October 13, 2012
The Ancient Evil:
Diana And The Goddess Tradition
A problem that has been perplexing me for some time is the role of the Goddess Diana as the female archetype for the last half of the Age of Pisces. The adoption of the goddess Diana or Artemis as she was known in Greece signifies a resurgence of the Matriarchy. This is a rather remarkable comeback as the Matriarchy was virtually unknown in the nineteenth century, all but forgotten.
I’m sure the interpretation of Diana’s history and her relationship to Astrology will be met with some dismay as these subjects are not properly understood. Essentially the problem is one of memory; in this case historical and racial memory. Memory on one level is a desire to retain and understand the past whether on a personal or historical level. From the past the future may be predicted. What has gone before will likely happen again. It was this knowledge that made the calendar a necessity. If one has a starting point, such as the shortest day of the year the return of flora and fauna may be roughly known. To make the year more manageable it was divided into seasons and months to mark more easily the passage of the days of the year. This knowledge led to a whole cycle of gods, goddesses and myths. Thus a terrestrial zodiac was derived denoted by symbols appropriate to the seasons. As it was assumed that what happened on earth was a reflection of what happened in the skies the terrestrial zodiac was translated to the stars and thus we have the Astrological Zodiac in which the twelve signs reflect the weather pattern on earth.
Just as there are twelve months in the year so the skies were divided into twelve portions called Ages. The length of the Ages was determined by the Great Year that was of some twenty-five thousand years plus duration. The Great year was determined by the rotation of the earth on its axis as evidenced by the stars of the North Pole.
Each Age has it male and female archetypes. In Greece the Arien Age was presided over by Zeus and Hera. Thus each set of archetypes has a lifetime of two thousand plus years and then they make the long slide to Far Tartary and back again.
The Piscean Age which has become universal began with the male archetype of Jesus of Nazareth while in mid-Age the archetypes where transferred to the female side- Diana in the North of Europe and Mary, the mother of Jesus, in the South of Europe.
While the mechanism used to achieve this is fairly clear the exact process can only be surmised.
While it may be difficult to believe the Astrological Zodiac must have begun development about a hundred thousand years ago being in the fourth cycle at the time of the dawn of the Age of Pisces. Thus as a method of timekeeping the Zodiac has a long history.
One may question the hundred thousand years and yet the Mesopotamian myths mention a past of at least that long. One usually doesn’t credit the ancients with actual knowledge but I think it is time to take them more seriously.
For much of that hundred thousand years during the long Ice Age the level of the Mediterranean was much lower probably being a long valley with a succession of large lakes fed by the Nile and the Propontis while the outflow was at the Pillars of Hercules. As the Med Valley was habitable it must have been inhabited. Undoubtedly a civilization developed that was fairly sophisticated. One needn’t look for extraterrestrials for human development.
Thus when the Ice Age ended returning the accumulated waters to the oceans the waters rose forcing the Valley’s inhabitants to seek higher ground until the sea level became static. While denizens fled to all sides of the Med the civilization bearers occupied Lower Egypt, the emerging Nile Delta. A second area in which civilization in some form must have survived was the island of Crete.
It was on this island that the religious formula that became a basis of Europe was formed. The basis was provided by the Hellenic Greek tribes that began their invasion of the Greek peninsula c. -1700.
The Greek penisula was occupied by an ancient people called Pelasgians. They like the Cretans were descendants of the Med Valley peoples as were the Cretans and Lower Egypt. The Pelasgian religion closely resembled that of the Cretans. The conquering Hellenes imposed their Greek language on them while setting about solving the religious differences into one unifed religion. This was done following a usual pattern.
The Hellenes followed an Aryan Patriarchal model while the Pelasgians and Cretans followed a Matriarchal type.
How much religious development took place between 8000 BC when the waters rose and 2000 BC when things had settled must have been very large. An important thing to remember is that the human mind is continually handling information. Problems of memory have been continually remedied with new storage technologies. They have been continually developed to today’s immense ability to be able to very nearly store entire reality. Every phone call in the world 24/7 can be stored and retrieved at will so that totally inconsequential information is on record but will never be read.
The time lapse between improvements in storage and retrieval were immense in the early days increasing rapidly to the present. The earliest known city, the remains of which date not coincidentally to c. 8000 BC is located at Catal Huyuk in Anatolia which would have been a rural backwater to the Med civilization, but a high degree of communal organization is evident. One imagines the Cretan civilization was similar but more highly developed. There is every evidence that the Great Mother religion was fairly highly developed at the time the waters rose.
The Cretans certainly brought the religion to a degree of perfection. Obviously there is no agreement as to the degree while the substance of religion can be only guessed at.
Presently the Goddess advocates picture the Matriarchy as some kind of golden age of
peace love and happiness. This is not the case. The Matriarchates lived in a period of very primitive mentality. Nor is the female of the species any less bloody minded than the male. The memory of the matriarchate was still strong enough for later males to dismiss the matriarchate as a period that was not too kind to men. Indeed, if one bears in mind that the sacrificial bulls were substitutes for men and that bulls were often sacrificed in holocausts which means a hundred bulls or more then it follows that at one time a hundred men or more were sacrificed to the Great Mother. Obviously this would leave rueful memories in the minds of men.
This memory may have been played out in the tale of Iphigenia At Aulis.
Shall we examine the participants in this drama, Agamemnon, Clytmnestra, Iphigenia and Diana?
Zeus in the apparition of a swan had intercourse with Leda who then lay two eggs. Both bore twins. From one egg Castor and Pollux emerged. These two represent the soltices, Castor, winter and Pollux summer. From the other egg Helen and Clytemnestra emerged. These two represent the equinoxes, Helen the Spring, Clytemnestra the Fall. One might compare Helen to the Cretan Loving Goddess with the erect snakes held hip high and Clytemnestra to the Angry Goddess brandishing the two writhing snakes. Thus the two goddesses are representatives of Diana.
Now Agamemnon was punished by Diana for killing a deer and then boasting that he was a better hunter than she. Agamemnon and the Greeks were assembled at Aulis but unable to sail for lack of wind. A sacrifice was deemed necessary to allay the winds. Ordinarily a male would have been the sacrifice to Diana. Instead Agamemnon sacrificed his and Clytemnestra’s daughter probably in vengeance for his punishment by Diana and the slaughter of all those males during the Matriarchy.
Clytemnestra herself was a representative of the Matriarchy so the story is involved.
While my interpretation might be controversial I think it clear that the Cretan goddess became Artemis/Diana. At any rate it was the Argive (from Argos) mainland goddess Hera who would be chosen as the wife of Zeus. Therefore the Cretan goddess would have lost her consort and been a loose cannon.
Zeus himself was of Cretan origin probably intended to be the annual consort of the Goddess. As religion evolved the characters of the Gods and Goddesses changed so that while there is continuity the attributes and characters change enough so that the religious figures have to be located in time and place.
When the Hellenes, or Greeks, began to arrive the Cretans had already created a political organization known as a thalossocracy, a sea based empire. The islands and at least the coasts from Aegean to Italy were under Cretan rule. The Greeks then challenged the power of the Cretans as well as seeking to impose the Patriarchal religion on the Matriarchy.
This method of taking control was the same as that of all religions replacing another. As in such situations the overcome religion submits to greater power but continues a more or less clandestine existence. Thus the Aryan Greeks converted religious sites such as Delphi to Patriarchal shrines. Where the necessisity existed in Matriarchal strongholds, they apparently attempted to exterminate the Matriarchates. Persecute them out of existence, perhaps, as happened to the Lollards of England.
In this case, Perseus’ assault on the Gorgon Medusa could have signified an all out assault on the Matriarchal stronghold as was the story of the Iliad in which the Patriarchal Greeks waged a ten year war to exterminate Matriarchal Troy. Whether factual or not it is true that when the post-Troy dark age ended the Greeks were in possession of the Anatolian littoral.
Of course the preferred method was by stealth and intermarriage. Intermarriage may have required the extermination of the males to acquire the women which was commonly done. Thus, Zeus’ frequent rapes of women may commemorate such takeovers.
As the assimilated gods appear to have been indigenous the Greeks must have taken over the pre-existing gods while changing them to Patriarchal from Matriarchal. Thus, while Zeus is clearly a Cretan god, probable annual consort of the Great Mother, he was transported to mainland Argos where as a woodpecker he raped the Argive goddess Hera becoming her lord and master, or her husband.
The consort of Hera was Heracles, a sun god. When Zeus took Hera from him as his wife this left Heracles at loose ends without a purpose. The Greeks gave him a new lineage and the role of the champion of the Patriarchy and punisher of the Matriarchy.
In this case Zeus seduces Alcmene in the disguise of her husband Amphitryon impregnating her with Hercules. Just as Heracles was a loose cannon after the marriage of Zeus and Hera the Cretan Great Goddess was without a consort when Zeus left Crete. The problem is what identity was she assigned? When Heracles was born two snakes were sent by the Matriarchy to kill him. The baby Heracles strangled both, one in each hand. Symbolically then the Cretan religion was imagined to be destroyed and possibly its Great Mother murdered.
A great problem however that remains hidden from me is the origin of the Peloponnesian Lady Of The Lake. As the Cretan Great Mother was also a Mistress Of The Animals it is quite possible that she was taken to the mainland from Crete where she became an Artemis and possibly the Lady Of The Lake.
At some later time the Cretan priesthood would be carried from Crete and installed as the priesthood of Apollo at the premier Greek shrine of Delphi. So, how much of the Greek religion was of Aryan origin and how much of the ancient Med Valley religion through its Cretan development isn’t clear but the two must have been extensively intermingled making the Cretan Great Mother a probable Artemis/Diana and the Lady Of The Lake.
I have found no references in Greek mythology to the Lady Of The Lake but the Lady as Vivian turns up in the Arthurian epics of +1000-1300 when they were formulated. In those she is referred back to ancient Peloponnesian times. I haven’t found the sources of the medieval writers but they must have been in possession of some mythological sources that no longer exist.
I would now like to examine the transition from the male archetype of Jesus in mid-Piscean Age to Diana in Northern Europe and Mary, the Mother of God in the South.
Before leaving the Ancients however let me say that having organized a pantheon the Greeks then removed the various gods from their home locales and established their residence on Mt. Olympus deep in the more densely Aryan populations of the North of Greece.
The religion of no one Age is secure because the transition to the next Age is always looming. Just as Zeus had replaced Cronus of the Taurean Age so the Greek male archetype of the Piscean Age, Dionysus, was maturing as Zeus’ replacement.
However, in the long war between Europe and Asia the balance of power was to shift toward the Asians. Dionysus was discarded to be replaced by the Semitic Jew, Jesus of Nazareth. The Jews had quietly been infiltrating Western society while actually contending for pre-eminence in the East and Egypt. This would erupt into the Roman-Jewish wars of the first two centuries AD.
As the early Christians were a purely Jewish sect it is no wonder that when Paul of Tarsus turned the Jewish cult into a universal religion that that religion reflected Judaism to a large extent. Judaism being an intolerant religion that intolerance was replicated in both the Roman Catholic and the Greek Orthodox Churches. The result was that any competing religious views were viciously suppressed. After the fourth century the old Creco-Cretan religion was anathematized on the pain of death.
As would happen in the fifteenth century when the Ottoman Moslems conquered Constantinople and the Greek scholars fled East to India and West to the Roman successor States numbers of the Olympian priesthood undoubtedly fled into the German lands to the North. Just as the Arian priests fled North to escape Catholic oppression where they converted the German tribes so the Olympian priests sowed their beliefs among the Germans. That’s one reason so many Olympian beliefs are found in German folk tales as collected by the Grimms.
As the Lady Of The Lake is a Matriarchal myth it follows that the Cretan priesthood of Delphi sowed Matriarchal ideas among the Germans. It can be little wonder that Vivian, The Lady Of The Lake, appeared in the French chivalric myths created from the eleventh though fourteenth centuries.
Not only that but Vivian represents the Matriarchal resurgence against Catholic Patriarchalism. Vivian of course was none other than Artemis/Diana. It was thus that Diana became the female archetype of Northern Europe in the second half of the Piscean Age.
It would be a mistake to suppose that the Olympian gods died quiet deaths or deaths at all. It is one thing to outlaw a belief system and another to erase it from the memories of those who had used that belief system for two thousand years. The Christians were at best a conquering horde no different from the Patriarchal Greeks who attempted to destroy the Cretan religion. The Catholic Church was no more able to contain the Olympians than the Greeks were able to contain Cretan religion. Just as the Greeks had had to accommodate the Cretans by installing them at Delphi so the Catholic Church had to accommodate Olympians while the struggle never ceased.
Just as the Iliad was part of an immense mythological cycle detailing the struggle between the Matriarchy and the Patriarchy so the Arthurian epics detailing the Matriarchal, Patriarchal and Church as Aryans sects was even more immense and sprawling. The huge corpus of the Vulgate-Lancelot may just be the largest literary work in the world while being only part of the story.
So Arthur being installed at Camelot as the wise and benevolent Patriarchal monarch, Vivian had her home beneath a northern French lake. The problem for her was how to subvert Camelot and restore the Matriarchy. After all the court of Arthur was guided by and protected by the magic of the great magician Merlin. So long as Merlin was on the job Arthur was invulnerable. Vivian’s first task was to eliminate Merlin.
Bear in mind that an ages old system that these participants can have had no knowledge of is being satisfactorily worked out according to the principles of that system. One can understand how active minds could penetrate this arcane system but the miracle is that naïve minds could understand what was intended and how to further it. But then I am participating here in furthering events into the Aquarian Age and am no member of any priesthood; I was just a guy standing on the corner watching the girls go by while reading the odd volume. Do I know what I say I know? I can’t even guess but at the same time I can’t keep from writing as though I do. Blame it on the muse.
Vivian was a cute girl; Merlin was a half daft old man susceptible to a young beauty’s charms even though he knew better. Vivian smiled at him and the wisest dope in the world fell for it. But, isn’t that the way the sisterhood always works. If you’ve got a job to do, keep it zipped up.
Enamored of Vivian Merlin took her into his confidence. He was reluctant to share his magic with her but she coaxed and he caved. Once the wiliest of womanhood had obtained the old wizard’s knowledge she turned on him entombing him in the matriarchal symbol, Mother Earth, where he remains today muttering useless spells in an effort to remove the stone.
Part one of her effort was now achieved. Arthur was unprotected and vulnerable. It was only necessary to find the means and the agent. Vivian already knew the means. Arthur would marry the beautiful but flighty Guenivere. Arthur was old sobersides as he had a kingdom to rule so Guenivere was on the lookout for the dark romantic lead. It just so happened that Vivian had a boy in training who was now about to emerge into lusty young manhood. He was the most perfect knight in the world save one, who was yet unborn and to be his son.
When this lad was a young boy Vivian had lured him down to the lake from whose shores she abducted him taking him to her submarine palace for training. Lancelot became a fairy prince. Now, this is important: Vivian although a virgin was an alpha mother . All those bundles of genes out there who yell and stomp thinking that makes them alpha males aren’t. It’s not in the genes its in the mothering. Look for the alpha female. So, Lancelot was the alphaest of all living males.
As an emblem of her authority Vivian dressed Lancelot as well as the horse he rode out on in shining white velvet. Guenivere’s prince had come.
This Dandy, Lancelot, then went to Camelot and was deputized by Arthur to fetch his bride from her father and thus began a liaison with the Queen that would disrupt the famous Round Table resulting in a war between Patriarchal Arthur and Matriarchal Lancelot that brought the kingdom to its knees.
Arthur’s original sword drawn from the stone had been stolen and replaced by Excalibur a sword given to him by Vivian. Thus Arthur originally armed by the Patriarchy was now defended by the power of the Matriarchy or Diana. When Arthur died the sword was returned to the Lady Of The Lake and Arthur was taken to her bourne, Avalon to be tended by the fairie maidens. Symbolically England had passed from the Patriarchy to the Matriarchy; what began two thousand years earlier between the Cretans and the Greeks was now resolved in England in favor of the Matriarchy.
In the South of Europe the female archetype of the Piscean Age was Mary who delivered Jesus to the world in Virgin birth somewhat like Vivian giving virgin birth to Lancelot. At the same time that Diana assumed authority in the North Mary began to be worshipped in a form known as Mariolatry in the South and assumed pre-eminence over Jesus, the male. The contest then shifted to one between the Dianites of the North and the Marionites of the South.
If one assumes that the sexual battle was over by 1300, then the battle of the female archetypes began. That began to resolve itself when Henry VIII separated England from the Papacy rejecting Mary, the Mother of God. Luther did the same for the Germans. This conflict resulted in the horrific Thirty Years War that nearly destroyed the German people. At war’s end Protestants, that is the Dianites, were in control of the North while the Marionites held the South.
Dissension in the North and South was still rife until the Enlightenment broke the power of the Church releasing all kinds of repressed religious views of which the religion of Diana was merely one. One wonders how much of the women’s movement of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries was influenced by the concept of Diana The movement today is heavily influenced by a goddess cult, not Mary, but Diana and probably the Egyptian Isis. One imagines that there must be some continuity.
The interest in both Greek mythology and the Arthurian epics did not wane during the nineteenth century, if anything increasing. Tennyson’s Idylls of the King was a major retelling of the story while the quest for the Holy Grail is an ongoing theme.
The Matriarchy was all but forgotten in the conscious memory of Europe that had become patriarchal on the surface. In mid-century against stiff resistance the Swiss mythologist, J. J. Bachofen uncovered the Matriarchy reintroducing it into intellectual history. The concept was stoutly resisted but a reevaluation of the evidence over the succeeding hundred years has reestablished the knowledge of its existence.
On the popular level the great English novelist H. Rider Haggard toyed with the idea in several significant, even great, novels that have been slighted through a lack of understanding. The most significant of that set of novels, the She saga, has become one of the world’s great classics.
She, or Ayesha, her actual name, means Life was definitely not a mother goddess, as far as we know she had been chaste for two thousand years. Life might be interpreted in the sense of Mistress Of The Animals, so it wouldn’t be unfair to associate Ayesha with Diana. Haggard was no mean mythologist.
He associated with the well known mythologist Andrew Lang with whom he also collaborated on The World’s Desire. He was very well read in mythology, Greek, Egyptian and Israelite. The year after Haggard wrote She in 1888 he followed up with Cleopatra, a very good Egyptian novel. He followed that with the astonishing interpretation of the Helen myth in The World’s Desire of 1890. Within the compass of these three novels he unraveled the meaning of the Hermes/Mercury staff- the Caduceus.
In She Ayesha wore a golden belt composed of two snakes whose heads opposed each other at her waist. They represented the combat between good and evil in Ayesha’s mind. Both natures of the Cretan goddess were united in Ayesha.
By the time Haggard wrote The World’s Desire two years later he had separated the two impulses into two persons. The evil aspect of the goddess was the ruling aspect of the Egyptian princess Meriamun while the pure loving aspect of the goddess belonged to the spirit of Helen whose character was the world’s desire.
Thus the rod of Mercury’s staff represents the spine while the two snakes entwining the rod represent the good and evil impulses who facing each other are at war with each other. In modern psychological terms it could be said the snakes represent the Anima and Animus- the left and right halves of the brain or, in other words, the ovate strand of DNA and the spermatic strand. The wings mean that the whole apparatus is sheltered under the wings of the goddess. It is also quite probable that the points of the chakras are intended by the twining. See my full explication here: http://idynamo.wordpress.com/2009/12/04/a-review-part-iv-she-by-h-rider-haggard/
Hermes/Mercury was one of the old Matriarchal gods who was reborn as a Patriarchal god so that the Patriarchal Mercury bears the Matriarchal emblem of the Caduceus before him thus representing both religious outlooks.
Haggard was the rock on which his near disciple, Edgar Rice Burroughs, built his church. Without saying that Burroughs was an expert Greco-Roman mythologist he began reading mythology at a very early age while his Junior High years were spent at the Harvard Latin school of Chicago where he was placed under a heavy classical regimen. He also continued to read Greek mythology throughout his life while also being interested in anthropology. Thus, while he might not have had the scholarly background of Haggard he must have known enough to follow Haggard’s argument, if not consciously at least in his subconscious memory.
When Burroughs created his fantasy lost city of Opar its goddess, or high priestess, was even named La which is French for She. Whether he was aware he was working with a vision of Diana isn’t relevant as the notion of She/Diana was engraved in what Jung would call the collective unconscious and hence his own.
Ever the Patriarch, Burroughs turned the tables on the Diana/Vivian Merlin story and made La submissive to Tarzan while Tarzan was unmoved by either her beauty or her love.
A sort of version was also told by the very good but now nearly forgotten novelist Robert Hichens in his novel of 1905, The Garden Of Allah. This story in turn influenced Burroughs as well as the much more conscious mythologist Edith Maude Hull who wrote The Sheik in 1921. Today Mrs. Hull’s reputation, such as it is, rests on The Sheik and The Sheik’s reputation on the movie represention of Rudolph Valentino. In point of fact Mrs. Hull’s novel was a study of Diana, the name of her heroine, that follows to some extent the version of Burroughs. (See my full review of The Sheik here http://idynamo.wordpress.com/2007/10/12/a-review-1921s-the-sheik-by-em-hull/)
That Mrs. Hull was a part od some sort of Diana cultish interest is evidenced by this 1920s photo of woman posing as Diana. The collective memory and/or unconscious has kept the vision of Diana/Great Mother alive for a minimum of three thousand years. The Ancient Evil had been transmuted into Freudian psychology.
Today the worship of the Goddess has been revived in the Feminist Movement and is thriving. Indeed, a Matriarchal Revolution has been in progress since perhaps the 1850s and now seems to be rapidly approaching fruition, at least among the Aryans of Europe and America.
Time will tell whither the Ancient Evil will triumph.
April 3, 2012
Only The Strong Survive
An Examination Of Bridge And The Oskaloosa Kid
As Created By Edgar Rice Burroughs
(Alternate Title: The Oakdale Affair)
Into The Mysteries
(Some capitalization appears in the text that has no significance. For some reason it just showed up. I didn’t do it)
Burroughs does a good job in the Holmesian sense in this book enclosing mysteries within mysteries. The central mystery is who is committing the crime wave in Oakdale. Having learned from his mentor, Conan Doyle, Burroughs skillfully withholds details to enhance the suspense then disclosing them to reveal the mysteries. The organization of the scheme of crimes gradually unfolds to show that the real Oskaloosa Kid is one of the perpetrators. So we have a clever doubling of a sweet girl posing as the vicious criminal The Oskaloosa Kid. This is obviously a transfer of his Anima identity from the male De Vac/Oskaloosa Kid to the resumption of a female identity for his Anima through the fake Oskaloosa Kid/Gail Prim.
The girl who was seen with the criminals could have been Gail since she had disappeared without a trace never having arrived at her destination. Gail was not the girl seen with Reginald Paynter, who was robbed and murdered, and the crooks. That person was Hettie Penning who was ejected from the car speeding past the abandoned Squibbs place by the real Oskaloosa Kid. Thus symbolically De Vac/Oskaloosa Kid returns his Anima to Bridge/Burroughs.
As indicated Hettie Pening represents the dead early Anima of Burroughs who has here been resurrected. As in all cases of Burroughs representation of his failed Anima she appears to be a ‘bad’ girl but in reality is merely misunderstood. He compensates for himself.
Bridge himself is a mystery man and double. He is a hobo but with great manners and an excellent education. He is definitely a member of the Might Have Seen Better Days Club. The real club was organized by Burroughs when he served as an enlisted man in the Army in 1896.
In this case Bridge is in actuality the son of a wealthy Virginia aristocrat who has left home because he prefers a life on the road. In the framing story of a Princess of Mars Burroughs portrays himself in his own name as a Virginian. In reality Burroughs was declassed at eight or nine by John the Bully and by his father’s subsequent shuffling of him from school to school finally sending him to a bad boy school that Burroughs describes as little more than a reformatory for rich kids.
If one looks at his career he was on the move quite a bit. During his marriage he seldom lived in one house for more than a year or two then moved on.
Just as Bridge will assume his proper identity at the end of the novel so through his writing Burroughs has abandoned the shame of his hard scrabble years from 1905-13. In a sense he is assuming his proper identity with this novel.
Bridge and the Kid joining together at the fork in the road, one is reminded of Yogi Berra’s quip: When you come to a fork in the road, take it, in this case the less traveled dirt road.
I read word for word frequently dwelling on the scenes created. Burroughs is a very visual writer. Standing at the fork in a driving Midwest summer lightning, thunder and deluge storm they can hear the pursuing hoboes shouting down the road. Ahead of them is a dark unknown and a house haunted by the victims of a sextuple murder.
Indeed, Burroughs describes almost a descent into hell, or at least, the hell of the subconscious.
Over a low hill they followed the muddy road and down into a dark and gloom ravine. In a little open space to the right of the road a flash of lightning, followed one imagines by either the crash of deep loud rumbling of the thunder of perhaps if over head the sonic boom of the air splitting and closing, revealed the outline of a building a hundred yards (that’s three hundred feet, a very large front yard) from the rickety and decaying fence which bordered the Squibb farm and separated it from the road.
There are those who say Burroughs doesn’t write well but in a short paragraph he has economically drawn a verbal picture which is quite astonishing in its detail. The house is a hundred yards from the road. In the rain and muck that might be a walk or two or three minutes or more.
A clump of trees surrounded the house, their shade adding to the utter blackness of the night.
That’s what one calls inspissating gloom. One might well ask how any shade can add to utter blackness but one gets the idea. There is some intense writing thoroughly reminiscent of Poe but nothing like him.
The two had reached the verandah when Bridge, turning, saw a brilliant light glaring through the night above the crest of the hill they had just topped in their descent into the ravine, or, to be more explicit, the small valley, where stood the crumbling house of the Squibbs. The purr of a rapidly moving motor car rose above the rain, the light rose, fell, swerved to the right and left.
“Someone must be in a hurry.” commented Bridge.
There isn’t any better writing than that. Another writer can say it differently but he can’t say it better. Just imagine the movie Frankenstein or Wolf Man when you’re reading it. Burroughs did as well in less than the time it takes to show it.
A body is thrown from the speeding car a shot following after it. Bridge goes to pick up the body.
Thus the mystery and horror and terror of the dark and stormy night has been building. Bridge carrying the body which may or may not be alive asks the Kid to open the door.
Behind him came Bridge as the youth entered the dark interior. A half dozen steps he took when his foot struck against a soft yielding mass. Stumbling he tried to regain his equilibrium only to drop fully upon the thing beneath him. One open palm extended to ease his fall, it fell upon the uplifted features of a cold and clammy face.
Yipes! What more do you need? Cold and dripping, half crazed from fear, overwhelmed by the thought he might be a murderer the Kid’s hand falls on cold and clammy dead flesh. Bridge is standing there with maybe another dead person in his arms. The Kid is also aware that the murderous hoboes are hot on his trail.
If that doesn’t get you then somehow I think you can’t be got.
Not yet finished Burroughs builds up the tension. Striking a match from the specially lined water proof pocket of Bridge’s coat they find a dead man wearing golden earrings. Obviously a gypsy but while staring in unsimulated horror they hear from the base of the stairs of a dark dank cellar the clank of a slowly drawn chain as a heavy weight makes the stairs creak.
This is too much for the nerves of the Kid. Burroughs brilliantly contrasts the terror of the unknown in the basement with the fear of the dark at the top of the stairs. You know where that’s at, I’m sure, I sure do. In a flash the Kid chooses the unknown at the top of the stairs to the horror in the cellar.
What do you want?
The hoboes are still slipping and sliding down the descent into the ravine of the subconscious. Horror in front, terror behind. There is absolutely no place to hide. Nightmare City, don’t you think? How could anyone do it better? What do you mean he can’t write? Put the scenes in a movie and everyone in the theatre would be covering their eyes. Itd\ would be that Beast With Five Fingers all over again. Maybe worse. Never saw that one? Check it out. Peter Lorre. Terrifying. Of course I was a kid.
The clanking of the chain recreates an incident in Burroughs’ own life when he had a job collecting for an ice company. He called on a house and while he was waiting he heard the clanking of a chain coming slowly up the driveway. Waiting with a fair amount of trepidation he saw a huge dog dragging the chain appear. ERB backing slowly away forgot about the delinquent bill.
In this case the chain is attached to Beppo the dancing bear but Bridge and the Kid won’t know that until the next day.
They retreat into an upstairs bedroom. Here what Burroughs describes in capital letters as THE THING and IT pursues them. I remember two movies one called The Thing and the other It.
Just when the thing retreats the murderous gang of hoboes enters the house. Wow! Out of the frying pan and into the fire in this night of terrors as the lightning continues to flash and the thunder crash.
Discovering the dead man and as the bear begins moving again four of the hoboes flee while two who were on the staircase being trapped in the house flee into the same bedroom as Bridge, the Kid and the girl, Hettie. Shortly thereafter a woman’s scream pierces the lightning and the thunder then silences as the storm settles into a steady drizzle.
The rest of the night is one tense affair between the murderous hoboes and the Bridge and the girls. Not a moment to catch your breath.
In the morning when they go downstairs the mystery increases when they find the dead man gone and nothing in the cellar. If they’d had Tarzan along he would have not only been able to smell the bear but to tell whether if was black or brown.
After a brief confrontation Dopey Charlie and the General are driven off. Bridge’s relationship with the Kid is then deepened. Even though all the Kid’s reactions are repulsive to the manhood of Bridge he feels his attraction to the seeming boy growing stronger.
Not since he had followed the open road with Byrne, had Bridge met one with whom he might care to “pal” before.
This brings up an interesting hint of latent homosexuality. My fellow writer, David Adams has objected that in my analysis of Emasculation as applied to ERB is that he should have been a homosexual but wasn’t.
There are degrees of emasculation and there are various degrees of psychotic reaction to it. I don’t say and I don’t believe that ERB was a homosexual but there was a degree of ambiguity introduced into his personality by his emasculation. I have touched on this in my ‘Emasculation, Hermaphroditism and Excretion.’
Here we have another example of it as Bridge is experiencing some homoerotic emotion which is very confusing to him as he has never wanted a ‘pal’ before. In hobo lingo I believe a ‘pal’ has a homosexual connotation.
If Burroughs took his ‘inside’ information on hoboes from Jack London’s The Road then Bridge is the sort of hobo London describes as the ‘profesh’, the hobo highest in the hierarchy of hobodom. London always thought of himself as a quick learner, so one doesn’t have to award his statement too much credibility but Burroughs apparently took him at face value.
As London describes the ‘profesh’ he has been on the road so long he knows all the ropes. Unlike the unkempt bums he realizes the importance of a good front and always dresses neatly. But he is hardened and capable of committing any crime.
While Bridge is obviously intended to be a ‘profesh’ he is neither criminal nor does he dress to put up a good front.
Another category of hobo London lists is the ‘road kid.’ These are young people just starting on the life of the road. The ‘profesh’ would often take one of more of these road kids under his wing as his fag, as the British would say, or in Americanese, a ‘pal.’ In other words a homosexual relationship. Thus this displays ERB’s sexual ambiguity which David couldn’t locate in my psychological analysis of ERB’s emasculation. In this case the ambiguity will be resolved and explained when we learn that the Kid is the beautiful young woman, Abigail Prim, and both Bridge and Burroughs heave a sigh of relief.
Nevertheless ERB is discussing homosexuality in an open and natural way that couldn’t be missed by the knowing and which may be unique for its time. But then, remember that one of ERB’s hats in this story is that of the Alienist, so that in these pages we are deep into the psychological abstractions and Doyle’s mystery stories as influences.
Now comes the time for breakfast. Someone has to ‘rustle’ grub. We have already learned in ‘Out There Somewhere’ that Bridge doesn’t rustle food, he rustles rhyme. Nothing has changed. The Kid goes out to get breakfast and when she comes back with the goods, true to form Bridge bursts forth with several snatches from H.H. Knibbs which surprisingly the demure Miss Prim recognizes. What has she been reading?
How might this apply to Burroughs’ own life. Let’s look at it. Burroughs was enamored of How to books but in his heart he must have considered them a fraud. Willie Case will soon pick up his copy of How To Be A Detective which he finds completely inapplicable to his circumstances. He also has the good sense to throw the book away reverting to his native intelligence which may be a subtle comment on How To books by Burroughs.
ERB always considered himself of the executive class. After his humiliating experience trying to sell door to door he never attempted it again. Instead as a master salesman he preferred to write how to sales manuals for others to use as they went door to door selling his line of pencil sharpeners or whatever while he sat in the office waiting for orders. Hence in his own life he was the ‘rustler of poetry’ or manuals while others rustled grub in the door to door humiliation of the actual selling. Here the Kid will do the door to door gig. ERB always makes me smile.
In this case in what may be a joke the Kid just buys the goods from the homeowner reversing the roles.
There are those who insist Burroughs can’t write but I find his stuff wonderfully condensed getting more mileage out of each word than anyone else I’ve ever read. Just see how he describes breakfast.
Shortly after, the water coming to a boil, Bridge lowered three eggs into it, glanced at his watch (an affluent hobo) greased one of the new cleaned stove lids with a piece of bacon rind and laid out as many strips of bacon as the lid would accommodate. Instantly the room was filled with the delicious odor of frying bacon.
“M-m-m-m!” gloated the Oskaloosa Kid. “I wish I had bo- asked for more. My! But I never smelled anything so good in all my life. Are you going to boil only three eggs? I could eat a dozen”
“The can’ll only hold three at a time,” explained Bridge. “we’ll have some boiling while we are eating these.” He borrowed the knife from the girl, who was slicing and buttering bread with it, and turned the bacon swiftly and deftly with the point, then he glanced at his watch. “Three minutes are up.” He announced and, with a couple small flat sticks saved for the purpose from the kindling wood, withdrew the eggs one at a time from the can.
“But we have no cups!” exclaimed the Oskaloosa Kid, in sudden despair.
Bridge laughed. “Knock an end off your egg and the shell will answer in place of a cup. Got a knife?”
The Kid didn’t. Bridge eyed him quizzically. “You must have done most of your burgling near home,” he commented.
The description of the breakfast between the time Bridge looked at his watch and when the three minutes were up was delightfully done. I could smell the bacon myself while I especially like the detail of swiftly and deftly turning the bacon with the knife point. The knife seemed to have disappeared between the bacon and knocking the end off the egg.
Nice details aren’t they? You’d almost think Burroughs had actually done things like this for years. There’s enough blank spots in his life that he may have had more experiences of this sort than we know about. Take for instance the three days in Michigan between the writing of Out There Somewhere and Bridge And The Oskaloosa Kid. He says it took him twelve hours by train on four different lines to return to Coldwater from Alma. It is not impossible that he was hoboing back for the experience. He knew that he was going to write Bridge And The Kid next; might he not have been picking up local color?
Likewise in Bridge And The Kid he mentions the road from Berdoo to Barstow with seeming familiarity. Had he met Knibbs and the two embarked on a few days road trip as the expert Knibbs showed him some of the ropes?
I don’t know but there is something happening in his life which has not been explained.
Perhaps also the hoboism which appears in 1915-17 in his work when by all rights his success should have permitted him entry into more exalted social circles symbolized a rejection by so-called polite society. If so, why? Certainly the serialization of Tarzan Of The Apes in the Chicago paper must have raised eyebrows when people said something like: Is that the same Edgar Rice Burroughs who’s been tramping around town for the last several years?
After all people live in a town where a reputation is attached to them whether earned or not. In reviewing the jobs Burroughs had after he left Sears, Roebuck there is a certain unsavory character to them. Indeed, one employer, a patent medicine purveyor was shut down by the authorities while ERB then formed a partnership with this disgraced person. Where was Burroughs when the authorities showed up to shut the business down? I make no moral judgments. I’m of the Pretty Boy Floyd school of morality: Some will rob you with a six gun, some use a fountain pen. Emasculation is the name of the game.
It is certainly true that many, perhaps most, of the patent medicines of the time were based on alcohol and drugs therefore either addictive or harmful to the health. Samuel Hopkins Adams was commissioned by Norman Hapgood of Collier’s magazine to write a series of articles exposing the patent medicine business in 1906.
http://www.mtn.org/quack/ephemera/oct7.htm . A consequence of the articles may very well have been the shutting down of Dr. Stace. I think it remarkable that Burroughs didn’t distance himself from Stace at that time.
Even as Adams was presenting his research on patent medicines Upton Sinclair was exposing the hazards of the Chicago meat packing industry whose products were no less hazardous to the public health than patent medicines. Sinclair’s book, The Jungle, as well as perhaps Adams’ articles resulted in the Pure Food And Drug Act of 1906.
The products of meatpackers were so bad the British wouldn’t even feed them to their Tommies. That’s pretty bad.
So, if the Staces of the world were criminal and ought to be put out of business then by logic so should have the Armours and Swifts but what in our day would be multi-billion dollar industries don’t get shut down for the minor offence of damaging the health of millions.
One can’t be sure of Burroughs’ reasoning but his writing indicates that he was keenly aware of the hypocrisy of legalities. Perhaps for that reason he stuck by Dr. Stace.
However Stace was put out of business and the Armours and Swifts weren’t. While I applaud ERB’s steadfastness I deplore his lack of judgment for surely his reputation was tarred with the same brush as Dr. Stace.
When society figures may have asked who this Edgar Rice Burroughs was they were given, perhaps, a rundown on Dr. Stace and patent medicines as well as other employments that seem a little murky to us at present. I’m sure the ERB was seen as socially unacceptable. Thus Bridge who has lived among the hoboes has never partaken of their crimes so there is no reason for society to reject him especially as he is the son of a millionaire.
In any event ERB left Chicago for the Coast returning in 1917 then leaving for good at the beginning of 1919. Life ain’t easy. Ask me.
As Bridge, the Kid and the putative Abigail Prim were finishing breakfast the great detective Burton pulls up in front of the Squibbs place. Burton is obviously a combination of Sherlock Holmes and Allan Pinkerton. We have been advised of the Holmes connection in the opening paragraphs of this book. ERB describes Burton thusly:
Burton made no reply. He was not a man to jump to conclusions. His success was largely due to the fact that he assumed nothing; but merely ran down each clew quickly yet painstakingly until he had a foundation of fact upon which to operate. His theory was that the simplest way is always the best way. And so he never befogged the main issue with any elaborate system of deductive reasoning based on guesswork. Burton never guessed. He assumed that it was his business to know; nor was he on any case long before he did know. He was employed now to find Abigail Prim. Each of the several crimes committed the previous night might or might not prove a clew to her whereabouts; but each must be run down in the process of elimination before Burton could feel safe in abandoning it.
That’s a pretty good understanding of Doyle’s presentation of Holmes. ERB did learn Holmes’ dictum that it was necessary to read all the literature on the subject to understand the mentality of one’s subjects. Burton did demonstrate some acumen in his arrest of Dopey Charlie and the General. He deployed an agent fifty yards below and fifty yards above to converge on the two criminals while he approached from the front. Either Burroughs had been doing some reading of his own or he picked up some experience or information from elsewhere.
Another keen point was when Burton went back to where the hoboes had been hiding to dig up the evidence they had concealed that would lead to their conviction for the Baggs murder.
It’s little details like these that always make me wonder where Burroughs picked up this stuff. He does it all so naturally but one can’t write what one doesn’t know. He must have been a curious man, good memory.
So Burroughs has a a pretty good understanding of the methods of Sherlock Holmes. It must be remembered that ERB was reading these stories as they first appeared not as we do as part of literature. Holmes, O.Henry, Jack London, E.W. Hornung, these were all fresh new and extremely stimulating with a great many references and inferences which are undoubtedly lost on us. Even in Bridge And The Kid ERB’s reference to the Kid’s bringing home the bacon is a direct reference to a quip the mother of the ex-heavyweight champion of the world Jack Johnson made just after he won the championship from Jim Jeffries: He said he’d bring home the bacon and he’s done it. I don’t doubt if many caught it then but I’m sure the phrase has become such a commonplace today that only a very few catch the reference and share the laugh.
Doyle’s stories such as A Study In Scarlet dealing with the Mormons and The Valley Of Fear dealing with the Molly Maguires would have had much more thrilling immediacy for ERB than they do for us. Also Burroughs has caught the essence of Holmes which was not so much the stories as the method of Holmes.
I have read the canon four times and while I could not reconstruct any of the stories without difficulty, if at all, maxims like- When you eliminate the impossible whatever remains no matter how improbable must be the truth. – have lodged in my mind since I was fourteen guiding my intellect to much advantage. So also the dictum to read all the literature. Not easy or even possible, but the more one has read the or read again the more things just fall in place without any real effort. You have to be able to remember, remembrance being the basis of all mind, of course. Holmes has been like a god to me.
If you wish to learn a source of Burroughs’ stories then all you have to do is apply the above methods; it will all become clear.
Burton moves the story forward as his appearance causes Bridge who isn’t sure what the status of the Kid and the putative Gail Prim is, elects to avoid the great detective even though they are friends.
The trio slip out the back into the woods following a track leading to ‘Anywhere’. Burroughs in a masterful telling catches the feel of a Spring day on a recently wetted trail littered with the leaves of yesteryear. Ou sont les neiges d’antan?
They come upon a clearing where a gypsy woman is burying a body. By this time Bridge has solved the mysteries of the previous evening.
The girls make noises upon hearing the clank of a chain in a hovel causing the gypsy woman to look around. Rather than spotting the trio she spots Willie Case hiding in the bushes who she drags out.
The gypsy woman, Giova, is as good a character as Bridge, the Kid, Burton and the hoboes, but my favorite of the story is Willie Case, the fourteen year old detective. While to my mind ERB presents Willie as a thoroughly admirable character, he nevertheless vents a suppressed mean streak not only on Willie but on the whole Case family.
ERB doesn’t let his mean streak show very often, it lurks in the background, but he lets it loose in this book. He must have been under personal stress.
He describes Willie as having no forehead and no chin, imbecilic traits, literally beginning with the eyebrows and ending with the lips. A freak of nature, a real grotesque. That means that Willie was a real ‘low brow’ as Emma accused ERB of being, even a no brow. Is it a coincidence that Emma called ERB a low brow or that the literati thought ERB wrote ‘low brow’ literature?
In point of fact Willie strikes me as an intelligent boy. He analyzes the situation always being in the right place at the right moment. Burton himself pays him a high but sneering compliment then cheats him out of the promised reward of a hundred dollars but in the manner McClurg’s published his books Burroughs was cheated out of a large part of his reward.
I don’t say that’s the case but if so it fits the facts.
In any event ERB treats the Case family meanly; they might almost be prototypes of Ma and Pa Kettle of the Egg and I or the meanly portrayed characters of Erskine Caldwell’s Tobacco Road. Jeb Case behaves very reprehensively at the lynching although once again he merely reported the facts that the Kid gave Willie. The Kid did tell Willie that he had burgled a house and killed a man. So, perhaps ERB created some characters that he could kick around as he felt himself being kicked.
And then we have the gypsy woman, Giova. She and her father are not only pariahs in general society as gypsies but because of her father they even have been cast out by the gypsies. Her father was a thief from both general and gypsy society. The former may have been laudable in gypsy terms but the latter wasn’t. They make, or made their living by thieving and cadging coins with Beppo, their dancing bear. Beppo of the evil eye.
Burroughs presents Giova as being sexually attractive with lips that were made for kissing, in echo of the refrain from Out There Somewhere. Here we may have a first inference that Emma was in trouble; the kind of trouble that would have ERB leaving her for another woman a decade or so hence. There are numerous rumblings indicating the trend not least of which was ERB’s fascination with Samuel Hopkin Adams’ novel, Flaming Youth of a few years hence and the subsequent movie starring Colleen Moore.
Bridge is now on the run with three women and a bear and he hasn’t done anything wrong to get into such hot water. One woman his emergent Anima, one, his rejected Anima, and the last a longing for a woman whose lips were made for kissing. Wow! This is all taking place in a ravine that opens into a small valley too.
All this has been accomplished in a compact one hundred pages. One third of the book is left for the denouement that Burroughs scamps as he usually does.
Giova decks them all out as gypsies which must have been an amusing sight to the Paysonites as this troop of madcaps complete with dancing bear in tow troop inconspicuously through town. Surprised they didn’t call out the national guard just for that.
As the story draws to a close ERB contributes a wonderful vignette of low brow Willie dining out at a ‘high brow’ restaurant called the Elite in Payson. The idea of Willie being conspicuous in a burg like Payson which we big city people would refer to as a hick town good only for laughs is amusing in itself. You know, it all depends on one’s perspective:
Willie Case had been taken to Payson to testify before the coroner’s jury investigating the death of Giova’s father, and with the dollar which the Osklaloosa Kid had given him in the morning burning in his pocket had proceeded to indulge in an orgy of dissipation the moment that he had been freed from the inquest. Ice cream, red pop, peanuts, candy, and soda water may have diminished his appetite but not his pride, and self-satisfaction as he sat down and by night for the first time in a public eatery place Willie was now a man of the world, a bon vivant, as he ordered ham and eggs from the pretty waitress of The Elite Restaurant on Broadway; but at heart he was not happy for never before had he realized what a great proportion of his anatomy was made up of hands and feet. As he glanced fearfully at the former, silhouetted against the white of the table cloth, he flushed scarlet, assured as he was that the waitress who had just turned away toward the kitchen with his order was convulsed with laughter and that every other eye in the establishment was glued upon him. To assume an air of nonchalance and thereby impress and disarm his critics Willie reached for a toothpick in the little glass holder near the center of the table and upset the sugar bowl. Immediately Willie snatched back the offending hand and glared ferociously at the ceiling. He could feel the roots of his hair being consumed in the heat of his skin. A quick side glance that required all his will power to consummate showed him that no one appeared to have noticed his faux pas and Willie was again slowly returning to normal when the proprietor of the restaurant came up from behind and asked him to remove his hat.
Never had Willie Case spent so frightful a half hour as that within the brilliant interior of the Elite Restaurant. Twenty-three minutes of this eternity was consumed in waiting for his order to be served and seven minutes in disposing of the meal and paying his check. Willie’s method of eating was in itself a sermon on efficiency- there was no waste motion- no waste of time. He placed his mouth within two inches of his plate after cutting his ham and eggs into pieces of a size that would permit each mouthful to enter without wedging; then he mixed his mashed potatoes in with the result and working his knife and fork alternatively with bewildering rapidity shot a continuous stream of food into his gaping maw.
In addition to the meat and potatoes there was one vegetable side dish on the empty plate, seized a spoon in lieu or a knife and fork and – presto! The side dish was empty. Where upon the prune dish was set in the empty side-dish- four deft motions and there were no prunes in the dish. The entire feat had been accomplished in 6:34 ½ , setting a new world’s record for red headed farm boys with one splay foot.
In the remaining twenty-five and one half seconds Willie walked what seemed to him a mile from his seat to the cashier’s desk and at the last instant bumped into a waitress with a trayful of dishes. Clutched tightly in Willie’s hand was thirty-five cents and his check with a like amount written upon it. Amid the crash of crockery which followed the collision Willie slammed check and money upon the cashier’s desk and fled. Nor did he pause until in the reassuring seclusion of a dark side street. There Willie sank upon the curb alternately cold with fear and hot with shame, weak and panting, and into his heart entered the iron of class hatred, searing it to the core.
The above passage has many charms. First, it is an excellent piece of nostalgia now, although at the time it represented the actuality, thus, as a period piece it is an accurate picture of the times. And then it is excellent comedy as well as a a parody as I will attempt to show.
One has to wonder if ERB really thought the Elite was a pretty fine restaurant. If so, one wonders where he took Emma and kids for a night out. Not too many gourmet Chicago restaurants served breakfast for dinner. Ham and eggs with mashed potatoes? Reminds me of the Galt House Hotel in Louisville where a ‘starch’ is served as a side dish. What exactly was this side-dish Willie wolfed- stewed tomatoes? The dessert prunes- dessert prunes?- was a nice touch too. Dessert for breakfast? Another nice quality touch at the Elite was the cup of toothpicks. Of course, those were the days cuspidors were de riguer so what do I know, maybe the Palmer House had a cup of toothpicks on the table too. I know they had cuspidors.
It does seem clear that little Willie was far down the social scale of little rural Payson. They had electric street lights, though. I’m not even from New York City but I would find the Elite, how shall I say, quaint and charming? Of course, New York City is not what it used to be either. Can’t fool me in either case; I’ve dined out in Hannibal. Good prices. Bountiful. Plenty of side dishes something that I’d never seen before.
I’m sure I’ve been in Willie’s shoes, or would have been if he’d chosen to wear them, too, so I have a great deal of sympathy for the lad. A man with a dollar has the right to spend where and as he chooses. Damn social hypocrisy!
In addition to the charm and light comedy ERB interjects a little parody of Taylorism and mass production into the mix.
For those not familiar with Frederick W. Taylor and his methods I quote from
Taylor wrote “The Principles of Scientific Management in 1911. These principles became known as Taylorism. Some of the principles of Taylorism include (Management for Productivity, John R. Schermerhorn, Jr. (1991)):
Develop a ‘science’ for every job, including rules of motion, standardized work implements, and proper working conditions.
Carefully select workers with the right abilities for the job.
Carefully train these workers to do the job, and give them proper incentives to cooperate with the job science.
Support these workers by planning their work and by smoothing the way as they go about their jobs.
Taylorism which led to maximum efficiency also give the lie to the unconscious of Sigmund Freud, or at least puts it into perspective. If the twentieth century has been the history of the devil of Freud’s unconscious it has also been the century of the triumph of the god of conscious intelligence. The question only remains which will triumph.
One of the recurring themes in ERB’s writing of the period is efficiency. Indeed, a couple years hence he will write a book entitled The Efficiency Expert.
It was the age of efficient mass production which required standardized motions and produced terrific results where applied as at Henry Ford’s marvelously efficient factories. Ford brought the task to the worker in well lighted clean factory spaces at a level which required no time consuming, fatiguing and unnecessary lifting or bending. Plus Henry Ford blew the industrial world away by doubling the going wage for unskilled labor. He changed the course of economic history singlehanded. He achieved more than the Communists or IWW could have accomplished in a million years earning their undying enmity. He may in one fell swoop have defeated the Reds. They sure thought so.
But, go back and review how Willie organizes his repast for consumption. Taylor-like he eliminated all non-essential motions then with maximum assembly line speed-up he gets production into one continuous stream.
A comic effect to be sure but there is even more comedy in the parody of the assembly line and Taylorism. I’m sure ERB intended it just that way.
Willie may be a joke but there is a certain flavor to be obtained by filling a continuum of food, mouth and time. Such an opportunity for enjoyment may present itself once in ten years or so. Willie saw his opportunity and seized it which he does throughout the story. Willie is OK with me.
I have eaten that way but I now reserve the method for ice cream and highly recommend it. My last opportunity, they present themselves but rarely and can’t be forced, was several years ago when I was insultingly offered a half melted Cherries Jubilee. The dish was of a perfect consistency for assembly line consumption. I saw my chance and like Willie, I took it. I kind of distributed cherries and ice cream chunks in the creamy stew, got mouth in the right position and cleaned the bowl in sixty seconds flat, reared back gripping the bridge of my nose, honked a couple times as the freeze seized my brain and then took a few minutes for consciousness to return. One of the great natural highs in this drug infested time. I tell ya‘, fellas, they was all lookin’ at me but I am much beyond the iron of class hatred. If they can’t take a joke…well, you know the finish. So I think Willie Case did the right thing.
Clumsy waitress to get in his way anyway. Fourteen hours on the job was no excuse.
Willie didn’t feel guilt for too long though, for what ERB calls a faux pas, it put him in the right place at the right time to see Giova and her dancing bear fresh from Beppo’s own slops. How could ERB be so cruel to a dumb animal- the bear, not Willie-, one that was going to save the heroine’s life- both the bear and Willie.
After having had dinner and refreshments Willie still had 20 cents left from a dollar of which he spent 10 cents for a detective movie and had ten cents left over for a long distance phone call to Burton in Oakdale after he spotted Giova and her dancing bear when he came out of the movie theatre.
He followed Giova to Bridge and the girls, fixed their location then called Burton. Not only did Willie spot the fugitives but so did the four leftover bums. Dopey Charlie and the General were impounded for the Baggs murder while we will learn that the real Oskaloosa Kid and the putative Gail Prim remain as well perhaps as the true identity of L. Bridge.
Burroughs is full of interesting details. The hoboes are gathered in an abandoned electrical generating plant which had formerly served Payson but had been discontinued for a larger plant servicing Payson from a hundred miles away. We don’t know when that might have happened but electrical generation and distribution was relatively new. The consolidation into larger generating units was even newer. Samuel Insull, whose electrical empire collapsed about1938 had begun organizing distribution in 1912 when he formed the Mid-West Utilities in Chicago absorbing all the smaller companies such as this one in Payson obviously.
I find details like this the exiting part of reading Burroughs.
The murderous hoboes set out to rob and kill Bridge and the Kid while Sky Pilot and Dirty Eddie elect themselves to return the putative Gail Prim who we will learn is actually Hettie Penning, thus doubling ERB’s Anima figure and connecting the latter to the former.
One is put in mind of the Hettie of H.G. Wells’ novel In The Days Of The Comet. Both Hetties exhibit the same traits. While it may seem a slender connection, still, ERB has so many references to other authors and their works that the connection is not improbable. For obvious reasons ERB always insisted he had never read H.G. Wells. Wells? Wells, who?, but how could he not have?
Bridge and the girls would have met their end except that Willie Case’s call brought Burton on the run who arrives in time to save their lives. Unfortunately Beppo of the evil eye meets his end after having done Burton’s job for him much as Willie always did.
In between the girls, the ‘boes, Bridge and the coppers Burton has a full load so he drops Bridge and Kid at the Payson jail. Willie Case had not only solved the case for the ingrate Burton but saved the life of Gail Prim posing as the Oskaloosa Kid. In a heart wrenching scene little Willie seeking his just reward is cruelly rejected and cheated by the Great Detective. I don’t know, maybe I read too closely and get too involved. Or, just maybe, ERB is a great writer.
It’s all over but the shouting and along comes the mob howling from Oakdale for the blood of Bridge and the Kid. I tell ya, boys, it wuz close. Burton arrived in time but not before Bridge with a well aimed blow broke Jeb Case’s jaw. What did those Cases ever do to ERB I wonder?
In the end Hettie Penning is identified, clearing up that mystery. Burton is able to tell Bridge’s dad who has spent $20,000 looking for him that he is found. It may even have cost less for Stanley to find Livingston. Of course there was a lousy rail system in the Congo in Livingston’s time. Bridge is united with Gail obviously prepared to renounce the roving life. Thus the promise of Out There Somewhere is redeemed. Bridge has found his woman.
Thus on paper, at least, Burroughs is reunited with his Animus in gorgeous female attire. No more men in women’s clothes or women in men’s clothes.
Bridge And The Kid is a very short book, only 152 pages in my Charter paperback edition of 1979 (Septimius Favonius BB #24. Charter didn’t see fit to include a date.) Although first issued in book form so late as 1937, it was reprinted in 1938 and 1940 so there must have been some early readers however when reprinted in 1974 there could have been few who remembered it.
My fellow writer, David Adams wrote a short review in the same issue #24 of the Burroughs Bulletin, October 1995, in which he also recognized the importance of this book to the corpus:
It may come as a surprise that anyone could possibly think of calling the novelette, THE OAKDALE AFFAIR, a major work of such a prolific writer as Edgar Rice Burroughs, but I found it to be such an animal…
I am unaware that any other than Mr. Adams and myself have reviewed the book. To sum up:
There seems to be an obvious connection to Jack London in the Bridge Trilogy (I prefer Bridge to Mucker because the latter draws reproving stares and no one today knows what a mucker is. It sounds slightly obscene.)
Mr. Adams, who is more of an authority on Jack London than myself, I’ve only begun to read London as a result of Bill Hillman’s series of articles in ERBzine, which posits a strong connection between Burroughs and London, and not the other way around, feels the novels have a great deal to do with London. The connection seems to be there but I have only begun to read London’s relevant or major works.
What ERB’s attitude towards London may have been which seems ambiguous isn’t clear. Burroughs never wrote about London and never mentions him explicitly. There are many points of disagreement between the two politically and socially. Burroughs does seem to have liked London and his work although what he read or when he read it isn’t clear. There are no London titles in his library.
The second major influence in the novel is the problem of hoboism connected with the IWW and labor unrest.
In the background Burroughs is working out his Anima/Animus problem.
The whole is framed in the form of a rather magnificent detective story patterned after Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories with a dash, perhaps a soupcon, of E.W. Hornung thrown in.
Attention should be paid to the psychological aspects.
Many of ERB’s favorite themes such as the efficiency expert are also thrown in. Nifty historical details like Samuel Insull’s electrical empire are added to the mix as well as Taylorism.
If anything ERB was too efficient, too economical in his use of words. The Book could easily have been fleshed out another sixty or hundred pages with no loss in the marvelous immediacy of the telling. If anything the story is too condensed. I found myself pausing over each description to recreate a mental image of the depiction. I was willing to do so and the personal reward was great. How much ERB was the creator of my vision of the story and how much my own as collaborator isn’t clear to me. Perhaps ERB just outlined the story ‘suggesting’ the scenario, expecting the reader to ‘customize’ the story as he reads along. This may be the first ‘inter-active’ novel. If so, Burroughs may be an even more innovative and greater writer than he is commonly thought to be.
March 14, 2012
Edgar Rice Burroughs And The Accreted Personality
Time may fly but life seems long. Long enough for circumstances to alter your personality more than once. Consider for instance the National Guardsman secure in job, wife and family who is jerked out of his ideal existence to take a tour of duty in Iran or Afghanistan, foreign wars which betray the promises of his enlistment which were to defend his home state. Do you think a personality change didn’t occur when he received his notice? If he was kept in for several tours of duty over a period of years so that his former existence doesn’t appear to him as a dream that took place in a parallel universe? And if he comes home without an arm or a leg or, perhaps, both, that he doesn’t suffer from reminiscences or have a dual or multiple personality. You can bet he does. Nor does your life have to be as hard as the National Guardsman for your own personality to acquire personality accretions over your lifetime, all of which are stored in your mind and may be reassumed at any time.
As I said in the first part, these various existential states don’t disappear, they become part of your reminiscences whether suppressed or remembered and as possible fixations or idees fixe they influence your daily actions.
So now, let’s turn to the life of Edgar Rice Burroughs to illustrate the idea of the accreted personality. Psychology is simple if you don’t make it complex by mystifying it. I hope I can make Burroughs’ story clear without unnecessarily complicating it. I will try to use Occam’s Razor judiciously.
Edgar Rice Burroughs, who would become very famous as a fiction writer, entered this world of pain of pleasure on September 7, 1875 in Chicago, Illinois. He was parented by George T. and Mary Burroughs, he of Anglo-Irish ancestry and she of Pennsylvania Dutch, that is say, German. Eddie always considered himself pure English at a time when being English meant something, a much depreciated coin these days.
George T. was an upright man who had been an officer on the Union side in the Civil War a scant ten years previously. George Custer had not yet gone down at the Little Big Horn nor was Sitting Bull yet starring in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West. George T. had two other sons, George and Harry, who were born just after the Civil War.
George T. was a whisky distiller while at this time the Whisky Trust was coming into existence. George T. was an independent sort who needed the Trust less than they wanted him. I don’t say the Trust was responsible but George T. was burned out. Chicago loved a good fire.
The relationship between Ed and his parents was not a warm one. His father made his life difficult, seemingly on purpose, while his mother seems to have been rather cold. Burroughs seldom mentions her nor were any of his characters named Mary, or George for that matter.
Nevertheless, born into a world of creature comforts with high expectations in a fine house on Chicago’s West Side with two Irish maids Ed began life in a happy state of mind walking down the street singing Zippity Do Dah or the equivalent. He stayed that way for about eight years until his first personality changing event occurred.
Eddie attended Brown School in his neighborhood. I haven’t been able to find out much about Brown but the schools stands out as special in Ed’s mind. The school had several prominent graduates one of which was the showman, Flo Ziegfeld. As Ziegfeld was Jewish it is quite possible the school was close to Maxwell St. Maxwell St. would figure prominently in Ed’s later novel, The Mucker.
One day when Ed was eight he found a big twelve year old Irish kid by the name of John belligerently blocking his way. It isn’t known whether he was walking with future wife Emma Hulbert or not but I suspect he was. At any rate John threatened to beat him up. Thoroughly terrorized Ed took to his heels and as he did so several suggestions entered his terrorized mind. To be in terror is to enter a hypnoid state in which all ones psychic defenses are lowered or discarded. Suggestions are easily fixated in your mind. Thus at the age of eight Ed’s original personality was submerged, he assumed his central childhood fixation. Not only was he emasculated on his Animus but, perhaps because he shamed himself in front of Emma, he transferred his Anima to John; he then set up John as his ideal of manhood wishing to be just like him.
The result was that John became his favorite name. In his future novels he named a disproportionate number of characters both good and bad John. His two key characters were both named John- John Clayton, aka Tarzan Of The Apes and John Carter of Mars. Both have the initials JC referring to Jesus Christ, one supposes. Thus on the masculine side their names commemorate John the Bully while on the feminine side Jesus Christ. Ed also wore a book under the assume name of John McCullough.
As Ed was shamed by running, defenses against cowardice are liberally sprinkled throughout his works with justifications for the advance to the rear maneuver, or running.
Particularly troubling to him was the occupation of his Anima by a male. Probably not very usual but given the limited range of responses available to humans, probably not that uncommon. But this result of the fixation was particularly troubling to him appearing in a succession of his initial output of the ‘teens.
The clearest exposition of the results of this fixation was reproduced in the pages of Ed’s second novel, The Outlaw Of Torn. The hero of the novel is a boy of Ed’s age on the street corner, who is the king of England’s son c. 1400 AD. The King has a quarrel with his fencing instructor, De Vac, who then avenges himself by kidnapping the son, Norman.
The scene is that Norman is playing in the garden under the watchful eye of his nurse/Anima when De Vac appears outside the garden gate- I. e. Ed’s mind- luring Norman to him. Norman has passed the gate when his nurse who had been chatting with another woman notices. She rushed through the gate where De Vac struck her dead. Thus his Anima was outside Ed’s mind when she was destroyed.
Now, this is the replication of a dream story. The meaning is that Norman/Ed was safe inside when De Vac/John caught him, as it were, with his pants down, killing and assuming the role of his Anima. The nurse represents his Anima or right brain which was then disabled.
So, as an eight year old boy Eddie has an emasculated Animus, left brain, and destroyed or shattered Anima, right brain. This has to be dealt with in some way so he can carry on and survive.
What Burroughs does then is create a myth to repair the damage as well as he can. De Vac now on the run with his prize who he must conceal takes Norman to a three story house in the slums of London built on stilts out over the water of the River Thames. The two live in this attic/mind for three or four years. During this entire period De Vac is dressed as an old woman. So, here we have the emasculated Animus combined with the dead Anima with the waters of the feminine flowing beneath the house, I.e. Burroughs’ self.
The two live this way for three or four years, Norman never leaving the attic. At the end of this period De Vac dons men’s clothes and takes Norman to a ruined castle in the Shires. The remarkable thing about this castle is that on one side, the right side, the roof has completely fallen in, can’t be used.
The interpretation is that Ed so identified himself with John that he had to put his own life on hold until he turned twelve, the same age John had been. At that point he recovered or began to recover some control of his Animus while his Anima remained destroyed.
De Vac then began to train Norman in the manly arts to be a killing machine to attain physical vengeance for De Vac on the King.
One can’t be sure of what effect the encounter had on his personality but the next year after the confrontation his father took him from Brown transferring him to an all girl’s school. George T.’s reason for this was that there was a fever going around and he wanted to protect Ed from it. How one would be safe from a communicable disease in a girl’s school isn’t clear so perhaps Ed’s father had another reason.
In Ed’s psychological state it is not unlikely that he went into a fairly serious depression while emasculated and crippled he may have become very effeminate. The placement in the girl’s school may have been one of disgust and to teach the boy a lesson to act like a man.
The humiliation on top of the emasculation was difficult for Ed to bear. He pleaded and pleaded to be transferred from the girl’s school. His pleas were heard although his father didn’t send him back to Brown but a couple miles across town to Chicago’s Harvard Latin School where Ed stayed through what would have been his Junior High years. During this period, the date isn’t clear, Ed fell off his bicycle banging his head against the curb; it isn’t known whether it was the right or left side. This left him dizzy and walking round in circles for three or four days, then the obvious effects disappeared. George T. then jerked him out the Latin School and sent him West to his brothers’ cattle ranch in Idaho. He doesn’t seem to have attended any school for the year he was in Idaho. However he learned to be a cowboy and had a great time.
Even without school the period was not without intellectual stimulation. George and Harry Burroughs were graduates of the Sheffield Scientific School attached to Yale University but not yet integrated with it, along with their partner Lew Sweetser. Sweetser was a fairly remarkable guy deeply interested in psychology when the subject was just beginning to assume its modern form.
William James had just published his two volumes on Psychology but I haven’t been able to discover who Sweetser’s teachers may have been at Yale. Departments of Psychology were rare at American Universities in the 1880s. However, as Sweetser apparently studied whatever psychology was available it seems certain that he would have been at least aware of Charcot’s experiments at the Salpetriere that were world famous. It is also clear that he was familiar with the idea of the sub- or unconscious. However much Ed may have retained, as he himself was relatively well informed on psychological matters when he began writing the foundations of his knowledge were probably formed at Sweetser’s knee.
Having left Ed in the wilderness for a year, George T. then moved him to the East Coast to Massachusetts’ Phillips Academy. Ed was now being moved around almost with the frequency of a military brat with its devastating personality consequences. Having consorted with a rough bunch of fellows for a year, Ed was now in an elite school without a great deal of preparation.
He was in Idaho at the end of Wyoming’s Johnson County War when the big ranchers squeezed out the small ranchers. Many of the small ranch soldiers whose shootings were classified as murders had fled to Idaho where Ed knew one or two; from the company of murderers, or killers at any rate, he was now in with a bunch of elitist schoolboys.
When his brothers had attended Yale their father had refused them an allowance that would have allowed them to associate with their richer school fellows as equals. If he continued the practice with Ed at Phillips then an extra burden was placed on the kid that would help explain his behavior. At any rate he assumed the posture of clown to gain acceptance while neglecting his studies. Naturally he was requested to leave.
Certainly he could have expected to return home and attend school in Chicago but this was not his father’s plan. His father enrolled him at the Michigan Military Academy outside Detroit billed as The Paris Of The West which is most laughable. This was the second great psychological trauma in his life adding another major accretion to his personality. Ed rebelled at being sent away again.
This was not merely rejection but also a condemnation of him by his father. As Ed saw the situation, with a great deal of accuracy, the Military Academy was just a holding pen for juvenile delinquents whose parents didn’t know how to handle them so they put them away in what was essentially an asylum or reform school where they could get some ‘discipline.’
Ed was horrified at these suggestions about himself coming from his own father. He rebelled at the rejection and its implications. He left the academy to return home or as his biographer Porges puts it, he ran away. George T. wasn’t going to put up with that. He collared Ed and dragged him back to Detroit, told him to stay put or…who can say or what? At any rate crushed and rejected Ed had no choice but to obey, but his mother and father died for him that day, slain by their own hand. Thus when Ed’s literary alter ego Tarzan came into existence in 1912 his parents had been slain by murderous apes and Tarzan was an orphan as Ed imagined himself.
Ed stayed at the Academy into 1896 when he was between twenty and twenty-one. He took the Commandant of the Academy, Charles King, as his surrogate father and mother. Because King was a captain in the Army, later a general, Ed decided he wanted to be an Army officer too. It is also noteworthy that King was a successful author of novels which Ed may have wanted to emulate when he too chose to become an author. One of King’s first novels was An Apache Princess while Ed’s first commercial effort was titled A Princess Of Mars.
Ed attempted in vain to win an appointment to West Point but failed. Then in 1896 while serving as an instructor at the Michigan Military Academy Ed foolishly abandoned his post choosing to join the Army as an enlisted man before the school term ended.
By now twenty years old his past with its many personality accretions had formed him. His original personality had been destroyed to be replaced by that caused by John. The accretions accumulated as he was shifted from school to school and West to East to MidWest leaving him dazed and confused while the final accretion of that youthful period was the devastating rejection by his parents all of which left him depressed and fatalistic. The high expectations of his childhood had been completely eliminated. The bright young boy had been transformed into a gloomy young man. But no former personality had disappeared; they all lived on in his unconscious where circumstances could revive any or all at the appropriate moment.
But, one is still alive and one must toddle on. Ed was not lazy or adverse to work. His intellectual interests were vast. He was a great wide ranging reader.
In the next part then, let’s turn to his personality forming accretions from reading and his general intellectual , social and political milieu.
December 16, 2011
ISIDOR SADGER RECOLLECTS FREUD
Emasculating Freudian Theory
…Jung had been infected with Aryan blood from his family.
Deep in his heart,
he was anything from a philosemite.
Now, however, he encountered Judaism
in its most highly gifted embodiment
Of Jewish knowledge shining in front of him.
Was it any wonder that he began by being blinded
With the feeling that never before had he stood before
The countenance of a greater genius?
But his lineage was not to be denied.
One day he sat down and carried out scholarly studies for months
Which resulted in his finding his way back
Through the Mithraic cult to primitive Christianity.
In practical terms
This may be seen that as a Christian prophet,
He fully stripped the libido of its sexual character
And reduced it to merely spiritual energy.
This was, so to speak, the decontamination
Of the poisonous Freudian teachings
Through Christianization and total cleansing.
But since the master could not easily go along
With the desexualization of his teaching,
Which went to the foundation of his theories,
He saw with a heavy heart
That he needed to cut the cord between him and the clinic. (Bergholzi)
Isidor Sadger, Recollecting Freud pp. 71-72
Sadger, Isidor: Recollecting Freud, 1930, first published 2005, UWisconsin
It is very difficult to know where to start in analyzing the above quote from Isidor Sadger. First it might be pertinent to identify Isidor Sadger. He had a history with Freud from 1895 into the 1930s. He attended with two others Freud’s first psychoanalytic lecture. He was a founding member of Freud’s Vienna Psychoanalytic Society. In 1930 he published this little volume of biographical notes on his relationship with Freud.
Freud’s circle did not take kindly to the publication of these memoirs doing everything they could to suppress them. In this they were successful. The book was never distributed and only rumored to be in print until this publication in 2005 by Alan Dundes and UWisconsin. Even acquiring a copy of the book by Dundes was nearly impossible. He relates pp. xlii-xliii:
When I looked up Sadger on my computer data base, I found not only the article (Sadger had written) in question but the title of a book: Sigmund Freud: Personliche Erwinnerunger. As I was not familiar with that work, I decided to send for it via interlibrary loan….In due course, the latter arrived but the effort to procure a copy of the former proved unsuccessful. I was informed that there was no known copy in the United States available for borrowing. Since I knew the book had been published in Vienna, I asked if we could try to locate a copy in Europe and the obliging staff in interlibrary loan agreed to do so. A few weeks later, I learned that there was no known copy in any European library available for borrowing.
I was told, however, that there was one, just one, copy listed that might be utilized and that copy was located in the library of Keio University in Japan. Again, inter library loan made a request on my behalf and this time with some partial success….I next asked interlibrary loan to request a photocopy of the entire book…The Keio University Mata Media Center informed (me) that it was unable to comply with my request….
…One of my anthropology doctoral students…was returning to Japan. I asked him to do me a favor and get me a photocopy…
Which he did and almost by a miracle the text was recovered to be published for human consumption some seventy-five years on. As Freud claimed to be a scientist one is amazed that supposed scientists would go so far as to deny publication of Sadger’s memoirs. But, so it was.
In tackling the quote from Sadger let me approach it from the point of view of ‘Jewish knowledge shining in front of him.’
One must ask the question of what is Jewish knowledge and how is it special to their culture? This is important not only from past implications but also in light of today’s Barbara Spectre and her Paideia organization whose intent is to place ‘Jewish knowledge’ on a par with Aryan knowledge or what Sadger calls Christian knowledge.
While Freud may have been a Jew working in the scientific field of psychology and psychiatry and while he may have made some important discoveries in the field that had been developed by Aryans his own contributions arose from that body of accumulated Aryan learning. Since Dr. Anton Mesmer in the mid-eighteenth century until Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams Aryans had been slowly accumulating the knowledge on which Freud built his theories. That knowledge had no racial identity per se nor did that which Freud added to it. As Freud claimed that he was a scientist then his contributions were scientific, not Jewish, and the common property of mankind. He may have been Jewish but the scientific field he was contributing to had no ethnic identity but Science, which is to say, none at all.
Sadger himself is taking a bigoted view in attempting to sequester Freud’s theories to the Jews. In fact, as Sadger indicates Freud did not want his theories to be studied and furthered by anyone else. When C.G. Jung, who Freud tried to make his disciple attempted to examine Freud’s concept of the libido and came to perhaps a more correct understanding of the concept, which after all was scientifically unproven, Freud broke off his relationship with him and the Bergholzli Clinic of Switzerland. He, in fact, severed any Aryan connections. He became interested only in Jewish contributions which then became Jewish knowledge in Sadger’s mind.
Sadger who had been Freud’s earliest disciple deeply coveted the role of being Freud’s pet or ‘favorite son.’ Freud for whom ambivalence was central to his character, even though he hated Aryans as a homosexual he was attracted to the ‘great blond beast’; hence, while carefully concealing his motive he selected Jung who had the requisite scientific qualification to be not his ‘son’ but a necessarily platonic lover. Sadger could never qualify.
Now, what was Jung’s sin that brought about his rejection by Freud:
One day (Jung) sat down and carried out scholarly studies for months which resulted in his finding his way back through the Mithraic cult to primeval Christianity…this may be seen as a Christian prophet, he fully stripped the libido of its sexual character and reduced it to merely spiritual energy.
So, having committed to Freud although ‘infected with Aryan blood from his family’ that he would abandon certain anti-Semitic understandings that he had. In what seems an obvious betrayal of his pledge to Sadger Jung ‘carried out scholarly studies for months; which resulted in his coming up with a different perception of the libido that downplayed the rutty sexual projection of Freud’s Jewish psyche for what Sadger terms Christian spirituality. To Sadger’s mind Jung had betrayed his pseudo-Judaism pledge to return to Christianity.
This raises several problems. Is anti-Semitism a mere prejudice or is it based on observations of how Semitism functions and its rejection on that basis? In other words, based on observed actions Semitism is rejected and not on prejudicial grounds but for accurate scientific reasons.
Further, in dogmatically insisting on his own interpretation of his creation, the libido, Freud was definitely unscientific. At the same time his topography of the mind was completely off base. In point of fact the libido is neither sexual nor spiritual, it doesn’t exist. While Freud had a good working hypothesis his ideas were merely that based on the scientific, not Jewish, knowledge of his time. Freud became dogmatic at a time when he knew, or should have known, what he didn’t know. There was a lot of physiology to be yet discovered that would uncover the biology of life.
This biology would be clarified in 1947 when Crick and Watson discovered the genetic code of DNA.
Freud in his rutty, close to pornographic, interest in sex, by which he meant sexual intercourse made the absurd statement that the more frequently a man ejaculated the better person he would be. Is it any wonder that Jung was turned away from Freud in disgust? While Freud may have thought he was severing ties with the Bergholzli; the reverse would seem to be true.
With the discovery of DNA the biology became clear making it possible to elucidate the psychological basis of sex based on that biology.
Freud frequently had the right idea but he seldom thought the application through being infected with his own need for greatness by creating a science of his very own and his Judaism to whose Weltanschauung he was totally committed as Sadger indicates.
To take the psychology first: Freud correctly differentiates between the individuals inner wishful thinking and his confrontation with outer reality. Or, in other words, religious superstition versus a scientific understanding of objective reality.
Thus, when the child is expelled from the womb he comes into contact with the outer world. Whatever conception of reality he had in the womb bears no relationship to the reality of the world beyond the womb. In the Freudian sense then the child’s mind is all Id with at best a nascent Ego. As Freud’s desideratum is Ego shall displace Id the child has some serious adjusting to do.
This adjustment is called experience and education. In the absence of education the child would grow up to be ignorant savage with an improper understanding of reality causing him to give all the wrong reasons for the phenomena he encounters. This being mankind’s original condition over the millennia this ignorance was replaced by religious speculation based solely on inner wishful thinking. Nor was not adequately understood. As people might, for instance, decide that they are the chosen people of their god, make that god a universal deity and then weave their notions of external reality around that projection. That was the condition of Freud and his Jewish people.
The conflict for Freud and his Jews became acute when the Aryans with a different Weltanschauung sought to understand external reality on its own terms and adjusted their inner world of wishful thinking to reflect as much as possible objective reality. When Freud mentions the science of Kepler and Darwin as being shocks to the human mind, he meant Jewish mind which was now faced with the irreconcilable fact that their Arien Age Weltanschauung being based on false data was obsolete. While Freud considered the organization of the mind the third great shock it was one that could be manipulated for his own ends, unlike Astronomy and Biology, and perverted to serve those ends. Hence his dogmatic and ridiculous view of the unconscious and sex.
Now let us look at the nature of the human sexual function. DNA with its double helix, one strand from each contributor, each remaining separate but combining information through bridges, visibly demonstrates how the entity is constructed. The spermatic strand contributed by the male forms the stronger, more active, and slightly larger right side of the body and left side of the brain; the ovate strand contributed by the female forms the weaker, more passive, slightly smaller left side of the body and right side of the brain.
This means that the Xy chromosome of the male carries a male version and a female version, thus there is a female component to the male. This was picked up the psychoanalysts as bi-sexuality in the carnal sense. This is not true. A man is not by nature available for sex by either sex. Hormones reaffirm the sexual identity.
As should be easy to see all activity is controlled by the brain. Information is communicated up and down the spinal cords which emanate from the brain. One cord for each chromosome. Thus, there is a nerve connection from each side of the brain to the commensurate testicle or ovary. Sperm is manufactured according to the dictates of the autonomic system. After one reaches puberty the seminal fluid builds up. Without any other release the fluid will discharge automatically whether one wills it or not; these are usually termed nocturnal emissions. These alone are all that is necessary to relieve the over supply.
As the only biological function of sex is reproduction the male is always ready to penetrate the female. In a normal psychological function a comfort level can be maintained by one or two ejaculations a day or even less. That Freud could make the absurd statement that the more ejaculations a day the better the person means that as a homosexual he had a psychic need or that the was merely trying to pervert Aryan society.
Now, the spinal cords run down the length of the body from the brain to the testicles where they terminate, making the brain and testicles a unit. Nerves run from the spine to the various organs. There we have the basis for psychosomatic reactions. While the cords are grounded at the testicles I believe they have more free play at the brain level. The bi-sexuality the psychoanalysts noted is caused by the Xy and XX chromosome combinations. Both Freud and Jung given the biology of their day had differently accounts for the apparent bi-sexuality thus they called the spermatic brain ending the Ego while Jung claimed that the male had an Anima and the female an Animus. In actuality both males and females have an Anima and an Animus or, in Freudian terms, a Libido and Ego.
Freud also discovered the concept of Emasculation. When the Ego or Animus, male or female, is given an affront or insult to which it cannot properly respond this creates a reaction or hypnotic suggestion that forms a fixation. This fixation will have a psychic or physical or both affect. Fixations are of different intensities and qualities; the most severe is the central childhood fixation, also with psychosomatic affects an example of which each fixation creates.
In the case of the homosexual the affront is give by the male who thus creates a severe psychosomatic reaction which is what homosexuality is. In the attempt to negate the reaction the homosexual then seeks to visit his fixations on other males while being compelled to seek multiple ejaculations many times a day which he equates with masculinity.
Thus a normal male can be satisfied with a normal schedule of ejaculation or relieving the pressure of the sperm build up, while a fixated person is compelled to more frequent ejaculation. Thus Freud completely misunderstood sex erring on the side of homosexual emasculation. Thus he was transferring his sexual neurosis or psychosis to Aryan society. Probably in vengeance as he undoubtedly believed his own emasculation was caused by Aryans.
So, Freud’s whole conception of sex is skewed and should be rejected, replaced by a more accurate and balanced interpretation. Jung had good reason to reject the libido or sexual theory of Freud that Sadger and the Psychoanalytic Society was required to embrace because Freud, their master, had spoken. Freud must, or should have known, the limits of the biological knowledge of his time while understanding that great advances would come that might invalidate or require adjustments to his theory. Therefore his attempt to dogmatize his first thoughts was unscientific to the extreme.
Contrary to Sadger’s orthodoxy Jung was quite right to pursue the libido theory further. In desexualizing it, in Sadger’s term, Jung was on the right track as Freud’s interpretation was absurd on the face of it. While Jung was certainly ‘infected’ with a Christian based view, as a scientist he was trying to give a scientific basis to sex rather than ‘Christianizing’ it as Sadger thought. But then, Sadger was definitely intellectually limited by his Judaism.
In using such terms Sadger gives away the intense Jewish separation of Jewish and Aryan Kulturs. There can be no specific Aryan or Jewish knowledge; there can only be one knowledge and that is Scientific truth. If you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen.
While Freud built his theories on Aryan scientific psychological investigations he then infused the knowledge with Jewish superstition and goals which bent the science of psychology back toward a religious application which Freud undoubtedly hoped would negate the Astronomical and Biological shocks to the foundations of Judaism or Semitism.
Not only had Freud and his followers buried the reputation of the great French psychologist, Pierre Janet, from whom they borrowed or stole so much but in their successful attempt to freeze psychoanalytic investigation into the Freudian framework they brutally slandered Jung while discrediting his own scientific work. It was not until the sixties of the twentieth century that Jung began to be understood and credited for his contributions which were certainly equal to and mainly independent of Freud.
Thus we have the persistence of Alan Dundes pursuit of Sadger’s little volume to thank for casting a few rays of light on this thorny problem of psychoanalysis.
November 8, 2011
Themes And Variations
The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs
#16 TARZAN AND THE LEOPARD MEN
How The Story Is Told
Obscure but persistent workers in these decades of disaster
Pieced together the puzzle bit by bit.
There is a scale of fantastic disproportion
Between the scale of the labourers and the immense consequences
The psychology of association,
Was a side of social biology that had been disregarded
Almost entirely before the time of which we are writing.
People still had only the vaguest ideas
of the social structure in and by which they lived.
They accepted the most arbitrary and simple explanations
Of their accumulated set of relationships
And they were oblivious even to fundamental changes in that set.
Wild hopes, delusions and catastrophes
–H.G. Wells, The Shape Of Things To Come, pp. 245-46
This is actually an interesting story. If you search for references they are there aplenty. I’ve already referred to some but another that might be overlooked is the apparent reference to Edward Bulyer-Lytton’s famous opening sentence to his 1830 novel Paul Clifford. The original goes:
It was a dark and story night, the rain fell in torrents- except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for this is in London our scene lies), rattling along the housetops and fiercely agitating the scanty flames of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.
There is even an annual contest to see who can write the most successful parody. The line has such a reputation that many writers seek to write a variation on it to open one of their own stories. ERB has successfully replicated the feel as this story opens on a dark and stormy night.
The lurid horror of the story is set in this opening scene in which the headman of Kali Bwana’s safari attempts to rape her. She shoots him but only wounds him in the arm. Her safari then deserts her leaving her alone in the middle of the Ituri Rain Forest where even on a bright sunny day the gloom is never lifted. Now, that was a dark and stormy night.
She is discovered by Old Timer who himself takes it into his mind to rape her. He is prevented from shaming himself by the abduction of Kali Bwana by the Leopard Men in his abscence. The story of Kali Bwana and Old Timer is set in motion then as he sets out to rescue her from the deplorable fate of being Leopard Goddess to the Leopard God.
The complementary story of Tarzan And The Leopard Men is set in motion by A. The murder of an African swain, Nyamwegi by the Leopard Men during the story. B. The felling of Tarzan by a blown down tree with subsequent amnesia and C. his rescue by Nyamwegi’s friend Orando and his assuming the identity of Orando’s guardian angel or muzimo.
We are first introduced to Old Timer as he sits around the campfire with his partner, The Kid. They are ivory poachers, very disreputable. They split up to search for elephant in two different areas which leads to Old Timer’s discovery of Kali Bwana.
The protagonists of the story are the Leopard Men. They are an African clandestine religious cult who terrorize all the tribes over a large but unspecified area although they originated in a far away place, probably the Calabar Coast as in real life. They have been active as far away as among Tarzan’s Kenyan Waziri which has drawn his attention to them. He doesn’t want that kind of trouble on his estate.
The Leopard Men were a real phenomenon although not too much is known about them. Burroughs was apparently working from newspaper or magazine articles about them, National Geographic maybe. If he had a book or two they don’t appear in his library. To accentuate their horrific nature ERB makes them not only murderous but cannibalistic. They probably were both.
Cannibalism is a theme which recurs throughout ERB’s corpus not just in his African novels. Whether he leaned on the ntion for horrific effect or whether it has some deeper psychological meaning for him I have yet to determine. The fate of the Donner Party with its alleged cannibalism has always been discussed in hushed tones in California so he may have picked up the theme from that although the theme was prominent in earlier novels like The Mucker and Marcia Of The Doorstep. Burroughs has a way of working it in.
It becomes necessary for the Old Timer to rescue Kali Bwana from the Leopard Men. The Utengans wish to destroy them while Tarzan’s goal for coming to the Utengan country in the first place was to seach out their ‘fabled village and temple.’ As ERB explains coincidence allowed Tarzan not only to discover them but to destroy them.
Old Timer in his attempt to rescue Kali Bwana is led to the town of Gato Mgungu who is the political leader of the Leopard Men. Old Timer who has traded with Mgungu never knew his connection with the Leopard Cult. Whereas before he was welcomed now he is made captive to become the feast at the Leopard cult orgy. Then to the temple where he discovers Kali Bwana decked out in the regalia of the Leopard cult presiding at the festivities.
Burroughs introduces some wonderful details such as that the high priest is a ventriloquist who has deluded the Leopard Men into believing that the Leopard God actually speaks in their dialect. Tarzan, watching from the rafters, on behlaf of the Utengans although he has neither heard or seen ventriloquism before applies his mighty intellect, this guy learned to read an unknown language from a picture book, to the problem of divining the secret. Of course Tarzan had been to Paris and was familiar with London music halls so ERB may be laying it on a little thick here. Tarzan was surely sophisticated enough to know of ventriloquism. In his defense, however, he was suffering from amnesia so that while he did know of ventriloquism he had to work it out anew. I do detect a slight inconsistency here nonetheless.
Let us retrace out steps to recover Tarzan’s story after he was released by Oranda the Utengan. Tarzan has absolutely no recollection of who he is or where. Thus when Orando suggests to him that he is his muzimo Tarzan readily accepts the role. His companion, Nkima the monkey, who has not lost his memory can’t understand why Tarzan doesn’t accept the information when he tells Tarzan that Tarzan is Tarzan and Nkima is Nkima and not the spirit of Nyamwegi. Tarzan is unconvinced and even Burroughs refers to Tarzan only as Muzimo until he regains his memory.
Muzimo and Orando then set out on the trail of the Leopard Men to avenge Nyamwegi. Four Leopard Men were involved. Muzimo and Oranda kill three while the fourth escapes.
The next task is lunch. For this Tarzan, who only kills for food, never for sport, dispatches an Okapi described as bigger than a cow. The two hunters cut off a couple pounds for lunch and leave the rest for roving scavengers.
The Okapi would have been unknown to most of Burroughs’ readers. The beast was a native only to the Ituri. Its existence was only confirmed in 1900, so definitely an exotic touch to the story for its time.
The next task is to organize an army to attack the Leopard Men. The Leopard Men were much feared so this was not only difficult but nearly impossible. Only a hundred men showed up for the summons including the secret Leopard Man, Lupingu. Orando also has to counter the influence of the witch-doctor, Sobito, another secret Leopard Man. Even though Sobito’s influence is enormous Muzimo is able to counter it with his own seeming supernatural influence.
Sobito and Lupingu have a conference from which Lupingu is sent to betray Orando’s force to the Leopard Men. While Orando attends to the details of marshalling his force Muzimo acts as the intelligence wing reconnoitering Gato Mgungu’s village. Gazing down from the large lower branch of the ubiquitous tree Tarzan detects Lupingu betraying the force. The Leopard Men arrange a 300 man force within minutes attacking the Utengans while meeting Muzimo on their return.
The Utengan force had been decimated which is to say one in ten had been killed which is what decimated means. As someone interested in military matters one wonders if this is an inside joke of ERB’s.
Reconnoitering further Tarzan attends the installation ceremony of Kali Bwana. He is surprised to find the two white people there, Old Timer was there as a prisoner, but as a Utengan Muzimo, in fact as in name, has no racial interest in Whites.
He returns to Orando to tell him that the Leopard Men will be returning completely hungover so a perfect opportunity has presented itself. Orando takes advantage of the opportunity completely routing the returning Leopard Men while exterminating the men, women and children of Mgungu’s village and appropriating their left over beer. To the victor belongs the spoils.
In the battle Muzimo is knocked unconscious who when he comes to is Tarzan once again. Muzimo disappears from the story. Tarzan informs the awestruck Utengans that he is really the legendary Tarzan of the Apes whose exploits are the stuff of the campfire tales of the Utengans. Yes, friends, even in the depths of the Ituri Rain Forest the legend of Tarzan is a huthold word. The goddess Kali must have been running a close second.
Apparently when amnesia strikes one forgets one’s life prior to the attack but when one regains one’s memory one can remember the amnesicac details because Tarzan now remembers the two White people at the Leopard temple deciding to check up on them because of some faint racial affinity.
In the meantime without the aid of Tarzan Kali Bwana and Old Timer manage to escape with the bumbling aid of the African chief, Bobolo.
They manage to appropriate a gigantic dugout that Old Timer is able to manipulate on his own. Leaving the mysterious and silent river of death they enter the main river, one presumes the Aruwimi. While they are thus engaged the Leopard Men between them and downstream at their village are defeated and the survivors flee back to the temple. Old Timer perceives the first batch of canoes, steering his lumbering craft into the shadows of the bank where he is perceived. Rather than waiting to see if any others are following he immediately heads to center stream where he encounters Bobolo’s contingent. Old Timer is captured while Bobolo captures the glowing white Kali Bwana. Raising a warning cry he is able to detach himself from the little flotilla carrying Kali Bwana back to his own village to be his White wife.
Old Timer is taken back to the Leopard temple to serve the noble function of lunch. All this is convincingly well described by Burroughs with his usual economy. All this takes fewer pages than one might imagine.
Tarzan returning as Tarzan to the Leopard temple sends all the canoes save one downstream. He reenters the temple in the nick of time to save Old Timer who he sends downstream in the single canoe. Apparently all those canoes he released didn’t form a log jam on that narrow nearly stagnant slow moving mysterious and silent river of death.
As Old Timer poles his pirogue laboriously downstream Tarzan demands the Leopard Men give him Sobito who he had recognized behind his mask as a hostage. He then leaves carrying Sobito through the otherwise trackless and impenetrable swamp and jungle. The Leopard Men find all their canoes missing seeing only rows of crocodile eyes facing them. They have no way to escape the temple and…they are all cannibals, if you know what I mean.
So now Tarzan has destroyed this whole Leopard Man contingent. He leaves Sobito with Orando. Sobito contrives to escape himself heading downstream to his old friend Bobolo. So the whole crew is moving toward an assemblage at Bobolo’s village.
Now, when Bobolo showed up with this White wife his Black wives objected especially the Mduze like older wife. Bobolo is compelled to remove Kali Bwana. Rather than giving her up he transfers her to the Betetes, a tribe of Pygmies, for safekeeping intending to visit her on the sly. He promises to send food in recompense for her keep to the hapless Pygmies. Before he can the escaped Sobito shows up placing himself under Bobolo’s protection.
Old Timer who has been treed for several hours notices the canoe of Sobito coming along just behind him while from his tree he hears some native women discussing the fate of Kali Bwana. From them he learns Kali Bwana has been transferred to the Pygmy village. He sets out to the rscue. If you notice, through this whole story there has been nary a lion. Tarzan hasn’t killed his usual half dozen nor has Jad-Bal-Ja made an appearance. Instead Nikima has spent the book complaining about the overwhelming aroma of Sheeta.
Burroughs during his long career has made several errors of fact concerning the fauna of Africa. One of them is placing lions in the jungle. Lions are savanna dwellers. In Invincible Burroughs acknowledged there were no deer in Africa by changing Bara the deer to Bara the antelope. In this volume the antelope is known as Wappi. As there are no lions in the jungle Tarzan finds a savanna in the middle of the Ituri full of lions. While there are no lions in the jungle there are also no savannas in the Ituri but one assumes it will take his critics some time to discover the fact. You always have to be one step ahead.
Apparently Burroughs cannot write a book without a lion kill or two by Tarzan so he gratuitously throws in Chapter XVII: Charging Lions. This is a completely unnecessary episode that adds nothing to the story. It is interesting nonetheless.
Tarzan is hungry. Game is scarce. He reaches a savanna in the forest. The grass is tall, over his head. he spots a herd of herbivores off in the distance. Tarzan has eaten carnivores in the past when necessity dictated it but he much prefers herbivores.
Leaving the cowardly Nkima in a tree quaking because of the smell of Sheeta that pervades the forest Tarzan starts out over the savanna. He hasn’t gone too far when the aroma of lions assails his sensitive nostrils. But, he can smell that they have just fed so he is not worried. Well fed lions never charge. However worse than being unfed he has stumbled upon a mating pair which did escape his sensitive nostrils. Bad news, because a lion disturbed in copulation will always charge. Information like this has prevented me from making reservations for the Serengeti. Now the story actually gets not only improbable but a little bit on the looney side.
Apparently ERB is psychologically compelled to include this episode that adds nothing to the story while being difficult to understand. Tarzan and the lions which include the copulating pair and another four or five males are in tall grass so they can’t see each other. Only the grass waves indicating the seven lions. Tarzan has carefully kept a tree within fifty feet which with his lightning speed he can reach before any lion. However Tarzan is irked at having to run. He doesn’t mind a dignified advance to the rear but he resents having to make a headlong flight. Thus as the great male head appears through the grass the Big Bwana decides to kill him. His giant muscles rolling like molten steel beneath his bronzed skin he launches his heavy war spear at the charging lion. Muscles, weight and charge add up to a skewered lion.
Tarzan hasn’t counted on the female who is right behind her lover so he has to make his undignified pell mell flight anyway.
The female is plenty sore. She won’t go away. Just hangs around, waiting. The other male lions sit in a semi-circle first looking up at Tarzan, over the at the female and then at each other. A very peculiar and incongruous image.
The reluctance to flee and the brutal killing of the male are easy to understand. The male obviously represents John the Bully on the Chicago street corner. Burroughs was ashamed of having run so he stands his ground killing the image of John.
What of the enraged female and other males? Don’t know. Possibly the female represents his failed Anima. The strange image of his Anima and John the Bully copulating is very difficult. The four male lions looking on might easily be imagined as four boys watching ERB’s humiliation on the street corner. As Caz Casadesus points out Tarzan in the tree pelting the lions may represent the story of Kit Carson treed by a bear. The story must have tickled Burroughs so much he often places Tarzan in a tree tormenting the beasts below. Caz is probably correct in making Kit Carson a hero figure to ERB as Carson Napier of Venus is obviously named after him
I will get into this next section but as David Adams points out much of these stories are reported as viewed from above. We may have the reason explained here as John symbolically ran ERB up a tree causing dissociation or a splitting of the personality.
About noon of the next day the female gets tired of waiting, moving off. Tarzan retrieves his spear, which in itself was a great feat of strength withdrawing it from the carcass of the lion, returning to Nkima.
After this strange, irrelevant episode Tarzan is heading for Bobolo’s village because Old Timer had said Bobolo took Kali Bwana there when he passed near, not too near, Betete’s village. In Van Dyke’s Horning Into Africa he mentions that the Pygmies he dealt with had an overwhelming stench. Tarzan is downwind so this stench is wafted by Usha the wind right to him. Amidst this stench he detects a more delicate aroma that reminds him of something. Oh yes, a White Woman. Not bad work even for so sensitive a nose as his. Could there be two White women in the same patch of the Ituri Rain Forest? Not likely. Tarzan will peek in.
Now, Kali Bwana’s situation is getting desperate. No supplies have arrived from Bobolo and these cannibals are pretty darn hungry. You get the idea. Both Tarzan and Old Timer arrive at this particular spot in the Ituri at the same time. Fortunately the Leopard Men had overlooked a jackknife in Old Timer’s pocket so he is able to cut through the hinges of the gate in the nick of time. His daring attempt of rescue is about to fail when a shower of arrows from ye olde overhanging bough cinches his opportunity. Chucking the naked Kali Bwana over one shoulder he hightails out the gate as he hears a crash behind him.
As Tarzan turned to leave the branch he was standing on sheared from the bole. Stunned by the fall, like Lilliputians the Pygmies bound him and tossed him in a hut. ERB uses a device he has fine tuned several times, most recently the previous year in Invincible.
Burroughs always establishes these things. On his way to Bobolo’s Tarzan chanced to run into some great apes he knew who had only recently moved into the Ituri. Zutho and Gayat were old acquaintances for the wide roaming ape man.
Nkima is waiting in a tree trembling in fear of Sheeta. The fear of the feminine is very pronounced in our little monkey. Nevertheless Tarzan gets him to direct Zutho and his fellow tribesmen to the village for his relief. These apes are seven and eight foot giants so when they scramble over the wall the Pygmies move back. Tossing Tarzan over a shoulder they scramble away. An entertaining page or two.
The diabolical Betetes had not only bound the Big Guy with thongs but they had also used copper wire. Nkima could chew through the thongs but neither he nor the apes could manipulate the copper wire.
Tarzan tells Goyat to go find him a Gomangani to unwind the wire.
Back again to Kali Bwana and Old Timer.
Having been gotten safely into the jungle Kali Bwana is surprised that her new abductor is Old Timer. As she wearily says she is getting used to being abducted. As the two tramp through the jungle Old Timer gains his redemption while Kali Bwana falls in love with him. They are busy building a shelter when who shows up but Gayat. His instructions are for a Gomangani but his primitive brain figures a Tarmangani will do just as well. Not only do all the humans in this comedy want the delectable White Woman but Old Timer figures the apes do too. ‘Run, Kali,’ he exlaims, ‘he wants you.’ Old Timer was wrong there as he discovered as Gayat tucks him under his arm.
Old Timer releases Tarzan who hurries back to Kali Bwana. Not only do the humans and apes want Kali but so does a Leopard who now crouches for the leap. Employing a new variation on an old theme as the Leopard leaps Tarzan launches landing on his back in each’s mid leap. Work the geometry out on that one. Although unarmed the Mighty One wrenches the Leopard’s head breaking his neck. Boy, would I have liked to have been there to see that one while sneaking a peek at the voluptuous Kali Bwana at the same time. She doesn’t faze Tarzan though.
OK. We’re almost there. Only a few paragraphs to go but with Burroughs a few paragraphs are always a near lifetime. Tarzan is leading his party through the forest with his unerring nose as a compass when they come upon an army detachment searching for them. The native contingent is led by a couple White French officers. The French are invariably good in Burroughs for some strange reason. With them is the Kid, Jerry Jerome. Old Timer feels out in the cold until Jerry explains that Kali is his sister. ‘Your sister,’ ejaculates the incredulous Old Timer. Why not? Coincidence is coincidence but if Burroughs strains anything in the oeuvre it is coincidence.
Well, you know, it only take another couple paragraphs but everything ends happily. Tarzan takes Sobito back to his just deserts, Bobolo and the remaining Leopard Men are arrested and Old Timer is not only redeemed but gets the girl. What a story, hey? Almost too incredible to believe. Well, it is too incredible to believe. This issue is not the issue though and it’s the other issue that is believable.
Next the sixth and last part.
August 5, 2011
Themes And Variations
The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs
#15 Tarzan Triumphant
Threads And Strands Of The Web
For I must speak what wisdom would conceal,
And truth, invidious to the great, reveal.
More than likely it is a coincidence that Burroughs wrote a fictional account of time and space weaving a web at this time, for Fate was bringing together threads and strands of the web of his own life in a picture of unparalleled opportunity and deadly peril. The decisions Burroughs would make would determine the outcome. His life could have gone another way. Or, perhaps, Burroughs sensed the impending crises and fictioned them in an attempt to deal with them.
We are already aware of the conflicts with the Judaeo-Communists. It seems clear that they were the original aggressors and that Burroughs was in reaction to them, in other words, on the defensive. Thus these first two Tarzan novels of the thirties are direct attacks on both aggressors. If Burroughs expected counter attacks there seems to be no evidence that he prepared for them. He never seems to have sat down to coolly analyze the problem in order to have a plan.
In fact, there seems to be little evidence that he ever actually realized the consequences of his success or how to handle it. While he had incorporated himself he made no effort to corporately structure his writing enterprise. In point of fact as a creative artist he was fundamentally incapable of running a structured business. Doing so would have interfered with his creative function. In fact, I am convinced that he dissipated his creative energies by becoming involved in business decisions to the extent he did.
Developing an organization is very difficult. While he should have done this, without a very fortuitous combination of circumstances it is very doubtful he could have. Hollywood was full of sharpers ready to take advantage of creative talent and in this case and nearly all others they did.
On the positive side, from 1911 to, say, 1928 ERB had created an unparalleled intellectual property in Tarzan. One in a zillion chance. As the twenties developed unparalleled opportunities to exploit the property evolved.
Apart from publishing, the three key profit centers were comics, movies and radio. All three strands came to fruition as the thirties began. Each required a slightly different approach. Each required thinking out with an intellectual departure from the past.
At this crucial moment ERB’s past arose to drag him down from behind. He was unable to make the emotional transition from what was essentially an emotionally battered youth to a successful, affluent man in control of his destiny. He remained psychologically attached to his personal relationship to Tarzan as an aspect of his personality rather than objectifying the character as a psychological projection for the world. He had prepared the way to make Tarzan a savior man-god but then couldn’t separate him from his own personality. If Fate had thrown the right people in his way they could have done this for him.
Thus rather than maximize his financial returns he essentially shot his feet off. He carped at the various media companies to the point where he was viewed as troublesome, an undesirable actually. Thus while he expected great financial returns including the means to buy a yacht, he sabotaged his own efforts to obtain them.
He belittled the returns of the comic strip for instance, bemoaning that it only returned thirty dollars a day. Well, that was eleven thousand dollars a year, every year. He could count on it. His MGM contract for Tarzan, The Ape Man provided him the exact same return. Twenty-two thousand divided by two years is eleven thousand a year.
At the time ERB signed the MGM contract he had a very valuable intellectual property already fully developed but he had developed a reputation among the Studios. The Studios had already had extensive dealings with him from the silent era. ERB, without a plan to market Tarzan had accepted whatever money came his way. Two of his titles had been sold in 1921 although production of them had been shelved. In 1927 FBO Studios decided to film Tarzan And The Golden Lion. While this film was lost for decades a print of the film was discovered which was issued on DVD in 2006 so that it can now be viewed.
In my opinion FBO did handsomely by ERB. A good clear scenario was written by William Wing that remained true to the spirit of Burroughs’ work; perhaps more than it ought to have in a movie sense. The filming, the photography is terrific; it has never been done better, not by MGM, not by RKO. It is true that Wing invented a sister for Tarzan but this is a minor point.
I find it difficult to undertand what ERB was disgruntled about except that another writer was handling his alter ego. The difference between a movie scenario and a book is very distinct. There would have been no way to get the entire convoluted story of Golden Lion on the screen so Wing wisely chose to develop a variation on the story of the Valley of Diamonds. Even so he threw in an earthquake scene a la Jewels Of Opar and Tarzan’s jumping the gap in the tunnel.
If anything his attempt to write as closely to Burroughs as he did lessened the impact of the film with some needless clutter. If, in 1935′s New Adventures Of Tarzan for which Burroughs provided the story idea, Dearholt attempted to tell the story more or less as Burroughs wrote, then the result was a hopeless mish mash. The movie was no truer to Burroughs’ Tarzan than FBO’s film, while lacking the clarity and force of the latter. Burroughs should have been grateful to FBO for an excellent movie. My idea of the best of the lot even though silent.
Had I been associated with FBO I would have found ERB’s criticisms nitpicking and offensive. After all FBO broke the boycott ERB had been under since 1922. The FBO movie triggered a response from Universal which held the rights to Jungle Tales and Jewels Of Opar. These titles were released as Tarzan The Mighty and Tarzan The Tiger starring Frank Merrill. At present there is no print of Tarzan The Mighty while as of December 5, 2006 I am still awaiting the release of Tarzan The Tiger. ERB once again was unhappy with these films, voicing loud complaints. All this carping could have done little for his reputation among the Studios. Before the long hiatus of Tarzan movies from 1921 to 1927 he had been run off the lot during the filming.
According to the ERBzine Timeline for the ’30s ERB approached MGM in 1930 asking $75,000 for a movie and was rebuffed. If this is true, $22,000 in 1931 was quite a comedown. MGM solved ERB’s querulousness by obtaining the rights to do with the character as they wished. They promptly disdained Burrughs’ storylines for their own while changing the character of Tarzan from that of an international sophisticate to that of a feral boy.
As the first full sound Tarzan, MGM hit the jackpot with the victory cry of the bull ape. The Tarzan yell would be the trademark of the charcter, although hardly a blood chilling fearsome holler. Burroughs himself couldn’t do better as Herman Brix in New Adventures merely growls out a long drawn Tar-man-gan-eee with the last sylable in falsetto. More laughable than fearsome.
In between these two films Sol Lesser released a monstrosity starring Buster Crabbe. Lesser never got the handle on Tarzan on his own, instead borrowing the MGM Characterization when he acquired the rights from them.
Lesser and his brother Irving were independent producers of some substance. Sol was born in 1890 in Spokane, Washington, dying at 90 in 1980. There is even a biography of his life. Not easy to find and not available on any site when I looked. If anybody knows where one is or having one could make a copy for me it would be much appreciated.
Lesser’s father who was in the nickelodeon business died in 1907 in San Francisco leaving the business to Sol and brother Irving. Sol got involved in distribution in 1910 eventually forming the Golden Gate Film Exchange in 1915.
In that year San Francisco’s infamous Barbary Coast was shuttered. Before the closure Lesser filmed the area, selling the movie. It would be interesting if the film was still around.
He made the right moves. After distribution he became a producer for First National and then formed a chain of movie theatres. After an aborted retirement he reentered production forming his own independent studio called either Principle or Principal Pictures. David Fury spells the name Principal in his Kings Of The Jungle and that sounds right. This was apparently Sol’s status when he acquired the rights to Tarzan from a third party in 1928 and when he made the Crabbe abortion in 1933.
Lesser was influential in Hollywood. He made it a point to know and be known. In the early thirties it was he who was responsible for introducing Disney to Joseph Schench (pronounced Skenk) and facilitating Disney’s move from Columbia to United Artists.
One can’t be sure of his politics from the sources cited but according to the New York Times:
…Lesser forsook production for distribution again, returning to the creative end of moviemaking in 1931 when, through is friendshlip with writer Upton Sinclair, he became involved with the Sergei Eisenstein project, Thunder Over Mexico.
Thunder Over Mexico was undoubtedly a Communist diatribe. Sol Lesser while involved with consevatives like Disney and Burroughs, also played the other side of the street with the likes of Upton Sinclair and the Jewish film maker, Sergei Eisenstein of Battleship Potemkin fame.
It would seem probable that he at least knew such luminaries as Louis B. Mayer and possibly Irving Thalberg. Even though he could have foiled both Burroughs and MGM with his prior rights to Tarzan, he characteristically stepped aside, for remuneration of course, to let their films play through. It would be interesting to know how and why he obtained his rights from a third party and how they had obtained theirs.
One doesn’t know what his relationship to Mayer and MGM was at this time but it is noteworthy that he acquired exclusive rights to Tarzan when MGM abandoned the profitable series. Under Lesser the movies continued to gross two to three million a picture.
Sound movies should have been a gold mine for Burroughs if he had handled himself properly. Instead through his impulsiveness and vanity there were at least four competing Tarzans on the screens from 1930 to 1935. This must have created confusion in the public’s mind, while injuring Burroughs’ financial returns.
At the time sound brought the potential of immense movie profits to Burroughs the thread of radio also came to maturity about 1930. While the evangelists were quick to capitalize on the potential of radio, Burroughs wasn’t far behind. Perhaps the success of Aimee Semple Mcpherson showed him the way.
As the decade dawned, his eye turned in radio’s direction. By 1932 he was successful in launching a show. Once again ERB failed to analyze the difference between books and a new medium. Radio was for him the most lucrative of all his ventures. His revenues from radio equaled his income from all other sources combined. This income stream could have continued unabated through the thirties but, once again, ERB interfered with the show rather than contributed. Undoubtedly because of his constant carping the first series was not renewed. A second series was launched which was also discontinued. From 1935 until his death he was unable to get on radio again. After his death in 1950 a new series was launched.
Thus, between publishing, comics, movies and radio ERB was provided opportunities to exploit his great labor in creating the ultimate intellectual property of the twentieth century and blew it. The personality forming psychology of his youth popped up to prevent his realizing his most cherished dreams in this sphere of his life as it did in his relationship to women.
If ERB had read his Homer at some earlier time, or possibly, earlier times in his life, it seems evident that he reread the Odyssey, for sure, at this time. The evidence is prominent in these five novels, especially Triumphant and City Of Gold. A text in all five novels is the struggle between the La aspect of his Anima and that of Jane. Subconsciously he had steered his love life to this critical juncture where he would have to choose one and reject the other.
There may have been a fortuitousness in his choosing to concentrate on his own Odyssey at this time. He was able to capitalize on a number of good story ideas, while on the other hand a major story line of the Odyssey is the examination of a man’s control of his sexual desires. A key story of this aspect is the story of the seductress Circe. By inducing all men to abandon themselves to unbridled sexual desire she turns them all into pigs. A lesson for contemporary times. Odysseus avoids this by having a pocketful of Moly. Moly is some sort of charm that allows him to resist Circe’s seductions.
Thus Odysseus retains his manly integrity while securing the release of his crew. The Sirens, Calypso and the other women are all temptations for Odysseus to abandon his manhood for the luxuries of sex or in other word, the Matriarchy. He resists them all to return home to Penelope in Ithaca where she sits lonely endlessly weaving her web.
One can’t know directly how Burroughs read the story or even if the above details registered with him; nevertheless these five novels are about a man’s relationships with women and more specifically they concern the details of ERB’s relationships with women. The story as told by him is a troubled one.
It would appear that his cherished Anima image of the previous forty years or so, La of Opar, no longer answered his needs, so at the end of Invincible Tarzan abandons La of Opar. She and Opar disappear from the oeuvre never to be mentioned again.
In real life perhaps La has been replaced by Florence who now figures as the Golden Girl. With the appearance of Jezebel in Triumphant the Golden Girl makes her first appearance to dominate the stage until Lion Man and the end of this five novel series.
In Triumphant the Jane aspect which has been missing for the last couple novels parachutes back into ERB’s life. He marries her off to the stable aspect of his Animus while pairing the Golden Girl with the low life aspect of his Animus.
Emma had always said ERB was a low brow so perhaps he found it too unpleasant aping high brow manners giving up the fight to indulge that aspect of his Animus more comfortable to him.
In this struggle Florence had been removed from the scene. Back during the writing of this novel Burroughs quickly opted to join his low life aspect with his sexual desire for the Golden Girl. His Moly gave out on him. Thus Danny ‘Gunner’ Patrick is transformed into Old Timer of Leopard Man while Jezebel becomes the platinum blonde, Kali Bwana.
Having made the decision to take the Golden Girl he has to eliminate the Jane aspect which he does in City Of Gold. Perhaps wavering a trifle in Lion Man he seems to have created a type of middle Tarzan Anima figure in Rhonda Terry. While he rejects Naomi/Jane he seems to have misgivings about Balza/Florence as the Golden Girl.
But, by this time the die had been cast so that in real life he does leave Emma to begin his life with Florence as a born again sex hound. As Old Timer in Leopard Men he says he was entitled to some pleasure in life and by God he was going to take it.
So, in both his business life and his personal life his past rose up and bit him in the behind destroying any chance he had to realize his true desires. I’m afraid I have to look at the remainder of his life as a failure as he was unable to eliminate the psychological impediments placed in his way by his early life. Not that he didn’t try. He appears to have studied psychology trying to find a way through to the other side of the maze of consciousness. Thus we have the subterranean passages too dark for anyone to find their way, yet his characters do. As he searches for a way out, the past rises up in the shape of deformed monsters like the Oparians beneath the Sacred City.
Or the round about way Tarzan and La found their way out of the lion cage in Invincible to be betrayed by the Old Man who professed to be true to La. Who was the Old Man? The shade of the past? David Adams has brought emphasis to this scene in his review of “The Ancient Dead of the City of Horz,” itself a dead city on the shores of a dead sea in Burroughs Bulletin #68.
By the writing of The Ancient Dead, ERB no longer had any hope to escape his past, while at the same time it was too late.
So, as the matter turned out, this period from 1930 to 1934 was the final crucial period in ERB’s life where he could have taken control of his destiny. He apparently sensed that the threads and strands of the web of his life were being brought together by Fate.
I neither condemn nor advise, unlike the literary fashion of today. I assume no superior airs, nor do I have a right to do so, but the fact is that had he been able to control his sexuality while restraining his impulsiveness, Fate might have been kinder to him at this juncture. As he was unable to order his psychology Fate, as it were, laid him low.
The critical junctures were the impetuous signing with MGM, his abandonment of Emma and his mismanagement of his radio affairs.
I have now covered four of the five Tarzan novels of this period. The last, The City City Of Gold deals with his ferocious sexual needs that destroyed his chances for success.
August 4, 2011
Themes And Variations
The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs
#15 Tarzan Triumphant
In The Footsteps Of The Lord
If anything the action of this novel reminds me of Ray Bradbury’s Illustrated Man just as the invasion of Opar brings strong recollections of the last story of Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles. In the latter all the great fictions of mankind, fairies, ogres, and whatnot have been driven from earth by Reason taking refuge on Mars. But as the true condition of Mars becomes known their world crumbles and disappears as there is no place in the universe left for them.
That fate will never overtake Tarzan as he represents very real hopes, dreams and desires of mankind. Even as the old world and old heaven of the Piscean Age begins to heave and crack as the new Age of Aquarius struggles to come into existence, the archetype of the Age is forming around Tarzan. Tarzan will emerge triumphant.
The next two scenes of Burroughs’ tapestry which come to life not unlike the pictures on the tattooed man are as vivid as any scenes Burroughs wrote. The agony of Gunner Patrick when he awakes to find himself alone is palpable. There is even an element of tragedy in his situation if one has sympathy for murderous criminals. Burroughs rather sneers that without his machine gun Patrick is a pathetic figure. But, while the machine gun represents advanced tochnology man’s prowess has always depended on his weapons, whether they be stones, spears and bows and arrows, an old harquebus or the machine gun or stealth bombers and self-guided blockbusters. The fellow with the latest model is always top gun on the block. Without his weapon he is naturally nothing. Even Tarzan would have been a dead man long before this without his father’s knife. What makes Gunner Patrick so reprehensible is that he uses his weapon for injustice rather than justice. Thus without his weapon he is subject to the same injustice he would inflict on others.
Still, he’s our criminal so we have to take his side. One would say he is less criminal than the men who stole Jezebel from him except that out there they live by a different lawless code. As Patrick would say: They ain’t no cops out there.
Law is a matter of the strongest; so Tarzan as the strongest and justest will reestablish Law and Order according to his terms. He acts as the judge and jury which some people with an opposing notion of Law might find offensive or even dangerous to their plans. How much of a coincidence then is it that in Tarzan’s New York Adventure he is stripped of his status as lawgiver and subsumed to a different legal code? No coincidence at all in my mind. The legal decision declaring Tarzan a criminal also showed who was strongest in Hollywood. In fact, in late 1941 and into ’42 Burroughs had been ousted from Hollywood himself, living in exile in Hawaii.
The Golden Girl, Jezebel, had been taken into custody by Capietro but Stabutch has eyes for her. The two men decide to play poker for her, best three out of five. Strange that an Italian and a Russian should be familiar with the quintessential American card game, but there you have it, they were.
Stabutch loses but calls Capietro a cheat.
This scene recalls ERB’s own loss when he and Emma were in transit in Parma, Idaho. While Emma waited upstairs ERB got cleaned of the couple’s last forty dollars in what may very well have been a crooked game. I haven’t played poker a lot but I’ve never been in a straight game, so as a stranger in Parma, the odds are that Burroughs’ game was crooked. He doesn’t say so, of course, but I’d be willing to bet he thought so. The memory was a horrendous one for ERB; it crops up frequently in the corpus. My memory of a Navy game is always with me. In fact, someone I hadn’t seen for forty years brought it up the first thing. These things are like the scar on Tarzan’s forehead.
Capietro and Stabutch fight, one out of one, that Stabutch wins. He then flees with Jezebel. the Gunner who has been gathering his wits above the scene sees the two ride out the gate. He follows in pursuit on foot.
Stabutch and Jezebel put up for the night during which a lion scares their horses away. Hungry the next day, Stabutch stashes the Golden Girl in a tree while he goes hunting. Staking out a water hole he is surprised to see Tarzan drinking. A golden opportunity to accomplish his mission but the strain is too much for his nerves; he misses his shot. Running as fast as he can, Tarzan following torments his victim with a couple of arrows before, as Stabutch begs for his life, putting an arrow through his throat. His throat! I was ready for ‘his black heart’ but was surprised by ‘his throat.’ As a probable surrogate for Stalin who sent him, why his throat? At any rate Tarzan has now completely defeated the Communists; once in Invincible and again here.
Patrick has been miraculously reunited with Jezebel but now all three are captured by the shiftas. The outcome is clear. The faithful Waziri stage a frontal attack on the shifta stockade. Patrick and Jezebel, who have been bound and left in the same tent, free themselves. The hard thing Patrick has been lying on turns out to be ‘his better half’, the machine gun. He then opens up on the shiftas from the rear. No contest.
The final picture in the web then, is the successful bringing together of all the threads and strands which began two thousand years previously in an entirely unrelated event, when Paul was martyred in Rome and Angustus fled for the African hinterland bringing his slave girl with him.
Lord Passmore as it turns out is Tarzan in disguise. He assumed the identity so as not to arouse suspicion. So once again Tarzan displays an effeminate side. A disguise hardly seems necessary for the Big Bwana but as ERB needed the faithful Waziri for the big battle scene finale, perhaps so.
Tarzan at this point seems to be a solo act; there is no hint of Jane awaiting him back in Kenya. Lafe Smith and Lady Barbara are brought together. Thus the bright alter ego of Burroughs is paired up with a member of the English aristocracy who may represent the writer Dorothy Sayers, perhaps a match ERB would have liked in real life.
Already three or four years into his affair with Florence, of which surely Emma was aware, one wonders what she thought when she realized she had been written out of the story. Well, she did turn to drink.
More interestingly, Burroughs’ dark alter ego, Danny ‘Gunner’ Patrick and the Golden Girl, Jezebel are brought together. He is going to leave Chicago taking Jezebel to somewhere in LA to buy a service station. A worthy ambition; for some reason the movie, The Postman Always Rings Twice, pops into my mind. The screenplay for that movie was written by Raymond Chandler who, for no explicable reason, I associate with Burroughs. There must be some similarity between Philip Marlowe and Tarzan. Marlowe did get sapped a lot. Chandler even turns sapping into an art form.
In pairing Jezebel/Florence off with his dark side ERB may be hinting at the direction his relationship with Florence will take. His life with her was certainly different than his life with Emma as he let his hair down and began dressing like quite a dandy, or, perhaps, Lord Passmore.
On that score, in this novel, Burroughs selects his dark side to take the obligatory bashing. One wonders then if he attributes this dark side to the bashing in Toronto. Is he saying that his dark side was the result of the bashing? Did he begin living some sort of double life some few years after he was laid out? Was his character even more erratic than it appears? How much did Emma put up with?
His emphasis on the notion that every man has two characters that may diverge as did Jekyll and Hyde give reason to think so. At any rate the following couple years ERB himself would be leading a double life. As Lafe Smith with Lady Barbara/Emma and as the desperado Danny ‘Gunner’ Patrick with his amour Jezebel/Florence Gilbert Dearholt. Jezebel is certainly appropriately named.
The next two novels explain his own relationship to Florence and Emma. Leopard Men, which I have already reviewed, deals with his opting for Florence while City Of Gold deals with his rejection of Emma. But first some conclusions and organization.
To be concluded in Part 6: Threads and Stands Of The Web
August 2, 2011
Themes And Variations
The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs
#15 Tarzan Triumphant
The Born Again Lafe Smith
The time has come the Walrus said
to speak of many things;
Of shoes and ship and sealing wax
Of cabbages and kings.
And why the sea is boiling hot
And whether pigs have wings.
The learned nonsense of Lewis Carrol was never far from Burroughs’ mind. In the long list of influences Carroll ranks fairly high although more disguised than others. Both adventures of Alice as well as The Hunting Of The Snark formed the backbone of Burroughs’ ideology. Thus the entrance to the Land Of Midian in many ways resembles Alice’s descent into the rabbit hole. The sexual implications of the rabbit hole should be self-evident as is the the entry into the Land of Midian.
The Lafayette of Smith’s name refers of course to the revolutionary Marquis de Lafayette who fought against the monarchy in the American Revolution. Recently General Pershing had repaid the debt when, as he stepped ashore in France he grandly proclaimed: Lafayette, we are here. A famous utterance then and now so that it appears that Burroughs is associating freedom and liberation to his alter ego. He might exclaim as he stepped through the hole: I am Lafayette and I am here.
Smith is studying the geology of the area when he discovers a cleft in the mountain which he enters. In some ways Burroughs old life ended when the Reds invaded Opar. La was forced out into the the real world when her people rebelled because of La’s fixation on Tarzan. The Big Bwana restored her to her throne having destroyed the rebel chiefs. We are led to believe that La reigned happily ever after even though her manifestation as well as Opar disappear from ERB’s dream world. With the death of his old dream world ERB seeks to find another; one which other people cannot enter. Jungle Girl written shortly after this novel provided one such place in the ancient Khmer kingdoms of Cambodia and Thailand.
Thus Midian is a pale reflection of Opar. While the way to Opar was known to the world, indeed, Zveri, Stalin and the Communists as well as many Africans knew of the fabulous wealth of Opar and where the city was located. They didn’t know where the gold was located because in was in Burroughs’ mind.
Having had his dream world violated ERB creates another but this time the location is so remote and the entrance so difficult, although identical to that of Opar, to find that none but his Anima and Animus figures can find it.
Like the great red and gold city of Opar Midian is surrounded by high cliffs but unlike Opar they are unscalable from either side. No casual visitors are going to get in there. Like the actual city of Opar the only entry is through a cleft in the walls. In Opar once through the cleft one climbs a stairway to enter the ruins. Here, led by his interest in geology Smith enters the cleft in the mountain reft by titanic forces ages ago to follow it deep within the mountain wall. To insure that he continues on down the rabbit hole Burroughs sends a lion in after him blocking any exit should he wish to turn back. Thus the lion as Fate is forcing him to his destiny. The role of the lion in the oeuvre remains elusive to me; I fail to grasp the nuances as well as the essence. The lion may be another side of Tarzan, the Lion Man, who is helpful. On the other hand the lion as an expression of Burroughs’ Anima is extremely dangerous and hateful falling beneath Dad’s knife repeatedly, these are usually female. Still a problem for me.
Following the cleft for some way Smith reaches the end which is a very small hole that he can just force his way through. The symbolism of birth is quite clear; the descent from the womb and the breakthrough to the other side through the vagina.
Both aspects of Burroughs’ Anima are already inside Midian. Lady Barbara parachuted there while Jezebel was born there. Thus, it would seem that the La, Jezebel, Balza figure was native to Burroughs’ X chromosome while Jane, Lady Barbara, Rhonda Terry was an acquired image.
Smith will also be joined by the two remaining Animus figures, Gunner Patrick and Tarzan. All five of his Anima/Animus figures that he acknowledges were then functioning in his dream world. This may have represented his brain or the womb or a combination of both. What seems to be clear is that with the destruction and death of his old dream world he is being born again. The resurrection scene will follow.
When Tarzan enters Midian as when he is entering the cleft of Opar it is necessary for him to manipulate his shoulders through by turning them sideways. Thus there is a clear reference to birth.
Perhaps when Burroughs began self-publication he felt as though he were making a break with his past. Leaving McClurg’s and Joe Bray behind, making a new start as it were, he was beginning a new life. That was probably part of it as was the invasion of Opar by his enemies but I’m sure there is personal development involved that isn’t clear to me yet.
Once inside, convinced that the lion is following him although one believes the small hole would have baffled the lion, Smith finds the convenient tree in front of the hole into which he climbs for safety. Then Smith does exactly what Patrick, the dark side of the ego, will do, he goes down to the lake and gorges himself on water. This could be construed as baptism of the born again man; the living water of redemption.
He then meanders in the direction of Midian. As night has fallen the bonfires attract him.
By this time Lady Barbara after a few refreshing skinny dips waiting for her clothes to dry, Burroughs actually writes these strange interludes, finds her way back to Midian. For some strange reason the Midianites pay no attention to her mind boggling miracles, sometimes you can’t buy a thrill, choosing to disregard the apparent will of their god.
She and Jezebel are condemned to be crucified and burned to death. Both have been placed on the crosses with faggots piled round when Smith and his trusty nickel plated .32 burst upon the scene.
Now we have the resurrection of Smith and his Anima figures. The implication is that the trinity have symbolically died and are now resurrected. This is some fancy footwork.
Imagine the scene: Two crosses are erected. The Anima figures are placed on the crosses. As I imagine it there is a space of four to eight feet between the arms. Smith forces a way to a place in fornt of the crosses as he kicks away the burning faggots between the two crosses. Although not on a cross himself he is symbolically so he and Burroughs assume the role of Jesus Christ in the middle while the Anima figures represent the two thieves, one on either side.
Thus we are playing out a reenactment of the Christian crucifixion that will have a different result.
The Christians are pressing in on Smith. This is yet another version of Burroughs’ confrantation with John the Bully on the street corner. Back then he turned and ran. Now Smith is in a quandary. Christ in the same dilemma turned the other cheek saying: Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.
We have all been taught to revere turning the other cheek. Some even attempt to practice the precept. I’m sure the ploy may work from time to time but in nine times out of ten it won’t. That is more or less the dilemma of the Western world today. it is steadfastly trying to turn the other cheek but every time it does a steel-toed boot gets planted on it.
Thus as Smith is dithering a clear cultured English female voice comes down from the cross saying: You’re going to have to shoot to kill, you know. In other words, turning the other cheek is sure death. Burroughs is especially good at surprise twists like this.
Astonished, perhaps thinking the angel of the Lord had spoken to him Smith complies, firing into the crowd. As the joke is that his aim is so poor he couldn’t hit the side of a barn he is fortunate enough to actually kill someone.
Momentarily stunned by the magical weapon but not overawed the crowd pauses long enough to allow Smith to get Lady Barbara down. Thus Burroughs chooses the older more stately aspect of his Anima rather than the Wild Thing, sex kitten. Perhaps as Florence was out of town ERB temporarily shifted bazck to the Jane Anima aspect. Within a matter of weeks or days he will decide on Jezebel/Balza/Florence when Florence unexpectedly returns and he writes Leopard Men in celebration.
Smith succeeds in lowering Lady Barbara but then Jobab challenges the efficacy of his .32. Smith fires at Jobab point blank missing him. Jobab vindicated rushes Smith knocking the gun out of his hand. Lady Barbara scoops it up, places the muzzle against Jobab’s side where he learns the efficacy of the Colt. Thus the Anima and Animus of Burroughs have now killed a man.
This give the crowd pause once again so that Jezebel is lowered and the Trinity run away. The two Anima aspects and Burroughs’ bright Animus are now whole. The confrontation with John the Bully has been resolved.
They attempt to find the opening but in the process wander into North Midian where they are captured by the fair haired, blue eyed, small nosed but no less superstitious North Midians. They manage to escape.
They capture a kid to eat but in the process the goatherd misses it. What the symbolism of eating the ‘lamb’ is escapes me just now. Smith and lady Barbara are recaptured, taken to the village.
In the meantime Tarzan and Patrick enter the crater. Burroughs now has all five of his Anima and Animus figures in the crater. Tarzan separates from Patrick. The latter comes across Jezebel who had escaped the North Midians. The meeting is apparently love at first sight so the Wild Thing Anima and the killer Animus are united. As they are tired they lay down together. You can draw your conclusions but Jezebel appears to be ready for any ‘beautiful’ man who comes along. Whether a comment on Floence isn’t clear however Burroughs in his mind would be seeing her in his Desperado aspect while she would be his Wild Thing or little Flapper girl.
Perhaps with Smith/Lady B ERB is representing his Dr. Jekyll side, his married status while with Jezebel/Patrick he is representing his Hyde side in his affair with Florence Gilbert.
Jezebel and Patrick leave the crater. On the outside they are spotted by Capietro’s men who bash the Burroughs surrogate on the head leaving him for dead while they carry Jezebel off. This would be the same situation with John the Bully or the bashing in Toronto however it may also represent Ashton Dearholt’s taking Florence out of town for a cooling off period.
Burroughs interjects a comedy routine back in North Midian with a lampoon of religosity over whether Paul had yellow hair or black hair. The upshot is that Smith is to die.
However a pair of eyes are watching the scene. An unknown lurker to the North Midians, Tarzan to us. Tarzan’s own role in this story is his battle with Capietro and Stabutch. Otherwise he functions as a deus ex machina– a God from the machine a common feature of Greek drama to resolve an otherwise unresolvable plot point — to get the Anima figure out of difficulty. He does in this case too.
Then leaving he crater Tarzan escorts the pair to his friend Lord Passmore’s safari leaving them there in safety with the faithful Waziri. Then he goes back to deal with Stabutch and Capietro.
Thus Fate and Burroughs go about weaving their web. The similarity to Penelope of the Odyssey is close with the exception that Burroughs does not unravel the previous day’s work. But one is invited to see this story as a series of pictures woven into the tapestry somewhat like the contest between Athene and Arachnae. One might also compare the novel, in the classical mode, to the Shield of Achilles which is decorated around the edge with a series of pictures portraying the life of the Bronze Age. So Burroughs has woven a series of such pictures into his tapestry. A clever idea and well executed. How many people have ever gotten it except for us is open to question.
So far Burroughs has insulted the Jews and ridiculed religion in general and Christianity specifically. He now turns to the strand of Communism, humiliating them in his dreamworld. It is all well that he should take the attack to them but one is surprised that he either didn’t anticipate a counter attack or didn’t anticipate the direction from which it would come if he was even yet aware that his defenses had been overrun by MGM.
The man was playing with fire without an awareness of real life consequences. It would be amusing to know if a copy of Tarzan Triumphant was rushed off to Stalin. One can be sure that the ADL/AJC/MGM combination had an advance copy perhaps even the chapters as they were being written. It is inconceivable that his enemies had no spy within his organization. That is just the way things are done and had to have been done in this instance. The usual mode is to capture the position of secretary through whom all information passes. That means that ERB’s typist may have been the conduit, Cyril Ralph Rothmund or perhaps even both. I’m betting on Rothmund for sure. I would love to see his finances. He may also have been on the ADL/AJC/MGM payroll was well as Burroughs’. Itr was he who negotiated the contract Burroughs signed giving away the control of Tarzan.
The next picture on the web is the reunion of Jezebel and Patrick followed by the battle of Tarzan and the Communists.
To be continued in Part 5: In The Footsteps Of The Lord
August 1, 2011
Themes And Variations
The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs
#15 Tarzan Triumphant
Two Peas And The Pod.
The ease with which ERB shifts from one complicated subject to another is truly remarkable; no less so in the facility he has for organizing these matters into a few lines or paragraphs. No one can do this without a firm grasp of his subject matter. ERB is simply one of the best informed writers of his era.
In a little less than a page ERB summarizes the Torrio-Capone years in Chicago from the beginning of Prohibition in 1920 while incorporating a fictional history of his character, Danny ‘Gunner’ Patrick. Patrick as his name indicates is Irish. He was part of the Dion O’ Bannion gang led bhy Bugs Moran after O’Bannion’s demise in 1924. According to Burroughs Patrick took part in the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1929.
…but Danny Patrick was ambitions. For years he had been the right hand of a Big Shot. He had seen his patron grow rich– “lousy rich” according to Danny’s notion– and he had become envious.
So Danny double crossed the Big Shot, went over to the other side, which, incidentally, boasted a bigger and better Big Shot, (Al Capone) and was a party to the hijacking of several truck loads of booze belonging to his former employer.
Many of the Big Shot’s enemies and several of his friends, had Danny taken for a ride. He knew the power of the Big Shot, and feared him. Danny did not want to go for a ride himself, but he knew that if he remained in dear old Chi he would go the way of all good gunmen much to soon to suit his plans.
Patrick is not not a nice guy, he is definitely not a nice guy. For my tastes ERB is much too tolerant of a man he describes as a psychopathic killer. “many of the Big Shot’s enemies, and several of his friends’ implies that Patrick has many, perhaps dozens, of murders to his credit yet Burroughs is going to have Tarzan befriend this guy.
While O’ Bannion was done in in 1924 by the Capone gang, being succeeded by Moran, ERB seems to telescope the years reversing things so that O’Banion is still alive after the 1929 St. Valentine’s Day Massacre– ‘The Day Chicago Died.’ ERB is clearly following and thinking about the situation in Chicago as he says, p. 27:
(Patrick) knew that sooner or later, the Big Shot woud have a grand funeral with truck loads of flowers and, at least, a ten thousand dollar casket.
Underworld funrals were prodigious affairs. There is a certain irony in the fact that Dion O’ Banion ran a flower shop. As a big crime figure it would be expected that the flowers for those expensive funerals would come from his shop. Is it any wonder Patrick was taking so many people for a ride. O’ Banion had a good racket going there.
Not wanting to be taken for a ride himself Patrick had opted for an extended vacation taking his typewriter with him. A Chicago typewriter, of course, was a Thompson machine gun. Tommy gun. The Chicago underworld qauickly adopted the Tommy gun which was new at the time. The Tommy made those Dick Tracy comic strips so thrilling. Although one has come to accept the Chicago hoodlum story as a commonplace if one actually thinks about it the open war between the underworld and legitamate society is so startling that one should be appalled. ERB like the rest of his contemporaries seems to have taken the fact in stride even, in his case, making Patrick a hero.
It is almost as though he made Patrick the dark side of the mild mannered Geology professor, Lafayette Smith. Or, in other words, himself. In this series of books from Invincible to Lion Man ERB explores the split or dual personality as examined in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde. Convinced as ERB is that the Animus is represented by two archetypes, whith which I find no difficulty other than it can be three, four or more, in this story as usual he divides the two aspects of the personality between two characters. Although Lord Passmore who is Tarzan in disguise has a decidedly homosexual feel, which would make four personalities.
Lafe Smith is clearly an alter ego of Burroughs. Borrowing from ERB’s own experience he says of Smith, p. 11:
…Lafayette Smith, A.M., Ph.D., Sc.D, professor of geology at the Phil Sheridan Military Academy.
For a school year now, he had been an instructor in an inconspicuous western military academy.
Here we have ERB as he would like to have been with a string of degrees after his name. First in this dream life he is a professor of Geoplogy athe Phil Sheridan Military Academy which sounds pretty impressive but then he is mysteriously down graded from a professor to a mere instructor (which ERB was in fact) for a schoolyear, nine months, at an inconspicuous military academy. Thus fantasy collides with reality.
Another fantasy, now Smithe was on his way to achieve another cherished ambition, that of going to Africa to study the Great Rift Valley perhaps as ERB himself might have liked to have done but which he never did.
So ERB has his ego ideals, his Jekyll and Hyde sides going as pals to Africa. As Tarzan is also an ego ideal we have an actual trinity. Jekyll and Hyde and what? God? David Adams who is a pretty thorough Jungian is mystified by the lack of the benevolent old man in Burroughs’ work who according to Jungian theory should have been there. This is more htan likely a very involved question but I am going to sugest that possibly characters like Tarzan and John Carter seve in that capacity of Old Man/Jekyll figures while the actual Old Man figures who are betrayers serve perhaps as the Hydelike figures representing his father.
In real life Burroughs ‘old man’, his father, was a betrayer who had little good to say about his son even to the extent of defaming him to all and sundry. So, it is possible that ERB split the Jungian benevolent Old Man figure into Jekyll like Tarzan and John Carter and his father into the Hydelike Old Man character. As he was conflicted with a love/hate relationship with his father it would be easier for him not to mention his father by name. I offer this interpretation only as a suggestion and do not insist n it, still it is a possible solution to the problem perhaps leading to a full solution.
You can take the boy out of Chicago but you can’t take Chicago out of the boy. ERB was always fascinated by slang. Gunner Patrick gives him the opportunity for extensive and amusing word play. The criminal culture from which patrick comes has what amounts to a patois. At one point ERB calls it by the French term of argot. Even though he is pronouncing English words that the English speaking characters can recognize the meanings of the meaning he attaches to the words are beyond the comprehension of his auditors. Thus one has the intersting effect of the cultural clash between two examples of what should be the same culture but is not.
Of course ERB is in full command of not only both these cultures but seemingly all cultures. In his zany multi-cultural world he is the Master of Cultures. I pretend to the succession of ERB.
Thus disembarking from a ship the bright and dark sides of ERB tramp across Africa in the direction of the Great Rift Valley. Perhaps like Kitchener they came down the Nile to Khartoum and cut up the Blue Nile to Ethiopia like Samual Baker. Now Burroughs has to integrate his master alter ego, Tarzan, into the Jekyll and Hyde pair.
A psychological interpretation is that Tarzan must accept the Hyde of Burroughs’ personality as well as the Jekyll. Indeed, Tarzan seems to respect the Hyde side much more than he does the clown like but educated Jekyll side.
As the story is told Tarzan hears the sound of a machine gun and goes to investigate. Patrick had fired into the bush hoping to hit a lion nosing about the safari camp. He succeeds in temporarily scaring it away, giving Tarzan time to locate the camp.
The lion returns. Imagine this scene. Patrick with this Tommy gun is standing under the convenient tree, while Smith stands behind him with his nickel paltged .32 that he doesn’t even know how to aim. Here ERB’s dark side is in command while his incompetent but intelligent bright side is subordinate to the dark. What does this mean in real life?
As Patrick fires on the lion the Tommy gun jams leaving both sides of Burroughs’ alter-ego defenseless. At this time the Master alter ego falls on the lion from the tree killing him and saving the lives of the subordinate alter egos, Patrick and Smith. Patrick is Irish and the more aggressive while one presumes Smith is English and more passive. Thus a major theme of Irish and English which runs throughout the corus is here erepresented. While ERB claimed to be ‘pur’ English he was actually only English on his father’s side while Bennsylvania Dutch, in other words, Rhineland German, and Irish on his Mother’s side. the Irish surfaces not only here but in the following year when he assumed his Irish ancestral name of John McCulloch to write Pirate Blood. Also as David Adams points out the killing of the lion puts the seal on the relationship between Tarzan, Smth and Patrick.
In the same period of time he wrote Pirates Of Venus and Pirate Blood. Although pirates had figured in his early writing as the Black Pirates of Barsoom and the pirates of Pellucidar unless I’m mistaken this sudden efflorescence of interest in pirates has to do with the ‘pirating’ of Tarzan by MGM.
While not introducing himself Tarzan peremptorily gives the pair some instruction on how to comport themselves in the jungle then disappers up his tree.
The next time Tarzan and Patrick meet is a bonding session in which Tarzan accepts Burroughs’ dark side, Patrick.
Tarzan is squatting on the edge of the cliff observing Capietro and Stabutch in their camp below. the ground gives way precipitating Tarzan over the edge. He attempts to save himself by grabbing the chance tree growing out of the cliff face- the chance tree- even here Burroughs equates trees with safety- but the tree gives way. Tarzan falls through the grass roof of a hut landing safely. He is imediately engulfed by the goons of Capietro.
Now, having lunch under another tree not too far away, yards actually, is Gunner Patrick. HIs attention called to the Ape-man who he had previously not noticed he gets up to investigae. Aiding Tarzan he lets loose with a blast from the Thompson. He succeeds in dispersing the crowd as well as Capietro and Stabutch. this is almost commical: Tarzan shouts to Patraick to not go away, he’ll be right up. Good as his word he appears above.
Now come this very interesting bonding session in which Tarzan accepts Patrick. P. 98:
The “Gunner” was waiting for him upon the summit of the cliff directly behind the village, and for the second time these strangely dissimilar men met- dissimilar and yet, in some respects, alike. Each was ordinarily quiet to taciturnity, each was self-reliant, each was a law unto himself in his own environment; but there the similairty ceased for the extremes of environment had produced psychological extremes as remotely separated as the poles.
The ape-man had been reared amidst scenes of eternal beauty and grandeur, his associates the beasts of the jungle, savage perhaps, but devoid of coarse, petty jealousy, treachery, meanness and intentional cruelty; while the “Gunner” had known naught but the squalid aspects of scenery defiled by man, of horizons grotesque with the screaming atrocities of architecture, of an earth hidden by concrete ans asphaltum and littered with tin cans and garbage, his associeates in all walks of life activated by grand and petty meannesses unknown to any but mankind.
Now, Burroughs signed his contract with MGM on April tenth of 1931 while he didn’t finish Triumphant until May twentieth so had forty days in which to realize his mistake. If he did realize his error so quickly it might acount for some of the misanthropic bitterness in the above passage and elsewhere. Filching his character would certainly be considered a grand meanness. On the other hand his misanthropic interpretation was a continuation of his longstanding dislike of mankind and civilization.
It is of interest that both Patrick and Tarzaqn have killed many men. Some of Tarzan’s kills, quite frankly, verge on the psychopathic. I can’t get over how he literally ripped a man’s head off his shoulders in Ant Men. Of course, he may have merely underestimated his strength being a fourth his size but having his full sized strength.
Nevertheless both are laws unto themselves in their own domains so theoretically they do as they please. Still, and I don’t know how to interpret this, ‘the extremes of environment had produced psychological extremes as remotely separated as the poles.’ I’m clear on Patrick’s extreme but I’m not sure which extreme Tarzan represents.
These extremes were caused by the differences in the environments of the two men. Tarzan was raised amongst beauty , while Patrick was raised amongst squaor. As Burroughs roamed over Chicago, and it seems certain he searched out nooks and crannies, he was appalled byh the ‘screaming atrocities of architecture’. Chicagoans have been quite proud of their architects and architectures so Burroughs critique is quite different. The paving over of the environment bothered him as much as it does me. We no longer see the tin cans and bottles but the dumping of garbage wherever by certain people still goes on.
Tarzan was raised among the ’noble’ beasts while Patrick was raised essentially among thieves and cheats.
Still, invironment aside both men had many kills or murders to their credit. Seems like a double standard to absolve Tarzan while condemning Patrik especially since each is obviously a product of their environment while neither therefore is inherently good regardless of their environment.
Perhaps Tarzan kills only for just reasons, of his own reckoning as he is a law unto himself, while patgrick kills for gain is where the difference lies. Perhaps that is the difference between constituted society and the criminal world. There are times when the most mild mannered and best of men and women must kill, whether in the individual or collective sensel. Burroughs brings this out when Lafe Smith attempts to liberate Lady Barbara and Jezebel from the Midianites. As he faces the Midianites with his .32 a cultured English voice comes down from the cross telling him that he is goint to have to kill someone if he and women wish to survive.
Perhaps this scene isn’t just entertainment but Burroughs relating a hard fact of life. No matter how good you may be a situation in life will appear when you will have to do that which goes against evrything you believe if you wish to survive.l Such is the West’s situation in the world today; commit suicide yourself or shoot to kill. Sometimes it comes down to that; left multi-culturalism or no.
This scene may be a very important psychological moment for ERB. There is wry truth in Tarzan’s next utterance to Patrick: “‘ A machine gun has its possibilites,’ the ape-man said with the flicker of a smile.’”
Perhaps ERB is in some midlife evaluation. The scene with his alter-ego Smith’s entry into Midian is laden with symbolism also. Let’s see how Burroughs handles that as he and Fate continue to weave the warp and woof of this remarkable tapestry to bring out the pattern.
Continued in Part 4: Lafe Smith, Born Again.
Themes And Variations
The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs
#15 Tarzan Triumphant
Over many years I have searched for the point where myth and science join. It was clear to me for a long time that the origins of science had their deep roots in a particular myth, that of invariance. The Greeks as early as the 7th century B.C. spoke of the quest of their first sages as the problem of the One and the Many, sometimes describing the wild fecundity of nature as the way in which the Many could be educed from the One, sometimes seeing the Many as the unsubstantial variations being played on the One. The oracular sayings of Heraclitus the Obscure do nothing but illustrate with shimmering paradoxes the illusory quality of “things” in flux as they were wrung from the central intuition of society.
Before him Anaximander had announced also oracularly, that the cause of things being born and perishing is their injustice to each other in the order of time, “as they meet,” he said, for they are bound to atone forever for their mutual injustices. This was enough to make of Anaximander the acknowledged father of physical science, for the accent is on the “Many.” But it was true science after a fashion.
Hamlet’s Mill: An Essay Investigaing The Origins Of Human
Knowledge And Its Transmission Through Myth, p. viii,
Giorgio de Santillana, 1969
The five Tarzan novels from Invinicible to Lion Man form a unique quintet within the oeuvre. Together they are just shy of twenty-five percent of the twenty-one Tarzan novels published during Burroughs’ lifetime. If one excludes the late and unrelated Foreign Legion they are a fourth of the series. Twenty-five percent within four years. One might well ask what was going on in Burroughs’ life during these momentous four years.
With the possible exception of City Of Gold all the novels deal openly with recognizable current events. Invincible deals with the Soviet Communist menace which is contdinued as one of the themes of Triumphant. The mainspring of Triumphant is Cecil Rhodes’ old dream of a Cape to Cairo route. In this instance realized, as improbable as it might have seemed to Rhodes, as an air route. The hope of the air route was first explored in 1918 and was about to be realized shortly after Burroughs wrote this book.
ERB also throws in a bit about Chicago hoodlumism with a tip of the hat to Al Capone.
Tarzan And The Leopard Men deals with the African Leopard Cult that was in the news at the time. City of Gold is about ERB’s marital problems while Tarzan And The Lion Man concerns the recent and sensational MGM expedition to Africa to film Trader Horn. Both before and after these novels Burroughs wrote pure, well, almost pure fantasy.
The reason for the change isn’t clear; however, the thirties mark another change in novelistic styles so Burroughs may have been adapting to new circumstances. If so it was the third stylistic change he was successfully meeting although it would be his last. He had melded a turn-of-the-century style of the teens when he began writing, then adapting his style to that of the Jazz Age of the twenties. After a good start in the thirties the ground slipped from beneath his feet with his style becoming somewhat dated. By the forties he was finished although Foreign Legion makes a game shot at a stylistic evolution.
Perhaps more importantly, ERB changed because he wanted to be taken as a serious writer. He was simply tired of being known as an ignorant boob writing from the seat of his pants. For all the seeming frivolity of his fantasy themes they are based on very solid scientific and knowledgeable themes. They are imbued with an intense mythological acumen, while presenting a new mythology for the current age. They do deal with classical themes such as the One and the Many. Burroughs tried to organize experience into a new mthological structure which was desperately needed then and no less today.
Consider Giorgio de Santillana again:
Today’s children, that impassive posterity to whom all reverence is due, know where to look for myths, in animal life in the Jungle Books. In the stories of Lassie and Flipper, where innocence is unassailable, in Western adventures arranged by grown ups for the protection of law and order. Much of the rest sedulously built up by mass media is modern prejudice and delusion, like the glamour of royalty, or the perfection of super detergents and cosmetics; super-stitio, leftovers. So one might be tempted to say. Actually however, no particle of myth is left over, and we have to do only with a deliberate lie about the human condition. Tolkien’s efforts at reviving the genre, whatever talent employed, carry as much conviction as the traditional three dollar bill.
Quite right. Burroughs had the handle on true mythology while being able to create the governing myth of the Aquarian Age. Triumphant is laden with myth. In truth Burroughs is not the light-headed, simple-minded writer that even his most devoted fans and admirers want to think him. He doesn’t want to parade his knowledge or get involved in abstruse discussions; he is writing seeming pure action novels, The Master Of Adventure, as his fans like to say, for a pulp magazine audience that primarily wanted to be thrilled. One may criticize Burroughs for it but he is never short on thrills or spectacular effects. One may guffaw at some of his heroes’ exploits as I surely do but your eyes are still popping. There’s a lot more under the seeming simplicity. Much of it would have been recognized at the time giving the ‘knowing’ reader the satisfaction of being in on what ERB was really talking about but as the topicality faded away the succeeding generations of readers could see only the action.
The first sentence of the preceding novel, Invincible, explains ERB’s approach:
I am no historian or chronicler of facts, and furthermore, I hold a very definite conviction that there are certain subjects which fiction writers should leave alone, foremost of which are politics and religion. However, it seems to me not unethical to pirate an idea occasionally from one or the other, provided that the subject be handled in such a way as to impart a definite impression of fictionizing.
In this series of five novels in a bid to be taken seriously, perhaps rather than conceal his knowledge by a ‘definite impression of fictionizing’ he was making a bid for intellectual recognition by ‘exposing’ his serious interests to some extent.
The background of Triumphant is solidly based historically and in current events. ERB was always seriously interested in aviation. Indeed, his life as an adult would span the first lift off at Kitty Hawk to supersonic jet flight over a period of a mere forty years. That might do something to your mind. the concept of speed changed in his lifetime from Barney ‘A mile a minute’ Oldfield to a fifteen mile a minute jet fighter plane.
Commercial flight as we know it today was non-existent in 1930. The DC3 was still five years distant. A flight from Cairo to Capetown involved several layovers and even train trips if air connections were not established between certain points. Yet, such a route was a major advance while being exciting news. Ya gotta remember making a crystal radio set at home was still a substantial achievement marking one as an electrical wizard. At the same time television was on the horizon, nearly a reality. In such a flight Burroughs had a sure fire topic.
He combines elements of an earlier 1918 attempt and the establishment of an air route at the time of writing. In 1918 shortly after the War ended the British got right on realizing the hope of a Cape to Cairo dream. Great Britain had acquired the German African colonies as part of the Versailles Treaty so that they were then in control of a continguous corridor through East Africa. The acquisition of Tanganyika (Tanzania) filled the gap.
Four separate pilots set out from Cairo for the Cape. The attempt was not entirely successful, but by 1932 it was. Burroughs then selects as his imaginary pilot Lady Barbara Collis, an English aviatrix on a solo flight. she seems to be somewhat off her course flying over Ethiopia but then that might be expected.
The way Burroughs’ mind worked he usually has real models for these roles if you can figure them out. In this case I think Lady Barbara incorporates three different women. The only significan aviatrix I can locate is Amelia Earhart. She became in 1928 the first woman to fly the Atlantic. She was part of a three-man crew but gained notoriety. In 1930-31 she was preparing for a solo Atlantic flight a la Charles Lindbergh from Labrador to Paris. She did cross the Atlantic but was forced down in an Irish cow pasture not reaching Paris. That was after the book was written so ERB would be relying on her 1928 flight and preparations for the solo flight.
A second personality conflated with Lady Barbara may have been the famous evangelist and founder of the Four Square Church, Aimee Semple McPherson. I have a framed picture of McPherson in my collection. Evangelism may also have been on Burroughs’ mind from his recent reading of Elmer Gantry by Sinclair Lewis. According to ERBzine Burroughs objected to Lewis’ forcing his atheism on the reader. Here one of his purposes may have been to show Lewis how it’s done.
Aimee Semple McPherson hit LA at about the same time as Burroughs.
By 1923 she was so popular she opened her 5000 seat Angelus Temple while beginning to broadcast over KSFG-K Four Square Gospel. And then a the height of her fame on May 18, 1926 she vanished after swimming in the Pacific. This and the following events during which several people died created a sensation no one in the country, and certainly LA, could miss. Not an ERB who was passionately interested in religion anyway. One wonders if he visited the Angelus Temple for Sunday services.
Aimee turned up in Mexico where she said she had been held captive after being abducted. But, apparently the pressures of success had been too much for her and she attempted escape into sex and a love tryst, which is a normal psychological reaction to unbearable stress as ERB himself was discovering. The disappearance and subseqauent events had continued into 1927 and 1928 so that ERB’s capacious mind was filled with the wonder of it all. Thus Lady Barbara disappears during the flight onto the mystery escarpment to reappear months later on the arm of Lafayette Smith. Same story. I think it likely ERB was thinking of both women while a third influence is almost certainly Dorothy Sayers, the mystery writer and creator of Lord Peter Whimsey. Burroughs hits at it by mentioning that the story does not concern Lord Wimsey but does concern his daughter, Barbara Collis. This probably refers to Dorothy Sayers and her creation, Peter Wimsey. When ERB admired a writer he wrote them into the story somehow. He was generous that way.
And then there is Danny ‘Gunner’ Patrick of the Chicago Underworld. His name indicates he is Irish so he may be supposed to be associated with Dion O’ Bannion’s gang rather than Capone and the incipient Outfit. ERB privides an intriguing if overly sympathetic portrait of the gangster. One wonders if he had met models at this time.
In connection with Patrick, which begins an interest in organized crime that extends through Swords Of Mars and the its Guild of Assassins, Murder Inc. was established at this time so that by the date of 1933 it would seem that ERB brought Murder Inc. into the corpus.
Then there is LaFayette Smith himself. Named after General Lafayette of Revolutionary War fame and recently brought to mind by General Patton who said, as he stepped foot on French soil, ‘Lafayette, we are here.’ The young geology professor may be be taken as an alter ego of Burroughs himself as he taught geology at the MMA. Sort of the man Burroughs might have been had he the self-discipline to have gone to college. ERB apparently sincerely regretted he had not gotten a degree as a number of his alter egos are college graduates, such as the Old Timer of Leopard Men who graduated from his brothers’ alma mater, Yale.
As noted Burroughs had taught geology as an instructor at the Michigan Military Academy. He was still following the subject closely as he grouses that geologists had as many opinions each about as accurate as the weather forecasters. Still, knowledge was developing at a break neck pace that would lead to our substantailly complete knowledge of today. It’s too bad that ERB couldn’t have held on to 1965 or so. A man of his intellect would have seen things.
Burroughs not only combines all these threads and strands but in his prologue he reaches for his most daring concept yet. It’s only a page so let’s look at it closely. The opening sentences:
Time is a warp of the tapestry which is life. It is eternal, constant, unchanging. But the woof is gathered from the four corners of the earth and the twenty-eight seas and out of the air and the minds of men by that master artist, Fate, as she weaves the design that is never finished.
A thread here, a thread from there, another from out of the past that has waited years for the companion thread without which the picture must be incomplete.
But Fate is patient. She waits a hundred or a thousand years to bring together two strands of thread whose union is essential to the fabrication of her tapestry, to the composition of the design that was without beginning and is without end.
That attitude informs all of Burroughs’ work; a study of the One and Many, and is the reason I am such an admirer. Given Burroughs Classical background that apparently made such a profound impression on him one is reminded of Penelope at her web as well as the three Greek mythological Fates themselves- the three daughters of Night– Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos.
Clotho the spinner, Lachesis the apportioner, Atropos who cuts the string that ends the web and life.
And then Burroughs begins to indicate how events occurring thousands of years previously would provide the strands of time to bring his story together into a recognizable pattern, the warp of the web, while th woof is the improbable bringing together of such disparate persons as Tarzan, Gunner Patrick, Lafe Smith, Lady Barbara and Jezebel, ERB’s prophetically named first Golden Girl. Florence is into the picture.
The ancient protagonist is a disciple of Paul of Tarsus, Angustus of Israel. At the death of Paul in Rome the paranoid Angustus decides to flee into the Heart of Darkness, Africa. Along the way he picks up a Nordic slave girl who will bring in ERB’s evolutionary theme. Then up the Nile into the Heart of Darkness.
In this story, all roads lead to Midian in the crater of an extinct Ethiopian volcano. In his way ERB who speaks frequently of coincidence denies the concept in favor of Fate the Inexorable. As Freud would say, there is no coincidence– one thing leads to another. Once set in motion the ball may be deflected but it cannot be stopped except by the cessation of Time– the non-existent but all controlling element.
Part two follows.