April 17, 2011
Maid Of Constant Sorrow
Blonde On Blonde
One can only guess at Edie’s feelings when Dylan dismissed her so brutally from the lines of One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later). She must have intuited if not known that her short and glorious career as the toast of New York was going nowhere. She came to New York with a handsome inheritance that she squandered in a trice, her parents disapproved of her conduct to the the point that they cut her off from support leaving her as Dylan had sneered in Like A Rolling Stone, a poor little rich girl ‘who had never lived out on the streets but now she was going to have to get used to it.’ Screamingly in pain from amphetamines one can only imagine her bewilderment with no way to rectify the situation. Whatever golden opportunities she may have had were now gone forever. Frome here to her death in 1971 would be one long wailing ‘horrorous’ nosedive that is terrifying to relive as a writer even. My stomach quakes as I try to organize the course of events.
Chuck Wein, one of the Harvard homosexuals she had associated with and who had come to New York with her was her evil genius, some say Svengali, who had guided her to Warhol and the
Factory and then presided over her self-destruction. Then for that brief glorious summer of ’65 she had set New York on its ear as a companion to Andy Warhol. Made her feel giddy and indestructible. Andy was apparently in love with her but as a self-centered homosexual was too flaky to work out a relationship that would give her dignity while he was unable to support her more than extravagant tastes.
Behind Warhol was Dylan competing for Edie’s favors which he won in December of ’65 and then discarded her like an old shoe. He recorded the course of his relationship with Edie in various songs from mid-1965 to the completion of Blonde On Blonde in the Spring of ’66. His own career course was changed dramatically in July of ’66 when he had his motorcycle accident.
It might be well to review the songs that comprise Blonde On Blonde now. The song list of Blonde On Blonde is as follows:
1. Rainy Day Women #12 And 35
2. Pledging My Time
3. Visions Of Johanna
4. One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later)
5. I Want You
6. Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again
7. Leopard Sking Pillbox Hat
8. Just Like A Woman
9. Most Likely You Go Your Way And I’ll Go Mine
10. Temporary Like Achilles
11. Absolutely Sweet Marie
12. Fourth Time Around
13. Obviously Five Believers
14. Sad Eyed Lady Of The Low Lands
With a knowledge of the lyrics the titles themselves read consecutively tell story while the lyrics confirm the tale. The story hinges on who the two women are. One is Dylan’s mother who blasted herson’s psyche when at about the age of twelve she told him in so many words that he had ruined her life by being born. Apparently it was more than Dylan could handle because it was then that his lifelong misogyny began. It is forbidden for a son to revenge himself on his mother so his only recourse was to take it out on another woman or women. Dylan has been a serial misogynist.
One of the women he chose to vent his spleen on was Edie Sedgwick. Thus the two rainy day women most likely are his mother and Edie. All the time Dylan was bedeviling Edie he was courting Sara Lowndes who he eventually married in November of ’65. It was a quiet wedding that didn’t became known for several months and not widely known until later than that. He married just before he succeeded in abstracting Edie from Andy’s entourage so there is no doubt that he was only toying with Edie as a surrogate for his mother.
He may actually have cherished her vulnerability from drugs, inexperience in the world and low self-esteem. She would have been as helpless as a baby, almost like shot gunning fish in a barrel. Sara was his Madonna, Edie his whore. He waits to the very end of Blonde On Blonde to mention Sara and then he wrote Sad Eyed Lady Of The Low Lands for her. Of course, this was all very mysterious for us back in ’66 because we knew nothing of what was happening in New York. None of us had even heard of Sara Lowndes until she showed up as Dylan’s wife
As blogger Jim De Rogatis says, when he sat down to listen to Blonde: What I discovered was an artist who sneered and snarled with more venom and conviction than Johnny Rotten, and
finally it dawned on me: Dylan was a punk…
Jim wasn’t there at the creation as I was, he is a younger man. I guess my soul was so canchred at the time that I welcomed the sneering and snarling as an expression of my own trauma while today I find the venom is so grating that I can no longer listen to Dylan’s records. Besides he borrows nearly everything.
The album opens on a note of forced sardonic merriment as though in a house of ill fame and ends with the dirge dedicated to his wife, Sara. I leave the interpretation of that up to you. I can’t pretend at this date to understand the lyrics to Sad Eyed Lady. One would have to know more of her and Dylan’s courtship. Dylan thought she was supposed to be impressed that he wrote a song for her with a title that sounds like another of his caustic insults.
To take the songs in order: Rainy Day Women is a raucous, very noisy mocking song along the lines of Like A Rolling Stone with its refrain of ‘How does it feel?’ On release the song was so noisy it was nearly unlistenable, certainly objectionable and barely music. Time has conditioned our ears. The refrain here: Everyboyd must get stoned, has layers of possible meaning. While the allegory of stoned meaning pelted with rocks is present, stoned can also have a secondary meaning of smoking marijuana. I don’t think the meaning has anything to do with getting ‘stoned’ from dope. I think it’s a combination of the first meaning and what was perceived by Dylan as a devastating insult from his mother.
The refrain must refer on one hand to his mothers perceived ‘stoning’ of Dylan by her announcement to him that he had been basically unwanted. That stoning is turned around to apply to his ‘stoning’ of Edie in vengeance. He then gleefully taunts and mocks her with the refrain: Do not feel so all alone, everybody must get stoned (How does it feel?) which refers back to his earlier song about Edie, Like A Rolling Stone.
In order to make ‘poetry’ of his taunt, our incipient ‘Shakespeare’ gives several poetic references that have nothing to do with rocks or joints. For instance the line ‘They’ll stone you when you’re riding in your car’ must refer to radio DJs pitching products. Thus stoning is meant as a verbal assault. One can compare that line with the Rolling Stone’s Mick Jagger’s lyrics to his song Satisfaction:
When I’m drivin’ in my car
And that man comes on the radio
He’s tellin’ me more and more
About some useless information
Supposed to fire my imagination
I can’t get no, Oh, no, no, no
Hey, hey, hey, that’ what I say
I can’t get no
So Dylan’s use of ‘stoning’ is giving or getting unpleasant information.
Song #2, Pledging My Time merely means he is obsessed with his mother’s ‘information’ that he was unwanted which is reflected in song #3, Visions Of Johanna when he sings: These visions of Johanna have conquered my mind. Johanna being his mother. Then there is discussion about Andy and Edie. (see my essay at http://idynamo.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/exhuming-bob-xxviii-visions-of-johanna-decoded/ for a full discussion.)
Song#4 Sooner Or Later mocks Edie who he ‘really did try to get close to’ as he dismisses here as he would have like to have dismissed his mother. Song #5 is self-explanatory.
Song #6, Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again awhile the lyrics are unclear must refer back to I Want You on one hand and forward to Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat and Just Like A Woman on the other. He’s stuck inside of Mobile, i.e. he wants his mother with the Memphis Blues, i.e. he want his vengeance on Edie is a possible interpretation. At any rate it is placed between I Want You and the two Edie songs so it must be related to all three.
Then come two really unnecessarily vicious songs that everyone agrees are about Edie- Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat and Just Like A Woman. There are no obvious reasons for Dylan to express such vehement, disfiguring hatred of the poor girl unless he’s visiting his repressed hatred of his mother on her.
Song #10 Temporary Like Achilles involves Edie and Andy and himself. I doubt if Dylan had any understanding of the Iliad, if he had even read it, so apart from Achilles short life and the seven month interruption of his relationship with Edie by Warhol an interpretation is somewhat of a hazard.
Songs 11, 12, 13, Absolutely Sweet Marie, Fourth Time Around, and Obviously 5 Believers seem to wander off topic. I have read one interpretation in which the blogger thought Obviously 5 Believers was a response to the Beatles Norwegian Wood. Or possibly they lead into song #14 Sad Eyed Lady Of The Low Lands that Dylan says he wrote about Sara Loundes. The lyrics of this ‘poem’ are incomprehensible but if I had been Sara I wouldn’t have taken the title as a compliment, especially not after being locked out of a discussion about Dylan, Edie and his mother. After all, this is a married man lashing out at Edie.
After completing the LP Dylan left for his 1966 tour of England in which there was such a violent reaction to his electric backup band. I don’t remember their being a violent reaction made on the West Coast. For myself I welcome it. I never did like that faux folk crap he did anyway. Apparently Dylan didn’t either. A new expanded edition, lots of new material. of Robert Shelton’s biography, No Direction Home, just released by Omnibus Press is available, speaking in 1965 Shelton quotes Dylan thusly: ‘There never was any change. No instrument will ever change love, death in any soul. My music is my music. Folk music was such a shuck. I never recorded a folk song.’ He did however call himself a folk singer.
So, whoever shouted Judas at the Manchester concert knew what he was talking about. I never listened to those nauseous early Dylan records anyway. Blonde On Blonde was released in June of 1966 while Dylan was thrown by his ‘chrome horse’ on 7/29/66 thus putting an end to the first phase of his career.
I don’t know what Edie thought wen she heard the record that summer but one supposes she would have recognized herself as the topic of the conversation. Warhol certainly did and he was not amused. Knew something about motorcycles too.
Both Edie and Dylan were so heavily into amphetamines that they probably were not responsible for their actions. Drugs tend to put one into an internal state in which the outside world assumes a subordinate position, almost irrelevant, to one’s interior reality. A person functions in his own mind as a sort of magician who can comman the world to his own world. A certain type of insanity I suppose. Right and wrong are merely expressions of one’s own subconscious will. As Dylan confused Edie with his mother who he subconsciously wished to punish he transferred those feelings, that resentment, that hatret onto Edie as his surrogate mother thus gaining his revenge. How much satisfaction he got isn’t known and he’s not telling.
Edie herself was so far gone into amphetamines as to be oblivious to what was happening in her life. As far as she could dissociate her life from reality she could obviously make black white and vice versa.
Having dealt with Dylan’s relationship with Edie, let us return to January of ’66 to take up again the story from there.
Chap. 14 has been posted as of 6/23/11
Edgar Rice Burroughs, H.G. Wells
Wold Newton Mythology
It Came From Outer Space
For some decades now I have been struggling with the problem of a new mythology for the scientific consciousness. When the old mythopoeic mythology was invalidated by science it left sort of a void in the human psyche. In the Arthurian sense we had entered the Wasteland of disappointed expectations, otherwise known as depression.
Over the last twenty years of unremitting labor I have been either trying to discover or create such an existing scientific mythology. Perhaps my efforts have been rewarded. I modestly offer the following for your approval.
When The Student Is Ready…
Unlike the internet where I get most of what passes for news by current standards, this day I was reading the newspaper. I hadn’t come to that, it was just lying handy and I had the idle moment. owever I read that our giant combined new and used Pulsar Book Store had laid off a couple dozen employees, or workers as they are sometimes amusingly described, because of declining in store sales. I further read that sixty percent of Pulsar’s sales were over the internet.
I’ve been doing all my book buying over the internet and hadn’t been in the Pulsar store for years. Casting about for a reason for a decline in sales, apart from a growing illiteracy in the body politic, it occurred to me that on line electronic transmission of books was cutting into book sales deeply. I mean, Amazon offers oodles of older books free, many of which you will never see in books stores but are offered by Print On Demand publishers over the internet. Ask yourself when you last saw a Charles King? Lots of them for free on Amazon. That has to hurt sales. I then reasoned that Pulsar’s shelves must be groaning. I might be able to find a superb selecion at good prices, and I was right.
I was rewarded with an armful of books at my first stop in the Bs. I picked an armful of hard to find Balzac titles dirt cheap, thousand page nineteenth century omnibus volumes for six dollars and ninety-five cents each, Good God Almighty. As close to heaven as you can get without taking the chance of dieing.
Then I bethought myself to check the H.G. Wells section. I have a complete collection of Wells’ fiction but I’m still missing a few titles of the non-fiction. The Wells shelf was loaded and with cream, titles that I had had trouble finding over the year were now there in profusion. I had to laugh to see nearly a whole shelf loaded down with copies of Wells’ Seven Science Fiction Novels in many editions. I bought my copy of that at sixteen when it became the foundation of my psychic reality. There were a number of editions I had never seen before. In a fit of curiosity and affection I pulled a copy out just to fondle it. As I did a small slim volume concealed between thetwo larger ones tumbled out and fell to the floor.
I picked the paperback up. It was by one Garrett P. Serviss titled Edison’s Conquest Of Mars and sub-titled as the Original 1898 Sequel To The War Of The Worlds. I laughed at what seemed ludicrous and slid it back on the shelf. I must not have been adept because it fell out on the floor again.
I stood looking at it for a few seconds then decided that a mysterious power was bidding me to read it. I know how ridiculous that sounds but it happens to me often and always with an important book for me to read. Call it serendipitous, call it destiny, I follow my star. They wanted nine-ninety nine for a paperback of two hundred pages. I had an armful of thousand page, hundred year old, hard backs on really good paper for six ninety-five each. I wavered. But then I rememberd the mysterious way it had been concealed between two books destiny knew I would look at. I thought of the old esoteric adage, when the student is ready the teacher will appear. This same thing had happened to me many times before. Often when my mind had been prepared a book had suggested itself. Here it was, deja vu all over again. Was I going to let a little literary bigotry stand between me and my obvious destiny? Not I. I begrudged the ten dollars but when I got home and examined the tiny volume I saw that I had discovered the missing link. I can now make a case for a new scientific mythology.
When It All Comes Down, I Hope It Lands On Me
The search for a new mythology goes on apace. Perhaps the catalyst in the organization of the search was a sci-fi writer named Philip Jose Farmer. Back in 1972 he formulated a scheme in his fantasy novel Tarzan Alive called the Wold Newton Universe. He provides a very rigorous framework for the search. Farmer posited that a meteorite fell to Earth near Wold Newton in the North of England in 1795, which is true, a meteorite did come down. He further posits following the lead of H.G. Wells novel In The Days Of The Comet that this 1795 comet produced a change in men’s minds, and in point of fact there was a change of consciousness that occurred at this exact time.
Several years ago, decades now, I bought a collection of the British magazine The Monthly Review, a run from 1781 to 1795. Isn’t this spooky? These volumes reflect a late medieval consciousness. As an example the volumes use f for s internally in a word- paf try for pastry for instance while beginning and ending esses are the convention letter s. After 1800 this form disappears. I wondered at what precise time The Monthly Review changed its orthography. Through the wonders of the internet I was able to determine that precise date. It was at the beginning of 1796, the volume following the last I own. Thus 1795 is, in fact, a very good date for the change to the modern consciousness.
After 1795 then Euroamerica looked at reality with different and fresh eyes. Also a new literary style arose that led into the genre literatures of the present. A magic generation of writers then arose with one foot in the medieval world and the other in its successor, with modern orthography of course. Shelley and Byron, Peacock and the greatest of all, the father of modern fiction, Walter Scott. Scott has lost nearly all his glamor now but he was the presiding genius of nineteenth century fiction. I mention only the great French Bohemians Honore De Balzac and Alexandre Dumas. Toss in Edgar Allan Poe.
Searching For The Thread
Thus in Tarzan Alive Philip Jose Farmer began a classification system for the new approach to mythology. Currently there are two Wold Newton systems- The French Wold Newton Universe and the Anglo-American. Generally speaking a Wold Newton author’s whole work, or the major part of it, is a series of novels, a roman a fleuve, built around a character or a theme, thus Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, Baums Oz stories or Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan and John Carter/Mars stories. All the Wold Newton novels develop the new scientific mythology. Some themes are developed by several hands such as the Vampire corpus or that of Frankenstein/artificial life.
A major writer falling somewhere between literary and Wold Newton fiction is H.G. Wells. He neither created a great fictional character nor works that fit easily into nor works that are exactly genre literature. Still, Wells is at the center of the Wold Newton mythology.
There are three novels of Wells that I think can fit into and define the Wold Newton Universe. These are The War Of The Worlds, When The Sleeper Wakes and Tono Bungay. With the exception of the Seven Science Fiction novels, of which only four have made an indelible impact, the rest of Wells’ novelistic corpus is today disregarded having apparently no relevance to the modern world.
Of course I like Wells and I have read the entire fiction corpus. There are a few novels that I think merit attention but in the hundred years since they first began appearing the body of fiction that has been written obscures all but the brightest stars of novels so that vas amounts of meritorious fiction is only read by the specialist or literary enthusiast exploring the past.
War Of The Worlds is what got me started on this investigation, isn’t it? I’ve read War Of The Worlds three or four times now and each time it’s a new book and not the one portrayed on the screen or what I perceived from my childhood reading. I’ve come to the conclusion that the book isn’t really all that good although it has set the world on its ear. It must have played into the fears of a society desperately grappling with a sea change in history. Every conventional way of viewing the world was falling into the dust as the old mythology vaporized as before the Martian tripods and a new mythology was as invisible as Griffin in Wells’ Invisible Man. When you removed the wrappings of Griffin there was nothing there but the invisible power of the past.
Perhaps Wells’ Martians symbolized the all too visible power of the new scientific reality destroying the old magical religious vision of reality. At any rate the book was received with startling avidity at its publication in 1898. An nowhere was this book seized upon with such voracity as in America. The effect has also been enduring including the radio broadcast of Orson Wells in 1938 and a number of movie treatments. We often think Wells created this genre but not so.
In fact the space opera centered on Mars was an exciting new genre that developed rapidly during the nineties and the first decade of the new century. Burroughs with his great Martian Trilogy was merely taking advantage of an established theme which he epitomized so well that his books are a culmination of Martian writing to that point. His were the apex of the nineteenth century Martian theme, a new starting point for the future.
He was apparently well read in the genre although apart from a few obvious titles one can’t be sure how deeply he had read.
Robert Godwin explains in the introduction to Edison’s Conquest Of Mars:
Late in 1897 the great H.G. Wells struck gold when he submitted for publication- in Pearson’s Magazine of London- the future-war story to end all future-war stories, The War Of The Worlds. It was not the first story of aliens coming to Earth, Edgar Allan Poe had done that sixty years earlier. It was not even the first to involve humans fighting Martians, that had been done by Percy Greg in 1880, while German author Kurd Lasswitz had brought Martians to Earth to wage war with the British earlier that year. It was Wells who brought this novel idea home with star realism. The War Of The Worlds has little dialogue and few characters but is literally dripping with paranoia. His invading Martians were completely alien and they had the technology to rampage right across the capitol city of the most powerful nation on Earth. The War Of The Worlds soon appeared in America through the pages of Hearst’s Cosmopolitan Magazine.
Will This Nightmare Never End?
Perhaps the dripping in paranoia was the key to Wells’ American success. America is a very paranoid ountry and the paranoia is shared equally by both the Right and the Left. If War Of The Worlds dripped with paranoia it was as nothing compared to Wells’ next book, When The Sleeper Wakes. Sleeper is all bombs, sirens and searchlights playing across the dark night skies. Sleeper is the masterpiece of paranoia. I just love it. Wells must hav been going through a period of deep anxiety when he wrote it. Sleeper is one great long anxiety attack wich he translated into a fear of being buried alive. The hero, Graham, is actually buried alive although above ground. He’s placed in a glass case where he sleeps for a couple hundred years until one day he awakes to find himself in possession of all the wealth in the world. His money had been in trust gathering interest for all these centuries until his estate equalled the world’s wealth. Of course he is more dangerous awake than asleep so he begins running scared.
But that fear or paranois also characterized The War Of The Worlds which is one long flight from danger. Godwin continues:
Cosmopolitan was not cheap and so it would not be until the following January that the impressionable and imaginative young inventor Robert Goddard would first encounter Wells’ Martian war machines. Copyright laws in America were still somewhat tenuous and newspapers were at liberty to do as they pleased. Obtaining permission was often the last thing a newspaper editor would worry about and this modus operandi was especially prevalent in the smaller newspapers such as the New York Evening Journal, The Milwaukee Sentinel and the Boston Post. Many of these newspapers decided to jump on Wells’ bandwagon.
In the Boston Post, a Sunday, January 9th 1898, an entirely revised version of The War Of The Worlds appeared under the title Fighters From Mars- or, The Terrible War Of The Worlds, as it Was Waged in or Near Boston in the year 1900. What is particularly remarkable about this is that the story is completely transposed from London to Boston. All of the familiar scenes which take place in south London are suddenly taking place in Concord Masschusetts. The Boston Post was fairly well circulated in the New England area and Robert Goddard soon learned of the remarkable serial. The Post certainly did their part to stoke the fires of enthusiasm, they repeated the first chapter the next day in Monday’s newspaper and then not a day went by for the next few weeks without another installment appearing. On the 3rd of February the serialization was complete and Wells’ great story was soon destined to appear in America as a full fledged book.
Then something altogether unexpected happened. The editors of the Boston Post revealed that they had acquired a “sequel” to Wells’ story, the advert in the Post read. “Edison’s Conquest Of Mars- A Sequel To ‘Fighters From Mars’… written in collaboration with Edison by Garrett P. Serviss the well known astronomical author.”
A truly astounding development. Here was immediate impact to be followed forty years later by the even more astonishing reaction to Orson Wells radio script of the novel which was accepted as fact, real by the radio listeners who grabbed their shotguns and ran into the streets to repel the Martian invaders. Obviously the novel answered a deep seated psychological need of Americans which would be reflected in a series of movies such as The Day The Earth Stood Still with Gort an Klaatu as well as such later developments as Roswell, New Mexico and Area 51. Aliens and space were united to the New Mythology. Of course such aliens are only God thinly disguised. After all such characters as Klaatu are always preaching to us to mend our misbegotten ways or else. Religion or no religion.
A Giant Leap For Americans
The remarkable thing is that the Boston Post or one or more of its editors got a British copy in their hands, or the Cosmopolitan reprint, read it had his mind transformed on the spot immediately beginnning the transposition from London to Boston while at the same time beginning he process to create a sequel that was ready to begin publishing as soon as the original finished. Plus Edison had to be immediately amenable to the idea so as to give his permission to use his name.
Now, all this is transpiring during the Spanish-American war and the insurrection in the Philippines. Also as if one phenomenon weren’t enough this was also the moment that Kipling’s poem The White Man’s Burden appeared. Kipling’s poem was, of course, a commentary on the Philippine insurrection.
Serviss then had probably no more than a month to draft his sequel. Serviss himself had a scientific background which he fully employs in his sequel. He was up to date on Martian theory. As incredible as it may seem the book could have been a pilot for Star Trek. He got it all in one book. The Boston Post serialization ran and then the story disappeared. It never made book form at the time. In 1947 it was unearthed and published in a truncated form so unless by a miracle the Post episodes were seen by Edgar Rice Burroughs they had no influence on him although it seems like they could have. However Percival Lowell the astronomer who is often mentioned as an influence on Burroughs was from Boston. By 1899 he had already established his observatory in Flagstaff and written the first of his three Martian books, ‘Mars.’ He might then have had an influence on Serviss. Lowell’s other two Martian books Mars And The Canals and Mars As The Abode Of Life written in 1906 and 1908 respectively might have been influenced by Serviss. As a budding Mars expert it is likely that he might have had his attention called to both Wells’ and Serviss’ efforts. If Burroughs read Lowell he would have been indirectly influenced by Serviss. Anyway Serviss has a full discussion of how the water imagined to be on Mars flowed from the South to the North because the South Pole was thought to be elevated over the North and water, of course, flows down hill. Serviss doesn’t explain how the water gets back to the South Pole.
Serviss and undoubtedly Lowell have the water flowing on the surface so Burroughs has it flowing underground somehow.
At the time Edison’s reputation was at its zenith as a technologist. He was the epitome of the American can do attitude. Serviss was pretty fair at this first attempt at sci-fi. One has to assume that all the scientific ideas were in the air but Serviss skillfully blends them together in that can do attitude within virtually days.
Edison creates a fleet of anti-gravity ships within thirty days. The anti-gravity ship is a plausible way of inter-planetary travel while the ships are designed in the projectile shape of current rockets. The disintegrator guns Edison designs, also within thirty days, eliminate the bonds between atoms also in a plausible manner thus scattering the stricken entity to the winds.
Thus a few years before the Wrights not only does Edison have heavier than air craft but the Martians have huge air fleets along the line of Burroughs. So, as I say, Burroughs was stepping into an established genre not originating anything.
Serviss merely makes the Martians giants so we essentially have a Gullivar and the Lilliputians story reversed. It’s a reasonably good story while being a very proper scientific novel. There is nothing really for future writers to add, just rearrange the details. And that was in 1899.
The Boston response to the invasion from Mars was to ‘organize’ its own invasion of Mars and annihilate them as a psychological projection. Very interesting.
From One Dark Spot To Another
I have found no response from Wells to this rewrite of War Of The Worlds and its sequel. H.G. got busy writing another fantastic futuristic sci fi effort title, When The Sleeper Wakes. This book can actually be bundled with 1909′s Tono Bungay. Both wonderful paranoid books. These two books plus War Of The Worlds form the core of my psyche and if the truth were known probably a large part of the psyche of Edgar Rice Burroughs; most especially he was influenced by Tono Bungay which can be readily traced.
Sleeper is a wonderfully paranoid tone poem. By 1898-99 Wells was realizing his ambition of rising above his origins while his Anima-Animus problem was becoming paramount. Wells was born into the lower social level of society with almost no hope of realizing his considerable potential. He was seemingly condemned to a life as a Draper’s Assistant which was little above servitude or even slavery. On his own efforts he rebelled seeking a way out through education. He achieved this after enduring several years on the razor’s edge uncertain as to what his future would be. Combining his scientific background with his literary skills he began to rise above his origins financially although he was never to escape the psychological stigma of his lower class origins.
Thus through his short stories which were sensational at the time and some still are he got a foothold in the literary scene. Wells wrote at least two or three masterpieces. His The Time Machine put him in the writer’s top notch class. War Of The Worlds and When The Sleeper Wakes, close to a diptich, written out of acute anxiety as to his future put him over the top. He was a force to be reckoned with.
Thus both novels pit his heroes against overwhelming forces that they must defeat. In the War Of The Worlds the enemies fade away through natural causes. In Sleeper, Graham the Sleeper, awakes to find himself the richest man in the world only to discover that all is to be taken away from him. This is normal anxiety for someone on the rise. The new man is always resented and his way made difficult. He is to be prevented if possible. Hence the intense fear and paranoia of Sleeper. In the denouement Graham takes to the air in the last remaining airship to single handedly drive back the Negro police summoned from Africa. Prescient really. The Sleeper’s plane spirals into a crash but then Wells takes the copout that it is only a dream. At any rate in real life he wakes up to find that he is now a guru. His non-fiction Anticipations- a guide to the future- published two years later in 1901 established him irrevocably as a ‘futurist’. All he had do then was write passable books.
Both of his masterpieces Worlds and Sleeper also dealt with Wells’ troubled sexuality. As in the life of all men his Anima became estranged from his Animus which Wells was never able to reconcile as he developed a rather bizarre sex life as he searched for a way to recover his Anima.
In WOW as the populace was fleeing the Martians his hero was driving a cart along with his Anima figure. The two became separated when a crowd came between them and she was lost. In Sleeper Graham finds his Anma but once gain events separate them and he is about to crash his plane alone.
And then ten years later Wells crowned his work with the very wonderful Tono Bungay. Not close to the finest story ever told it is nevertheless one of the world’s great novels. The book had a profound influence on me. I first read it when I was twenty while I have subsequently read the book three times. I cherish my first reading because I projected myself into the story so much that I rewrote the book in my imagination to suit my own needs. Tono Bungay was an entirely new book in my last reading. I hope to show that the book had a profound influence on Edgar Rice Burroughs as his and Wells lives touched as the 1930s arrived. It’s always a strange world.
Wells seems to have been interested in the patent medicine businss in the US during the first decade of the century. Strangely it is not impossible that the story refers to the situation of a Dr. Stace of Chicago. I’m just guessing now. Stace’s partner was a young man named Edgar Rice Burroughs. So it may be coincidence that Edward Ponderevo, the inventor of the tonic Tono Bungay, and George Ponderevo his nephew, may have been based in part on Stace and Burroughs. I mean, the patent medicine stories are identical. Probably a coincidence though but I’m just guessing.
During the first decade of the twentieth century the patent medicine business had developed in the United States to magnificent proportions. As great national magazines arose the potential of the business rose accordingly. The active ingredient in the patents was usually alcohol although drugs, which were unregulated were frequently used. It is well known, for instance, that the Coca in Coca Cola referred to the cocaine with which the drink was laced. Coke was a real pick me up back then. Amphetamines were isolated in 1897 so imagine Methedrine Cola. Quite an idea.
The US government saw the dangers of these patent medicines, not a few of which used the opium based laudanum. I mean, these were loose times, they used to give infants opium based laudamun to keep them quiet. Better than TV. So, during the teens the government was forced to conduct a campaign against patent medicines. First they came for the patent medicines then they came for the alcohol and then they came for the cigarettes. Now they’re working on sugar and salt and caffeine. You’re next, you miserable user you. Wells was watching this fascinating activity from Britain. In one instance Edward Ponderevo remarks that six or seven go-getter Americans would wake England up. Then he invented Tono Bungay, the patent medicine par excellence.
Strangely, leading the anti-patent medicine campaign in the US was Samuel Hopkins Adams who would affect Stace-Burroughs then and sixteen years or so later would upset Burroughs’ life when he published his very successful novel, Flaming Youth. Strangely, strangely how many people who have never met can be so influential on others. Almost paranormal.
So, Burroughs took up with Stace in the sale of patent medicines just as the government was cracking down on them, putting them out of business, filing legal complaints, doing the double nasty. Stace and Burroughs developed a close relationship, almost as close as father and son or, uncle and nephew. Even after the two were put out of business they continued in another line of business before parting. Erwin Porges in his biograpy of ERB doesn’t go into a lot of detail over this relationship, maybe from a mistaken sense of delicacy, but this was a big event in Burroughs’ life perhaps straining his marriage with Emma. I believe it was here that he gained his personal experience of sheriffs and grand juries.
Stace may have been a big enough operator to come to Wells’ attention so that he was captivated by this story of the older man and his younger acolyte.
At any rate Edward Ponderevo goes bust in a provincial town through his aggressive business practices removing to London where he develops the idea of Tono Bungay. Wells then diverges from the patent medicine story as Ponderevo, who was a real go-getter, develops an empire based on legitimate products, like soap, so that Tono Bungay takes a back seat in his success story.
Interestingly Ponderevo buys a huge estate not unlike Tarzana around which he begins to build a ten foot high wall some eleven miles in length. Then, of course, he overextends himself and goes bust.
In reading this story, as I’m sure Burroughs did, he must have really related to the patent medicine story while probably rewriting the story in his mind to suit his circumstances. In this story too, Wells finds his perfect soul mate or Anima who once again he loses.
If by chance Wells was aware of the Stace story and did know he had a junior partner, Burroughs, he undoubtely forgot about him and the patent medicine business in the turmoil of the years to come.
The story of Ponderevo, his large estate and the eleven mile ten foot high wall must have stuck in Burroughs’ mind. The story may have been instrumental in his decision to buy Tarzana while it appears spectacularly in 1933′s Tarzan And The Lion Man.
Let me say that this whole group of writers who would nearly all find a place in the Wold Newton Universe read each other. While Kipling, Haggard, Wells and Doyle were reading Burroughs after he became famous as well. Indeed, Wells in Sleeper mentions three stories that had a profound effect on all these writers: Kipling’s The Man Who Would Be King, Conrad’s Heart Of Darkness and Henry James’ The Madonna Of The Future. Writers appearing after ERB’s fame appear to have been universally influenced by his, too. Haggard and Kipling’s Love Eternal was a response to ERB’s The Eternal Lover and unless I’m oversensitive they talked to him in it, too.
In a way then this was a form of telepathy, so controversial a topic at the time- true long distance communication and this would continue through the thirties if you’ve read enough and thought about it.
Anyway Burroughs read extensively incorporating almost everything that impressed him into his stories one way and sometime or other. I’m sure he was unconscious of using most of the sources. Thus the story of Tono Bungay, Ponderevo and the ten foot fence entered his subconscious.
In 1919 he left Chicago for LA for good. His intent was to buy twenty acres or so to raise hogs. This he could easily have afforded avoiding all the subsequent economic pain. However Harrisons Gray Otis, the publisher of the LA Times had died in 1917 and his 540 acre estate, Rancho Del Cabrillo, was on the market. ERB made an abrupt about face and bought it. I’ve often wondered why, what was the impetus? If one reads of Ponderevo’s estate in England one has a pretty good match of Tarzana. Burroughs has been quoted as saying he would have liked to have a large estate that he could build a ten foot high wall around. Of course he had the estate and lost it. But the Ponderevo estate seems to have been on his mind.
This may sound completely conjectural but let’s move ahead to 1933 when ERB penned what I consider his magnum opus, Tarzan And The Lion Man. He includes a novella in the story that might be entitled, Tarzan And The City Of God. This is a pretty good story. By 1933 the talkies had been in existence for five years. Many of the more magnificent early horror stories had already been filmed. I may be a sucker for these early horror films but given the limitations of the industry at the time they have never been equaled. So, in addition to all the books stored in ERB’s mind, fifteen years or so of silent films, he now added a full catalog of talkies. Himself a virtual father of all B movies with his own catalog of novels all these B horror films reinforced his imagination. Even though he had little to do with the filming of his own movie starring Herman Brix as Tarzan, The New Adventures Of Tarzan, the movie was nevertheless perfect of the B genre. Sort of an a correction and example to MGM.
Tarzan And The City Of God is perfect in the Pulp genre which is the literary counterpart of the B movie but now ERB seamlessly joins the Pulp to the B genre.
Tarzan And The Lion Man mocks the making of MGM’s film, Trader Horn. As I have pointed out in other reviews in 1931 ERB signed a contract with MGM that removed the Tarzan character in the movies from his control to MGM. MGM then proceeded to mock the Tarzan character on the screen in an attempt to destroy ERB’s creation. Of course, the mockery failed, Tarzan going on to greater glory and an immortality he might not have attained otherwise.
At the same time ERB was locked in a battle with Joseph Stalin and, at the risk of seeming preposterous, the Soviet Union. This war was brought to the surface n 1930′s Tarzan The Invincible. Now, Stalin and the Communists of all countries were attempting to discredit all pre-Revolutionary writers who rejected the Communist program. ERB was one of these while, oddly, Tarzan was one of Stalin’s favorite characters, especially in the MGM movies.
H.G. Wells who accepted the Revolution in substitution for God in about 1920 was one of Stalin’s literary hatchet men. During this period Stalin assigned State prostitutes to service certain Western literary men to report back to him on their doings. Moura Budberg had been assigned to H.G. Wells. Amazingly Wells fell deeply in love with her although he had to have known that he was her job. One of Wells’ targets was Edgar Rice Burroughs. Thus beginning in the twenties Wells began parodying and vilifying Burroughs in various books to which Burroughs replied in other of his own books. Thus, in a sense, there was telepathic communication.
In 1933 the combined attack of MGM, one imagines Louis B. Mayer, Wells and Stalin had overwhelmed Burroughs.
In 1930′s Tarzan The Invincible Burroughs had been forced to abandon the valley of Opar and La to Wellsian and Soviet interference. The Communists invaded Opar destroying ERB’s imagined paradise. So now, in a masterful creation he attacks Wells, MGM and the Communists in the City of God, London, England transposed to the Mutia Escarpment in Africa The Mutia Escarpment was MGM’s imaginary location for the Tarzan movies named after an African actor who appeared in Trader Horn. We do have telepathic communication here if you’ve got your radio turned on and tuned in. So there is layer after layer of mockeries in what is actually a titanic combat involving film and literature carried on right before the eyes of an unseeing world. Stalin, Burroughs, Wells and L.B. Mayer knew but virtually no one else. I might never have caught on but for the internet and the availability of films on DVD and flat screen TVs programmed through my wireless computer network. I have a complete collection of ERB’s novels, nearly all of Wells, and a nearly complete collection of Tarzan DVD’s. There’s always one or two that elude you. So I can read and watch at will. Rather amazing really. All one’s intellectual influences on one shelf while every library and film archive is only a click away. Isn’t God good to us?
So, Tarzan scales the Mutia Escarpment which at his point of attack is a sheer wall of granite. this probably indicates the difficulties ERB was facing. As usual there is an easier ascent for the ladies but Tarzan knows nothing of it. In real life, the location of Van Dyke’s Trader Horn was Murchison Falls on the Nile and the plateau would have been the land around Lake Victoria.
On the plateau Tarzan approaches the City of God/London which is surrounded by a, guess what, ten foot high wall. The circumference must have been at least eleven miles. Thus we have a replica of Ponderevo’s estate as imagined by H.G. Wells of London, England. Instead of Ponderevo’s modern ‘castle’ we have a replica of what might be Frankenstein’s castle or some othe horror film castle with the requisite village at its base.
Now, ‘God’ who was a ‘formerly handsome Englishman’ had come to this country in 1859. This is now 1933 so 74 years previously. As God will tell Tarzan shortly he was a biological scientist experimenting in evolution and creating artificial life a la Frankenstein, when his studies involving corpses brought the authorities down on him forcing him to flee England but not before he had removed, essentially DNA, which ERB calls ‘germs’, from the corpses of Henry VIII and his court buried in Westminster Abbey. In London, Africa God had forced the evolution of a tribe of gorillas turning them into barbaric replicas of Henry VIII and his court. Still having the appearance of gorillas they have more or less human minds speaking and acting as archaic Englishmen.
Tarzan having scaled the impossible cliffs of the plateau is now faced with a ten foot wall with sharply pointed wooden stakes pointing downward making a leap and hoist impossible. ERB has left out the overarching tree in this instance so Tarzan does his strongman act. The body builders are never far from ERB’s imagination. Tarzan pulls off an impossible stunt. Leaping up he grabs a couple stakes lifting himself over his wrists until he was above the wall then rolled forward. Only time that trick’s ever been performed. Thus ERB enters that ‘sacred city.’ The sort of Troy that refused Achilles.
The scaling of the cliffs, the clearing of the wall might have been suggested to ERB by his struggle to achieve success which he had done for one brief moment. Lifting himself by his bootstraps, as it were, he had gained entry into that sacred city. His success was to be shortlived and almost as tragic as Tarzan’s visit to the City of God or ERB’s Tarzana or Ponderevo’s estate.
While Wells was born to poverty ERB’s course in life had been different; he was a Golden Child with the highest expectations. And then in his teens it was all taken from him as he was plunged into poverty although not as abject as he makes it out to be. Thuse he had a different personal myth than that of Wells. He identified with Mark Twain’s Prince And The Pauper in which the Prince changes places with his impoverished doppelganger, then regains his position. His other favorite book of this type was Little Lord Fauntleroy in which a British heir lives a normal life in America until he inherits his English title. Thus these two books combined with Tono Bungay suggested a course to his life that he actually realized and as the three titles suggest lived his life in a boom and bust fashion. as though compelled to gain and lose, lose and gain his fortunes until he died in bed a comparatively well off man. ERB was a very suggestible guy. At this point in his life he was heading into a major bust part of the cycle and this story tells of it.
Once inside the walls there sits the castle, The City of God, the City on the Hill, the sacred city of Achilles, his goal. Tarzan mounts a very long flight of steep stairs as ‘God high above on the castle ramparts watches with grim satisfaction. the fly has come to the spider. Just like L.B. Mayer and MGM he’s got his man all but trapped.
Having just been trapped by his enemies ERB belatedly has it all figured out. Tarzan enters a oyer faced by three doors. At this point all decisions are Tarzan’s. He can go back or he can go forward. He elects to go on. Two of the doors are locked while one is ajar. This scene of Tarzan and the doors is repeated several times in the corpus. I’ve tried to figure it out. The nearest I can come is a short story of 1898 by Frank Stockton titled The Lady Or The Tiger.
Since this was a very famous story I, for myself, have no doubt that ERB read it and was suitably impressed. This is arbitrary, I know, however there is a great deal of similarity between this story and the story of Queen Nemone and Tarzan in the arena from Tarzan And The City Of Gold. Now, in the Lady Or The Tiger the story hinges on two doors, behind one of which is a tiger and the other a gorgeous lady. This is the trial by ordeal that Stockton’s king has chosen to decide his criminal cases. In his story a young lowly man has dared to love the king’s daughter. She is inn attendance but displeased because the lover will possible marry another. She indicates to him to take the right hand door. The question is left unanswered whether the lady or the tiger was behind the door by Stockton leaving it to the reader whether the one or the other was the man’s fate.
In the city of God, of course, the choice has been made for Tarzan as the middle door is left unlatched. Tarzan enters descends some steps, passes through another door that latches behind him to find himself facing…the lady. Well,I don’tknow, could be unrelated to Stockton’s story, but then, again….
At any rate it relates to ERB’s obsessions with tigers. As we all know the magazine story of Tarzan Of The Apes had both tigers and lions that public opinion forced Tarzan to change as the literalists pointed out that there were no tigers in Africa. ERB changed the tiger to a lioness he called Sabor so that female lions can be thought of as tigers. I think most of the lions Tarzan kills are females. If tigers and ladies are associated in ERB’s mind then in City of God Tarzan got both the symbol and the real thing, who was his preferred Anima figure Rhonda. I’m pretty sure that’s how ERB’s mind worked.
Speaking of tigers, for those lovers of the Pulp and B movie genres, a perfect of its kind, the grande finale of the genre so to speak is Fritz Lang’s Indian diptich The tiger Of Eschnapur and The Indian Tomb of 1959. Set in India but pure Burroughs with plenty of tigers, as there are no lions in India as everyone knows. Stunning color and the perfect pulp story of the twenties and thirties. Three or four hours of bliss.
So Tarzan/ERB is in a cage with his other half, his Anima. He’s been in tight spots before but this is it, the real thing, the place that’s a leap too far. Rider Haggard all over again. While the Big Guy and Rhonda are talking things over their captor, ‘God’, makes his appearance. A jolly fellow, a formerly handsome Englishman, now piebald, who might go by the name of H.G. Wells.
As I said Wells is one of my favorites and when I was younger and slightly more obtuse Wells struck me as he probably did ERB as a stunning writer. Later as I learned of Wells’ politics and other failings he lost much of his gitter but the glory pretty much remains although resented. Burroughs had much more reason to consider Wells a ‘formerly handsome Englishman’. Thus he takes a certain malicious pleasure in making his God character half black, half white, half ape and half human. There’s a lot more to analyze in the character of God but I’m working this side of the track right now.
The reason God is half and half is because as he aged he took germ cells from the apes to rejuvenate himself thus slowly adopting ape characteristis, regressing as it were in an evolutionary sense and making a fine joke on the Stokes Trial in Tennessee of a few years earlier. God is delighted to have captured two such fine White DNA specimens as he hopes their germ cells may restore him to his former splendor.
We’ll never know now because while God absents himself, in the best pulp/B movie fashion Tarzan feels a breeze stirring. This leads to what is hopefully an escape oute but merely tuns into an avenue leading to Tarzan’s Gotterdamerung. A fire starts rising up through the flue Tarzan found and ascended so that the whole City of God on the hill perishes in flames.
While Burroughs may have said back in the teens that he had never read Wells, that may be dismissed. Actually when one delves behind the obvious facts one finds a fairly intimate connection with their careers contacting on the psychological level, that is to say ‘telepathically’, several times. Between Wells and Burroughs almost continuously from, say, 1908 to the thirties.
If one assumes that Wells was aware of the Stace-Burroughs situation, which is only a possibility, then Wells formed part of Burroughs subconscious with his Tono Bungay. That influence probably surfaced when Burroughs purchased Tarzana and then became continuous through the twenties and thirties when Wells became Stalin’s literary hatchet man.
Wells eludes the Wold Newton because he never created a mythic character or series of novels although the psychological situations of the seven science fiction novels and Tono Bungay along with many of his short stories give him a significant place in the Wold Newton mythos. The WNU is of course a state of mind giving mythological form to history since 1795 when the meteor landed altering consciousness.
March 23, 2011
Exhuming Bob XXIX: Dylan And His Blonde Problems
An Examination Of Temporary Like Achilles
Temporary Like Achilles is another ’64-’66 piece. It has the feel of being improvisational, out of focus. I believe it is a companion piece to Visions Of Johanna while it might be connected to Rainy Day Women #12 & 35.
Dylan always said that he had no physical relations with the song’s subject Edie Sedgwick. I’m certainly in no position to say but if this song is accurate then Edie for some reason played the virgin for him. Either that or because she represented his mother to him it would have been an incestuous situation. Edie did say she was pregnant by Dylan but then she says that she was in the psycho ward and that the doctor’s held her down and aborted the baby. Of course she must have been delusional at that time having over dosed on amphetamines. God, how she punished her mind. I’m of the opinion that she probably was not pregnant by Dylan although there may be hospital records.
If one takes the last verse first:
Achilles is in your alleyway
He don’t want me here, he does brag
He’s pointing to the sky
And he’s hungry, like a man in drag.
How come you get someone like him to be your guard
You know I want your lovin’
Honey why are you so hard.
Warhol, the man in drag is obviously Achilles, perhaps meant humorously. Achilles of course lived a short but glorious life. Warhol is temporary because Dylan is moving in on Edie.
In answer to the refrain ‘you know I want your lovin, honey why are you so hard’, it is probably that Edie wanted to marry Dylan but in the way of women wanted to pose as a virgin so as to come to him pure.
When she was at Harvard in Boston she was known as a premier fag hag. The men she knew were all gay so one presumes her chastity was safe there. Of course, Andy Warhol, known here as Achilles here was gay. Insofar as she associated with Andy, and he apparently really was smitten by her, as close to being in love as he could get with anyone, as he put it, her chastity was safe with him too. Perhaps that is why Dylan has Achilles in Edie’s allegory, near but not close sexually.
As there was rivalry between Dylan and Warhol for Edie it follows that ‘he don’t want me here he does brag.’ The line
would point to the situation as it stood in August or September of ’65. He’s hungry like a man in drag may refer to his homosexuality which prevents him from satisfying his lust I don’t know why he’s pointing at the sky but Dylan says disgustedly ‘how come you get someone (a fag) like him to be your guard. Dylan was known to be macho at the time.
The first verse points to a period perhaps November-December of ’65. Dylan, of course, married Sara in November of ’65 so that at this point Dylan would be playing with Edie as perhaps he thought she was playing with him before.
Standing on your window, honey
Yes. I’ve been here before
Feeling so harmless
I’m looking at your second door
How come you don’t send me no regards?
You know I want you lovin’
Honey why are you so hard?
Here is a reference to Dylan and Edie’s first meeting in December of ’64. And then in March Chuck Wein introduced Edie to the Factory although she had met Warhol a couple weeks after Dylan in January of ’65. Dylan may have been too busy at the beginning of ’65 to actively pursue Edie, he also did have to pay attention to Sara who he was courting at the same time, plus engagements and whatever.
At any rate Edie teamed up with Warhol from March to about December of ’65. At that point Dylan who was wooing Edie and Grossman his manager were promising to make Edie a star at something. If as a star, she couldn’t sing, but then that didn’t stop Dylan from having a career.
Now, Andy had been trying to make Edie his movie star. According to Ronnie Tavel who scripted many of Andy’s movies Andy saw Edie as his ticket to breaking into Hollywood. That was one of Andy’s chief ambitions that was never realized. Tavel says that he and Andy used to coach Edie in her lines. When time to film came she always dosed herself with amphetamines before hand and, of course, uncoached herself. Thus in Andy’s account of his appearance at the psychiatrists’ banquet in January of ’66 he remarks that it was futile for Dylan and Grossman to work with her because she was unable to concentrate long to get anything done. Edie wouldn’t work hence no career. Andy might have been able to get her something if she had. He sounds rueful and hurt.
So in late ’65 this was Dylan’s second attempt to connect with Edie.
The second verse:
Kneeling ‘neith your ceiling
Yes, I guess I’ll be here for a while
I’m trying to read your portrait, but
I’m helpless, like a rich man’s child.
How come you send someone out to have me barred:
You know I want your lovin’
Honey, why are you so hard?
Kneeling ‘neath your ceiling fits in with standing in your window and looking at your second door. Kneeling ‘neath your ceiling is probably somewhat like Paul Simon’s ‘One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor or Tony Orlando’s Stomp three time on the floor. In other words Dylan is in the room beneath Edie unable to get to her unless she calls him.
Thus the addendum to verse two:
Like a poor fool in his prime
Yes’ I know you can hear me walk
But is our heart made out of stone, or is it lime
Or is it just solid rock?
In other words Edie knows he’s down there pacing anxiously back and forth but a hard hearted woman she refuses to call him to her, stomping three times on the floor.
The fourth verse:
Well, I rush into your hallway
Lean against your velvet door
I watch upon your scorpion
Who crawls across your circus floor
Just what do you think you have to guard?
You know I want your lovin’
Honey why are you so hard?
The ardent and frustrated would be lover can’t breach Edie’s window, door. ceiling, hallway, velvet door. The scorpion/circus reference escapes me except that Edie may have appeared to be leading some circus life as does Ophelia in Desolation Row.
Apparently this was a throw away song for Dylan as other than recording it he has never played it in concert. It was one of my favorites on the album however. Perhaps after Dylan’s motorcycle accident the song became irrelevant to him. Too topical, not universal enough as was its counterpart Visions of Johanna.
As far as Blonde On Blonde goes I’m tentatively of the opinion that Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 refers to Edie and his mother. The only reference to Sara in the album would be Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands.
Your secrets are safe with me, Bob, of course you don’t have anything to hide.
April 27, 2007
A Mother’s Eyes
Part I: The Remarkable Case Of Aldous Huxley’s Eyes 30 pages
Part II: The Baby Marie: 10 pages
Part III: Cow Eyed Hera And Edgar Allan Poe: 21 pages
Part IV: The Hand That Rocks The Cradle: 9 pages
The Remarkable Case Of Aldous Huxley’s Eyes
This essay will deal with certain unconscious relationships between the Indo-European male and the Mother Archetype. This essay is retricted to the Indo-European sub-species because the author is not convinced that all Homo Sapiens sub-species are identical in intellectual makeup nor are they subjected to the same cultural influences which would produce a uniform effect across all sub-species of mankind. What Jung calls the Collective Unconscious of Man does not use the same symbolism in every period of time, every place and with all sub-species. While the Horse will be a central focus of the Indo-European after minus 2000, for instance, prior to its introduction to the Middle East the beast could not have figured in the Collective Unconscious of either the Indo-Europeans or Semitic Mesopotamians. Thus the Black, Semitic and Mongolid sub-species may be subject to the same relationship with the Mother Archetype but may express the same issue in different symbolism.
The female of the Indo-European or other sub-species is structurally different from the male hence subject to different responses to the same issue in different symbolism. I will touch on that briefly in Part IV.
Further, one ought not to confuse the role of female with the role of mother. The female is a different person until she becomes a mother. Once a mother her response to the role will depend on female societal desires which will control her attitude to motherhood. The intelligence and intellectuality of the female person is in conflict with the Structural Psychology of the Mother. Not all females are intellectually adapted to become mothers although most do become mothers.
The topic will be approached from the point of view of Depth Psychology based more on the approach of Carl G. Jung than that of Sigmund Freud. Freud’s approach was based on the personal psychology of the upper brain while Jung approached the subject more from a Special angle hence his notion of the Collective Unconscious with a universal heritable symbolism regardless of education or sub-species.
Because he was dealing with a more homogeneous population unlike the heterogeneous population of the United States he was able to believe that all people are subjected to identical influences even though he had the obvious sub-special differences of the Jewish Semitics before him.
There can of course be no such thing as a collective mind hence no Collective Unconscious. Neither can this Collective Unconscious be inherited. There can only be a shared sub-special understanding of phenomena. This shared understanding will express itself in certain common symbols induced by a universal field of education depending on one’s level of consciousness.
Specifically I wish to examine the relationship between the mother and the eyes of the Indo-European male as well as the mother’s identification with the Horse by the male. All three are intimately related.
The difference between Jung’s Collective Unconscious and the individual unconscious or, rather, sub-conscious, is that Jung without having actually differentiated the two was referring to Structural Psychology by his notion of the Collective Unconscious.
Before the human organism can be subject to personal psychology there must first be an organism. The construction of that organism will then determine its psychological potential.
Thus while all the higher vertebrates share the same Structural Psychology the addition of the upper brain separates man from the beasts while causing a conflict between the Structural Psychology and Personal or Intellectual Pyschology.
While a human entity appears to be an organic whole it is actually a construction of component parts. The nature of those parts determine the psychological potential of the completed construction.
Not enough attention has been paid to how a human is constructed or the signficance of that construction. The basic organism seems to be taken for granted.
The human is a combination of two different components which are then integrated. On the one hand there is the passive ovum which is provided by the female of the species; on the other hand is the active sperm provided by the male. Passivity and activity are important and should not be passed over lightly. The ovum provides one half of the structural elements as well as all the mitochondrial DNA. These are significant facts and not merely incidental.
The ovum is always female or an X chromosome. Thus the male always has this female X chromosome component which Jung and Freud using the imperfect data of their time referred to as a man’s ‘feminine side.’ Jung called it the Anima in the male, the corresponding role in the female the Animus.
The presence of an X chromosome in the male in no way affects his sexual identity as a male. It is not a cause of homosexuality or effeminacy. Using the imperfect data of his time Jung acted on the notion that sexuality was caused by a ‘preponderance’ of male or female genes. This would of course distort his vision of sexuality creating non-existent possibilities.
An unfertilized ovum is, of course, of no value. The male provides the fertilizing element in the form of the sperm. The sperm contains the other half of the structure which when joined with the ovum completes the structure.
The sperm can be either X or y. There must be a difference in nature between the ovate and spermatic X chromosomes. If X the completed structure is a female. But the spermatic X contributes the gene pool of the mother of the male which is part of the Anima so that the female has two female components. Without the X chromosome the male could not provide X sperm.
It must also be true that the spermatic side of the female provides a set of genes received from the father while the ovate side provides a set of genes from the mother, so that not all of the female’s ovum are the same.
In the case of either an X or y sperm the ovate or female mitochondrial DNA is always and solely the source of mitochondrial DNA in the resulting construction whether male or female. The Spermatic mitochondrial DNA is always expelled from the united ovum.
Thus the Mother Archetype establishes itself in a much more intimate connection with the male than the Father Archetype. This is a physiological fact with real consequences and not a matter for sexual pride.
When the ovate and spermatic parts combine the ovate X chromosome assumes the left side of the structure while the spermatic X or y forms the right.
Many organs which can function independently are therefore duplicated such as kidneys, lungs, gonads or ovaries. Those which can only function as a unit are formed of two separate lobes which are seamed such as the heart, liver, penis or clitoris.
Now, this may be controversial but the gonads or ovaries, the spinal cords and brain from an integrated unit like the power train of the automobile. All three are parts of consciousness.
The ends of the spinal cords, it follows that one each must be provided by the ovum and sperm, anchored in the gonads or ovaries intertwine up the spine until they cross over at the brain stem so that the passive ovate left side of the body becomes the passive right side of the brain while the active spermatic right side of the body crosses over to become the active left side of the brain.
The two cords, spermatic and ovate anchored in the gonads or ovaries pass up the spine to emerge from the brain stem as ‘loose wires.’ To give them a name we will use Jung’s terminology but assert that male and female have both an Animus and Anima rather than as Jung has it, the male an Anima and the female an Animus.
Now, as man evolved he began with what is referred to as the serpent’s brain or the brain stem followed by mid- brain, parietal lobes, upper brain and pre-frontal lobe.
Thus structurally to the point of the brain stem all vertebrates function more or less identically. By which I mean to say that to that point the psychology of say, sub-species five of the lion is identical to man. If this isn’t true than evolution is bunk.
Of necessity the optical nerves are associated with this very primitive organ of the brain stem. This fact must have some relation to the association of the Mother with the eyes.
Such a psychological association must operate independently of personal psychology as Structural Psychology or, as Jung would have it, the Collective Unconscious.
There are then tree levels of consciousness: the autonomic system, the brain stem and the upper brain.
In fact the as the brain stem is not intellectual as in personal psychology, it may function independently of the upper brain and require a different technique for therapy.
At any rate the symbolism Jung discusses is related to Structural Psychology and not the neuroses and psychoses of personal psychology.
When the male Indo-European experiences rejection or abandonment by the mother this rejection may be evidenced by eye problems associated with a horse symbolism.
Having laid the frame for my discussion I wish to begin with the case of Aldous Huxley, his relationship to his mother and his celebrated eye problems. Aldous Huxley is, of course, the important literary figure who wrote ‘Brave New World’, ‘Eyeless In Gaza’, ‘Point Counter Point’ and other intriguing and important novels.
All his adult life from the age of sixteen on Huxley endured terrible problems with his eyes. He was frequently able to improve his vision remarkably only to suffer setbacks. He first suffered maternal rejection when his mother opened a girl’s school relegating Huxley to an inferior status in both his and her eyes to her female students. This alone had a permanent effect on his character and his adult relationship with women. Then, when Huxley was fourteen his mother died abandoning him completely as it were.
No matter how natural or unavoidable death may be, those affected are under no obligation to react rationally. While on a conscious or even sub-conscious level Huxley seemed to handle his mother’s death well he was devastated on the structural level. First rejected and then abandoned by his mother, Huxley, at the age of sixteen was attacked in his eyes. Actually the reaction could have been predicted although how and when would have had to await manifestation.
Huxley developed an inflammation of the cornea called Keratitis Punctata. Thus his reaction to his mother’s rejection and abandonment was of the most serious sort. In the days before modern medicine he would have successfully blinded himself in both eyes. Given the medicine of the day he might have been cured with minimal or no loss of vision. As it was he was misdiagnosed allowing the disease to take almost full course. By the time he was treated he had lost his vision in his right or ovate eye while being as good as blind in his left or spermatic eye.
The nature of Keratitis Punctata is such that it damages or scars the surface of the cornea while the internal functions of the eye remain intact. The effect of the scar tissue allowed his vision to fluctuate.
I think that if a survey were taken it would be found that the right or ovate eye is always affected the worst. This would strengthen my contention that certain eye problems are due to relationships with the mother or ovate side.
It may be argued that Keratitis Punctata is a physical problem and not subject to psycho-somatic influence. It is my contention that Huxley’s psyche in search of a satisfactory ailment subconsciously sought the affliction out.
Over the years Huxley was able by an act of will to improve his vision dramatically but he always suffered relapses as his structural need for the infirmity overcame his conscious will. While had he been diagnosed and treated promptly he would not have lost his vision still his Structural need was such that he would have had a continuing series of eye problems over his lifetime.
Medical science poses problems to psychotic needs by being able to overcome psych-somatic reactions; the sub-conscious must search for new ways to gratify its need for affliction.
I too suffered abandonment by my mother beginning when I was five and ending when I was ten when she remarried. I was first put into two foster homes and then placed in an orphanage. The orphanage was critical. While I had very acute vision until I was forty a variety of eye problems have plagued me since.
While all the problems were quite natural therefore seeming to be of a strictly physical nature yet I had been plagued by fears of going blind since I was ten when my mother remarried. I therefore left myself open to attack in the appropriate time and place. Finally at sixty-four I had a cataract operation on my right or ovate eye followed by one on the left. I realized the psycho-somaic source of the problem while I was reading Sybille Bedford’s biography of Aldous Huxley.
Prompted by the reading I had a dream of a horse. This is the only horse dream I can remember ever having.
The horse clearly represented my mother staring at me with large guilty eyes not unlike the description of the Greek goddess Hera who was styled ‘cow-eyed.’
Sometime in the near past, two or more years ago, I had seen a TV show about a horse trainer who I can remember only by the name of the Horse Whisperer. He had developed a new technique of gentling a horse rather than breaking it. In my dream I was using his technique to gentle a mare. She seemed to want to be affectionate to me but I kept pushing her away or she shied away in my attempt to gentle her.
By that time I had already developed my ideas of Structural Psychology. I had also integrated my personality clearing all fixations from my subconscious. As I expressed it then, all the way down to my brain stem. Now I realized I was dealing with the brain stem itself having spoken more truly than I knew.
While I had made progress in rectifying my Animus I cannot say for certain that the process was complete. In all probability I have reconciled my Anima and Animus. I have never had trouble with my Anima although my Animus was seriously blunted as a child affecting my ability to express my manhood.
However, contrary to Depth Pschology, having recognized and spoken this apparent fixation caused by my mother’s abandonment the fixation did not respond by immediately being exorcised as had my fixations of the upper brain. Thus the problem of Structural traumas obviously requires a different technique for treatment.
The appearance of a horse figure in my dream was startling to me. I have never liked horses. All my life I have had an irrational hatred of them even to the point of verbally abusing them at sight.
Aldous Huxley, characteristically of the trauma, expressed his own reaction through horse imagery. Huxley wrote his first novel ‘Crome Yellow’ in 1921 followed by ‘Antic Hay’ in 1923 and ‘Those Barren Leaves’ in 1925. Those three novels lead up to 1928′s ‘Point Counter Point’ in which his problem with his mother finds expression in varied symbolism. In this last novel Huxley portrays himself in the character of Philip Quarles. He has a wife, Elinor, as a mother substitute and a son called signficantly, Little Phil, in other words a doppelganger.
In the novel Quarles has a limp rather than bad eyes. Huxley, through Quarles, expresses his mother’s abandonment and his attack of Kertitis Punctata this way:
‘…Philip…was remembering that immense black horse kicking, plunging, TEETH bared and ears laid back; and how it suddenly leaped forward, dragging the carter along with it: and the rumble of the wheels; and ‘Aie!’ his own screams; and how he shrank back against the steep bank, how he tried to climb, slipped, fell; and the appalling rush and trampling of the giant; and ‘Aie, aie!’ the huge shape between him and the sun, the great hoofs and suddenly an annihilating pain.’
Note expecially the teeth which will appear more prominently in Part III.
This very vivid picture is done so well that one might actually believe such an event really occurred. It didn’t. Here Huxley transforms his mother into a huge black horse. The steep bank I interpret as the brain stem which appeared in my own imagery as a deep dry well. There was a huge shape between Huxley/Quarles and the sun which must represent both the loss of his mother, when the sun went out of his life, and the onset of Kerititis Punctata.
In the novel Quarles had his leg crushed by the cart but in this version it is not clear where he received the injury while it was definitely caused by the huge black horse. There was only the annihilating pain. One assumes that the pain was the loss of Huxley’s mother.
Huxley gives his hurt a full scale treatment here. Quarles and his wife live in a mews in London. A mews is a converted stable. Horses had formerly been kept there. Now the ‘huge machines’ or cars of a hundred horse power or more are kept there. The arch at the end of the mews through which the horses were led stands as a constant reminder to Huxley/Quarles of his tragedy.
Not content to retell his own pain, Huxley then goes on to punish his mother in his imagination as he feels she punished him by dying. Remember a man in Huxley’s situation uses a woman as a surrogate to avenge himself on his mother who is beyond retaliation. In ‘Point Counter Point’ Quarles’ mother is still alive. It is she who has care of Little Phil when he is stricken with meningitis so the guilt remains with her.
On the eve of the meningitis attack Elinor Quarles, Little Phil’s mother, was about to commence a dalliance with another man. Quarles’ mother’s telegram reached Elinor in time to prevent her beginning the affair. Elinor believes that Little Phil’s meningitis was caused by her intended infidelity and suffers accordingly.
Elinor’s intended infidelity corresponds with Huxley’s mother’s betrayal of her love for him by relegating him to a secondary role while she lavished attention on her girl students.
Huxley’s descriptions of Little Phil’s suffering are quite gruesome.
‘…she found the child already awake. One eyeball was wide open and the eye, all pupil, was looking straight up at the ceiling; the other was half shut in a permanent wink that imparted to the thin and shrunken little face an expression of ghastly facetiousness.
‘He can’t open it,’ the nurse explained. ‘It’s paralyzed.”
Thus the crux of Point Counter Point is the punishment of Elinor Quarles qua Huxley’s mother for the crime of rejecting him in favor of her female students and later dying. Huxley quite rightly associates eye disease with his mother through his wifely surrogate and the symbol of the giant black horse with giant hooves and teeth bared rearing in the brain stem. He obviously had no clear idea of what this imagery meant to him personally. No doors of perception were opened for him there.
While this horse imagery is clear in ‘Point Counter Point’ Bedford also quotes Huxley as noting emphatically the remarkable deeds of horses in Homer’s Iliad. I think the horse symbol is replaced in a man’s active life by his relationship with women.
I now intend to devote a few pages to the relationship of mothers and women to horses and eyes in Greek mythology leading back to the present time.
My two lines of argument will concentrate on the nature of the God of Waters, Poseidon and the relationship of that greatest of all mama’s boys, Achilles, with his mother, the sea nymph, Thetis.
I follow the Jungian concept of attempting to penetrate the symbolism by this narrative of action.
In the divine dispensation of spoils in Greek mythology the preeminent god, Zeus, was awarded the sky, Poseidon preeminence in the oceans and rivers, Hades possession of the underworld. Obviously Hades got skunked which made him a sour sort of guy.
The surface of Mother Earth was common to all three.
The significant fact here is that the three gods are male while the Earth named Ge, Gaia or Demeter was female. Thus you have three men with equal claims to the same woman, Mother Earth.
In ancient Greek sourcs as well as in Biblical story Man realized that there was a time before consciousness. Thus the story of the creation of the universe is less a story of creation than one of the crystallization of consciousness.
In the creation myth all objective reality is confused; all is seen as one. In other words, there was only an animal consciousness. Then a divine wind blows across the plane of consciousness separating the upper and lower spheres; the conscious and subconscious. Thus the upper sphere of consciousness became heaven and was allotted to the mind of infinite power, Zeus. The subconscious was given to the Father of Waters, Poseidon while the underworld of the brain stem went to Hades. The plane of consciousness was shared by mankind and the gods. This is as it should be.
Poseidon’s dominion is the seas, oceans and rivers. The waters of oblivion are associated with the subconscious and irrational which is to say the female or matriarchal consciousness. The subconscious and irrational are therefore equated with the matriarchal order. Thus Poseidon, who must actually predate Zeus as a carryover from the Matriarchal consciousness has relations with a number of domineering women who are very hard on men.
The question of why Poseidon is also closely related to horses is very difficult to answer, especially as Poseidon was early on the scene while horses arrived later. I offer only a working hypothesis.
It has been suggested that the rollers of the sea are reminiscent of horses’ heads. It has also been suggested that rivers as they dash down mountain slopes and race to the sea are quite similar to the flight of the horse. There may be truth in both suggestions as when the horse arrived it had to be associated with some god; in association with Poseidon that may possibly explain how horses came to be associated with the Mother Archetype. Their association with the Mother can only have begun after the Indo-Europeans brought horses to the Aegean world which was after the year minus 2000.
Of the mean flesh eating mares or mothers with whom Poseidon is associated it is only necessary to give two examples. The most important of the two by far is the Medusa and her Gorgon sisters, the other is the enchantress, Circe.
The Medusa is a very important study. She apparently dates back to an early period of the Matriarchate. While in the Patriarchic myth of Perseus and the Gorgon she is a hideous evil witch whose mere glance can turn a man to stone there is evidence to point to a time before the rise of the Patriarchate when she was a belle ideal; a tower of strength. Shields with the Medusa head continued to be used in classical times as a magical charm to repel the enemy. The snakes which form her hair were once a symbol of her authority rather than hideous emblems of hatred. She was then one of Poseidon’s wives or , more probably, he was her consort.
When the Patriarchate displaced the Matriarchate Perseus was chosen to destroy the Medusa or, in other words, the symbol of the Matriarchate. This he did by decapitation. Decapitation or the separation of the head from the body is a powerful symbol in itself which should have destroyed the Medusa’s power to lithicize men with her EYES. Even in death, which is to say after the power of the Matriarchate was broken, the mere sight of her now dead eyes continued to turn men to stone.
The myth of Perseus is a keystone story that tells of the birth of the new order of the Patriarchate. When the old order of the Matriachate was beheaded a remarkable thing happened; two beings that correspond to the male Anima and Animus emerged from her neck or, shall we say, brain stem.
The Animus of the liberated Patriarchate was represented by the Golden Knight named Chrysaor. As the Animus he had no concrete identity. He represented the mind of infinite power and rationality possessed by Zeus and shared by men but not by women. He consequently fades from view.
The Anima that sprang from Medusa’s severed brain stem was the great winged horse or mare, Pegasus. The great mare allowed man’s imagination to soar as though godlike, above the earth’s plane that was the dominion of the Matriarchate.
Further having now passed through the dawn of consciousness as represented by the creation myth the male had now reached the level of consciousness where he could begin to attack and destroy his subconscious demons. Thus Perseus finds the maiden Andromeda chained to a rock awaiting destruction by the monster of the sea depths of the subconscious.
Soaring above the Leviathan on his Anima, Pegasus, in the conscious sphere, Perseus is able to destroy the monster of the subconscious and liberate Andromeda, or the female, from destruction by the subconscious. In his arms, under his protection Andromeda, or the female, was freed from animalism. She too was released to find her full potential under men’s guidance and protection.
As decapitation wasn’t totally effective there was more than one way to handle the attempted suppression of the Matriarchate. It has been truly said that you can kill men but you can’t kill ideas. Perhaps because of the Iliad with its gathering of the tribes at Troy one thinks of Greek mythology as an indissoluble whole. This is not the case. There are many strands and traditions to Greek mythology.
It is highly probable that when the Greeks invaded the Peninsula that their route bypassed Athens which was shielded from above by the Boeotian Semites. Thus the Greeks were shunted West where they fell on the Pelopponesus bypassing Attica.
While the Athenians avoided military invasion they were yet unable to resist the Patriarchal tide.
The myth of Perseus and the Gorgon which belongs to the Argive or Pelopponesian cycle gives only one view of the suppression of the Matriarchate. That was how it happened West of Attica. In Athens itself the transition from the Matriarchate to the Patriarchate was more evolutionary. This would be the result of being bypassed by the Greek invasion.
Perseus on his way back to Argos from Palestine gave the Medusa’s head to Athene who then wore it as an emblem on her bosom. This would be another way of saying that Perseus influenced the Athenians to convert to Patriarchalism.
I would suggest that, even though the Iliad lists a contingent of Athenian ships present at Troy, there were no Athenians there. As the Greek heroes for the most part are from the Pelopponese or other Greek locations and the quarrel is between them and Troy while none of the Greek heroes was Athenian. I would suggest that the Athenian contingent is an interpolation. Agamemnon and the Argives as invaders would have had no influence over non-Greek Athens such as they had over Odysseus in Ithaca.
The Athenians always claimed to be an autocthonous people, that is that they sprang from the soil or, in other words, were there before the Greek invasion. Of necessity that would mean that they were not Greek per se.
Their early heroes are half snake, half human, which I understand to mean that on the one hand as snakes emerge from the soil the Athenians were autocthonous; on the other hand that they were half Matriarchal and half Patriarchal. In other words, there was an evolutionary transition. This idea is borne out by subsequent Athenian mythology.
If this is true then it must follow that the gods of Athens had formerly been Medusa and Poseidon- the Queen and her consort.
Imagine Perseus handing the head of Medusa to Athene. Athene must have neutralized the power of Medusa because as of the handing of the head to Athene it was still capable of turning men to stone at a glance. As Athene’s emblem displayed on her breast where all men must see it, it could no longer do so.
As the Athenians told the story of the suppression of the Matriarchate, Zeus swallowed a matriarchal goddess known as Metis. This is a normal method of disposing of one’s enemies. As the Africans down to the present day say when they intend to destroy an enemy- We will eat you up.
When you eat someone up you obtain their qualities. Metis was the goddess of Wisdom. Whether she was one of the Gorgons I don’t believe is recorded but I suspect so. Perseus and the more primitive Argives believed that destruction was simply a matter of cutting off a head, the Gordian knot approach. The Athenians thought differently.
Having eaten up the Matriarchy Zeus found that it gave him a serious case of indigestion. His eyes were bigger than his stomach. The Matriarchy would not stay suppressed.
As it was necessary that some other expedient be employed the Matriarchy was allowed to exist but only as subordinate to the Patriarchy. While not abolished, the Patriarchy attempted to reform it in an acceptable way. The attempt was made to replace the uncontrollable Matriarchal figures as represented by Ares and Aphrodite with a more rational goddess embracing both.
Thus the indigestion of Zeus gave him a headache. In other words, he had to give the problem some serious thought. He had an idea, as why wouldn’t the mind of infinite power have an idea. He transformed the old wild undisciplined Matriarchal god and goddess into the superbly rational and controlled Athene. Her idea formed in the Patriarchal brain then sprang fully formed and armed from Zeus’ forehead. Actually she didn’t spring but was chiseled out by Hermes and Hephaestus who are both gods of resource.
Thus when Perseus handed the head of Medusa to Athene he was passing the torch for the application of Patriarchy in Athens. The destruction of Poseidon’s consort in Athens left that god without a female counterpart and that’s the way he stays throughout the Patriarchate. Athene was a chaste virgin who would have nothing to do with men. As a goddess with a technological sideline she came into conflict with the Matriarchal technological god Hephaestus. He attempted to rape her or in other words reimpose an aspect of the matriarchy on her which she successfully resisted. Instead he spurted on her leg in a pre-mature ejaculation which she, as the goddess of weaving, wiped off with a piece of wool.
Unable to seduce Athene and reestablish his supremacy in Athens on his part, Poseidon then had a contest with Athene to see who should be the tutelary deity of Athens. In other words, should Athens be Patriarchally or Matriarchally inclined. Should it be named Athens or Poseidonia?
Poseidon peformed the seemingly impossible task of making water spring from the rocky high crown of the Acropolis. Athene countered by making an olive tree grow on Rocky Top.
The Athenians opted for the olive tree but it was not a clean cut victory for the modified Patriarchy. The Athenians ever after nurtured several snakes on the Acropolis along with both the olive tree and Poseidon’s spring. Thus the Matriarchal past was not forgotten.
Further Athene retained some attributes of the Matriarchy. She was sometimes theriomorphically represented with a horse’s head while her attribute of the owl is represented in statuary and she is referred to as owl eyed, undoubtedly a reference to the wise Metis. A snake was also shown coiled on the ground in the shelter of Athene’s shield as she leaned on it.
In point of fact all Greek heroes were symbolically horse headed by virtue of the horse hair crests on their helmets. They were always under the protection of the Mother Archetype while sharing in the qualities of her symbol the horse.
The wearing of lion and leopard skins is also an aspect of theriomorphism. Obviously one hopes to share in the prowess of the lion or leopard by wearing its skin. Thus Heracles armored himself in the skin of the Nemean Lion which, in itself, was a symbol of the Matriarchy.
I hope this exposition established the nature of the relationship between the Mother, horse, eyes and the brain stem to the Son in ancient Greek thought. These are not irrelevant details of myths but important symbols when understood in the Jungian sense. The Ancients were not just amusing themselves with strange tales. The message for the initiate is different for that of the hoi polloi.
The myth of Circe explains what happened under the Matriarchate when men allowed themselves to be dominated by their carnal desires. It is only when one controls one’s sexual needs that one escapes domination by the female to dominate the female. In that way one rises from the level of the beast to that of a man. Nor is this ‘repression’ in the Freudian sense.
Before attacking the issue of Achilles and Thetis let me point out the significance of Oedipus. Oedipus was abandoned as an infant by his mother Queen Jocasta of Thebes. On his way to Thebes as a young man he was jostled out of the road by a chariot and a team of horses. Enraged he killed the driver who he later learned was his father. By killing this man, who was king of Thebes, he made the widowed queen his wife. He then learned that she was his mother. Horrified at the thought of having married his mother he gouged his EYES out using the clasp of a woman’s dress. Thus one has son, mother’s abandonment, horses and eyes.
Achilles, on the contrary, had an excellent relationship with his mother, too good. He remained tied to her apron strings all his short life.
His mother, Thetis, is one of the more interesting mythological characters. Zeus had it mind to make Thetis his own but backed away when he learned that she would bear a son who would be greater than his father. No god would then touch her so she was married to the mortal, Peleus, to whom she bore Achilles.
Thetis and Peleus lived apart. As she was a Nereid or sea nymph, closely related to Poseidon or the subconscious, she lived at the bottom of the sea whence she always made sure that Achilles had a superior team of horses, fabulous armor and an incredible shield. Thus while Achilles was a formidable warrior his success depended as much on his doting mother as it did his own prowess.
It was fated that Achilles could have a short life if sought glory on the field of battle or a long life as sort of an effeminate mama’s boy. You see, the relationship to the mother. This was his and his mother’s dilemma in the Iliad.
To protect her boy as long as she could Thetis had him reared among the girls in the girl’s quarters in girl’s clothes. He was so good at female impersonation that when the Greeks sought him out to serve in the war it was impossible to identify this giant amongst men among the girls.
Think about this.
Still it was reputed that he was a mighty warrior who was destined to defeat the Trojans. He should have had such a physique that he stood out head and shoulders above the girls.
When the Trojan War began his mother desperately wanted to keep him out of harm’s way among the girls. Odysseus, surnamed the Wily, smoked him out by raising an alarm. While the girls ran screaming Achilles true to his heroic nature seized his arms to meet the threat thus betraying his identity. Abandoning his transvestism Achilles is conscripted into Agamemnon’s Folly.
Quite frankly the Greeks have been coerced into a war for the sole benefit of the Brothers Atrides. What did Achilles care if Paris abducted Menelaus’ wife. She went with him willingly anyway. Menelaus behaved like a fool in leaving the guest Paris in his house with Helen while he left on a business trip. Would you do that? I wouldn’t.
Nevertheless Agamemnon was the sole representative of Zeus on Earth; he ruled by divine right. Zeus had given him the nod to assure victory. In point of fact he couldn’t lose. One wonders what would have happened if he had refused to help himself. How would Zeus have affected victory as the gods help only those who help themselves?
Homer in his brilliance depicts a very detailed picture of this society. Agamemnon is especially suited to command although he is not the greatest of the heroes nor a totally admirable man. In fact, his pettiness injures Achilles to the point where the latter must make a retort.
Achilles’ first thought is to take arms against the slings and arrows of outrageous Agamemnon but Athene counsels him to suffer that particular sea of troubles in his mind. Achilles heeds her advice and goes into a pout befitting this greatest of mama’s boys. He self-centeredly withdraws himself and his troops from the war.
This act is very serious as he is the greatest of all Greek warriors while it is a known fact that the Greek’s can’t win without him. Now, Achilles has some serious mental problems. After his alter ego, Patroclus, is killed Achilles opines:
…O Zeus and Athena and Apollo
If only death would take every Trojan
And all the Achaeans except for us two,
So we alone might win that Sacred City…
That’s a prayer he hopes will be anwered. In his anger and spite he even wants his own side to be defeated and destroyed so long as he and his friend alone find salvation in that Sacred City. The City Of God?
After being robbed of his prize by Agamemnon he goes to the seashore to summon his mom from the deeps. Arising from the sea of the subconscious she comes to him. The result of this interview between a doting mother and a spoiled rotten son defies all concepts of morality both in Achilles’ request and his mother’s response.
Achilles asks his mother to intervene for him with Zeus to cause the slaughter of the Greeks until they are fighting the Trojans among their ships in the camp. There is nothing that Thetis won’t do for her boy no matter how criminal. She is willing that the Greeks be destroyed if that is what her son wants. Thetis and Ma Barker would have gotten along just fine.
Not only did Zeus have a soft spot for Thetis but in a past time when the gods rebelled and had overpowered Zeus in an attempt to depose him Thetis had come to his rescue. Zeus owed her one.
Zeus and the gods are away in Ethiopia for twelve days but she promises her son to visit him him as soon as he returns. On his return she implored Zeus by grasping his knees with her left arm, Homer is explicit, thereby immobilizing him with her feminine side, with her right hand she grasps his chin arresting his attention. She implores him to smite the Greeks unto death to appease her son’s sense of affront.
Understand the enormity of Achilles’ request to his mother. She does not reprove him in the least instead she rushes off to Zeus for his complicity which Zeus in his profundity of mind grants.
Nor is this an easy thing to fit into his schedule. He has already given the nod to Agamemnon which must be fulfulled while he can refuse nothing to his Grecophile daughter Athene and also while he is being badgered by his wife Hera to favor the Greeks.
In the face of all these conflicting demands even though he has given the nod of victory to Agamemnon and once his nod has been given his decision cannot be altered he agrees to at least hurt the Greeks for the benefit of Thetis’ son with no possible reward for himself from Thetis as her sexual favors would cost him Olympus. Now you know what a mind of infinite power is capable of.
Zeus then unleashes Hector and his Trojans until they breach the Greek walls firing a number of ships.
Still unrelenting, Achilles refuses to help but does allow his faggot, Patroclus, to don his armor frightening the Trojans into thinking Achilles has entered the fray. Patroclus exceeds his authority being killed by Hector who appropriates the splendid armor of Achilles as well as those great horses.
Now horseless, armorless, shieldless and friendless, in other words completely defenseless and emasculated, Achilles runs once again to mom. Mama is always there for her boy. Now, for those of us whose moms have not always been there for us this is a cause of deep envy and anguish. She promises to have the technological god, Hephaestus, make him a new shield and armor to be ready the NEXT DAY. Even Hephaestus is not too busy for this paragon of mothers; he sets aside all else and gets down to it. You see what a good relationship between mother and son is worth.
Aldous Huxley thought about such matters deeply. He never consciously associated his mother with his eyes although his attachment was such that he said that if you wanted to know how polite educated people of his mother’s time spoke his speech was a living example. In other words he thought that he emulated his mother down to her speech patterns. In essence he had become his mother.
He had been unable to penetrate his ‘unconscious’ but he had studied the subject carefully. Sybille Bedford quotes his thoughts on the unconscious in which Huxley says that, obviously, Freud did not invent psychology or even the ‘unconscious.’ Huxley discusses a book by one F.W.H. Myers who laid out a theory of the unconscious in a book titled ‘Human Personality’ in 1886.
Myers dealth with the Homeric concepts of the unconscious qualities of Ate and Menos. Ate was the destructive or dark side or the unconscious while Menos was the creative or positive side.
Freud appropriated the concept of the unconscious but only the dark or destructive aspect appealed to him so he went no further than that.
Obviously Huxley realized subconsciously that with his mother’s eyes he was in a constant struggle between Ate and Menos, darkness and light.
It has always troubled me as to why Hephaestus, or Menos, was married to Aphrodite, or Ate and why the goddess of love and god of technology should live at the bottom of the sea.
If you remember Aphrodite arose from the sea as a sea foam riding on the half shell. Obviously love has all the substance of foam while seeing only one half of the truth. This is a form of Ate.
She and her husband live at the bottom of the sea because they represent Ate and Menos which reside in the subconscious.
Aphrodite as Ate is so thoughtless and self-indulgent that she causes pain to everyone in her willfulness. Hephaestus was not too pleased to be awarded Aphrodite as his wife by the council of the gods. No sooner were the two married than, while Hephaestus was off on business, Aphrodite invited her natural complementary aspect of the subconscious Ate, Ares, to bed.
Aphrodite and Ares are the two parts of destructive Ate. When they are caught by Hephaestus in union they form the ‘beast with two backs’ or, in other words, they hatched from the same egg. As unreasoning hatred and love they are Ate in its complete form or aspect of the subconscious that Freud chose to exploit with much less subtlety.
Hephaestos is Menos, the god of invention and technology, also seems to send his good ideas up from the subconscious. Ideas just seem to occur to us. Hephaestus as Menos therefore resides at the bottom of the sea where he is in close contact with the Mother Archetype in the brain stem in union with Aphrodite and Ares as Ate.
It should be remembered that the mother of Hephaestus is Hera who give birth to him parthenogenously. Hephaestus has no connection with the Father Archetype. In fact, he was thrown out of heaven by Zeus. Thus Achilles’ mother is able to obtain from him whatever she wishes at a moment’s notice.
Being in close contact with the Father of Waters, Poseidon, Thetis is able to procure the finest horses for her boy. Achilles has a team that is the envy of both Greece and Troy. It goes without saying that he has no trouble with his eyes.
The imagery of mother, horse and eyes has persisted in the Indo-European male down to the present. Let us give two examples here with more to follow in Parts III and IV. Bear in mind that the imagery is subconscious so that it is not necessary for an author to knowingly select his imagery.
In Rudyard Kipling’s novel ‘The Light That Failed; the hero, Dick, was an orphan who was placed in a foster home with an orphan girl, Maisie. There were very close as children, one might say that she became Dick’s mother surrogate, but they became separated going about their careers apart.
They met again as adults in London where Dick has his attachment to Maisie renewed although in an irrational manner while she only reluctantly acknowledges him ultimately rejecting his attentions at which point Dick loses his sight.
Kipling doesn’t make the connection between mother’s abandonment, Maisie’s rejection and Dick’s eyes but it must be there in his subconscious.
Dick, a war correspondent, returns to a war in the Sudan as a blind newspaper correspondent. Traveling through hostile territory, just as he reaches the safety of the British camp he is shot dead off, not a horse, but a camel.
The second example is the play and movie Equus by Peter Shaffer. I saw only the movie. The plot centers around the psycho-analysis of the male figure. The story concerns a stable boy who blinds the mares under his care by slicing their eyes. Whether based on a true analysis or not Shaffer has a very confused presentation of his ideas which he probaby does not understand.
As the protagonist is a stable boy it follows that he was drawn subconsciously to the job to be around horses indicating a weak mother relationship. That he sought a job in a stable to be around horses is a subconscious indication of his pain. We have seen what a doting mother, Thetis did for her boy Achilles and conversely what happened to Oedipus.
The mother substitute appears in a girl who seduces him in full sight of the horses. Unable to perform sexually in full sight of the horses, or Mother Archetype, he revenges himself on his mother by blinding the horses.
It is only speculation but I infer that the stable boy had been rejected, abandoned psychologically or both by his mother causing a deep abiding anger. It is forbidden to retaliate one’s rage on the mother so he vented his anger on both a young woman and the mother symbol, the horse. He disappointed the girl while putting out the horse’s eyes.
The flesh eating mares of Greek mythology is a difficult image to understand but perhaps they represent filiophagus mothers who victimize their sons knowingly or unknowingly. The opposite of Thetis.
The subsequent relationship of the rejected or abandoned son to women is important. In the stable boy’s case he was impotent with women. Dick needed to affirm his relationship to a childhood mother surrogate to avoid the consequences of abandonment. In Huxley’s case he was very fortunate in recognizing a woman who would serve him as he felt his mother should have served him and in finding a woman who realized the exact need for unconditional love of a man in her own makeup.
One hesitates to say that Huxley created conditions by which his wife would predecease him but she did. After a marriage of nearly forty years Huxley quickly married a self-sufficient woman while apprearing to be relieved at the loss of his mother surrogate.
I hope I have made the connection between mothers, horses and eyes clearly. As the problem is not in the upper brain but the brain stem the fixation cannot be voided by the normal means of identification and expression.
In my own case in attempting to resolve the matter I have taken the approach of trying to reconcile my mother’s actions with my feelings about it but I haven’t been too successful.
Obviously the primitive brain stem presents different obstacles than the mid-, upper and pre-frontal brain.
End of Part I. Go to Part II, The Baby Marie.