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.
April 8, 2011
Normal Bean: A Case Of Identity
Originally published in the Summer 20o2
Issue of the Burroughs Bulletin
A certain selection and direction must be used in producing a realistic effect and this is wanting…when more stress is laid perhaps upon the platitudes…than upon the details, which to an observer contain the vital essence of the whole matter.
- Arthur Conan Doyle
What’s in a name?
A rose might smell as sweet by any other name but would it be as desirable if it were called a Smudge Pot? There is in a name what there is not in a scent. Sherlock Holmes by Artie Doyle? Allan Quatermain by Hank Haggard? The island of Dr. Moreau by Herb Wells? Or, even the The Island of Sid Jones by Herbie Wells?
No, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle lends a dignity to the fantasy of Sherlock Holmes. Even Arthur Doyle is not enough. It’s the ‘Conan’ that makes it, and later the ‘Sir’ that adds final legitimization.
Even Henry Haggard is pale stuff compared to H. Rider Haggard. How about Herb Wells? George Wells? Herbert George Wells? Nah. ‘H.G.’, although more anonymous, carries weight, even though he never won the recognition of society by gaining a Sir.
The Island Of Dr. Moreau? Sinister. The Island Of Sid Jones? Not only banal but laughable. The Abominable Dr. Phibes, The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari. There is something in the betrayal of the calling of doctor that raises the short hairs. What’s a good book without a good title? Gone with the wind.
A good pseudonym is important. I don’t know how disappointed ERB was when his editor changed the l to an n and attributed the story to Norman Bean but that one small detail may have changed literary history.
There is a playful humorous promise in the pseudonym Normal Bean but, at the same time, it promises a certain clownishness which, in the end. would have turned Burroughs’ precarious premises into burlesque.
Perhaps the editor said to himself: ‘Oh, he made a typo; it should be Norman not Normal.’ Or perhaps he said; ‘Nah, that’s just stupid; I’m changing it to Norman.’ Whatever the case, it prevented Burroughs from using the pseudonym again. Who wants to be known as Norman Bean. (My apologies to the lost list of Norman Beans on the internet. I didn’t have a computer when I wrote this.)
His joke over, he wisely chose a more somber approach along the modes of H. Rider, Arthur Conan or H.G. Altough he professed to dislike the name of Edgar, it was, after all, the first name of his idol, Eddie Poe. Ed Poe also wisely went for dignity by calling himself Edgar Allan Poe. Ed Burroughs, whose mother or father had given him very nearly a perfect literary middle name,chose to use it in Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Now there’s a nice wedding of names. There’s magic in the Rice. Edgar James or Edgar William Burroughs? I don’t think so. But Edgar Rice? That’s the ticket.
The dignity of the name Edgar Rice Burroughs also balanced off the daring imaginative nature of the literary creation of his life, Tarzan. It had the necessary weight to counterbalance the impossibility of Tarzan, or the spectacular flights of fancy of the Moons of Mars, or the timelessness of Pellucidar. The name added credulity to his themes and variations: evolution, dinosaurs, the Theory of Relativity, Marxism, Freudianism and speculative science, among others.
Burroughs might have been distressed when he picked up his copy of The All Story to see his novel attributed to plain old Norman, but his editor may very well have made his reputation down to today and into the foreseeable future. Somehow I can’t envision Buroughs’ oeuvre surviving as well under the name of Norman Bean.
On the other hand, if an editor had changed M. Francois Marie Arouet back from the pseudonym Voltaire, the writer would probably be unknown today.
The above was written in response to my editor, George McWhorter, deciding on his own that I didn’t need a pseudonym. George is a very good guy and I’m within a decade or two of forgiving him. In recognition of his guilt George appended the following postscript to my essay.
An Editorial Postscript
“Rice” was a family name traced through the Burroughs family tree to Dean Edmund Rice who was born in England in 1594 and settled in the American colonies in 1639 at Sudbury,Massachusetts. Six generations later, his descendent, Mary Rice, Married Abner Tyler Burroughs and became ERB’s grandmother.
Surnames seem to carry more dignity and historic recognition than Christian names, probably because they are less used today and are patently more interesting. Familiar middle names such as Makepeace, Wadsworth, Fenimore and Orne, make fine literary middle names, and Rice fits right into the pattern. Could this be why the British are fond of omitting the Christian names when citing famous authors such as ‘Bernard Shaw’ and ‘Rice Burroughs?’ Only this year (2002), a British paperback was published referring to ‘Rice Burroughs’. The middle name is the clincher.
Burroughs enjoyed creating fictional names and often spoke them out loud, with variations, before deciding which name sounded best for his purposes. ‘Vomer’ comes to mind; it’s a name he gave to his Myposan fish-man in Escape on Venus, and I was delighted to see it listed in a standard dictionary as the name of the common moon fish.
’Anoroc’ is also an interesting island name in At The Earth’s Core, but the casual reader probably wouldn’t recognize it as the name of ERB’s typewriter spelled backward. Burroughs had fun spelling words backwords. He created ‘sak’ to mean ‘jump’ on Mars…and then spelled it backwards to mean the same thing in his Ape-English Dictionary: ‘kas.’ The ‘O-220′ which carried Tazan and Jason Gridley to Pellucidar happens to have been ERB’s phone number, Owensmouth 220. He liked to create gutteral names for his villains (Skruk), soft palatal names for his ladies (Dejah), and noble sounding names for his heroes (Valthor).
The sum total of a man’s accomplishments validates and immortalizes his name. It becomes a unique label. Shakespeare was right on target when he wrote: ‘That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.’ If Burroughs had kept the name Norman Bean after his first story was published, I would probably regard it today with reverence. But he didn’t and his three names are a unique symbol of many happy hours of reading his imaginative tales. I’m glad he dropped the Bean. …Ye Editor.
Thank you for publishing me, George, but I think I have the better idea of who I am.
Edgar Rice Burroughs On Mars
Thuvia, Maid Of Mars
Apparently at this time in his life ERB’s mind was focused on hypnotism. The raison d’ etre of the novel seems to be his explanation of hypnotism and some of its effects. He certainly makes a fascinating story of the phenomenon. In fact the whole story concerns hypnotism with a few embellishments to get Carthoris and Thuvia to Lothar and once he’d exhausted the possibilities of his hypnotic theme he ended the story and even then he ends on a wild hypnotic note.
Thuvia was his fourth Mars novel and his first without John Carter. The hero is Carthoris the son of John Carter and Dejah Thoris. ERB’s father, George T. had died about a year previous to the writing. This novel was written shortly after The Lad And The Lion. As it includes a scene of psychological rebirth it may be a declaration of independence from his father, severing the relationship more denfinitely than did Lad.
On entering the land of the Lotharians Carthoris passes through a cave quite similar to the birth canal. There are Banths, Martian lions, before and one huge one behind him. Those before seem to vanish while the one large Banth remained behind him; that would be the memory of his father and the past. Carthoris placed himself in a posture of defense in the dark but the charging Banth passed to his side missing him much as a ghost from the past might do. Thus ERB seems to dispense with the Old Looney aboard ship in The Lad And The Lion who did represent ERB’s dad.
Thuvia had been kidnapped by a disappointed suitor who had her taken to Aanthor, one of the innumerable dead cities lining the shores of the vanished seas. There she was captured by the Green Men who fled through the cave to Lothar. There Carthoris and Thuvia are delivered to the scene of the action by ERB.
Carthoris then finds Thuvia in the possession of the Green Men who are waging a gigantic battle against the Phantom Bowmen of Lothar, themselves aided by large prides of both phantom and real Banths.
Piles of Green Men killed by little arrows lie about amongst legions of Bowmen who have been cut down, and still they stream through the city gates. Carthoris who has gotten to the side of Thuvia and she marvel at the carnage. They turn to watch the defeated Green Men flee. When they look back they are astonished to see that the dead Bowmen have all disappeared while the dead Green Men no longer have phantom arrows sticking in them. The pair are at a loss for an explanation. The Banths however were real and were now gorging themselves on the remains of the Greenies.
As a nice touch ERB has Thuvia essentially hypnotize the Banths. Rather than fear them as Carthoris does she merely makes a low melodic warbling sound that so charms the Banths that they come fawning before her.
This may seem improbable or even impossible and yet I have seen it done but with house cats. What can be done with one size cat I’m sure can be done with all sizes. The effect was quite astonishing with the woman I saw do it but the result was exactly as ERB describes it. Apparently he’d seen it done too. ERB thus establishes the ability of Thuvia that will be even more important soon.
Thus they gain access to the city of Lothar by passing through the Banths with safety. As a nice touch ERB gives Lothar an exotic round gate that rolls back into a slot. Perhaps he had seen a house with such a door somewhere. Once inside they meet the Lotharian Jav who begins to unfold the story while unfolding the hypnotic power of the mind.
If ERB had read H. Rider Haggard’s Cleopatra that deals quite extensively with hypnotism in a scenario somewhat similar to this one Haggard may have been another source for Thuvia. Quite possibly ERB had ingested and digested his earlier reading so that he wasn’t aware of how close he was to the originals. After all, anyone who could learn of Numa, the Roman King, from his Jr. High studies and think he had invented the name Numa for the king of beasts twenty years later, which he says is what happened, probably could think he was inventing his details himself.
Many strange phenomena appear to the pair on their way to the palace of the despot who was named Tario. They see marching files of Bowmen who appear and disappear. But the Bowmen are not real they are a projection of the mind of Tario who has hypnotized the pair into seeing what isn’t there.
While it is clear that ERB is quite familiar with Homer’s Odyssey it isn’t quite so clear what he knows of Homer’s Iliad or Greek mythology in general. One hesitates to give him too much knowledge and yet elements from the Iliad and Greek mythology seem to materialize before one’s eyes like the Phantom Bowmen of Lothar.
One can’t know whether ERB read the Iliad more than once and whether that once was in the seventh or eighth grade. How much he understood of an early reading like that would be questionable. I first read the Iliad in the seventh grade but got nothing but impressions of the action from it. The gods, goddesses and humans were very confusing. Lot of boy and girl stuff that was well beyond my experience. I have read the book seven times in various translations since. It was only in the fifth, sixth and seventh readings that I began to develop what I would consider any real understanding of Homer’s message.
One of the things I understand is that the Iliad is a story about the power of mind and its limitations. Zeus, of course had the mind of ultimate power that gave him the advantage over mortals and the other gods. Tario in Thuvia has the most powerful mind in Lothar which keeps him in authority over the few permanent emanations in Lothar. But, these are all figments of his or someone’s imagination.
It seems that long generations before the women had all died out leaving only the men who over a period of time would also have died out but they survived by being able to imagine themselves. Here we have a possible reference to Poe’s The Facts In The Case Of M. Valdemar. In that story Valdemar was a dying man who was first hypnotized and then expired. Being under hypnosis while alive he could not actually die as he was hypnotized alive. This is somewhat the condition of the Lotharians.
Taking hypnosis a step further ERB posits that there are phantom ‘realists’ who believe they can wish themselves into a permanent corporeal existence of which Jav is one. Opposed to them are the phantom ‘etherealists’ represented by Tario who believe they must remain imaginary.
Getting back to Greek mythology in which we do know that ERB was read the ‘realists’ believe that they have to eat so they conjure up ‘ephemeral fruits’ on which to gorge themselves.
Ephemeral fruits make their appearance in the myth of Typhon and Zeus. So there is a possibility that Jav and Tario is a version of that myth. Hera in her squabbles for supremacy with Zeus conjures up the monster Typhon to take on Zeus. Typhon makes mincemeat of Zeus removing his sinews and bones and placing them in a leather bag in a cave in Caria. Sad plight for the Big Fella with the all powerful mind and no sinews. Worse yet, as a god he is immortal so there he and his all powerful mind are in his sack perhaps for all eternity.
While Apollo and Hermes come to the Big Guy’s aid by putting the dry bones back together and reattaching the sinews the nymphs feed Typhon ‘ephemeral fruit’ that looks like the real thing but lacks nourishment. Thus when Zeus is reassembled and ready for action he faces an enfeebled Typhon who this time he easily defeats. Great story when you think about it. So there you have two stories reflected that ERB may or may not have read but having read them probably didn’t consciously remember them as he was writing. I can’t guarantee ERB read those stories but I can state with assurance that ERB just didn’t make this stuff up. He never does; it all has been suggested from someplace. It is not impossible that he heard similar stuff from Baum and the Theosophists in California. ERB does have a retentive memory that provides him with a lot of material.
Thuvia and its successor Martian novel- The Chessmen Of Mars- are an examination of mind and matter. The later Mastermind of Mars and the Synthetic Men Of Mars are examinations of the application of mind to matter. In the Chessmen the mind and body were separate entities. It will be remembered that the Kaldanes were also skilled hypnotists.
Here ERB is interested in a projected reality, in itself a form on insanity in an unbalanced mind. PP 66-67, Ace paperback:
Jav speaking: “(The Banths) that remained about the field were real. Those we loosed as scavengers to devour the bodies of the dead Torquasians. This thing is demanded by the realists among us. I am a realist. Tario is an etherealist.
“The etherealists maintain there is no such thing as matter- that all is mind. They say that none of us exists, except in the imagination of his fellows, other than as an intangible, invisible mentality.
“According to Tario, it is but necessary that we all unite in imagining that there are no dead Torquasians beneath our walls, and there will be none, nor any need for the fierce scavenging banths.”
‘You, then do not hold to Tario’s beliefs?” asked Carthoris.
“In part only,” replied the Lotharian. “I believe, in fact I know, that there are some truly ethereal creatures. Tario is one, I am convinced. He has no existence except in the imaginations of his people.
“Of course, it is the contention of all us realists that all etherealists are but figments of the imagination. They contend that no food is necessary nor do they eat, but anyone of the most rudimentary intelligence must realize that food is a necessity to creatures having actual existence.”
“Yes,” agreed Carthoris, “not having eaten today I can readily agree with you.”
“Ah, pardon me,” exclaimed Jav. “Pray be seated and satisfy your hunger,” and with a wave of his hand he indicated a beautifully laden table that had not been there an instant before he spoke….”It is well,” continued Jav, “that you did not fall into the hands of an etherealist, then indeed, you would have gone hungry.”
An interesting passage laden with humor and a joke or two. On the one hand this is a takeoff on Bishop Berkeley and those who believe that nothing is real but only a figment of our imaginations. They do believe that when you close your eyes the world ceases to exist. I could never follow the argument, and on the other hand the ideas can be construed as a variation on the Theosophical belief that the gods were first ethereal becoming more materialistic as existence descended to man who is most material. Thus Tario is visible air, as it were, as an ethereality while Jav is condensed into, as he believes, permanent air/matter while Carthoris and Thuria are solid matter as humans.
The food Jav produces is ephemeral food. It looks real but having no real substance has no nourishment. As he smirkingly says: It is well that you did not fall into the hands of an etherealist. Then, indeed, you would have gone hungry.” A funny joke. But Jav has hypnotized the pair into seeing the food even though Carthoris is not so hypnotized as to not realize it is not real food. He eats it anyway.
Once in this land where nothing is real but the Banths, one wonders that we don’t have a situation that was replicated later in the movie The Manchurian Candidate. In that movie the hypnotized soldiers imagine they are at a ladies social and actually see American women where Korean people are.
Perhaps Carthoris and Thuvia are standing in an empty field talking to themselves. Perhaps the Lotharians exist only in their own imaginations but have conjured Carthoris and Thuvia out of thin air. Pretty spacy stuff.
As Carthoris is hypnotized he is easily persuaded to do things he wouldn’t ordinarily do such as letting Thuvia be led away alone to Tario. He does and Thuvia meets Tario alone mystyfied that Carthoris would let her out of his sight. Seeing Thuvia the etherealist’s phantom cojones are aroused and he makes an all out assault on Thuvia. As he doesn’t exist, of course, the assault can only have force in Thuvia’s imagination. Just as those little arrows the Torquasians believed were real killed them one wonders what effect a phantom penetration would have on Thuvia. Would she have a little phantom child after a phantom pregnancy?
We’ll never know because she pulls out her thin blade stabbing Tario to his phantom heart. He falls apparently dead seemingly oozing out his lifeblood. But, as we know he is an etherealist hence only a figure of someone’s imagination we know he must be feigning death with phantom blood.
Hearing Thuvia’s screams Carthoris races to the rescue followed by Jav. Jav, who should have known better, is overjoyed confessing his desire to replace Tario. It was almost like a plan. Tario leaps up explaining he always thought Jav did and now he is going to execute him.
Here ERB evades the issue taking a cheap but effective way out. These two guys are actually magicians and should be made to match powers in efforts to do the other in. ERB isn’t up to it so he has Jav cave just awaiting his fate that he could always evade with his hypnotic powers. Now, we’ve all been advised not to trust our senses so whether any of this happened is open to question. Nevertheless a hole opens in the floor, the floor dishes so that all falls into the memory hole. The three are ostensibly history.
They are precipitated into the chamber of the Lotharian god. One might expect this god to be pure essence but instead he is pure matter. As so often is the case a Burroughsian god turns out to be a lion or the Martian Banth. Why Jav should be concerned isn’t clear as he has no real substance and can’t be eaten while with his hypnotic powers he could make the Banth believe it was a mouse.
Carthoris draws his sword but this one’s a piece of cake for Thuvia. Using her own particular hypnotic talents she charms the Banthian god and all four walk out through the Banth’s quarters as chums.
At this point Jav calls into existence old Lothar for us all to see.
Outside the gates of Lothar Jav conceives a desire for Thuvia. Using considerable hypnotic talent he persuades Carthoris that he and Thuvia are heading for the woods. Carthoris walks off alone convinced he is leading Thuvia by the hand. He is soon disillusioned. Returning he finds the realist Jav really mauled by the Banth and dying. Thuvia and the Banth have headed back to Aanthor. Carthoris has no choice but to follow.
Now, what’s been going in addition to this hypnosis stuff is ERB’s ongoing attempt to reconcile his Anima and Animus. He has followed the usual Pyche and Eros storyline of Apuleius’ Golden Ass of Greek mythology. The Anima and Animus get together, circumstances separate them, then during the rest of the novel they try to get together amid difficulties, finally succeeding.
In Lad And The Lion ERB introduced the lion as his totem. Even though a male lion it is associated with his female Anima. At the risk of repeating myself, just in case anybody has been reading this stuff for the last four or five years the cause and evolution of his dilemma progress thusly:
In 1883 or 1884 ERB was terroized on a street corner by a young thug he identifies only as John. Possibly Emma was with him and kept walking abandoning him to his fate. Thus it was suggested to his subconscious that his Anima had abandoned him. John being the terrorist filled the vacancy. Thus ERB had the seemingly impossible anomaly of a male representing his female Anima.
We know this was the result because ERB writes incessantly about it. In the Outlaw of Torn the king’s fencing master, De Vac lures young Prince Norman/Burroughs outside the gate. Norman’s nurse Maud representing his Anima noticing too late rushes to the scene to be struck down dead by De Vac. Thus ERB’s Anima is murdered. How does ERB handle this? In his dream image ERB has De Vac take Norman to London where they live in the attic of a house over the Thames River. The house is a symbol for self, the attic being the mind. Water is a symbol of the female. The house extending out over the water but separated from it indicated the separation from the Anima. To compensate for the impossible situation of a male on the Anima, De Vac improbably dresses as a woman for the three years they live together in their attic. At the end of the novel Norman/Burroughs kills De Vac.
In the succeeding novel The Mucker he associates himself with the Irish thug Billy Byrne. Byrne being paired up with the socialite Barbara Harding is also an impossible match. It would seem probable that ERB’s father and John were two of the components clothing ERB’s Animus. Thus ERB has this very strong feeling about having a dual personality that he talks about constantly.
In Lad And The Lion we have the improbable situation of a powerless ship, representing the self, drifting up and down the Atlantic endlessly, manned by the deaf and dumb Old Looney, the Lad, and a Lion in a cage on deck. That the Old Looney who represents ERB’s father was deaf and dumb probably indicates he wouldn’t listen to ERB and had nothing to say that the Lad/ERB wanted to hear. So, the Lad was brutally abused the whole of his childhood. That’s how ERB saw the Bad Father. It would seem that John Carter represents the Good Father as ERB would have liked him to have been.
With De Vac and John dead the Lion begins to take his place as the male aspect of ERB’s Anima which has now been reoccupied by a female reprsentative. The male lion becomes a permanent aspect of the Anima in 1922s Tarzan And The Golden Lion as Jad-Bal-Ja. In Lad he and the Lion go ashore after the death of the Old Looney, or, in other words, his father, where the lion is loosely associated with the Arab princess Nakhla. Lad was written a short two months before Thuvia.
Now Thuvia wows Carthoris/ERB by charming the raging Banths/lions of the battlefield and the Lotharian God. Thuvia and the god become as one as she walks by his side her fingers twisted in his mane. So the traditional goddess of the male Anima is united with a male god to form ERB’s Anima. The female Anima who moved closer to reassuming her place in Lad now definitely becomes part of ERB’s psyche.
They pass through the tunnel before Carthoris. As ERB exits the tunnel he encounters his doppelganger Kar Komak. This is great stuff actually. Komak is literally a new man. He was the first successful materialization of an hypnotic imaginary man of the Lotharians. That’s likely enough, isn’t it?
He comes running through the scarlet furze, naked, to greet Carthoris. Well, picture that. Nakedness is something else appearing regularly in ERB”s works most notably in Tarzan And The City Of Gold. (See my review.)
The duo then continue on to Aanthor where as they arrive they are met by Torquasians who upset the plans of the men of Dusar who had come back to pick up Thuvia. We know that Carthoris for sure represents ERB because he takes a sword swipe to the forehead that lays him out. Thus the novel has the obligatory bash to the head recalling ERB’s adventure in Toronto.
When the sleeper wakes he finds the dead carcass of Thuvia’s lion lying half across his body. Probably his left half that derives from the ovum. Must have been uncomfortable to say the least. Thus the male half of his Anima is now dead and the female half in possession of the Dusarians. ERB gets her back and as in Psyche and Eros the Anima and Animus we may assume are permanently reunited.
Not quite but that will take us too far afield to discuss it this moment. I deal with the future development of the problem in my reviews of Out There Somewhere (The Return Of The Mucker), Bridge And The Oskaloosa Kid (The Oakdale Affair) and Marcia Of The Doorstep.
A Part 3 will follow that attempts to deal with the bigotry charges against Burroughs. If there is such a thing as guilt concerning the issue, ERB is not guilty, of course.
March 14, 2009
Edgar Rice Burroughs On Mars
Thuvia, Maid Of Mars
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Review by R.E. Prindle
This very interesting sdtory was written shortly after ERB returned to Chicago from his first San Diego excursion. It was placed between the Girl From Fariss’s, the last story written in San Diego and The Cave Man.
The material deals almost exclusively with suggestion and hypnosis. Although hypnosis is a recurring theme in Burroughs one is startled by his concentration on the subject and his seemingly informed ideas of it, especially the role of suggestion.
One wonders why his interest surfaced at this time and where ERB learned or developed this information. He was just back from San Diego and I’m going to suggest he picked it up from his hero, L. Frank Baum. As Baum was such a significant influence on Edgar Rice Burroughs perhaps it may be worthwhile to attempt an assessment on Baum’s role in literature and history. There can be no question but that the OZ series of Baum took a central place in the American psyche and a place in the European psyche. Baum’s books have been in demand since 1900 when he began writing them to the present. Baum put Kansas on the map. The Wizard, Dorothy and Toto are household names. Baum’s play from the Wizard was a box office success while MGM’s movie is certainly in the top ten of influential movies, perhaps even in a tie for first with Gone With The Wind. Even American Negroes made their own Black version called The Wiz. The list goes on.
I’m going to suggest that Fritz Lang, the movie Director, was highly influenced by Baum as reflected in his important film, The Testament Of Dr. Mabuse. I wouldn’t be surprised if Lang was also very familiar with Burroughs.
Baum himself was a committed Theosophist. Introduced to the religion by his mother-in-law Baum picked up his card in 1893. By 1913 when he met Burroughs he had been a practicing member for twenty years. When he left Chicago he first went to Coronado across the Bay from San Diego. Katherine Tingley had established her Theosophical organization on Point Loma near that city. Baum must have been an important member of that congregation. Perhaps he had a falling out with Tingley but he did remove himself to Hollywood in 1910. In Hollywood he undoubtedly connected with the Pasadena Theosophical Society that at present is the mother organization.
As a Theosophist Baum would have had to have been familiar with the works of Madame Helena Blavatsky. Her great works are Isis Unveiled and The Secrect Doctrine. Theosophy of course is on a par with the Semitic religions of Judaism and Christianity. While Madame B is often referred to as nonsense she is in fact very learned in the ancient religious doctrines of the human mind that went to form all Middle Eastern religious expressions. Hence while Madame B’s works are metaphysical in nature they are no less relevant to the development of the human intellect than say, St. Augustine or others of the metaphysical ilk.
Madame B had some strong opinions on hypnotism. Hypnotism had come to the fore of Euroamerican consciousness in the years preceding the French Revolution through the efforts of Dr. Franz Mesmer. Though discredited as as a charlatan he was dealing with the real thing as subsequent history shows. He originally called hypnotism Animal Magnetism. That was changed to Mesmerism and then to Hypnotism. As far as possible influences on Burroughs it will be remembered that Edgar Allan Poe wrote Mesmeric Revelation in 1844 and The Facts In The Case Of M. Valdemar in 1845. There are clear indications that ERB was familiar with the Valdemar story.
Now, the essence of hypnotism is the suggestion. Suggestion is perhaps the most important intellectual or psychological phenomenon. Suggestion isperhaps the basis of intellect, intelligence and psychology. C.G. Jung in his investigations of symbols was dealing with the nature of universal suggestion from nature. Freud early learned to separate suggestion from the hypnotic trance. Artfully used suggestion obviates the need for trancelike states. Thus people don’t understand that and how they are hypnotized by movies and TV.
The art of successful literature is merely to suggest scenes and situations and have the reader visualize them in his own mind. Once accepted the suggestion becomes part of the intellect of the reader. He may be able to reject it later but that is a separate volitional act. The great writers realize this. Freud understood perfectly, while Baum developed the art of the concrete image to a remarkable degree. His works are a series of remarkable images. If Freud had had Baum’s skill, and he wasn’t far short, he would have been even more effective than he has been.
The prescient Fritz Lang picked up on Freud, Baum and hypnotism in his remarkable Dr. Mabuse series of movies. The first story, Dr. Mabuse The Gambler of 1922, concerns a Freudlike megalomaniac named Dr. Mabuse. Freud’s activities during the Great War and after would be known to the cognoscenti. It would be foolish to think that Adolf Hitler and other Volkish leaders wouldn’t have been aware of what Freud was up to. Mabuse is into all kinds of criminal activities to undermine society and the State, as was Freud. He is also a master hypnotist as was Freud. In a scene reminiscent of the scene in Thuvia where Jav says ‘You want to see them? Then, look.’ The scene of ancient bustling Lothar then appears to Carthoris and Thuvia’s wondering hypnotized eyes. As well as mine, certainly. I had no trouble seeing what Burroughs wanted me to see. So Dr. Mabuse in his role of stage hypnotizer, the man wore many hats, makes a parade appear before the wondering eyes of his audience. It can be done. I saw a man make Diamond Head disappear before the whole world on TV. Pretty amazing.
At the end of the movie Mabuse is captured and conveniently tucked away in an insane asylum. He goes catatonic until 1930 or so when Lang made the sequel The Testament Of Dr. Mabuse. The Dr. emerging from his catatonic state makes signs that he wants pen and paper which the head of the asylum, one Dr. Baum, provides.
Mabuse then turns out page after endless page of instructions to destroy civilization not unlike what Herr Dr. Freud was doing from his study in Vienna. The writing had an hypnotic effect on Dr. Baum who executes the plans of the cell bound Dr. Mabuse.
The use of the name Baum could be a coincidence but Dr. Baum like the Wizard Of Oz is an unseen superior. He issues orders but is otherwise an unknown to those he directs. In issuing his orders we are led to believe that he sits behind a curtain unseen while giving his directions. Then, just as Dorothy did, the hero dares to pull back the curtain and he finds…a phonograph player. Unlike Dorothy who finds a tubby timid little imposter, there is no one there. Surely this is a parody of Dorothy’s famous scene which makes the name Dr. Baum less of a coincidence.
So it would seem that L. Frank Baum’s influence extended to Germany and an originator of film noir. Not so unlike as Baum’s stories are much darker than they might appear at first reading. At any rate his literary images make long remembered illusions of reality not unlike that of Dr. Baum while being of a suggestive hypnotic nature. I can still visualize Dorothy pulling the curtain back exposing the mild mannered Big Brother sixty years after. I can remember the image I formed.
So, my suggestion is that L. Frank Baum was the direct inspiration for Thuvia of Mars. As noted ERB was probably familiar with Poe’s stories of hypnotism while I am certain that he had read George Du Maurier’s Trilby concerning the hypnotist Svengali and probably also Du Maurier’s other two novels, Peter Ibbetson, and The Martian both related to unusual psychological states. Len Carter believes that ERB read William Morris who also uses some hypnotic themes in his fantasy novels. Lew Sweetser, ERB’s mentor in Idaho via Yale, might also have given him some information on hypnotism while ERB was still a boy. Plus I’m sure hypnotism was a hot topic of popular discussions.
ERB’s emphasis on suggestion as the operative means of hypnotism points to some more direct instruction. Most think that ERB first met Baum in 1916 which means the two formed a fast friendship immediately. I think it more likely that they met in 1913 renewing the acquanitance in 1916. Whether Baum had read any of Burroughs’ stories in 1913 which seems would be paying pretty close atention to literary trends in pulp magazines he may have heard of Tarzan. Probably aware of this ERB may have brought along a magazine or two to show Baum. If Baum then read the proffered stories he certainly would have seen his influence in the Mars stories if ERB didn’t actually point them out to him hoping for the Zeusian nod of approval from the master.
Probably flattered Baum would have encouraed the relationship. Assuming that to be true the two men having similar interests would certainly engage in conversations on Theosophy, hypnotism, writing techniques and whatever.
Certainly Burroughs writing style which while always colorful was a little heavy on the narrative side seems to open up to a more allusive suggestive style blossoming significantly in 1915′s Tarzan And The Jewels of Opar.
I can’t find a more immediate source for ERB’s sudden interest in hypnotism. But, on to the story.
February 23, 2009
Tarzan Over Africa
The Psychological Roots Of Tarzan In The Western Psyche
As the strong man exhibits in his physical ability, delighting in such exercises as call the muscles into action, so glories the analyst in that moral activity which disentagles. He derives pleasure from even the most trivial occupations bringing his intellect into play. He is fond of enigmas, conundrums, hieroglypics; exhibiting in his solutions of each a degree of acumen which appears to the ordinary apprehension as praeternatural. His results brought about by the very soul and essence of method, have in truth, the whole air of intuition.
Edgar Allen Poe- The Murders In The Rue Morgue
…he dreams of the sight
of Zulu impis
breaking on the foe
like surf upon the rocks
and his heart rises in rebellion
against the strict limits
of civilized life.
H. Rider Haggard- Allan Quatermain
Yes! I noticed this dichotomy in the Western soul myself at least two thirds of a lifetime ago. I was always puzzled by it. Why in the midst of plenty and seeming perfection should the Western psyche be so discontented with its lot.
Well, time has passed. Two thirds of a lifetime in fact. After much mental lucubration and travail I now find myself in a position not only to understand it myself but to be able, perhaps, to make it clear to others; perhaps hopefully to you who are looking at this screen.
The problem began we are told, by people who ought to know, about one hundred fifty thousand years ago when our species, Homo Sapiens, evolved from its predecessor hominid, which has never been traced being the famous Missing Link, to begin its odyssey through time and space.
We are told that Homo Sapiens originated in Africa and that Black Africans, or what Tarzan would call savages, were the first Homo Sapiens. We are told, once again, that White people mutated from this original Black stock. This may or may not be so. I am in no position to affirm or deny the fact myself but, if so, there was a qualitative difference as well as a quantitative difference that then occurred. In fact, if one were to judge solely from appearances two sub-species of Homo Sapiens came into existence when the White evolved from the Black. This qualitative difference between the sub-species or what we have been taught to consider races, was noticed by all the early explorers with differing interpretations.
As the English novelist, H. Rider Haggard, who as a man of considerable experience and acumen, put it:
I say that as the savage is, so is the white man, only this latter is more inventive, and possesses a faculty of combination…
Rider Haggard was quite right, both sub-species evolved from the same stock, both had the same emotional makeup, but what Haggard dismisses as only ‘more inventive’ and ‘a faculty of combination’ is precisely that which separates the White sub-species from the Black sub-species and makes it evolutionarily more advanced. In conventional terms invention and a faculty of combination is called the scientific method.
The scientific method is not to be dismissed lightly. It is a faculty of mind that is an evolutionary step in advance of the White sub-species’ evolutionary predecessor, the Black sub-species.
This may be a startling interpretation to you, however if one is to follow the scientific logic adduced by scientists of Evolution the facts follow as day follows night. They cannot be avoided nor can they be explained away. They must be dealt with head on, just as our Attorney General Eric Holder has stated.
The evolutionary step within the Homo Sapiens species is almost tentative to our White minds, not so clear cut as to separate, say, the Chimpanzee species from the Gorilla species. The transition is however in that direction.
In the nineteenth century the cleavage between the scientific mind and that of the savage or first Homo Sapiens mind was beginning to become felt in the Western psyche. A malaise of spirit was created which troubled the soul of Western man. The ‘strict limits’ of scientific civilization versus the seeming naturalness and open simplicity of the African became a dichotomy in the Western psyche.
Haggard was not the first to confront the problem but before I begin at the beginning with who I consider to be the first let me elucidate the problem further by another quote from Rider Haggard.
Ah! this civilization what does it all come to? Full forty years and more I spent among savages, and studied them and their ways, and now for several years I have lived here in England and in my own stupid manner have done my best to learn the ways of the children of light; and what do I find? A great gulf fixed? No, only a very little one, that a plain man’s thought may spring across.
Haggard was quite correct as far as he went. What he failed to understand, ‘in his own stupid way’, was that there was a small gulf over which civilized man thinks he could spring backward without difficulty but from the other side that small gulf appears a great chasm which the completed mind of the first Homo Sapiens can never find a way across.
Edgar Rice Burroughs who read Haggard and was also struck by this really important introductory chapter to ‘Allan Quatermain’ pondered the issue long and hard and resolved the issue in his own mind when he said that the savage mind could never grasp science while only one in a hundred of the White species could, with perhaps one in a thousand being able to advance science. ERB intuited what modern genetics would prove.
This dichotomy between the primitive and scientific mind does not become truly prominent until the mid-nineteenth century. It wasn’t observable to the naked eye before then and only begins to establish itself in literature with the apperance in 1841 of Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘Murders In The Rue Morgue.’
Poe created a whole new genre of literature, not only of the detective story, but of the conflict between what Freud would later identify in his system as the Unconscious and the Conscious mind. Prior to Poe reason, or the forebrain, was the sole approach to knowledge; after Poe awareness of the Unconscious element began its long rise until today it is dominant.
When dissatisfaction with Haggard’s strict limits of civilization began to forcibly intrude into White consciousness, causing the split identity, is not clear to me although it may well have been the introduction of the Age of Steam. Certainly by 1841 the intrusion of the steam railroad was going a long way to condition man’s mind to a rigid one way view of reality as laborers spun out the long steel ribbons along which the great unyielding iron locomotives ran.
The science of steam was unforgiving, with a low level of tolerance for human error, and making no allowance for individual idiosyncracies.
In the days of the great steamboat races on the Mississippi boiler pressure was controlled by a little governor. Greater speed could be attained if the governor was removed allowing boiler pressure to increase. Of course, the inevitable result was the explosion of the boiler and destruction of the steamboat and crew. Even knowing the scientific consequences of removing the governor operators time after time did it in hopes of defeating physics and winning the race.
Thus science seemed ‘unfair’ and the White man’s limited undeveloped understanding began to rebel.
When evolution gave man access to science he reached the limits of what human exertion alone could do. Thus the forebrain was frustrated, driving it back toward the brain stem and the Unconscious. A new scientific frontier was opened thereby- the study of the human mind.
Edgar Allan Poe grasped this significance expressing it in poetic language. ‘Murders In The Rue Morgue’ posits the problem in the form of C. Auguste Dupin who, while using rigorous scientific method is mistaken for being intuitive. The Conscious mind versus the Unconscious.
The Unconscious is always disreputable. It is there that little understood sexual urges and primitive egoistic rituals reside. It is there that the primitive man resides; the savage of Rider Haggard, the Negro of the present day. It is there that the Western psyche rebels, seeking to emerge triumphant over science and understanding. That is the little leap backwards that Rider Haggard saw. In academic writers of the nineteenth century it was called ‘the thin veneer of civilization.’
Thus the initials of C. Auguste Dupin spell CAD, or a slightly disreputable man. A man who thinks only of himself. If Poe doesn’t introduce the notion of the doppel ganger, he certainly defines the role and purpose. Dupin and the narrator are two halves of the same person. They are in fact one personality.
This notion would be further developed in Conan Doyle with his creation of Sherlock Holmes and his doppelganger, Dr. Watson. The notion would be brought to horrifying fruition in the classic tale of the split between the conscious and unconscious minds, Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde.’
Poe’s narrator being of greater means than Dupin who is seedy and down at the heels rents an old dilapidated house in the Faubourg St. Germain which creaks as lustily as the House of Usher. The house is a symbol of psychological decay. The Faubourg St. Germain is itself a symbol of decay. Formerly the home of the pre-revolutionary elite, since the French Revolution it is the home of shattered fortunes.
The two men, who are inseparable, lock themselves up in this mansion by day with all the curtains drawn, sure sign of intense depression, going out only after dark into what the narrator calls the ‘real night’ as opposed to the night of the soul; the dark Freudian unconscious.
And then two women are murdered in mysterious circumstances. Using all his scientific method Dupin divines the murderer to be an Orang-outang, which was no small feat whether scientific or intuitive. Thus the highest mental powers were symbolically pitted against man’s animal nature.
Poe thus states the central problem of the Western psyche which is still unresolved at this time while still being discussed as much. While Rider Haggard was wrestling with the problem Conan Doyle was writing his Sherlock Holmes stories. Holmes like Dupin is a bit of a cad; not entirely an admirable person. He has placed himself above the law, being quite capable of executing summary judgment on one who might in his sole opinion escape the toils of the law. Holmes companion, Dr. Watson, is a sturdy unimaginative burgher who serves as the example of the unconscious to Holmes’ conscious but scientifically unfeeling mind.
Robert Louis Stevenson takes matters to an even more intense level at roughly the same time. Jekyll and Hyde are in fact one man. Jekyll is the example of what Freud would call the repressed man but one which society calls a disciplined and respectable man. He is in total control of himself but he suspects there is another side to his character which he would like to discover.
Unable to find access to this other side by psychological or rational means, he uses his scientific acumen to invent a potion which releases this demon, Mr. Hyde, concealed inside his unconscious. Hyde is a very destructive character and having been once released he proves impossible to put back in the bottle. He returns unsummoned. Eventually he suppresses Jekyll becoming the sole personality. The jump only works one way.
Thus Stevenson predicted the evolution of the twentieth century. This little cluster of writers bridging the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is very interesting.
In the intervening near fifty years between ‘Murders In The Rue Morge’ and ‘Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde’ science had been revealing nature at a galloping pace placing even greater stress on the Western psyche. Central to the further deteriorization of the psyche was Charles Darwin’s ‘Origin Of Species’ which appeared in 1859 just on the eve of the exploration of Central Africa when the stressed scientific Western psyche confronted its dark unconscious in the form of the African Black man. Thus Africa became the Heart Of Darkness for the White man just as Hyde was the heart of darkness to Jekyll. That little gulf across which he thought he might leap appeared as a gigantic chasm.
The notion of evolution versus Biblical creation not only caused a tremendous social dislocation but the notion of evolution from a lower to a higher, from Ape to White man, placed the Black man or Negro in an intermediary state of development just as Burroughs would later depict the role of Tarzan Of The Apes.
Beginning c. 1860 with the expedition of Capt. Richard Francis Burton into the lake regions of Central Africa the problem began to take a concrete form.
What the White Man found in the interior of Africa startled him. For here the dichotomy between his unconscious and conscious was juxtaposed in reality between himself and the Black African. The Black African seemed to represent unchanged what man had been one hundred fifty thousand years before when he evolved from the hominid predecessor.
For Burton and Henry Morton Stanley who followed him as an explorer the superiority of the White was apparent. In the Negro they saw only the child of nature; men without alphabets, physics, chemistry, astronomy or intellectual attainments of any kind. The Negro was to be pitied, treated paternalistically as a little brother or as the Negro would later be known: The White Man’s Burden, Idi Amin notwithstanding.
The main period of exploration and discovery was ending when Rider Haggard began publishing his great African adventure trilogy from 1885 to 1888.
While Burton and Stanley felt an easy superiority over the Blacks, Rider Haggard took a more disquieted attitude. He was troubled when he noted that for all the White man’s scientific attainments there was no difference in the emotional development of the two sub-species.
And what did he find? A way forward? A great gulf fixed? No. ‘Only a little one, that a plain man’s thought might spring across. I say,’ he said, ‘that as the savage is, so is the white man, only the latter is more inventive, and possesses a faculty of combination…’
Well, indeed. But wasn’t Haggard undervaluing the quality of being more inventive and possessing a faculty of combination? Those two qualities, after all, comprise the scientific faculty which cannot be attained by effort but is evolutionarily ingrained. It is forever beyond the reach of the first Homo Sapiens. Haggard and all other writers recognized that this faculty is what the Africans lacked.
Consider then in one hundred fifty thousand years the Africas were so incurious that they had never observed the heavens. They had no astronomy! When the White split off probably one hundred thousand years ago this is the first science they established. Think about it.
Is this scientific faculty such a small thing? If, in fact, a White man of plain understanding can make the leap backward to a natural state can the Black or natural man leap the chasm to a scientific state of consciousness?
Darwin’s theory of evolution is based on natural selection, actually a form of eugenics, by which he believed new species were evolved. It would appear, however that evolution is caused by genetic mutations and when a species has mutated into the complete expression of itself evolution stops for that species which then becomes, as it were, a living fossil.
Rather than natural selection there is perhaps natural rejection. When a new sub-speices forms with its differences it is more likely that the predecessor recognizes the differences and ejects the new comer rather than the new species recognizing itself and banding together. Consider Tarzan among the apes.
When the White sub-species came into existence perhaps one hundred thousand years ago it is more than probable that the sub-species was rejected by its Black predecessors and forcibly ejected from sub-Saharan Africa.
Thus in the two closest known predecessors of Homo Sapiens, the Great Mountain Ape and the Chimpanzee both species are completed and now await extinction as they are unable to compete with their successor hominids.
Scientists tell us, I have no way of disputing their conclusion only interpreting them, that Homo Sapiens evolved from a predecessor about a hundred fifty thousand years ago. They further tell us that the first Homo Sapiens was the Negro sub-species.
The predecessor, who has disappeared without a trace, unless he is the Bushman, was a completed species; he was incapable of further evolution himself but from him the Negro sub-species of Homo Sapiens evolved.
Now comes the hard part to accept. Science is science; one must either follow its facts or abandon the pretence of being scientific man.
As the first Homo Sapiens was the Negro sub-species, is the Negro sub-species complete as an example of evolutionary development? If the Negro was the first Homo Sapiens then the White sub-species must be evolved from the Negro and as nature is ever groping toward higher intelligence the White must be an intellectual improvement on its Black predecessor. The apparent facts indicate this.
Evolution appears to be always toward a form of higher intelligence. Thus the qualities of combination and inventiveness may be completely beyond the reach of the Black sub-species. The Black may stand in relation to the White as the Great Mountain Ape stands to the Chimp.
Further, if one assumes, as one must, that evolution has not stopped either with the development of Homo Sapiens or its sub-species the White man, then the White man must carry the genetic makeup for the mutation to the next step of evolution. As only fifty thousand years intervened between the evolution of the first Homo Sapiens and its White successor than the next evolutionary sub-species or species may already be among us. This is what H.G. Wells novel The Food Of The Gods is about. Apparently the evolutionary bud, like a swelling on a tree, may only blossom once and then the sub-species or species is incapable of budding again becoming fixed in form
The question then arises will the next step be to a new species that will make Homo Sapiens a completely inferior species such as now exists between Homo Sapiens and the Chimpanzee or a new sub-species that will merely increase the distance between it and the first sub-species.
If the new mutation increases its intellectual capabilities will it also be able to evolve a new emotional organization that will separate it from Homo Sapiens and its animal nature completely? Or is it possible that the dichotomy between the two under which Western man suffers will increase involving some sort of evolutionary insanity or suicide?
Well, as the nineteenth century drew to a close vitamins hadn’t even been discovered let alone genetics so people muddled along in a dissatisified condition.
The unconscious aspects of man began to predominate over the conscious as Western man confronted with his natural state in Africa began to slip back across the little gulf in admiration of the seeming ‘natural ‘ state of the ‘noble savage.’ This slip backward was aided and abetted by Sigmund Freud’s vision of the unconscious.
Late in the century Thomas Alva Edison invented the movie camiera. This invention was to have a major effect on the rise of the Unconscious or retrogression to the primitive as the dominating factor in the Western psyche. At approximately the same time as the film industry was becoming important Sigmund Freud published his seminal work: The Interpretation Of Dreams. Thus a scientific vocabulary began to come into existence by which the workings of the mind could be analyzed and discussed. the Unconscious became an established entity.
Now, writing is work of the forebrain or in other words, a scientific pursuit, while movie making is a function of the Unconscious. A good story is more important in writing while subliminal drives are the stuff of movies. It is only required that movies make emotional but not rational sense. They follow a different logic.
Edgar Rice Burroughs was to be confused by this difference when he tried to translate his books to the screen. While the early Tarzan films were not unsuccessful they were not all that satisfying; it was not until MGM invented the Tarzan of primal desires impersonated by Johnny Weismuller that the movie Tarzan became potent. However in that guise Tarzan was entirely another creation. His being had become independent of ERB’s mind.
One movie is capable of finding more viewers than a thousand books can find readers. Thus the subconscious began to dominate over the conscious Tarzan.
I am of the opinion that Freud was already aware of the effect of the emergence of the Unconscious as a formative factor in society before he codified the phenomenon in scientific language. After all Freud was subject to the same influences as Poe, Haggard, Doyle, Stevenson and Burroughs.
Freud himself came from an earlier school which delighted in the unrestrained indulgence of the unconscious or passions. In English terms the attitude took form as the Hell Fire Club to which the American Benjamin Franklin belonged. Its motto was: Do What Thou Wilt. Its bible on the continent was ‘Gargantua and Pantagruel’ by Rabelais, while in Jewish circles the credo had been established by Jacob Frank and his descendants. Frank’s position was that man will never be good until he commits evil to his heart’s content. Freud being Jewish was of this school.
These groups of people were quite extreme. Their credo was startlingly expressed in the eighteenth century by Tobias Smollet when his hero, Roderick Random, is introduced into a woman’s home who wrote the following:
Thus have I sent the simple king to hell
Without or coffin, shroud or passing bell.
To me what are divine or human laws?
I court no sanction but my own applause!
Rapes, robb’ries, treasons, yield my soul delight;
And human carnage gratifies my sight;
I drag the parent by the hoary hair,
And toss the sprawling infant on my spear,
While the fond mother’s cries regale my ear.
I fight, I vanquish, murder friends and foes;
Nor dare the Immortal gods my rage oppose.
The above pretty much defines Freud’s intent in his psychology. So long as such sentiments were consciously expressed in print they horrified a rational thinker while remaining strictly an underground movement. But now Freud combined the attitude with the malaise of soul which had been called into existence by the dichotomy of the scientific and unconscious minds.
Freud reduced the mind, including the Unconscious, into scientific terms by which such Rabelaisan attitudes could be discussed and disseminated into polite society as scientific thought rather than eccentric opinion.
Freud despised what he called the morality of the day or in other words, Christian morality. He determined that the main cause of mental illness was the repression of disorderly or anti-social desires. He glorified these base desires as the Ego and proclaimed that where the Unconscious was Ego shall be. This is another way of saying: Do What Thou Wilt.
Thus in the decades following Freud the whole notion of self control and a disciplined mind fell into disrepute as Western man began to revel in his most criminal desires; for the Unconscious which always disregards the rights of others is alway criminal.
So it was that the terrible figure of Dracula who began his rise in the 1890s became the dominant psychological projection of the twentieth century. Dracula is the Unconscious incarnate. Completely despising the rights of others, even their right to life; he sucks anyone’s life blood so that he alone may live.
Like Dupin and the narrator of ‘Murders In The Rue Morgue’ Dracula only comes out in the ‘real night’. In fact, one ray of the sun, in other words, consciousness, will turn him to dust. Light is anathema to him; he must shun the day.
Alongside Dracula the cult of the Phantom Of The Opera has grown into huge proportions being disseminated to polite society by Andrew Lloyd Weber’s opera of the same name.
Talk about conscious and unconscious, the Phantom lives in a sewer, the very home of the Unconscious, where he has installed a huge organ on which he plays the most glorious conscious creations of Johann Sebastian Bach.
Deformed in soul, the deformation has been extended to his exterior in the form of a burned face which he covers with a mask just as one masks one’s interior motives from others. Attracted to the higher things from the depths of his sewer he haunts an opera house directly above where, spying from secret passages, he falls in love with the beautiful opera singer who, initially repulsed by the soul shown on his face gradually succumbs to the lure of the unconscious.
Edgar Rice Burroughs was born into this strange social milieu, as we know, in 1875. Seemingly failing in every thing he did, he had scant prospects in life until at the age of 37 in 1912 his education jelled into the creation of his life, Tarzan the Magnificent.
Tarzan is extraordinary in that he runs counter to the other expressions of the Western malaise. Tarzan is whole and entire. In Freudian terms, where Unconscious was, now Ego reigned and it was good Ego, not the criminal model of Freud.
As Tarzan was, so must have been Burroughs, although I have no idea how he achieved this. It appears, nevertheless, to be true. In fact, whatever Burroughs read or was thinking about he seems to have resolved in Tarzan the mental dilemma which was first formulated by Poe. Further, he acknlowledges Poe’s influence.
We know that Burroughs read and revered the African adventure novels of Rider Haggard. It can be stated certainly that he read the African explorers Capt. Richard Burton and Henry Morton Stanley. Whether he read the other seekers of the source of the Nile, Speke and Baker, I don’t know, as I cannot so state with certainty. It is not impossible that Baker’s wife was a model for Jane.
It is certain nevertheless that the great age of African exploration thrilled him while occupying a prominent place in his daily thoughts.
Being scientifically inclined, he applied his reading in evolution, exploration, geology, psychology and other subjects to the formation of his great creation, Tarzan. As he says, he wrote to amuse and entertain (read: make money) so that he expressed the results of his deepest study in seemingly frivolous tales. Then, while he captured the imagination of the reading public, he offended the critics of ‘serious’ literature who refused to take him seriously. He even found it difficult to find a book publisher even though he was a proven popular success.
Yet he pondered deeply the dilemma propounded by Poe while apparently puzzling out the deeper meaning of Haggard’s introductory chapter to ‘Allan Quatermain.’ Stevenson’s Jekyll and Hyde filled his thoughts.
There is little doubt that Haggard’s hero, Sir Henry Curtis, is a progenitor of Tarzan. One can see Tarzan in the great White English warrior standing tall in a sea of Black soldiers. Sir Henry Curtis leads the Black Kukuana into battle against their foes. The first Big Bwana had come into existence.
Burroughs wants his hero Tarzan to be born in Africa so in 1888 the year ‘Allan Quatermain’ was published and Sir Henry Curtis sealed himself in his valley high in the Mountains Of The Moon, Lord Greystoke and his wife, the Lady Alice Greystoke are abandoned on the West Coast of Africa where, as we know, they both lost their lives but not before Lady Alice gave birth to a son who was then adopted by the great she ape, Kala.
In The Return Of Tarzan the putative successor to Lord John Greystoke is voyaging through the Suez Canal around Africa in his yacht, the Lady Alice, when he is shipwrecked near the exact spot where his father and mother built their tree house in Africa.
To understand fully this sequence in Burroughs’ imagination one has to examine the other source for his creation, Tarzan- Henry Morton Stanley.
There can be no question that before Burroughs wrote Tarzan he had read if not studied the books of H.M. Stanley. And, why not? Stanley’s most important titles are: How I Found Livingstone In Central Africa, Through The Dark Continent and In Darkest Africa.
‘Through The Dark Continent’ is one of the great adventure stories of all time. The conscious living out of Stanley’s unconscious needs and desires is remarkable reading.
One might think that Burroughs’ yacht ‘Lady Alice’ was named after Clayton’s mother, Lady Alice Greystoke. Not so. Burroughs is full of subtle jokes and elaborate circumlocutions. If not Clayton’s mother then how did Burroughs come up with the name ‘Lady Alice’ for the yacht? Well, if you read Stanley’s ‘Through The Dark Continent’ you will find that he carried for thousands of miles through Africa a boat in sections that could be broken down and rebuilt. With this boat Stanley circumnavigated Lake Victoria as well as Lake Tanganyika, then sailed the boat down the entire length of the mighty Congo River. That boat was named the Lady Alice. Thus Tarzan like Stanley was carried by the Lady Alice. That’s a very subtle joke, Son. Stanley himself had named the boat after his Cincinnati fiancee, Alice. During his sail down the Congo she ditched him for another man. In weird synchronicity Stanley ditched the Lady Alice on a bluff overlooking the Atlantic nearly at the end of his journey. What a true coincidence.
As an aside, the psychology of it is very interesting. Psychologically a vessel represents a woman. the Holy Grail which is a chalice represents woman while the blood it contains represents man. Thus you have the man, Stanley in the boat, woman. Stanley’s mother abandoned him as a child. He saw her only once thereafter. Thus, his mother, the most important woman in any man’s life abandoned him. In the Lady Alice, Stanley was obviously carried once again by his mother although I don’t know if her name was Alice also. He then abandoned his boat the Lady Alice.
Stanley didn’t follow the Congo to the sea as is popularly believed but abandoned the river after traversing an incredible series of rapids when he came to an identified rapids at Stanley Pool where, completely exhausted and having reached an explored point, he considered his job done. He had the Lady Alice carried to a hill top where he left it to the elements. Now, in Burroughs mind he may have landed the Lady Alice at the approximate place he thought Stanley had abandoned his Lady Alice. So, Tarzan’s house may have been intended to be on the coast directly below the Lady Alice. That would also make the location in Gabon. In that sense Tarzan was the successor of H.M. Stanley.
One may therefore assume that the Greystokes were put ashore near the mouth of the Congo where the fictional yacht Lady Alice ws shipwrecked within sight, as it were, of the real Lady Alice. That’s how the mind of Edgar Rice Burroughs worked.
On his way from England on the Emin Relief Expedition which forms the content of ‘In Darkest Africa’ just like Lord Greystoke Stanley sailed from England through the Suez to Zanzibar where he collected his porters, sailed with them to Capetown and from thence to the mouth of the Congo. Then Stanley began his incredible journey up the Congo across Africa from West to East into the Northern lake regions where on this trip he located and identified the fabled and thought mythical, snow capped on the equator, Mountains Of The Moon.
Anyone who doesn’t admire Henry Morton Stanley has the heart of a dullard. What a man! What terrific incredible adventures. I’d rather read about them than live them myself but what a story. So thought Edgar Rice Burroughs who never tried to live such adventures either.
Very important to Tarzan is Stanley’s dealings with the various African tribes. Stanley is virtually a single White man leading a faithful band of Negroes just like Tarzan and his faithful Waziri.
Africa was virtually Stanley’s province as it was for Tarzan. Tarzan’s reputation was far famed throughout Africa or at least the areas of Africa through which Stanley traveled. Tarzan doesn’t have much to do with South Africa which has no association with Stanley although Tarzan does travel in North Africa of which Samuel Baker wrote.
Stanley, whose three major expeditions covered a period of about fifteen years must also have become legendary amongst the Blacks. The exploration of Lakes Victoria and Tanganyika coupled with the journey down the Congo must have been the subject of astonished conversation in every village in Central Africa. The more so because Stanley was on scientific expeditions to map geographical features like lakes and rivers which reason no African could ever comprehend.
They could comprehend slaving and ivory buying but they couldn’t comprehend scientific endeavors.
Stanley’s situation in Uganda near the Ripon Falls, the outlet of the Nile from Lake Victoria, with its emperor Mtessa is the stuff of legend for either Blacks or Whites. Stanley, virtually singlehandedly at the head of a band of African natives successfully negotiated months at the court of Mtessa and lived to the tell the tale which I believe few could have accomplished. Then traveling South through areas that had never seen a White man he successully negotiated the circumnavigation of Lake Tanganyika. Both Victoria and Tanganyika are among the largest bodies of fresh water on earth, huge lakes. Then transporting the Lady Alice to the Congo he made the extraordinarily hazardous descent of that enormous and hostile river. This is really mind boggling stuff.
There are too many allusions in Burroughs to the adventures of Stanley to believe that he wasn’t a source for Tarzan.
As more or less an aside there is even a possible allusion to a scene in Burton’s ‘Travels In The Lake Regions Of Central Africa.’ Burton describes in particularly vivid detail an apparition he had while suffering from fever. In a fairly remarkable psychological projection he experienced himself as two different people, not unlike Jekyll and Hyde, who were at war with each other; the one attempting to defeat the best efforts of the other.
In 1857 this psychic manifestation could not be understood. Today it can be interpreted. It would seem that Burton was consciously aware that he seemed to thwart his own projects. He undoubtedly worried about this a great deal but as an unresolved subconscious controls the conscious mind he couldn’t penetrate the mystery.
Under the influence of malarial fever the psychic barriers of the subconscious broke down and his desire was shown to him symbolically by his unconscious mind. Had Burton been psychologically capable of pursuing this insight to its logical conclusion unearthing the fixation on which it was based then he would have resolved his problem and integrated his personality becoming a single unit or whole person. His legs wouldn’t have given out on him as he came close to his goal. Depth psychology was unknown in 1857 so the psychological manifestation remained a mystery to him.
It seems clear that Burroughs was equally impressed by this incident which he later used to create an alter ego for Tarzan called Esteban Miranda. If you recall, Miranda’s inept activities were bringing Tarzan into disrepute. Africa began to wonder.
As the evolution of Tarzan, as I mentioned in my earlier essay, the idea of Tarzan entered the back of Burroughs’ mind bearing a candle which in a pitch black cave is a pretty strong light. This idea was probably an identification with Sir Henry Curtis of Rider Haggard but Burroughs was unable to develop the train of thought when he came to the water barrier in the vaults of Opar.
Tarzan successfully leaped the barrier but Burroughs lost his train of thought when the candle symbolically blew out leaving the idea of Tarzan to gestate in his subconscious. There Curtis slowly combined with Henry Morton Stanley to erupt from Burroughs’ forehead fully formed in 1912 as Tarzan.
Burroughs probably read Stanley in the nineties. His creative juices would have been jogged when Stanley died in 1905. Stanley’s devoted wife gathered several chapters of Stanley’s autobiography of his childhood, composed by himself, then cobbled together the rest of his life from diaries, news clippings and the like.
Stanley’s autobiography was released in 1909. The first Tarzan book was written in 1912. I don’t know when Stanley’s autobiography came to Burroughs’ attention but sometime before 1912 he read it completing the idea of Tarzan in his mind. As Burroughs’ prospectus to All Story Magazine indicates, Burroughs was struggling to combine a number of ideas into the entity that was to become Tarzan.
The publication of Stanley’s autobiography plus the pressure at age 37 of having to so something to merit his high opinion of himself probably forced the jelling of the idea of Tarzan which erupted from his forehead bearing gold ingots like Tarzan emerging from the rock of Opar above the gold vaults.
Burroughs now had the ideal vehicle to give expression to all his social theories. Critics may see Burroughs as a mere shallow entertainer but I don’t. I bought my first Tarzan book the year Burroughs died in 1950 with I was twelve. I continued to buy them until 1954 when I was sixteen. I was totally absorbed in them; not as mere entertainment. I thought Burroughs was writing some pretty heavy stuff even if I missed the much I picked up later when my interests were subconsciously directed to the same social problems that concerned Burroughs. I found to my surprise that Tarzan having entered the back of my mind had formed much if not most of my social thought. I give you the results of my education by Burroughs here.
I find myself amazed by the depth and profundity of Burroughs’ thinking. The ease with which he handled these complex problems without directly identifying them or preaching is fairly amazing. I pointed out in my earlier essay how Burroughs addressed the problem of eugenics in the males and females of Opar.
So he took on the problem of psychic dislocation in the White sub-species in the very nature of his creation, Tarzan.
We know he was heavily influenced by Poe’s ‘Murders In The Rue Morgue’ because he retells the story in the ‘Return Of Tarzan’ in Chaper 3, ‘What happened In The Rue Maule.’ Now this retelling is close enough to be considered borrowing if not plagiarism if his purpose hadn’t been to develop Poe’s theory. Poe was positing the problem; Burroughs was offering the solution.
Just by way of reference; my copies of Tarzan are those of Grosset and Dunlap from the late forties and early fifties. They also have what I consider the finest artwork on Tarzan, a matter of taste, I know.
Where in Poe, Dupin is a human while the Orang-outang a beast, Burroughs combines the two in one. The sub-conscious and the conscious are integrated. Tarzan is at once the most charming and civilized of men but once aroused he quickly reverts to animal ferocity. But he is able to pass back and forth at will, unlike Jekyll and Hyde, and at a moments notice; he is in control of both his animal and human nature.
He even escapes by leaping from the window to a telephone pole, which had appeared since Poe’s time, shinnying up the pole, having had the good sense, or science, to look down first to see a policeman standing guard, he then makes a fairly daring leap, the result of his jungle training, to the roof of the building scampering across numerous rooftops. Tarzan then descends to earth down another telephone pole. There were telephone poles in Chicago but I don’t know whether Burroughs checked to see if there were telephone poles in Paris.
Running wildly for a few blocks he then enters a cafe, successfully cleaning himself up to a gentlemanly appearance in the rest room. Now fully human again he ‘saunters’ down the avenue where he meets the countess as his charming urbane self.
These two stories of Poe and Burroughs are fairly remarkable; one posits the problem which the other resolves. Was either conscious of what the problem was that they were dealing with? The results would indicate yes but in the chapter on the Rue Maule Burroughs has this to say:
‘Tarzan spent the two following weeks reviewing his former brief acquaintace with Paris. In the daytime he haunted the libraries and picture galleries. He had become an omnivorous reader and the world of possibilities that were opened to him in this seat of culture and learning fairly appalled him when he contemplated the very infinitesimal crust of the sum total of human knowledge that a single individual might hope to acquire even after a lifetime of study and research, but he learned what he could.
Surely Burroughs is here reflecting on his own study and research with becoming modesty. His thirty-seven years have not been wasted in idleness. As an omnivorous reader he has acquired some small store of knowledge which he has considered deeply. He does think about the problems of his times. The conflict between the split conscious and unconscious mind of the White man which was commonly discussed as we have seen interested him. Tarzan is simply the result of his cogitations.
Tarzan, born in Africa, the seat of the primitive, reared by Kala a she ape as a pure animal, then progressing straight from his animal nature to the civilized pursuits of study and absinthe he returns to the jungle to experience the intermediate Black nature as chief of his faithful Waziri. This pretty well describes the historical reality of Western man. Then Tarzan rules over Africa as an avatar of science.
Sometime after 1915 when Freud’s body of work began to develop in translation Burroughs must have done a quick study finding, apparently, no difficulty in understanding what Freud was talking about. Further, I think he quickly went beyond Freud’s own understanding, or at least, he applied Depth psychology in a positive way while Freud chose the negative way. Thus Tarzan integrates his personality while Freud exacerbates the separation of conscious and unconscious.
Both Freud’s and Tarzan’s influence grew during the period between the wars. However when MGM preempted the influence of the books in the thirties withe the invention of the movie Tarzan, the great jungle hero began to be lost in the Freudian miasma. The movies turned him into part of the unconscious.
At the same time Africa became a known quantity and while not losing its charm for the Western dichotomy it lost its mystery becoming more commonplace as the Black African absorbed the forms of Western culture. A Black African in a shirt, pants and shoes is just an ordinary Black man. He is no longer the ‘noble savage.’
Then, too, Black resentment at White dominance came to the fore and resistance to the White began along with an offensive for not only equality but superiority.
Thus Marcus Garvey appeared with his Universal Negro Improvement Association. While he was ridiculed in America and had his credibility destroyed he nevertheless laid the ground work for what has followed. His UNIA was truly universal organziaing Blacks in Africa, the West Indies, Brazil and the United States.
At the same time White scholars like Lothrop Stoddard were proposing the innate superiority of the White man. As the science of the time posited one species of Homo Sapiens composed of three separate ‘races’ there were slight grounds to suppose that there were any other than superficial differences between the ‘races.’ There was no basis to differentiate substantial qualities as between two sub-species of different developmental stages. Stoddard and the ‘racists’ were discredited and ridiculed as much as Marcus Garvey had been.
The Second World War intervened suspending discussion for a few years. After the war Freudian thought had taken hold of the psychological community. The founder’s ideas were revered rather than questioned or tested. Freud’s ridiculous map of the mind took on concrete form as students struggled to understand such nonsense as the Id, Libido and Super-ego. Really laughable stuff.
His notions of the unconscious were embraced by the people at large. The ideas of self-discipline and mental training were rejected in favor of avoiding ‘repression.’ The criminal aspects of the unconscious gained the ascendance furthered along by the avatars of the unconscious- movies and movie makers.
As 1960 dawned the Whites began a precipitous slide back across that narrow little gulf, which Haggard saw, toward savagery.
However as there was a difference in the quality of the mind of the White it became apparent that it was not so possible as it seemed to abandon their scientific nature. While the Black without the scientific ‘gene’ could be relatively comfortable in a scientific milieu supported by Whites, the scientific White could not be comfortable in a savage world, He was troubled either way.
Freud had thus injured the sub-species greatly by insisting on the ego occupying the unconscious rather than melding the two halves of the mind by eliminating the destructive elements of the subconscious.
I had taken my Tarzan in subconsciously so that in 1960 when the challenges to White intellectuality became confusing I was able to hold on to my standards if not undisturbed then at least securely. When I later integrated my personality I became proof against the destructive elements of Freudiansim.
Through Burroughs then I identified with his hero Tarzan to save my soul. When I say that Tarzan lives I mean that he was my sheet anchor on the stormiest of seas. It was because of ERB’s creation of Tarzan that I have survived whole and entire. May Tarzan ever prosper and never die. May he have discovered the fountain of youth. Look to the future and keep you eye on the bouncing ball.
July 23, 2008
Chronicles IX, Pensees 8:
The chapter New Morning opens with an interesting comparison. Bob had just returned to Woodstock after his father’s funeral in the summer of 1968. The association of New Morning with the death of his father in itself presents an interesting psychological mental state. A letter was waiting for him from who he considers one of the three great American poets, Archibald MacLeish. MacLeish was just coming off his Broadway triumph J.B. In the letter he asks Bob and Sara to call on him in his Connecticut home to discuss a musical collaboration on his new play. A jewish father dies; a goy ‘father’ appears.
As Bob explains, Father Abram is somewhat dull, thinking that an artist must be a painter. The notion seems to be that Bob is slightly ashamed of his father for not understanding the distinction between pictures and the artistic soul. Thus contrasting with dull Abram is the brilliant intellectual poet-artist, Archibald MacLeish. Bob is quickly on intimate terms referring to the Poet Laureate of America as Archie.
If you’ve never read Poe’s last story Landor’s Cottage you might like to compare that description to Bob’s of MacLeish’s home. While we never meet Poe’s Landor Bob does introduce us to Archie. Coming from small town Hibbing Bob seems to be overwhelmed by the splendor of MacLeish’s dwelling place. Sure sounded good to me. So as Bob left Abram at the rosy fingered Dawn of his New Morning, MacLeish presents himself as the sun rising above the horizon. But it’s a Black Sun. MacLeish does not walk on the sunny side of the street. He’s dark, as anyone who writes a play commentary on the Book of Job must necessarily be.
His new play is called Scratch. One presumes after Old Scratch, The Devil. Bob quotes some lines of Archie’s character Scratch, p.124:
I know there is evil in the world- essential evil, not the opposite of good or the defective of good but something to which good itself is an irrelevance- a fantasy. No one can live as long as I have, hear what I have heard and not know that. I know too- more precisely- I am ready to believe that there may be something in the world-someone, if you prefer- that purposes evil, that intends it…powerful nations suddenly, without occasion, without apparent cause…decay. Their children turn against them, their families disintegrate.
The strength of the insight is too strong for Bob at that precise psychological moment but Archie has given him a hint of a reality that Bob will realize all too soon. Perhaps in reference to Abe and Archie Bob meets Frank Sinatra Jr. at the Rainbow Room. Frank, Jr. nursing one of the same travails as Bob asks him after discussing Frank Sr.: What do you do when that father turns out to be a son-of-a-bitch.
Well, yes, you’ve got an identity problem, don’t you? Bob has always had an identity problem. What started out bad has taken a turn for the worse. He wanted to be Bob Dylan but now being Bob Dylan has turned out to be a son-of-a-bitch, a burden Bob…well, just plain Bob, cant’ bear. He’s learning about this inherent evil of life Archie is talking about.
If you’ve never experienced what Bob is telling you it will be hard to understand. I’ve suffered through a mild dose of them blues, enough to give me understanding, but nothing compared to Bob. He wakes up and someone is standing in his bedroom watching he and Sara sleep. That gives you a start. But if Bob thought he had identity problems what kind of problems does some poor fish have who literally wants to get inside your skin have. Walk a mile in your shoes like Toby. Everybody want something from you that you don’t have to give. And I mean something. You by your success have emasculated them, Bob’s success. So they in turn want your dick and balls. They want ot carry them around in their pocket to give them what they lack. ‘Hey, you know what I’ve got in my pocket, look, Bob Dylan’s dick and balls.’
You want to know what emasculation is? Bob tells you. The Sheriff of Woodstock tells him that if someone is scrambling over his roof and falls off Dylan will be legally responsible. That does something to your mind. The Sheriff tells Bob that if any of these crazies attack him and he defends himself he’ll be the guy going to jail. That one sends a few synapses seeking new routes through the brain. That one did happen to me. Might as well have left the planet, the Sheriff just took your dick and balls.
Bob is now learning first hand of the evil in Archie’s world. Damn that’s rough.
Even then Bob couldn’t make his lyrics dark enough for Archie although, now this is funny, Bob did use them in his album New Morning. What does that say about a new morning?
Bob just couldn’t get used to being Bob Dylan. Being Bob was OK but being Bob Dylan was tough. They were everywhere. You couldn’t even run much less hide.
As Bob tells us he was riding down the highway with Robbie Robertson when Robbie asked him: ‘Where are you going to take it now?’ ‘Take what?’ Bob asks in return. ‘Pop music.’ Robbie naively replies.
Bob is flabbergasted but who can blame Robbie? For the last six years Bob had been calling the shots, getting booed and selling records, renovating and reinvigorating folk music, taking folk music electric, electrifying rock. Why shouldn’t Robbie think something mega revolutationary was brewing in Bob’s brain? Being Bob was easy, being Bob Dylan was damn near impossible. Those three fathers, Abe, Archie and Frank Sr. Bob was learning something about the inherent evil of living.
His new mentor, Archie, thinking perhaps that Bob was Bob Dylan pushes him to sharpen and darken the lyrics to the songs he’s written for Archie. Bob just like after Blonde On Blonde has taken it as far as it can go. He opts out on Archie. Two fathers down but there’s still that Big Guy In The Sky but that Bob will seek a little farther down the road.
New Morning was a good chapter. I could empathize. Current events are giving me a new slant on the inherent evil in the world too. Heads up.
October 24, 2007
SOMETHING OF VALUE I, PART III
Part 3 of Vol. I.
Freud was severely emasculated in both personal ego and in his group ego. He was in fact a practicing homosexual. His relationship with Fliess was homosexual in nature which Freud confessed vowing never to do it again. His group, the Jews, were and are a severely emasculated people. They have been since they walked away from Ur. But on with Freud.
Freud was fond of telling the story of his father and his hat, it seems that Mr. Freud related a story to Sigmund, or Sigismund as he was known then, (His Hebrew name significantly was Solomon) of how when he was a young man walking down the street proudly wearing his new hat, a gentile knocked the hat from his head into the gutter, snarling: ‘Go get your hat, Jew.’
When Sigmund asked breathlessly what his father did, expecting an heroic response, the old gentleman replied: ‘I stepped into the gutter and picked up my hat.’ severely disappointing the young boy.
Since Freud told and retold this story we may be forgiven for believing it had a profound effect on his young conscious and subconscious minds and possibly his ‘unconscious’ too. On the one hand he may have been so ashamed of his father’s very reasonable reaction that he shared his emasculation encapsulating it in his subconscious as a fixation. It is possible that this story either made or contributed to his homosexuality. On the other hand we know for a fact that it inflamed his group ego with an ardent desire for revenge against the gentiles.
As a result of the story he made the Carthaginian Semite, Hannibal, his alter ego. When Hannibal’s father was defeated by the Romans he had his son swear that the would never cease waging war on the Romans until he died. Obviously Freud made his vow against the Europeans although his father didn’t demand it.
It is no coincidence that both Freud and Hannibal were Semites and that the Romans and Europeans were gentiles. Nor is it a coincidence that both Hannibal and Freud were defeated after seemingly winning the war and that rather than fighting the enemy to the end both fled. Now, it therefore follows that Freud never ceased waging war against the Europeans.
You say: How? Come along. I can’t take you into the Inner Sanctum, which way you will have to find on your own, but I can show you some of the records I have been allowed to abstract from the files.
This will involve the secret history of the human race but don’t be alarmed. If you don’t want to believe it you don’t have to. It still is a rousing good story. Besides, if you should ever come around the archives you’ll find it is true.
Freud himself made an attempt to explain a little of the origins of the Jewish psyche in Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety and Moses And Monotheism. The earlier millennia don’t concern us here. The Jews throughout history in their egotism have felt much put upon. This sense of grievance grew until with the expulsion from Spain after the Reconquest their sense of injustice burst into open flames. The group swore revenge on Europe. It must be remembered that at the end of the thirteenth century they were expelled from England, at the beginning of the fourteenth from France and for the duration, well, they were really welcome nowhere.
They swore to stultify Europe. Judaism is the history of messianism.
This man was the last great messianic imposter. In 1666, the number of the beast plus a thousand, the Jews of Europe awaited the word from Sabbatai, then at the Ottoman Court to begin the slaughter. But Zevi apostatized to Moslemism instead. The uprising never came off. Hung fire. Fizzled.
Hope beats eternal. The learned Rabbis vowed never to place their hopes on a single individual again. They now concocted a plan for the group to rise as one man in rebellion. The date selected for the revolution was the period 1913-28. You want to give yourself a little leeway there. Born in 1856, in 1913 Sigmund Freud was fifty-seven years old. Although none of his biographers say much about his his Jewish background it is quite clear that he was read in Jewish lore. You may say that he wasn’t a religious Jew but he nevertheless was devoutly Jewish.
Freud quite consciously hated the gentiles for personal reasons that meshed quite well into those of his group identity.
During 1913-17 Freud’s reputation was immense both within and without the Jewish community. It was true his heir apparent, C.J. Jung had broken with him perhaps for this very reason but he and Psychoanalytic Movement had suffered no damage.
In psychoanalyis Freud had the means to instruct his group and control the gentiles. It is said that he gave up hypnotism when he turned to psychoanalysis but as a perusal of ‘Group Psychology’ will show he was preparing for a breathtaking attempt at hypnotizing the entire Western world not unlike that of Burroughs’ Lotharians against their invaders.
Freud lived in Vienna where for years, even decades before 1913, emigrating Jews had flowed through from the entry port into Austria from the East of Brody on their way to America via the North German ports. The prosperity of the whole German shipping lines was built on steerage passengers. Nor were the decisions to emigrate necessarily individual; it may have begun that way but to emigrate was soon organized and directed by the international Jewish community. Check the career of Baron Maurice Hirsch.
The Jewish establishments of both Europe and America provided funding. At about this time provisions were made to transport the entire Jewish population of the Pale, from Lithuania to Romania, to the United States Of America. At the time the international Jewish goverment led by Jacob Schiff and Louis Marshall was located in the United States, New York City. The decks were being cleared so as to remove resistance in America. So as not to call too much attention to the fact by having hordes disembark entirely in New York and Boston, for there would be resistance however feeble, the ports of New Orleans and Galveston were organized to deal with millions of immigrants.
This plan was aborted by the Great War. The Jews had already been at war with Russia, or the Czar as they personalized it, for a hundred years. The international Jewish community had engineered the Russo-Japanese war almost pulling off a revolution in its wake in 1905.
Activities were now intensified. At the time and for about the next sixty years the Jews threw a veil of obfuscation over their activities always denying involvement in Communist or Revolutionary matters. In recent years Jewish scholars, for whatever reason, have now found it expedient to admit that which they were accused of but always denied. They now admit that every national subversive Communist part was over fifty percent Jewish. Those of Russia and Germany were considerably higher. Freud had been involved in Jewish subversive organizations like the B’nai B’rith for many years. As the master psychologist, an expert in the unconscious, he prepared the Jewish mind for the great task of the millennial years in Central and Eastern Europe, which would require much bloodshed, while formulating his psychological plan of conquest not dissimilar from the military plans of his hero, Hannibal.
Freud himself was centered in Vienna. A lieutenant, Abraham, was his man in Berlin while Frerenczi was posted to Budapest in Hungary. The three crucial central European points were covered. Jung in Zurich had split off shortly before this. It is interesting that the Jewish psychoanalytic extablishment spitefully denounced him as a Nazi.
The Jewish millennial years began in 1913. The Great War began in 1914. The Bolshevik Revolution occurred in 1917. Freud’s Introductory Lectures On Psychoanalysis appeared in 1917 also, even though there must have been an extreme paper shortage; it is not a short book. Freud encoded last minute instructions to the Revolutionists in the book.
At this point in 1917 Freud released the inhibitions of millions of Mr. Hydes in Russia, Hungary and Germany. The Bolsheviks took Russia out of the war signing a seemingly humiliating peace treat at Brest-Litovsk. As Lenin said the peace treaty was meaningless because it was his intent to stab Germany in the back.
Germany had a huge Communist Party which it is now admitted was around sixty percent Jewish. Now with the United States in the war, Germany debilitated internally and crippled psychologically, thousands of Jewish revolutionaries intent on the realization of the millennium flowed back into Germany from Russia in hopes of achieving the Revolution there, giddy with the hopes of thereby annexing Central and Eastern Europe. That they didn’t was because of the efforts of the German Volkish groups such as Hitler and his Nazi Party.
The unconscious psychoses of the Jewish people who it will be remembered as a group were suffering from severe emasculation were erupting. Emasculation of the Ego is always expressed in a sexual manner frequently sadistic. Freud had been preaching the practice of unrestrained sexual activity for years. Murder is a sexual act. He was against ‘repression’ you remember.
When Russia began its program of expansion under the Romanovs it annexed an enormous number of nationalities. The Russians then tried to impose their language and manners on the conquered peoples in an attempt to form an homogeneous State. In so doing they emasculated the subject peoples. Those same subject peoples were now the masters of the Russians with permission to indulge their ‘unconscious.’
Jews, Letts, Poles and others let loose. Stalin himself was a Georgian.
As Jean Genet correctly saw of the Nazi State, in Russia a criminal intellect was now joined to the political and legal apparatus of the State. The criminal code was changed from an objective one to a subjective one; one of vengeance. For a period of years law was suspended in Russia. Amidst the chaos International Jewish organizations including those of the United States operated openly to coordinate their hopes for the millennium.
What I’m about to say has been denied and suppressed but the example was before both Hitler and Stalin. In Hungary Freud had his man Ferenczi to coordinate the Hungarian Jews. The Jewish Bela Kun (Cohn) seized the government beginning a reign of terror against the gentiles during which thousands of non-Jews were murdered in a horrible sadistic manner commensurate with a severely emasculated Ego.
For some time the Jews had been clamoring for a State of their own. Taking advantage of the chaos in Russia the Jewish American Joint Distribution Committee under the leadership of Schiff and Marshall decided to appropriate the Crimea. Bela Kun who had escaped Hungary during the inevitable reaction, going to Moscow, was sent down to the Crimea to exterminate the population to make lebensraum for the Jews. He was in the process when Lenin died. Stalin then recalled him to Moscow where he was subsequently shot.
All these activities were obscured and suppressed. It is forbidden in American universities to study the subject to this day.
Still, Europe was so horrified that they declined to discuss it or even acknowledge it. But Hitler and Stalin remembered.
The Communists in Moscow being composed solely of emasculated peoples functioning from Freud’s vision of the unconscious like so many Hydes conducted a criminal homosexual style State that would have delighted Genet had he been there. The author the The Thief’s Journal would have gasped at the warehouses full of stolen furs, diamonds and other jewels, art objects and whatever of value that the poor emasculated wretches had stolen from their murdered victims. It was the triumph of the Common Man.
As soon as Stalin gained power he began to discredit and remove Jews from influential positions. Trotsky was sent to a malarial swamp in Siberia to die but from which he escaped to be killed by Stalin’s assasins later. As Stalin consolidated his power he acted more directly until he held the famous show trials of 1936. He then began the systematic elimination of Jews which resulted by the end of 1945 in the death of millions.
Thus Hitler, an emasculated man leading an emasculated people had the Judaeo-Communist example before him. As an avid anti-Communist and open anti-Semite he was virtually isolated by the world that by 1936 was under the control of Judaeo-Communists. He was the antagonist not the protagonist.
While Stalin who had religious training was clever enough to seemingly work through the system openly followed legal controlled methods although the law had been subordinated to his ends. Hitler acted as a homosexual with an ax in his hand. Stalin’s officers dispatched prisoners hidden in the depths of the Lubyanka with a bullet in the back of the head, which method, by the way, was favored by Jewish and Italian members of Organized Crdime in America of the time, while the Nazis brutally beat prisoners, finally shooting them in the back while escaping.
Stalin, Hitler, Freud, which was worse? Freud enabled, Stalin and Hitler executed. They were all the same.
In Russia during the first year or so of Lenin some Russian workers were being read to as they worked. Were they being read the works of Marx or Lenin? No. They were being read the Tarzan novels of Edgar Rice Burrougs. This infuriated the Politburo. The State was trying to impose a collectivist unconscious psychology on the Russians while Burroughs and his great psychological projection were individualist and responsible. In fact, Burroughs offered a concept of the unconscious which was directly opposed to that of Freud. One might say that Burroughs was Dr. Jekyll to Freud’s Mr. Hyde.
Burroughs himself had been severely emasculated at the age of nine. The situation seems to be this: Burroughs came from a prosperous Chicago family. His parents were very proud of their English ancestry. If you’re unwilling to understand national and racial prejudices that were very pronounced at the time then you probably won’t be able to understand. There were strong feelings between the Anglo-Saxon and Celt or English and Irish. The Anglos considered the Celts if not inferior at least eccentric. The Burroughses employed two Irish girls as servants. In all probability Young Burroughs assumed an attitude of superiority which the girls resented. They then concocted a plan to cut young Burroughs down to size.
They had a friend or relative by the name of John who was aged twelve to Burroughs’ nine. Being much larger and tougher than Burroughs he stopped the younger boy on the way to school one day where he thoroughly intimidated and terrified him. It is quite possible that Burroughs messed his pants. In any event, he suffered severe emasculation that was to haunt him all his life. He does not seem to have ever practiced homosexuality although he was haunted by a feeling of sexual ambiguity.
The incident with John the Bully not only played havoc with Burroughs personal psychlogy in the narrow sense of creating a psychosis but there was also an effect in what Freud’s erstwhile associate, C. J. Jung called the collective unconscious. The individual is limited by his very humanity to a small number of general responses.
Thus Burroughs was given a cast of mind which the Hindus denoted as Shivaistic. This is a general outlook or philosophy of life, if you wish, which one adopts unconsciously as the consequence of one’s experience. I share it although it took me nearly a lifetime to recognize and accept it.
Burroughs himself was aware of the fact by at least 1931 when he wrote Tarzan And The Leopard Men. In one key or on one level the story is one of Shiva and Kali his consort. Burroughs names his heroine Kali while she is selected to be the White Goddess of the Leopard Men as part of their death cult.
As can be seen by their complete disregard for life Freud, Hitler and Stalin were also Shivaites.
Shiva and Kali are the Hindu representation of Life and Death. Shiva plays unconcernedly on the pipes while the carnage of life and death goes on around him. The song goes on. Kali, his consort, the goddess of death and regeneration dances on the bodies of the dead to Shiva’s music while wearing a necklace of skulls. Death means nothing because she as the eternal mother has the means to multiply unendingly. Do multitudes die? Why then, multitudes die. Not to worry. Life goes on.
Burroughs also developed an interest in psychology in his attempt to free his mind of the fixation given him by John the Bully. As his psychological notions were well formed by 1911 when he began to write in his attempt to expiate his guilt it follows that he acquired his knowledge during his early married years from 1900 to 1911. He married at 24. He had little opportunity to do his reading before then as the major works were only appearing in the late ’90s.
His main concern was the subconscious mind. While his evolutionary ideas are easier to trace he has left no mention of his psychological reading. It seems certain that he was familiar with FWH Myers who, as noticed, first defined the notion of the unconscious in 1886. He must have read James while Freud’s notions would have been discussed, if not yet translated; thus DH Lawrence had highly developed ideas on the Freudian unconscious in his 1911 Psychoanalysis And The Unconscious while I doubt Burroughs had read Freud in the German.
Also it seems probable that Burroughs had read Le Bon.
Burroughs’ idea of the unconscious differed greatly from Freud’s while being more soundly based in the actual functioning of the mind. While Burroughs’ hero Tarzan seems to function with an integrated personality from his creation in 1911-12 Burroughs himself came very close to integrating his own from 1913 to ’17 or may have although he always had trouble with his Animus and Anima.
Even though Freud advertised the fact that he had taken a year off (golly, a whole year) for self-analysis, whatever the results may have been he never succeeded in integrating his personality or, apparently, realized he should have. He was severely conflicted all his life. Just take a look at his photo where you can see that huge welt running from his lover right cheek across his nose into his forehead. That was caused either by excessive cocaine use or mental conflict in the brain stem, probably both.
As did all mythographers, Burroughs had read his Poe, like them he was concerned with the conscious and subconscious minds. While Stevenson’s Jekyll lost his conscious mind in his subconscious mind, Burroughs cencentrated on the concept of the beast within the man, the relationship between the conscious and the subconscious. In Chapter 3 of The Return Of Tarzan, in what appears to be a plagiarization of the murder scene of Poe’s Murders In The Rue Morgue, Burroughs has Tarzan act out the parts of both the Sailor and the Orang.
Lured up to the apartment on the pretext of helping a young woman, Tarzan is set upon by her accomplices. Discarding the trappings of his recently acquired civilization Tarzan reverts to his anthropoid education of the Jungle becoming Poe’s Orang, yet always retaining the restraints of his humanity or the Sailor.
When the police come he leaps out the window to a telephone pole which one imagines were more common in Chicago than Paris. (Burroughs had never been to Paris so he replicated the urban scene he knew.) While still in his ape guise he has the sense to look down where he sees a policeman below so he climbs up leaping to a rooftop.
Racing across the rooftops of Paris he climbs down another pole. Then in a Hyde-like transformation back to Jekyll he shakes himself from his ape self back into his human self, without the aid of drugs, enters a restaurant to clean up in the rest room then saunter jauntily down the street as though nothing had happened.
Thus the plagiarization of not only Poe but Stevenson was merely an attempt to give a better solution by using the mythological symbols.
Return was written at the end of 1912 and the beginning of 1913.
Burroughs’ own self-analysis would continue through his astonishing output of 1911-17 when he finally integrated his personality with the final volume of his Mucker Trilogy published as the Oakdale Affair but alternately titled Bridge And The Oskaloosa Kid which is the better title. At that time he had exorcised his major fixations which should have integrated his personality.
In understanding that the disintegration of the personality was caused by an affront or affronts to the Ego or Animus that resulted in the creation of fixations that festered in the subconscious that in turn manufactured affects that evidenced themselves in various physical and psychological ways he realized that the same could be exorcised returning the Ego to a whole state.
Unfortunately he strung his theory on through a couple dozen works of fiction disguised as incident. A very few would read all the novels while the only possible interpreters could be those who had read them all not only with a psychological background but an open, inquisitive mind. We’re a very small minority.
If I hadn’t been through the same process on my own I probably never would have recognized it. However as his theories were embodied in his hero Tarzan as mythology they passed into the unconscious of his readers of which, as a teenager, I was one, so shall we say, my mind was prepared.
October 14, 2007
Something Of Value I
Back To Solid Ground, More Or Less
At the same time Stevenson and Haggard appeared, another of the great mythographers made his appearance. Arthur Conan Doyle brought his great psychological projection Sherlock Holmes onto the world stage. Doyle listed Poe as his second most influential author with whom he had been familiar since his youth. All the great mythographers were well acquainted with Poe. He was the great originator.
Holmes is the first great psychological projection of the Scientific Consciousness. He fulfills the role of Mastermind. His intellectual greatness fulfilled Poe’s dictum of the analytical mind.
As the two Dupins fulfilled the roles of ego and alter ego so Doyle gave Holmes Dr. John H. Watson as alter ego and foil. Holmes represented the future while Watson was a relic from the religious past. As the evil Hydelike representative of the subconscious Doyle provided us with the infamous criminal mastermind Dr. Moriarty.
With the introduction of Holmes the Scientific mythology began to take shape.
The new mythology was based on the new discoveries of science. The scientific mind was pouring out new technological wonders almost on a daily basis but it was the discoveries in the sciences of biology and psychology that would most undermine the Religious Consciousness.
Darwin had organized biology along the new scientific lines when his Origin Of Species appeared in 1859. There was no greater challenge to the orthodox belief system than this. When a few years later Darwin issued The Descent Of Man things really erupted. According to the religious viewpoint, since the origins of consciousness the notion had been that man was descended from the gods, later monotheistically amended to God. In a really inept choice of words Darwin states, or his followers did, that man was descended from monkeys. The idea of evolution might have met with less reistance had Darwin titled his book: The Ascent Of Man since, properly speaking, Homo Sapiens is an advance on monkeys and all that has gone before. Thus man could have been said to ascend the evolutionary scale from apes but descend from God meeting somewhere in the middle. Darwin wasn’t so farsighted.
At the same time great advances were being made in psychology. The Frenchman, Jean Martin Charcot, was proving the effect of the subconscious on our minds in his studies of hysteria and hypnosis. The sub or unconscious mind had been a topic of consideration since the days of the Enlightenment but discussion was carried on in vague terms. In 1886 the English psychologist FWH Myers identified the subconscious by the name of the Unconscious preparing the way for Freud who would set the world on its psychological ear the way Darwin had its biological ear.
The way was now prepared for one of the two greatest mythographers, H.G. Wells (1866-1946). Wells had a split personality. On the one hand he was a mythographer and on the other he was a Red/Liberal/Utopian. In 1920 the Utopian side won out and he became a whole-hearted Revolutionist.
Wells began writing about 1893. His early work was in the genre of scientific fantasias, as they were called at the time, of which genre he is said to be the founder. Wells noted quite correctly that about mid-century a new type of scientific man became increasingly apparent.
Let there be no mistake but that a few centuries earlier these scientific disturbers of the peace would have been murdered. The reaction by the beginning of the twentieth century was that science was evil and ought to be stopped. George Griffith, himself writing a scientific fantasia for Pearson’s Magazine, Stories Of Other Worlds, put these words into his heroine Zaidie’s mouth as she was on the way to Mars:
“They’re very ugly aren’t they?” said Zaidie; “and really you can’t tell which are men and which are women. I suppose they’ve civilized themselves out of everything that’s nice, and are just scientific and utilitarian and everything that’s horrid.”
And Zaidie was a sweet thing too. Against an even more hostile background Wells understood that tempers against science were running high but he came down on the side of the New Men. In his interesting fantasia The Food Of The Gods he postulates that the new men had perhaps been fed some new synthetic food which made them intellectual and physical giants.
Actually they had been around for centuries but had been suppressed by the Religious Consciousness in the form of the Judeo-Catholic religion. As their forces gathered in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries they became strong enough to defy the Judeo-Catholics. Thus when the evidence of their emergence became evident in mid-nineteenth century they were already too numerous and too strong to be set aside. The two consciousnesses came into conflict with the Religious Consciousness splitting into the reactionary Devout group and the other the more forward leaning Red/Liberals.
Thus Wells on his Utopian side became the advocate of a form of the Religious Consciousness as he struggled with his Scientific Consciousness. After the Russian Revolution he wholeheartedly went over to the revolution.
While very influential on subsequent mythographers Wells was unable to create a psychological projection of his own while after 1920 he became a member of religious communism turning out politico-religious tracts.
Emerging at about the same time as Wells the Irishman Bram Stoker contributed the master psychological projection of the twentieth century in his masterwork, Dracula while E.W. Hornung (1866-1921) created the minor projection, the Amateur cracksman- A. J. Raffles. A cracksman was a burglar; Raffles was the archetype of the gentleman thief. While Raffles himself has virtually disappeared from the collective memory the notion of the gentleman criminal has taken hold on the mythological consciousness. Raffles is not to be confused as a version of the earlier Robin Hood who ‘stole from the rich to give to the poor.’ No, Raffles unashamedly kept and spent all the proceeds.
In the background all this time the greatest of the creative mythographers, Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950) was waiting for his consciousness to mature. It matured in 1911 when he first created John Carter of Mars then followed up with the prodigious psychological projection of Tarzan Of The Apes. Shew, bigger than an A-bomb.
Burroughs was the plateau to which all other roads led and from which all other roads proceeded. He managed to consolidate all the mythological trends of the previous decades into his work where he refined and perfected them sending them on to new heights.
Edgar Rice Burroughs. To coin a cliche, Burroughs was an enigmatic figure. While himself a great original writer he managed to incorporate the various strands of the myth into his writing in such a way, either clumsy or tributary, as you wish, that he stands accused of being a plagiarist. This is nonsense of course. Like any mythographer he had to work with established materials. Myths are not original– they are cooperative efforts. The great Greek cycle, of which Homer is the center, was the work of many hands. The fact does not diminish Homer’s contribution.
Burroughs was able to incorporate the two most significant disciplines of psychology and evolution into his work in such an entertaining manner that the seriousness of his thought was lost in the glamour.
While the sources of Burroughs’ evolutionary ideas which will be discussed in Part II, are relatively easy to trace his psychological sources are more difficult. That he had already thought deeply on psychological matters before he began writing is obvious. That he continually added to his learning in psychology as well as evolution is clear from the development of his thought throughout the corpus.
Burroughs was especially concerned with the nature of the unconscious. He was an intelligent man who knew that his own behavior was controlled from his subconscious. I am certain that he was familiar with the 1886 work of FWH Myers, as well as Myers’ 1903 work Human Consciousness. As Freud was not translated into English before 1912 it seems certain that he had not had direct contact with the man’s work before then, however, by 1916 in his short story ‘Tarzan’s First Nightmare’ it seems evident that he had read at least The Interpretations Of Dreams.
Still, Burroughs had considerable contact with practicing psychologists as he indicated in The Gods Of Mars.
As the notion of the unconscious was discussed in various journals he very probably had read a number of articles, while as the notion of the Freudian slip was current in the second decade of the twentieth century he may have been familiar with Freud’s Psychopathology Of Everyday Life.
At any rate his writing of that decade drove relentlessly toward the goal of integrating his personality which is to say unifying the subconscious and conscious minds which he succeeded in doing by 1917 when he published The Oakdale Affair or, as alternatively titled, Bridge And The Oskaloosa Kid.
In his portrayal of the big Bwana, Tarzan has an integrated personality from his beginning in 1912. In his other works Burroughs constantly offers many portrayals of the subconscious.
The contrast between the conscious, or intelligent mind, and the unconscious, subconscious or ‘instinctive’ mind is one of the central tenets of the myth.
For Burroughs the study of the subconscious was to liberate, for Freud it was to subjugate the human will. Make no mistake, I consider Freud an evil presence while being the most destructive force of the twentieth century equal to any number of atomic bombs. Freud’s notion of the subconscious as a Hydelike repository of horrid repressed criminal needs was very mistaken.
One has the feeling that Freud learned much more about the human psyche than he told and that he told what he did with ulterior motives in mind. Those ulterior motives did not go unnoticed at the time. As D.H. Lawrence expressed it is his Psychoanalysis And The Unconscius of 1911:
And does it need a prophet to discern that Freud is on the brink of a Weltanschauung- or at least a Menschenschauung, which is a more risky affair? What detains him? Two things. First and foremost the moral issue. And next, but more vital, he can’t get down to the rock on which he must build his church.
Actually the unconscious was the rock but another rock was how to turn the basis of psychoanalysis, which is emasculation, into something palatable. Freud stumbled over his concept of castration which he was apparently sincerely unable to extend into the workable concept of Emasculation. The Castration Complex is only a symbol for Emasculation. And then there was the difficult moral issue. Lawrence again, same work:
First and foremost the issue is a moral issue. It is not here a matter of reform, new moral values. It is the life and death of all morality. The leaders (Freud, Ferenczi, Abraham) among the psychoanalysts know what they have in hand. Probably most of their followers are ignorant, and therefore pseudo-innocent. But it all amounts to the same thing. Psychoanalysis is out, under a therapeutic disguise, to do away entirely with the moral faculty in man. (My italics.)
Lawrence put his finger on the criminal intent. Freud was in fact running an Order in which one learned the true intent as one moved from initiate to adept. Freud in fact did wish to destroy the concept of Christian, that is to say European morality, and he had his reasons. But why the ‘unconscious’, why something which in his vision lies outside, even beyond, our minds, some alien evil force which controls our actions against our will. Lawrence persists:
It is obvious we cannot recover our moral footing until we can in some way determine the true nature of the unconscious (Percipient O!) The word unconscious itself is a mere definition by negation and has no positive meaning. Freud no doubt prefers it for this reason. He rejects subconscious and preconscious, because both of these would imply a sort of nascent consciousness, the shadowy half-consciousness which precedes mental realization. And by his unconscious he intends no such thing. He wishes rather to convey, we imagine, that which recoils from consciousness, that which reacts in the psyche away from mental consciousness. His unconscious is, we take it, that part of the human consciousness which though mental, ideal in its nature, yet unwilling to expose itself to full recognition and so recoils back into the affective regions and acts there as a secret agent, unconfessed, unadmitted, potent, and usually destructive. The whole body of repressions makes up our unconscious.
Here Lawrence states the obvious, there is no such thing as the unconscious. There is a subconscious that he rightly understands Freud to have rejected for ulterior motives. A subconscious is part of us which can be dealt with while an unconscious which is metaphysical cannot, it therefore follows that there cannot be an unconscious which would be a religious symbol, or in other words, supernatural.
However Lawrence while he scoffs seems to understand the function or a function that Freud gave to his unconscious which is in fact partially true of the subconscious. ‘The whole body of repressions makes up our unconscious.’ Not a fact because when the personality is integrated and fixations or what Freud call repressions disappear there is still a function to the subconscious which is unrelated to the fixations or repressions. I believe repression to be an inaccurate term. Rather what Freud calls repressions are fixations. A Challenge that the mind finds overwhelming is received and perpetuated as a fixation in the subconscious that in its control of the personality appeared to Freud as repression. Freud repeatedly reports the symbol as the fact whether through misconception or in intent to deceive is not always clear.
What is clear is that as Lawrence perceived so clearly in 1911 was Freud’s intent to destroy morality in a Jekylllike intent to release the Hydelike repressions on the world. In this he succeeded quite well. Much to his own injury. Just as Hyde brought destruction on himself so Freud brought destruction on the Jews in this Jewish millennial period.
At this point it might be instructive to examine an aspect of the intellectual milieu in which Freud developed. A large part of personal psychology is integral in one’s group psychology and general psychology as in, for instance, education. By education I do not mean schooling per se, but all the influences which constitue character formation.
Freud’s father came from the area of the Pale known as Galicia. This area is very close to the homeland of the ecstatic variant of Judaism known as Hasidism, and in fact his father was a Hasid. This sect arose out of the period of the last great messianic individual, Sabbatai Zevi. This man was active during the period 1640-66. As might be expected in group psychology when the Day approaches the faithful raise their expectations, growing elated, becoming forgetfull of niceties. This is what happened to the Jews of the southern Pale in 1648. As auxiliaries of the Poles who had conquered the Ukraine the Jews suffered the same fate as the Poles when the Ukrainians revolted. this massacre occurred at the same time as the expected millennium which was a complete contradiction in terms, or in other words, how mysterious can the ways of God be? Then in 1666 the whole millennial illusion collapsed when Zevi failed as a messiah.
One result of the failure was the attempt to regenerate Judaism by means of ecstatic Hasidism. By all rights Yahvey, not for the first time, having failed his people should have been renounced. The Jews couldn’t do this. There was also a second effect. Out of the wreckage of Zevi a man named Jacob Frank evolved another strain of Judaism in which he said that the age of the millennium would never appear until the Jews had exhausted their proclivity for evil. It was therefore necessary for Jews to indulge in whatever evil impulses they had to purge their systems to make way for the good or millennium.
Here also is where the Jewish notion of good arising from evil finds its clearest expression. Jewish ideas are never distinct from the ideas of the general community, in this case European. A European reaction to Judaeo-Catholicism had been going on for centuries passing through many manifestations such as the Beggars, the Free Spirtis, Anabaptists and others. All of these like the Frankists believed, like Freud, in the free expression of subconscious impulses.
Now joined by the Frankist notions after the beginning of the eighteenth century the basis of the Revolution was formed.
By mid-eighteenth century many of these groups, now styled Libertines, were functioning openly in England and on the Continent. Perhaps the most famous organization representing these beliefs which were integral to the Revolution which had been developing for centuries were clubs like the Hell Fire Club of England.
These groups of people were quite extreme. Their credo was startlingly expressed in Tobias Smollett’s 1748 novel Roderick Random. Note the date, which is just before the destruction of the notorious prisons, Newgate in England and the Bastille in France. Smollett’s novel is forty-one years before the outbreak of the French Revolution which was supported in England by members of these clubs.
Smollett’s hero, Roderick Random, was introduced into the home of one of these incendiaries to whom he attribute the following poem:
Thus have I sent the simple king to hell
Without or coffin, shroud or passing bell.
To me what are divine or human laws?
I court no sanction but my own applause!
Rapes, robb’ries, treasons, yield my soul delight;
And human carnage gratifies my sight;
I drag the hoary parent by the hair,
And toss the sprawling infant on my spear,
While the fond mother’s cries regale my ear.
I fight, I vanquish, murder friends and foes;
Nor dare the immortal gods my rage oppose.
Sound like any two revolutions you may have heard of? The above pretty much defines Freud’s intent in his use of the subconscious while forming the framework of his personal Weltanschauung. Whether Freud was consciously aware of these notions or whether they were part of his subconscious is open to question. Much of the education of this sort is absorbed on the subliminal level perhaps never being or becoming conscious. Most of this primal education is buried so deep that one is never aware of its source. I scoff at Freud’s claim that he was able to analyze himself in just one year at the turn of the century.
Now, the majority of Freud’s thought was completed by the time he published his Introductory Lectures In Psycho-Analysis in 1917 just before the Bolshevik Revolution. In order to explain the results of the Freudian ideas of the ‘unconscious’ let me provide a framework by moving ahead a little.
What we are talking about here is the context of Freud’s notion of the castration complex. Castration is a specific symbol while the generalized concept is Emasculation. the Castration Complex is not even an affect but only a symbol. If Freud was aware of the generalized Emasculation concept he nowhere lets us know. Emasculation is caused by an unresolved affront to the Ego from which all men and women suffer to some degree.
The scapegoat for our sins or arch-villain of all time as some would have it was and remains Adolf Hitler. Hitler was seriously emasculated. Having read all the major Hitler biographies while delving is some detail into the hisory of post-Great War Germany I was at a loss to explain the man and his time down to the Rock of his Church. Having folowed through on Freud’s notion of the Castration Complex exlucidating it into the Emasculation theory I came across the novels of that most horribly emasculated and repulsive figure in modern literature, Jean Genet.
For those not familiar with Genet, he wrote plays which I have not read and five novels I have which I list: Our Lady Of The Flowers, The Miracle Of The Rose, Funeral Rites, The Thief’s Journal and Querelle Of Brest.
Genet was a vicious homosexual and criminal which is to say he was completely emasculated. He wore women’s dresses but not as a transvestite. Any self-respect he had was totally negative. However, it is possible to recognize something of oneself in his hurt. He knew how to universalize his anguish. His degradation gave him some insight into his times and its personalities. He traveled in Nazi Germany between 1930 and 1940.
While not using these terms he understood and applauded the criminal annexation of Law and government to the uses of Freud’s concept of the unconscious or, in another word, criminality. The criminal nature of the regime was so in accord with his own perversions that he had no desire to thieve as such crimes seemed to him to be no insult to society in Germany.
It seemed to him that Hitler was one with himself in his desires.
I don’t believe Hitler was a practicing homosexual but he was emasculated to the point of deformity. Which is what I suppose revolted his contemporaries so. However, as all emasculation is expressed in a variant homosexual manner, self hatred being a form of homosexuality, one may believe that he was a ‘latent’ homosexual. One wonders about his relationship with Hindenburg; what exaggerated respect and smoldering resentment must have been there.
In may ways Genet forms a link between the ante and post WWII worlds. In his own goals and aims he was peculiarly related to Freud.
Shortly after the Great War Freud wrote ‘Group Psychology And The Analysis Of The Ego.’ The essay is applied Freudianism; it doesn’t do you any good to have the scientific knowledge if you don’t apply it. Man has his individual ego while sharing it in one or more group egos. The question then becomes how does one engineer the individual ego into a group ego so that the individual within an artificial group can achieve your desired political ends will he nil he, hypnotized as it were.
Freud tackles this problem in Group Ego. The book raises several interesting questions. Freud based this work on an 1895 study by the Frenchman Gustave Le Bon titled: The Crowd: A Study Of The Popular Mind. Le Bon’s was a seminal work still in print after 110 years. He might be said to have originated the concept of group psychology which Freud appropriated.
‘Group Psychology And The Analysis Of The Ego’ is virtually the Crowd rewritten with better organization and definition. At the risk of quoting too extensively I have abstracted several quotes from Le Bon used by Freud in Group Ego which form the basis of Freud’s essay. Le Bon’s book may be illustrative of the manner in which Freud built several of his ideas:
The most striking peculiarity presented by a psychological group is the following. Whoever be the individuals who compose it, however like or unlike be their mode of life, their occupations, their character, or their intelligence, the fact that they have been transformed into a group puts them in possession of a sort of collective mind which makes them feel, think and act in manner quite different from that in which each individual of them would feel, think and act were he in a state of isolation. There are certain ideas and feelings which do not come into being, or do not transform themselves into acts except in the case of individuals forming a group. The psychological group is a provisional being formed of heterogeneous elements, which for a moment are combined, exactly as the cells which constitute a living body form by their reunion a new being which displays characteristics very different from those possessed by each of the cells singly. (p. 29)
It is easy to prove how much the individual forming part of a group differs from the isolated individual but it is less easy to discover the causes of this difference.
To obtain at any rate a glimpse of them it is necessary in the first place to call to mind the truth established by modern psychology, (1895) that unconscious phenomena play an altogether preponderating part not only in organic life, but also in the operations of intelligence. The conscious life of the mind is of small importance in comparison with its unconscious life. The most subtle analyst, the most acute obserber, is scarcely successful in discovering more than a very small number of the conscious motives that determine his conduct. Our conscious acts are the outcome of an unconscious stratum created in the mind mainly by hereditary influences. The substratum consists of the innumerable common characteristics handed down from generation to generation, which consitute the genius of a race. Behind the avowed causes of our acts there undoubtedly lie secret causes that we do not avow, (The issue is not issue, Mark Rudd) but behind these secret causes there are many others more secret still, of which we ourselves are ignorant. The greater part of our daily actions are the result of hidden motives which escape our observation. (Ibid. 30)
A necessary transition note from Freud. (Page 8, Group Psychology). ‘Le Bon thinks that the particular acquirements of individuals become obliterated in a group, and that in this way their distinctiveness vanishes. The racial unconscious emerges, what is heterogeneous is submerged in what is homgeneous. As we should say, the mental superstructure, the development of which in individuals shows such dissimilarities is removed, and the unconscious foundations, which are similar in everyone, stand exposed to view.
In this way individuals in a group would come to show an average character. But Le Bon believes that they also show new characteristics which they have previously not possessed, and he seeks the reason for this in three different factors.’
Freud quoting Le Bon again:
The first is that the individual forming part of a group acquires, solely from numerical considerations, a sentiment of invincible power which allows him to yield to interests which, had he been alone, he would perforce have kept under restraint. He will be the less disposed to check himself, from the consideration that, a group being anonymous and in consequence irresponsible, the sentiment of responsibility which always controls individuals disappears entirely. (Ibid. 33)
The second cause, which is contagion, also intervenes to determine the manifestations in groups of their special characteristics, and at the same time the trend they are to take. Contagion is a phenomenon of which it is easy to establish the presence but which it is not easy to explain. It must be classed among those phenomena of a hypnotic order, which we shall shortly study. In a group every sentiment and act is contagious, and cantagious to such a degree that an individual readily sacrifices his personal interest to the collective interest. this is an aptitude very contrary to his nature, and of which a man is scarcely capable, except when he makes part of a group. (Ibid. 33)
A third case and by far the most important, determines in the individuals of a group special characteristics which are quite contrary at times to those presented by their isolated individual. I allude to that suggestibility of which, moreover, the contagion mentioned above is also an effect.
To understand this phenomenon it is necessary to bear in mind certain recent physiological discoveries. We know today that by various processes an individual may be brought into such a condition that, having entirely lost his conscious personality, he obeys all the suggestions of the operator who has deprived him of it, and commits acts in utter contradiction with his character and habits. The most careful investigations seem to prove than an individual immersed for some length of time in a group in action soon finds himself– whether in consequence of the magnetic influence given out by the group, or from some other cause of which we are ignorant– in a special stae, which much resembles the state of ‘fascination’ in which the hypnotized individual finds himself in the hands of the hypnotizer.
…The conscious personality has entirely vanished; will and discernment are lost. All feelings and thoughts are bent in the direction determined by the hypnotizer.
Such also is approximately the state of the individual forming part of a psychological group. He is no longer conscious of his acts. In his case, as in the case of the hypnotized subject, at the same time that certain faculties are destroyed, other may be brought to a high degree of exaltation. Under the influence of a suggestion, he will undertake the accomplishment of certain acts with irresistible impetuosity. This impetuosity is the more irresistible in the case of groups than in that of the hypnotized subject, from the fact that, the suggestion being the same for all individuals in the group, it gains in strength by reciprocity. (Ibid. 34)
We see, then, that the disappearnce of the conscious personality, the predominance of the unconscious personality, the turning by means of suggestion and contagion of feelings and ideas in the identical direction, the tendency to immediately transform the suggested idea into acts; these, we see, are the principal characteristics of the individual forming part of a group. He is no longer himself, but has become an automaton who has ceased to be guided by his will. (Ibid. 35)
The remainder of Freud’s Group Psychology is the application of Le Bon’s observations as a manual for psychologically manipulated groups through hypnosis and suggestion to achieve an agenda. I will repeatedly refer to Group Psychology in Freud’s plan hereafter. While it is clear that Freud read Le Bon’s 1895 book absorbing much, the book was immediately translated into English in 1896 where it became accesible to a world public, it is therefore probable that a number of other people read the book taking what they needed for their purposes.
One of these may very well have been Edgar Rice Burroughs. I know of no way of determining the fact that he read the book but one asks is there any evidence in his novels that would indicate that he had. I’ll be darned, there is. As I said, because of the frivolous nature of the novels one dismisses Burroughs as an uneducated fantasist. He himself said that he would take a political or social idea and highly fictionalize it into something else. If one reads his 1914 novel Thuvia, Maid Of Mars one finds a story suspiciously like Le Bon’s ideas in The Crowd but highly fictionalized.
Burroughs’ psychological ideas are difficult to trace but well developed. Throughout his corpus Burroughs is well informed about hypnosis. It appears to be a subject he gave special attention to. Le Bon’s ideas are based on group hypnosis. In Thuvia the hero finds his way to the Martian kingdom of Lothar. He engages his invaders in a battle with the Lotharians. The city walls of Lothar are manned by innumerable bowmen firing arrows on the Green Men of Mars. The field is strewn with dead Green men killed by the arrows of he phantom bowmen.
The fight ending the hero looks away for an instant breaking eye contact with Lothar. When he looks back the field is strewn with dead Green Men but the arrows are gone. Wondering about this he looks back at Lothar to find the bowmen are gone too.
As it turn out the Lotharians no longer exist in physical form but are merely psychological projections who have learned to mass hypnotize their enemies into believing that they do exist and are shooting real arrows. Their enemies believe they are real arrows and so die by them.
Thus it is quite possible that in Thuvia we have a fictionalization of Le Bon’s ideas which Burroughs must have picked up from the 1895 book converting them into fiction in 1914 well ahead of Freud and Hitler.
Oh yes. Him again. Hitler. Whether historians would agree that Germany was ‘stabbed in the back’ or not, it was universally believed by Germans, especially by Hitler, and they and he acted on that belief. Thus the psychic injury suffered by the privations of war, the loss of the war, and the belief that victory had been taken from them by traitorous means made a curious form of group emasculation of the collective ego shared by each individual creating the conditions for a group psychology which under the influence of a hypnotizer they would not be responsible for their acts. The group ego is where the emasculation occurs being then relegated to the group subconscious where it surfaces under various names and impulses. As the American Jew Mark Rudd was to say in respect to his group’s post-WWII emasculation: The issue is not the issue. In other words, their complaint was the disguise for their emasculation which is what they were really trying to address.
Jean Genet was not a philosopher or a politician so that he did not understand that Hitler was not the protagonist but the antagonist. He was not acting but reacting. What was he reacting to? Let’s go back to Freud.
End of Part 2. Go To Part 3
October 1, 2007
Something Of Value I
If a man does away
With his traditional way of living
And throws away his good customs,
He had better first make certain
That he has something of value to replace them.
–Basuto proverb as quoted by Robert Ruark
One Hundred Years In The Sewers Of Paris
With Jean Valjean.
Edgar Rice Burroughs, Sigmund Freud
And The Myth Of The Twentieth Century
The Concepts Of The Unconscious And Emasculation
It has been truly said that man does not live by bread alone. He also requires a mythic foundation on which to base his actions. In the neolithic era his mythology was governed by a Matriarchal vision of reality. In the subsequent Egypto-Greco-Mesopotamian mythology the Matriarchal series went through a revision being replaced by an advanced Patriarchal mythological consciousness. This system was followed by the Judaeo-Christian mythological system which endured as the basis of mythological belief until the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries when the belief system was subverted by the emergence of the Scientific Consciousness.
Unlike the mythopoeic consciousness which preceded it the Scientific Consciousness left no place for supernatural explanations; all had to be explained within a rational scientific framework. This placed a great strain on a significant portion of the population which did not have the intellectual equipment to evolve. Thus the basis of psychological comfort provided by religion was destroyed. The code of behavior seemingly sent down from the sky had lost its validity.
In place of an apparent unified consciousness it now became noticeable that EuroAmerican man had an unconscious or subconscious mind as well as a conscious mind. Thus another evolutionary degree of differentiation unfolded that separated the advanced Scientific Consciousness from the anterior Religious Conciousness. A struggle has ensued in which advanced people are compelled to reintegrate their conscious and subconscious minds while the Religious Consciousness divided into the two camps of the Devout and the Reds resist.
The discovery of what was known as the Unconscious began with the emergence from the Religious Consciousness during and after the Enlightenment. Anton Mesmer with his discovery of Animal Magnetism or hypnotism may have been the first stage. Goethe and others carried the discussion forward until the Englishman FWH Myers isolated or identified the subconscious by the name of the unconscius in 1886.
The notion of the unconscious as known during the twentieth century was formulated by Sigmund Freud during the twentieth century’s first decade. Both Myers and Freud misconceived the nature of the sub or unconscious. Myers’ conception was more generous than Freud’s and more in accordance with proto-scientific Patriarchal Greek mythological conceptions which were also mistaken but visionary.
In Myers’ vision of the unconscious it had two aspects: the destructive aspect which he gave the Greek name of Ate and the constructive aspect he termed Menos. Thus he recognized that the unconcious could be good or bad.
Myers’ vision may have been based in Greek mythology. It will be remembered that the creative god, Hephaestus, was married to the emotional goddess, Aphrodite. Hephaestus and Aphrodite had their digs at the bottom of the sea which is to say the symbol of the unconscious which corresponds to the seeming location of the unconscious at the bottom of the mind or, in other words, the brain stem.
Thus it is said that Aphrodite, the goddess of love, which is to say irrationality, emerged from the sea on the half shell.
So, I suppose, love, being never rational is a subconscious decision which is one sided or a half shell. Love may be either constructive or destructive.
Thus also good ideas, a la Hephaestus, seem to rise unbidden from the subconscious or the depths.
Hephaestus and Aphrodite were ancient gods dating back to the Matriarchy. The incoming Patriarchal god, Zeus, had no part in their creation; they were solely a part of Hera the great goddess of the Matriarchy. She was much older than Zeus but the youthful Zeus united with her in the form of a cuckoo bird who as she clutched it to her breast slipped down her dress and ravaged her. So the Patriachy subsumed the Matriarchy.
When Hephaestus later sided with his mother against Zeus, the great Olympian threw him from heaven laming him. Then Aphrodite was given to him to wife. Unbridled lust combined with creative activity, Ate and Menos.
Aphrodite was not happy with the lamed god. While Hephaestus was on trips to Olympus she dallied with another Matriarchal god, Ares, the symbol of uncontrollable desire or rage. Hephaestus having been informed of Aphrodite’s infidelity set a trap for her and Ares. He constructed a finely meshed net of gold which he suspended over his bed.
Aphrodite, unbridled lust, and Ares, uncontrollable rage, were literally caught in the act being unable to disengage. Thus we have two aspects of Ate, lust and rage, caught by the efforts of creativity in the depths of the sea or the unconscious
Hephaestus called the other gods to witness. Athene, a new Patriarchal goddess who was the counterpart and antithesis of Ares and Aphrodite turned away in disgust. Apollo, another new Patriarchal god and the antithesis of Hermes just laughed. Hermes, the patron god of thieves, a Matriarchal god, said he would change places with Ares in a second. Thus, lust, rage and dishonesty are combined in one figure of Ate in the subconscious.
The image of Ate and Menos is what Myers meant by his idea of the unconscious. Freud, on the other hand, understood the unconscious as pure Ate.
Both the Greeks and Myers attempted scientific explanations while Freud gave the unconscious a religious and supernatural twist. He seemed to believe that the unconscious has an independent existence outside the mind of man which is beyond man’s control while being wholly evil.
Opposed to morality, Freud then wished to unleash this conception of the unconscious on the world. He was uniquely prepared to do so. All he had to do was manipulate the symbols of psychoanalysis of which he had full control. The question then is did Freud have deeper understandings that he concealed in order to bring about his desired ends?
Such is the case with his conceptions of sexuality. There is no need for him to have had deeper understanding, after all he was a pioneer opening a new field of inquiry. On the other hand…
Defining the unconscious was done by many men preceding Freud so that his is only one of many understandings, not necessarily the best, although today in common belief he invented the concept of the unconscious.
Next he chose to define the concepts of sex. He was equally successful in this field as far as the public was concerned, although I differ in understanding the matter as I do with the unconscious.
In analyses with patients Freud discovered that there was a fear of castration out of all proportion to actual incidents of sexual mutilation. It follows then that castration symbolizes something other than the removal of the genitals. I contend that it was impossible for Freud to have missed the signficance of castration as a symbol.
Castration as a symbol represents the broader concept of Emasculation, in this case psychological emasculation. This does occur in everyone’s life in many different manifestations while being something to really fear or avoid. Unless I am mistaken all neuroses and psychoses depend from it.
Understanding Emasculation is as much a ‘royal road to the unconscious’ as dreams.
I do not accept Freud’s map of the mind but we both agree that the Ego or Animus is the key to identity. Freud fully understood the significance of the Ego. Thus when the Ego is challenged with an affront or insult to which it is either unable or doesn’t know how to respond to successfully emascualtion to some degree takes place. There is no unconscious, just as there are no instincts so that a fixation is suppressed in the subconscious as a result of the affront. These fixations produce effects, which can be grouped in categories such as hysteria, paranoia, obsessive-compulsiveness and the whole panoply of general affects. The affects then find expression physically and psychologically, or in another word, psychosomatically. The mind and the body is one unit. These affects answer to what Freud called neuroses and psychoses.
When the Ego or Animus is denied its right to assertion the denial is frequently espressed in a hysterically sexual manner corresponding to the the insult. If the victim feels he has been taken from behind he will undoubtedly resort to anal intercourse as one type of underhanded response in an attempt to get back his own as in the case with homosexuality. Homosexuality is Emasculation par excellence.
The human mind is very limited in its inventiveness so all these affects can be catalogued and matched with the insult so that, absent resistance under analysis, they can easily be addressed and exorcised. The problem is not as complicated as it has been made out.
Freud understood so much more than he was willing to tell the goys but then he was not a scientist but a Jewish prophet. In his Group Psychology And The Analysis Of The Ego to which we will return he gave the game away.
The individual can and does submerge his own ego into a, or at various times, many group egos. Prominent among these group egos are ethnic, national and religious group egos.
Just as the individual can be emascualted so can ethnic, national or religious groups be emasculated which the individual will share. I mention the Jews only as the most obvious case although Negroes, American Indians or any defeated people suffer emasculation to one degree or another.
Thus I will discuss the unconscious from a general point of view with Freud’s concept prominent while the concept of Emascultion will be discussed by my understanding based on the studies of Freud on the castration complex and group psychology.
Bear in mind that I think Freud criminally distorted scientific knowledge for ethnic, national and religious ends.
Born with an integrated mind, circumstances soon disintegrate the personality so that the mind must be reintegrated to return to a state of psychic wholeness. A sort of personal mythology is created by one’s early disintegrative experiences which form one’s dreamscape in an attempt to deal with an overwhelming reality. However, when a person gains some control over external reality when the personality is integrated and the initial dreamscape based on early memories is eliminated a sort of distressing vacuum ensues that exists until a new dreamscape is formed which, while sufficient to ease the discomfort lacks the depth and substance of the fully mythologized dreamscape of childhood. One had reached a scientific consciousness. It may not be as satisfying but it fills the space while not controlling one’s behavior.
Western man, Euroamerican man, as the only segment of mankind so differentiated had then to begin to work out a new mythology based on rational scientific ideas. In other words he had to create a comfortable basis from which to understand and interpret the world.
Thus after a couple proto-mythographies in the early nineteenth century a cluster of writers or neo-mythographers began to create a mythology for the Scientific Consciousness.
The destruction of the Religious Consciousness began to become obvious after the eighteenth century Industrial Revolution in England. With the advent of steam the problem began to become acute.
The proto-mythologers may be Walter Scott, Byron, Peacock and the Shelleys. There is a departure in feel and style with these writers. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein posits the scientific problem laying a foundation for the new mythology but does not itself deal with the psychological effects.
The first mythographer to make an attempt to explain the split consciousness from my own researches was the American, Edgar Allan Poe, 1801-49.
Poe began his writing career as a psychologically troubled man ending it insane. Along the way he wrestled with the problem of the void in the subconscious created by the elimination of the supernatural. His message was received by the later group of mythographers who read him without exception all being influenced by his work.
Poe caught the great intellectual change as it emerged. The period from 1830-1880 was the period of the great initial scientific advances that would change the world. From Poe’s death in 1849 to the emergence of the new breed of mythographers beginning in the 1880s was a period of literary quiescence.
Poe began his influential masterpiece The Murders In The Rue Morgue with the paragraph:
As the strong man exhibits his physical ability, delighting in such excercises as call his muscles into action, so glories the analyst in the moral activity which disentangles. He derives pleasure from even the most trivial occupations bringing his intellect into play. He is fond of enigmas, conundrums, hieroglyphics; exhibiting in his solutions of each a degree of acumen which appears to the ordinary apprehension as praeternatural. His results brought about by the very soul and essence of method, have in truth the whole air of intuition.
By analysis Poe didn’t mean the sort of educated guesswork that had passed for analysis in the pre-scientific consciousness. No, this was scientific analysis that disassembled a problem into the component parts revealing the secret than reassembling the problem to its original state.
In doing so Poe revealed himself as a master mythographer as well as a scientist. In C. August Dupin, the initials spell cad, Poe created the archetype of the eccentric madman who would be the here of countless novels. As a projection of Poe’s own mentality Dupin and his unnamed alter ego live in a dilapidated house. The house is the psychological symbol for self which Poe used almost to exhaustion. As the Fall of the House of Usher prefigured Poe’s own descent into insanity as to a number of alter egos representing his sane side figure in the House of Usher, William Wilson, Rue Morgue and most notably in the System of Dr. Tarr And Professor Fether in which his sane alter ego drops his other half off at the door of an insane asylum.
The two Dupins live in a darkened house during the day, creaking not unlike the House Of Usher, going out only into the depressed asylum of the night.
Poe thus presents the separation of the conscious and subconscious modern man in the riddle of the murders in the Rue Morgue. In the Rue Morgue the subconscious is represented by the Orang u tang or animal side of human nature while the conscious is represented by the sailor owner. From Poe to at least Freud the subconscious was popularly considered a dangerous wild side of man.
In Dupin and his alter ego versus the sailor and the Orang, Poe may have perceived the emergence of a new species much as H.G. Wells was to do at the end of the century. Thus both men perceived that the antecedent consciousness and the Scientific Consciousness were not just matters of learning but a genetic difference although they didn’t put it that way that couldn’t be bridged.
Both aspects were brought out brilliantly by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-94) in his 1880 novel: The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde. This book may properly be said to be the first true represention of the scientific myth.
In this case the good Dr. Jekyll is the disciplined, self-controlled scientist committed to doing good in the world. Beneath his intelligent exterior he feels the primitive wild man lurking. The primitive of what is in fact a predecessor Homo Sapiens is very very appealing to him. Unable to bring this aspect of his psychology to the surface by conventional means he resorts to drugs.
Having once freed his wild side, who he names Mr. Hyde, he is unable to put Hyde back into the bottle or syringe, whichever the case may be. Hyde assumes control of the personality which leads both aspects of the personality to destruction. This is not unlike Freud’s notion of the unconscious.
Thus Stevenson brilliantly prefigured the twentieth century future in which the scientist is dragged back to the level of the predecessor species through a psychological inability to take the great leap forward and turn his back on his past.
The same sense of the alienation from a predecessor existence was evidenced in the work of a great transitional figure, H. Rider Haggard (1856-1925). Let me say that Haggard is a much neglected literary figure. As his topics concerned Esoterica and Africa, the former which is scorned and the latter ignored, his literary reputation has been allowed to virtually disappear. Having read a large part of his work in the pursuit of these studies I would rank Haggard very highly, certainly among the top ten authors, possibly as high as number five. one and two are Walter Scott and Balzac, while Dumas holds down third and possibly Trollope in the fourth spot. Haggard is a writer of genius.
He spent his late teens and early twenties in the South African provinces of Natal and Zululand where he acquired a vision of the difference between the first Homo Sapiens, the Negro, and the current scientific man. As the saying goes, there’s something to be lost and something gained when you move up the ladder.
Haggard never made it to scientific man himself being stuck in the Religious Consciousness. He belonged to the Esoteric side rather than the Christian. In the third novel of his great African trilogy, Allan Quatermain, Haggard examined the difference between the African and European in this manner.
Ah! this civilization what does it all come to? Full forty years and more I spent among savages, and studied them and their ways; and now for several years I have lived here in England, and in my own stupid manner have done my best to learn the ways of the children of light; and what do I find? A great gulf fixed? No, only a very little one, that a plain man’s thought may spring across. I say that as the savage is, so is the white man, only the latter is more inventive, and possesses a faculty of combination…but in all essential the savage and child of civilization are identical.
In the same book Haggard also put the problem more poetically:
…he dreams of the sight
of Zulu impis
breaking on the foe
like surf upon the rocks
and his heart rises in rebellion
against the strict limits
of the civilized life.
Here Haggard states the central thesis of Stevenson’s Jekyll and Hyde. In the evolution of the species there is always a small gulf between two adjacent species: nature does not take great leaps, it moves in small increments. Thus it may be a small leap between the two, expecially when the next transition creates not only a new variety but a new species, but the leap is backwards as in Jekyll’s case while it is impossible for Hyde to make the leap forward, nor is he capable of adjusting to the new strict limits. Wasn’t Stevenson precocious?
Haggard who was not of the Scientific Consciousness was left behind while his work formed the basis of the greatest of the scientific mythographers.
Before moving on let us here consider the patron saint of the future Red/Liberal aspect of the Religious Consciousness, the Frenchman, Victor Hugo (1802-85).
Paris Is A Leaky Basket
Paris has another Paris under herself; a Paris of sewers; which has its streets, its crossings, its squares, its blind alleys, its arteries and its circulation, which is slime minus its human form.
~Victor Hugo- Les Miserables
As Haggard was a transitional figure for the mythographers one might say that Victor Hugo created the literary foundation for the Red/Liberal faction of the Religious Consciousness. His Les Miserables with its tragi-comic format forms the bedrock of Revolutionary beliefs. Hugo was himself a Revolutionary. His novel Les Miserables is the account, so he says, of the apotheosis of Jean Valjean from bestiality to salvation. Along the way to his apotheosis Valjean makes a detour through the sewers of Paris.
Hugo was a poet; his account of the sewers of paris is, shall we say, poetic. In fact a scatalogical masterpiece worthy of our own Lenny Bruce. If Lenny had studied Vic a little he would have been able to say everything he wanted to say while staying out of jail at the same time.
One wonders whether Freud read Hugo. There are certain similarities in style. Certainly they both seem to have had the same notion of the unconscious. Valjean’s trip through the sewers of Paris, he with the bleeding Marius on his back must have been intended as a representation of the unconscious. And a very funny one at that.
Freud would certainly have agreed with Hugo when the latter wrote: The history of men is the history of cloacae. From Hugo’s description of the sewers of Paris it is clear that Paris was not anal retentive.
Freud was no less scatological in his approach to psychology than this astonishing section of Hugo’s book. Who wouldn’t be miserable down in a sewer; miserable enough if only your mind was in the sewer. In Hugo one gets the same macabre, morbid sense of humor Freud exhibits in his own work. Oh yes, read properly Freud tells a lot of jokes. Didn’t he write a book titled: Jokes And Their Relation To The Unconscious? Sure he did. Knew what he was talking about too.
The first chapter of the section of Hugo’s book, The Intestines Of Leviathan is a series of morbid one liners which are as funny as anything Lenny Bruce came up with. Double entendre? To say Paris is a leaky basket! In the underworld homosexual argot of Jean Genet the term basket refers to a man’s crotch and penis. Undoubtedly the same argot was current in Hugo’s time. He was a student of criminal argot. So Paris being a leaky basket is equivalent to saying Paris was incontinent, pissing all over itself. Don’t you think that’s funny?
And then: “The sewer is the conscience of the city.” Hm? ‘This can be said for the garbage dump, that it is no liar.” I ask you, does Victor Hugo know how to get down and boogie? Let us follow Jean Valjean into the “Conscience of Paris” “which is no liar” from which Hugo says Villon talks to Rabelais. Fabulous funny images, morbid but fabulous and funny.
To be sure, psychology in 1862 when Les Miserables was published, had not been developed, yet notice how closely Hugo’s tongue-in-cheek, laughing in his sleeve, description of Jean Valjean’s journey through the pitch black maze of this subterranean worker’s paradise into which from time to time faint glimmerings of light enter answers to the images of Freudian Depth Psychology. Depth psychology? Was that a pun or play on words?
Just imagine Jean Valjean as he enters the sewer. Take time to construct concrete images in your mind. After this, shall we say, harrowing of hell not unlike that of Theseus and Peirithous, from which Perithous never returned, Valjean receives his apotheosis not unlike Hercules. One might also compare this scene with the temptation of Christ.
Valjean is carrying the bleeding Marius on his back who might or might not be dead. Hugo doesn’t let us know. This might be compared to one’s old self before or during the integration of the personality. In fact Valjean sheds Marius after emerging from the sewer from which the gatekeeper of Hell, Thenardier, allows him to emerge after being paid his obol.
The sewer is certainly a symbol of the unconscious for the scatological Freud who seems to revel in such fecal images. Amidst a chatty history of the sewers of Paris which Hugo keeps up as Valjean plods through the darkness always intuitively heading in the right direction, down. He evades the thought police who are searching for him or someone just like him in the sewers. A shot sent blindly down his gallery grazes his cheek. Jesus! Isn’t a man safe from harassment in the depths of his own mind? If you think Paris is dangerous, try the sewers.
Valjean is exhausted from his long walk carrying Marius on his back, poor suffering humanity, the sign of the cross, nevertheless with the heart of a lion he plods on. He moves forward through deepening fluids as his bare feet sink into fecal matter “which does not lie” while Hugo carries on a charming separate conversation with we readers about little known facts of the Paris sewers. No, the fecal matter, as well as Hugo, tells the truth however hard that may be to decipher from the material at hand as well as underfoot.
As the fluid (also however that may be composed as Hugo is writing scatologically) rises, his feet sink up to his knees into “the conscience of the city.” Get this! Valjean is one of the great strongmen, he lifts the dead weight of Marius above his head on his extended arms still sucking his feet from the muck. Hugo does not reveal whether Valjean lost his shoes during this ordeal or not but surely a while back. Perhaps of all the details Hugo records this particular item which consumes my interest had none for him.
Nevertheless, heedless of the the danger to her shoes, Valjean plods on. Plod, plod.
Now, here’s a detail of interest Hugo does record. Feet and legs deep in the conscience of paris, Marius held above his head visualize this, the fecal fluid had risen above Valjean’s mouth and nose so that he has to tip his head back, I’m not sure this would have been effective, until only a mask can be seen rising eerily above the surface, as well as two arms and Marius. He ain’t heavy, he’s my other self. Seen in Stygian darkness that is.
If we’re all in the same sewer here imagine particles of the conscience of Paris, scatologically know as turds, bumping up against the mask probably trailing behind Our Man Of The Sewer in a wake of fetid glory.
Even in the pitch black Thenardier is watching this spectacle. Fortunately the psychic crisis is past. Valjean leaves the conscience of Paris which does not lie, you can say that about it, behind striking solid, er, ground.
A striking vision of Freud’s and the Revolution’s reality. Had Valjean been given the name Spartacus the Revolutionary vision would have been complete. The Red/Liberals had spent a hundred years or more in the sewers of Paris before they turned this primary text of theirs into the Broadway musical of Les Miserables. Next time you see it put it into this context of the sewers of Paris. The songs will take on new meaning.
Part II of Something Of Value I follows.
June 21, 2007
Springtime For Edgar Rice Burroughs
In The Beginning:
The Renascent Burroughs
The psychological release Burroughs experienced when he began to realize the potential he had always felt must have been especially gratifying. In all likelihood he believed he was beginning a new life, born again, as it were. It wouldn’t have been unusual in this circumstance that he wished to dissociate himself from his entire past of failure.
For this reason it is possible that California loomed as the destination in which his new life would unfold. Making the change was difficult and would take him six years to consummate. One asks, why California? Why not Florida, for instance. I think the answer may be in his three most favorite novels: Mark Twain’s Prince And The Pauper, Little Lord Fauntleroy and Owen Wister’s The Virginian. Wister posits the West as a place of redemption and fulfillment while Burroughs youthful visit to Idaho may have had that effect on him. Hence Waldo the consumptive lands on an island as primitive as Idaho was to Chicago and becomes a man. So Burroughs may have viewed his visits in the West.
In the Prince And The Pauper a Prince becomes a Pauper and a Pauper becomes a Prince. In Fauntleroy the unknown princeling discovered his true identity thus exchanging the role of Pauper for a Prince while his alter ego the pauper Dick The Shoeshine Boy is transformed as well and through luck and pluck assumes a role of success in California as a rancher at the end of the story.
The Burroughs born a princeling then disinherited to a Pauper reassumed his role as a Prince but he had been inefaceably declassed hence though now a Prince as Fauntleroy he retains the psychology of the declasse as in the character of Dick The Shoeshine Boy. Dick at the end of Fautleroy moves to California where he finds work on a rach eventually becoming a success as a rancher himself.
It seem obvious that burroughs considered Little Lord Fauntleroy a book of destiny. Thus California would appear as his destiny. I believe that the reason for the six year delay in the actual move was necessitated by a need to combine the Fauntleroy and Dick the Shoe Shine Boy or The Prince and the Pauper into one identity. He had to have enough money to support the appearance of the Prince. I haven’t figured out why he wanted to raise hogs as yet but when he moved he anticipated only buying 20-40 acres which was well within his means, but when he arrived there Colonel Otis’ magnificent estate presented an opportunity to realize both identities in a property he couldn’t resist although he may have known he was acting in an unwise manner.
Even then it may have been possible to sustain the property if his economic situation hadn’t come under attack by the Judaeo/Red/Liberal Coalition in the early twenties.
A second very major p;roblem for him was Emma who now definitely became unwanted baggage. But, he also had the three children who were also as definitely wanted baggage. It is possible that for their sake he didn’t abandon Emma until they were grown.
His Anima ideal was foreshadowed in Dejah Thoris while in Tarzan Of The Apes he creates the stodgy but beautiful Jane Porter as a flesh and blood woman but not an Anima ideal.
The actual split begins to occur in The Return Of Tarzan when Burroughs bursting with confidence realizes that he is about to realize his visions of self-worth. At that point the past and all related to it becomes hateful to him. As might be expected he wanted to put all that behind him. Thus in creating a land of his fossilized past in Opar he also creates a vision of the ideal woman he would like to have in La of Opar. In Return the conflict between Jane and La becomes apparent when La is about to sacrifice Jane on the altar of the Flaming God. That she doesn’t means that Burroughs has elected to stay with Emma undoubtedly for the children’s sake.
But he begins to toy with ideal images in resolution of his sexual dilemma. Another woman becomes a possiblity that didn’t exist before. It would seem apparent that as Burroughs fame grew and he became a desirable sex object to women that opportunities for philandering would present themselves. At one time I believed for certain that he didn’t. Now I am less certain but there is nothing to indicate he did.
Nevertheless he does begin to explore other ideal possibilities. Nadara of Cave Girl can be seen as one of those explorations. Having created other possibilities in La of Opar Burroughs begins to develop the idea with the cave girl, Nadara. She is perhaps the most human of all of Burroughs’ Anima ideals. She is the daughter of civilized French aristocrats raised by a caveman to be a primitive woman. Thus she has none of the civilized inhibitions especially toward sex. Burroughs will now begin a series of novels concerning the sexual relationship well in advance of what he may have heard about Freud.
Once Nadara has accepted Waldo as her mate she is ready to cohabit. Burroughs seems to be advocating this as a sociological ideal; a revolt against the strict limits of civilization. However in a clash of cultures Waldo who is subject to the strict limits of civilization finds it impossible to establish sexual relations unless they have married according to civilized rites and customs. As there is no one in this stone age society to perform these rites Waldo keeps putting consummation off until such an opportunity arises, if it ever shall.
Bearing the psycho-sexual situation in mind an interpretation of The Cave Girl is possible on a number of levels. The story is set in motion with a variation of what will become the familiar ship wreck motif. In this case the Prince, Waldo, is washed off the deck of the ship by a huge wave that deposits him on the strand of a large stone age island in the South Seas. Thus Waldo has to begin life without any survival skills, born again as it were as a new born babe. He has become the Pauper.
At this point it might be best to introduce the major sources for the story that I have found. As usual there are several.
And then I received an email a day or so before this writing from Mr. Caz Cazedessus of Pulpdom Magazine. Having read the first couple sections he pointed out that Mr. J.G. Huckenpohler had written an article in the first Pulpdom issue relating Cave Girl to Zane Grey’s Heritage Of The Desert. I haven’t read Huck’s essay but I have read The Heritage Of The Desert which I have just reviewed. I can see a possible line of argument that shows a number of similarities in the plotting of the two novels.
Heritage was published at some point in 1910 while Cave Girl was written in February-March of 1913. That does leave a sufficient window for Burroughs to have read Grey’s book but it seems a little light especially as Grey was a newish author at the time without a definite reputation. However whether or not he may have read the book earlier it is possible that he read the book shortly before writing Cave Girl having elements of his plot suggested to him.
Thus both Waldo and John Hale, the hero of Heritage, are consumptives or ‘lungers’ as they say Out West. Waldo is from Boston, Hare from Connecticut. Hare goes West to Mormon Country to begin his regeneration while Waldo lands on his island. In both cases a woman is involved and two enemies are overcome by their respective heroes. So, as I say, I don’t know Huck’s argument but I’m sure it’s a good one. There are good reasons to believe that the plot line was an influence, an additional influence, on Cave Girl. Thus Heritage would be another influence on Cave Girl. OK, Caz?
As Burroughs was beginning life over there is also a definite influence from the first eleven chapters of Genesis from the Bible which I will make apparent in my essay.
Another very major influence seems to be the King Arthur mythology. I will make this apparent as I go along. While there is no doubt that Burroughs would have been familiar with Genesis it might do to try the root out his possible Arthurian influences.
While we have at least a portion of Burroughs’ library listed here on ERBzine we should never gorget that while growing up ERB would have had access to the libraries of his brothers as well as that of his father. George T.’s library would have gone back to the 1840s and probably earlier not including the then English classics such as Milton’s Paradise Lost, Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress et al.
One imagines that there were Arthurian titles in the collections, at least Mallory’s Arthur. If the young Burroughs didn’t read the volumes through he would at least have handled them, browsed them and looked at the pictures, if any. We know his brothers recommended the related Greek mythology to him.
Certainly the medieval world was more often discussed in papers and magazines then than in our day. And then Burroughs did like Tennyson having his collected poems in his library. Thus ERB was likely familiar with the poet’s Idyls Of The King dealing with Arthurian stories. And those not following Mallory. Perhaps the most important Arthurian influence was Howard Pyle’s four volume retelling that while similar to Mallory’s differs significantly while Pyle adjusts the story to his own perceptions and moral concepts.
The reputation of Pyle would have loomed large to ERB. There is one Pyle title in his library, Stolen Treasure, but Pyle’s reputation as an illustrator would have drawn ERB’s attention to him. Pyle was the most influential illustrator of his time and perhaps in US history. His disciples were legion including Burroughs’ own illustrator, St. John. Pyle founded what is known as the Brandywine school of illustration.
It should be borne in mind that Burroughs had an aborted career as an illustrator before he began his successful career as writer. Burroughs was very proud of the time he spent at the Chicago Art Institute. So it would seem that ERB would have kept up on Pyle, Maxfield Parrish and others.
Pyle began rewriting the Arthurian story in 1903 completing the last volume in 1910 so Burroughs had plenty of time to ingest and digest the work before he began to egest it. Nor would Pyle and Tennyson be his only Arthurian influences.
I didn’t catch this in time to include the idea in my review of The Lad And The Lion but that story seems to be highly influenced by Pyle’s telling of the story of Percival from Pyle’s second volume, The Champions Of The Round Table. Naturally Burroughs borrows elements rather than the complete story.
Percival, I follow Pyle, was an orphan living in the forest with his mother far from the haunts of men. P. 263, prologue to Percival.
Nor did he ever see anyone from the outside world, saving only an old man who was a deaf mute.
So Burroughs took the hint of the deaf mute and elaborated the idea.
The Lad’s entry into the world follows that of Percival. So also the Lad’s first sight of the desert horsemen replicates Percival’s first view of the ‘angelic’ knights.
As I did mention in my review there is a similarity between lad’s being named Aziz, translated as Beloved, by Nakhla and Percival’s thinking his name was ‘Darling Boy’ as his mother referred to him. If this last connection is valid then Burroughs also read some other Arthurian story as Pyle doesn’t tell his version in that way.
So, as usual, Burroughs mines the literature of the world to tell his story. Just as I was not aware of the influence of Grey’s Heritage Of The Desert I’m sure there are more I haven’t noticed. I may even find more as my essay unfolds.
Across the strand at no great distance is a forest representing the search for self-discovery and realization. On the mragin of the forest at dusk a figure appears. As we will learn this is the beautiful Nadara but Waldo in his hyper-fear and cowardice imagines the form to be some kind of monster of which he is terrified. The monster stands between him and the food and water he needs. In a metaphoric way then he is between the devil and the deep blue sea. He cannot go back and he is afraid to go forward.
In Burroughs own situation as he is making the fateful decision to quit his day job to devote his life to full time writing the meaning of the metaphor is quite clear.
There is also a way of looking at the tale as retelling of the Biblical Genesis. This opening scene may be represented as the Biblical chaos in which nothing is differentiated with the upper and lower firmaments resting on each other. Then a divine wind arose which separated the upper and lower firmaments.
Waldo is a comic figure while the novel itself is intended to be a comic or satiric novel. Thus Waldo who can stand the tension between the devil and the deep blue sea no more runs howling and screaming into the forest to do or die against the monster.
The shrieking may be seen as a humorous representation of the divine wind. Man having been created first as it seems pursues the phantom who turns out to be a woman. Thus Waldo and Nadara represent Adam and Eve.
Waldo’s charge into the wood can also be seen as a representation of Burroughs’ decision to become a full time writer. This must have been as stressful a decision for him as was Waldo’s charge against the demon. Once through the wood Waldo is presented with a sheer cliff that appears to be inpenetrable. So, another barrier presents itself.
Having traversed the forest that was after all fairly narrow Waldo had seen a woman scrambling up the barrier. Rather than pursue her directly Waldo reenters the wood to pick fruit and refresh himself.
This can be seen as Burroughs’ desperate attempt to become a writer. Another view of the strand and the demon of the forest- between the devil and the deep blue sea- is that Burroughs had to make the desperate attempt to redeem his life by writing. Thus that original difficult decision that might possibly be compared to Waldo’s being washed off deck by the wave while now Burroughs is faced with the even more difficult decision of working at it full time. Thus the charge through the woods might represent his giving up his day job.
It would be interesting to know at what point in the story’s composition his father died. What is even more interesting is that his father’s death did not interrupt his writing schedule. In fact in a year packed with traumatic occurrences nothing did; Burroughs continued to turn out his stories at two month intervals no matter what. It is true that he had several incomplete stories in this year which means he hadn’t thought the stories through so that it is possible that while he averted severe writer’s block when he reached the end of his chain of thought he just stopped, resuming the story when he had thought it out.
A prime example would be The Girl From Farris’s that he began about this time finishing it nearly a year later. The Cave Girl was completed at this point while The Cave Man its other half and sequel was completed the following July and August of 1914. It is possible Burroughs was trying to double his monetary return but I think it more probable that he was writing so fast with such a tight schedule that he didn’t have time to worry over completion so he just terminated his story at a convenient point and moved on to the next one that was also only half thought out.
As all this stuff is based on autobiography I am truly astonished that Burroughs was so undisturbed by the happenings in his life that he had so little reaction. I have read of authors who found writing personal stuff so difficult that they were driven to bed for a week or two at a stretch. I have never faced a long stretch like that but I have sought refuge in bed for a day or two a couple times. So Burroughs writing achievement here over 1913, ’14 and ’15 is fairly remarkable.
At any rate having made the decision to become a full time writer as symbolized by the charge through the wood. Burroughs if faced with an unforeseen barrier so he goes back to pick fruit. This could possibly be seen as having written his intial ideas out, that is John Carter and Tarzan, he had to organize his second crop of stories none of which had the impact of Carter or the Jungle God. Grey’s Heritage may fit in here as Burroughs searching for ideas and plot lines may have the read Grey’s stories at this time or just previously.
Led on by the woman Waldo had mistaken for a demon he now faces the new barrier seeking a way through. He has difficulty finding the path but once on it he discovers the opening through the wall. This is a motif Burroughs will use a number of times most notably in The Land That Time Forgot and Tarzan Triumphant, not to mention the entrance to Opar.
Now, all these openings resemble the birth canal or being born again. In the instance of The Cave Girl the result of the rebirth is self-evident as well as perhaps Tarzan Triumphant when he is about to leave Emma for Florence. The Oparian episodes would have to be examined more closely from that point of view especially as the four episodes occur at critical points in Burroughs’ life while involving sexual conflict between himself and Jane/Emma and another woman represented by his Anima ideal La. Thus, in Golden Lion when Tarzan leaves Opar with La to enter the Valley of Diamonds is it possible that he had a dalliance with another woman? One wonders.
At any rate Waldo squeezed through the opening to come out on a wonderland on the other side. There is never a thought of going back. In fact a cave man places himself between Waldo and the opening driving him forward. This could correspond to the flaming sword protecting the entrance to the Garden of Eden which would continue the biblical motif.
At the same time we have a clear reference to Alice In Wonderland or down the rabbit hole. We know Burroughs was familiar with the two Lewis Carroll stories.
Yet another barrier presents itself. Another cliff is before Waldo this one of cave dwellers another favorite motif of Burroughs especially during this period. Burroughs would have been familiar with actual cliff houses from his sojourn in Arizona with the Army while he would have been fascinated with the replica built for the Columbian Expo of ’93. At this point God created Woman as Waldo pairs up with nadara. Thus Waldo’s fears on the strand when he projected the character of a demon on this beautiful and compliant female were totally unjustified. But if Nadara represents the success that had eluded him for so long then his fears born of hysteria were warranted by his past. This is a comic novel at least at the beginning when Waldo begins his transition from the skinny, consumptive academic bookworm to that of a man of Tarzanic proportions. Thus at this stage of the book Waldo is a bumbling buffoon.
Burroughs is obviously ridiculing the Boston Transcendalist school of Ralph Waldo Emerson as Waldo’s name merely leaves off the Ralph and adds the ridiculous hyphenated Smith-Jones. The latter of course has pretensions to nobility but is compounded of the two most plebeian and common English names. Waldo’s name is as comic as Burroughs could make it. Worth a laugh or two on its own.
He may also be making a snub at his fellow students of Phillips Academy when he went East. It is well known that Easterners of the time, if not still, deprecated Westerners. Burroughs would have had to put up with much jesting and ridicule while there so perhaps he is now ridiculing those who ridiculed him.
Also he may be ridiculing his own former self.
Burroughs is fairly hostile to New England throughout his writing. He is positive on the South having more than one hero from Virginia while he is considerate of the middle states. Thus Waldo beginning as an effete New Englander will turn into something resembling John Carter/Tarzan or the Virginian of Owen Wister’s strange novel. Thus if one views Waldo in light of Burroughs three most favorite novels, The Prince And The Pauper, Little Lord Fauntleroy and The Virginian the basic tenor of all the stories is made apparent.
Waldo being pursued toward the cliff dwellings by the cave men with his legs pumping up to his chin and the stick twirling in his hand resembles a scene from a newspaper comic strip. It would seem that Burroughs was an ardent reader of the newspaper Funnies. David Innes Earth Borer was undoubtedly taken from a newspaper comic strip also. This incessant modeling or borrowing may explain a bit of the contempt for his work by contemporaries. ERB comes real close from time to time.
Having paired up with Nadara she and Waldo hold off the cave men slipping away in the night to Chapter 3, The Little Eden, which is a key chapter.
It’s A Lover’s Question
This chapter is so compacted I find it difficult to find a starting point. If Burroughs’ marriage with Emma had not run smoothly from 1900 to 1913 their relationship would become even more stressed from 1913 to 1920. The marriage apparently barely survived a major crisis c. 1918-20 finally being terminated in 1934.
The relationship of ERB and Emma is very difficult to comprehend. It seems clear that ERB had no intention of actually marrying her but wished to keep her on a string. This arrangement was doing well until Frank Martin entered the scene in 1897 or ’98. Martin forced Burroughs’ hand who was then compelled to marry Emma in 1900.
Over the years from 1900 on Burroughs developed an intense antipathy to Emma which expressed itself in its most naked form at the time of her death when ERB did everything but desecrate her grave. There must have been some deep psychological cause for this that isn’t apparent from what we know for sure of the relationship.
Perhaps the most critical event in their lives occurred on that streetcorner on the way to Brown School in the fifth grade when ERB was emasculated by John the Bully. Burroughs was then removed to the girl’s school a few months later. I have no evidence that ERB and Emma were walking to school together on that the fateful day but subsequent literary evidence points in that direction.
As a result of his emasculation it would appear that ERB was fixated in such a manner that he was unable to form relationships with women after that date and that Emma was the only female with whom he retained one. But as she reminded him of that fateful day he both rejected her and couldn’t do without her. Thus he refused to marry her yet didn’t want her to marry anyone else. When circumstances forced him to marry her this may have begun his irrational resentment toward her. As there was no other woman possible for him until the beginning of his psychological liberation in 1913 he may have tolerated her, but just.
Success seemed to liberate repressed areas of his personality and we find him dreaming of an ideal mate quite different from Jane/Emma. If one assumes that John Carter is an idealized Edgar Rice Burroughs although Burroughs projects the role of uncle on him while maintaining a dissociation from him until the end then Carter’s affiliation with Dejah Thoris on Mars would be ERB’s first Anima projection. However Dejah Thoris is more closely related to Jane. In La of Opar and Nadara Burroughs’ Anima ideal shifts more toward a wild or nature woman. This aspect of the ideal is realized in Balza, The Golden Girl of 1933 who is also represented by Florence.
So, in Cave Girl an emaciated, consumptive, over intellectualized Waldo Emerson Smith-Jones mates with the primitive Nadara who still retains the imprint of her civilized parents down by the river in the Little Eden. Thus we have Adam and Eve in the Garden before they leave never to return.
The problem of male-female relations is a dominant theme in Burroughs’ writing. Indeed the theme is one that preoccupies all writers of fiction in one degree or another. In this aspect Freud is merely a prominent writer on the sexual condition of men and women. He is perhaps more systematic but not necessarily more profound.
For instance Freud asked in a title to one of his essays What Does Woman Want and gives neither a profound nor very thoughtful answer. If he had read E.M. Hull’s 1921 novel, The Sheik, he would have have had somthing of an answer written by a woman. Burroughs did read the Sheik. He understood what Hull was saying. His answer was the major burlesque of the Alalus people of the Tarzan And The Ant Men of 1922. In this charming story of the The Cave Girl he give his 1913 answer to the question of what woman wants in a credible manner.
The answer in this case is age old. The answer was clear from ancient times to E.M. Hull’s clear story. Mostly it would appear what woman wants is a powerful protector willing to perform her will when a problem exceeds her own powers thus recompensing her for the missing X and more especially the missing y chromosome. The latter what Freud called Penis Envy. One can only conclude that woman wants to be whole, to be chomosomally undivided. Thus as a famed LA procuress once said: A woman is only as powerful as the man beside her.
Now, Nadara projects a character on Waldo as her fierce and powerful protector. As love begins in Waldo’s heart the spectre of sex arises in their little Eden in the form of the Black Panther Nagoola. Is it a coincidence that the first syllable of both names is the smae while both end in a long A? Nadara the sexual temptress.
Prompting Waldo she demands whether he could kill Nagoola. That may have a couple meanings. It may mean could he despatch the animal and it may mean can he conquer or control the sexual urge. In Waldo’s case the anwer will be yes to both questions.
He does kill Nagoola in a comedy of errors in this comic novel. In its sequel The Cave Man he will adorn Nadara with the pelt of Nagoola thus making her the physical incarnation of sexual desire. Who says Burroughs wasn’t subtle.
Too desirous of impressing Nadara as a man of prowess he allows her to think he has already killed several Nagoolas.
Very pleased to hear this she says: ‘Good. When we get to my village I want you to kill Korth and Flatfoot.’ Well now, there was a committment that Waldo had no intention of honoring, at least in his present condition.
Thus, we have a demonstration of the thesis that women are responsible for conflict. Woman proposes, man imposes.
As they can’t stay in their little Eden forever they make the trek to Nadara’s people. Waldo is committed to killing the fearsome Korth and Flatfoot. He is terrified to confront them as well he might be. As they approach the village Waldo sends Nadara ahead then legs it out of there.
Thus we have the flight or fight dilemma that is another major theme of Burroughs. At this point in his career he isn’t ready to articulate his feelings as he will later. The dilemma relates to his confrontation with John the Bully in the fifth grade. At that time as Waldo in this story Burroughs elected to run. Now, you will notice that Waldo is with Nadara which is a pretty sure indication that ERB was with Emma that fateful morning on the way to school.
In point of fact either Korth or Flatfoot would easily have killed Waldo at this stage in his career as John would have cremated the much younger Burroughs. When he would later rationalize it there is no dishonor if fleeing overwhelming force which is surely true but has its consequences.
Thus Waldo like Burroughs was sent into the Wasteland. His problem now will be to figure out how to return to kill Korth and Flatfoot to reclaim Nadara.
How Waldo Became A Man