story was a short one so while leaving the old story as a notice to Wells who had mocked him and the story in his Blettsworthy novel, Burroughs interpolated chapters with a story mocking the Communist Revolution in Russia. Then he retired from the field.
However he gives Wells a grand slam in the story of ’God’ in the middle of Lion Man. That is a great story within the story however I wasn’t clear on its relation to Wells at the time so I will give a modified version here.
Now, Burroughs had a remarkable mind. He was able to carry the story lines of hundreds of books he had read in his head retrieving details whenever they suited his needs. He was always conscious of what he was doing but he wrote pastiches anyway.
The story of Tarzan and God mocks Wells’ The Island Of Dr. Moreau. Burroughs had already used Moreau in his 1913 novel The Monster Men plus he wrote around the theme repeatedly. Moreau itself plays around with the Frankenstein theme which also figures prominently in Burroughs’ literary antecedents.
Remember that Burroughs is able to combine numerous details of other books into one composite figure so that Wells is only one source for the character of ‘God’ in Lion Man. For our purposes one may assume that when Tarzan talks to God (smirk) it is equivalent to Burroughs talking to Wells. Gone is the transcendant confidence of Tarzan The Invincible and Tarzan Triumphant. However the coup of the capture of Tarzan in 1931 when Burroughs signed away his rights to the movie representation of Tarzan to MGM had stripped Burroughs of all defences and he himself was now trapped in a cage at the mercy of MGM, Wells and Stalin. During Tarzan’s movie history dating back to the late teens Burroughs had always complained, making a nuisance of himself because the studios weren’t following his stories closely. Now, he had given MGM the right to create their own stories. ERB was dissatisfied with the representation of Tarzan but the character was so good that even though MGM tried they couldn’t destroy it.
Nevertheless they were in a position to substitute the movie Tarzan for the literary Tarzan in the public mind and they did. For me and many others the discovery that there was a literary Tarzan came long after we had been viewing Tarzan movies. We invariably found the literary Tarzan superior. For now Tarzan/ERB was imprisoned in a cell. The best ERB can do is to come up with a better Moreau story than Wells.
So, ERB creates a mock London, England in the wilds of Africa with a replica of the court of Henry VIII peopled by mutated gorillas. By 1930 when this story was written ERB was probably as well informed about evolution as anyone. He had kept up his reading becoming as knowledgeable concerning genetics as any but researchers. Thus while thirty years earlier Moreau had been clumsily experimenting with vivisection ‘God’ had used the lastest genetic techniques that ERB can devize to convert gorillas into a cross between apes and human beings. The apes of God are human in all but appearance. There are many jokes concealed in this episode, apes of God perhaps being one. Wyndham Lewis used the term apes of God as a synonym for writers so he may be calling Wells as God and writer an ape. ‘God’ himself who has exchanged ape genes with himself is now half ape. See, a joke. Whether Wells recognized his portrait isn’t known.
Tarzan sets about to escape but as there is no escape from his real life situation ERB merely burns God’s castle down disrupting one supposes the USSR. Perhaps gratifying to the imagination but futile for changing his situation. No longer in control of his creation Burroughs creative powers begin to atrophy.
Thus Stalin triumphed over his literary adversary. Perhaps Stalin despised writers for he set out to humiliate Wells after the defeat of Burroughs. As noted the State prostitute Moura Budberg had formerly serviced Maxim Gorky while after his return Budberg was assigned to Wells. H.G. had fallen hard for Budberg apparently seriously in love with her. Stalin called Wells to Moscow in 1936 when Gorky was on his last legs, about to die. Budberg was also in Moscow but when Wells asked to see her she told him she was called out of town. In a rather malicious ploy Stalin arranged for Wells to see Gorky and Budberg together as, of course, she wasn’t out of town.
Wells was completely destroyed unable to penetrate Stalin’s duplicity, or at least believe it, at the time. However when it finally sank in he had no more means to retaliate than Burroughs so he wrote a book too- The Holy Terror. In that book, the ruffian leader of the revolution, or Stalin in real life, has lost the ability to lead the revolution and has to be discreetly removed. A conspiracy is set afoot. A doctor’s plot in which the leader is artfully removed by medical means. I am unaware of how much influence Wells may have had to incite others to achieve his result. At any rate the War intervened making it inexpedient to dispatch Stalin while Wells died in 1946 before he could reactivate the plan.
It may be coincidence but Stalin discovered a doctor’s plot in the early fifties that he was able to foil. However Khruschev and Beria and others poisoned Stalin at a dinner in 1953 thus removing this singularly successful but troublesome dictator.
The turmoil of the thirties may have derailed Wells sexual program somewhat but sexual matters were still moving in his desired direction. Sexual matters had been loosened a great deal but there were still miles to go.
In Part III I will deal with the key mover in sexual matters, Sigmund Freud who was the second of the three to reach prominence. Thus Burroughs the third to arrive on the scene and the last to leave will be saved for the last part.
Pt.I: H.G.Wells, Sigmund Freud, Edgar Rice Burroughs And The Development Of Contemporary Sexual Attitudes
August 14, 2010
H. G. Wells, Sigmund Freud, Edgar Rice Burroughs
And The Development Of Contemporary Sexual Attitudes
Certainly it is to be hoped that (the) naturalistic school of writing will never take firm root in England, for it is an accursed thing. It is impossible to help wondering if its followers ever reflect on the mischief that they must do, and, reflecting do not shrink from the responsiblility to look at the matter from one point of view only, Society has made a rule for the benefit of the whole community, individuals must keep their passions within certain fixed limits, and our system is so arranged that any transgression of this rule produces mischief of one sort or another, if not actual ruin, to the transgressor. Especially is this so is she be a woman. Now, as it is, human nature is continually fretting against these artificial bounds, and especially among young people it requires considerable fortitude and self-restraint to keep the feet from wandering. We all know too, how much this sort of indulgence depends upon the imagination, and we all know how easy it is for a powerful writer to excite it in that direction. Indeed, there could be nothing more easy to a writer of any strength or vision, especially if he spoke with an air of evil knowledge and intimate authority. There are probably several men in England at this moment who, if they turned their talents to this end, could equal, if not outdo, Zola himself, with results that would shortly show themselves among the population. Sexual passion is the most powerful lever with which to stir the mind of man, for it lies at the root of all things human; and it is impossible to over-estimate the damage that could be worked by a single English or American writer of genius, if he grasped it with a will.
–H. Rider Haggard
Appendix to the Broadview
Edition Of She
For a long time now I’ve put off writing about Edgar Rice Burroughs in relation to H.G. Wells. Wells has been difficult to get a handle on, a point of entry. But the Woodrow Nichols’ article on nudity in Burroughs on ERBzine pointed in the direction of changing sexual attitudes in the twentieth century. Coupled with reading the above quote of Rider Haggard I realized that Wells and Burroughs were two of those powerful writers capable of unleashing those sexual passions. They, coupled with Sigmund Freud, did change sexual attitudes in the twentieth century.
That is not to say they were alone but of all of the hundreds of writers between then and now all their books remain in print continuing their work.
The sexual problem is central to civilization while it has been handled differently in the development of civilization. For some time it seemed that the Patriarchal model would be permanent. J.J. Bachofen, the great Swiss mythologist of the mid-nineteenth century, was the first to challenge the Patriarchal model. In his studies of mythologies he perceived that behind the Patriarchy first came a Matriarchy while at the beginning was a Hetaeric period. All three had different sexual approaches while all three attitudes have survived into the current age competing for dominance.
In the first Hetaeric stage of development Bachofen believed men used women, and woman, indiscriminately whether with force of persuasion when the sexual urge hit him. A good picturalization of this can be found in the movie, In Quest Of Fire. As there was no knowledge of how offspring were conceived the women of the horde merely accepted the inevitable bumper crop of children.
Being a sexual object puts an unbearable burden on the female of the species no matter how natural. Since most females began bearing at twelve or thirteen with the onset of puberty they were worn out at twenty with few probably surviving to thirty. Indeed, a huge percentage must have died in child birth from twelve to twenty. One imagines a surplus of males in the horde not unlike affairs in the nineteenth century when men frequently went through two or three wives or more as the women died young in childbirth.
While conception or paternity wasn’t recognized there was no mistaking motherhood. By some process of refinement the sexual mores of hordes evolved into Matriarchy which acknowledged female parentage while giving women some sort of sexual control, preference if you will. The change from the Hetaeric to the Matriarchal inevitably left behind a reactionary or conservative group who saw no reason for change or giving up their sexual prerogatives. Thus conflicts between the two attitudes, perhaps warfare.
The Matriarchy was still thriving when history began to be recorded. Thus Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey concern the Patriarchal revolution against the Matriarchy amongst the Europeans. By now paternity had been discovered by which the male discovered that he impregnated the female which he now considered the most important part of the process and one which involved the exclusive use of the female as he had no wish to care for another man’s children. Hence Patriarchalism- the primacy of the father- evolved putting the three systems into conflict and competition. This is a main theme of Greek mythology.
Concessions had to be made to the Hetaerists who were irate at the loss of their prerogatives. Hence temple prostitution undoubtedly evolved in which all the young females were kept in a temple compound until they had sex with any man who demanded it. Civilization being civilization, of course, there was a fee, hence protitution. Upon completion of the duty the female was released.
The Patriarchal revolt was a long slow drawn out process with many setbacks and compromises such as the above. Indeed, the Patriarchal god, Apollo, wrested Delphi from the Matriarchy but in the Matriarchal reaction he was forced to share the shrine with the effiminate Matriarchal hybrid god, Dionysus who, himself was destined to replace Zeus as the avatar of the Piscean Age. He assumed both male and female characteristics in the attempt to arrange the sexual conflict. That’s why the Jewish prophet Jesus of Nazareth, who substituted for him in yet another compromise is so effiminate. With the admixture of the Semitic influence in European religion with its uncompromising Patriarchalism the evolving Catholic Church was all but able to extinguish the Matriarchal Dionysian influence as well as the Hetaeric. Chastity, celibacy and monogamy became not only dominant but exclusive.
Just as the Matriarchy, while suppressed, has never disappeared or admitted defeat so also the Hetaerists have survived assuming different disguises while waging continued war with the Patriarchy and the Scientific view which is say Western Science and the Roman Catholic Church.
Reviled by the Church and persecuted sometimes to death the various sects fought back often posing as Catholics to become priests, even occasionally a Pope, and bore from within. Thus arose the Free Spirit sect which demanded the right of access to any woman at any time in any place. Thus John Sinclair in 1960s and 70s demanding the right to ‘fuck in the streets.’ An irrational request by any other standard. The Free Spirits delighted in debauching nuns when they had sufficient numbers to seize a place.
The spirit surfaced among the Anabaptists, for instance, who were not only suppressed but destroyed root and branch. With the Enlightenment when the Hetaerists surfaced as the Libertines we hear of them forwarding the French Revolution while their ideals were absorbed by the nascent Communist political movement. The Libertines per se seem to have transmogrifed into La Vie Boheme after the Napoleonic Empire, Bohemianism reaching down to our time.
La Vie Boheme as depicted by the French novelist Henri Murger evolved in the early nineteenth century along with their more overtly criminal cousins, the Mohicans of Paris as the novelist Alexandre Dumas styled them and known as Apaches by the end of the century. In the US fifties the Apaches were represented on TV with a mystifyingly violent effect as Apache dancers from France. I suppose the Apache style was transmogrified into the New York Bohemian style also. So this quasi-criminal Bohemian Apache style pervaded Euroamerican civilization through the nineteenth century and in diluted form into the twentieth and present day. The Fall 2010 Nordstrom catalog for instance celebrates the New York Haut Boheme.
I was trying to relate this latter day form of Behemianism to Burroughs in my three part series on Presley, Lennon and Yoko Ono that Bill Hillman courageously published in ERBzine but over some very strenuous objections. I presume I lost the Bibliophiles on that issue.
That Burroughs was fascinated by the Bohemian style while actually furthering the Hetaeric sexual program is fairly obvious. He said that he wrote his first unpublished work, Minidoka, in Ragtime speech, that is to say the Bohemian mode. In other words ERB considered himself plenty hep, at least a closet Bohemian. Some may find that disturbing but, it is so. In ’60s NYC terminology ERB would hve been of the Haut Boheme. Along with those sympathies went a set of Hetaeric sexual mores that Burroughs advocated.
I have already examined the Bohemian influence of George Du Maurier on Burroughs with his novels Peter Ibbetson, Trilby and The Martian. Du Maurier was also of the Haut Boheme. A photograph of ERB behind the camera in Idaho in 1899 shows ERB dressed in full artistic Boho mode. He had just emerged from a short stay at the Chicago Art Institute where he would have immersed himself in Boho mores as artists then and now were virtually all Boho, at least in outlook. Writers too.
It seems quite extraordinary that Libertinism was discouraged and contained between the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth century. Perhaps the answer can be found in the transition from aristocratic society to bourgeois society. Perhaps the Bourgeois requiring a different sexual morality than the aristocracy succeeded in imposing their version of sexual mores by sheer numbers.
Libertinism did regain prominence amongst the wealthy Haut Boheme of NYC thence spreading throughout society as a Bohemian sensibility began to displace the Bourgeois.
A book I have reviewed on ERBzine, found in ERB’s library which he read, GWM Reynolds’ The Mysteries Of The Court Of London scrupulously records the libertine activities in a fictional form of Prince George, later King George IV, whose career of seduction ended only in the 1820s. Certainly Reynolds’ depiction of the libertine actiities of George and his circle out Zolaed Zola by more than somewhat.
The whole libertine attitude was nowhere more prominently displayed than in NYC’s Haut Boheme nightclub, Studio 54. So the suppression of the libertine spirit during and since the reign of Queen Victoria was short. Perhaps Haggard’s novel She echoes the memories of the Libertinage of the eighteenth century Hellfire Club in some obscure way.
Haggard had no reason to put on airs because as I pointed out in my review of his King Solomon’s Mines that novel is smutty from top to bottom while ‘She’ has some very salacious passages. As Horace stands watching the scene of She and the dead body of Kallicrates for instance one is more than excited. She had murdered her former lover Kallicrates for running off with another woman. Immediately remorseful she kept the body preserved in perfect condition for two thousand years. She could even psychically animate the body so that it stood although still insensate. The necrotic effect is hypnotizing, making the reader a voyeuristic accomplice of Horace. As he and we watch the bodice of She’s dress slips to her waist exposing her magnificent charms according to your imagination. As we watch she then raises her arms above her head lifting and pointing the golden orbs. She does this not once but twice so it is clear Haggard was exciting and taunting his readers. If one imagines Ursula Andress who played She in one of the movies the effect is exhilarating indeed.
Haggard aside, as he says there were writers in England and America who were champing at the bit to alter the course of sexual history. Chief among these was H.G. Wells in England and our own Edgar Rice Burroughs. Both would make significant contributions to the ‘change’ but the most effective writer of them all was the secret sexual pervert, the undisputed master of them all, Sigmund Freud. But to go first to H.G. Wells and take things in order.