January 12, 2013
Edgar Rice Burroughs And The Revolt Against Civilization
A Review Of
Lothrop Stoddard’s 1922 Eponymous Title
Stoddard, Lothrop: The Revolt Against Civilization: The Menace Of The Underman, 1922, New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, First Edition.
In the name of our To-morrow we will burn Rafael
Destroy museums, crush the flowers of art,
Maidens in the radiant kingdom of the Future
Will be more beautiful than Venus de Milo.
Quoted by Stoddard p. 202
A perennial problem in Burroughs’ studies is what did he believe? Was he a racist? Was he an anti-Semite? Was he an irredeemable bigot? Shall we just say he was not of a contemporary Liberal frame of mind. If you listen to Richard Slotkin author of Gunfighter Nation and a professor at Case Western Reserve at the time he wrote his book a couple decades ago, Edgar Rice Burroughs was an evil man responsible for all the evil in the US from 1912 to the present. Slotkin even sees him responsible for the My Lai massacre of Viet Nam.
Himself a Communist Slotkin can overlook all the crimes of the Soviet Union in which tens of millions were exterminated to find the ultimate evil in the killing of a few dozen people in Viet Nam.
Slotkin, who rampages through his history disparaging any non-Liberal writers as atavistic bigots firmly attaches Burroughs’ name to two scholars, Madison Grant and his Passing Of The Great Race of 1916 and Lothrop Stoddard and his historical studies of the twenties. He considers the two hardly less evil than Burroughs. To someone less excitable, perhaps, or lessLiberal, the two writers have written responsible and astute studies. I certainly think they have.
When I first read Slotkin I rejected the notion that Burroughs had been influenced by either. Ten years on I have to retract that opinion. It is now clear that Burroughs read both while being heavily influenced by Lothrop Stoddard, especially his 1922 volume, The Revolt Against Civilization. While the studies of both Grant and Stoddard would at best supplement Burroughs already developed opinions The Revolt can easily be seen as a template for Burroughs’ writing after he read it. While the study complemented his own developed social and political opinions I am sure that Stoddard’s explication of the history provided Burroughs with many new facts. Based on its opinions that appeared in ERB’s novels I would place the reading somewhere about 1926 or 1927.
Contrary to what some admirers want to make him ERB was what today would be considered a very conservative man, today’s Liberals would be anathema to him. He was decidedly anti-Communist, a Eugenicist, while not bigoted he was not a Negrophile or Semitophile. He was essentially a man with a social and historical outlook that was formed before 1900, a pre-immigration outlook formed while the Indian wars were still in progress. In short he was a man of his times.
Thomas Dixon Jr. to whom he is often compared was one of the most successful writers of the period who carefully examined both the Civil War and Reconstruction as well as the growing Socialist/Communist movement. He was not a bigot as he is always construed but a man of his own people. Burroughs was influenced by his work and thought well of him. He did not abhor him. ERB read many of Dixon’s novels and admired the movie based on his books, The Birth Of A Nation. He sympathized with Henry Ford in his struggle for the welfare of America and read the Dearborn Independent, Ford’s newspaper. In short, Burroughs was a stand up guy.
Now, what evidence is there he read The Revolt Against Civilization: The Menace Of The Underman? Let’s begin with this quote, p. 34 et seq.
Down to that time the exact nature of the life process remained a mystery. The mystery has now been cleared up. The researches of [August] Weisman and other modern biologists have revealed the fact that all living beings are due to a continuous stream of germ plasm which has existed ever since life first appeared on earth and which will continue to exist as long as any life remains. This germ-plasm consists of minute germ cells which have the power of developing into human living beings. All human beings spring from the union of a male sperm-cell and a female egg-cell. Right here, however, occurs the basic feature of the life process. The new individual consists, from the start, of two sorts of plasm. Almost the whole of him is body plasm – the ever multiplying cells which differentiate into the organs of the body. But he also contains germ- plasm. At his very conception a tiny bit of the life stuff from which he springs is set aside or carefully isolated from the body-plasm, and forms a course of development entirely its own. In fact, the germ-plasm is not really part of the individual; he is merely its bearer, destined to pass it on to other bearers of the life chain.
Now all this was not only unknown but even unsuspected down to a short time ago. Its discovery was in fact dependent upon modern scientific methods. Certainly, it was not likely to suggest itself to even the most philosophic mind. Thus, down to a generation ago, the life stuff was supposed to be a product of the body, not differing essentially in character from other body products. This assumption had two important consequences. In the first place, it tended to obscure the very concept of heredity, and led men to think of environment as virtually all important; in the second place, even where the importance of heredity was dimly perceived the role of the individual was misunderstood, and he was conceived as a creator rather than a mere transmitter. This was the reason for the false theory of “the inheritance of acquired characteristics,” formulated by Lamarck and upheld by most scientists until almost the end of the nineteenth century. Of course, Lamarckianism was merely a modification of the traditional ‘environmentalist’ attitude: it admitted that heredity possessed some importance, but it maintained environment as the basic feature.
Now there you have the argument of God in Tarzan And The Lion Man of 1933 nearly word for word. I hink it unlikely that ERB actually read Weisman who published following 1900 and who ERB may never have heard of, so his source was in all probability Stoddard.
Stoddard’s presentation nicely straddles the change of consciousness from the nineteenth to the twentieth century. It sounds a trifle naïve to our ears but was cutting edge at the time. Weisman’s theories were a big step in the direction of the discovery of DNA a short 26 years after Stoddard’s study.
It is important though to remember that more than fifty percent of the US population today rejects the concept of evolution while being more Lamarckian in outlook than might be supposed. We are as a whole not quite as advanced as we think we are.
As a quick affirmation of the influence of Stoddard on ERB on pages 95-96 he gives an account of the famous Jukes family of degenerates that appeared in ERB’s 1932 novelette, Pirate Blood.
Stoddard was well aware of what was happening historically and presently and one can see that he passed that understanding on to ERB. Almost as though writing today, on page 237 Stoddard writes:
Stressful transition is the key-note of our times. Unless all signs be faulty, we stand at one of those momentous crises in history when mankind moves from one well-marked epoch to another of widely different character.
Extremely prescient observation in 1922 while his study has been borne out in detail. The chapter titles give a clear outline of the contents:
1. The Burden Of Civilization
2. The Iron Law Of Equality
3. The Nemesis Of The Inferior
4. The Lure Of The Primitive
5. The Ground Swell Of Revolt
6. The Rebellion Of The Underman
7. The War Against Chaos
As can be easily seen novelists such as Rider Haggard, ERB, Edgar Wallace as well as many others from 1890 to the 20s were grappling with the problems indicated by the chapter titles.
The natural tendency in humans is to be rather lax in mental activity. Precision calls for an active mentality and concentration. Not everyone is capable of this, yet, beginning in the nineteenth century such mental qualities were increasingly necessary. Such disciplines as Chemistry and Physics didn’t allow for personal vagaries or individual style. One couldn’t bend the disciplines to one’s own desires, precise measurements were necessary requiring mental concentration. A little bit off and who knows what might happen. In a way then the Overman and Underman were created. Either you could or you couldn’t and if you couldn’t you slipped beneath- an Underman. Higher civilization was impossible for you.
Burroughs addressed this problem continually. In his character Tarzan he resolved the problem giving his creation a split personality, in a loin cloth he was one man, in a tuxedo he was another. Two separate gorillas in one and always a beast. In real life society split into two possibilities- the Over and Underman.
Worse still scientific methods were able to measure the ineffable, the unseen. In chemistry sub-tiny atoms were able to be detected and their sub-miniscule weights actually measured. Measurement is the bane of the Underman. A Mole contains 6,022 x 10 to the 23rd power of atoms, an incredible incomprehensible number that still might weigh 12 grams or less. Astonishing. Beyond the comprehension hence belief of the Underman. As the process can’t be seen it can’t be believed.
In human intelligence the Englishman Francis Galton began to devise measuring devices of intelligence in 1865 shortly after Darwin announced Evolution in 1959. Thus uncertainty about mental capacity was eliminated. As Stoddard calls it, The Iron Law Of Inferiority. Biology and measuring excluded something like eighty-five percent of the population from the ranks of the most intelligent. Without that high measurement of intelligence 85% of the population was automatically excluded from the possibility of higher attainment while at the same time being prejudged.
Big strapping fellows, all man, were relegated to manual labor while wimps like perhaps, John D. Rockefeller, became billionaires. Not right, the big strapping fellows said, but not measuring up in intelligence, which they couldn’t see, they were condemned to the shovel for life.
Intelligence measuring tests were improved between 1865 and 1920 although not as accurate as could be desired. Men entering the armed forces in WWI were an excellent testing group. Of 1,700,000 tested intelligence levels were fairly accurately determined. It was then discovered that only four and a half percent were very bright with another seven or eight percent bright, while the huge bulk were C+ to C- descending from there.
One imagines Burroughs read this with extreme thoughtfulness.
So, now as the bulk of the good things were going to those who could do, what were those who couldn’t do about it? The great issue since 1789 has been equality; the Underman demanded equality as a first condition. He could organize. He could sabotage. He could rage. And that is what the Underman has done.
The Communist Party was formed. And what was their chief demand? Equality. Absolute equality. As they couldn’t rise to a natural equality then the only other feasible solution was to bring the Superior intelligences down to their level. Thus they raged against that great equalizer, education. Screw science, screw physics, screw chemistry, screw biology. Who needed what you couldn’t see and that especially included intelligence measuring?
One of ERB’s bete noires was the I.W.W.- The Industrial Workers Of The World, syndicalists. Imagine his reaction when he read this:
Viewed in the abstract, technical sense, Syndicalism does not seem to present any specially startling innovations. It is when we examine the Syndicalists’ animating spirit, their general philosophy of life, and the manner which they propose to obtain their ends, that we realize we are in the presence of an ominous novelty,- the mature philosophy of the Under Man. This philosophy of the Under-Man is today called Bolshevism. Before the Russian Revolution it was known as Syndicalism. But Bolshevism and Syndicalism are basically one and the same thing. Soviet Russia has really invented nothing. It is merely practicing what others had been preaching for years- with such adaptation as normally attend the putting of theory into practice.
Syndicalism, as an organized movement, is primarily the work of two Frenchmen, Fernand Pelloutier and Georges Sorel. Of course, just as there were Socialist before Marx, so there were Syndicalists before Sorel. Syndicalism’s intellectual progenitor was Proudhon, who in his writings had closely sketched out the Syndicalist theory. As for Syndicalism’s savage, violent, uncompromising spirit, it is clearly Anarchist in origin., drawing its inspiration not only from Proudhon but also from Bakunin, [Johann] Most, and all the rest of that furious company of revolt.
“Revolt!” This is the essence of Syndicalism: a revolt, not merely against modern society but against Marxian Socialism as well. And the revolt was well timed. When, at the very end of the nineteenth century, Georges Sorel lifted the red banner of Syndicalism, the hour awaited the man. The proletarian world was full of discordant and disillusionment at the long dormant Marxian philosophy. Half a century had passed since Marx first preached his gospel, and the revolutionary millennium was nowhere in sight. Society had not become a world of billionaires and beggars. The great capitalists had not swallowed all. The middle classes still survived and prospered. Worst of all, from the revolutionary viewpoint, the upper grades of the working classes had prospered, too. The skilled workers were, in fact, becoming an aristocracy of labor. They were acquiring property and thus growing capitalistic; they were raising their living standards and thus growing bourgeois. Society seemed endowed with a strange vitality! It was even reforming many of the abuses which Marx had pronounced incurable. When, then, was the proletariat to inherit the earth?
The Proletariat! That was the key word. The van, and even the main body of society, might be fairly on the march, but behind lagged a rear guard. Here, were, first of all, the lower working class strata- the “manual” laborers in the narrower sense, relatively ill paid and often grievously exploited. Behind these again came a motley crew, the rejects and misfits of society. “Casuals” and “unemployables”, “down-and-outs” and declasses, victims of social evils, victims of bad heredity and their own vices, paupers, defectives, degenerates, and criminals- they were all there. They were there for many reasons, but they were all miserable, and they were all bound together by a certain solidarity- a sullen hatred of the civilization from which they had little to hope. To these people evolutionary, “reformist” socialism was cold comfort. Then came the Syndicalists promising, not evolution but revolution; not in the dim future but the here and now; not a bloodless “taking over” by “the workers” hypothetically stretched to include virtually the whole community, but the bloody “dictatorship” of The Proletariat in its narrow revolutionary sense.
Here, at last, was living hope- hope, and the prospect of revenge! Is it then strange that a few short years should have seen revolutionary Socialists, Anarchists, all the anti-social forces of the whole world grouped under the banner of Georges Sorel? For a time they went under different names syndicalists in France, Bolshevists in Russia, I.W.W.s in America but in reality they formed one army, enlisted in a single war.
Now, what was this war? It was, first of all, a war for the conquest of Socialism as a preliminary to the conquest of society. Everywhere the orthodox Socialist parties were fiercely assailed. And these Socialist assaults were formidable, because the orthodox Socialists possessed no moral line of defense. Their arms were palsied by the virus of their revolutionary tradition. For however evolutionary and non-militant the Socialists might have been in practice, in theory they had remained revolutionary their ethics continuing to be those of the “class war”, the destruction of the “possessing classes” and the “dictatorship of the proletariat.”
The American economist, Carver, will describe the ethics of socialism in the following lines: “Marxian Socialism has nothing in common with idealistic Socialism. It rests not on persuasion, but on force. It does not profess to believe, as did the old idealists, that if socialism be lifted up it will draw all men to it. In fact, it has no ideals; it is materialistic and militant. Being materialistic and atheistic, it makes no use of such terms as right and justice, unless it be to quiet the consciences of those who still harbor such superstitions. It insists that these terms are mere conventionalities; the concepts mere bugaboos invented by the ruling caste to keep the masses under control. Except in a conventional sense, from this crude materialistic view there is neither a right or wrong, justice nor injustice, good or bad. Until people who still believe in such silly notions divest their minds of them they will never understand the first principles of Marxian socialism.
“Who creates our ideas of right and wrong?” asks the Socialist. “The ruling class. Why? To insure their domination over the masses by depriving them of the power to think for themselves. We, the proletarians, when we get into power, will dominate the situation; we shall be the ruling class; we shall determine who is right and wrong. Do you ask us if what we propose is just? What do you mean by justice? Do you ask if it is right? What do you mean by right? It will be good for us. That is all that right and justice ever did or ever can mean!
People ask what Burroughs believed? Was he a racist? Was he an anti-Semite? Well, Burroughs’ beliefs can be extrapolated from the above quote as well as Stoddard’s whole book. If Burroughs could have expressed himself concisely he would have written The Revolt Against Civilization. You don’t have to look any further.
There could be no more ardent anti-Communist, anti-Socialist, anti-IWW than ERB. The book was published five years after the Russian Revolution, a mere three years after the narrow quelling of the Communist disturbances of 1919 while in 1922 the Harding administration was putting the finishing touches on the suppression of that Communist revolution in the US. Make no mistake the crimes of 1919 were part of an American Bolshevik revolution. Things would not return to what Harding called normalcy but it would be a reasonable facsimile that would endure until the engineered great crash of 1929 opening the way for the Communist revolution of FDR in the US.
These were perilous times ERB was living in no less than those of today. One can’t be sure when Burroughs read Revolt but many of the same themes almost in quotation were employed in his 1926 novel The Moon Maiden. And from the Moon Maiden he went to the more sophisticated approaches of his great political novels from Tarzan At The Earth’s Core to Tarzan And The Lion Man.
As Stoddard thinks the Underman breeds at a very fast rate while the Overman limits his family the obvious consequence is that people of intelligence decrease rapidly in relation to the Underman. Of course Stoddard has all kinds of tables and charts to prove his point. As this was published in 1922 the results are heavily skewed to prove the English are the top of the heap; a result not uncongenial to Burroughs’ sensibilities.
One imagines that as of induction time in 1917-18 a great many of the recent immigrants at least had underdeveloped English language skills that affected the results but at this point it no longer matters; the general idea has been proved sound.
As we have a war between the Underman and the Overman and make no mistake, as far as Sorel and the Syndicalist/Bolshevik ideology goes it is a war to the knife, it may be asked what Stoddard’s formula for the Overman’s success might be.
This returns us to the Underman’s great fear that science, that is objective analysis supported by an array of facts will condemn him to the virtual condition of servitude. It might be surmised that this is an intolerable but inescapable conclusion unless education and science are destroyed reducing the more intelligent to the masses.
Stoddard then relying on Darwinian and Weismanian evolution and the notion of Eugenics introduced by Francis Galston resolves the problem by ending the reproduction of the ‘defective’ classes, that is, forced sterilization. Forced sterilization was actually employed. It is interesting that he never brings in the issue of race thus on the surface his book is neither racist for anti-Semitic. However as the book assumes that the superior intelligences are English or Nordic the text qualifies as anti-Semitic in Jewish eyes and hence has been placed on the Jewish Index Of Forbidden Literature.
One may be horrified at the Eugenic solution to the intelligence problem but one must be equally horrified at the Underman solution to their Overman problem. Liquidation is more horrifying than sterilization and Liquidation was employed by the Underman in Russia and will be employed again if they can consolidate their gains in the US and Europe today.
The problem is that while being founded in reality it is impossible in execution. The human mind is too subjective to be trusted with such a great responsibility. Many statues were placed on the books commanding forced sterilization and many such were executed.
Schools classes were organized based on supposed mental aptitudes. How objectively I will demonstrate by my own example. Until Jr. High in my home town schools did not systematically differentiate based on mental capacity, however at the end of the ninth grade just before I.Q. testing in the tenth there were three options, Trade School for those deemed not of academic ability, in other words destined for the labor force, and once in high school a division between business, that is white collar, and college prep. This was still a process of self-selection thus I signed up for high school however someone changed my papers to trade school.
Thus when I showed for classes at high school, I was told I was enrolled at trade school. Now, this was the fight of my life, and for it. I was told I was in trade school and to get out. I said I wasn’t leaving and sat down where I waited for four days for the situation to resolve itself. My argument was that the law required that I be given an education and it wouldn’t be at trade school. Whatever the behind the scenes machinations were I was reluctantly allowed to enter but they then insisted it would be business level while I demanded college prep. With an unexplained prescience I was told that I would never go to college so I should be in business. Nevertheless I won that struggle too.
I am sure that if enforced sterilization had been possible at the time I would have been compelled to undergo it.
Now, here’s the kicker. Came time for I.Q. tests and I placed in the upper four percent. I have no idea what the reaction to that was although my critics had to tone down their act. So human passions invalidated the whole Eugenic idea.
In other words there is no equable solution to this terrible human dilemma.
In that sense the solution offered by Aldus Huxley in his famous comic novel Brave New World is of some interest. In Huxley’s story he enlists science, chemistry, to produce different levels of mental competence. The zygote is nurtured in test tubes while at certain levels of development certain chemicals are introduced limiting the development of the fetus. Thus the labor problem is solved by creating classes only capable of menial tasks. The upper classes are bred like race horses to various degrees of excellence. Huxley was tongue in cheek to be sure but, actually the only solution to this otherwise insoluble problem.
Stoddard didn’t introduce any ideas to which Burroughs wasn’t already familiar and in agreement. At best Stoddard’s superb research and explication clarified ERB’s understanding for him. I don’t know how familiar he was with Georges Sorel. Today Sorel is unknown except to specialists although I am beginning to see his name pop up so with the Communist regime of Barack Obama perhaps the way is being prepared for Sorel’s extreme measures of exterminating the Overman.
At any rate I have come to the opinion that Richard Slotkin is correct in thinking the Burroughs had read and was in accord with both Madison Grant and Lothrop Stoddard. However Slotkin evaluates their work through the distortion of his own Communistic lens which is only valid to those of his point of view.
His view does not make Burroughs a racist or anti-Semite. It makes him an objective and accurate observer and analyst of the situation of his time. As indicated above Burroughs absorbed Stoddard’s information, that point of view and used it to create his wonderful works of the late twenties and first half of the thirties. If one bears Stoddard’s book in mind while reading those novels it will make them make great sense while presenting his view of the political and social situation
Of course the novels are not confined solely to dealing with these issues; Burroughs had a much more far ranging mind, both subjectively and objectively.
Stoddard’s The Revolt Against Civilization is a major study as relevant today as the day it was written. The last ninety years have only borne out his theses. The Revolt Against Civilization is well worth a read, perhaps two. At any rate you will have an accurate idea of Burroughs’ social and political beliefs.
October 13, 2012
The Ancient Evil:
Diana And The Goddess Tradition
A problem that has been perplexing me for some time is the role of the Goddess Diana as the female archetype for the last half of the Age of Pisces. The adoption of the goddess Diana or Artemis as she was known in Greece signifies a resurgence of the Matriarchy. This is a rather remarkable comeback as the Matriarchy was virtually unknown in the nineteenth century, all but forgotten.
I’m sure the interpretation of Diana’s history and her relationship to Astrology will be met with some dismay as these subjects are not properly understood. Essentially the problem is one of memory; in this case historical and racial memory. Memory on one level is a desire to retain and understand the past whether on a personal or historical level. From the past the future may be predicted. What has gone before will likely happen again. It was this knowledge that made the calendar a necessity. If one has a starting point, such as the shortest day of the year the return of flora and fauna may be roughly known. To make the year more manageable it was divided into seasons and months to mark more easily the passage of the days of the year. This knowledge led to a whole cycle of gods, goddesses and myths. Thus a terrestrial zodiac was derived denoted by symbols appropriate to the seasons. As it was assumed that what happened on earth was a reflection of what happened in the skies the terrestrial zodiac was translated to the stars and thus we have the Astrological Zodiac in which the twelve signs reflect the weather pattern on earth.
Just as there are twelve months in the year so the skies were divided into twelve portions called Ages. The length of the Ages was determined by the Great Year that was of some twenty-five thousand years plus duration. The Great year was determined by the rotation of the earth on its axis as evidenced by the stars of the North Pole.
Each Age has it male and female archetypes. In Greece the Arien Age was presided over by Zeus and Hera. Thus each set of archetypes has a lifetime of two thousand plus years and then they make the long slide to Far Tartary and back again.
The Piscean Age which has become universal began with the male archetype of Jesus of Nazareth while in mid-Age the archetypes where transferred to the female side- Diana in the North of Europe and Mary, the mother of Jesus, in the South of Europe.
While the mechanism used to achieve this is fairly clear the exact process can only be surmised.
While it may be difficult to believe the Astrological Zodiac must have begun development about a hundred thousand years ago being in the fourth cycle at the time of the dawn of the Age of Pisces. Thus as a method of timekeeping the Zodiac has a long history.
One may question the hundred thousand years and yet the Mesopotamian myths mention a past of at least that long. One usually doesn’t credit the ancients with actual knowledge but I think it is time to take them more seriously.
For much of that hundred thousand years during the long Ice Age the level of the Mediterranean was much lower probably being a long valley with a succession of large lakes fed by the Nile and the Propontis while the outflow was at the Pillars of Hercules. As the Med Valley was habitable it must have been inhabited. Undoubtedly a civilization developed that was fairly sophisticated. One needn’t look for extraterrestrials for human development.
Thus when the Ice Age ended returning the accumulated waters to the oceans the waters rose forcing the Valley’s inhabitants to seek higher ground until the sea level became static. While denizens fled to all sides of the Med the civilization bearers occupied Lower Egypt, the emerging Nile Delta. A second area in which civilization in some form must have survived was the island of Crete.
It was on this island that the religious formula that became a basis of Europe was formed. The basis was provided by the Hellenic Greek tribes that began their invasion of the Greek peninsula c. -1700.
The Greek penisula was occupied by an ancient people called Pelasgians. They like the Cretans were descendants of the Med Valley peoples as were the Cretans and Lower Egypt. The Pelasgian religion closely resembled that of the Cretans. The conquering Hellenes imposed their Greek language on them while setting about solving the religious differences into one unifed religion. This was done following a usual pattern.
The Hellenes followed an Aryan Patriarchal model while the Pelasgians and Cretans followed a Matriarchal type.
How much religious development took place between 8000 BC when the waters rose and 2000 BC when things had settled must have been very large. An important thing to remember is that the human mind is continually handling information. Problems of memory have been continually remedied with new storage technologies. They have been continually developed to today’s immense ability to be able to very nearly store entire reality. Every phone call in the world 24/7 can be stored and retrieved at will so that totally inconsequential information is on record but will never be read.
The time lapse between improvements in storage and retrieval were immense in the early days increasing rapidly to the present. The earliest known city, the remains of which date not coincidentally to c. 8000 BC is located at Catal Huyuk in Anatolia which would have been a rural backwater to the Med civilization, but a high degree of communal organization is evident. One imagines the Cretan civilization was similar but more highly developed. There is every evidence that the Great Mother religion was fairly highly developed at the time the waters rose.
The Cretans certainly brought the religion to a degree of perfection. Obviously there is no agreement as to the degree while the substance of religion can be only guessed at.
Presently the Goddess advocates picture the Matriarchy as some kind of golden age of
peace love and happiness. This is not the case. The Matriarchates lived in a period of very primitive mentality. Nor is the female of the species any less bloody minded than the male. The memory of the matriarchate was still strong enough for later males to dismiss the matriarchate as a period that was not too kind to men. Indeed, if one bears in mind that the sacrificial bulls were substitutes for men and that bulls were often sacrificed in holocausts which means a hundred bulls or more then it follows that at one time a hundred men or more were sacrificed to the Great Mother. Obviously this would leave rueful memories in the minds of men.
This memory may have been played out in the tale of Iphigenia At Aulis.
Shall we examine the participants in this drama, Agamemnon, Clytmnestra, Iphigenia and Diana?
Zeus in the apparition of a swan had intercourse with Leda who then lay two eggs. Both bore twins. From one egg Castor and Pollux emerged. These two represent the soltices, Castor, winter and Pollux summer. From the other egg Helen and Clytemnestra emerged. These two represent the equinoxes, Helen the Spring, Clytemnestra the Fall. One might compare Helen to the Cretan Loving Goddess with the erect snakes held hip high and Clytemnestra to the Angry Goddess brandishing the two writhing snakes. Thus the two goddesses are representatives of Diana.
Now Agamemnon was punished by Diana for killing a deer and then boasting that he was a better hunter than she. Agamemnon and the Greeks were assembled at Aulis but unable to sail for lack of wind. A sacrifice was deemed necessary to allay the winds. Ordinarily a male would have been the sacrifice to Diana. Instead Agamemnon sacrificed his and Clytemnestra’s daughter probably in vengeance for his punishment by Diana and the slaughter of all those males during the Matriarchy.
Clytemnestra herself was a representative of the Matriarchy so the story is involved.
While my interpretation might be controversial I think it clear that the Cretan goddess became Artemis/Diana. At any rate it was the Argive (from Argos) mainland goddess Hera who would be chosen as the wife of Zeus. Therefore the Cretan goddess would have lost her consort and been a loose cannon.
Zeus himself was of Cretan origin probably intended to be the annual consort of the Goddess. As religion evolved the characters of the Gods and Goddesses changed so that while there is continuity the attributes and characters change enough so that the religious figures have to be located in time and place.
When the Hellenes, or Greeks, began to arrive the Cretans had already created a political organization known as a thalossocracy, a sea based empire. The islands and at least the coasts from Aegean to Italy were under Cretan rule. The Greeks then challenged the power of the Cretans as well as seeking to impose the Patriarchal religion on the Matriarchy.
This method of taking control was the same as that of all religions replacing another. As in such situations the overcome religion submits to greater power but continues a more or less clandestine existence. Thus the Aryan Greeks converted religious sites such as Delphi to Patriarchal shrines. Where the necessisity existed in Matriarchal strongholds, they apparently attempted to exterminate the Matriarchates. Persecute them out of existence, perhaps, as happened to the Lollards of England.
In this case, Perseus’ assault on the Gorgon Medusa could have signified an all out assault on the Matriarchal stronghold as was the story of the Iliad in which the Patriarchal Greeks waged a ten year war to exterminate Matriarchal Troy. Whether factual or not it is true that when the post-Troy dark age ended the Greeks were in possession of the Anatolian littoral.
Of course the preferred method was by stealth and intermarriage. Intermarriage may have required the extermination of the males to acquire the women which was commonly done. Thus, Zeus’ frequent rapes of women may commemorate such takeovers.
As the assimilated gods appear to have been indigenous the Greeks must have taken over the pre-existing gods while changing them to Patriarchal from Matriarchal. Thus, while Zeus is clearly a Cretan god, probable annual consort of the Great Mother, he was transported to mainland Argos where as a woodpecker he raped the Argive goddess Hera becoming her lord and master, or her husband.
The consort of Hera was Heracles, a sun god. When Zeus took Hera from him as his wife this left Heracles at loose ends without a purpose. The Greeks gave him a new lineage and the role of the champion of the Patriarchy and punisher of the Matriarchy.
In this case Zeus seduces Alcmene in the disguise of her husband Amphitryon impregnating her with Hercules. Just as Heracles was a loose cannon after the marriage of Zeus and Hera the Cretan Great Goddess was without a consort when Zeus left Crete. The problem is what identity was she assigned? When Heracles was born two snakes were sent by the Matriarchy to kill him. The baby Heracles strangled both, one in each hand. Symbolically then the Cretan religion was imagined to be destroyed and possibly its Great Mother murdered.
A great problem however that remains hidden from me is the origin of the Peloponnesian Lady Of The Lake. As the Cretan Great Mother was also a Mistress Of The Animals it is quite possible that she was taken to the mainland from Crete where she became an Artemis and possibly the Lady Of The Lake.
At some later time the Cretan priesthood would be carried from Crete and installed as the priesthood of Apollo at the premier Greek shrine of Delphi. So, how much of the Greek religion was of Aryan origin and how much of the ancient Med Valley religion through its Cretan development isn’t clear but the two must have been extensively intermingled making the Cretan Great Mother a probable Artemis/Diana and the Lady Of The Lake.
I have found no references in Greek mythology to the Lady Of The Lake but the Lady as Vivian turns up in the Arthurian epics of +1000-1300 when they were formulated. In those she is referred back to ancient Peloponnesian times. I haven’t found the sources of the medieval writers but they must have been in possession of some mythological sources that no longer exist.
I would now like to examine the transition from the male archetype of Jesus in mid-Piscean Age to Diana in Northern Europe and Mary, the Mother of God in the South.
Before leaving the Ancients however let me say that having organized a pantheon the Greeks then removed the various gods from their home locales and established their residence on Mt. Olympus deep in the more densely Aryan populations of the North of Greece.
The religion of no one Age is secure because the transition to the next Age is always looming. Just as Zeus had replaced Cronus of the Taurean Age so the Greek male archetype of the Piscean Age, Dionysus, was maturing as Zeus’ replacement.
However, in the long war between Europe and Asia the balance of power was to shift toward the Asians. Dionysus was discarded to be replaced by the Semitic Jew, Jesus of Nazareth. The Jews had quietly been infiltrating Western society while actually contending for pre-eminence in the East and Egypt. This would erupt into the Roman-Jewish wars of the first two centuries AD.
As the early Christians were a purely Jewish sect it is no wonder that when Paul of Tarsus turned the Jewish cult into a universal religion that that religion reflected Judaism to a large extent. Judaism being an intolerant religion that intolerance was replicated in both the Roman Catholic and the Greek Orthodox Churches. The result was that any competing religious views were viciously suppressed. After the fourth century the old Creco-Cretan religion was anathematized on the pain of death.
As would happen in the fifteenth century when the Ottoman Moslems conquered Constantinople and the Greek scholars fled East to India and West to the Roman successor States numbers of the Olympian priesthood undoubtedly fled into the German lands to the North. Just as the Arian priests fled North to escape Catholic oppression where they converted the German tribes so the Olympian priests sowed their beliefs among the Germans. That’s one reason so many Olympian beliefs are found in German folk tales as collected by the Grimms.
As the Lady Of The Lake is a Matriarchal myth it follows that the Cretan priesthood of Delphi sowed Matriarchal ideas among the Germans. It can be little wonder that Vivian, The Lady Of The Lake, appeared in the French chivalric myths created from the eleventh though fourteenth centuries.
Not only that but Vivian represents the Matriarchal resurgence against Catholic Patriarchalism. Vivian of course was none other than Artemis/Diana. It was thus that Diana became the female archetype of Northern Europe in the second half of the Piscean Age.
It would be a mistake to suppose that the Olympian gods died quiet deaths or deaths at all. It is one thing to outlaw a belief system and another to erase it from the memories of those who had used that belief system for two thousand years. The Christians were at best a conquering horde no different from the Patriarchal Greeks who attempted to destroy the Cretan religion. The Catholic Church was no more able to contain the Olympians than the Greeks were able to contain Cretan religion. Just as the Greeks had had to accommodate the Cretans by installing them at Delphi so the Catholic Church had to accommodate Olympians while the struggle never ceased.
Just as the Iliad was part of an immense mythological cycle detailing the struggle between the Matriarchy and the Patriarchy so the Arthurian epics detailing the Matriarchal, Patriarchal and Church as Aryans sects was even more immense and sprawling. The huge corpus of the Vulgate-Lancelot may just be the largest literary work in the world while being only part of the story.
So Arthur being installed at Camelot as the wise and benevolent Patriarchal monarch, Vivian had her home beneath a northern French lake. The problem for her was how to subvert Camelot and restore the Matriarchy. After all the court of Arthur was guided by and protected by the magic of the great magician Merlin. So long as Merlin was on the job Arthur was invulnerable. Vivian’s first task was to eliminate Merlin.
Bear in mind that an ages old system that these participants can have had no knowledge of is being satisfactorily worked out according to the principles of that system. One can understand how active minds could penetrate this arcane system but the miracle is that naïve minds could understand what was intended and how to further it. But then I am participating here in furthering events into the Aquarian Age and am no member of any priesthood; I was just a guy standing on the corner watching the girls go by while reading the odd volume. Do I know what I say I know? I can’t even guess but at the same time I can’t keep from writing as though I do. Blame it on the muse.
Vivian was a cute girl; Merlin was a half daft old man susceptible to a young beauty’s charms even though he knew better. Vivian smiled at him and the wisest dope in the world fell for it. But, isn’t that the way the sisterhood always works. If you’ve got a job to do, keep it zipped up.
Enamored of Vivian Merlin took her into his confidence. He was reluctant to share his magic with her but she coaxed and he caved. Once the wiliest of womanhood had obtained the old wizard’s knowledge she turned on him entombing him in the matriarchal symbol, Mother Earth, where he remains today muttering useless spells in an effort to remove the stone.
Part one of her effort was now achieved. Arthur was unprotected and vulnerable. It was only necessary to find the means and the agent. Vivian already knew the means. Arthur would marry the beautiful but flighty Guenivere. Arthur was old sobersides as he had a kingdom to rule so Guenivere was on the lookout for the dark romantic lead. It just so happened that Vivian had a boy in training who was now about to emerge into lusty young manhood. He was the most perfect knight in the world save one, who was yet unborn and to be his son.
When this lad was a young boy Vivian had lured him down to the lake from whose shores she abducted him taking him to her submarine palace for training. Lancelot became a fairy prince. Now, this is important: Vivian although a virgin was an alpha mother . All those bundles of genes out there who yell and stomp thinking that makes them alpha males aren’t. It’s not in the genes its in the mothering. Look for the alpha female. So, Lancelot was the alphaest of all living males.
As an emblem of her authority Vivian dressed Lancelot as well as the horse he rode out on in shining white velvet. Guenivere’s prince had come.
This Dandy, Lancelot, then went to Camelot and was deputized by Arthur to fetch his bride from her father and thus began a liaison with the Queen that would disrupt the famous Round Table resulting in a war between Patriarchal Arthur and Matriarchal Lancelot that brought the kingdom to its knees.
Arthur’s original sword drawn from the stone had been stolen and replaced by Excalibur a sword given to him by Vivian. Thus Arthur originally armed by the Patriarchy was now defended by the power of the Matriarchy or Diana. When Arthur died the sword was returned to the Lady Of The Lake and Arthur was taken to her bourne, Avalon to be tended by the fairie maidens. Symbolically England had passed from the Patriarchy to the Matriarchy; what began two thousand years earlier between the Cretans and the Greeks was now resolved in England in favor of the Matriarchy.
In the South of Europe the female archetype of the Piscean Age was Mary who delivered Jesus to the world in Virgin birth somewhat like Vivian giving virgin birth to Lancelot. At the same time that Diana assumed authority in the North Mary began to be worshipped in a form known as Mariolatry in the South and assumed pre-eminence over Jesus, the male. The contest then shifted to one between the Dianites of the North and the Marionites of the South.
If one assumes that the sexual battle was over by 1300, then the battle of the female archetypes began. That began to resolve itself when Henry VIII separated England from the Papacy rejecting Mary, the Mother of God. Luther did the same for the Germans. This conflict resulted in the horrific Thirty Years War that nearly destroyed the German people. At war’s end Protestants, that is the Dianites, were in control of the North while the Marionites held the South.
Dissension in the North and South was still rife until the Enlightenment broke the power of the Church releasing all kinds of repressed religious views of which the religion of Diana was merely one. One wonders how much of the women’s movement of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries was influenced by the concept of Diana The movement today is heavily influenced by a goddess cult, not Mary, but Diana and probably the Egyptian Isis. One imagines that there must be some continuity.
The interest in both Greek mythology and the Arthurian epics did not wane during the nineteenth century, if anything increasing. Tennyson’s Idylls of the King was a major retelling of the story while the quest for the Holy Grail is an ongoing theme.
The Matriarchy was all but forgotten in the conscious memory of Europe that had become patriarchal on the surface. In mid-century against stiff resistance the Swiss mythologist, J. J. Bachofen uncovered the Matriarchy reintroducing it into intellectual history. The concept was stoutly resisted but a reevaluation of the evidence over the succeeding hundred years has reestablished the knowledge of its existence.
On the popular level the great English novelist H. Rider Haggard toyed with the idea in several significant, even great, novels that have been slighted through a lack of understanding. The most significant of that set of novels, the She saga, has become one of the world’s great classics.
She, or Ayesha, her actual name, means Life was definitely not a mother goddess, as far as we know she had been chaste for two thousand years. Life might be interpreted in the sense of Mistress Of The Animals, so it wouldn’t be unfair to associate Ayesha with Diana. Haggard was no mean mythologist.
He associated with the well known mythologist Andrew Lang with whom he also collaborated on The World’s Desire. He was very well read in mythology, Greek, Egyptian and Israelite. The year after Haggard wrote She in 1888 he followed up with Cleopatra, a very good Egyptian novel. He followed that with the astonishing interpretation of the Helen myth in The World’s Desire of 1890. Within the compass of these three novels he unraveled the meaning of the Hermes/Mercury staff- the Caduceus.
In She Ayesha wore a golden belt composed of two snakes whose heads opposed each other at her waist. They represented the combat between good and evil in Ayesha’s mind. Both natures of the Cretan goddess were united in Ayesha.
By the time Haggard wrote The World’s Desire two years later he had separated the two impulses into two persons. The evil aspect of the goddess was the ruling aspect of the Egyptian princess Meriamun while the pure loving aspect of the goddess belonged to the spirit of Helen whose character was the world’s desire.
Thus the rod of Mercury’s staff represents the spine while the two snakes entwining the rod represent the good and evil impulses who facing each other are at war with each other. In modern psychological terms it could be said the snakes represent the Anima and Animus- the left and right halves of the brain or, in other words, the ovate strand of DNA and the spermatic strand. The wings mean that the whole apparatus is sheltered under the wings of the goddess. It is also quite probable that the points of the chakras are intended by the twining. See my full explication here: http://idynamo.wordpress.com/2009/12/04/a-review-part-iv-she-by-h-rider-haggard/
Hermes/Mercury was one of the old Matriarchal gods who was reborn as a Patriarchal god so that the Patriarchal Mercury bears the Matriarchal emblem of the Caduceus before him thus representing both religious outlooks.
Haggard was the rock on which his near disciple, Edgar Rice Burroughs, built his church. Without saying that Burroughs was an expert Greco-Roman mythologist he began reading mythology at a very early age while his Junior High years were spent at the Harvard Latin school of Chicago where he was placed under a heavy classical regimen. He also continued to read Greek mythology throughout his life while also being interested in anthropology. Thus, while he might not have had the scholarly background of Haggard he must have known enough to follow Haggard’s argument, if not consciously at least in his subconscious memory.
When Burroughs created his fantasy lost city of Opar its goddess, or high priestess, was even named La which is French for She. Whether he was aware he was working with a vision of Diana isn’t relevant as the notion of She/Diana was engraved in what Jung would call the collective unconscious and hence his own.
Ever the Patriarch, Burroughs turned the tables on the Diana/Vivian Merlin story and made La submissive to Tarzan while Tarzan was unmoved by either her beauty or her love.
A sort of version was also told by the very good but now nearly forgotten novelist Robert Hichens in his novel of 1905, The Garden Of Allah. This story in turn influenced Burroughs as well as the much more conscious mythologist Edith Maude Hull who wrote The Sheik in 1921. Today Mrs. Hull’s reputation, such as it is, rests on The Sheik and The Sheik’s reputation on the movie represention of Rudolph Valentino. In point of fact Mrs. Hull’s novel was a study of Diana, the name of her heroine, that follows to some extent the version of Burroughs. (See my full review of The Sheik here http://idynamo.wordpress.com/2007/10/12/a-review-1921s-the-sheik-by-em-hull/)
That Mrs. Hull was a part od some sort of Diana cultish interest is evidenced by this 1920s photo of woman posing as Diana. The collective memory and/or unconscious has kept the vision of Diana/Great Mother alive for a minimum of three thousand years. The Ancient Evil had been transmuted into Freudian psychology.
Today the worship of the Goddess has been revived in the Feminist Movement and is thriving. Indeed, a Matriarchal Revolution has been in progress since perhaps the 1850s and now seems to be rapidly approaching fruition, at least among the Aryans of Europe and America.
Time will tell whither the Ancient Evil will triumph.
April 3, 2012
Only The Strong Survive
An Examination Of Bridge And The Oskaloosa Kid
As Created By Edgar Rice Burroughs
(Alternate Title: The Oakdale Affair)
Into The Mysteries
(Some capitalization appears in the text that has no significance. For some reason it just showed up. I didn’t do it)
Burroughs does a good job in the Holmesian sense in this book enclosing mysteries within mysteries. The central mystery is who is committing the crime wave in Oakdale. Having learned from his mentor, Conan Doyle, Burroughs skillfully withholds details to enhance the suspense then disclosing them to reveal the mysteries. The organization of the scheme of crimes gradually unfolds to show that the real Oskaloosa Kid is one of the perpetrators. So we have a clever doubling of a sweet girl posing as the vicious criminal The Oskaloosa Kid. This is obviously a transfer of his Anima identity from the male De Vac/Oskaloosa Kid to the resumption of a female identity for his Anima through the fake Oskaloosa Kid/Gail Prim.
The girl who was seen with the criminals could have been Gail since she had disappeared without a trace never having arrived at her destination. Gail was not the girl seen with Reginald Paynter, who was robbed and murdered, and the crooks. That person was Hettie Penning who was ejected from the car speeding past the abandoned Squibbs place by the real Oskaloosa Kid. Thus symbolically De Vac/Oskaloosa Kid returns his Anima to Bridge/Burroughs.
As indicated Hettie Pening represents the dead early Anima of Burroughs who has here been resurrected. As in all cases of Burroughs representation of his failed Anima she appears to be a ‘bad’ girl but in reality is merely misunderstood. He compensates for himself.
Bridge himself is a mystery man and double. He is a hobo but with great manners and an excellent education. He is definitely a member of the Might Have Seen Better Days Club. The real club was organized by Burroughs when he served as an enlisted man in the Army in 1896.
In this case Bridge is in actuality the son of a wealthy Virginia aristocrat who has left home because he prefers a life on the road. In the framing story of a Princess of Mars Burroughs portrays himself in his own name as a Virginian. In reality Burroughs was declassed at eight or nine by John the Bully and by his father’s subsequent shuffling of him from school to school finally sending him to a bad boy school that Burroughs describes as little more than a reformatory for rich kids.
If one looks at his career he was on the move quite a bit. During his marriage he seldom lived in one house for more than a year or two then moved on.
Just as Bridge will assume his proper identity at the end of the novel so through his writing Burroughs has abandoned the shame of his hard scrabble years from 1905-13. In a sense he is assuming his proper identity with this novel.
Bridge and the Kid joining together at the fork in the road, one is reminded of Yogi Berra’s quip: When you come to a fork in the road, take it, in this case the less traveled dirt road.
I read word for word frequently dwelling on the scenes created. Burroughs is a very visual writer. Standing at the fork in a driving Midwest summer lightning, thunder and deluge storm they can hear the pursuing hoboes shouting down the road. Ahead of them is a dark unknown and a house haunted by the victims of a sextuple murder.
Indeed, Burroughs describes almost a descent into hell, or at least, the hell of the subconscious.
Over a low hill they followed the muddy road and down into a dark and gloom ravine. In a little open space to the right of the road a flash of lightning, followed one imagines by either the crash of deep loud rumbling of the thunder of perhaps if over head the sonic boom of the air splitting and closing, revealed the outline of a building a hundred yards (that’s three hundred feet, a very large front yard) from the rickety and decaying fence which bordered the Squibb farm and separated it from the road.
There are those who say Burroughs doesn’t write well but in a short paragraph he has economically drawn a verbal picture which is quite astonishing in its detail. The house is a hundred yards from the road. In the rain and muck that might be a walk or two or three minutes or more.
A clump of trees surrounded the house, their shade adding to the utter blackness of the night.
That’s what one calls inspissating gloom. One might well ask how any shade can add to utter blackness but one gets the idea. There is some intense writing thoroughly reminiscent of Poe but nothing like him.
The two had reached the verandah when Bridge, turning, saw a brilliant light glaring through the night above the crest of the hill they had just topped in their descent into the ravine, or, to be more explicit, the small valley, where stood the crumbling house of the Squibbs. The purr of a rapidly moving motor car rose above the rain, the light rose, fell, swerved to the right and left.
“Someone must be in a hurry.” commented Bridge.
There isn’t any better writing than that. Another writer can say it differently but he can’t say it better. Just imagine the movie Frankenstein or Wolf Man when you’re reading it. Burroughs did as well in less than the time it takes to show it.
A body is thrown from the speeding car a shot following after it. Bridge goes to pick up the body.
Thus the mystery and horror and terror of the dark and stormy night has been building. Bridge carrying the body which may or may not be alive asks the Kid to open the door.
Behind him came Bridge as the youth entered the dark interior. A half dozen steps he took when his foot struck against a soft yielding mass. Stumbling he tried to regain his equilibrium only to drop fully upon the thing beneath him. One open palm extended to ease his fall, it fell upon the uplifted features of a cold and clammy face.
Yipes! What more do you need? Cold and dripping, half crazed from fear, overwhelmed by the thought he might be a murderer the Kid’s hand falls on cold and clammy dead flesh. Bridge is standing there with maybe another dead person in his arms. The Kid is also aware that the murderous hoboes are hot on his trail.
If that doesn’t get you then somehow I think you can’t be got.
Not yet finished Burroughs builds up the tension. Striking a match from the specially lined water proof pocket of Bridge’s coat they find a dead man wearing golden earrings. Obviously a gypsy but while staring in unsimulated horror they hear from the base of the stairs of a dark dank cellar the clank of a slowly drawn chain as a heavy weight makes the stairs creak.
This is too much for the nerves of the Kid. Burroughs brilliantly contrasts the terror of the unknown in the basement with the fear of the dark at the top of the stairs. You know where that’s at, I’m sure, I sure do. In a flash the Kid chooses the unknown at the top of the stairs to the horror in the cellar.
What do you want?
The hoboes are still slipping and sliding down the descent into the ravine of the subconscious. Horror in front, terror behind. There is absolutely no place to hide. Nightmare City, don’t you think? How could anyone do it better? What do you mean he can’t write? Put the scenes in a movie and everyone in the theatre would be covering their eyes. Itd\ would be that Beast With Five Fingers all over again. Maybe worse. Never saw that one? Check it out. Peter Lorre. Terrifying. Of course I was a kid.
The clanking of the chain recreates an incident in Burroughs’ own life when he had a job collecting for an ice company. He called on a house and while he was waiting he heard the clanking of a chain coming slowly up the driveway. Waiting with a fair amount of trepidation he saw a huge dog dragging the chain appear. ERB backing slowly away forgot about the delinquent bill.
In this case the chain is attached to Beppo the dancing bear but Bridge and the Kid won’t know that until the next day.
They retreat into an upstairs bedroom. Here what Burroughs describes in capital letters as THE THING and IT pursues them. I remember two movies one called The Thing and the other It.
Just when the thing retreats the murderous gang of hoboes enters the house. Wow! Out of the frying pan and into the fire in this night of terrors as the lightning continues to flash and the thunder crash.
Discovering the dead man and as the bear begins moving again four of the hoboes flee while two who were on the staircase being trapped in the house flee into the same bedroom as Bridge, the Kid and the girl, Hettie. Shortly thereafter a woman’s scream pierces the lightning and the thunder then silences as the storm settles into a steady drizzle.
The rest of the night is one tense affair between the murderous hoboes and the Bridge and the girls. Not a moment to catch your breath.
In the morning when they go downstairs the mystery increases when they find the dead man gone and nothing in the cellar. If they’d had Tarzan along he would have not only been able to smell the bear but to tell whether if was black or brown.
After a brief confrontation Dopey Charlie and the General are driven off. Bridge’s relationship with the Kid is then deepened. Even though all the Kid’s reactions are repulsive to the manhood of Bridge he feels his attraction to the seeming boy growing stronger.
Not since he had followed the open road with Byrne, had Bridge met one with whom he might care to “pal” before.
This brings up an interesting hint of latent homosexuality. My fellow writer, David Adams has objected that in my analysis of Emasculation as applied to ERB is that he should have been a homosexual but wasn’t.
There are degrees of emasculation and there are various degrees of psychotic reaction to it. I don’t say and I don’t believe that ERB was a homosexual but there was a degree of ambiguity introduced into his personality by his emasculation. I have touched on this in my ‘Emasculation, Hermaphroditism and Excretion.’
Here we have another example of it as Bridge is experiencing some homoerotic emotion which is very confusing to him as he has never wanted a ‘pal’ before. In hobo lingo I believe a ‘pal’ has a homosexual connotation.
If Burroughs took his ‘inside’ information on hoboes from Jack London’s The Road then Bridge is the sort of hobo London describes as the ‘profesh’, the hobo highest in the hierarchy of hobodom. London always thought of himself as a quick learner, so one doesn’t have to award his statement too much credibility but Burroughs apparently took him at face value.
As London describes the ‘profesh’ he has been on the road so long he knows all the ropes. Unlike the unkempt bums he realizes the importance of a good front and always dresses neatly. But he is hardened and capable of committing any crime.
While Bridge is obviously intended to be a ‘profesh’ he is neither criminal nor does he dress to put up a good front.
Another category of hobo London lists is the ‘road kid.’ These are young people just starting on the life of the road. The ‘profesh’ would often take one of more of these road kids under his wing as his fag, as the British would say, or in Americanese, a ‘pal.’ In other words a homosexual relationship. Thus this displays ERB’s sexual ambiguity which David couldn’t locate in my psychological analysis of ERB’s emasculation. In this case the ambiguity will be resolved and explained when we learn that the Kid is the beautiful young woman, Abigail Prim, and both Bridge and Burroughs heave a sigh of relief.
Nevertheless ERB is discussing homosexuality in an open and natural way that couldn’t be missed by the knowing and which may be unique for its time. But then, remember that one of ERB’s hats in this story is that of the Alienist, so that in these pages we are deep into the psychological abstractions and Doyle’s mystery stories as influences.
Now comes the time for breakfast. Someone has to ‘rustle’ grub. We have already learned in ‘Out There Somewhere’ that Bridge doesn’t rustle food, he rustles rhyme. Nothing has changed. The Kid goes out to get breakfast and when she comes back with the goods, true to form Bridge bursts forth with several snatches from H.H. Knibbs which surprisingly the demure Miss Prim recognizes. What has she been reading?
How might this apply to Burroughs’ own life. Let’s look at it. Burroughs was enamored of How to books but in his heart he must have considered them a fraud. Willie Case will soon pick up his copy of How To Be A Detective which he finds completely inapplicable to his circumstances. He also has the good sense to throw the book away reverting to his native intelligence which may be a subtle comment on How To books by Burroughs.
ERB always considered himself of the executive class. After his humiliating experience trying to sell door to door he never attempted it again. Instead as a master salesman he preferred to write how to sales manuals for others to use as they went door to door selling his line of pencil sharpeners or whatever while he sat in the office waiting for orders. Hence in his own life he was the ‘rustler of poetry’ or manuals while others rustled grub in the door to door humiliation of the actual selling. Here the Kid will do the door to door gig. ERB always makes me smile.
In this case in what may be a joke the Kid just buys the goods from the homeowner reversing the roles.
There are those who insist Burroughs can’t write but I find his stuff wonderfully condensed getting more mileage out of each word than anyone else I’ve ever read. Just see how he describes breakfast.
Shortly after, the water coming to a boil, Bridge lowered three eggs into it, glanced at his watch (an affluent hobo) greased one of the new cleaned stove lids with a piece of bacon rind and laid out as many strips of bacon as the lid would accommodate. Instantly the room was filled with the delicious odor of frying bacon.
“M-m-m-m!” gloated the Oskaloosa Kid. “I wish I had bo- asked for more. My! But I never smelled anything so good in all my life. Are you going to boil only three eggs? I could eat a dozen”
“The can’ll only hold three at a time,” explained Bridge. “we’ll have some boiling while we are eating these.” He borrowed the knife from the girl, who was slicing and buttering bread with it, and turned the bacon swiftly and deftly with the point, then he glanced at his watch. “Three minutes are up.” He announced and, with a couple small flat sticks saved for the purpose from the kindling wood, withdrew the eggs one at a time from the can.
“But we have no cups!” exclaimed the Oskaloosa Kid, in sudden despair.
Bridge laughed. “Knock an end off your egg and the shell will answer in place of a cup. Got a knife?”
The Kid didn’t. Bridge eyed him quizzically. “You must have done most of your burgling near home,” he commented.
The description of the breakfast between the time Bridge looked at his watch and when the three minutes were up was delightfully done. I could smell the bacon myself while I especially like the detail of swiftly and deftly turning the bacon with the knife point. The knife seemed to have disappeared between the bacon and knocking the end off the egg.
Nice details aren’t they? You’d almost think Burroughs had actually done things like this for years. There’s enough blank spots in his life that he may have had more experiences of this sort than we know about. Take for instance the three days in Michigan between the writing of Out There Somewhere and Bridge And The Oskaloosa Kid. He says it took him twelve hours by train on four different lines to return to Coldwater from Alma. It is not impossible that he was hoboing back for the experience. He knew that he was going to write Bridge And The Kid next; might he not have been picking up local color?
Likewise in Bridge And The Kid he mentions the road from Berdoo to Barstow with seeming familiarity. Had he met Knibbs and the two embarked on a few days road trip as the expert Knibbs showed him some of the ropes?
I don’t know but there is something happening in his life which has not been explained.
Perhaps also the hoboism which appears in 1915-17 in his work when by all rights his success should have permitted him entry into more exalted social circles symbolized a rejection by so-called polite society. If so, why? Certainly the serialization of Tarzan Of The Apes in the Chicago paper must have raised eyebrows when people said something like: Is that the same Edgar Rice Burroughs who’s been tramping around town for the last several years?
After all people live in a town where a reputation is attached to them whether earned or not. In reviewing the jobs Burroughs had after he left Sears, Roebuck there is a certain unsavory character to them. Indeed, one employer, a patent medicine purveyor was shut down by the authorities while ERB then formed a partnership with this disgraced person. Where was Burroughs when the authorities showed up to shut the business down? I make no moral judgments. I’m of the Pretty Boy Floyd school of morality: Some will rob you with a six gun, some use a fountain pen. Emasculation is the name of the game.
It is certainly true that many, perhaps most, of the patent medicines of the time were based on alcohol and drugs therefore either addictive or harmful to the health. Samuel Hopkins Adams was commissioned by Norman Hapgood of Collier’s magazine to write a series of articles exposing the patent medicine business in 1906.
http://www.mtn.org/quack/ephemera/oct7.htm . A consequence of the articles may very well have been the shutting down of Dr. Stace. I think it remarkable that Burroughs didn’t distance himself from Stace at that time.
Even as Adams was presenting his research on patent medicines Upton Sinclair was exposing the hazards of the Chicago meat packing industry whose products were no less hazardous to the public health than patent medicines. Sinclair’s book, The Jungle, as well as perhaps Adams’ articles resulted in the Pure Food And Drug Act of 1906.
The products of meatpackers were so bad the British wouldn’t even feed them to their Tommies. That’s pretty bad.
So, if the Staces of the world were criminal and ought to be put out of business then by logic so should have the Armours and Swifts but what in our day would be multi-billion dollar industries don’t get shut down for the minor offence of damaging the health of millions.
One can’t be sure of Burroughs’ reasoning but his writing indicates that he was keenly aware of the hypocrisy of legalities. Perhaps for that reason he stuck by Dr. Stace.
However Stace was put out of business and the Armours and Swifts weren’t. While I applaud ERB’s steadfastness I deplore his lack of judgment for surely his reputation was tarred with the same brush as Dr. Stace.
When society figures may have asked who this Edgar Rice Burroughs was they were given, perhaps, a rundown on Dr. Stace and patent medicines as well as other employments that seem a little murky to us at present. I’m sure the ERB was seen as socially unacceptable. Thus Bridge who has lived among the hoboes has never partaken of their crimes so there is no reason for society to reject him especially as he is the son of a millionaire.
In any event ERB left Chicago for the Coast returning in 1917 then leaving for good at the beginning of 1919. Life ain’t easy. Ask me.
As Bridge, the Kid and the putative Abigail Prim were finishing breakfast the great detective Burton pulls up in front of the Squibbs place. Burton is obviously a combination of Sherlock Holmes and Allan Pinkerton. We have been advised of the Holmes connection in the opening paragraphs of this book. ERB describes Burton thusly:
Burton made no reply. He was not a man to jump to conclusions. His success was largely due to the fact that he assumed nothing; but merely ran down each clew quickly yet painstakingly until he had a foundation of fact upon which to operate. His theory was that the simplest way is always the best way. And so he never befogged the main issue with any elaborate system of deductive reasoning based on guesswork. Burton never guessed. He assumed that it was his business to know; nor was he on any case long before he did know. He was employed now to find Abigail Prim. Each of the several crimes committed the previous night might or might not prove a clew to her whereabouts; but each must be run down in the process of elimination before Burton could feel safe in abandoning it.
That’s a pretty good understanding of Doyle’s presentation of Holmes. ERB did learn Holmes’ dictum that it was necessary to read all the literature on the subject to understand the mentality of one’s subjects. Burton did demonstrate some acumen in his arrest of Dopey Charlie and the General. He deployed an agent fifty yards below and fifty yards above to converge on the two criminals while he approached from the front. Either Burroughs had been doing some reading of his own or he picked up some experience or information from elsewhere.
Another keen point was when Burton went back to where the hoboes had been hiding to dig up the evidence they had concealed that would lead to their conviction for the Baggs murder.
It’s little details like these that always make me wonder where Burroughs picked up this stuff. He does it all so naturally but one can’t write what one doesn’t know. He must have been a curious man, good memory.
So Burroughs has a a pretty good understanding of the methods of Sherlock Holmes. It must be remembered that ERB was reading these stories as they first appeared not as we do as part of literature. Holmes, O.Henry, Jack London, E.W. Hornung, these were all fresh new and extremely stimulating with a great many references and inferences which are undoubtedly lost on us. Even in Bridge And The Kid ERB’s reference to the Kid’s bringing home the bacon is a direct reference to a quip the mother of the ex-heavyweight champion of the world Jack Johnson made just after he won the championship from Jim Jeffries: He said he’d bring home the bacon and he’s done it. I don’t doubt if many caught it then but I’m sure the phrase has become such a commonplace today that only a very few catch the reference and share the laugh.
Doyle’s stories such as A Study In Scarlet dealing with the Mormons and The Valley Of Fear dealing with the Molly Maguires would have had much more thrilling immediacy for ERB than they do for us. Also Burroughs has caught the essence of Holmes which was not so much the stories as the method of Holmes.
I have read the canon four times and while I could not reconstruct any of the stories without difficulty, if at all, maxims like- When you eliminate the impossible whatever remains no matter how improbable must be the truth. – have lodged in my mind since I was fourteen guiding my intellect to much advantage. So also the dictum to read all the literature. Not easy or even possible, but the more one has read the or read again the more things just fall in place without any real effort. You have to be able to remember, remembrance being the basis of all mind, of course. Holmes has been like a god to me.
If you wish to learn a source of Burroughs’ stories then all you have to do is apply the above methods; it will all become clear.
Burton moves the story forward as his appearance causes Bridge who isn’t sure what the status of the Kid and the putative Gail Prim is, elects to avoid the great detective even though they are friends.
The trio slip out the back into the woods following a track leading to ‘Anywhere’. Burroughs in a masterful telling catches the feel of a Spring day on a recently wetted trail littered with the leaves of yesteryear. Ou sont les neiges d’antan?
They come upon a clearing where a gypsy woman is burying a body. By this time Bridge has solved the mysteries of the previous evening.
The girls make noises upon hearing the clank of a chain in a hovel causing the gypsy woman to look around. Rather than spotting the trio she spots Willie Case hiding in the bushes who she drags out.
The gypsy woman, Giova, is as good a character as Bridge, the Kid, Burton and the hoboes, but my favorite of the story is Willie Case, the fourteen year old detective. While to my mind ERB presents Willie as a thoroughly admirable character, he nevertheless vents a suppressed mean streak not only on Willie but on the whole Case family.
ERB doesn’t let his mean streak show very often, it lurks in the background, but he lets it loose in this book. He must have been under personal stress.
He describes Willie as having no forehead and no chin, imbecilic traits, literally beginning with the eyebrows and ending with the lips. A freak of nature, a real grotesque. That means that Willie was a real ‘low brow’ as Emma accused ERB of being, even a no brow. Is it a coincidence that Emma called ERB a low brow or that the literati thought ERB wrote ‘low brow’ literature?
In point of fact Willie strikes me as an intelligent boy. He analyzes the situation always being in the right place at the right moment. Burton himself pays him a high but sneering compliment then cheats him out of the promised reward of a hundred dollars but in the manner McClurg’s published his books Burroughs was cheated out of a large part of his reward.
I don’t say that’s the case but if so it fits the facts.
In any event ERB treats the Case family meanly; they might almost be prototypes of Ma and Pa Kettle of the Egg and I or the meanly portrayed characters of Erskine Caldwell’s Tobacco Road. Jeb Case behaves very reprehensively at the lynching although once again he merely reported the facts that the Kid gave Willie. The Kid did tell Willie that he had burgled a house and killed a man. So, perhaps ERB created some characters that he could kick around as he felt himself being kicked.
And then we have the gypsy woman, Giova. She and her father are not only pariahs in general society as gypsies but because of her father they even have been cast out by the gypsies. Her father was a thief from both general and gypsy society. The former may have been laudable in gypsy terms but the latter wasn’t. They make, or made their living by thieving and cadging coins with Beppo, their dancing bear. Beppo of the evil eye.
Burroughs presents Giova as being sexually attractive with lips that were made for kissing, in echo of the refrain from Out There Somewhere. Here we may have a first inference that Emma was in trouble; the kind of trouble that would have ERB leaving her for another woman a decade or so hence. There are numerous rumblings indicating the trend not least of which was ERB’s fascination with Samuel Hopkin Adams’ novel, Flaming Youth of a few years hence and the subsequent movie starring Colleen Moore.
Bridge is now on the run with three women and a bear and he hasn’t done anything wrong to get into such hot water. One woman his emergent Anima, one, his rejected Anima, and the last a longing for a woman whose lips were made for kissing. Wow! This is all taking place in a ravine that opens into a small valley too.
All this has been accomplished in a compact one hundred pages. One third of the book is left for the denouement that Burroughs scamps as he usually does.
Giova decks them all out as gypsies which must have been an amusing sight to the Paysonites as this troop of madcaps complete with dancing bear in tow troop inconspicuously through town. Surprised they didn’t call out the national guard just for that.
As the story draws to a close ERB contributes a wonderful vignette of low brow Willie dining out at a ‘high brow’ restaurant called the Elite in Payson. The idea of Willie being conspicuous in a burg like Payson which we big city people would refer to as a hick town good only for laughs is amusing in itself. You know, it all depends on one’s perspective:
Willie Case had been taken to Payson to testify before the coroner’s jury investigating the death of Giova’s father, and with the dollar which the Osklaloosa Kid had given him in the morning burning in his pocket had proceeded to indulge in an orgy of dissipation the moment that he had been freed from the inquest. Ice cream, red pop, peanuts, candy, and soda water may have diminished his appetite but not his pride, and self-satisfaction as he sat down and by night for the first time in a public eatery place Willie was now a man of the world, a bon vivant, as he ordered ham and eggs from the pretty waitress of The Elite Restaurant on Broadway; but at heart he was not happy for never before had he realized what a great proportion of his anatomy was made up of hands and feet. As he glanced fearfully at the former, silhouetted against the white of the table cloth, he flushed scarlet, assured as he was that the waitress who had just turned away toward the kitchen with his order was convulsed with laughter and that every other eye in the establishment was glued upon him. To assume an air of nonchalance and thereby impress and disarm his critics Willie reached for a toothpick in the little glass holder near the center of the table and upset the sugar bowl. Immediately Willie snatched back the offending hand and glared ferociously at the ceiling. He could feel the roots of his hair being consumed in the heat of his skin. A quick side glance that required all his will power to consummate showed him that no one appeared to have noticed his faux pas and Willie was again slowly returning to normal when the proprietor of the restaurant came up from behind and asked him to remove his hat.
Never had Willie Case spent so frightful a half hour as that within the brilliant interior of the Elite Restaurant. Twenty-three minutes of this eternity was consumed in waiting for his order to be served and seven minutes in disposing of the meal and paying his check. Willie’s method of eating was in itself a sermon on efficiency- there was no waste motion- no waste of time. He placed his mouth within two inches of his plate after cutting his ham and eggs into pieces of a size that would permit each mouthful to enter without wedging; then he mixed his mashed potatoes in with the result and working his knife and fork alternatively with bewildering rapidity shot a continuous stream of food into his gaping maw.
In addition to the meat and potatoes there was one vegetable side dish on the empty plate, seized a spoon in lieu or a knife and fork and – presto! The side dish was empty. Where upon the prune dish was set in the empty side-dish- four deft motions and there were no prunes in the dish. The entire feat had been accomplished in 6:34 ½ , setting a new world’s record for red headed farm boys with one splay foot.
In the remaining twenty-five and one half seconds Willie walked what seemed to him a mile from his seat to the cashier’s desk and at the last instant bumped into a waitress with a trayful of dishes. Clutched tightly in Willie’s hand was thirty-five cents and his check with a like amount written upon it. Amid the crash of crockery which followed the collision Willie slammed check and money upon the cashier’s desk and fled. Nor did he pause until in the reassuring seclusion of a dark side street. There Willie sank upon the curb alternately cold with fear and hot with shame, weak and panting, and into his heart entered the iron of class hatred, searing it to the core.
The above passage has many charms. First, it is an excellent piece of nostalgia now, although at the time it represented the actuality, thus, as a period piece it is an accurate picture of the times. And then it is excellent comedy as well as a a parody as I will attempt to show.
One has to wonder if ERB really thought the Elite was a pretty fine restaurant. If so, one wonders where he took Emma and kids for a night out. Not too many gourmet Chicago restaurants served breakfast for dinner. Ham and eggs with mashed potatoes? Reminds me of the Galt House Hotel in Louisville where a ‘starch’ is served as a side dish. What exactly was this side-dish Willie wolfed- stewed tomatoes? The dessert prunes- dessert prunes?- was a nice touch too. Dessert for breakfast? Another nice quality touch at the Elite was the cup of toothpicks. Of course, those were the days cuspidors were de riguer so what do I know, maybe the Palmer House had a cup of toothpicks on the table too. I know they had cuspidors.
It does seem clear that little Willie was far down the social scale of little rural Payson. They had electric street lights, though. I’m not even from New York City but I would find the Elite, how shall I say, quaint and charming? Of course, New York City is not what it used to be either. Can’t fool me in either case; I’ve dined out in Hannibal. Good prices. Bountiful. Plenty of side dishes something that I’d never seen before.
I’m sure I’ve been in Willie’s shoes, or would have been if he’d chosen to wear them, too, so I have a great deal of sympathy for the lad. A man with a dollar has the right to spend where and as he chooses. Damn social hypocrisy!
In addition to the charm and light comedy ERB interjects a little parody of Taylorism and mass production into the mix.
For those not familiar with Frederick W. Taylor and his methods I quote from
Taylor wrote “The Principles of Scientific Management in 1911. These principles became known as Taylorism. Some of the principles of Taylorism include (Management for Productivity, John R. Schermerhorn, Jr. (1991)):
Develop a ‘science’ for every job, including rules of motion, standardized work implements, and proper working conditions.
Carefully select workers with the right abilities for the job.
Carefully train these workers to do the job, and give them proper incentives to cooperate with the job science.
Support these workers by planning their work and by smoothing the way as they go about their jobs.
Taylorism which led to maximum efficiency also give the lie to the unconscious of Sigmund Freud, or at least puts it into perspective. If the twentieth century has been the history of the devil of Freud’s unconscious it has also been the century of the triumph of the god of conscious intelligence. The question only remains which will triumph.
One of the recurring themes in ERB’s writing of the period is efficiency. Indeed, a couple years hence he will write a book entitled The Efficiency Expert.
It was the age of efficient mass production which required standardized motions and produced terrific results where applied as at Henry Ford’s marvelously efficient factories. Ford brought the task to the worker in well lighted clean factory spaces at a level which required no time consuming, fatiguing and unnecessary lifting or bending. Plus Henry Ford blew the industrial world away by doubling the going wage for unskilled labor. He changed the course of economic history singlehanded. He achieved more than the Communists or IWW could have accomplished in a million years earning their undying enmity. He may in one fell swoop have defeated the Reds. They sure thought so.
But, go back and review how Willie organizes his repast for consumption. Taylor-like he eliminated all non-essential motions then with maximum assembly line speed-up he gets production into one continuous stream.
A comic effect to be sure but there is even more comedy in the parody of the assembly line and Taylorism. I’m sure ERB intended it just that way.
Willie may be a joke but there is a certain flavor to be obtained by filling a continuum of food, mouth and time. Such an opportunity for enjoyment may present itself once in ten years or so. Willie saw his opportunity and seized it which he does throughout the story. Willie is OK with me.
I have eaten that way but I now reserve the method for ice cream and highly recommend it. My last opportunity, they present themselves but rarely and can’t be forced, was several years ago when I was insultingly offered a half melted Cherries Jubilee. The dish was of a perfect consistency for assembly line consumption. I saw my chance and like Willie, I took it. I kind of distributed cherries and ice cream chunks in the creamy stew, got mouth in the right position and cleaned the bowl in sixty seconds flat, reared back gripping the bridge of my nose, honked a couple times as the freeze seized my brain and then took a few minutes for consciousness to return. One of the great natural highs in this drug infested time. I tell ya‘, fellas, they was all lookin’ at me but I am much beyond the iron of class hatred. If they can’t take a joke…well, you know the finish. So I think Willie Case did the right thing.
Clumsy waitress to get in his way anyway. Fourteen hours on the job was no excuse.
Willie didn’t feel guilt for too long though, for what ERB calls a faux pas, it put him in the right place at the right time to see Giova and her dancing bear fresh from Beppo’s own slops. How could ERB be so cruel to a dumb animal- the bear, not Willie-, one that was going to save the heroine’s life- both the bear and Willie.
After having had dinner and refreshments Willie still had 20 cents left from a dollar of which he spent 10 cents for a detective movie and had ten cents left over for a long distance phone call to Burton in Oakdale after he spotted Giova and her dancing bear when he came out of the movie theatre.
He followed Giova to Bridge and the girls, fixed their location then called Burton. Not only did Willie spot the fugitives but so did the four leftover bums. Dopey Charlie and the General were impounded for the Baggs murder while we will learn that the real Oskaloosa Kid and the putative Gail Prim remain as well perhaps as the true identity of L. Bridge.
Burroughs is full of interesting details. The hoboes are gathered in an abandoned electrical generating plant which had formerly served Payson but had been discontinued for a larger plant servicing Payson from a hundred miles away. We don’t know when that might have happened but electrical generation and distribution was relatively new. The consolidation into larger generating units was even newer. Samuel Insull, whose electrical empire collapsed about1938 had begun organizing distribution in 1912 when he formed the Mid-West Utilities in Chicago absorbing all the smaller companies such as this one in Payson obviously.
I find details like this the exiting part of reading Burroughs.
The murderous hoboes set out to rob and kill Bridge and the Kid while Sky Pilot and Dirty Eddie elect themselves to return the putative Gail Prim who we will learn is actually Hettie Penning, thus doubling ERB’s Anima figure and connecting the latter to the former.
One is put in mind of the Hettie of H.G. Wells’ novel In The Days Of The Comet. Both Hetties exhibit the same traits. While it may seem a slender connection, still, ERB has so many references to other authors and their works that the connection is not improbable. For obvious reasons ERB always insisted he had never read H.G. Wells. Wells? Wells, who?, but how could he not have?
Bridge and the girls would have met their end except that Willie Case’s call brought Burton on the run who arrives in time to save their lives. Unfortunately Beppo of the evil eye meets his end after having done Burton’s job for him much as Willie always did.
In between the girls, the ‘boes, Bridge and the coppers Burton has a full load so he drops Bridge and Kid at the Payson jail. Willie Case had not only solved the case for the ingrate Burton but saved the life of Gail Prim posing as the Oskaloosa Kid. In a heart wrenching scene little Willie seeking his just reward is cruelly rejected and cheated by the Great Detective. I don’t know, maybe I read too closely and get too involved. Or, just maybe, ERB is a great writer.
It’s all over but the shouting and along comes the mob howling from Oakdale for the blood of Bridge and the Kid. I tell ya, boys, it wuz close. Burton arrived in time but not before Bridge with a well aimed blow broke Jeb Case’s jaw. What did those Cases ever do to ERB I wonder?
In the end Hettie Penning is identified, clearing up that mystery. Burton is able to tell Bridge’s dad who has spent $20,000 looking for him that he is found. It may even have cost less for Stanley to find Livingston. Of course there was a lousy rail system in the Congo in Livingston’s time. Bridge is united with Gail obviously prepared to renounce the roving life. Thus the promise of Out There Somewhere is redeemed. Bridge has found his woman.
Thus on paper, at least, Burroughs is reunited with his Animus in gorgeous female attire. No more men in women’s clothes or women in men’s clothes.
Bridge And The Kid is a very short book, only 152 pages in my Charter paperback edition of 1979 (Septimius Favonius BB #24. Charter didn’t see fit to include a date.) Although first issued in book form so late as 1937, it was reprinted in 1938 and 1940 so there must have been some early readers however when reprinted in 1974 there could have been few who remembered it.
My fellow writer, David Adams wrote a short review in the same issue #24 of the Burroughs Bulletin, October 1995, in which he also recognized the importance of this book to the corpus:
It may come as a surprise that anyone could possibly think of calling the novelette, THE OAKDALE AFFAIR, a major work of such a prolific writer as Edgar Rice Burroughs, but I found it to be such an animal…
I am unaware that any other than Mr. Adams and myself have reviewed the book. To sum up:
There seems to be an obvious connection to Jack London in the Bridge Trilogy (I prefer Bridge to Mucker because the latter draws reproving stares and no one today knows what a mucker is. It sounds slightly obscene.)
Mr. Adams, who is more of an authority on Jack London than myself, I’ve only begun to read London as a result of Bill Hillman’s series of articles in ERBzine, which posits a strong connection between Burroughs and London, and not the other way around, feels the novels have a great deal to do with London. The connection seems to be there but I have only begun to read London’s relevant or major works.
What ERB’s attitude towards London may have been which seems ambiguous isn’t clear. Burroughs never wrote about London and never mentions him explicitly. There are many points of disagreement between the two politically and socially. Burroughs does seem to have liked London and his work although what he read or when he read it isn’t clear. There are no London titles in his library.
The second major influence in the novel is the problem of hoboism connected with the IWW and labor unrest.
In the background Burroughs is working out his Anima/Animus problem.
The whole is framed in the form of a rather magnificent detective story patterned after Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories with a dash, perhaps a soupcon, of E.W. Hornung thrown in.
Attention should be paid to the psychological aspects.
Many of ERB’s favorite themes such as the efficiency expert are also thrown in. Nifty historical details like Samuel Insull’s electrical empire are added to the mix as well as Taylorism.
If anything ERB was too efficient, too economical in his use of words. The Book could easily have been fleshed out another sixty or hundred pages with no loss in the marvelous immediacy of the telling. If anything the story is too condensed. I found myself pausing over each description to recreate a mental image of the depiction. I was willing to do so and the personal reward was great. How much ERB was the creator of my vision of the story and how much my own as collaborator isn’t clear to me. Perhaps ERB just outlined the story ‘suggesting’ the scenario, expecting the reader to ‘customize’ the story as he reads along. This may be the first ‘inter-active’ novel. If so, Burroughs may be an even more innovative and greater writer than he is commonly thought to be.
July 18, 2011
Edgar Rice Burroughs As A Feral Child
Cronus married his sister Rhea, to whom the oak is sacred, But it was prophesized by Mother Earth and by his dying father Uranus, that one of his own sons would dethrone him. Every year, therefore, he swallowed the children whom Rhea bore him, first Hestia, then Demeter and Hera, then Hades, then Poseidon~ Robert Graves, The Greek Myths
I. The Father As A Cannibal Figure
Following Poseidon came Zeus. In place of Zeus Cronus was given a stone which he swallowed instead. When Zeus grew up he then castrated Cronus, replacing him.
While on the one hand an astrological myth denoting the precession of the equinoxes from one Astrological Age to another, on a psychological level the myth relates the fear of the Father that as the strength of his sons waxes his own wanes resulting in an eclipse.
Different human fathers react in different ways. Some nurture, some castrate or cannibalize their young. This is a serious problem for the son. For instance, what Tom Brokaw, a thoroughly castrasted son, is pleased to call The Greatest Generation who were so enamored of their success in WW II, they chose to emasculate a whole generation rather than surrender or even share power.
I correspond with David Adams from time to time while doing my writing from whom I sometimes receive valuable input. I had come to the conclusion that ERB’s father, George T, was a problem for ERB, especially as represented by ‘God’ in Tarzan And The Lion Man. The new year opened with Hillman publishing Dodds’ feral child collection which clicked in my mind. The week before ERBzine published my Part III, Two Peas And A Pod of the Tarzan Triumphant review. David Adams commented favorably on my comments about the Jungian Old Man archetype. He said in an email to me:
I agree with your interpretation that “characters like Tarzan and John Carter serve in the capacity of Old Man/Jekyll figures while the actual Old Man figures who are betrayers serve perhaps as Hydelike figures as represented by the father.” (David quoting me.) Those old man figures, early and late, are also cannibals who are hell-bent on eating him up while then spreading the bones across some desert for the hyenas to chew. Who was that old cannibal with the cancerous face followed by a pair of African wolves? (Jungle Tales of Kipling)
As can be seen I picked up on the Father figure but adding the cannibal detail adds the needed dimension for full comprehension.
George T. had been bothering me for some time. The love-hate relationship ERB had with him is quite obvious, but then it occurred to me that the other sons had the same relationship to their father while George T. appeared to program them all for failure- that is they not surpass him in their lifetime somewhat like Cronus of Greek mythology. He made them all dependent on him. The supplicating tone of the letters from college of sons George and Harry is all too obvious. George T. sending the boys to Yale without the means to support a position would have had the effect of emasculating them relative to their fellow students thus subordinating them.
Then on graduation he took them into his battery business. As a businessman in Chicago it wouldn’t be unreasonable to believe that George T. had some relatively influential contacts in town who might have been able to place Yale graduates advantageously but he chose to keep the boys with him and subordinate to him.
The battery factory proved dangerous for his son Harry who developed respiratory problems from the battery chemicals plus perhaps in psychological reaction to suppression by his father. He went West to join fellow Yalie, Lew Sweetser, in Idaho. Son George, who had had enough of working for his father, also fled to Idaho to join Harry and Sweetser.
None of the three knew enough about the cattle business to survive so that by 1913 when George T. had his basket pulled up all the sons were back in Chicago in various degrees of failure or, at least, lack of success. As of that date it would appear that like Cronus George T. had swallowed or cannibalized his sons.
There was a Zeus figure in the bunch who didn’t want to be swallowed and that Zeus figure was ERB. Like Zeus ERB was the youngest son. ERB developed independently of his brothers who were approximately ten years older than he. Thus when they were at Yale ERB was attending grade school.
As I pointed out in my Books, Burroughs and Religion George T. was especially rigorous in the attempt to emasculate his youngest son. His effort culminated when he sent ERB to military school. This was a form of dislocation and rejection that ERB could not bear. He tried to escape but his father sternly returned him to the Michigan Military Academy.
The effects of this were that ERB was declassed as he considered the MMA a rich kid’s reform school. Thus to some extent he was criminalized in his own mind. His reaction was also seminal in the formation of his two principal characters John Carter and Tarzan.
His hurt was so strong, his separation from his parents and home so complete that he became psychologically orphaned. His parents died to him the day he was returned to the MMA. He adopted the drunken Commandant, Charles King, as his mentor or surrogate father. While betrayed by his father ERB apparently thought he found a friend in King. In that capacity King became the model for Lt. Paul D’Arnot of the French Navy. D’Arnot was the man who tamed the feral boy that was Tarzan introducing him to civilization much as King taught Burroughs how to survive and prosper at MMA. Or Burroughs remembered it in that manner. There may also be a literary connection to D’Artagnan of Dumas’ Three Musketeers.
This makes the period between the arrival of Jane and her party and the arrival of D’Arnot in Tarzan Of The Apes of special interest. I’m not sure what the period represents in Burroughs’ own life.
As his creation Tarzan is a feral child it follows that ERB considered himself alone and on his own as a feral child himself. A romantic notion but one no less real to him. Thus just as Tarzan’s parent’s died with the baby becoming a member of an ape tribe so Burroughs began a wild and difficult period as his parents died for him.
These events occurred just as Rider Haggard was becoming famous for his great African trilogy of King Solomon’s Mines, She and Allan Quatermain which ERB undoubtedly read at this time. Conan Doyle began his Sherlock Holmes mysteries and H.M. Stanley disappeared into an unknown Congo in pursuit of Emin Pasha. The West to East transit of the Congo impressed ERB greatly as his own heroes later crossed Africa in the same direction.
Being a complex individual ERB no longer wished to even acknowledge that he had ever had parents; thus his first creation- John Carter. As Carter only came into existence when ERB was 36 the writer had plenty of time to knock around learning the odd legend here and there. John Carter then is a version of the Great Historical Bum- the hundred thousand year old man of folklore.
John Carter could not remember his parents. In his memory he had always been the same age he was. In the words of one of my famorite songs, Stewball, he didn’t say he was born at all, just blew down in a storm. Certainly Burroughs had heard of the Comte de St. Germain who flourished at the time of the French Revolution. As esoterical cult figure today, St. Germain’s legend would have been more prominent from 1875 to 1911 than today. Like Carter St. Germain claimed to have been alive forever. In Revolutionary Europe he got away with it. Calgiostro was another Revolutionary charlatan claiming mysterious antecedents who would have intrigued ERB’s imagination. It seems certain the two would have been topics of conversation in the time before radio, TV and movies so it wouldn’t have been necessary for ERB to have read anything.
I doubt if he had read any of the books on Dodds’ list although one never knows but the list goes to show that the feral child would have been a popular topic of conversation. In my opinion then ERB’s literary future was cast when his cannibal father returned him to MMA.
He graduated from the MMA in ’95 but either couldn’t or wouldn’t return home staying on as an instructor. In ’96, just before the summer break which might have necessitated a return home he joined the Army being sent directly to Arizona with passing through Chicago. Was he avoiding returning home? One can’t say as in ’97 having found Army life not to his liking he received an early discharge. He could have kept going, of course, as many of us in his boots did, to LA, San Francisco or wherever but he chose at that time to return to Chicago. Of course, Emma was calling.
From ’97 to ’03 or so he worked for his father which he found as difficult as his brothers had. Fleeing Chicago to Idaho in 1903, when he came back a year and a few months later to do anything (that word anything has some meaning in this context) rather than work with his father. He became one of the poet Robert Service’s ‘men who don’t fit in.’ He had a very difficult few years from 1905 to 1913 bumping along the bottom.
But then in 1911 he began his rise via his intellect. He began to write becoming an immediate literary success of sorts. By 1913 when he was about to become a financial success through his intellectual efforts thus escaping his father’s curse, his father died. The young Zeus thus never got to castrate his father Cronus.
One can’t know what would have happened to his psychology had ERB been able to present his father with evidence of his success. I’m reasonably certain George T. would have belittled or rejected his success as like Cronus his youngest would have replaced him. He wouldn’t have liked that.
II. A Hand From The Grave
Had that happened and ERB been able to prove himself a greater than his father it is interesting to speculate as to what effect that might have had on ERB’s psychological development. As it was, a few months after his father’s death he packed up family and belongings and got out of town as far as he could go to San Diego, California and stayed away nine months. Time enough to be reborn.
There are numerous examples of betrayers who are cannibals in his corpus, in fact there is so much betraying and cannibalism in Burroughs’ work I find it slightly offensive. Rather than work up a list, which for the time being I leave to David, I’d rather concentrate on the most spectacular cannibalistic betrayer of the oeuvre, God of Lion Man.
I know I just wrote about Lion Man but with David’s interpretation of cannibalism I can present a much more cogent image. David’s much more into Jungian synchronicity than I am but the scene with God presents a remarkable occurrence of synchronicity. The scene is very complex.
George T. was born in 1833 so the book was written on his 100th birthday. Chicago was incorporated in 1833 while it was celebrating its Century Of Progress forty years after the Columbian Expo at the same time. Both events occurred just at the time that Burroughs realized he had lost control of his ’meal ticket’ to MGM.
MGM was undoubtedly a component of God, the Father, being combined with the Chicago that fathered him and George T., his actual father, in his mind. From these components ERB then creates the magnificent apparition of God as man and beast. God has the mind of divine power such as had Zeus but is still a Cronus, is, in fact, the ultimate cannibal.
Tarzan and Rhonda represent Burroughs’ Anima and Animus so that God has the whole man in his power in its component parts- the X and y chromosomes. God tells the pair that he is going to use them to rejuvenate himself by cannibalizing them. The Father’s desire and the Son’s fear.
If God represents George T. on one side, MGM on another and organized religion on a third then even though ERB thought he escaped his father in 1913 by his intellectual efforts the father reaches up from the grave on his 100th anniversay to claim his son again.
At this time Burroughs also wrote Pirates Of Venus and Pirate Blood. Both would refer to the idea that MGM pirated his creation from him while the very despondent Pirate Blood is almost terrifying in its manic depression as the balloon rises and sinks being almost submerged in the ocean or the waters of oblivion, the subconscious mind, insanity, that I believe we can see it as the insanity of despair. At the end of that story the hero pairs up with a desperate woman who I believe we can read as Florence. All very transparent really.
So there Tarzan/Rhonda/Burroughs is trapped in a prison. He attempts his earlier escape of rising through his intellectual powers, that is, he ascends through a shaft in the roof. Unlike the first time when he surprised and astonished the world with John Carter and Tarzan, God, the Father, is waiting for him preventing his use of his intellect. In point of fact Tarzan And The Lion Man was a dismal sales failure thought by Burroughs to be caused by MGM.
If his previous four previous Tarzans under the Burroughs imprint had been successes it seems strange that the truly excellent Tarzan And The Lion Man should have failed. Failing proof of sabotage on the part of, say, MGM, one can only say the public taste is fickle or perhaps the innovative dust jacket didn’t look like the usual Tarzan dust jacket and fans just passed it by. It is also true that the book was a put down of MGM.
Tarzan/Burroughs sallies forth from his hiding place against superior forces. He is knocked unconscious. A sure sign that Burroughs is under supreme stress. Meanwhile God’s castle, in other words the literary structure of the last twenty years is going up in flames. The MGM pirates have lifted ERB’s life work.
He has to finish the story so he turns the tables on God taking him captive and making him do his bidding. Tarzan helps God recapture his City then abandons him disappearing down the hole of the subconscious to a lower level from when he emerges to be claimed by the Wild Thing- Balza, the Golden Girl, or Florence.
In a thinly disguised scene Tarzan, unwittingly it seems, wins Balza from her former husband much as Burroughs took Florence from Ashton Dearholt. The important thing here is that a transition has been effected from one world to another. The intellectual City of God has been abandoned in favor of a world of the senses.
It is at this point ERB abandons his own feral boy persona of horses, puttees and other symbols to become a sort of effeminate Dandy. He now affects tightly fitted fashionable suits almost effeminate in appearance. He turn into a party animal and if he had been a moderate drinker during his teens, twenties and early thirthies he now becomes almost a lush.
So, in the end, ERB was probably devoured by the Father in Cronus fashion. In the Myth Zeus forced Cronus to vomit up his brothers and sisters and he castrated him. In real life ERB was castrated and swallowed down.
He put up one heck of a fight that arouses the warmest admiration of him. One wonders, that if when all is said and done anyone can escape the imprint of those formative years. Is one’s whole horoscope cast in the womb and those few short months after birth? Sure hope not.
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, H.G. Wells
Wold Newton Mythology
It Came From Outer Space
For some decades now I have been struggling with the problem of a new mythology for the scientific consciousness. When the old mythopoeic mythology was invalidated by science it left sort of a void in the human psyche. In the Arthurian sense we had entered the Wasteland of disappointed expectations, otherwise known as depression.
Over the last twenty years of unremitting labor I have been either trying to discover or create such an existing scientific mythology. Perhaps my efforts have been rewarded. I modestly offer the following for your approval.
When The Student Is Ready…
Unlike the internet where I get most of what passes for news by current standards, this day I was reading the newspaper. I hadn’t come to that, it was just lying handy and I had the idle moment. owever I read that our giant combined new and used Pulsar Book Store had laid off a couple dozen employees, or workers as they are sometimes amusingly described, because of declining in store sales. I further read that sixty percent of Pulsar’s sales were over the internet.
I’ve been doing all my book buying over the internet and hadn’t been in the Pulsar store for years. Casting about for a reason for a decline in sales, apart from a growing illiteracy in the body politic, it occurred to me that on line electronic transmission of books was cutting into book sales deeply. I mean, Amazon offers oodles of older books free, many of which you will never see in books stores but are offered by Print On Demand publishers over the internet. Ask yourself when you last saw a Charles King? Lots of them for free on Amazon. That has to hurt sales. I then reasoned that Pulsar’s shelves must be groaning. I might be able to find a superb selecion at good prices, and I was right.
I was rewarded with an armful of books at my first stop in the Bs. I picked an armful of hard to find Balzac titles dirt cheap, thousand page nineteenth century omnibus volumes for six dollars and ninety-five cents each, Good God Almighty. As close to heaven as you can get without taking the chance of dieing.
Then I bethought myself to check the H.G. Wells section. I have a complete collection of Wells’ fiction but I’m still missing a few titles of the non-fiction. The Wells shelf was loaded and with cream, titles that I had had trouble finding over the year were now there in profusion. I had to laugh to see nearly a whole shelf loaded down with copies of Wells’ Seven Science Fiction Novels in many editions. I bought my copy of that at sixteen when it became the foundation of my psychic reality. There were a number of editions I had never seen before. In a fit of curiosity and affection I pulled a copy out just to fondle it. As I did a small slim volume concealed between thetwo larger ones tumbled out and fell to the floor.
I picked the paperback up. It was by one Garrett P. Serviss titled Edison’s Conquest Of Mars and sub-titled as the Original 1898 Sequel To The War Of The Worlds. I laughed at what seemed ludicrous and slid it back on the shelf. I must not have been adept because it fell out on the floor again.
I stood looking at it for a few seconds then decided that a mysterious power was bidding me to read it. I know how ridiculous that sounds but it happens to me often and always with an important book for me to read. Call it serendipitous, call it destiny, I follow my star. They wanted nine-ninety nine for a paperback of two hundred pages. I had an armful of thousand page, hundred year old, hard backs on really good paper for six ninety-five each. I wavered. But then I rememberd the mysterious way it had been concealed between two books destiny knew I would look at. I thought of the old esoteric adage, when the student is ready the teacher will appear. This same thing had happened to me many times before. Often when my mind had been prepared a book had suggested itself. Here it was, deja vu all over again. Was I going to let a little literary bigotry stand between me and my obvious destiny? Not I. I begrudged the ten dollars but when I got home and examined the tiny volume I saw that I had discovered the missing link. I can now make a case for a new scientific mythology.
When It All Comes Down, I Hope It Lands On Me
The search for a new mythology goes on apace. Perhaps the catalyst in the organization of the search was a sci-fi writer named Philip Jose Farmer. Back in 1972 he formulated a scheme in his fantasy novel Tarzan Alive called the Wold Newton Universe. He provides a very rigorous framework for the search. Farmer posited that a meteorite fell to Earth near Wold Newton in the North of England in 1795, which is true, a meteorite did come down. He further posits following the lead of H.G. Wells novel In The Days Of The Comet that this 1795 comet produced a change in men’s minds, and in point of fact there was a change of consciousness that occurred at this exact time.
Several years ago, decades now, I bought a collection of the British magazine The Monthly Review, a run from 1781 to 1795. Isn’t this spooky? These volumes reflect a late medieval consciousness. As an example the volumes use f for s internally in a word- paf try for pastry for instance while beginning and ending esses are the convention letter s. After 1800 this form disappears. I wondered at what precise time The Monthly Review changed its orthography. Through the wonders of the internet I was able to determine that precise date. It was at the beginning of 1796, the volume following the last I own. Thus 1795 is, in fact, a very good date for the change to the modern consciousness.
After 1795 then Euroamerica looked at reality with different and fresh eyes. Also a new literary style arose that led into the genre literatures of the present. A magic generation of writers then arose with one foot in the medieval world and the other in its successor, with modern orthography of course. Shelley and Byron, Peacock and the greatest of all, the father of modern fiction, Walter Scott. Scott has lost nearly all his glamor now but he was the presiding genius of nineteenth century fiction. I mention only the great French Bohemians Honore De Balzac and Alexandre Dumas. Toss in Edgar Allan Poe.
Searching For The Thread
Thus in Tarzan Alive Philip Jose Farmer began a classification system for the new approach to mythology. Currently there are two Wold Newton systems- The French Wold Newton Universe and the Anglo-American. Generally speaking a Wold Newton author’s whole work, or the major part of it, is a series of novels, a roman a fleuve, built around a character or a theme, thus Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, Baums Oz stories or Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan and John Carter/Mars stories. All the Wold Newton novels develop the new scientific mythology. Some themes are developed by several hands such as the Vampire corpus or that of Frankenstein/artificial life.
A major writer falling somewhere between literary and Wold Newton fiction is H.G. Wells. He neither created a great fictional character nor works that fit easily into nor works that are exactly genre literature. Still, Wells is at the center of the Wold Newton mythology.
There are three novels of Wells that I think can fit into and define the Wold Newton Universe. These are The War Of The Worlds, When The Sleeper Wakes and Tono Bungay. With the exception of the Seven Science Fiction novels, of which only four have made an indelible impact, the rest of Wells’ novelistic corpus is today disregarded having apparently no relevance to the modern world.
Of course I like Wells and I have read the entire fiction corpus. There are a few novels that I think merit attention but in the hundred years since they first began appearing the body of fiction that has been written obscures all but the brightest stars of novels so that vas amounts of meritorious fiction is only read by the specialist or literary enthusiast exploring the past.
War Of The Worlds is what got me started on this investigation, isn’t it? I’ve read War Of The Worlds three or four times now and each time it’s a new book and not the one portrayed on the screen or what I perceived from my childhood reading. I’ve come to the conclusion that the book isn’t really all that good although it has set the world on its ear. It must have played into the fears of a society desperately grappling with a sea change in history. Every conventional way of viewing the world was falling into the dust as the old mythology vaporized as before the Martian tripods and a new mythology was as invisible as Griffin in Wells’ Invisible Man. When you removed the wrappings of Griffin there was nothing there but the invisible power of the past.
Perhaps Wells’ Martians symbolized the all too visible power of the new scientific reality destroying the old magical religious vision of reality. At any rate the book was received with startling avidity at its publication in 1898. An nowhere was this book seized upon with such voracity as in America. The effect has also been enduring including the radio broadcast of Orson Wells in 1938 and a number of movie treatments. We often think Wells created this genre but not so.
In fact the space opera centered on Mars was an exciting new genre that developed rapidly during the nineties and the first decade of the new century. Burroughs with his great Martian Trilogy was merely taking advantage of an established theme which he epitomized so well that his books are a culmination of Martian writing to that point. His were the apex of the nineteenth century Martian theme, a new starting point for the future.
He was apparently well read in the genre although apart from a few obvious titles one can’t be sure how deeply he had read.
Robert Godwin explains in the introduction to Edison’s Conquest Of Mars:
Late in 1897 the great H.G. Wells struck gold when he submitted for publication- in Pearson’s Magazine of London- the future-war story to end all future-war stories, The War Of The Worlds. It was not the first story of aliens coming to Earth, Edgar Allan Poe had done that sixty years earlier. It was not even the first to involve humans fighting Martians, that had been done by Percy Greg in 1880, while German author Kurd Lasswitz had brought Martians to Earth to wage war with the British earlier that year. It was Wells who brought this novel idea home with star realism. The War Of The Worlds has little dialogue and few characters but is literally dripping with paranoia. His invading Martians were completely alien and they had the technology to rampage right across the capitol city of the most powerful nation on Earth. The War Of The Worlds soon appeared in America through the pages of Hearst’s Cosmopolitan Magazine.
Will This Nightmare Never End?
Perhaps the dripping in paranoia was the key to Wells’ American success. America is a very paranoid ountry and the paranoia is shared equally by both the Right and the Left. If War Of The Worlds dripped with paranoia it was as nothing compared to Wells’ next book, When The Sleeper Wakes. Sleeper is all bombs, sirens and searchlights playing across the dark night skies. Sleeper is the masterpiece of paranoia. I just love it. Wells must hav been going through a period of deep anxiety when he wrote it. Sleeper is one great long anxiety attack wich he translated into a fear of being buried alive. The hero, Graham, is actually buried alive although above ground. He’s placed in a glass case where he sleeps for a couple hundred years until one day he awakes to find himself in possession of all the wealth in the world. His money had been in trust gathering interest for all these centuries until his estate equalled the world’s wealth. Of course he is more dangerous awake than asleep so he begins running scared.
But that fear or paranois also characterized The War Of The Worlds which is one long flight from danger. Godwin continues:
Cosmopolitan was not cheap and so it would not be until the following January that the impressionable and imaginative young inventor Robert Goddard would first encounter Wells’ Martian war machines. Copyright laws in America were still somewhat tenuous and newspapers were at liberty to do as they pleased. Obtaining permission was often the last thing a newspaper editor would worry about and this modus operandi was especially prevalent in the smaller newspapers such as the New York Evening Journal, The Milwaukee Sentinel and the Boston Post. Many of these newspapers decided to jump on Wells’ bandwagon.
In the Boston Post, a Sunday, January 9th 1898, an entirely revised version of The War Of The Worlds appeared under the title Fighters From Mars- or, The Terrible War Of The Worlds, as it Was Waged in or Near Boston in the year 1900. What is particularly remarkable about this is that the story is completely transposed from London to Boston. All of the familiar scenes which take place in south London are suddenly taking place in Concord Masschusetts. The Boston Post was fairly well circulated in the New England area and Robert Goddard soon learned of the remarkable serial. The Post certainly did their part to stoke the fires of enthusiasm, they repeated the first chapter the next day in Monday’s newspaper and then not a day went by for the next few weeks without another installment appearing. On the 3rd of February the serialization was complete and Wells’ great story was soon destined to appear in America as a full fledged book.
Then something altogether unexpected happened. The editors of the Boston Post revealed that they had acquired a “sequel” to Wells’ story, the advert in the Post read. “Edison’s Conquest Of Mars- A Sequel To ‘Fighters From Mars’… written in collaboration with Edison by Garrett P. Serviss the well known astronomical author.”
A truly astounding development. Here was immediate impact to be followed forty years later by the even more astonishing reaction to Orson Wells radio script of the novel which was accepted as fact, real by the radio listeners who grabbed their shotguns and ran into the streets to repel the Martian invaders. Obviously the novel answered a deep seated psychological need of Americans which would be reflected in a series of movies such as The Day The Earth Stood Still with Gort an Klaatu as well as such later developments as Roswell, New Mexico and Area 51. Aliens and space were united to the New Mythology. Of course such aliens are only God thinly disguised. After all such characters as Klaatu are always preaching to us to mend our misbegotten ways or else. Religion or no religion.
A Giant Leap For Americans
The remarkable thing is that the Boston Post or one or more of its editors got a British copy in their hands, or the Cosmopolitan reprint, read it had his mind transformed on the spot immediately beginnning the transposition from London to Boston while at the same time beginning he process to create a sequel that was ready to begin publishing as soon as the original finished. Plus Edison had to be immediately amenable to the idea so as to give his permission to use his name.
Now, all this is transpiring during the Spanish-American war and the insurrection in the Philippines. Also as if one phenomenon weren’t enough this was also the moment that Kipling’s poem The White Man’s Burden appeared. Kipling’s poem was, of course, a commentary on the Philippine insurrection.
Serviss then had probably no more than a month to draft his sequel. Serviss himself had a scientific background which he fully employs in his sequel. He was up to date on Martian theory. As incredible as it may seem the book could have been a pilot for Star Trek. He got it all in one book. The Boston Post serialization ran and then the story disappeared. It never made book form at the time. In 1947 it was unearthed and published in a truncated form so unless by a miracle the Post episodes were seen by Edgar Rice Burroughs they had no influence on him although it seems like they could have. However Percival Lowell the astronomer who is often mentioned as an influence on Burroughs was from Boston. By 1899 he had already established his observatory in Flagstaff and written the first of his three Martian books, ‘Mars.’ He might then have had an influence on Serviss. Lowell’s other two Martian books Mars And The Canals and Mars As The Abode Of Life written in 1906 and 1908 respectively might have been influenced by Serviss. As a budding Mars expert it is likely that he might have had his attention called to both Wells’ and Serviss’ efforts. If Burroughs read Lowell he would have been indirectly influenced by Serviss. Anyway Serviss has a full discussion of how the water imagined to be on Mars flowed from the South to the North because the South Pole was thought to be elevated over the North and water, of course, flows down hill. Serviss doesn’t explain how the water gets back to the South Pole.
Serviss and undoubtedly Lowell have the water flowing on the surface so Burroughs has it flowing underground somehow.
At the time Edison’s reputation was at its zenith as a technologist. He was the epitome of the American can do attitude. Serviss was pretty fair at this first attempt at sci-fi. One has to assume that all the scientific ideas were in the air but Serviss skillfully blends them together in that can do attitude within virtually days.
Edison creates a fleet of anti-gravity ships within thirty days. The anti-gravity ship is a plausible way of inter-planetary travel while the ships are designed in the projectile shape of current rockets. The disintegrator guns Edison designs, also within thirty days, eliminate the bonds between atoms also in a plausible manner thus scattering the stricken entity to the winds.
Thus a few years before the Wrights not only does Edison have heavier than air craft but the Martians have huge air fleets along the line of Burroughs. So, as I say, Burroughs was stepping into an established genre not originating anything.
Serviss merely makes the Martians giants so we essentially have a Gullivar and the Lilliputians story reversed. It’s a reasonably good story while being a very proper scientific novel. There is nothing really for future writers to add, just rearrange the details. And that was in 1899.
The Boston response to the invasion from Mars was to ‘organize’ its own invasion of Mars and annihilate them as a psychological projection. Very interesting.
From One Dark Spot To Another
I have found no response from Wells to this rewrite of War Of The Worlds and its sequel. H.G. got busy writing another fantastic futuristic sci fi effort title, When The Sleeper Wakes. This book can actually be bundled with 1909′s Tono Bungay. Both wonderful paranoid books. These two books plus War Of The Worlds form the core of my psyche and if the truth were known probably a large part of the psyche of Edgar Rice Burroughs; most especially he was influenced by Tono Bungay which can be readily traced.
Sleeper is a wonderfully paranoid tone poem. By 1898-99 Wells was realizing his ambition of rising above his origins while his Anima-Animus problem was becoming paramount. Wells was born into the lower social level of society with almost no hope of realizing his considerable potential. He was seemingly condemned to a life as a Draper’s Assistant which was little above servitude or even slavery. On his own efforts he rebelled seeking a way out through education. He achieved this after enduring several years on the razor’s edge uncertain as to what his future would be. Combining his scientific background with his literary skills he began to rise above his origins financially although he was never to escape the psychological stigma of his lower class origins.
Thus through his short stories which were sensational at the time and some still are he got a foothold in the literary scene. Wells wrote at least two or three masterpieces. His The Time Machine put him in the writer’s top notch class. War Of The Worlds and When The Sleeper Wakes, close to a diptich, written out of acute anxiety as to his future put him over the top. He was a force to be reckoned with.
Thus both novels pit his heroes against overwhelming forces that they must defeat. In the War Of The Worlds the enemies fade away through natural causes. In Sleeper, Graham the Sleeper, awakes to find himself the richest man in the world only to discover that all is to be taken away from him. This is normal anxiety for someone on the rise. The new man is always resented and his way made difficult. He is to be prevented if possible. Hence the intense fear and paranoia of Sleeper. In the denouement Graham takes to the air in the last remaining airship to single handedly drive back the Negro police summoned from Africa. Prescient really. The Sleeper’s plane spirals into a crash but then Wells takes the copout that it is only a dream. At any rate in real life he wakes up to find that he is now a guru. His non-fiction Anticipations- a guide to the future- published two years later in 1901 established him irrevocably as a ‘futurist’. All he had do then was write passable books.
Both of his masterpieces Worlds and Sleeper also dealt with Wells’ troubled sexuality. As in the life of all men his Anima became estranged from his Animus which Wells was never able to reconcile as he developed a rather bizarre sex life as he searched for a way to recover his Anima.
In WOW as the populace was fleeing the Martians his hero was driving a cart along with his Anima figure. The two became separated when a crowd came between them and she was lost. In Sleeper Graham finds his Anma but once gain events separate them and he is about to crash his plane alone.
And then ten years later Wells crowned his work with the very wonderful Tono Bungay. Not close to the finest story ever told it is nevertheless one of the world’s great novels. The book had a profound influence on me. I first read it when I was twenty while I have subsequently read the book three times. I cherish my first reading because I projected myself into the story so much that I rewrote the book in my imagination to suit my own needs. Tono Bungay was an entirely new book in my last reading. I hope to show that the book had a profound influence on Edgar Rice Burroughs as his and Wells lives touched as the 1930s arrived. It’s always a strange world.
Wells seems to have been interested in the patent medicine businss in the US during the first decade of the century. Strangely it is not impossible that the story refers to the situation of a Dr. Stace of Chicago. I’m just guessing now. Stace’s partner was a young man named Edgar Rice Burroughs. So it may be coincidence that Edward Ponderevo, the inventor of the tonic Tono Bungay, and George Ponderevo his nephew, may have been based in part on Stace and Burroughs. I mean, the patent medicine stories are identical. Probably a coincidence though but I’m just guessing.
During the first decade of the twentieth century the patent medicine business had developed in the United States to magnificent proportions. As great national magazines arose the potential of the business rose accordingly. The active ingredient in the patents was usually alcohol although drugs, which were unregulated were frequently used. It is well known, for instance, that the Coca in Coca Cola referred to the cocaine with which the drink was laced. Coke was a real pick me up back then. Amphetamines were isolated in 1897 so imagine Methedrine Cola. Quite an idea.
The US government saw the dangers of these patent medicines, not a few of which used the opium based laudanum. I mean, these were loose times, they used to give infants opium based laudamun to keep them quiet. Better than TV. So, during the teens the government was forced to conduct a campaign against patent medicines. First they came for the patent medicines then they came for the alcohol and then they came for the cigarettes. Now they’re working on sugar and salt and caffeine. You’re next, you miserable user you. Wells was watching this fascinating activity from Britain. In one instance Edward Ponderevo remarks that six or seven go-getter Americans would wake England up. Then he invented Tono Bungay, the patent medicine par excellence.
Strangely, leading the anti-patent medicine campaign in the US was Samuel Hopkins Adams who would affect Stace-Burroughs then and sixteen years or so later would upset Burroughs’ life when he published his very successful novel, Flaming Youth. Strangely, strangely how many people who have never met can be so influential on others. Almost paranormal.
So, Burroughs took up with Stace in the sale of patent medicines just as the government was cracking down on them, putting them out of business, filing legal complaints, doing the double nasty. Stace and Burroughs developed a close relationship, almost as close as father and son or, uncle and nephew. Even after the two were put out of business they continued in another line of business before parting. Erwin Porges in his biograpy of ERB doesn’t go into a lot of detail over this relationship, maybe from a mistaken sense of delicacy, but this was a big event in Burroughs’ life perhaps straining his marriage with Emma. I believe it was here that he gained his personal experience of sheriffs and grand juries.
Stace may have been a big enough operator to come to Wells’ attention so that he was captivated by this story of the older man and his younger acolyte.
At any rate Edward Ponderevo goes bust in a provincial town through his aggressive business practices removing to London where he develops the idea of Tono Bungay. Wells then diverges from the patent medicine story as Ponderevo, who was a real go-getter, develops an empire based on legitimate products, like soap, so that Tono Bungay takes a back seat in his success story.
Interestingly Ponderevo buys a huge estate not unlike Tarzana around which he begins to build a ten foot high wall some eleven miles in length. Then, of course, he overextends himself and goes bust.
In reading this story, as I’m sure Burroughs did, he must have really related to the patent medicine story while probably rewriting the story in his mind to suit his circumstances. In this story too, Wells finds his perfect soul mate or Anima who once again he loses.
If by chance Wells was aware of the Stace story and did know he had a junior partner, Burroughs, he undoubtely forgot about him and the patent medicine business in the turmoil of the years to come.
The story of Ponderevo, his large estate and the eleven mile ten foot high wall must have stuck in Burroughs’ mind. The story may have been instrumental in his decision to buy Tarzana while it appears spectacularly in 1933′s Tarzan And The Lion Man.
Let me say that this whole group of writers who would nearly all find a place in the Wold Newton Universe read each other. While Kipling, Haggard, Wells and Doyle were reading Burroughs after he became famous as well. Indeed, Wells in Sleeper mentions three stories that had a profound effect on all these writers: Kipling’s The Man Who Would Be King, Conrad’s Heart Of Darkness and Henry James’ The Madonna Of The Future. Writers appearing after ERB’s fame appear to have been universally influenced by his, too. Haggard and Kipling’s Love Eternal was a response to ERB’s The Eternal Lover and unless I’m oversensitive they talked to him in it, too.
In a way then this was a form of telepathy, so controversial a topic at the time- true long distance communication and this would continue through the thirties if you’ve read enough and thought about it.
Anyway Burroughs read extensively incorporating almost everything that impressed him into his stories one way and sometime or other. I’m sure he was unconscious of using most of the sources. Thus the story of Tono Bungay, Ponderevo and the ten foot fence entered his subconscious.
In 1919 he left Chicago for LA for good. His intent was to buy twenty acres or so to raise hogs. This he could easily have afforded avoiding all the subsequent economic pain. However Harrisons Gray Otis, the publisher of the LA Times had died in 1917 and his 540 acre estate, Rancho Del Cabrillo, was on the market. ERB made an abrupt about face and bought it. I’ve often wondered why, what was the impetus? If one reads of Ponderevo’s estate in England one has a pretty good match of Tarzana. Burroughs has been quoted as saying he would have liked to have a large estate that he could build a ten foot high wall around. Of course he had the estate and lost it. But the Ponderevo estate seems to have been on his mind.
This may sound completely conjectural but let’s move ahead to 1933 when ERB penned what I consider his magnum opus, Tarzan And The Lion Man. He includes a novella in the story that might be entitled, Tarzan And The City Of God. This is a pretty good story. By 1933 the talkies had been in existence for five years. Many of the more magnificent early horror stories had already been filmed. I may be a sucker for these early horror films but given the limitations of the industry at the time they have never been equaled. So, in addition to all the books stored in ERB’s mind, fifteen years or so of silent films, he now added a full catalog of talkies. Himself a virtual father of all B movies with his own catalog of novels all these B horror films reinforced his imagination. Even though he had little to do with the filming of his own movie starring Herman Brix as Tarzan, The New Adventures Of Tarzan, the movie was nevertheless perfect of the B genre. Sort of an a correction and example to MGM.
Tarzan And The City Of God is perfect in the Pulp genre which is the literary counterpart of the B movie but now ERB seamlessly joins the Pulp to the B genre.
Tarzan And The Lion Man mocks the making of MGM’s film, Trader Horn. As I have pointed out in other reviews in 1931 ERB signed a contract with MGM that removed the Tarzan character in the movies from his control to MGM. MGM then proceeded to mock the Tarzan character on the screen in an attempt to destroy ERB’s creation. Of course, the mockery failed, Tarzan going on to greater glory and an immortality he might not have attained otherwise.
At the same time ERB was locked in a battle with Joseph Stalin and, at the risk of seeming preposterous, the Soviet Union. This war was brought to the surface n 1930′s Tarzan The Invincible. Now, Stalin and the Communists of all countries were attempting to discredit all pre-Revolutionary writers who rejected the Communist program. ERB was one of these while, oddly, Tarzan was one of Stalin’s favorite characters, especially in the MGM movies.
H.G. Wells who accepted the Revolution in substitution for God in about 1920 was one of Stalin’s literary hatchet men. During this period Stalin assigned State prostitutes to service certain Western literary men to report back to him on their doings. Moura Budberg had been assigned to H.G. Wells. Amazingly Wells fell deeply in love with her although he had to have known that he was her job. One of Wells’ targets was Edgar Rice Burroughs. Thus beginning in the twenties Wells began parodying and vilifying Burroughs in various books to which Burroughs replied in other of his own books. Thus, in a sense, there was telepathic communication.
In 1933 the combined attack of MGM, one imagines Louis B. Mayer, Wells and Stalin had overwhelmed Burroughs.
In 1930′s Tarzan The Invincible Burroughs had been forced to abandon the valley of Opar and La to Wellsian and Soviet interference. The Communists invaded Opar destroying ERB’s imagined paradise. So now, in a masterful creation he attacks Wells, MGM and the Communists in the City of God, London, England transposed to the Mutia Escarpment in Africa The Mutia Escarpment was MGM’s imaginary location for the Tarzan movies named after an African actor who appeared in Trader Horn. We do have telepathic communication here if you’ve got your radio turned on and tuned in. So there is layer after layer of mockeries in what is actually a titanic combat involving film and literature carried on right before the eyes of an unseeing world. Stalin, Burroughs, Wells and L.B. Mayer knew but virtually no one else. I might never have caught on but for the internet and the availability of films on DVD and flat screen TVs programmed through my wireless computer network. I have a complete collection of ERB’s novels, nearly all of Wells, and a nearly complete collection of Tarzan DVD’s. There’s always one or two that elude you. So I can read and watch at will. Rather amazing really. All one’s intellectual influences on one shelf while every library and film archive is only a click away. Isn’t God good to us?
So, Tarzan scales the Mutia Escarpment which at his point of attack is a sheer wall of granite. this probably indicates the difficulties ERB was facing. As usual there is an easier ascent for the ladies but Tarzan knows nothing of it. In real life, the location of Van Dyke’s Trader Horn was Murchison Falls on the Nile and the plateau would have been the land around Lake Victoria.
On the plateau Tarzan approaches the City of God/London which is surrounded by a, guess what, ten foot high wall. The circumference must have been at least eleven miles. Thus we have a replica of Ponderevo’s estate as imagined by H.G. Wells of London, England. Instead of Ponderevo’s modern ‘castle’ we have a replica of what might be Frankenstein’s castle or some othe horror film castle with the requisite village at its base.
Now, ‘God’ who was a ‘formerly handsome Englishman’ had come to this country in 1859. This is now 1933 so 74 years previously. As God will tell Tarzan shortly he was a biological scientist experimenting in evolution and creating artificial life a la Frankenstein, when his studies involving corpses brought the authorities down on him forcing him to flee England but not before he had removed, essentially DNA, which ERB calls ‘germs’, from the corpses of Henry VIII and his court buried in Westminster Abbey. In London, Africa God had forced the evolution of a tribe of gorillas turning them into barbaric replicas of Henry VIII and his court. Still having the appearance of gorillas they have more or less human minds speaking and acting as archaic Englishmen.
Tarzan having scaled the impossible cliffs of the plateau is now faced with a ten foot wall with sharply pointed wooden stakes pointing downward making a leap and hoist impossible. ERB has left out the overarching tree in this instance so Tarzan does his strongman act. The body builders are never far from ERB’s imagination. Tarzan pulls off an impossible stunt. Leaping up he grabs a couple stakes lifting himself over his wrists until he was above the wall then rolled forward. Only time that trick’s ever been performed. Thus ERB enters that ‘sacred city.’ The sort of Troy that refused Achilles.
The scaling of the cliffs, the clearing of the wall might have been suggested to ERB by his struggle to achieve success which he had done for one brief moment. Lifting himself by his bootstraps, as it were, he had gained entry into that sacred city. His success was to be shortlived and almost as tragic as Tarzan’s visit to the City of God or ERB’s Tarzana or Ponderevo’s estate.
While Wells was born to poverty ERB’s course in life had been different; he was a Golden Child with the highest expectations. And then in his teens it was all taken from him as he was plunged into poverty although not as abject as he makes it out to be. Thuse he had a different personal myth than that of Wells. He identified with Mark Twain’s Prince And The Pauper in which the Prince changes places with his impoverished doppelganger, then regains his position. His other favorite book of this type was Little Lord Fauntleroy in which a British heir lives a normal life in America until he inherits his English title. Thus these two books combined with Tono Bungay suggested a course to his life that he actually realized and as the three titles suggest lived his life in a boom and bust fashion. as though compelled to gain and lose, lose and gain his fortunes until he died in bed a comparatively well off man. ERB was a very suggestible guy. At this point in his life he was heading into a major bust part of the cycle and this story tells of it.
Once inside the walls there sits the castle, The City of God, the City on the Hill, the sacred city of Achilles, his goal. Tarzan mounts a very long flight of steep stairs as ‘God high above on the castle ramparts watches with grim satisfaction. the fly has come to the spider. Just like L.B. Mayer and MGM he’s got his man all but trapped.
Having just been trapped by his enemies ERB belatedly has it all figured out. Tarzan enters a oyer faced by three doors. At this point all decisions are Tarzan’s. He can go back or he can go forward. He elects to go on. Two of the doors are locked while one is ajar. This scene of Tarzan and the doors is repeated several times in the corpus. I’ve tried to figure it out. The nearest I can come is a short story of 1898 by Frank Stockton titled The Lady Or The Tiger.
Since this was a very famous story I, for myself, have no doubt that ERB read it and was suitably impressed. This is arbitrary, I know, however there is a great deal of similarity between this story and the story of Queen Nemone and Tarzan in the arena from Tarzan And The City Of Gold. Now, in the Lady Or The Tiger the story hinges on two doors, behind one of which is a tiger and the other a gorgeous lady. This is the trial by ordeal that Stockton’s king has chosen to decide his criminal cases. In his story a young lowly man has dared to love the king’s daughter. She is inn attendance but displeased because the lover will possible marry another. She indicates to him to take the right hand door. The question is left unanswered whether the lady or the tiger was behind the door by Stockton leaving it to the reader whether the one or the other was the man’s fate.
In the city of God, of course, the choice has been made for Tarzan as the middle door is left unlatched. Tarzan enters descends some steps, passes through another door that latches behind him to find himself facing…the lady. Well,I don’tknow, could be unrelated to Stockton’s story, but then, again….
At any rate it relates to ERB’s obsessions with tigers. As we all know the magazine story of Tarzan Of The Apes had both tigers and lions that public opinion forced Tarzan to change as the literalists pointed out that there were no tigers in Africa. ERB changed the tiger to a lioness he called Sabor so that female lions can be thought of as tigers. I think most of the lions Tarzan kills are females. If tigers and ladies are associated in ERB’s mind then in City of God Tarzan got both the symbol and the real thing, who was his preferred Anima figure Rhonda. I’m pretty sure that’s how ERB’s mind worked.
Speaking of tigers, for those lovers of the Pulp and B movie genres, a perfect of its kind, the grande finale of the genre so to speak is Fritz Lang’s Indian diptich The tiger Of Eschnapur and The Indian Tomb of 1959. Set in India but pure Burroughs with plenty of tigers, as there are no lions in India as everyone knows. Stunning color and the perfect pulp story of the twenties and thirties. Three or four hours of bliss.
So Tarzan/ERB is in a cage with his other half, his Anima. He’s been in tight spots before but this is it, the real thing, the place that’s a leap too far. Rider Haggard all over again. While the Big Guy and Rhonda are talking things over their captor, ‘God’, makes his appearance. A jolly fellow, a formerly handsome Englishman, now piebald, who might go by the name of H.G. Wells.
As I said Wells is one of my favorites and when I was younger and slightly more obtuse Wells struck me as he probably did ERB as a stunning writer. Later as I learned of Wells’ politics and other failings he lost much of his gitter but the glory pretty much remains although resented. Burroughs had much more reason to consider Wells a ‘formerly handsome Englishman’. Thus he takes a certain malicious pleasure in making his God character half black, half white, half ape and half human. There’s a lot more to analyze in the character of God but I’m working this side of the track right now.
The reason God is half and half is because as he aged he took germ cells from the apes to rejuvenate himself thus slowly adopting ape characteristis, regressing as it were in an evolutionary sense and making a fine joke on the Stokes Trial in Tennessee of a few years earlier. God is delighted to have captured two such fine White DNA specimens as he hopes their germ cells may restore him to his former splendor.
We’ll never know now because while God absents himself, in the best pulp/B movie fashion Tarzan feels a breeze stirring. This leads to what is hopefully an escape oute but merely tuns into an avenue leading to Tarzan’s Gotterdamerung. A fire starts rising up through the flue Tarzan found and ascended so that the whole City of God on the hill perishes in flames.
While Burroughs may have said back in the teens that he had never read Wells, that may be dismissed. Actually when one delves behind the obvious facts one finds a fairly intimate connection with their careers contacting on the psychological level, that is to say ‘telepathically’, several times. Between Wells and Burroughs almost continuously from, say, 1908 to the thirties.
If one assumes that Wells was aware of the Stace-Burroughs situation, which is only a possibility, then Wells formed part of Burroughs subconscious with his Tono Bungay. That influence probably surfaced when Burroughs purchased Tarzana and then became continuous through the twenties and thirties when Wells became Stalin’s literary hatchet man.
Wells eludes the Wold Newton because he never created a mythic character or series of novels although the psychological situations of the seven science fiction novels and Tono Bungay along with many of his short stories give him a significant place in the Wold Newton mythos. The WNU is of course a state of mind giving mythological form to history since 1795 when the meteor landed altering consciousness.
November 1, 2010
Themes And Variations
The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs
#14, Tarzan The Invincible
Part 9: Politics
The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.
–L.P. Hartley- The Go Between
I would like to take a moment to organize the content and direction of the Tarzan oeuvre within the context of Tarzan The Invincible and Tarzan Triumphant.
It is close onto a century now since Edgar Rice Burroughs burst onto the international literary scene. He was not literarily well regarded by the intelligentsia. In the language of the time he wrote adventure novels. They were thought of as sub-literary. In our times after literature has evolved from Burroughs’ time into its various genres that didn’t exist as such back then he would more properly be designated as a fantasy or sci-fi writer.
Even though very great minds wrote ‘adventure’ stories their efforts are usually classified as sub-literary, relegated to the teen section. There has certainly never been a more profound writer than H. Rider Haggard nor is his literary style inferior in any way to the pretensions of literary fiction. Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, Edgar Rice Burroughs all had a great deal to offer. If it is necessary to say so their work has remained popular while most literary heavyweights of the past are unknown and unread in non-specialist circles today.
Edgar Rice Burroughs is not usually accorded the dignity of being ranked with even the above adventure writers. It pains me to say it but I think the literary consensus is that Burroughs is a semi-literate lightweight trash writer with no other value than ‘entertainment’ or a diversion for men and women who haven’t quite grown up yet. I receive sniggers and raised eyebrows whenever I am forced to admit I write what I hope are scholarly essays on Edgar Rice Burroughs. I have to scramble to find any scrap that will give me a little dignity. But that’s not the way I see it myself. The way I see it is that there are two groups of people who do take Burroughs seriously. The small group of which I am a member that sees something of value lying like a huge diamond in the tall grass and a much larger group of Left-Liberals who quite correctly see Burroughs as a threat to everything they wish to believe.
Burroughs’ publishing career has not been well researched or examined. The research I have done leads me to believe that ERB was exploited while his career was sabotaged by McClurg’s from the start. Although MClurg’s seem to have had no intent to promote his work from the beginning they nevertheless tied him up with a contract that went on forever. Compare it with MGM’s contract twenty years later.
Ten years after ERB’s death with the firm of McClurg’s on the edge of bankruptcy ERB, Inc. had to buy out the contract. This is all so contradictory it boggles the mind. Rather than attempting to maximize sales and therefore profits McClurg’s took the opposite approach of minimizing sales while reducing profits both for themselves and ERB to the lowest possible level. If it hadn’t been for the movies Burroughs’ benefits from his efforts would have been minimal, a fraction of what they should have been.
From 1914 to 1919 politics do not seem to have been involved; there is some other reason for McClurg’s behavior. Then from 1919 to 1924 ERB’s relationship to the Liberal Coalition took form. His Under The Red Flag of 1919 let the Reds know where he stood politically. Also in 1919 he was felt out by the American Jewish Committee for his stance on Semitism. He failed this test by taking an insubordinate stance. So from 1919 to 1924 he seems to have been under attack from the Left. He remained defiant through his Marcia Of The Doorstep with its very reasonable criticism of Semitism but then he seems to have been ovewhelmed by economic pressures that were exacerbated by his own poor decisions.
While McClurg’s should have been supportive of their, or what should have been their walking gold mine, they strangely continued to get in his way.
Burroughs wanted his reissues to be sold at a dollar but G&D and McClurg’s adamantly insisted on 50 cents which gave ERB a very small return. Why McClurg’s should have resisted higher prices that would have doubled their own income must remain a mystery. A dollar doesn’t seem unreasonable to me but there seems to have been the intent to restrict Burroughs’ income as far as possible.
By the late twenties the Liberal Coalition was also actively interfering in Burroughs’ career. There seems to have been a blacklist against making Tarzan movies from 1922 to 1928. As Hollywood was controlled by the Coalition it was possible to restrict Burroughs’ income from movies to zero.
The blacklist was broken in 1927 when Joseph Kennedy’s FBO Studios made a Tarzan film. ERB also began searching for another publishing arrangement. Not finding anything satisfactory he took the last ditch recourse of self-publishing. He established the Burroughs imprint. As this act was taken just as the stock market crash took place the move was fraught with dangers.
Now freed from publishing restraints does it seem like a coincidence that the first title under the Burroughs imprint was Tarzan The Invincible? Or, with its success it was followed by Tarzan Triumphant? Perhaps taking vengeance for 1919′s snub of Under The Red Flag, Tarzan The Invincible is a full scale attack on the Communism in general and Uncle Joe Stalin in particular.
Perhaps also responding to 1924′s rejection of Marcia Of The Doorstep the succeeding novel, Tarzan Triumphant parodies the Jewish religion while making some not so subtle comments about big noses and receding chins. Either book would be difficult for the Liberal Coalition to misunderstand.
While Burroughs would publicly proclaim that he undertook self-publication because he was too greedy for high royalties, certainly tongue in cheek, privately he complained that McClurg’s refused to promote his books, turning them over immediately to reissue houses depriving him of his just royalties. I’m sure the industry understood the irony of his first reason while the second is true.
Tarzan The Invincible is both a defense and a counterattack. Burroughs himself said that defensive wars could never be won. One must take the offensive. With Invincible he was doing just that in what was in fact a literary and cultural war.
The power arrayed against him was terrifying. The Reds could prevent the publication of his books through regular channels. I believe they did. ERB publicly said he took up self-publication in the relentless pursuit of the dollar. What else could he say? One doesn’t go around saying people are out to get you. That’s giving your enemies ammunition.
Ask, is it a coincidence that the first novel under the Burroughs imprint is a direct attack on Liberal Communism? A work that almost certainly would not have been published by any mainstream publisher, including McClurg’s. There isn’t a Freudian in the world who believes in coincidence. I sure don’t. Burroughs launched his publishing effort in 1930 the year after the depression began in 1929. The guy was either crazy or knew something other publishers didn’t wish to acknowledge.
When he met his former publisher, Joe Bray, of McClurg’s afer the crash he sneeringly told Bray who was complaining about business that he was doing very well with the Burroughs imprint and he was. In the height of the depression Burroughs’ books turned a profit. That was a profit no publisher seemed to want. McClurg’s certainly never exploited this literary gold mine.
Was it political? Well, Burroughs’ first publishing venture certainly was. And remember that Tarzan The Invicincible must have caused a reaction. The Reds had to say among themselves omething like ‘Don’t worry we’ll get that bastard yet.’ It had to be, nor did his even more sneering Tarzan Triumphant smooth anything over. Think about this for a moment; let it sink in, this is open warfare. There must have been a retaliation. What was it? The Reds did not cease their campaign of vilification during his lifetime nor have they ceased to this very day nor will they cease until either the Reds or Tarzan is triumphant.
I have discussed Richard Slotkin’s Gunfighter Nation several times previously. Slotkin in his book tries to pin responsibility for the My Lai massacre in Viet Nam on Burroughs. He uses nearly seven hundred pages of fine print to try to prove that My Lai was the inevitable result of Burroughs’ writing. The guy’s got a job at a prestigious university too.
While one can discount the hysteria of Liberal academics heavily no one necessarily attacks someone they do not consider a threat. So what Bibliophiles have to ask themselves is whether there is a basis for the Liberal reaction or not?
I think my analyses of Tarzan books so far shows that Burroughs had a much more serious political intent than is commonly thought. Underneath the buck and wing, the old soft shoe of the entertainer is some very serious thought and reflection. Also his means of expression itself is the very antithesis of Liberalism.
Burroughs’ writing does reflect the sea change in world history noted by such academic analysts as Madison Grant and Lothrop Stoddard. Whether ERB ever read these thinkers or not there is no conflict between their conclusions and his own. ERB is of the same mindset so on that basis Slotkin is correct. None of the three writers is eiher wrong or evil it’s just that Liberals think any opinion but their own is inherently evil in intent and ought to be censored. I say censor the censors.
Liberalism is a religious reaction to the Scientific Consciousness. Their core constituent, Judaism’s sole purpose is to defeat Science and reimpose the religious yoke of absolute conformity to its religious ideal. As I’ve noted, American Liberalism which evolved from the quasi-Hebrew sect of Puritanism is in complete accord. Combined of fundamentalist Christians, who pursue an Old Testament program not much different from the Liberal agenda and the insurgent Moslem fundamentalists, the challenge to Science and all that Burroughs represented is formidable.
The determined effort to plow the concept of Evolution under is a supreme threat to the whole Scientific Consciousness. Of course, the Liberals talk peace, while as the Old Testament proclaims, peace, peace, everyone talks peace but there is no peace. There is no peace anywhere on earth and there never will be.
Burroughs realized that war was inevitable. He decried the disarmement movement and applauded preparedness. In Triumphant he makes the wry comment that the Chicago underworld gunner, Danny Patrick, and his fellow criminals believed in pareparedness, always having a gun with them.
Burroughs was brought into a world of conflict, nor so far has the world disappointed his expectations. As he says the only good defense is a terrific offense. Defensive wars cannot be won. I believe he has been proven right there too. Whether you’re looking at John Carter, Tarzan or any of his protagonists you will see that they never barricade themselves. They are always on the offensive, nor do they hesitate to kill as part of that offense. My god, Tarzan ripped a man’s head off in Ant Men. His Beyond The Farthest Star posits a world of never-ending war. Prefigures the Cold War in its way. Any concept of ‘peace’ is merely a temporary cessation of hostilities; war by other means. The Liberal, Slotkin, may lament such a reality but being a man of ‘peace’ making endless appeasements and concessions to belligerents can end only in disaster to oneself. There aren’t any Americas left to bail civilization out; that possiblility ended with WWII.
I think it fair to say that in today’s war situation versus the Moslem and Mexican invasions ERB would take the aggressive position of throwing them out. As the Shona state explicitly, and believe me the Mexicans and Moslems are no different from them, if you need to hear it from an African there are those who dominate and those who are dominated, which is another way of saying perpetual conflict. Either Americans will dominate Mexicans and Moslems or they will be subservient to them. Need anyone go further than to look at the condition of both Matabele and European in Shonaland? It is a given that Burroughs would rather dominate as Tarzan does at the end of Invincible. If you’ve got to fight you might as well win.
Let us never forget that Burroughs participated in the opening of the frontier and he saw its closing. He lived through the two most devastating wars in history. One must fight or die was the lesson he learned. Tarzan still lives.
And then we must deal with the persistent charge of racism brought against ERB. One finds it difficult to understand what Liberals mean by the term ‘racism.’ There is nothing more inherent in human nature than pride in one’s own kind. In that sense all peoples are racist. What then? Racism is the natural state of affairs. Certainly Liberal heroes like Robert Mugabe and the Shona are as racist as could possibly be, yet, he and they are Liberal heroes. There must be something else going on.
Liberals themselves are responsible for passing racial laws that would have staggered the imagination of Adolf Hitler. Someone who they say they despise. Whereas Hitler called his laws what they were, Liberals are more adept at disguising their intent, still they appropriately call their laws ‘hate’ laws which is exactly what they are. The unspoken assumption behind them is that ‘White’ males ‘hate’ everyone who is neither White nor male, excluding homosexuals, and that they therefore have to be socially isolated and denied.
The apparent belief is that only White males are capable of ‘hating’ while the rest of the world is a loving brother and sisterhood. Of course such a notion leaves the Moslem attack on the Twin Towers unexplainable as well as the Shona extermination of Black brothers like the Matabele.
Hey fellas, it’s the exception, even multiple exception that proves the rule, isn’t it?
I have no doubt that ERB would have been opposed to such ridiculous racial laws no matter what language was used to disguise them. He does seem to have been aware of the dangers of the evolutionary collision of the human species. ERB was an evolutionist. His novels explore evolutionary possiblities in enormous variety and detail. While much of his speculations and jokes seem ridiculous in the light of current knowledge, at the time of composition most if not all of the speculations would have appeared to be not that far fetched, even possible.
At the least Burroughs was on the side of Science at that time when the controversy really raged, while even today over fifty percent of Americans reject evolution in favor of religious explanations, that’s one hundred fifty years after Darwin, while the Moslem invasion of the world is rapidly spreading the slime of superstition over scientific knowledge. As I understand it, it has progressed so far that I could be put in jail in France, Germany or Austria for blaspheming the prophet and Allah by referring to their atavistic religion as ‘the slime of superstition.’
Within just a very few years since 9/11 an intolerant superstition like Moslemsism has overturned the scientific attitude of the Enlightenment. May Georges Chirac burn in hell forever and a day. If President Obama doesn’t back off, him too. Don’t any of these guys listen to what people are saying about them?
As I have noted, by the second decade of the twentieth century more sensitive minds perceived the sea change in the relationship of the various human species. Among these, in fiction, were Sax Rohmer with his Fu Manchu stories and Edgar Rice Burroughs. Prominent in non-fiction were Madison Grant with his Passing Of The Great Race and Lothrop Stoddard ‘s Rising Tide Of Color.
At the risk of repeating myself, I flatter myself that at least some Bibliophiles have been reading my stuff for the last few years, let me place a quote from Darwin here that clearly explains what happens when similar species compete for the same territory on the same economic basis. Darwin: On The Origin Of Species, Chap. III, Para. Struggle For Existence- Struggle for life most severe between individuals and varieties of the same species:
As species of the same genus have usually, but by no means invariably, some similarity in habits and constitution and always in structure, the struggle will generally be more severe between species of the same genus, when they come into competition with each other, than between species of distinct genera. We see this in the recent extension over parts of the United States of one species of swallow having caused the decrease of another species. The recent increase of the missal thrush in parts of Scotland has caused the decrease of the song-thrush. How frequently we hear of one species of rat taking the place of another species under the most different climates! In Russia the small Asiatic cockroach has everywhere driven before it itx great congenor. One species of Charlock will supplant another, and so in other cases. We can dimly see why the competition should be most severe between allied forms, which fill nearly the same place in the economy of nature; but probably in no one case could we precisely say why one species has been victorious over another in the great battle of life.
As we are certain that Burroughs read the Origin Of Species we can be sure that he read the above passage. If it struck him as forcibly as it strikes me then we share the same basic outlook on life and the passage shaped his way of looking at the intra-genus conflict between Homo Sapiens species.
As most agree that Homo Sapiens has an African history of 150K to 200K years, most assume, and this is only an assumption, that the First Born of Homo Sapiens were black because the indigenes of Africa today are black. This may or may not be true, we have no way of knowing, but let us assume it is. There are no people in Africa today who can absolutely trace their descent unbroken from the Last Hominid Predecessor or the first specimen of Homo Sapiens. No one knows what the individual looked like or what his mental constitution was compared to the various African races of today.
It therefore follows that over that course of a very long history peoples have been exterminated to make way for others innumerable times. One wave of rats, one wave of cockroaches after another have succeeded for a moment only to be replaced by another in due time. This is how evolution and nature work. Homo Sapiens is not outside either history or nature and it is foolish to act as though it were. One must understand the natural process and adjust one’s actions to it.
To use the Shona example. The Shona are not indigenous to the soil. At one time they must have exterminated and displaced a predecessor people in what they now consider ‘their’ territory. Beginning about 1830 the Ndebele Zulu as an incoming wave of new people began to exterminate and displace them. There is no difference between this Ndebele invasion of Shonaland and the Moslem and Mexican invasion of the United States. Nature is red in tooth and claw. What can one say?
Had the Matabele, to use the Ndebele’s other name, not been interrupted by another wave of incoming people, the Europeans, (color and race have no real bearing on this issue of Nature and evolution) the Zulus, (the Matabele were Zulus) would have completed the process and today the Shona would be at best a memory. But the succeeding wave of Europeans did come crowding after the Matabele. So far Darwin’s thesis is correct. One species of rat drives out another. Had the Europeans behaved normally they would have exterminated their predecessors and driven them before them.
But then evolution throws in a clinker. The Europeans were evolutionarily more advanced than the Blacks. While the fact that the evolution of the human species is continuing is clear from the visual physical evidence, scientific research has proven it beyond any quibble. So, even though those at the turn of the century lacked the evidence to prove their case they were right. The most obvious evolution is taking place in the brain and it is not taking place in all human species. Only one species is evolving while the others are now sterile. Hard thing to accept but it’s true. Thus Europeans had developed consciences that prevented them from doing what Nature commanded them to do. Instead they set themselves up as a parasite class believing they could control the Blacks without special intermixture forever.
As Burroughs would have noted this put them on the defensive and no defense outlasts a good offense as the Shona have proven. Thus the Shona having been given a breathing space reorganized, regained the initiative and won the dominant position. They are now doing the natural thing exterminating or driving out both the Ndebele Zulu and the Europeans. If you won’t fight or can’t, you lose everything.
So, you have the Darwinian struggle for existence presented to you in plain terms in a human context that cannot be misunderstood. No rats or cockroaches as necessary examples. One must be intolerant of other species. One must be a ‘bigot’ as the Shona are or go under.
Now, not having the will and perhaps no longer having the power to do as Nature commands Europeans attempted to retreat, to withdraw within their own territories. As anyone knows they all come out at the first sign of weakness. One would have to be stupid or utopian not to realize that. As a sonsequence Europe and America are being invaded by the other human species in the Darwinian sense. I mean, folks, they call evolution science. Science means knowing. Anyone who does not act on certain knowledge is foolish or, perhaps, too religious.
However in the first two decades of the twentieth century the Liberal ideology was formed by the weakest and lamest members of Western civilization. Not understanding actual differences between the human species, even denying them on religious grounds, they used conscience as a weapon to first emasculate themselves, and I mean this in the literal sense, and then they shamed those who knew better into silence.
Among those silenced were Grant, Stoddard and Burroughs. Although all these men were initially very influential telling Americans the nature of evolution and its consequences their reputations were dismantled. By the beginning of WWII Grant and Stoddard were regarded as mere ‘racist’ cranks.
It is time to debunk the debunkers. The wheel has turned. Bunk is bunk and shouldn’t be tolerated by anyone.
Burroughs who hadn’t left himself quite so open was provoked into acts of defiance so that sanctions could be applied against him as much as had been done to Henry Ford. Ford is another whose reputation should be rehabilitated much as Khruschev rehabilitated the reputations of various Communists after the death of Stalin. The tool preferred by the Liberal Coalition to discredit someone was the charge of ‘anti-Semitism’, a religious charge be it noted.
The most potent weapon in the Liberal religious armament is the term ‘anti-Semite.’ It is used liberally usually combined with Fascist to defame and control an opponent. Oddly enough they couldn ‘t make it stick on Burroughs. Even Slotkin in Gunfighter Nation only hints that ERB might have anti-Semitic tendencies.
I know it is unpleasant to discuss the Semitic issue but I think the time has come to discuss the issue head on especially as Burroughs was and is involved to a much more serious degree than might be apparent at first blush. The problem of Asia, from whence the Semites come, and Europe has roots in prehistory. Indeed it is a tale of two species. This is one of those eternal conflicts that will not be settled until one side annihilates the other much as the Shona are doing in Zimbabwe to their competitors.
In ancient days both the European Greeks and the Mediterranean Egyptians were in a constant conflict with what the Egyptians referred to as ‘vile Asiatics’, the Greeks as ‘barbarians.’ The Asiatics were vile not on the basis of race but because of the differing view of life of the two species. As regards the Egyptians and the Semites one or the other had to be exterminated. If you know anything of Egyptian history you will know that few true Egyptians still survive. The Semites have exterminated the true Egyptians.
Thus the related species of HSII, the Egyptians and HSIII, the Europeans found the Semitic species unassimilable. We are back to Darwin’s competing species of rats and cockroaches. In the religious terms in which the problem is usually stated one says the animosity is racial or in other words, moral; in scientific terms one says that it is genetic or special. In other words, the problem is much deeper than mere surface appearances. It extends to the genetic development of the brain. The Semite cannot understand as any other human species understands and vice versa.
Thus the current problem in the Sudan between Negroes and Semites which is genetic or biological can only be resolved by the extermination or expulsion of the other. The whole course of this new African conflict can be projected historically and scientifically. It may be delayed but it cannot be stopped. Compare it with the Shona in Zimbabwe. There is no question as to what course the conflict will take.
Why Liberals choose to make an issue of Darfur while they ignore the South Sudan and Zimbabwe and South Africa where genocide is also going on is known only to themselves. It is absolutely necessary to analyze the matter in scientific rather than emotional or religious terms. These are not matters of race but species. The mental capabilities of the Negro, the Semite and the European are different and irreconcilable. An unpleasant fact, perhaps, but true.
The conflict between Europe and Asia or the Semites and Indo-Europeans began according to legend with the Semitic abduction of the European woman Io from Argos. The history of the Mediterranean in ancient times was the perpetual warfare between Europeans and Asiatics or Semites. At one time the Semites seemed to be besting Europeans and then turn about. For the long Hellenic and Roman period the Europeans seemed to have won. But, and this is a big but, they failed to exterminate or drive the Semites out. A very bad mistake.
Two things happened. The Jewish Semites began a peaceful infiltration into Europe which came to a head in the long Jewish Wars that lasted from 66 AD to 135 AD. The Jewish Semites were militarily defeated in their homeland but came to spiritually dominate Europeans through the Judaeo-Catholic religion.
None of this struggle went unobserved by the Semitic peoples of the Arabian penenisula. In the seventh century the Arab or Ishamelite, to use the Jewish term, branch of the Semitic peoples led by Moslem ideology which had its base in Jewish ideology overran North Africa, large parts of the Eastern Mediterranean into the steppes of Asia and over the Hindu Kush into India. More or less following the path of Alexander. The Indo-European Persians, now known as Iranians, were Islamized or Semitized which they remain today. They were stultified hence their ridiculous position today.
The southerly Egyptians, the native Copts, are on the verge of extinction or what the modern world fondly describes as genocide. There are few surviving true Egyptians today.
Thus the Hellenic-Roman hegemony was reversed.
The Semitic Arab incursion into Europe which was a continuation of the multi-thousand year conflict between Europeans and Semites was defeated by Charles the Hammer at Tours in the heart of Europe. Over the next nearly thousand years the Moslems were expelled from Western Europe but they advanced in Eastern Europe.
From the expulsion of the Moors from Spain in 1492 the southern Med if not the Med itself was controlled by the Barbary pirates. During that period Europeans supinely submitted to a slave trade that greatly resembled that of sub-Saharan Africa. Even as Negroes were being transported to the Americas countless Europeans were captured on European soil, transported to Africa and enslaved. So, the Africans have no cause to complain of Europeans. Some people whine some people don’t.
No one European State was strong enough or determined enough to clear the seas of the Moslems while they were unable to concert a united attack. The piracy and enslavement continued until France annexed Algeria in 1830. Rightfully so.
In Darwinian terms it is quite clear that the struggle was one of the replacement of one population by another. Thus when France conquered Algeria it behove them to either exterminate or drive out the existing population replacing it with Europeans. They ought to have relentlessly warred on every North African people until North Africa was once again European.
The attempt to coexist was a defensive war that could only end in defeat. The defeat was adjudicated by General De Gaulle in the nineteen sixties. The French stupidly and erroneously thought the war was over, but in reality the momentum shifted once again to the Semites.
As noted by Lothrop Stoddard the Wahabi Moslems went onto the offensive. No longer able to comptete militarily with Europeans they resorted to guerilla warfare, something the West now chooses to call terrorism, combined with an infiltration of Europe using their reproductive capabilities as a weapon. The situation now is a replica of the 3000 BC infiltration of Sumer. Hence the balance of power of the age old war between the Semites of Asia and Europeans has once again shifted toward the Asiatics.
As the Libyan, Moamar Qadaffi gloated in May 2006 there are fifty million Moslems in Europe. Europeans have the option of fighting or submitting. He knows whereof he speaks. As the war will now be conducted on European soil with the certain loss of the entire cultural superstructure of the last two thousand years there seems little chance of any European resistance. Notre Dame will be renamed and become a mosque.
If there is resistance then Burroughs’ prophecy of a flattened Europe turned Black over the centuries is a distinct, nay, certain probability. In addition to their submission to the Wahabi Arabs, Europeans seem incapable of resisting the Black Moselm invasion from sub-Saharan Africa. Thus once Blacks and Moslems have the strength they will undoubtedly follow the ancient plan of killing the men and keeping the women. Need I point to Haiti after the slave rebellion as an example? Within three or four generations both Arabs and Europeans will be absorbed into Black Africa.
Any discussion of the problem is now impossible in Europe as the blackest censorship has been imposed on dissent. Astonishing that the enlightenment could disappear just like that, isn’t it? Anyone who dissents from the Semitic program is liable to imporisonment, heavy fines or both. The term Semite includes both the Jewish and Arab branches.
Once the Moslem are powerful enough to direct the European military it will mean the end of Israel as that State will be completely encircled by Moslem powers with irresistable might and control of all land, sea, air and satellite communications.
With European technological war materiel at their disposal the Moslems will be able to isolate the United States by depriving it of oil or with the huge and growing population in the US sabotage any war effort if threatened. Let’s have a round of applause for the brilliant leadership of Chirac, Blair, Bush and Obama not to mention the morons of the US Senate.
Burroughs foresaw the results of the West’s waffling before the Communists, the Moslems and perhaps the Africans but he was prevented from examining the problems too openly for fear of bringing the Liberal Coalition with its charges of anti-Semitism down on his head. Both he and Henry Ford were having a tough fight for survival. W.R. Hearst.
Burroughs had already called attention to himself by questioning a survey sent him by the American Jewish Committee in 1919. It seems apparent the survey drew his attention to Jewish matters which he had ignored up till that time. This resulted in the character of Bluber in Tarzan And The Golden Lion as well as several characters in 1924′s Marcia Of The Doorstep. As the AJC would have considered these characterizations ‘anti-Semitic’ the publication of the book was prohibited. Censored as it were.
Probably as a result of questioning the AJC survey he was put under surveillance. While a number of movies had been made from his books, in 1921 movie making from his novels ceased reducing his income potential drastically at a very critical time in his finances. For whatever reason there was a hiatus in the production of Tarzan films that lasted until 1928. It is only fair to assume that Tarzan had not lost his box office appeal which is the usual Hollywood cover for blacklisting. One also imagines that Burroughs would have leapt at any movie money. Indeed, in 1922 the Stern Bros. and Louis Jacobs, a trio of Jewish movie makers, tied up the rights to Jungle Tales Of Tarzan and Jewels of Opar for $40,000. This was a very decent sum to spend yet the movie makers made no effort make the movies, they were content to tie up the titles. Whether Burroughs was being disciplined for being ‘anti-Semitic’ or not can’t be determined for certain at this time.
Hollywood was notorious for being a Jewish industry. W.R. Hearst was one of the few goys making movies. D.W. Griffith was being increasingly marginalized. In the interim then, the noted ‘anti-Semite’ Joseph P. Kennedy, the father of the future president John F. Kennedy, formed or bought FBO Studios. The story of this multi-cultural struggle for dominance has never been adequately researched for obvious reasons, but what with the Ford conflict with the Semitic Jewish culture flaring in the foreground it is not unlikely that there was a great deal of maneuvering in the background. It will be noted that when RKO was formed which incorporated FBO Studios the R for Radio came from RCA and KO for Keith Orpheum were retained while FBO was deleted. The R and KO were Jewish concerns while FBO had been a great goyish disrupter.
Nevertheless, as Burroughs was blacklisted by Hollywood which the Hollywood historian Neal Gabler describes as a Jewish empire, it is noteworthy that an ‘anti-Semite’ broke the blacklist making Tarzan movies again. It would have been the equivalent of Dalton Trumbo being allowed to script movies under his own name again in the 1960s.
The blacklist broken, the Stern Bros. and Jacobs then decided in 1928 to exercise their rights to the two Tarzan novels to release Tarzan The Tiger and Tarzan The Mighty. Calling Tarzan a tiger may have been a slam at Burroughs who erroneously introduced tigers into Africa in the magazine version of Tarzan Of The Apes.
The silent era of movies over, MGM produced the first talkie of Tarzan in 1932. Watch the dates.
Now, in both Tarzan The Invincible and Tarzan Triumphant Burroughs takes undisguised hits at Communism, pointing fingers and naming names; in Triumphant he continues his open attack on Communism and covertly ridicules the Jews in his portrayal of Midians with their enormous noses and receding chins. Both attributes are well known caricatures of Jews. Was this a gratuitous insult or was he responding to insults to himself?
If he had been given courage by the presence of Joseph Kennedy and FBO Studios then he might have relaxed his vigilance a little. However his open and blatant attack would not have been unresented by Judaeo-Communists. While Hollywood had always been run by Jews, by 1930 Communists had also made much more serious inroads than is usually admitted. In other words, ERB’s well being in this multi-cultural war zone depended on his sworn enemies. As both a goy and counter-revolutionary ERB was an odd man out. It could not possibly be any other way.
There can be no question that he would have to be gotten for what could only be seen as egregious insults to both Communists and Jews. In fact, the two were nearly one. The question then was how best to get Burroughs short of outright assassination. The blacklist had already been broken by Kennedy but possible a movie could be made to make ERB’s great creation ridiculous. Destroy him in that way, you see.
Thanks to technological marvels like DVDs it is now possible to study old movies at will. I have a sets of most of the films. I have viewed Tarzan Of The Apes a number of times.
Bearing in mind that Burroughs was in a struggle with both Communists and Semites as exemplified in 1930′s Tarzan The Invincible and 1931′s Tarzan Triumphant while being surreptitiously listed as an anti-Semite by the American Jewish Committee, I think it worthwhile to speculate on the intent of Louis B. Mayer and Irving Thalberg’s productions.
Having watched the movie a number of times while bearing books Invincible and Triumphant in mind I have come to the conclusion that the movie’s ulterior motive was an attempt to ridicule the Big Bwana into oblivion. We all know that ridicule is a most effective weapon, especially when it can’t be answered. It was undoubtedly thought Tarzan could be destroyed in this manner.
MGM did not negotiate to obtain rights to any particular story but, and this is important, they bought the right to use the characters as they thought fit. Thus as the movie poster picture in Bibliophile David Fury’s book Kings Of The Jungle on p.63 published by McFarland, it is stated that the movie is ‘based on the characters created by Edgar Rice Burroughs.’ In other words, this is not the Tarzan of Invincible and Triumphant. Oh no, no. This is Tarzan The Defeated, Tarzan The Buffoon.
The vision is no longer Tarzan Of The Apes but Tarzan, The Ape Man. A subtle but important shift in emphasis. Tarzan is no longer a man raised among apes he is a man who is an ape. The fabulous brain of Tarzan which allowed him to master reading and writing with the aid of only a picture book, that allowed him to learn new languages instantly has now been replaced by an inarticulate moron who does five minutes of ’me Tarzan, you Jane.’
This was free love in the jungle between a hunk and a babe. Apparently it slipped by unnoticed at the time until it was picked up thirty years later by an astute librarian. Tarzan and Jane are no longer married in the movies, Jane just began cohabiting with Tarzan because he was such a handsome hunk. Fortunately she, he, or both were infertile. Thus Tarzan was subtly defamed, his universality removed. His audience constricted by that much.
Having slipped this bit past the censors, as incredible as it may seem, in the next movie, Tarzan And His Mate, not wife but mate, you know, a live in, MGM included the famous nude swimming scene that did not get past the censors.
Both these items would have had the effect of defaming Tarzan and constricting his audience. A certain type of viewer would be offended by these items and refuse to see the movies while another type would gratified by such items and drawn to the movies but lower the quality of the audience moving Tarzan toward porn. Thus by degrees Tarzan movies would gain the reputation as porn flicks. Porn is porn even if it is Tarzan so you aren’t going to let your kids eat popcorn in front of dirty movies nor are legitimate first run theatres going to show them. At least, not then.
Thus MGM was well on their way to making Tarzan porn before the censors forced a change in plan. There was nothing Burroughs could have done about this as he, or rather his office manager signed away all his rights to his character.
The MGM poster then portrays Tarzan as a criminal freak:
Mothered by an ape- He knew only the law of the jungle- to seize what he wanted.
The ‘to seize’ is in attention grabbing italics.
Mothered by an ape is ambiguous and meant to be repulsive. It could mean that Tarzan was fathered by a human on an ape or it could be so obscure as to be meaningless. If you were familiar with the books you could probably guess what was intended but if you weren’t who knows what it could mean to you. Remember the first volume, Tarzan Of The Apes, was no longer in print even in 1930 so the original story couldn’t even be bought. The later volumes don’t recapitulate his birth and raising so there may have been actually few who knew the whole story. We are led to believe that the MGM Tarzan is completely lacking in morality. If he wants something he just steals it. Not the Tarzan I would want to emulate.
The director was W.S. Van Dyke who had just had a major success with his Trader Horn, another African picture. That one had been phenomenally successful and Tarzan is billed as “Another Miracle Picture directed by W.S. Van Dyke, Creator Of “Trader Horn.” Van Dyke was certainly not the creator of Trader Horn as the movie was adapted from the book by Trader horn, there was such a man, thus in a way Tarzan, The Ape Man is subordinated to W.S. Van Dyke and Trader Horn.
What is called ‘the adaptation’ is done by someone called Cyril Hume. As the dialogue was written by Ivor Novello I presume that both the storyline and the alterations to Tarzan’s character can possibly be attributed to Hume.
There is little on Hume on the internet but a New York Times review that was cribbed from All Movie Guide. It says ‘…During the 1920s, Hume proved a worthy rival of Fitzgerald with such lost generation novels as Wife Of The Centaur and Cruel Fellowship.’ An interesting couple of titles in relation to this Tarzan movie. The review then goes on to say ‘…During the 1930s , he was the principal writer of MGM’s “Tarzan ” films, bringing prestige to these escapist exercises by treating them with dignity and respect…’ That’s one man’s opinion anyway.
As we all know the attributed movie writer frequently has very little to do with the finished script so we will assume that Hume’s script went through many revisions by many minds with perhaps different agendas than his. One wonders why Ivor Novello, who was a well known playwright of the time was broght in to do dialogue. Apart from the Tarzan yell, with which Novello is given no connection, that seems to be the major portion of the dialogue along with the famous ‘Tarzan-Jane’ sequence, there seems to be little dialog that an amateur couldn’t have written.
The net result is a movie that seriously demeans Tarzan as conceived and portrayed over fifteen novels. In order for their ridicule to be successful MGM did have to produce a movie that someone would go see. They were apparently successful beyond their wildest hopes or fears as the movie was described as a ‘surprise’ hit and an enormous grosser. Now MGM was stuck with the character.
If it was a surprise hit then one can discount the publicity that the movie cost a million dollars to produce. There are no well-known stars in the movie, while much of it is footage left over from Trader Horn which had already been amortized with the rest being shot on lot. If the movie cost MGM a quarter million I would still be astonished.
In their attempt to ridicule Tarzan they were too clever by half. The character of Tarzan may not have that of the books but audiences still found it satisfying, especially the yell.
Those of us who have read the books have always been uneasy with those MGM movies although Johnny Weismuller was perfectly cast in the role of the Ape Man.
So, while the NYT reviewer may believe Cyril Hume brought ‘prestige to these escapist exercises by treating them with dignity and respect’ there are dissenting opinions other than mine.
Another interpretation was that of the first movie Tarzan, Elmo Lincoln, who commented to ERB “the house seemed to think it was a comedy. Why do they portray Tarzan without dignity?…with the right treatment and portrayal, Tarzan could a romantic, thrilling character, and still have the sympathy of his audience…I don’t like to see him treated as a clown…”
Elmo Lincoln and I both see the MGM version in the same light, while I have to question the interpretation of the NYTimes writer. I think Lincoln was right, the movie was a comedic effort meant to defame the persona of ERB’s great creation and thus destroy Edgar Rice Burroughs. After all ERB, Inc.’s publishing arm was dependent on sales of Tarzan’s.
By 1932 the troublesome ERB had learned which side his bread was buttered on so he publicly endorsed the MGM movies, after all this was big money, bigger than any other souces of income combined. It may be said then that just as Henry Ford recanted and apologized for offending the Jewish Cultural entity in the ongoing culture wars so Burroughs bent the knee to Liberal suzerainty.
As ERBzine reports, privately Burroughs had other thoughts:
Daughter Joan Burroughs revealed: “Dad found it hard to reconcile himself to the movie versions of the Tarzan stories and never did understand the movie Tarzan. He wanted Tarzan to speak like an educated Englishman instead of grunting. One time we saw a movie together and after it was over, although the audience seemed enthusiastic, my father remained in his seat and kept shaking his head sadly.”
So Burroughs and Lincoln both resented the screen adaptation based on the Tarzan ERB had created.
There was nothing Burroughs could do about it. His rights had been signed away by his agent Ralph Rothmund. Rothmund must have been aware of the tension between Burroughs, Communists and Jews, yet he essentially gave the courthouse away. He placed Burroughs in the hands of his enemies. He gave Tarzan to MGM stripping Burroughs of his only weapon and asset. Why? Did he contact MGM or did MGM contact him? Why did he negotiate behind Burroughs’ back presenting him with a fait accompli? Why not tell his employer, ‘I’ve got this deal worked out with MGM. Do you want to take it?’
Presented instead with a check, Our Man seduced by vain desires went out and bought five Packard automobiles. Ah, ERB…
Did he repent of this deal? I believe so. Trapped by the contract his only way of retaliation was a futile one through his novels.
Can it be a coincidence that Tarzan And The Lion Man written over February to May of 1933, published by ERB, Inc. in book form on September 1, 1934 (Septimus Favonius BB#55 p. 34) ridiculed MGM, Irving Thalberg and Trader Horn. The second MGM movie Tarzan And His Mate was released on April 16, 1934. Bear these two dates in mind, the movie was released five months before the book leaving time for a revision of the book text.
Certainly severely wounded by the MGM adaptation of Tarzan Burroughs had been beaten. He had lost the culture war between himself, the Communists and the Jews. Having lost control of his character in the vital field of movies his only recourse was to lampoon MGM in a book which he did in Tarzan And The Lion Man. Strangely his illustrator St. John chose this book to experiment with an unrepresentative cover that was believed to have killed sales. Thus this magnficent achievement was undersold.
Lion Man recounts W.S. Van Dyke’s movie making in Africa, telling it in a ridiculing manner. MGM’s version of Tarzan is portrayed by a character named Stanley Obroski, perhaps a takeoff on Johnny Weismuller, who is a pale imitation of the real Tarzan. Burroughs makes a careful comparison showing what a joke the MGM Tarzan was. In a fit of pique he kills the fake Lion Man off.
One of the more interesting characters is Balza- The Golden Girl. After escaping from the Valley of Diamonds she joins the movie company where she cavorts about in the nude. This scene has baffled me but if one remembers that in Tarzan And His Mate Maureen O’ Sullivan is stripped by Tarzan followed by the nude swimming scene, the novel makes sense. ERB had seen the movie in April of 1934 possibly an earlier studio screening and incorporated the changes in his text for the 9/1/34 release date.
So his retort against MGM while ineffective made for what must rank as one of his very best efforts.
Just as an aside note that while this struggle was going on in Hollywood Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in January of 1933; Franklin Delano Roosevelt became President of the United States in March of ’33.
One of FDR’s first deeds was to recogtnize the USSR regime of Joseph Stalin. In late 1933 a chubby little ex-draper’s assistant acted as a go-between for Stalin and Roosevelt. Having first visited Stalin, H.G. Wells carried his messages to Roosevelt. Thus under the very eyes of the world some very important communications were passed back and forth. Nineteen thirty-three was also the year the former draper’s assistant wrote his Shape Of Things To Come.
These things can’t be stated with absolute certainty but the character of God– the formerly handsome Englishman in Lion Man, is certainly based on the pompous little H.G. Wells.
Thus while I at first objected to Slotkin’s accusations against ERB, barring the My Lai stuff, I think I am beginning to see ERB’s relation to the cultural wars between Communists, Jews, Liberals and Conservatives. there is more going on here than meets the eye.
But let us look at some of the religous aspects of this interesting situation. The religious war between Semitism and the Astrological Religion as represented by Tarzan Of The Apes.
Pt. II: H.G. Wells, Sigmund Freud, Edgar Rice Burroughs And The Development Of Contemporary Sexual Attitudes
August 22, 2010
H.G. Wells, Sigmund Freud, Edgar Rice Burroughs
And The Development Of Contemporary Sexual Attitudes
To put our three protagonists into perspective: Sigmund Freud The eldest of the three was born in 1856, Wells in 1866 and Burroughs, the youngest in 1875. All three were heavily influenced by Charles Darwin and the various theories of Evolution. While today Darwin is touted as the sole source of evolution he was in fact one of many voices as the theory of evolution developed. Thus all three spent their formative years in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Freud was 44 as the century turned in 1900, Wells 34 and Burroughs 25 each neatly spaced 10 years from his predecessor.
Wells was the first to make the leap into prominence followed by Freud and then Burroughs. All three men were desperate to find fame and fortune. Freud even advtertised he’d sell his soul to do it.
Wells came from close to the bottom of the social ladder. His parents eked out a living as shopkeepers without commercial abilities on the edge of London. Wells’ father was an able cricket player who gained his self-esteem from that sport. The parents split up. His mother went into domestic service. She placed young Wells as a Draper’s assistant- a clerk in a dry goods shop. As one might well believe Wells rebelled at this dead end destiny in life. Possessing a good brain Wells began a series of educational maneuvers that led to his being a student of T.H. Huxley, an apostle of Evolution. A science career seemed to be opening for Wells but he was led away by his sexual needs. He married a cousin with whom he was a boarder in her mother’s house only to discover her Victorian notions of male-female sexual relations differed widely from his. He divorced her taking up with a fellow student. She was an able financial manager so he put her in charge and began chasing skirts. It didn’t seem to bother his wife Catharine who he renamed Jane. After a series of hairy but educational employments Wells began to find success in journalism and writing. With his story The Time Machine he broke into the bigtime giving Jane some real work to do. Quickly following The Time Machine up with his succession of sci-fi novels by 1900 he was assured of a lifetime income.
It was well because his work after 1906 while prolific was unlucrative except for 1922′s Outline Of History. There was a winner. The Outline was his second great break setting him up for the rest of his life along with the science fiction. Ah, those Seven Science Fiction Novels. And, of course, his close to amazing collection of short stories. There was another gold mine. Jane raked in the cash and Bertie, for that was how he wished to be called, spent it.
He associated himself with the socialist Fabian Society of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century with their ‘advanced’ sexual notions. Why the old Hetaerist notion of promiscuity is considered ‘advanced’ is beyond me. At the same time Bertie claimed to be a Feminist. The women’s Matriarchal movement was very active from mid-century on. His Feminism, however, was concerned only with eliminating chastity thereby allowing any man access to any woman at any time, anywhere. Purely Hetaeric, although Wells wouldn’t have understood his ancient roots in that manner.
It was when Wells turned to his sex novels that he put his reputation in jeopardy. After his intial spate of sci-fi his reputation slid, the only bright spot being The Outline Of History. While his later novels, tend toward the tedious and require a certain determination to read through they are almost always redeemed by the social context. I like Wells and don’t mind the stuff too much but I can’t recommend it very strongly. It’s a matter of taste, either you like Wells or you don’t.
Wells major themes are outlined in the last of the Seven Sci-Fi Novels- In The Days Of The Comet- when he shades into the sex novel. In my estimation this is a very fine book as utopian novels go. After Tono-Bungay and When the Sleeper Wakes it may be my favorite. The turn of the century was a hey day of the utopian novel with the dystopian novel being introduced. If you like the genre many fine ones were written: News From Nowhere by William Morris. I came to Morris late in life but if you like the mystical utopian or quasi-utopian novel Morris has a lot to recommend himself including several utopian forays. I’m sure he influenced both Wells and Burroughs; Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward is another fine example of the period. They’re all bushwa but fun to read. Utopian novels are usually a projection of the author’s own needs and desires into which all humanity is to conform. Usually by some miracle all humanity becomes reconciled to living in universal harmony with no unseemly disturbances of the temper. Museums and lecture halls flourish while dance halls and crime atrophy. Culture is much more elevated. To the most casual observor such an utopia is impossible without an alteration of the human brain. Only one utopianist I have read has addressed that problem and that one is H.G., our Bertie.
In The Days Of The Comet was published in 1906 at the time that Halley’s Comet was due to make its scheduled seventy-five year fly-by in 1910. It was projected to pass very close to the earth which it did unlike its 1985 appearance when you had to know where to look for it. Indeed, the comet came with trails of glory so bright you could read newsprint by it at night.
Thus Wells uses the comet as his agent to change the physical structure of the human brain. Wells fails to mention any change to the brains of the lesser animals and insects. Perhaps the lion really did lie down with the lamb. Before the comet, or the Big Change as the passing was referred to, people’s brains were as ours are now; after the Change they all resembled that of H.G. I am in sympathy with Wells; I fancy that one morning I will sally forth, flick my finger tips a couple times, say abracadabra and the people of the world will be tranformed into clones of myself. What’s holding me back is that I don’t know which will be the Big Morning and I don’t wish to be seen as an eccentric or worse who failed to take his medicine by repeatedly trying and failing. You know, out there flicking my finger tips into the empty air.
But, Wells had it worked out. The comet came trailing this tail of green gas. As the comet passed the gas enveloped the earth much like a magnetar, I suppose, knocking people out for several hours while the gas did its work. When England came to the world was changed and everyone thought like Wells. Sort of the same thing that was thought would happen when Obama was elected. The Magic Negro would save us all.
Actually the Comet reflected a change in Wells own circumstances. In 1898 when Wells published The War Of The Worlds he was balanced between hope and despair. He was close to financial independence but not quite there. Thus in WOW the tone is between hope and despair. The world is invaded by Martians who destroy everything in their path, themselves being destroyed by a virus taken in through their beastly habit of drinking human blood. One neglected detail is that the projectiles they arrived in trailed some green clouds. The last projectile had a larger one so that perhaps Wells was going to develop the notion but then couldn’t work it in. He did have the Martians project a black gas that killed people though.
By 1906 his success was assured, he was shooting his pistol off around London having several sexual affairs so his outlook was brighter and, hence, that of the planet, so the novel describes the transition from the evil old world to the brave new one In other words, Wells had passed from poverty to affluence.
Sex is the issue here.
Before the Comet Willie, the hero, was courting his childhood sweetheart Nettie from whom he expected to be her sole sexual companion. In the weird old world sex was exclusive. They had committed themselves to each other as children which remained a claim in Willie’s mind.
However Willie is a poor boy with no prospects. Nettie is courted by the rich guy’s son, Verrall with whom she runs off. Willie treks 16 miles to see her only to find she has abandoned her parents’ home in company with Verrall. Well, Willie’s not going to endure such treatment from Nettie or take that from Verrall so he steals some money, buys a revolver and a train ticket to track them down and shoot them dead. You see, in the days before The Big Change that was the way things were done.
In the meantime the Comet is getting closer, C-hour is near, and war breaks out between England and Germany, this is eight years before 1914 so Bertie exhibits his prescience. The details are well handled so we have the increasing color of the green cloud and the flash and boom of the big navel guns as the climax takes place by the seashore. This was really nicely handled.
Willie tracks the couple down to a Bohemian enclave on the East Anglian coast. Nettie and Verrall had gotten married so it seems rather odd that they searched out a Bohemian enclave. So, as the battle rages and the green cloud descends on the earth Willie is chasing the couple down the beach firing his pistol wildly. This is the moment of the Big Change. Everybody gets gassed for a few hours then arise, born again, in a new heaven and a new earth. Utopia!
The same device is used a few decades later in the great movie The Village Of The Damned. A good device. It won’t go stale.
In the new world, new rules and reasonings apply. Nettie no longer has to choose between Willie and Verrall. She can have both…and more.
As Willie comes to he hears groaning. The groaning is coming from a prominent politician who was out bicycling at two in the morning when the green fog descended and fell off his bike as he conked breaking his ankle. Thus Willie makes a connection changing the direction of his life allowing him to become prominent in the establishment of this brave new world. Thus he later meets Nettie and Verrall on equal terms.
Nettie informs Verrall that she wants a menage a trois with Willie to which, in this best of all impossible worlds, Verrall compliantly agrees. Later Willie marries making the arrangment a menage a quatre. Neato! Was this all? No…
In the frame for the story it turns out that the story teller is Willie. In the Frame Wells comes upon this white haired old dude, Willie, writing this memoir. He has pages clipped in fascicles of fifty that Willie allows the editor, H.G., to read.
Finishing the last fascicle the author asks if Nettie had sexual relations with others. The white haired dude replies somethng like this: ‘Oh, heavens, yes. Hundreds. You don’t think a beautiful girl like Nettie wouldn’t attract numerous suitors do you?’
So there you have it. In the brave new world the woman of Wells’ dreams is a mere sex object who spends her life being pawed by, shall we say, all comers. A Hetaerist’s dream. This is Wells’ sexual program. At this point he began to lose readers. Too avant garde; you don’t want to get too far out in front of the pack. In addition to the sexual proselytizing of his novels he carried his didacticism to extremes advancing educational theories for instance. For over a hundred years we’ve been told our educational system is faulty. New systems have succeeded new systems. After over a century of tinkering are people better schooled? No. They’re worse. There’s only one way to learn and that’s the drudgery of study. Not every mind is prepared to do that, somebody’s going to be left behind. Wells’ notions as everyone else’s is what they think they would have liked. No study. Lots of play.
At any rate carrying all these utopian notions Wells passed through the horrific war years to have all his expectations disappointed. Not surprisingly his mind broke and he went into a deep depression. First he tried the God trip and when that failed he embraced the Communist Revolution in Russia. He essentially became an agent of Moscow. As a very prominent writer he was a desirable acquistion for the Revolution. As a major theorist and propagandist he had an entree first to Lenin and then after 1924 when Lenin died, Stalin.
In 1921 he interviewed Lenin and received his instructions. the Soviets had a system of State prostitution. These women were assigned as agents to service writers while spying on them for Moscow. In 1921 he met Moura Budberg for whom he fell. At that time she had been assigned to manage a consular agent, Bruce Lockhart, who along with the agency was in process of being expelled. Wells became intensely jealous of Lockhart because of this connection badmouthing him from then on. In any case Moura Budberg was assigned to Maxim Gorky then living in exile in Italy with whom she stayed until Gorky was enticed back to the USSR at which time she was reassigned to shepherd Wells.
Now Wells became a Soviet literary hatchet man. It was his job to interfere and discredit writers who refused to propagate the Party line. Among these was Edgar Rice Burroughs who had proclaimed his anti-Communism with a tract or study titled Under The Red Flag of 1919. Publishers refused the piece. Wells anti-Burroughs campaign was so discreet that my discovery of it three or four years ago was the first mention of it. I repeat the story here for those who have not read my earlier essays.
In the first place all these writers read each other. Kipling and Haggard for instance read each other as well as writers like Wells and Burroughs and vice versa. They could pass disguised messages in their novels. As Burroughs was the last of these writers to begin writing and that in US pulp magazines in 1912 that may never have reached Europe while his book titles only reached print in 1914 after the Great War began and were only the Tarzan titles until the end of the decade Wells may not have read Burroughs until 1918 or slightly after. Nevertheless Burroughs influence shows in Wells’ 1923 effort Men Like Gods. This book also ridicules Burroughs.
Men Like Gods takes place in a parallel universe. There is some resemblance to the Eloi of The Time Machine. For the first time Wells’ characters are nearly nude. This was the only time he ever did this so he was probably under the influence of Burroughs whose characters never wore clothes or only minimally.
Burroughs apparently picked up the references or had them pointed out to him. In any event in 1926 he wrote The Moon Maid in answer to Wells, The First Men In The Moon. Wells’ book was pretty clumsycompared to that of Burroughs who demonstrated his imaginative superiority by running circles around Wells. The second part of the story was a rewrite of Under The Red Flag that was a direct challenge to the Soviets. By 1926 of course Stalin was directing the USSR.
Wells then countered with an undisguised attack that portrayed Burroughs as insane. This was Mr. Blettsworthy On Rampole Island. Here Wells parodied a pulp magazine story not yet in book form, The Lad And The Lion, and the last third of The Land That Time Forgot. Burroughs returned the fire with Tarzan At The Earth’s Core and Tarzan The Invincible that featured Stalin himself as a character.
At about this time Moura Budberg was assigned to Wells as a concubine as Gorky had returned to the USSR. This was to cause a falling out between Wells and Stalin while perhaps leading to Stalin’s assassination in 1953.
Burroughs’ entire series of novels from Tarzan At The Earth’s Core to Tarzan And The Lion Man deals with Wells and the Reds. The Communists attacked unrelentingly on several fronts probably robbing Burroughs blind in royalties while trying to squeeze off his sales. His British publishers did just that. Although it appears that they refused or were reluctant to keep his titles in print Alan Hodge and Robert Graves in their history of the twenties and thirties, The Long Weekend, twice refer to Burroughs’ great popularity, once in the twenties and once in the thirties.
In Germany the Communists attacked ERB for his anti-German comments in books written during the war
years thereby destroying that lucrative market. The Soviets never paid royalties anyway so there was no monetary effect from that market. In the US Burroughs had troubles with his publishers McClurg’s and Grossett & Dunlap who seem quite hostile to in the correspondence in the archives at ULouisville. ERB left McClurg in the late twenties going through two more publishers before winning the battle by publishing under his own imprint. Thus by 1930′s Tarzan The Invincible, note the title, he seemed to have won the battle if not the war.
However sound had come to the movies in 1927-28 which rearranged the playing field. Rather than just being ‘flickers’ they were now more on a par with literature while being even more influential. With sound the movie version of a story took pecedence over the book, heck, it took precedence over history. Thus the movie version took precedence as the canon over the book, the latter became an adjunct that few read in comparison to those who saw and heard the movie. As the movies paid in one lump sum what it might take years to dribble in as royalties authors were willing to give the devil a cut to have their novels produced. Books could be issued in their thousands of titles a year but there were only a couple hundred movies released in a year. The number of producers had been consolidated from many to a few after the shakeout of the twenties, hence combines like Metro, Goldwyn and Mayer, Radio-Keith-Orpheum- RKO- and the combine of Twentieth Century Pictures and William Fox.
MGM was of course top dog by far. There was no vacuum there but the Commies moved in anyway soon taking over de facto control. When Burroughs published his own books, quite profitably, he had slipped the noose but only temporarily. As a strategist he did poorly. In 1931, because Burroughs didn’t ever bother to dread his contracts, MGM finessed his meal ticket, Tarzan, from him thereby making him financially dependent on them. Even though they might have exploited the Tarzan character by making two or three movies a year and zillions of dollars they chose to make only six movies between 1931 and 1940 thereby keeping Burroughs on a short financial lease while depriving him of hundreds of thousands of dollars in income. Remember that at the same time Roosevelt after 1933 drove the income tax rate as high as 90% so there was some difficulty forcing a grin in those trying times.
This is a good story and I covered it in some detail in my ten part review of Tarzan And The Lion Man, expecially parts 6-10 to which I refer you if you’re interested. Wells and Burroughs bickered back and forth although it appears that Burroughs lost heart after Tarzan And The Lion Man. By that time he knew he had been had. He did concede defeat in the issuance of a book version of The Lad And The Lion in 1935; a notice to both Wells and Stalin. The story was a short one so while leaving the old story as a notice to Wells who had mocked him and the story in his Blettsworthy novel, Burroughs interpolated chapters with a story mocking the Communist Revolution in Russia. Then he retired from the field.
However he gives Wells a grand slam in the story of ’God’ in the middle of Lion Man. That is a great story within the story however I wasn’t clear on its relation to Wells at the time so I will give a modified version here.
Now, Burroughs had a remarkable mind. He was able to carry the story lines of hundreds of books he had read in his head retrieving details whenever they suited his needs. He was always conscious of what he was doing but he wrote pastiches anyway.
The story of Tarzan and God mocks Wells’ The Island Of Dr. Moreau. Burroughs had already used Moreau in his 1913 novel The Monster Men plus he wrote around the theme repeatedly. Moreau itself plays around with the Frankenstein theme which also figures prominently in Burroughs’ literary antecedents.
Remember that Burroughs is able to combine numerous details of other books into one composite figure so that Wells is only one source for the character of ‘God’ in Lion Man. For our purposes one may assume that when Tarzan talks to God (smirk) it is equivalent to Burroughs talking to Wells. Gone is the transcendant confidence of Tarzan The Invincible and Tarzan Triumphant. However the coup of the capture of Tarzan in 1931 when Burroughs signed away his rights to the movie representation of Tarzan to MGM had stripped Burroughs of all defences and he himself was now trapped in a cage at the mercy of MGM, Wells and Stalin. During Tarzan’s movie history dating back to the late teens Burroughs had always complained, making a nuisance of himself because the studios weren’t following his stories closely. Now, he had given MGM the right to create their own stories. ERB was dissatisfied with the representation of Tarzan but the character was so good that even though MGM tried they couldn’t destroy it.
Nevertheless they were in a position to substitute the movie Tarzan for the literary Tarzan in the public mind and they did. For me and many others the discovery that there was a literary Tarzan came long after we had been viewing Tarzan movies. We invariably found the literary Tarzan superior. For now Tarzan/ERB was imprisoned in a cell. The best ERB can do is to come up with a better Moreau story than Wells.
So, ERB creates a mock London, England in the wilds of Africa with a replica of the court of Henry VIII peopled by mutated gorillas. By 1930 when this story was written ERB was probably as well informed about evolution as anyone. He had kept up his reading becoming as knowledgeable concerning genetics as any but researchers. Thus while thirty years earlier Moreau had been clumsily experimenting with vivisection ‘God’ had used the lastest genetic techniques that ERB can devize to convert gorillas into a cross between apes and human beings. The apes of God are human in all but appearance. There are many jokes concealed in this episode, apes of God perhaps being one. Wyndham Lewis used the term apes of God as a synonym for writers so he may be calling Wells as God and writer an ape. ‘God’ himself who has exchanged ape genes with himself is now half ape. See, a joke. Whether Wells recognized his portrait isn’t known.
Tarzan sets about to escape but as there is no escape from his real life situation ERB merely burns God’s castle down disrupting one supposes the USSR. Perhaps gratifying to the imagination but futile for changing his situation. No longer in control of his creation Burroughs creative powers begin to atrophy.
Thus Stalin triumphed over his literary adversary. Perhaps Stalin despised writers for he set out to humiliate Wells after the defeat of Burroughs. As noted the State prostitute Moura Budberg had formerly serviced Maxim Gorky while after his return Budberg was assigned to Wells. H.G. had fallen hard for Budberg apparently seriously in love with her. Stalin called Wells to Moscow in 1936 when Gorky was on his last legs, about to die. Budberg was also in Moscow but when Wells asked to see her she told him she was called out of town. In a rather malicious ploy Stalin arranged for Wells to see Gorky and Budberg together as, of course, she wasn’t out of town.
Wells was completely destroyed unable to penetrate Stalin’s duplicity, or at least believe it, at the time. However when it finally sank in he had no more means to retaliate than Burroughs so he wrote a book too- The Holy Terror. In that book, the ruffian leader of the revolution, or Stalin in real life, has lost the ability to lead the revolution and has to be discreetly removed. A conspiracy is set afoot. A doctor’s plot in which the leader is artfully removed by medical means. I am unaware of how much influence Wells may have had to incite others to achieve his result. At any rate the War intervened making it inexpedient to dispatch Stalin while Wells died in 1946 before he could reactivate the plan.
It may be coincidence but Stalin discovered a doctor’s plot in the early fifties that he was able to foil. However Khruschev and Beria and others poisoned Stalin at a dinner in 1953 thus removing this singularly successful but troublesome dictator.
The turmoil of the thirties may have derailed Wells sexual program somewhat but sexual matters were still moving in his desired direction. Sexual matters had been loosened a great deal but there were still miles to go.
In Part III I will deal with the key mover in sexual matters, Sigmund Freud who was the second of the three to reach prominence. Thus Burroughs the third to arrive on the scene and the last to leave will be saved for the last part.
Pt.I: H.G.Wells, Sigmund Freud, Edgar Rice Burroughs And The Development Of Contemporary Sexual Attitudes
August 14, 2010
H. G. Wells, Sigmund Freud, Edgar Rice Burroughs
And The Development Of Contemporary Sexual Attitudes
Certainly it is to be hoped that (the) naturalistic school of writing will never take firm root in England, for it is an accursed thing. It is impossible to help wondering if its followers ever reflect on the mischief that they must do, and, reflecting do not shrink from the responsiblility to look at the matter from one point of view only, Society has made a rule for the benefit of the whole community, individuals must keep their passions within certain fixed limits, and our system is so arranged that any transgression of this rule produces mischief of one sort or another, if not actual ruin, to the transgressor. Especially is this so is she be a woman. Now, as it is, human nature is continually fretting against these artificial bounds, and especially among young people it requires considerable fortitude and self-restraint to keep the feet from wandering. We all know too, how much this sort of indulgence depends upon the imagination, and we all know how easy it is for a powerful writer to excite it in that direction. Indeed, there could be nothing more easy to a writer of any strength or vision, especially if he spoke with an air of evil knowledge and intimate authority. There are probably several men in England at this moment who, if they turned their talents to this end, could equal, if not outdo, Zola himself, with results that would shortly show themselves among the population. Sexual passion is the most powerful lever with which to stir the mind of man, for it lies at the root of all things human; and it is impossible to over-estimate the damage that could be worked by a single English or American writer of genius, if he grasped it with a will.
–H. Rider Haggard
Appendix to the Broadview
Edition Of She
For a long time now I’ve put off writing about Edgar Rice Burroughs in relation to H.G. Wells. Wells has been difficult to get a handle on, a point of entry. But the Woodrow Nichols’ article on nudity in Burroughs on ERBzine pointed in the direction of changing sexual attitudes in the twentieth century. Coupled with reading the above quote of Rider Haggard I realized that Wells and Burroughs were two of those powerful writers capable of unleashing those sexual passions. They, coupled with Sigmund Freud, did change sexual attitudes in the twentieth century.
That is not to say they were alone but of all of the hundreds of writers between then and now all their books remain in print continuing their work.
The sexual problem is central to civilization while it has been handled differently in the development of civilization. For some time it seemed that the Patriarchal model would be permanent. J.J. Bachofen, the great Swiss mythologist of the mid-nineteenth century, was the first to challenge the Patriarchal model. In his studies of mythologies he perceived that behind the Patriarchy first came a Matriarchy while at the beginning was a Hetaeric period. All three had different sexual approaches while all three attitudes have survived into the current age competing for dominance.
In the first Hetaeric stage of development Bachofen believed men used women, and woman, indiscriminately whether with force of persuasion when the sexual urge hit him. A good picturalization of this can be found in the movie, In Quest Of Fire. As there was no knowledge of how offspring were conceived the women of the horde merely accepted the inevitable bumper crop of children.
Being a sexual object puts an unbearable burden on the female of the species no matter how natural. Since most females began bearing at twelve or thirteen with the onset of puberty they were worn out at twenty with few probably surviving to thirty. Indeed, a huge percentage must have died in child birth from twelve to twenty. One imagines a surplus of males in the horde not unlike affairs in the nineteenth century when men frequently went through two or three wives or more as the women died young in childbirth.
While conception or paternity wasn’t recognized there was no mistaking motherhood. By some process of refinement the sexual mores of hordes evolved into Matriarchy which acknowledged female parentage while giving women some sort of sexual control, preference if you will. The change from the Hetaeric to the Matriarchal inevitably left behind a reactionary or conservative group who saw no reason for change or giving up their sexual prerogatives. Thus conflicts between the two attitudes, perhaps warfare.
The Matriarchy was still thriving when history began to be recorded. Thus Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey concern the Patriarchal revolution against the Matriarchy amongst the Europeans. By now paternity had been discovered by which the male discovered that he impregnated the female which he now considered the most important part of the process and one which involved the exclusive use of the female as he had no wish to care for another man’s children. Hence Patriarchalism- the primacy of the father- evolved putting the three systems into conflict and competition. This is a main theme of Greek mythology.
Concessions had to be made to the Hetaerists who were irate at the loss of their prerogatives. Hence temple prostitution undoubtedly evolved in which all the young females were kept in a temple compound until they had sex with any man who demanded it. Civilization being civilization, of course, there was a fee, hence protitution. Upon completion of the duty the female was released.
The Patriarchal revolt was a long slow drawn out process with many setbacks and compromises such as the above. Indeed, the Patriarchal god, Apollo, wrested Delphi from the Matriarchy but in the Matriarchal reaction he was forced to share the shrine with the effiminate Matriarchal hybrid god, Dionysus who, himself was destined to replace Zeus as the avatar of the Piscean Age. He assumed both male and female characteristics in the attempt to arrange the sexual conflict. That’s why the Jewish prophet Jesus of Nazareth, who substituted for him in yet another compromise is so effiminate. With the admixture of the Semitic influence in European religion with its uncompromising Patriarchalism the evolving Catholic Church was all but able to extinguish the Matriarchal Dionysian influence as well as the Hetaeric. Chastity, celibacy and monogamy became not only dominant but exclusive.
Just as the Matriarchy, while suppressed, has never disappeared or admitted defeat so also the Hetaerists have survived assuming different disguises while waging continued war with the Patriarchy and the Scientific view which is say Western Science and the Roman Catholic Church.
Reviled by the Church and persecuted sometimes to death the various sects fought back often posing as Catholics to become priests, even occasionally a Pope, and bore from within. Thus arose the Free Spirit sect which demanded the right of access to any woman at any time in any place. Thus John Sinclair in 1960s and 70s demanding the right to ‘fuck in the streets.’ An irrational request by any other standard. The Free Spirits delighted in debauching nuns when they had sufficient numbers to seize a place.
The spirit surfaced among the Anabaptists, for instance, who were not only suppressed but destroyed root and branch. With the Enlightenment when the Hetaerists surfaced as the Libertines we hear of them forwarding the French Revolution while their ideals were absorbed by the nascent Communist political movement. The Libertines per se seem to have transmogrifed into La Vie Boheme after the Napoleonic Empire, Bohemianism reaching down to our time.
La Vie Boheme as depicted by the French novelist Henri Murger evolved in the early nineteenth century along with their more overtly criminal cousins, the Mohicans of Paris as the novelist Alexandre Dumas styled them and known as Apaches by the end of the century. In the US fifties the Apaches were represented on TV with a mystifyingly violent effect as Apache dancers from France. I suppose the Apache style was transmogrified into the New York Bohemian style also. So this quasi-criminal Bohemian Apache style pervaded Euroamerican civilization through the nineteenth century and in diluted form into the twentieth and present day. The Fall 2010 Nordstrom catalog for instance celebrates the New York Haut Boheme.
I was trying to relate this latter day form of Behemianism to Burroughs in my three part series on Presley, Lennon and Yoko Ono that Bill Hillman courageously published in ERBzine but over some very strenuous objections. I presume I lost the Bibliophiles on that issue.
That Burroughs was fascinated by the Bohemian style while actually furthering the Hetaeric sexual program is fairly obvious. He said that he wrote his first unpublished work, Minidoka, in Ragtime speech, that is to say the Bohemian mode. In other words ERB considered himself plenty hep, at least a closet Bohemian. Some may find that disturbing but, it is so. In ’60s NYC terminology ERB would hve been of the Haut Boheme. Along with those sympathies went a set of Hetaeric sexual mores that Burroughs advocated.
I have already examined the Bohemian influence of George Du Maurier on Burroughs with his novels Peter Ibbetson, Trilby and The Martian. Du Maurier was also of the Haut Boheme. A photograph of ERB behind the camera in Idaho in 1899 shows ERB dressed in full artistic Boho mode. He had just emerged from a short stay at the Chicago Art Institute where he would have immersed himself in Boho mores as artists then and now were virtually all Boho, at least in outlook. Writers too.
It seems quite extraordinary that Libertinism was discouraged and contained between the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth century. Perhaps the answer can be found in the transition from aristocratic society to bourgeois society. Perhaps the Bourgeois requiring a different sexual morality than the aristocracy succeeded in imposing their version of sexual mores by sheer numbers.
Libertinism did regain prominence amongst the wealthy Haut Boheme of NYC thence spreading throughout society as a Bohemian sensibility began to displace the Bourgeois.
A book I have reviewed on ERBzine, found in ERB’s library which he read, GWM Reynolds’ The Mysteries Of The Court Of London scrupulously records the libertine activities in a fictional form of Prince George, later King George IV, whose career of seduction ended only in the 1820s. Certainly Reynolds’ depiction of the libertine actiities of George and his circle out Zolaed Zola by more than somewhat.
The whole libertine attitude was nowhere more prominently displayed than in NYC’s Haut Boheme nightclub, Studio 54. So the suppression of the libertine spirit during and since the reign of Queen Victoria was short. Perhaps Haggard’s novel She echoes the memories of the Libertinage of the eighteenth century Hellfire Club in some obscure way.
Haggard had no reason to put on airs because as I pointed out in my review of his King Solomon’s Mines that novel is smutty from top to bottom while ‘She’ has some very salacious passages. As Horace stands watching the scene of She and the dead body of Kallicrates for instance one is more than excited. She had murdered her former lover Kallicrates for running off with another woman. Immediately remorseful she kept the body preserved in perfect condition for two thousand years. She could even psychically animate the body so that it stood although still insensate. The necrotic effect is hypnotizing, making the reader a voyeuristic accomplice of Horace. As he and we watch the bodice of She’s dress slips to her waist exposing her magnificent charms according to your imagination. As we watch she then raises her arms above her head lifting and pointing the golden orbs. She does this not once but twice so it is clear Haggard was exciting and taunting his readers. If one imagines Ursula Andress who played She in one of the movies the effect is exhilarating indeed.
Haggard aside, as he says there were writers in England and America who were champing at the bit to alter the course of sexual history. Chief among these was H.G. Wells in England and our own Edgar Rice Burroughs. Both would make significant contributions to the ‘change’ but the most effective writer of them all was the secret sexual pervert, the undisputed master of them all, Sigmund Freud. But to go first to H.G. Wells and take things in order.
Themes And Variations
The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs
#14 Tarzan The Invincible
Part VI of X
Inside The Gates Of Opar
Life is just too short for some folks,
For other folks it just drags on.
Some folks like the taste of smokey whiskey
Others think that tea’s too strong.
Me, I’m the kind of guy who likes to ride the middle
I don’t like this bouncing back and forth.
Me, I want to live with my feet in Dixie
And my head in the cool blue North.
–Jesse Winchester: Nothing But A Breeze
And now we come to the heart of Edgar Rice Burroughs. One reason he is literarily disdained is that the story is not the story. Porges, p.524:
As the story progresses the perceived theme of a worldwide conspiracy is abruptly abandoned. Burroughs in his contempt for the communists refuses to allow them to be sincere even in their Marxist goals.
This is not true. Porges has misconceived the story. To quote the sixties Jewish revolutionary Mark Rudd: The issue is not the issue. By that Rudd meant that the Jews had created a diversion to mask the true issue which was the establishment of the Jewish culture as top culture or dictator in this multi-cultural world.
Burroughs intent is exactly the same as regards Tarzan. True, Burroughs has contempt for Communism but that is merely a frame story and a side issue. The true issue is that Tarzan’s authority as guardian of Africa is being challenged on the spot. The duel is between himself and Sveri mano a mano. He discredits the collectivity through the individuals. Thus at novel’s end Tarzan sits in state as Guardian or Emperor disposing the fates, godlike, of the remaining conspiritors. Magnanimously he allow Paul Ivitch (Paulevitch) to be escorted out of Africa rather than be thrown on his own resources that would have resulted in his certain death.
The issue within the issue, as always, is Burroughs attempt to resolve his psychological difficulties. Thus one has the Colt-Drinov combination, possibly reprsenting ERB and Emma, an episode within Opar of Nao who may represent Florence releasing him from the prison of his marriage to Emma, and Colt-La, the Anima and Animus problem. Tarzan and Colt change partners so that La nurses Colt and Tarzan nurses Zora. But to that in the next section.
While one expects a pure shoot out with the Communists, Tarzan is not going to defeat them by direct action but by a terrorist campaign of which Tarzan is the jungle master.
To compound the problem Burroughs confuses realism with dreamwork. This is not a realistic novel but a dream fantasy. It was said that Burroughs wrote out his dreams which has a basis in fact. The scenarios may have originated in his sleeping dreams but then he modifies them in day dream style while consciously molding the story for political and commercial purposes. A writer does need readers.
To give a basis for comparison for the dreamwork I’m going to play Freud here and offer up a dream of my own; it is similar to Burroughs’ in many way. Since integrating my personality I don’t have wonderful dreams like this anymore. As Jung correctly surmised when one integrates the conscious and sub-conscious minds memory destroys the symbolic basis of your dreams. I can analyze the common place dreams I have now even as I dream them. Something is lost, something is gained, but it might be of lesser value. I think I like the mysterious flavor of the smokey whiskey even though the water I have to drink now is better for me.
In my dream I began on the edge of a vast desert dotted with a few oases while far off in the distance twenty years away, rather than miles, away in the the distance a great white shining mountain arose. The distances were so vast they were measured not in miles but years. Indeed, the years of my life. I had to traverse the vast desert reaches between the oases. Each oasis merely refreshed me for the next perilous journey. Having traversed the years I came to the great white shining mountain. One might compare it to the tor containing the treasure vaults of Opar out on its desert. These are symbols common to multitudes.
I then came to the white shining mountain which might compare to the city of Opar. Censorship prevented me from climbing the mountain at that time. In other words in the control of my subconscious, consciousness was denied me. I approached the mountain from the back where I noticed a trickle of water leading into and down the mountain. I tried to drink the water but as it ran through a pure salt bed it was too salty. Unlike Burroughs who was in the pits of darkness I was always bathed in a clear light which came from nowhere.
I followed the little stream down the subterranean path into the mountain. Thus I had all land and no water, a barren psychological situation. Following the cave down I came to a series of gates made entirely of steel. I hesitated to go forward but there was no going back. I was impelled into one of the gates which turned into a chute that spilled me out onto a steel floor where unseen hands seized me pushing me into a steel room as the steel door slammed shut. Like Tarzan beneath Opar I was a prisoner with no seeming way out.
As I looked around I realized that this was a laundry room. All steel, of course. While I had no food I now had sinks full of water. My situation had been reversed from all land to all water, from the pure masculine to almost pure feminine. Where before I was barren now I was spilling over with wisdom. I knew I had to get out of there reasonably soon or I would starve to death. There was impenetrable steel all around. But I had plenty of water. Too much water. Looking around I spotted ventilation ducts along the ceiling. I conceived the notion that I could drink lots of water then urinate in the ducts which would create a foul odor that would be distributed throughout the rooms above. They would search for the source of the odor thus opening the door of my prison.
The ducts were difficult to reach but I was able to urinate in them. As I expected voices came down the duct asking ‘What is that smell?’. The door to my prison opened inward so I stood to the side that opened waiting. Sure enough a couple maintenance men flung the door open bursting into the room. I slipped out the door behind them unnoticed.
I now descended still further until I came to a bank of elevators. One door was open for which I made a rush. The elevator was packed with boys I knew from high school. With doubled fists they pushed me back refusing to allow me in the elevator with them. Mocking me as the doors closed I was left alone way down there.
There was a flight of stairs but censorship prevented my using them. I waited in vain for another elevator. As with dreams I next found myself at the back of the mountain but the path into the mountain had disappeared so I now had to climb The Great White Shining Mountain.
If, like Burroughs, I were writing a story I would provide a plausible story line for my escape but I’m not. I’m merely transcribing a dream.
The reason the mountain shone was because it was covered by snow several hundreds of feet, possibly thousands, thick. As previously the water in the stream was too salty to drink now it was frozen. The sun shone brightly, not only brightly, but brilliantly, as I began my climb. I had left the subconscious for the conscious as I strove for the light. The climb was long from the back of the brain to the forebrain but not tiring. Apart from the barrenness of the snow I was enjoying myself. Would it be too offensive a pun if I said I enjoyed being high? After a long climb I came to a precipice past which I could go no further. Nor could I go back.
As I studied my position I looked down this sheer precipice to the desert thousands of feet below. There was snow all the way to the desert floor. Down there, way down there, I could see the tiny ant-like people in the barren sands doing obeisance to the moutain which they apparently treated as a god.
Looking down the sheer face of snow I could dimly perceive the outlines of a great face carved in the snow. This god, then, retained all the water behind his visage that could make the desert bloom. Just as I had used water to escape the prison of my subconscious I conceived the notion that I could release the water and make the desert bloom freeing the people from their bondage.
Now, this was hard snow. I had no trouble walking the surface without breaking through while if the snow didn’t give way as I jumped on it to destroy the snow god I would plummet several feet into the desert. Neverthless I leaped up landing on my bottom. The snow gave way as I rode the avalanche several thousand feet down the mountain side to land on the desert floor while I destroyed the god who had been impounding the water.
Many streams now flowed out from the mountain. The desert bloomed turning green and bursting with flowers. Now that we have a comparison let us examine Burroughs’ great dream of Opar.
Opar first found expression way back at the end of 1912 and the beginning of 1913. Appearing at the end of The Return Of Tarzan the story was included in Burroughs’ fourth published story and fifth written story, the Outlaw Of Torn had been written but not published yet.
As with Invincible the story of The Return was not the story. The story was what Burroughs hung the details of what appeared to be the story on. Hence Return was rejected by Metcalf Burroughs’ first editor at Munsey’s who undoubtedly couldn’t understand it. This is the novel in which Tarzan makes his first raid on the fabulous treasure vaults of Opar. Burroughs will continue his wonder stories of Opar through three more books. Each return occurs at a crucial point in his life.
That Opar is a dream location is proven by the topography of the location. It is not too dissimilar to any dream. The jungle grows right up to the base of towering mountains behind which Opar is hidden. On the other side of these it is a dry dusty desert exemplifying Burroughs’ life as the twenty year desert in my dream did mine. Entry into the valley in this story is through a narrow defile apparently several thousands of feet high above which the peaks of the surrounding mountain range tower several thousand feet more. This entry also closely resembles that of Haggard in King Solomon’s Mines. Haggard is never far from Burroughs’ mind as he writes his stuff.
Working your way down into the dreamscape is considerably more easy than climbing it. And then off in the distance rose the shining red and gold domes and turrets of Opar. A dream city if there ever was one. One is reminded of the two great literary and psychological influences on Burroughs, H. Rider Haggard and L. Frank Baum. Of Haggard’s work beyond King Solomon’s Mines I have Heart Of The World and People Of The Mist most readily called to mind. It might be appropriate to mention that Freud also read some Haggard. He specifically mentions Heart Of The World and She but I suspect he probably read others as well. Opar might be a ruined version of Baum’s Emerald City of Oz. Opar is red and gold while from a distance its ruination is not obvious. Mine was a shining white mountain. Burroughs probably tinkered with his to make a good story better.
Now, the fabled Thebes of Greek mythology had seven gates. Cities Of The Sun had up to a hundred. Opar doesn’t have any. The entrance is a narrow cleft in the wall on which on entering this narrow 20″ gap for which Tarzan had to turn his massively broad shoulders sideways and then immediatley climb a flight of ancient stairs. This appears to be a reverse birth story in which Tarzan is reentering the womb, an impossible feat, but then, Tarzan goes where even devils fear to tread. Try some of the books of the psychologist Stanislav Grof. There’s definitely a sexual image that requires a little thought to understand. Hmm. No gates but a narrow cleft too narrow for the shoulders and a flight of steps leading back into the what, womb? Whose cleft? ERB mother’s, Emma’s, possibly Florence’s by this time, or that of his Anima figure? Well, the last is waiting for him inside the domed inner chamber of this sacred city who is aptly named La, which is French for She. ‘She’ was Ayesha the heroine of Haggard’s novel She. I’m sure Burroughs is not writing consciously here.
At this point Tarzan is accompanied by fifty of his brave and faithful but superstitious Waziri. In fact, in this story as Tarzan goes through his incarnation of a Black savage he is Chief Waziri, eponymous head of the Waziri. P. 42:
As the ape man and his companions stood gazing in varying degrees of wonderment at this ancient city in the midst of savage Africa, several of them became aware of movement within the structure at which they were looking. There was nothing tangible that the eye could grasp- only an uncanny suggestion of life where it seemed that there should be no life, for living things seemed out of place in this weird, dead city of the long dead past.
Dead city of the long dead past. That’s what dreams are all about, one’s own long dead past. Thus the ridge separating the lush live jungle from this dry, dusty plain eight years wide was Burroughs own dead past. I suggest the mountain range, perhaps sixteen thousand feet high, represented ERB’s confrontation with John the Bully when he was eight or nine. On the jungle side was his early life as a Little Prince while on the dry dusty side was his blighted, blasted life after John. Opar represents his ruined mind inhabited by the suggestion of life and the Queen of his dreams the beautiful High Priestess of the Flaming God, the woman of indescribable beauty, La of Opar.
La is obviously a combination of Haggard’s She and L. Frank Baum’s Ozma Of Oz.
Tarzan is seized by the Frightful Men, bound and gagged and left lying in a courtyard at high noon. The rays of the Flaming God bear down on him. Whether this is merely part of an ancient Oparian religious rite or whether Tarzan becomes the chosen Son of theSun a god among men, isn’t clear to the reader. The Oparians have their own ideas.
Burroughs describes this rite in a really masterful way. The maddened murderous Oparian who disturbs the ceremony just before Tarzan is to be sacrificed is nicely handled. Believe me, I feel like I am there. As La looks down on Tarzan’s form on the altar she recognizes the One, the Son of the Sun, the One for which she is destined. Once again, Haggard’s She.
Freed in the melee caused by the crazed Oparian Tarzan is taken down to the Chamber of the Dead by La where she hides him. As she said nobody would look for him in the Chamber of the Dead. This Chamber answers very well to the laundry room of my dream. Tarzan/Burroughs is in a stone dungeon with walls fifteen feet thick, fourteen in Invincible, in total darkness while I was in a steel room with no exit but bright light. These locations answer to the rigid confines of one’s owned damaged psyche. There is no way out but there is, there has to be. While palpating this stony prison at the back of the cell Tarzan discerns a flow of air coming through. This scene is a replication of one in Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines while becoming a B movie staple. The big Bwana discovers some loose stones. He is able to dislodge these creating an exit through the fifteen foot depth of stones of the fortress wall. Somehow Burroughs has worked his psyche to give himself a chance. Once beyond the foundation walls, free of the Chamber of the Dead (I once dreamed I was looking for my soul in the House of the Distraught) but act among the living, Tarzan feels his way down this long dark corridor. One can’t be certain of ERB’s age when he achieved this escape. As it takes place just before Tarzan marries Jane the time might have been 1898-99. Perhaps when he was in the stationery business in Idaho. Perhaps something he read acted as a lever. Apart from Darwin’s Origin Of Species I would venture to say he read Eugene Sue’s Mysteries Of Paris a copy of which is in his library while traces of it are here in his earliest work.
Sue’s rare mentality permeates every page of this first visit while Sue’s extraordinary consciousness is everywhere apparent throughout ERB’s entire corpus. Burroughs himself is absolutely incredible in the manner he associates with numerous other writer’s intellects, seemingly simultaneously within a given passage or even sentence. Myself, Adams, Hillman, Broadhurst, Burger and others have written extensively on these influences. Hillman even goes so far as to virtually twin Burroughs with some of his major literary influences. Burroughs does make all these writers his virtual doubles.
I have stressed Sue’s influence in several earlier essays. I can only urge you to read Sue’s Mysteries Of Paris- a big three-volume work and too short at that- which Burroughs in his own reading found a life changing experience. Possibly he did read it in 1898-99. I found it a life changing experience; I’ve never been able to free myself of its influence, while it appears that Burroughs couldn’t either. A lot of the late nineteenth century writers make reference to Eugene Sue. H.G. Wells based the beginning of an early novel on Sue. The remnant remains only as a short story.
Sue wrote from outside the bounds of sanity. Privately I consider him insane but so brilliantly rational as to transcend the very meaning of insanity. He’s a dangerous writer. His last work was confiscated by the French authorities. It undoubtedly had such a private personal sense of morality that I am sure it would have undone society much as the pornography from Hollywood has undone ours. DeSade and Restif De La Bretonne, who in some ways Sue resembles, were mere unbalanced pornographers who disturb only the disturbed. Sue’s vision of morality is coldly clear, it forms the basis of Tarzan’s but is always on the side of reason and virtue. This fact makes it no less dangerous to a weak mind or that of the obsessive-compulsive Liberal. Still, only the strong survive. I heartily recommend you take your chance.
Tarzan freed from the prison of the psyche, was he insane? was I? or were we merely trapped by a device of other’s making? I can’t say but ERB’s sanity after he escaped was conditioned by that of Eugene Sue. I, of course, rise above all influences.
Progressing down the corridor Tarzan comes to the First Censor. He finds a gap in the floor into which he might have fallen had he not been careful. He would have fallen into the unknown but he would have been alright. He would have fallen into water which in his condition would have been life-giving water rather than dangerous or perhaps he might have drowned in the waters of the subcoscious or Oblivion.
In high school I had a teacher who used to chalk a half dozen slogans on the black board, one each morning. The only one I remember is ‘when you reach the end of your rope tie a knot and hang on.’ I did this for a couple decades then one day I let go. The joke was on me. There was nowhere to fall. I was only a fraction of an inch from a solid surface. However Tarzan culdn’t have known this since he didn’t fall in, this time. He would three years later.
By chance he looked up where he saw some light entering to discover he was at the edge of a well. Yes, you see, the water of life. He dimly descried the other side fifteen feet away which was child’s play for him to leap. Thus he passed the First Censor. Mine was at the elevators which I apparently merely disregarded.
Continuing on for some time in total darkness, so far that he believes himself outside the walls of Opar he enters the treasure vaults. These vaults are filled with what appears to be forty pound barbells of solid gold. Now, this gold is old. So old that no Oparian knows that it is there nor do any old legends even mention it. This is an intriguing part. The gold was mined millennia in the past after the sinking of Atlantis. This raises the question of what did Burroughs know of Atlantis and did he believe in it? I can’t answer the sources of the former but I’m betting on Ignatius Donnelly as one of them. As to the latter I believe he did. He mentions Atlantis in Invincible with a confidence and familiarity that convinces me that over the eighteen years since Return he has read and thought enough to convince himself of the reality of the lost continent. He appears to accept a mid-Atlantic location.
The gold represents the income he’s receiving for his stories. The stories spring from his dead past. That the vaults are outside Opar indicates he freed his mind from its prison or that the money comes from outside the prison, i.e. his publishers. That the gold is Atlantean indicates that his stories are based on his own ancient experience. In other words he is mining his past already completed as ingots or accomplished facts.
What experience then catalyzed his ability to write? I believe that from 1908-10 when he read L. Frank Baum’s Ozma of Oz, Dorothy And The Wizard Of Oz and The Emerald City Of Oz he found a means to express himself. These books bypassed his last censor allowing him to write Minidoka. That book was not suitable for publication but it freed his genius so that he immediately followed it with A Princess Of Mars.
Now, outside the gates of the Emerald City/Opar in the midst of the equivalent of Baum’s Great Sandy Desert he found the handle on his own destiny.
Tarzan locates the fifty faithful but superstitious Waziri loading them up with two forty pound ingots each and points them toward the coast.
At the same time Fifty Frightful Men from Opar who are tracking him discover Jane instead. Dreamy enough for you? Given a choice between Tarzan and Jane I’d take Jane and so did the Fifty Frightful Men.
So now Jane’s on the altar under the sacrifical knife of La. Skipping the irrelevant details La discovers Jane is Tarzan’s beloved. Interesting confrontation between Tarzan/Burroughs real life woman and his Anima. La is shattered as Tarzan rejects her for Jane.
This is a key point in the oeuvre. This is what makes the novels so repulsive to the literary mind. The story is not the story; the issue is not the issue. Opar is the story within the story that will be told in four short parts over eighteen years. So we have part one here without any indication the story will be continued. A segment of the story is just plopped down into The Return Of Tarzan, sort of irrelevantly.
Weird style actually. I’m not even sure it works, but it nevertheless must be effective else why would the stuff still be in print a century on. You’re on your own, Jack, I can’t even attempt to solve that one. Not today anyway.
The next novel examining this psychological is the 5th novel of the oeuvre, Tarzan And The Jewels Of Opar of 1915.
At this point Tarzan, a profligate if there ever was one, has run through the two tons of gold the fifty faithful Waziri brought out and is broke. Two tons of gold in three years. Think about it. He needs to make another run on Opar.
The character of the series changes with Jewels Of Opar from the character of the Russian Quartet, the first four novels. They not only have an Oz influence but they become Ozlike. Burroughs apparently drew on The Beasts Of Tarzan as the foundation for what is essentially a new series.
After writing five Oz stories, in the sixth, The Emerald City Of Oz, Baum attempted to abandon the series. He closed the series off with the news that there will be no more communication from the fairy kingdom. Because Oz has been invaded three times now, what with the advent of airplanes that will be able to spot Oz from the air Ozma is making the kingdom invisible. Is it coincidence that Opar disappears from the oeuvre after the third invasion?
Baum’s Emerald City Of Oz appeared in 1910. It was the last of the stories to be datelined Coronado in his prefaces. When he was forced to begin writing Oz stories again in 1913 they were datelined Ozcot in Hollywood. In 1910 Hollywood was just a pleasant Los Angeles suburb. The movies didn’t begin to make Hollywood the center of the world porn industry until 1914.
Whether Burroughs knew that Baum left Coronado in 1911 isn’t known but I find it signficant that when he went to California in 1913 his first choice of residence was Coronado where he perhaps thought he would be close to Baum who afer all had a close connection with Chicago. Baum wasn’t in Coronado so Burroughs moved across the bay to San Diego.
The question then is: did Burroughs make a pilgrimage to Ozcot to see Baum in 1913? I have to believe he did. Tarzan was one heck of an entree such that Baum could hardly refuse to see ERB. How long or how often the men met then is conjectural but I think it was long enough for Baum to give Burroughs some tips on fantasy writing. Already an ardent admirer of the Oz books Burroughs would have had no trouble accepting advice from this master.
Thus when Burroughs returned to LA and Ozcot in 1916 it is certain that they met while they were probably already familiar with each other. In 1919, when Burroughs moved to LA permanently, Baum was on his deathbed so there was no chance to renew the acquaintance. I also believe that Baum’s Ozcot influenced Burroughs in naming his own estate Tarzana.
In any event Tarzan returns to Opar in 1915. Except for the first visit when Tarzan following the directions of the old Waziri, chief of the Waziri, visited Opar to take the gold, in the rest of the visits he is battling interlopers who wish to steal the gold from him. It might pay to look at the nature of the intrusions and the intruders.
In 1911-12 Burroughs had for the first time in his life come into more money than he could spend, only for a brief moment of course. Thus Tarzan removes the gold more on a whim not really knowing what to do with it. One might think this a strange attitude for one who had tasted the night life of Paris; but a foolish conisistency is the bugbear of small minds as one of those venerated old timers once said. I don’t wish to be thought of as small minded so we’ll let the observation pass.
By 1915 having lost his two tons of gold in some bad investments Tarzan has better learned the value of money or, at least, the absence of it. And so, perhaps, has Edgar Rice Burroughs. One can see the ghost of old George T. shaking his head muttering: ‘When will that boy ever learn?” Well, George, it would take more time than allotted to him.
After 1912 Burroughs had created something of value. That value could be stolen or at least exploited. In 1914 McClurg’s offered him a publishing contract. Nicely crafted it gve all the advantages to McClurg’s and none to Burroughs. Burroughs undoubtedly did not understand the legal implications of what he signed. I can’t explain this but McClurg’s made no effort to merchandise a sure fire hit. They didn’t even publish the full fifteen thousand copies called for in the contract. They released the book to reprint publisher A.L. Burt after p;rinting only ten thousand copies themselves. Explain it how you will but there was a guaranteed huge absolutely visible market waiting for book publication. Syndication in newspapers had guaranteed the book’s success. So why did McClurg’s willfully refuse to take advantage of such a deal?
Burroughs probably had stars in his eyes at the prospect of 10-15% royalties on hundreds of thousands if not millions of books. Instead he got comparatively nothing. The royalties from Burt were miniscule and to be shared 50/50 with McClurg’s. You can imagine Burroughs’ disappointment as a golden future became brass before his eyes.
Back to Opar. Tarzan entered the vaults before his faithful Waziri who were warriors and would act as bearers for no other man. Alone Tarzan made six trips from the vaults to the top of the tor bringing up forty-eight forty-pound ingots. That’s 320 lbs. per carry for a total of 1920 lbs or nearly a ton. According to Freud, and I believe him, all numbers are significant, although I don’t have enough information to delve completely into the meaning of these numbers. The Waziri then brought up fifty-two ingots. some two of the fifty got stuck with carrying two ingots or two went back for one more. That made slightly over a standard of 2000 lbs.
Tarzan’s forty-eight ingots are roughly half of the total that undoubtedly represents the fifty-fifty split with McClurg’s. At the time Ogden McClurg, the son of the father who built the company, Alexander McClurg, was the nominal head of the company. The firm was actually owned by the employees since about 1902, which Burroughs probably didn’t know. The man he dealt with, Joseph Bray, was probably the real head of the company. Actually Ogden was away from the company for long stretches on adventures in Central America and WWI so that he would have been unfamiliar with the day-to-day workings of the company. Burroughs, however, formed a grudge against Ogden McClurg. I suspect that the Belgian villain Albert Werper is based partly on Ogden McClurg while also being an alter ego of Burroughs. So, a story behind the story is how Ogden McClurg stole ERB’s royalties.
At the same time Tarzan spurns La for a second time so the Anima-Animus story of Tarzan, Jane and La continues. La has Tarzan within her power but in the life and death situation love triumphs over her hurt so she spares the The Big Guy. Not without consequences. The Fifty Frightful Men, or what’s left of them after the maddened Tantor tramples a few, led by Cadj, who now makes his appearance, feel betrayed repudiating La. Thus is begun the conspiracy to replace La which will be the focal point of the next two visits. You know, love or hate, I don’t know which is to be feared the most.
In the next visit in Tarzan And The Golden Lion Tarzan has gone through his second two tons of gold. That is four tons of gold in roughly ten years plus the Jewels of Opar that our spendthrift hero has managed to go through. Four tons of gold! That’s 128,000 ounces of gold. At today’s price of over a thousand dollars an ouce it works out to 128 billion dollars and change. My friends, that is prodigality. Good thing there was more where that came from, hey?
Of course a lot of the loss came from loans to the British Empire to float the Great War. But like certain other borrowings, to which Burroughs may be making an allusion, the Empire had no intention of repaying.
Once again this sort of excess had brought Tarzan to the edge of bankruptcy not unlike ERB in 1922. Just as creditors were besieging ERB for money so some private individuals led by a former employee, Flora Hawkes, attempt to extract the gold from Opar. Tarzan first fails, then recovers not only the gold but the bag of diamonds. The significance of the jewels is explained in the Tarzan and Esteban Miranda story contained in Tarzan And The Ant Men. That story is a duplicate Jewels Of Opar with different details. The history of the Jewels Of Opar also duplicates the history of Tarzan’s locket in Ant Men. If you’ve found something good don’t hesitate to use it more than once.
Fifteen years after the visit in Jewels Of Opar and eight years after the Golden Lion/Ant Men the scene returns to Opar, where once again others are to make a run on Tarzan’s private bank at Opar. Apparently Tarzan has them baffled from the start as, although they know there are treasure vaults at Opar, they have no idea where they are. It appears the Communists have read the earlier books, but not with close attention, nor did they bring their copies along with them to bone up during all those idle moments in camp. Playing cards is alright after reading, but time better spent before. You can see why these dodos failed.
Burroughs had read his Oz stories. One can’t be sure whether he ever reread the stories or whether he was working from twenty year old memories. There are similarities here with the Emerald City Of Oz of 1910. In that book Baum attempts to end the series. He says that it will be the last communication from Oz. It too involves an invasion of Oz by the Nome King and his horrid allies. In Baum’s story Ozma refused to defend her Communist State, predating Russia by seven years, but arranges it so that the invaders who are tunneling beneath the Great Sandy Desert emerge in front of the fountain of the Waters of Oblivion. The fountain has apparently been spiked with LSD as the drinkers get lost in a world of their own returning through the tunnel without a fight. Perhaps the first military use of drugs in history. An excellent fairy tale, hey?
Burroughs’ Communists make two attempts to enter Opar. Circling the city unable to find any gates to Burroughs dreamworld they do find the narrow cleft in the wall. Spooky sounds and happenings disconcert the Blacks and Arabs of this multi-cultural coalition so that any concerted action is frustrated. Although the Russians and the Mexican, Romero, enter, only Romero has the courage to penetrate beyond the courtyard. The Russians are arrant cowards who flee at the sound of the first Oparian shriek.
Returning to base camp they find that Wayne Colt, having tramped the breadth of Africa, has joined the group.
A second attempt is made. The superstitious Arabs refuse to return being also disgusted by Zveri’s lack of leadership and cowardice. Taking the six Communists and the Blacks Zveri returns to Opar for a second attempt. While absent from the base camp the coalition begins to come apart as the Arabs desert the cause, looting and burning the camp while taking the two White women with them. La has joined Zora but more on that in the next section.
The second expedition fares no better than the first for the same reasons. On this attempt both Wayne Colt and Romero enter the sanctuary where they are engaged in a serious battle with the Frightful Men. Colt is felled by a thrown bludgeon that knocks him down but doesn’t crush his skull. Romero retreats, Colt is dropped unconscious before the high priestess, now Oah and Dooth. Cadj was destroyed by Jad-Bal-Ja in Golden Lion so Dooth has taken his place.
If La is the good mother aspect of the male psyche, Oah is the bad or wicked mother. Still beautiful but not quite as much so as La.
She orders Colt taken to a dungeon to await the full moon or some other propitious moment to sacrifice him.
Oah’s plans will be foiled because among those present is a nubile young maiden named Nao who falls head over heels for Wayne at first sight. Burroughs describes Nao as having entered the first bloom of womanhood. To me that represents a fourteen-year old girl. Indeed, Nao is fresh as a flower.
One remembers Uhha who accompanied Esteban Mirands in Ant Men was specifically mentioned as being fourteen. So the ages fourteen, nineteen and twenty have special female connotations in Burroughs’ stories. As Freud rightly says people should only be held responsible for their actions and not their thoughts. Certainly there is no mention of Miranda having relations with Uhha while Nao had to be content with watching Colt disappear into the night after she released him from prison, murdering a man, be it noted, to do it. All that Priestess sacrificial training with knives comes in handy.
It will be remembered that ERB is said to have begun proposing to Emma when she was in the first bloom of womanhood at fourteen. So it is probable that the memory is associated with Uhha and Nao.
Colt as Burroughs alter ego thus allows Burroughs to visit Opar and have his fling with Nao as Colt while Tarzan has his with La. there’s a sort of joining of the two aspects of Burroughs’ Animus much as there was with Esteban Miranda and Tarzan in Golden Lion/Ant Men as well as Werper and Tarzan in Jewels Of Opar.
Tarzan himself returns to Opar before the first expedition of the Communists.
It has been eight years and four novels since Tarzan visited the fabled red and gold city of Burroughs’ dreams. Tarzan has a number of misconceptions of his relationship with the Oparians. The high priest Cadj who had become a problem in Jewels Of Opar was killed by Jad-Bal-Ja in Golden Lion. La had been replaced on her throne with the Bolgani of the Valley of Diamonds as her body guard and the Gomangani, who had no thin veneer of civilization at all, as her slaves, I guess. Tarzan then sees himself as an Oparian benefactor, not unlike the US in today’s Iraq, who will be received as a friend. Our hero shows himself a poor psychologist.
With a light springing step he turns sideways to enter the cleft, bounds up the stairs to enter the inner sanctum where the howling Frightful Men bash him over the head yet again. Tarzan could have been tagged Skull Of Steel to survive all these bashings with very heavy clubs and grazing by full metal jacket bullets. I tell you, man, I’d reather read of adventures like this than live them.
Coming to, Tarzan is surprised to find Oah as High Priestess with Dooth as her High Priest.
‘Where is La?’ Tarzan asks.
‘Dead.’ Replies Oah. ‘Throw him in the dungeon.’
Back to the pits of Opar for the Big Bwana where one imagines his sensitive nostrils will be grossly offended.
Once again Tarzan escapes his prison. Seeking a way out he is spotted by some hairy bandy-legged men. Fleeing down an endless corridor flanked by doors he chooses one and enters. Whew! What an aroma assails his sensitive nostrils. He is face to face with a half starved lion. The Big Guy hears the hairy men rushing down the corridor just as the lion springs. The door opens inward, unlike most prisons but apparently commonly in dreamscapes, so Tarzan opens it and steps behind it. As the lion springs past him he slams the door which was not too swift a move as the bar falls locking him in. He has the comfort of hearing the lion tearing up the Frightful Men but the stench of the lion’s den for once is so powerful it disguises the aroma of a White woman at the back of the cell. Surprise! La isn’t dead she’s been palling around with this lion for a while. Fortunately as in Ant Men there is a door between her inner cell and that of the lion that she can open. They built prisons differently back then.
So, the Animus and Anima are reunited but in prison once again. As in all dream sequnces there is a way out.
There’s a lot of shuffling about; this one is fairly complicated. In order to bring food to La at the back of the cell it is necessary to first feed the lion. There is a corridor across the front of the cell. a barred gate separates it from the lion’s den while La’s cell with its unlocked door is at the back. The corridor leads to a little chamber that is open from above. The lion’s food is thrown down after the gate has been lifted and closed somehow. While the lion is feeding in this corridor the attendant picks his way among the lion piles and puddles to take the food back to La. The chow must be tasteless in this overpowering stench.
Tarzan investigates then raising the gate for La when she advises him that the Oparians are coming back with the lion. This is very fast work by the Oparians so you can see the stuff is dreamwork. Tarzan raises La into the opening following her.
They follow the winding staircase until they enter a chamber that is the highest point in Opar. Thus they have ascended from the subconscious to the conscious. Here La once again confesses her love for the Beast of Beasts. The Big Guy is still not interested.
As they are plotting a way to get down from the tower they hear someone ascending a ladder. As the fellow pops his head above floor level Tarzan seizes the guy by the neck. My first reaction was to think that this was the Old Stowaway from Tarzan And The Golden Lion who would now be sixty-eight. Apparently not although Burroughs makes him sound different from one of the Frightful Men.
The old boy assures Tarzan and La that he is faithful as he as wellas most of the Oparians pine for the return of La. Plans are made for La to return to her throne. The Old Boy was a master of deceit however. Oah, Dooth and the Frightful Men who are still very angry with La and Tarzan are waiting for the pair when they enter from behind the curtain. A little Wizard of Oz touch. Humor, I think.
Tarzan might well have voiced the words of Marty Robbins in El Paso:
Many thoughts ran through my mind
As I stood there.
I had but one chance
And that was to run.
And run the Big Bwana did in a scene that was almost as comical as when he ran from the Alalus women in Tarzan And The Ant Men.
Breaking through the ring of Frightful Men Tarzan tosses the slower La over a shoulder and rapidly puts one of his clean limbs before the other. The bandy little legs of the Frightful Men are no match for the Big Bwana. Shouting epithets like: Good riddance of bad rubbish and Don’t come back again if you know what’s good for you. they snarlingly turned back to the City of Red and Gold.
Far across the dusty plain Tarzan and La climbed the ridge separating Opar from the outside world. First outside the gates of Opar in 1915s Jewels Of Opar chasing after Tarzan, once again in Tarzan And The Golden Lion to rescue Tarzan, La now makes her longest and most hazardous stay in the great wide world.
Part Seven follows.