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.
August 10, 2011
Psychoanalyzing Captain America
From Out Of The Depths
Must we be responsible for our own dreams?
In answer to the above question by Herr Doktor Professor Freud in his dream book, The Interpretation Of Dreams. published in the year 1900 Prof. Freud said that dreams were the royal road to the unconscious. He then proceeded to suppress the conscious will releasing the unconscious will to dominate the personality.
Of course in 1900 movies, TV and comic books were in the future and unforeseen by the Professor. It is through those media that the unconscious visualizes itself. The Dream is manifested, the unconscious becomes realized.
In the case of the movie, Captain America: The First Avenger, first came the dream then came the comic book, then with movie technology undreamed of in 1940 when Joe Simon and Jack Kirby conceived the character, brought to the screen today. Comic books and movies are true projections of the unconscious. As might be seen by anyone with a ticket Capt. America is less a story than a dream, a dream that Sigmund Freud defined as wish fulfillment. So, one must examine the movie as a wish from the subconscious fulfilled as a visualization on the screen. What does the dream-wish fulfill?
First off we have a powerless wimp being knocked about by the big bad bully. We have a brief anti-bully list and then move on. However in this Cain and Abel story the rolls of bully and bullied are clear. The wimp then wishes to join the army to fight Hitler and is rejected on several counts of inferiority. But, never fear, the last shall be first.
Now, in 1940 the US was not at war with anybody while the America First Committee was determined to keep the country that way. But a powerful coalition led by the Jews had determined the European conflict was a ‘just’ war while it was morally compulsory for the US to butt in somewhat like Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya and a few other places today. Unlike Viet Nam the usual suspects who opposed that war endorse all the current wars. The voice of dissent is unheard throughout the land.
So, bearing Freud’s Interpretation Of Dreams in mind that demonstrates the connection between dreams and the unconscious, Captain America is a daydream or psychological projection of Jack Kirby’s ne Jacob Kurtzberg and Joe Simon’s of Brooklyn N.Y. The relationship of these comic book writers to Judaism is explained by Rabbi Simcha Weinstein in his book Up, Up, And Oy Vey!: How Jewish History, Culture, And Values Shaped The Comic Book Superhero. This quote explains the real life origin of Capt. America:
Growing up in poverty, Kirby (born Jacob Kurtzberg) dreamed of being an artist but was forced to drop out of Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute after only one day because of financial hardship. Instead Kirby worked on newspaper comic strips under gentile-sounding pseudonyms such as Jack Curtis, Curt Davis, and Lance Kirby until he finally settled on the name Jack Kirby.
Kirby and his partner, Joe Simon, worked at Martin Goodman’s Timely Comics, where the mostly Jewish staff openly despised Hitler. When Goodman saw the preliminary sketches for Captain America, he immediately give Kirby and Simon their own comic book. The character was an instant hit, selling almost one million copies an issue. “The U.S. hadn’t yet entered the war when Jack and I did Captain America, so maybe he was our way of lashing out against the Nazi menace. Evidently, Captain America symbolized the American people’s sentiments. When we were producing Captain America we were outselling Batman, Superman and all the others.” Simon later commented.
Well, not quite all the others, as Whiz Comics Captain Marvel was the best selling comic of both the war years and the later forties. Certainly my favorite.
As in the years before the War The America First Committee enjoyed overwhelming popularity amongst Americans I would question Simon’s notion that Captain America overwhelmingly represented American opinion. As there were six million Jews in the country I might suggest the response from that quarter of ’Americans’ was more overwhelming than elsewhere. Jews might easily have accounted for sixty to eighty percent of sales.
It is also probable that no real American would ever have invented a corny jingoistic persona like Captain American. The image was certainly repulsive to me as a child. My prime comic reading years were from 1947 to 1950 and I and my entire generation rejected Captain America while embracing Captain Marvel. Even then Superman was a distant competitor to Captain Marvel which is why DC comics sued Whiz for copyright violation.
We disliked the hokey repulsive jingoism of Captain America as well as his dumb outfit and the stupid shield. (I’m speaking as a nine year old here.) Of course we knew from nothing about Judaism and almost less about any other religious sects but there was something othery about Capt. America and Superman although we embraced the equally Jewish Batman.
The origins of Captain America then emanated from the Jewish dream subconscious of Jack Kirby which was quite different from ours. He, therefor, as all writers must, made Capt. America in his real existence and from his dream fantasies. Thus, giving his creation the goy name of Steve Rogers he nevertheless gave him a Brooklyn Jewish origin. As Rabbi Weinstein also a Brooklyn Jew explains Jews had a sort of dual identity as powerless Jews posing as goys in a powerful goy world. Thus the sickly ineffective Rogers undergoes a scientific experiment that turns him essentially from a 98 lb. Jewish weakling into an all powerful goy Charles Atlas. I’m sure Kirby saw those ads while growing up.
Rogers having now been turned into a Superman had to have a name. Superman being taken Super Jew was out for obvious reasons or even Super Hebrew, there was no Israel at the time, so Kirby settled on Captain America. Rabbi Weinstein again:
Of course a more literal reading of the costume is that it is the American flag brought to life. Captain America’s star is, after all, five-pointed, not six pointed like the Star of David. The flag-as-costume notion reinforces the ideal of assimilation [Jews 'becoming' Americans]. By literally cloaking their character in patriotism, Kirby and Simon became true Americans.
In 1940 there was a desperate struggle going on between the Jews and America First who the Jews styled as American Fascists, i.e. actual Hitlerites. By that line of reasoning the Jews became the true Americans, creators and protector of genuine American Democracy while Anglo-Americans or Native Americans or America Firsters were out to destroy the great American Dream the Jews had discovered. This is the theme of Philip Roth’s novel The Plot Against America backdated to this period. The movie Captain America could easily be subtitled The Plot Against America Foiled.
Rabbi Weinstein once again:
Despite the patriotic appearance, Captain America’s costume also denotes deeply rooted [Jewish] tradition. Along with other Jewish-penned superheroes, Captain America was in part an allusion to the golem, the legendary creature said to have been constructed by the sixteenth century mystic Rabbi Judah Loew to defend the Jews of medieval Prague. “The golem was pretty much the precursor of the superhero in that in every society there is a need for mythological chracters, wish fulfillment. And the wish fulfillment in the Jewish case of the hero would be someone who could protect us. This kind of storytelling seems to dominate in Jewish culture,” commented Will Eisner.
According to tradition a golem is sustained by inscribing the Hebrew word emet (truth) upon its forehead. When the first letter is removed, leaving the word met (death) the golem will be destroyed. Emet is spelled with the letters aleph, rem and tav. The first letter, aleph, is also the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, the equivalent of the letter A. Captain America wears a mask with a white A on his forehead- the very letter needed to empower the golem.
So, you and I thought the A stood for America but it is actually a symbol of Judaism. Captain America then is an unconscious dream projection of the Jewish subconscious following Freud’s thought in his Interpretation of Dreams. Now we know who and what the Captain America or The First Avenger is.
Like Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America the movie is backdated to 1940 although as the US is already in the war perhaps 1942-43 although in Kirby and Simon’s dream vision they could have already employed the usurped power of America in 1940. However the movie writers, are writing today so assume different interpretations and aspects.
In point of fact Hitler no longer exists except in the Jewish mind so the relevance of the movie is hampered. Goys are not reliving the Hitler experience on a daily basis. To correct this and bring the Nazi threat forward Hitler is relegated to an inept showman while the real brain behind Nazism is the Hydra.
The Hydra in Greek mythology was a matriarchal year deity with seven heads and one neck, Six of the heads prepresented the last six months of the year while the seventh head and neck represented the recurring and indestructible year. Everytime a head was cut off it grew back as time does march on.
When the Patriarchy was displacing the Matriarchy the story changed somewhat. Hercules was sent to fight the Hydra and everytime he cut off a head three grew back. Thus the Hydra is represented in the movie as a Red Octopus with eight arms thus embracing the world. Ils sont partout. Obviously Hydra is a dream projection of anti-Semitism the arch fiend of the Jewish unconscious.
The Jewish Doctor Erskine, Reinstein in the comic, playing God botches his first attempt at creating the superman, Hydra/Cain, but finds perfection in Capt. America/Abel. Thus Cain is blighted while Abel is God’s favorite. While Captain America begins as a song and dance man belittling Hitler on stage, when the fighting starts Hitler is relegated offstage while the super-Hitler, Hydra, steps front and center.
While the Americans that Rogers as Capt. America have nothing like the incredible weapons and organization of Hydra they are nevertheless with their bare hands able to defeat him. He is however immortal like all dream fears so that as Arnold said: He’ll be back.
The action is standard comic book action fare and needs no further comment. You could have written it yourself. Pretty clicheed but if you like this stuff you’ll find it very satisfying.
However Captain America remains a Jewish hero in American drag with a purloined identity.
February 13, 2011
A Contribution To The Erbzine
ERB Library Project
Review by R.E. Prindle
The sources of ERB’s work are always so rich that one is at a loss as to where to begin. This is certainly the case with Camille Flammarion. While little known today he had great influence in ERB’s early years. He incarnated in 1842 and disincarnated in 1925. That may be a fancy way to say born and died but appropiate to Flammarion’s way of thinking. He had very nearly established a superior reputation in his early twenties when his writings first began to appear. Indeed, the narrator of Urania seems to have been Flammarion himself as he is named Camille while the narrator is already very famous in his mid- twenties. Flammarion was a fabulous combination of the scientist and neo-Romantic. A perfect balance to my mind and a balance that I believe Burroughs sought to emulate.
ERB acknowledged that he based his vision of Mars on that of Flammarion. The question of when he read his available translated works probably can’t be answered but one would have to believe that Flammarion was fresh on his mind when he began writing in 1911. He had also been pondering Mars for some time as the trilogy of Under The Moons Of Mars is especially well thought out. Apart from his desperate situation one searches for the nudge that got him started.
The nudge may possible be found in a Chicago Tribune article of August 9, 1908 republished here on ERBzine by Bill Hillman. The article is entitled Are All The Planets Inhabited? The unnamed writer is essentially reviewing the thought of Camille Flammarion which he or she acknowledges. Flammarion wrote a number of sci-fi volumes about Mars many of which were apparently translated but which are unavailable now. There are a great many titles available from Print On Demand publishers in French but few in English. I have only three titles although they seem to contain the information in the Tribune article. It’s not impossible that ERB read only the books I have but it seems from the description I have of it he might also have read an 1864 title, supposedly translated, called Real And Imaginary Worlds.
Over all Flammarion wrote over fifty titles including what the English called Scientific Romances or proto-Sci-fi as well as popular astronomy titles and volumes based on psychic research. While he was not a member of the Society For Psychic Research he was aware of it and was in frequent contact with Arthur Conan Doyle who was a member. Doyle for a period of time visited him at his private observatory at his home at Juvisy near Paris. Flammarion considered psychic research a science. Spiritualism pervades the romances I have of him so once again it is unquestionable that ERB was conversant in spiritualism although he apparently rejected it.
Apart from Astronomy For Amateurs the volumes I have are titled Lumen and Urania: A Romance. I’ve already mentioned Lumen in my Edgar Rice Burroughs, Camille Flammarion and Theodore Flournoy essay here on ERBzine so I’ll concentrate on a review of Urania. She, Urania, as one of the nine muses of Greek Mythology, was the muse of astronomy and the head of the Muses. I have a POD facsimile reprint. Based on that I would have to say the original was a beautiful volume. The book was published in France in 1889, translated into English and published in 1891. ERB would have had plenty of time to have read it. The translation is by Augusta Rice Stetson. Between the original and the translation it is a stunningly well written book in the Romantic tradition. It reads as well as Charles Nodier’s Trilby, De La Motte Fouque or E.T.A. Hoffman, all great writers from the first Romantic period.
Urania seems to have been a major influence, perhaps a catalyst on the terrific neo-Romantic novels of George Du Maurier which I have also reviewed on ERBzine. Du Maurier was, of course, an ERB influence also. The tone of Urania is also similar to William Morris’ novels who, Lin Carter believes, as do I, was an influence on Burroughs. So a very strong romantic psychical infuence is operating in Burroughs’ imagination.
In addition to the wonderful translation of Urania by Miss Stetson the work was illustrated by no less than three artists with beautifully distinct styles. I think it’s worth picking up a copy just for the illustrations, or download the book at the link above. Really, reading the book was an ethereal experience. The first chapter is even entitled: A Dream Of Youth.
The book is divided into three parts. The first is an imaginary voyage through the universe, the second the love story that sets up the third part which is a wonderful discussion of Mars and its view of Earth. ERB toys with the this while it is very clear where he got his ideas.
All Across The Universe
Flammarion tells a charming story of an astronomy student who became fascinated by his professor’s clock which has a figure of Urania on it. Urania is the muse of astronomy in Greek Mythology. Pygmalion like this figure comes to life and the beautiful Urania conducts Camille on a tour of the universe. Thus the Romantic or Faerie World melds into the scientific. Very satisfying pyschologically.
Urania is apparently capable of traveling a few thousand times the speed of light because she take Camille to the edge of this universe where they behold other universes across immense stretches of empty space. Flammarion is demonstrating the concept of infinity.
Bearing in mind that he is writing in 1889, the concepts he is demonstrating would have been unthought by his readers, certainly unthought by Edgar Rice Burroughs as so much of this was adapted in his own writing virtually unaltered. John Carter’s translation to Mars can be compared to Urania’s trip across the universe. Indeed, on the way out she reaches Mars then gives a wonderful description of how Earth would look from that planet. Flammarion’s version is remakably close to how the Earth really does look from space as we now know from actual pictures.
Flammarion is convinced that life exists on all planets divising a concept of infinite variation of life forms. This is reflected in ERB’s depiction of animal and plant life in his Valley Dor on Mars, or Barsoom in his lexicon.
Flammarion, who studied double stars at his observatory at Juvisy has some spectacular descriptions of stellar phenomena which, once again, are fairly accurately corroborated by the fabulous photography of the Hubble telescope.
Now, having illustrated the concept of infinity, on the way back Urania demonstrates the meaning of eternal. According to Camille’s ideas light emanating from a source is a continual snapshot of that moment of that source. Thus at the speed of light one can intercept the wave at specific times in a source’s history, in this case, Earth. At the proper distance then one can observe, say, the Battle of Thermopolae, Waterloo or whatever one might choose enacted eternally, thus once created these images always exist in that light wave and wherever the wave touches at whatever distance the scene could be perceived, hence each moment is time is eternal.
In fact, no accurate view of the universe is possible because the light arrives from billions of light years distant. The light we see is so old that the stars may no longer exist. The configuration of that place in space is now probably entirely different from what we see. Flammarion is writing pure science fiction. While he is seldom credited with being one of the originators of science fiction it would appear that rather than there being a, or one father of science fiction there are several and Flammarion is one. I think the Scientific Romances of Hinton also qualify as well as Abbott’s Flatland. These years leading up to the twentieth century are very, very rich in absolutely wonderful lore if you approach it in the right frame of mind.
I am no believer in parapsychology and yet if you approach it from the point of view of these late Victorians as possible science then the period begins to glow in irridescent colors, flouresces before your eyes. Flammarion’s merging of romanticism and science is just stunningly beautiful.
So, having shown his character back to Earth Flammarion in an expert and entrancing way introduces the character of the second section, George Spero. I’m sure that Du Maurier found the catalyst that began his writing in Urania and Spero. The feel, the similarities are remarkable. Du Maurier read French so he could easily have read Urania in 1889 so the time frame is right. His books even look like Urania.
…to live like idiots if we do not think,
live like fools if we do.
This chapter sets up the denouement on Mars. As such it it concerns the love affair and death of Spero and his love, Iclea. Flammarion sets the scene, time and place in such a charming way I feel constrained to quote it. Part Second, Chapter One:
An intense evening glow floated in the atmosphere like a wondrous golden radience. From the heights of Passy the view extended over the whole of the great city, which at that time, more than ever before, was not a city, but a world. The Universal Exhibition of 1867 had lavished all the attractions and delights of the century on imperial Paris. The flowers of civilization were blooming in their most brilliant tints, wasting themselves away by the very ardour of their perfume- fading, dying in the full fervor of youth. The crowned heads of Europe had just heard a deafening trumpet-blast there, which was the last of the monarchy; science, arts, industry had sown their newest creations broadcast, with an inexhaustible prodigality. It was a general delirium of men and things. Regiments were marching, with music at their heads; swifty-rolling vehicles crossed each other from all directions, thousands of people were moving about, in the dust of the avenues, quais and boulevards; but as the very dust, gilded by the rays of the setting sun, crowned the splendid city like an aureole. The tall buildings, towers, and steeples were ablaze with reflection from the fiery orb; tones from a distant orchestra, mingled with a confused murmur of other sounds- the brilliant fit ending of a dazzling summer day- poured into the soul an undefined feeling of contentment, happiness, and satisfaction. There was a kind of symbolical summing up about it of the evidences of the vitality of a great people in the youth of its life and fortune.
Exhilarating what? The sense of discovery, the feeling of perfection just around the corner, the expectation of fulfillment when science- astronomy and psychology leading Flammarion’s way- reveals the blessed secret. The progression to perfection which existed in Flammarion’s paeon still cast a shadow in my childhood. I was raised on it but now I look in vain for evidence of it.
With that sense of the pursuit of the absolute, the squaring of the circle, George and Iclea prepare to step into the brave new world of their dreams.
The couple’s meeting is one of the loveliest I’ve read. Iclea, in Norway was standing on a hillock when she saw her reflection in the sky greatly enlarged and in full detail. George standing a little away but out of sight was also projected into Iclea’s celestial image. At that time he chose to lift his hat to the sinking sun which appeared to Iclea that he was greeting her, so she saw his features and gestures but he didn’t see hers or her.
What was a mytery to Iclea George could have explained as a natural phenomenon called an anthelion. Then the next day as they were boarding a ship to leave Norway, Camille, noticed Iclea staring fixedly at George as she recognized him as the figure in the sky. Then moving away he out of sight of Iclea but she within sight of him he repeated his previous gesture as a salute to Norway. Iclea once again mistook his gesture. Thus when they did meet in Paris it was a dream come true for the girl.
The courtship is charmingly described, as with the anthelion Flammarion faultlessly blends science with the faerie, the romantic as a mind exalting anthem. Quite astonishing, really. One of the central problems that Camille dealt with in the clash between the magical and the scientific world views was the question of immortality. The over riding fear of the scientific view was the elimination of life after death. Man can’t accept that he is materialistic, living for the moment and completely ceasing to exist upon death, even though that is so, thus Flammarion seeks a plausible reason for immortality. That quest is the real reason for the ‘science’ of the Society For Psychic Research which is merely a search for the proof of life after death. Just beautifully written though.
Thus George and Iclea have to die tragically to prove life after death ‘scientifically.’ The couple return to Norway where George is going to attempt to discover the height of the aurora borealis by a balloon ascent.
Sparing the details they rise to the height of fifteen thousand feet when the valve controlling the hydrogen gas bursts and the balloon begins to descend. They chuck everything overboard to slow the descent to no avail. Approaching free fall Iclea gives George one last kiss and then sacrificing herself to love she leaps out of the basket at several hundred feet. George bobs up to three thousand feet then he too throws himself out a la Romeo and Juliette to join his beloved in the great beyond. Whew!
We next see George’s friend and narrator, Camille, at a hypnotic seance in the university town of Nancy. Nancy was one of the two great hypnosis research centers in France. Jean-Martin Charcot presided at the Salpetriere in Paris while Hippolyte Bernstein and Auguste Liebault held court at Nancy. The seance is within the realm of then science but oh so romantic. There, Camille gains concrete evidence that life does exist after death. I transcribe the passage, this is good:
I do not recall how, but it happened that my conversation with him turned on the planet Mars. After describing to me a country situated on the shores of a sea known to astronomers under the name of Kepler’s Ocean, and a solitary island lying in the bosom of this sea; after telling me about the picturesque landscapes and reddish vegetation which adorned the shores, the wave-washed cliffs, and the sandy beaches where the billows break and die away- the subject, who was very sensitive, suddenly grew pale, and raised his hand to his head; his eyes closed, his eyebrows contracted; he seemed desirous of grasping some fugitive idea which obstinatley eluded him. ‘See!’ said Dr. B (ernstein?), standing before him with irresistable command; ‘see! I wish it.’
‘You have friends there,’ he said to me.
‘I am surprised at that,’ I said laughing; ‘I have done enough to deserve them.’
‘Two friends,’ he went on, ‘who are talking about you, this very minute.’
‘Ah, ha! Persons who know me?’
‘How is that?’
‘They have known you here.’
‘Here- on the earth.’
‘How long ago was it?’
‘I do not know.’
‘Have they lived on Mars long?’
‘I do not know.’
‘Are they young?’
‘Yes; they are lovers, who adore each other.’
Then the beloved image of my lamented friends rose distinctly in my mind; but I had no sooner seen them than the subject explained-
‘Yes, it is they!’
‘How do you know?’
‘I see,- they are the same souls, same colors.’
‘What do you mean by the “same colors”?
‘Yes, the souls are suffused with light.’
A few instants afterwards he added, ‘And yet there is a difference.’
Then he was silent, his forehead frowning in his effort to find out. But his face regained all its calmness and serenity as he added-
‘He has become the woman, she is now the man- and they love each other more than ever.’
Wow! There’s a twist. You really can kiss yourself. So, you see there were things going on on Mars. Perhaps the scene is reflected in Dr. Ras Thavas, the Mastermind Of Mars who could switch minds and bodies. As Burroughs let his mind, his imagination play, flickering across these details that he couldn’t replicate exactly he invented variations to amaze and stun us. Note the similarities of the balloon disaster to the balloon flight in ERB’s Pirate Blood.
The third part of Flammarion’s story Heaven And Earth deals with life on Mars. Let Urania seize your mind, lift it and transport it instantaneously through the void to the Red Planet.
Heaven And Earth
The magnetic seance at Nancy had left a strong impression on my mind. I often thought of my departed friend, and his investigations in the unexplored domains of nature and life, of his sincere and original analytical researches on the mysterious problem of immortality; but I could not think of him now without associating him with the idea of a possible reincarnation in the planet Mars.
-Camille Flammarion, Urania
If one looks at John Carter’s first translation to Mars one will remember that he disincarnated before the Arizona cave and reincarnated on Mars, that is he left his old body behind. It was sort of like dragging and dropping on your computer. You somehow magically create a doppelganger of the original. Carter was born again as a full grown man but naked came he. This is exactly the same situation as with George Spero and Iclea. They disincarnated on earth and reincarnated on Mars.
We wonder by what method Carter was transported. Flammarion has possible explanations:
This idea seemed to me to be bold, rash, purely imaginary if you like, but not absurd. The distance from here to Mars is zero for the transmission of attraction; [By this he means the gravitation attraction between the two planets.] it is almost insignificant for that of light, since a few minutes are enough for a luminous undulation to travel millions of leagues. I thought of the telegraph, [action at a distance] the telephone, and the phonograph; of the influence a hypnotizer’s will has on his subject many kilometers distant; [a mistaken idea of hypnotism] and I wondered if some marvelous advance in science might not throw a celestial bridge between our world and others of its kind in infinity.
Alright. ‘Transmission of attraction’ and celestial bridges.’ What kind of argument can one make against that. Transmission of attraction is gravity and as Flammarion explains when Mars and Earth are in alignment the two planets act on each other disturbing their orbits in a measurable degree. I want to be in on that next session with Dr. B. Anyway one or more of the above explanations must have worked for Burroughs although we’re sure that Carter didn’t use a celestial bridge. The distnace was zero by transmission of attraction which required only a short hop so J.C. just stepped from Jasoom to Barsoom shedding his drawers in the process. Right on!
Camille does admit though: …the fantastic ideas flitting through my brain prevented me from making a truly scientific observation. A caveat, no doubt, but then, …It is not this hypothesis which is absurd, it is the simplicity of the pedants. Ah, ha, the bases are covered.
Now after several pages of rumination on the possiblility of telepathy Camille is translated to Mars as in a dream. As a prelude he says, somewhat sagely:
…astronomy and psychology are most closely united to each other since, the psychic universe has the material world for its habitat, while astronomy has for its subject the study of regions of eternal life, and we could form no idea of these regions if we did not know them astronomically. In fact, whether we know it or not, we are living now, at this moment in heavenly regions, and all beings, whatever they may be, are eternally citizens of heaven. It was not without a secret divination of things that antiquity made Urania the muse of all sciences.
While I imagine not many have read the Book Of Urantia, a contemporary astronomical religious text, written during Burroughs time, that text seems directly inspired by Flammarion’s text also. Then in a hot summer ramble Flammarion rests beneath a tree and seems to fall asleep:
I was strangely surprised on waking up after a few minutes’ nap at no longer recognizing the landscape or the trees, nor the river flowing at the foot of the hill, nor the undulating meadows which stretched far away to the distant horizon. The setting sun was smaller than we are accustomed to see it, the air thrilled with harmonious sounds unknown to Earth, and insects as large as birds were fluttering about the leafless trees, which were covered with gigantic red flowers. Astonishment made me spring up with so energetic a bound that I found myhself on my feet feeling singularly light and bouyant. I had taken but a few steps before it seemed to me that more than half the weight of my body had evaporated during my sleep.
Compare that to Carter’s arrival in the Valley Dor of his second translation to Mars. As we know from Burroughs, citizens of Mars are able to communicate telepathically. No one on Earth does it but is there a possibility future evolvement might enable us to do so. On Mars Camille has a character say ‘our body is impregnated with the solar electricity that puts all Nature in vibration.’
Electricity is indeed the stuff of life. Let us see how life and evolution began on Earth. Life on Earth is essentially H2O, hydrogen and oxygen. Therefor it is evident that life began in a primordial ocean of water and certain dissolved chemicals whose elements are known. Over millennium it is evident these eventually combined in permutations and floated inert in the ocean until in some way Earth’s magnetic field, electricity, activated the chemicals making life on Earth and beginning the evolution resulting in life as we know it.
There is little doubt that man’s brain while being only superficially different to other mammals is superior to all beasts including apes. It is obviously superior and more highly evolved than any hominid predecessor although they had a certain something that separated them from the anthropoids. So if telepathy is possible then it must travel on electrical currents, radio waves. That means that one mind must act as a transmitter and another as a receiver. Presently our current is too low to allow transmission even if a mind was tuned to our frequency as a receiver. That’s the key problem for telepathy although technically it seems possible.
Camille having been translated to Mars and returned the next occurrence is even more startling. George Spero returns to Earth not as a woman but as a man. This stuff comes from an unusual mind. Remember that on Mars George and Iclea had switiched sexes so on Mars George left a female body behind but he appears here on Earth in his male form. so you can sort that out as you will with the following:
Shortly after the accident on Lake Tyrinfiorden he had felt like a man who awakes from a long and heavy sleep….He was alone in midnight darkness on the border of a lake; he knew that he was living, but could neither see nor feel himself. The air did not affect him; he was not only light but imponderable. Apparently what remained of him was solely a thinking faculty. His first idea on trying to remember was that he had awakened from the fall by the Norwegian lake; but when day broke he saw he was in another world. The two moons revolving rapidly in the sky in opposite directions made him surmise that he was upon our neighbor, Mars. He lived there for a while in the spirit state, and recognized there the presence of a very beautiful humanity, in which the feminine sex reigns supreme, from an acknowledged superiority over the masculine sex. These organisms are light and delicate, their density of body very slight, their weight slighter still. On the surface of this world natural force plays a secondary part in nature; delicacy of sensation checks everything. There is a large number of animal species, and several human races. In these species and races the feminine sex is stronger and handsomer (the strength consisting in the superiority of sensation; than the masculine sex, and it is she who rules the world.
Flammarion was obviously a feminist.
His great desire to know the life before him induced him not to remain long as an unlooker in the spirit state, but to come to life again under a corporeal form, and knowing the organic condition of the planet, in a feminine form.
Right. Be on the dominant side. Iclea apparently wishing to remain dependent to George chose the male sex. The two then unite into one being. It’s not clear what the status of a unisex was on Mars. Naturally Martians are much more advanced than Earthlings as are all extra-terrestrials in our imaginations. Of course they have to know more than we to get from where they were to where we are as the reverse is impossible for us. Like all extraterrestrials Martians know a lot.
They have invented , among other things, a kind of telegraphic apparatus, in which a roll of stuff [film?] constantly receives a picture of our world, and it is impressed by it, unalterably, as it unrolls. An immense museum devoted expressly to the planets of the solar system, preserves all these phtographic pictures, fixed forever in chronolgical order.
George Du Maurier calls these little bags of memory which he is fearful of losing on death. There’s a collecting mania that beats Andy Warhol all to pieces. George reveals that it was he on Mars who spoke to Camille in the form of a beautiful maiden extending his arms to George. Wow! There’s some implications there. As sci-fi this is very advanced.
‘But then,’ I cried, ‘if you are that Martial maiden, how can you appear to me in Spero’s form, when he no longer exists?’
‘I do not act upon your retina or your optic nerve,’ he replied, ‘but on your mental being and your brain. I am in communication with you now; I influence directly the cerebral seat of your sensations.’
I think I bought that bridge once, but excellent sales job here, certainly the reverse of what you see is what you get.
It is the same, too in conditions of hypnotic somnambulism. You see me and hear me, you feel me, too, by your brain, which is under influence; but I am no more in the form, which you see than the rainbow exists in the presence of the eyes that look at it.’
Isn’t that good? Flammarion is a genius even though he is a little off track, not his fault not that much was known then, especially the nature of hypnotism and its actions on the mind. Then here’s the clincher that proves ERB read and was influenced by this book:
‘I must confess,’ I answered, ‘that I cannot understand your Martial beings as having six limbs.’
And then when Flammarion looked away and looked back the apparition had disappeared. The watchman returned and the Martian story ends.
Thus begins the final chapter of the story The Fixed Point In The Universe in which Flammarion tries to tie up the Faerie and Science aspects of his story- the entwining of the Romantic and the Scientific. While it isn’t quite as noticeable in Burroughs, at least in the first burst of stories from 1911 to 1914, that is exactly what Burroughs tries to do, enclose the Faerie within the scientific. Ray Bradbury would try the same thing in his The Illustrated Man and The Martian Chronicles.
Flammarion establishes the scientific aspect in a magnificent summation of man’s progress toward understanding the place of the Earth in the universe. I quote it because it is a superb understanding that I don’t believe is universally understood:
The Earth is not what it seems to be. Nature is not what we think….
The natural and direct impression given by the observation of Nature is that we inhabit a solid, stable Earth, fixed in the centre of the universe. It took long centuries of study and a great deal of boldness to free ourselves from that natural conviction, and to realize that the world we are on is isolated in space, without any support whatever, in rapid motion on itself and around the Sun. But to the ages before scientific analysis, to primitive peoples, and even today to three quarters of the human race, our feet are resting on a solid Earth which is fixed at the base of the universe, and whose foundations are supposed to extend into the depths of the infinite.
And yet from the time when it was first realized that it is the Sun which rises and sets every day; that it is the same Moon, the same stars, the same constellations which revolve about us, those very facts forced one to admit with absolute certainty that there must be empty space underneath the Earth, to let the stars of the firmament pass from their setting to their rising. This first recognition was a turning-point. The admission of the Earth’s isolation in space was astronomy’s first triumph. It was the first step, and indeed the most difficult one. Think of it! To give up the foundations of the Earth! Such an idea would never have sprung from any brain without the study of the stars, or indeed without the transparency of the atmosphere. Under a perpetually cloudy sky, human thoughts would have remained fixed on terrestrial ground like the oyster to the rock.
The Earth once isolated in space, the first step was taken. Before this revelation, whose philosophical bearing equals its scientific value, all manner of shapes had been imagined for our sublunary dwelling place. In the first place, the Earth was thought to be an island emerging from a boundless ocean, the island having infinite roots. Then the Earth, with its seas, was supposed to be a flat, circular disc, all around on which rested the vault of the firmament. Later, cubic, cylindrical, polyhedric forms, etc., were imagine. But still the progress of navigation tended to reveal its spherical nature, and when its isolation, with its incontestable proofs, was recognized, this sphericity was admitted as a natural corollary of that isolation and of the circular motion of the celestial spheres around the supposed central globe.
The terrestrial globe being from that time recognized as isolated, to move it was no longer difficult. Formerly, when the sky was looked upon as a dome crowning the massive and unlimited Earth, the very idea of supposing it to be in motion would have been not only absurd but untenable. But from the time we could see it in our minds, placed like a globe in the centre of celestial motion, the idea of imagining that perhaps this globe could revolve on itself, so as to avoid obliging the whole sky and the immense universe to perform this daily task, might come naturally into a thinker’s mind; and indeed we see the hypothesis of the daily rotation of the terrestrial sphere coming to light in ancient civilizations, among the Greeks, the Egyptians, the Indians, etc. It is sufficient to read a few chapters of Ptolemy, Plutarch, or Surya-Siddhanta for an account of these conjectures. But this new hypothesis, although it had been prepared for by the first one, was none the less bold, and contrary to the feelings inspired by the direct contemplation of Nature. Thoughtful mankind was obliged to wait until the sixteenth century, or, to speak more correctly, until the seventeenth century, to learn our planet’s true position in the universe, and to know by supported proofs that it has a double movement- daily about itself, and yearly about the Sun. From that time only, from the time of Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler and Newton, has real astronomy existed.
A brilliant and remarkable synthesis of astronomical knowledge. Burroughs frequently mentions his debt to Flammarion while I have yet to see where he refers to Percival Lowell. Lowell, himself visited Flammarion at Juvisy where he, it would seem, learned from the master.
We have seen that in 1908 The Chicago Tribune recapitulated Flammarion’s vision of Mars and not Lowell’s on its pages with illustrations. Burroughs said that he based his vision of Mars on Flammarion and adapted to more correct knowledge when it appeared.
It seems clear that Burroughs was fully exposed to the paranormal/Theosophical viewpoints borrowing only what he found useful while rejecting the rest while very like believing none of it. Like Flammarion he accords telepathic powers to Martians but they are not effective with the Earthman, John Carter.
As the magical world of the fairies of the first Romantic period had metamorphosed into the pseudo-scientific paranormal Flammarion too has metamorphosed his magical longings into a scientific framework while accepting modern scientific astronomy. However he still confuses the two because of the longing for personality immortality. He accords full scientific values to the Society For Psychic Research because they seem to follow rigorous scientific methods yet the unconfirmed anecdotes they rely on he accepts as attested facts while they aren’t. It’s odd that with his trained mind he couldn’t see the fallacy.
And then while being a very able astronomer he merely decides that all the planets in the universe are inhabitable and then populates them. Thus he believes that Mars as a fact is fully peopled with flora and fauna like Earth’s but more exotic and spiritual.
He imagines a nearly infinite variety of life, that is human like intelligent life when in fact to this date all planets but Earth are barren of life. Venus isn’t even watery. What a blow that truth was.
Burroughs combined this wonderful fantastic fairyland displaced from Earth with evolution to imagine a fantastic array of life forms both on Earth and other planets, even beyond the farthest star.’
Both men were neo-Romantics although Flammarion having been born earlier was more heavily influenced by the first Romantic period while the much younger Burroughs was more acclimated to the scientific. By the time he began to write autos, planes, telephones and electricity had already transformed the world while radio and television were just round the corner. Talk about action at a distance and telepathy. God, Skype.
It was a wonderful time when all things were possible if improbable. Truly, astronomy and psychology would be he cornerstones of the Brave New World that awaits. Will it be Utopian or Dystopian?
Pt. IV: H.G. Wells, Sigmund Freud, Edgar Rice Burroughs And The Development Of Contemporary Sexual Attitudes
September 15, 2010
H.G. Wells, Sigmund Freud, Edgar Rice Burroughs
And The Development Of Contemporary Sexual Attitudes
Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Contribution
That Edgar Rice Burroughs is one of the, if not the most, influential writers, America has produced goes without saying. The only question is in how many different ways did he do it and was an attitude toward sexual mores one of them. I think it can be shown that that is true. Was Burroughs an ideologue in sexual matters. At this point I can’t say yes or no although his attitudes seem consistent throughout his career.
A first hurdle we have to get over is whether Burroughs was some sort of idiot savant who just had the knack for writing adventure stories or was he an auto-didact who educated himself in exemplary fashion. The consensus is more along the idiot savant line which I hope I have shown in my by now voluminous writings that ERB was very well read, had a sound if not spectacular education while being an intelligent man with at least a 120-130 IQ.
I think I have shown that he was a full participant in the intellectual culture of 1875-1920 which influenced the first phase of his writing career. We know he was well read because he references hundreds of books that he read in his own pages. He tells us he read Gibbon’s Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire which is an essential for a liberal education. He tells us he read and reread Plutarch’s Parallel Lives which also is no mean achievement. Those may be isolated instances or, as I think, they are the tip of the iceberg. He was near expert on Evolution while being deeply read in esoteric and exoteric religion. The guy was a virtual marvel. His learning shows up in his writings although in a fantastic manner for enterainment purposes.
For our purposes here we can begin when his father placed him in the Harvard Latin School of Chicago. He was to spend what we would call his Junior High years there. It was there he learned Latin and possibly some Greek. He was to complain later that he learned Latin before he learned to write in English which he thought affected his style and it may have as some of his writing reads like he was translating from Latin. While he may not have qualified as a Latin scholar I’m sure that for the rest of his life he could find his way through an extensive Latin quotation. When I was in school that was considered an achievement of a high order. So ERB had a pretty decent founding in the Classics.
Now, there has been a pretty fair controvercy on ERBzine recently over how nude Martians were. I don’t think there is any question but that both men and women hang out, that is ventral and dorsal nudity. One might therefore infer that in Burroughs’ vision of an utopia the style was to be au naturel.
Was this original or did ERB, as usual, borrow from the culture, have his sources?
Let’s start at Harvard Latin School. At the time the Patriarchy was in full control of the culture. There were grumblings from both the Matriarchy and the Hetaerarchy but those were in the beginning stages of the revolt. As late as the 1960s when I was an Ancient History major you would have been thrown out of school for challenging the Patriarchal version of Ancient History, that is to say Greek and Roman. ERB then couldn’t have been given less than a 110% Patriarchal education.
Any illustrations of Greek statues he would have seen showed the genitals fully exposed unless a fig leaf had been placed over them. The Greek vases he may have seen would have shown Greek men at play or leisure with fully exposed genitals, any weapons belted on would look exactly like his Martians. They might have a wrap thrown over the shoulder for protection from inclement weather.
The phallicism, the pride in manhood, runs all through Greek art and literature. At the time men were liberating themselves from the Matriarchy with its cruel attitude toward the males. It had been discovered that the male inseminated the female so men claimed the child as theirs while the women were mere incubators or storehouses rather than the fecund goddesses of creation. Man was the creator. That was the answer the riddle posed by the Theban sphinx to Oedipus was, Man. So the psychological reaction must have been if you’ve got one, show it. Meanwhile as the man was the progenitor of a woman’s offspring, a man’s wife had to be secluded so that another man couldn’t impregnate her. Whereas in the past women were more or less commonly available to the certified they now became the exclusive possession of one man, except for prostitutes or hetaerists. The children were his.
How much, if any, of this ERB understood he at least saw a society where the men went fully nude. As the Martian children were hatched from eggs incubated in the Martian sun it sounds as though he had read Plato where Socrates expatiated on the old days when men and women were hatched from eggs. Indeed, Leda impregnated by Zeus in the form of a swan hatched two eggs that produced Castor and Pollux and Helen and Clytemnestra as two sets of twins. It’s not too far from there to Mars, don’t you think?
Around the turn of the century the Nudist movement took form in German. We tend to think of these earlier times as staid when in reality the modern world was in its birth throes. The nudity thing since the French Revolution had been slowly growing. For the Medieval Free Spirits and Anabatists nudity was a key point as it was for the Libertines and as it was adopted by the Communist offshoots of the Revolution. Men want to look at the female nude.
In Germany at the turn of the century the nudity movement jelled, an actual movement taking shape in conjunction with the Wandervogel movement. This is turn led to the development of the Nature movement resulting in the incredible Nature Boy scene in the US of the thirties and forties which in turn evolved into the Beat/Hippie phenomenon of the fifties, sixties and seventies and into today.
Burroughs would have been aware of this whole phenomenon up to 1950 endorsing it enthusiastically. Tarzan was the ultimate Nature Boy and Burroughs developed the character with that in mind. The ideal. I have no douts that Burroughs intended him as the exemplar of this growing movement. Hence the development of the Nature movement was aided, abetted and intentionally forwarded by ERB clearly linking him to the scene in Bohemian NY of the sixties and the whole Beat/Hippie scene.
So Burroughs’ writings actually promote nudism and the Nature movement throughout his career. John Carter arrives, born again, nude on Mars where he would have been unnoticeable on that account, completely blending in. Indeed, the only difference was that he was white instead of red which was a curiosity. Thus, as soon as he leaves Earth he become a nudist in what was a sort of utopian society to Burroughs.
Tarzan necessarily practiced nudity for his first twenty years, only donning his ‘fig leaf’ or G-string when he came in contact with civilization.
Burroughs always refers to Tarzan’s ‘adornment’ as a G-string in the early novels. A G-string only cover the genitals with a flap and not the rear so Tarzan was essentially nude in the jungle. He was a Nature Boy and that is the way most of his readers have perceived him.
The MGM Tarzan is the exemplar of the Nature Boy living on fruit and nuts. The MGM movies regularly show bowls of fruits and nuts while Tarzan, unless memory fails, is never shown squatting over a haunch eating the flesh raw as in Burroughs’ novels. As with Burroughs and the Nature Boys Tarzan rejects all the appurtenances of civilization except for some mechanical engineering at which Tarzan was apparently a genius. Might even have been a Nuclear Physicist even though he could barely grunt in the MGM movies.
It seems clear that there was vitually no one who hadn’t heard of Tarzan or Burroughs. Nearly everyone was influenced by the two. It therefore seems probable that the Nature Boys, the nudists took Tarzan as an avatar.
Certainly John Derek directed his movie, Tarzan, The Ape Man of the 1980s, concentrating on the sexual and nature aspects of the image. No argument there, I hope.
Now, the Bohemian scene in NYC was among other things a return to the primitive. The crowd surrounding Andy Warhol in his Factory was a bunch of savages stripped of all but the rudiments of civilization. They were the Tarzans of the asphalt jungle. The more affluent savages, the Haute Boheme lived a life of sexual abandon that Burroughs, Wells and Freud could only have dreamed of, and they did dream of it.
Once the attitude was institutionalized at Studio 54 the world Burroughs, Wells and Freud longed for was realized. It was Hetaerism and Matriarchialism on wheels, a complete overthrow of Patriarchalism. Our three musketeers would have gained easy admitance and found each in his own particular utopia. From 1880 to 1980 was only a hundred years. A short time indeed to overturn civilization.
Burroughs was a leading figure in this revolution.
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.
Four Crucial Years
In The Life Of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Pt. I
Every artist writes his own autobiography.
Even Shakespeare’s works contain a life of himself for those who know how to read it.
–Havelock Ellis as quoted by Robert W. Fenton
Eighteen ninety-six found Edgar Rice Burroughs confronting the first great crisis of his adult life. The weight of his childhood experiences pressed on his mind as he turned twenty. His subconscious mind was directing his actions while his conscious intelligence futilely struggled against it. He had no plans; nor could he form any. He was in a state of emotional turmoil. He obviously did not think out his moves nor weigh the effects of his actions on others. He was to burn many bridges as he flayed about like the proverbial bull in the china shop trying to find his way out.
Having graduated from the Michigan Military Academy he had been serving in the capacity of instructor for the previous year. All his heroes were military men. He fancied a military career as an Army officer even though he had failed the West Point exam the year before. Still, he was in a fine position to realize his objective. Men who could help him were nearby friends. Captain, soon to be General, Charles King, who had befriended him as a cadet, and the Commandant of the MMA, Colonel Rogers. All he had to do was to be patient and those men of some influence would surely have obtained an appointment for him.
They had given a mere boy a position of great trust and responsibility in making him an instructor. They were military men who judged others in the military manner. Then in the Spring of 1896 Burroughs did one of the most inexplicable things in a career of the inexplicable; he abandoned his post. Without notice to those career officers who were depending on him he resigned his post and on May 13th of 1896 he joined the Army as an enlisted man, a common soldier, a grunt. Within days he was on his way to his asignment.
As he was to say of so many of his later fictional heroes: ‘for me to think is to act.’ He oughtn’t have been so precipitate. He should have thought twice. He shouldn’t have had to think about it at all.
If he seriously wanted a military career as an officer he should have known that it is virtually impossible for an enlisted man to rise through the ranks. Even in the rare cases when this occurs, the enlisted man is always an odd duck between the officer caste and the enlisted men.
In this case he had not only forteited caste but as far as Rogers and King were concerned he had deserted, the worst crime that a military man can commit. Both men wrote him off at that time. Strangely he never understood that his precipitate act would be held against him by those he disappointed.
Apparently joining in a fit of despair- for me to think is to act- as the date of the 13th would indicate he requested the worst duty the Army had ensuring his desire to fail. On one level it is almost as though he did have his next move worked out. Not normally too receptive to the desires or needs of its grunts in this case the Army was only too glad to accommodate him. Burroughs was sent into Apacheria to a place called Fort Grant in what was then the territory of Arizona. Neither Arizona nor New Mexico became States until after the turn of the century so Burroughs had actually ‘lit out for the territories’ as Huck Finn would have put it. There was still some Apache resistance going on, thus ERB was a part of the Wild West.
According to Philip R. Burger, writing in the Winter 1999 issue of the Burroughs Bulletin, the standard term of enlistment at the time was three years but, as there would be no reason to join the Army except to make it a career, the reasonable assumption for those left behind in Chicago without a word of goodbye would have been that Burroughs was out of their lives. He was a dead man.
For those of you who have never joined the services, once you leave you’re out of the lives of those left behind. Your traditions have been broken. Even when you come back for leave you are only tolerated as a visitor who will leave, the sooner the better, so you don’t disrupt their lives any longer than necessary.
Burroughs didn’t even have traditions in Chicago except with a few people. From the sixth grade on he had a record of broken attendance at a number of schools, from the girl’s school to Harvard School and then back East, to Idaho and on to the MMA. He would have known but few people well, intimate with none except the lovely Emma Hulbert.
He could have seen her but rarely over the last years which included high school. He really had no ties in Chicago. His relationshlip to Emma dated back to Brown grade school. At sometime before he began his peripatetic education he began to propose to her. As he was gone from Chicago all this time it is very difficult to believe that Emma sat home pining. She must have been dating other boys, however, at the same time she must have been waiting for Burroughs since, at 24, when she married him she was only a couple years from spinsterhood. She must have been giving her parents some cause for alarm.
Thus when Burroughs appeared to walk out of her life in 1896 without a word about his intentions one wonders what her response was. Certainly it was about this time that Frank Martin began to pay his court. We will learn more of Frank Martin a little later.
For Burroughs, like so many of us once we were inducted, ERB speedily learned his mistake. For the men who don’t fit in ‘each fresh move is a fresh mistake.’ He regretted his decision immediately. For him to think was to act, so from his arrival at Fort Grant he began a petition for discharge.
As he had been under twenty-one when he joined, he had had to ask his father for his consent. He now asked him to use his influence to get him out.
Perhaps we do not have enough information on why he now so desperately wanted out. In later life this short ten month period of his life would be fraught with great significance in his mind. Just before he divorced his lovely wife Emma in 1933 ERB took a solo vacation to return to this scene of his young manhood. That would indicate that Emma and Fort Grant were linked in his mind.
Two of his Martian novels are associated with the Fort Grant experience. In his first novel, A Princess Of Mars, John Carter serves in the Army in Arizona, is discharged, then returns as a prospector. Under attack by Apaches he seeks refuge in a mountain cave in which he leaves his body while his astral projection goes to Mars. Viewed from one point that’s as neat a description of going insane as I’ve ever come across.
During his 1933 visit to Arizona, Carter returns to visit a trembling fearful Burroughs in his mountain cabin. One gets the impression that Burroughs felt like a whipped dog.
The Apaches made a terrific impression on the young man. So much so that he could see himself joining them as a Brave as is evidenced by his two Apache novels, The War Chief and Apache Devil. Then too his two cowboy novels are placed in Arizona rather than in Idaho where one would expect them.
In his Return Of Tarzan the trip to the Sahara is an obvious reference to Apacheria. The French government sends Tarzan into the desert rather than the US government sending ERB to Arizona. In the deseart Tarzan develops a strong liking for the Arabs, much as ERB did for the Apaches. Tarzan considered becoming a Son Of The Desert just as ERB thought he might become Apache.
A large part of ERB’s fascination for the military life was based on his respect for Capt. Charles King under whom he had served briefly at the MMA. King was, I would imagine, a boy’s dream of a dashing Calvalry Officer. In this wildly romantic period of the Indian Wars, not to mention the proximity of the Civil War, a man who had served at the same time and the same place General Custer must have been held in some awe. King had also served with and knew Buffalo Bill, a nonpareil hero of the time and one ERB may have met at the 1893 Columbian Expo.
Burroughs names two of his characters after Custer.
On top of all this King was a successful writer of military novels. He wote an excellent analysis of Custer’s defeat, which is available on ERBzine, as well as a first hand account of the resultant campaign to quell the uprising, Campaigning With Crook. the latter is a superb recreation of a time and place we’ll never see again. In just a few words King is able to recreate a Deadwood, South Dakota for which the movies have filmed endless miles of photographs with less result. His single reference to barbaric cowboys wearing their guns on their hips says more than dozens of Hollywood films. ERB was also able to capture some of this feeling in his two excellent Western novels as well as his two Apache novels.
King was prolific writing nearly seventy books in his long career. I have read only a few, which I find of only of journeyman quality. King has an emascualted precious style which is reflected in his photographs. Burroughs enthusiastically said he wrote the best Army novels ever, which may be true, I haven’t come across any other novels of Army life. among his many novels of Army life are three that deal with the Pullman strike when the Seventh was stationed at Fort Sheridan. One, An Apache Princess written in 1903 might possibly have been an influence on A Princess Of Mars.
At any rate King glorifies the officer’s life. He fooled a young green ERB. In any event ERB failed to notice the haughty distinctions King drew between the relative status of the officers and the enlisted men. King had all the prejudices of the officer class seeing the enlisted man as a subhuman species. Knowing this, as Burroughs should have, I am baffled by his enlisting.
Perhaps as at the MMA he thought that one entered as a buck private working up to officer rapidly as he had at the MMA. If so he must have had a very rude awakening. It couldn’t have taken him long to realize that advancing through the ranks was rare while at the same time a long process for such an impatient lad as he.
While he was cleaning those stalls he must have had plenty of time to think out his dilemma. As he thought back over his past actions it must have occurred to him that perhaps he erred in walking out on Colonel Rogers the previous May. Accordingly on December 2 of 1896 he sent a letter back to Rogers of which the reply is extant. We don’t know what ERB said but I imagine he was feeling Rogers out to see if he couldn’t get him an officer’s appointment. Rogers reply was, of course, polite but cool and distant firmly placing Burroughs as oneof the rest of Rogers’ students. Yuh. ERB should have thought twice about abandoning his post.
The many, many references to this period of his life point to a great regret later in life that he had left it. He associated this regret with Emma. Perhaps the visit of the officer, John Carter, to him in his lonely cabin in the White Mountains of Arizona represents his lost career as an Army officer but was one of the reasons for his wanting to get back to Chicago that he hadn’t dealt with his relationship with Emma? Did he now learn that in his absence someone else was playing his old love song to Emma? Someone who Papa Alvin Hulbert much preferred to ERB?
It would be interesting to know what Emma thought when her beau just up and removed himself to Arizona. Perhaps perplexed but still hopeful she sent him her picture on his birthday in September. Remember me, perhaps?
Unhappy with his life at ‘the worst post in the Army’, how one’s attitude changes when one’s dreams are realized, he petitioned his father to use his influence to return him to civilian life.
Surprisingly his father was easily able to do this. By March of 1897 ERB had his discharge papers in his hand. He was a free man again. How many tens of thousands of us would have appreciated such an easy resolution to the problem.
Our Man still didn’t have a plan. What we he going to do with his life? Apparently Colonel Rogers’ reply to his letter didn’t apprise him of the facts of life. Nor did he seem to realize that once you reject the military the Army has no use for you. At the time, the US Army was very small, perhaps seventy-five thousand men. The officer corps was about ten per cent or seventy-five hundred men. This is virtually a club. The officers would have known each other personally, by name or by reputation. The same was more or less true of the enlisted men.
Thus Porges records a letter ERB received in 1936 from one W.L. Burroughs of Charlotte, N.C. who probes:
This morning an old army sergeant whom I soldiered with back in the nineties dropped in my office and our conversation started at Fort Sheridan, ILl. when the 7th US Cavalry and the 15th U.W. Infantry left that post for Arizona and New Mexico. He asked me if I remembered Edgar Rice Burroughs of Troop ‘B’ Seventh Cavalry, said he was discharged during the summer of 1896 at Fort Grant, Arizona account of a ‘Tobacca heart’…will be delighted to know for certain that we soldiered with so distinguished a person back in the nineties.
Whether true or not these men remembered ERB as a malingerer who obtained a fraudulent discharge. I interpet ‘Tobacco heart’ to be a feigned ailment which would make ‘so distinguished a person’ a sarcastic and insulting remark. If W.L. Burroughs is correct then ERB got himself out by reasonable discreditable means rather than through the efforts of his father. Thus forty years on an Army reputation followed ERB.
Burroughs replied cooly a few days later ‘…seldom have been in touch with any of the men I soldiered with since I left Fort Grant.’ ERB didn’t say ‘AND GOODBYE.’ but I think that is implied.
So having committed blunder after blunder it would have been wise for Our Man to reevaluate his position. Strangely he didn’t do this, hoping against hope, as I imagine to pull that particualr rabbit out of the hat over the next few years. Good luck, Edgar Rice Burroughs.
For now he could only think of returning to Chicago. As we know the Burroughs Boys were ranching up in Idaho. ERB always wanted to prove that he was a businessman. Why, I don’t know. The fact of the matter seems to be that the Burroughs family was particularly inept at business. Papa George T. had been burned out of his distillery while his battery business was steadily running down, due for extermination about a decade later.
The Boys would turn to dredging for gold after failing at ranching. Perhaps one of the reasons they failed at ranching was just this operation coming up. They had bought a Mexican herd, apparently sight unseen. They were then in Nogales to receive and transship the herd to KC. I suspect they lost their shirt. In less than two years they would be gold dredging.
The world is full of sharpers. Out West so many salted gold mines were sold to greenhorns that it doesn’t bear telling. Frank Harris, the British magazine editor in his autobiography has a great story about how he and his outfit lifted a Mexican herd driving it back across the Rio Grande. I have no doubt that some Mexican sharpers took advantage of the Burroughs Boys. They would later buy a salted gold claim.
The herd ERB put on board the train he describes as no bigger than jackrabbits while probably being less well fed. The death rate of the cows on the trip back to KC was horrendous, while the survivors became starved and dehydrated. I don’t think the Burroughs Boys did well on that transaction. You gotta watch your back or, hopefully, see ‘em coming.
Edgar Rice Burroughs came home. Perhaps he had now reached childhood’s end. At twenty-one perhaps he now realized that he had a life to lead. Perhaps. If so, it was slow dawning. But then ERB’s was not an ordinary mind, a normal bean as he would have put it. No, his was a slow ripening melon. But then, why should everyone develop at the same pace? If up to this point I seem to have been overly critical of Our Young Man it’s because there has been much to be critical of; just as there will be more, but he hasn’t done anything really reprehensible. Your record may not be much better; mine certainly wasn’t. He’s a good sort of guy; just a little on the goofy side. Slow to learn. He doesn’t seem to catch on.
However he’s watching. He’s observing. He’s ingesting and there out of sight he’s digesting all the information coming in. Plus, he will give it a brilliant interpretation when he egests it.
These four years would be of great use to him in his writing career. Always a subtle psychologist ERB was also a skillful employer of the Freudian concepts of condensation, displacement and sublimation and this before he could have read Freud. An attentive reading of any of his novels always reveals layers of hidden meaning. Simply put Edgar Rice Burroughs is the most poetic of novelists.
His poetic tastes weren’t always elevated. He did have a copy or two of Eddie Guest in his library. Edgar A. Guest. Perhaps forgotten today Guest was a people’s poet. In the 1950s when I spread out the Detroit Free Press on the floor one of the first things I read was the daily poem of Edgar Guest. Of course, I thought he had written each one the night before. I marveled at his facility. Nice homey thoughts though.
Burroughs tastes ran to the likes of Rudyard Kipling, H.H. Knibbs, Robert W. Service and others of the jingly-jangly people’s school. Although he did know enough about a high brow like Robert Browning to consider him a bore. Rightly from my point of view. He liked Tennyson, who was considered a high brow, also I suspect Walter Scott, Shelley and Byron. He frequently hints at Longfellow’s ‘Wreck Of The Hesperus’ while he probably had to read Hiawatha in school
He knows all the popular stuff of the day like ‘Over The Hill To The Poor House’ too while he had probably read that anthem of doomed labor, Edward Markham’s Man With The Hoe, too. If that one didn’t gag him he’s not the man I think he was.
Song lyrics were big with him too. On his cross country auto tour he mentions three records by name that his family wore out- of course a battery operated portable played in a field with the plows they called styluses (well, cultured people called them styluses or styli, us near illiterates called them needles) in those days they might have worn out a record in two or three plays. One song was ‘Are You From Dixie?’, another was ‘Do What Your Mother Did; and the last ‘Hello- Hawaii, How Are Ya?’ I guess he liked songs that asked questions. I’ll examine the lurics a little farther on down the road but when we’re considering the literary influences don’t forget the poetry. After all ERB wrote a whole book around the lyrics of H.H. Knibbs ‘Out There Somewhere.’
Just before he returned to Chicago one of the great newspaper literary lights and poets of Chicago Eugene Field had died- 1895. Burroughs had a collection of Field’s writings in his library while Field, when alive, hung out at the McClurg’s book store. Perhaps there were sentimental reasons for Burroughs pursuing McClurg’s so ardently as well as practical ones.
Another Chicago writer among ERB’s collection of books who was reaching an apex at this time was George Ade. While these Chicago stalwarts are mostly forgotten now they were considered immortal at the time. Ade especially is a very clever writer with a real skill at turning a phrase. His ‘Fables In Slang’ would have knocked ERB flat. ERB’s own interest in the colloquial, which is very pronounced, may have been influenced by Ade’s style.
Another columnist of the period, Peter Finley Dunne, with his Irish dialect stuff written around his character Mr. Dooley doesn’t seem to have made much of an impression on ERB.
Thus while involved in his attempts to correct his mistake of enlisting he was very attentive and observant of the life going on around him in whatever milieu.
As I mentioned earlier, when you leave for the military your friends edit you out of their lives. Returning is not so easy. Even when I returned on leave, actually almost ten months after I left, people demanded almost belligerently, ‘What are you doing here? I thought you joined the Navy.’ After explaining I was on leave, nearly asking permission to hang around for a couple weeks, I was grudgingly given permission but let it be known that if I wasn’t gone I would have some explaining to do.
ERB has left a record of his reception by his friends in Chicago. He had sixteen years to let it run around his mind before he wrote it down. It came out in Return Of Tarzan which, I imagine might be read as the Return Of Edgar Rice Burroughs. Actually as Havelock Ellis hints in the opening quote, both Tarzan Of The Apes and The Return Of Tarzan can be read as autobiographical sketches from birth to the marriage with Emma in 1900.
Burroughs describes his reception in Chapter 23 of the The Return. The jungle is a Burroughsian symbol for society as in ‘It’s a jungle out there.’ Tarzan in the jungle can be read as ERB in Chicago. Tarzan is resting in the crotch of a great limb of a jungle giant when he hears a troop of apes approaching the clearing beneath the tree. The tree is a symbol of security or getting out of or above the tumult. Trees probably correspond to his imagination.
Tarzan recognized the troop as his old band of which he is still nominally king. Having been gone for two years he rightly thinks the dull brutes will have trouble remembering him:
’From the talk which he overheard he learned that they had come to choose a new king- their late chief (the successor of Terkoz?) had fallen a hundred feet beneath a broken limb to an untimely end.
Tarzan walked to the end of an overhanging limb in plain view of them. The quick eyes of a female (Emma?) caught sight ofhim first. With a barking guttural she called the attention of the others. Several fhuge bulls stood erect to get a better view of the intruder. With bared fangs and bristling necks they advanced slowly toward him, with deep ominous growls.
‘Karnath, I am Tarzan Of The Apes,’ said the ape-man in the nernacular of the tribe. ‘You remember me. Together we teased Numa when we were still little apes, throwing sticks and nuts at him form the saftey of high branches.’
‘And Magor,’ continued Tarzan, addressing another, ‘do you not recall your former king- he who slew the mighty Kerchak? Look at me! Am I not the same Tarzan- mighty hunter- invincible fighter- that you knew for many seasons?’
The apes all crowded orward now, but more in curiosity than threatening. They muttered among themselves for a few moments.
‘What do you want among us now?’ Asked Karnath.
‘Only peace.’ answered the ape-man.
Again the apes conferred. At leangth Karnath spoke again.
‘Come in peace, then, Tarzan Of The Apes.’ He said.
So Tarzan and ERB returned to the fold. However there were two young bulls who were not ready to receive Tarzan back. We will find that two young men resented Burroughs’ return. The resentment of the principal young man would nearly cost Burroughs his life while forcing him to commit to a marriage against his will.
Thus Burroughs was received back into Chicago.
He would spend about ten months before he uprooted himself once again to make his second visit to his brothers in Idaho. I should think that this period in Chicago was perhaps the most idyllic of his life. He found gainful employment with his father at the Battery Company. However at fifteen dollars a week it was much less than his allowance had been at the MMA. However he was living and eating at home so one imagines it was all pocket cash which afforded a certain limited affluence. He could afford to take Emma out.
Emma appears to have preferred him but he was no favorite of Papa Alvin and the Mrs. If Frank Martin had begun to pay his court he was much the preferred suitor. The son of Col. A.N. Martin who was a millionaire railroad man he was to be much preferred to a penniless Ed Burroughs whose father had apostacized to William Jennings Bryan in the election of 1896. No, Martin should be given the inside track. Burroughs was forbidden the house in an attempt to disrupt his relationship with Emma.
The Hulberts looked askance at Burroughs patchy history. He was less than promising. While his father had gotten him released from his enlistment, people are wont to say there’s more to that story than meets the eye. Plenty of room for rumor, if you know what I mean. ERB probably had to explain a lot.
So while he could date Emma he couldn’t go hang around all evening every evening as lovers are wont to do.
So what did ERB do with his spare time. He obviously read. H.Rider Haggard was popping them out two or three a year at the time which is clear from the evidence ERB read. Jules Verne was alive and producing although much of his production remained untranslated.
There weren’t any movies or television, however there was the Levee, Chicago’s Sin City. In later novels ERB would show what appears to be first hand rather detailed knowledge of this area of brothels, saloons and gambling joints. Burroughs was certainly no stranger to drinking and gambling, whether he frequented brothels may not be known but, if you’re in the area….
In a city of a million six there were only about forty thousand library cards issued but it is probable that one of them was in the wallet of our investigator of curious and unusual phenomena. He sure knew a lot of odd details. One of the big intellectual questions is whether or not he knew of Theosophy. A volume of William Q. Judge, a leading Theosophist who died in 1896, is to be found among Burroughs’ books. His first story Minidoka 937th Earl of One Mile which is concerned with this period while unpublished until just recently makes mention in the descent to Nevaeh of the Seven Worlds which is a reference to either Theosophy, Dante or both.
Again, hanging around a library one might come across volumes of Dante and Theosophy. Shoot, Tarzan spent his afternoons in the Paris library becoming discouraged by the surfeit of knowledge to be covered.
And all around him floods of changes were rolling over him. The world was moving with breathtaking rapidity. If a guy wasn’t half crazy already trying to keep up would get him the rest of the way. Actually these four years were the intellectual bottom, in the musical sense, of the rest of Burroughs; life. perhaps sensory overload occured culminating with his bashing in Toronto and subsequent marriage to Emma so that he was no longer open to new experiences afater his marriage. Everything after 1900 was interpreted in the light of this experience. the interpretations were inventive enough.
His situation might be compared to that of Zeus and Metis of Greek mythology. Ordinarily when the Patriarchy took over a Matriarchal cult the event was comemorated in a myth of sexual union.
In the case of Metis, a Goddess of wisdom, she went down into the belly of the monster like a plate of oysters perhaps meaning the Patriarchy had attempted to stamp the Metis cult flat or eat it up as the Zulus would say. If so Zeus and the boys had bitten off more than they could chew or digest, as it were.
Metis lived on in his belly giving him unwanted advice until I would imagine the Patriarchy came up with a compromise solution. Thus Metis gave birth to Athene who was born fully formed from the forehead of Zeus, which is to say that the cult of Metis was transformed into the cult of Athene. Athene retained all the attributres of the goddess of Matriarchy but ‘she was all for the Patriarchy.’
So now with Burroughs; he ingested all this experience which he gave a ‘definite impression of fictionalizing’ to appear full blown from his forehead +- twenty years later.
Porges reproduces a political cartoon of Young Burroughs on page 68 of the First Edition in which Uncle Sam and John Bull are watching a scene. One or the other says: ‘How would you like to be a Russian?’
In the cartoon Russian soldiers are shooting and bayonetting obvious Jews while the Jews are bombing the Russians. The villains of the first four Tarzan novels, ‘The Russian Quartet; are two Russians Nikolas Rokoff and Paulevitch. Thus, if the cartoon was drawn in this period, twenty years later the Russians show up as villains.
Now, among all the ‘minor’ events like the depression after 1893, the Pullman Strike, Coxey’s Army, Altgeld’s pardoning of the Haymarket bombers, the Sino-Japanese war and such like trivia was the infamous Dreyfus Affair in France.
This minor event involving a Judaeo-French spy was magnified into an international cause celebre by accusations of anti-Semitism. Alfred Dreyfus was a Jewish French army officer who was accused of spying for the Germans or of selling information to them. Originally convicted and sent to Devil’s Island, a few year later after key evidence was tainted or disappeared and key witnesses had died or been discredited the case was reopened and after a terrific media blitz resulting in Zola’s article with the famous title: J’ Accuse, Dreyfus was acquitted.
The man convicted in his place, strangely enough, was probably also Jewish, one Walsin Esterhazy. Supposedly of Hungarian descent, at the instance of the chief Rabbi of Paris he was given financial assistance by the Rothschild family. It would be very unusual in that case if he weren’t Jewish.
Burroughs must have followed the Affair Dreyfus closely as it unfolded during the lat nineties. In 1913′s Return Of Tarzan he chose to fictionalize Esterhazy’s end of the Affair in the character of Gernois. Burroughs must have studied the Affair because Esterhazy actually served in North Africa where he came in contact with German agents. Of course, Gernois is compromised by our old friend Nilolas Rokoff, the Russian agent. Thus ERB combines his dislike of the Russians as eveidenced by his cartoon with sympathy for Dreyfus.
In real life Esterhazy led a dissipated life which, it is said, led him to be a spy. In ‘Return’ Gernois is led into syping because Rokoff, the hyper-arch villain had something on him.
In a sort of editorial comment on Dreyfus ERB has Rokoff tell Gernois: ‘If you are not agreeable I shall send a note to your commandant tonight that will end in the degradation Dreyfus suffered– the only difference being that he did not deserve it.’
Thus ERB comes down firmly on the side of Dreyfus.
For those who will misread racial and ethnic attitudes I believe ERB’s attitude in the Jewish-Russian conflict and the Dreyfus Affair should exonerate him, if the need exists, of any charges of anti-Semitism. Especially in the light of his portrayal of the worthy Jewish gentleman in ‘The Moon Maid’ trilogy. It would seem that all of ERB’s later attitudes remain consistent with these brought to fruition between 1896 and 1900.
Continue on to Part II
Yoko Ono And The Men Who Influenced Her
Review by R.E. Prindle
Clayson, Alan: Woman: The Incredible Life Of Yoko Ono, Chrome Dreams, 2004.
Yoko Ono involved herself with several of the most influential men in the arts during the sixties, seventies and eighties of the twentieth century. She drew her inspiration from them patterning her own efforts after them. At the same time she was one of the leading feminists of the day having her share in shaping and furthering the movement. The mantra was female liberation, equality between men and women. In fact women were equal to men in the West but only by acknowledging the biological differences between men and women. The fact is the differences are real and not social constructs as women would have us believe. The fact is women are women and men are men. So, in seeking ‘female liberation’ feminists were seeking much more than ‘equality’ however the term may be defined.
The fact is that in the Ages old war between the sexes feminists are seeking to restore the Matriarchy and destroy the Patriarchy. That is why many men favor feminism, they prefer the Matriarchy. Thus the feminists are atavistic. Yoko and her cohorts wished, in her words, to restore ‘heart’ as she viewed the Matriarchy and eliminate ‘reason’ as she viewed quite rightly the basis of Patriarchalism. Nevermind that bilogical science has invalidated the concepts of Matriarachy and Patriarchy. This is a post Matriarchy and Patriarchy world.
Circa -2000 in the West men revolted against the mind stifling Matriarchy and the vaginal swamp of the ‘heart’ seeking to establish
the authority of the infinite power of the mind of Zeus on ethereal Olympus. This is the story of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey and the Greek myths in general recording the struggle.
The Western male was able to impose the ascendency of reason over the heart for 3000 years until the disestablishment of the old order by science about mid-nineteenth century. The center could not hold during this period of extreme change as W.B. Yeats put it as the rearrangement of the intellectual order moved into the twentieth century.
Yoko Ono sought with her feminist fellows to return to the biological innocence of 2000 BC. She herself had no talent. Filled with audacity she pitted her ‘heart’ against the reason of John Cage, Andy Warhol and John Lennon. I’m sure she had a mentor for her so-called performance art but I am as yet unaware of who he may be. Perhaps Maciunas and the Fluxus group.
Thus her first manifestation as an artist was based on the musical ideas of John Cage while her artistic efforts were at least based in the avant garde ideas of the Fluxus group. Her first assault on the NYC art world failed so in 1961 she returned in defeat to Japan. When she returned to NYC in 1964 she found an entirely different art scene. On the musical side the focus was on Bobby Dylan and the Beatles while on the artistic side Andy Warhol and his Factory had destroyed the Abstract Expressionists and the old avant garde. Dylan, the Beatles and Warhol had in fact usurped the avant garde which now had little meaning. From my point of view held at the time the avant garde had ceased to exist. Of course I didn’t understand exactly why or how.
From 1964 when Yoko returned to NYC until 1966 when she left for London I’m sure Yoko was at a loss. She developed her silly
notion of Bagism at this time even having a black bag on a stand in Max’s Kansas City that some one or ones were supposed to slide into. This seems to have been thought a lame idea at the time as it seems now.
At this time while retaining allegiance to John Cage’s musical ideas she was falling under the influence of Andy Warhol’s artistic notions. Warhol’s intent had been to destroy the idea of ‘fine art’. In this he pretty well succeeded. As Yoko expressed it you didn’t need any talent to be an artist. She seems to demonstrate this notion in her own artistic efforts. Warhol had also redefined the notion of film with his static studies. He then sought to combine his film ideas with live music, probably in competition with Bob Dylan who was also attempting to move in that direction. Warhol adopted Lou Reed and his band the Velvet Underground as the Factory house band while creating a multi-media show called the Exploding Plastic Inevitable, innovative for its time. Thus a concert at his hall, the Dom, was an ‘experience.’
While Yoko makes no mention about how this, actually, incredible development affected her there can be no doubt that she was well aware of Dylan, the Beatles and the Warhol Experience and was affected by it. Indeed, the first manifestation was the making of her Warhol style films such as Bottoms.
The second manifestation was her removal to London to seduce either Lennon or McCartney of the Beatles, thus in the manner of Warhol’s adoption of the Velvet Underground she sought to co-opt the Beatles, the premier rock group in the world. Real chutzpah and more than one upping Warhol. I think it would be nonsense to think she had any other goal in mind.
She undoubteldy learned that Paul McCartney was actively involved with John Dunbar and his Indica Gallery that opened in 1965.
Some say she first set her sights on McCartney but the more vulnerable Lennon showed up and the Spider Woman spread her web.
She was still married to her second husband, Tony Cox, but, regardless of what she says she very aggressively pursued, or attacked, Lennon. Lennon was emotionally under water unable to handle his success while drugging himself out of his mind. He was unwillingly married to his wife Cynthia. It appears that he married Cynthia out of duty when she became pregnant. He doesn’t seem to have been happy in his virtue. Yoko had no difficulty in capturing his affections.
Now, just as Warhol had adopted the Velvets and imposed his female singer, Nico, on the band Yoko sought to imp[ose herself on the Beatles through Lennon. At this time she was still musically completely in thrall to John Cage understanding nothing about Rock music. She and Lennon had made a ridiculous LP called Two Virgins in 1968. She combined her cagian screechings while using an avant garde 'performance' notion of the couple posing nude on the cover; full frontal on the obverse, full posterior on the reverse. As no store would carry the cover the couple reverted to Yoko's idea of Bagism placing the cover inside a plain manila envelope or bag. While it didn't sell the record this form of Bagism was actually a successful artistic statement. The nude cover given an outer garment so to speak.
Well, the public was prepared to forgive the Beatles anything but the other three Beatles weren't prepared to forgive Yoko for forcing herself on them thus she broke up the most successful act of the sixties. Still, she had succeeded according to her wildest dream. Lennon and his wonderful reputation and fortune were hers. She had gone from a neglected, nondescript 'performance' artist to center stage, not on her own womanly talents but by attaching herself to a talented man. Yoko's 'heart' was useless without the male intellect. Yoko was now the most influencial feminist in the world. She knew what to do with that.
After several 'performance' acts such as the 'Bed In For Peace' the couple left England to return to the place Yoko wished to subjugate artistically, New York City. She had raised herself to a par with Andy Warhol. She now had to meld her musical and artistic goals through Lennon and Warhol.
On the musical side she began to develop her rock n' roll skills under the tutelage of Lennon. While not abandoning the avant garde notions of John Cage she now emasculated her husband. Always semi-delusional or perhaps completely so, she fantasized that she was not only equal to Lennon in skill and popularity but superior to him. She imagined herself more popular than Lennon. Thus one has such travesties as the LP Double Fantasy. It was only after Lennon's death that she was forced to recognize than Lennon's fans did not appreciate her efforts. So she failed as a musician.
She quickly tired of being Mrs. Lennon. Thus she and Lennon separated for eighteen months or so during the years 1973-75. She then realized that her financial well being and musical acceptance depended on Lennon. In 1975 she called him back resuming their relationship until his death in 1980. But, things had changed.
She began to adopt Warhol's life style on her return to NYC. While she propagated the notion that she was some sort of business whiz Iam having difficulties discovering any such skills. It appears that with the enormous income of Lennon she emulated Warhol in
spending her way to prosperity.
She was in a position to not only match Warhol’s spending but exceeding it by many times. Through the seventies and eighties Warhol came into his own as an artist while reaping a fortune doing portraits. There appears to have been no effort on his part to invest in income producing vehicles. Rather he bought stuff. He purchased buildings in NYC and elsewhere while acquring undeveloped acreage in places like Aspen. He shopped nearly every day buying antiques from furniture to objets d’ art by the bushel almost as though he were trying to excel the incredible W.R. Hearst.
He usually didn’t even look at the stuff once he bought it merely filling rooms with his shopping bags. At his death all this junk was auctioned off for 25 million dollars, a nice appreciation in value.
Yoko followed the exact pattern buying apartments and houses as well as an extensive dairy farm with a herd of prize cows. She not only had but has five apartments in her principal dwelling, the Dakota apartment building and many other houses scattered around.
Like Warhol the Dakota apartments are stuffed with junk. Valuable, but, you know, stuff. She bought at good prices. Her extensive collection of Egyptian antiquities was mostly purchased before a steep rise in value.
Like the Rothschilds of old Yoko didn’t do all her own shopping but employed agents to search things out. Chief among these was an associate of Warhol’s, Sam Green, and an Hungarian immigrant by the name of Sam Havadtoy.
There should be no surprise then that she now has an extensive collection of Warhol’s artwork as well as his portraits of Lennon. The Warhols would have been purchased for form 25 to 50K while now being listed on her assets at tens of millions. She also has been said to have a good collection of Magrittes as well as one assumes other artists. So, much of her net worth is tied up in artwork purchased through Sam Green.
Sam Havadtoy was an antiques dealer as well as an interior designer. He appears to have been a somewhat shady character. It is very difficult to find much about him, however there is a sharp portrait available from the notorious A.J. Weberman ( http://www.acid-trip.org/lennon/ )
…(the Lennons) hired a sleazy Eastern European bisexual to renovate the pad. (Dakota) I had heard of this dude, whose name escapes me, from an asswipe named BRUCE KIRSH, who worked for him. KIRSH told me that the dude, who worked for the King of Morocco, would form a dummy renovation company, hire employees like Kirsch who were willing to work under false names, then, when it came time to pay taxes, everyone would disappear. I learned of him long before he was hired by John and Yoko, and I was taken aback when Yoko took up with him after John’s death.
I know that Weberman is not particularly well thought of by fandom but this is because of his harassment of Dylan who did, after all, misrepresent himself to the revolutionaries like Weberman. A.J. himself is an intelligent observer who was wading through it when it was deep. I do believe he knows what he’s talking about although his interpretations of Dylan’s lyrics seem absurd.
I would have to question Yoko’s judgment in taking him in. Both he and Sam Green were candidates as successors to Lennon with
whom she consorted in front of Lennon before he died while Yoko chose Havadtoy as his successor the day he died.
Perhaps she selected Havadtoy over Green because he was more rough trade. With Lennon while managing to reconcile revolution with peace and love with Havadtoy she discarded peace and love in favor of strong arm methods against her former employee Fred Seaman when it was totally unnecessary.
Havadtoy was living in a homosexual arrangement with his business partner when Yoko beckoned him to switch to her. Apparently an able switch hitter he was lured by the money to this much older woman. The arrangement did last for twenty years before Havadtoy removed to his native Hungary taking a nice cash settlement and several of the Warhols.
Thus, just as Warhol had his live-in homosexual arrangement so after Lennon’s death Yoko adopted the exact arrrangement. Today she apparently lives alone, a seventy-eight year old woman.
After Lennon’s death there was an accession of from 30 million to a possible 100 million dollars as their last album, Double Fantasy, sold into the millions while the rest of Lennon’s catalog and one assumes the Beatles’ catalog was reinvigorated while all things Lennon sold. This is, of course, no reflection on Yoko but the inevitable result with intellectual properties when the maker dies.
Post-Lennon, then, Yoko realized that her recording and art careers were nil. Heart without intellect is worthless. She then became the caretaker of the Lennon legacy. His recordings, of course, continued to sell, but even his artwork eclipsed that of Yoko. So she suffered the humiliation of being a mere appendage to a man. The feminine dismal swamp was eclipsed by the Olympian heights of the male intellect. As in ancient times the God had trumped the Goddess. And yet as with Hera and Zeus the Goddess gets her way. Yoko came up with the money and goods while Lennon’s spirit was wafted into the stratosphere.
As any reader of mythology knows Hera ruled the Lernean swamps of Argolis while Zeus ruled the gods on ethereal Olympus. Thus one has the symbolism of the biological difference between the male and female.
In ancient times the female had her share in magic. She knew herbs and plants, was familiar with poisons and cures as with the arch witch of the ancient world, Medea. The reputation of the female witch even as a consort of Satan persisted down through medieval and post-medieval times, indeed, even up to the dawn of the scientific enlightenment. One would have thought that magic and witchery were a thing of the past in the 1960s and yet Yoko embodied the whole female swamp mentality.
She established something called the Spirit Foundation attributing the direction to Lennon who in fact knew nothing of these matters but followed her lead. The Spirit Foundation celebrated the ancient art of the Shaman or witch doctor. Shamanism itself even preceded the Matriarchal swamps of Argolis. It was a rich repository of magical tradition. Further the Foundation was feminist in that it was dedicated to preserving the magical traditions of the women of the Pacific islands still living in such archaic societies. The wealth generated by the male intellect was appropriated by the female vagina or ‘heart.’
In her own life and that of Lennon’s Yoko was addicted to a variety of magical practices- astrology, numerology, Tarot readings, and indeed she traveled to the Caribbean to sell her soul to Satan through the offices of a female curandera. Her Tarot reader, John Green, was a priest in the shamanistic, magical, Yoruban African cult of Santeria.
Her feminism was more a magical effort to restory Matriarchal supremacy over the Patriarchy thus reversing the Patriarchal victory of three thousand years previously. Indeed, what has been called the movement for female equality is nothing more than a covert campaign to restore the Matriarchy.
Thus while Yoko o9riginatd nothing she usurped the abilities of the reason of men- Cage, Warhol, Lennon and male magicians such as John Green. Indeed the Trojan War itself was a war of men in service of women.
In her associations with men she preferrred to deal with emasculated types such as homosexuals like Cage, Warhol, Sam Green and Sam Havadtoy. Lennon claimed to have always been dependent of women for comfort and guidance while Yoko caught him at his most confused and vulnerable.
While she received direction from Cage and Warhol she was able to manipulate Lennon out of his talent somewhat as Vivian did that of Merlin of the Arthurian saga. When Vivian had usurped Merlin’s magical knowledge she buried him deep much as Lennon was put out of the way. Yoko then appropriated his wealth and residual income after his death. It was this constant inflow of cash that allowed her to propagate the notion that she was a financial genius.
Then as the female of the ‘heart’ or vaginal swamp she managed and appropriated the reason of Olympus through Cage, Warhol and Lennon. What she got from Havadtoy other than brute strength is not clear to me.
As such Yoko is Woman. In her case a seeming reversion to the archetypal Shaman of the most ancient times.
December 4, 2009
A Contribution To The
ERBzine Library Project
A Review Of
H. Rider Haggard
Review by R.E. Prindle
Part IV and end:
The idea of a twenty-two hundred year old woman patiently waiting for the reincarnation of a man she had murdered in that far off time is in itself an extraordinary concept. As an imaginative flight of fancy very likely Rider Haggard can be seen as its originator. Burroughs would borrow the notion twenty-seven years later in his The Eternal Lover when he reverses the sexes and has a cave man asleep for millennia wake to find his reincarnated woman. Since then variations on the theme have become quite common.
She, or Ayesha, was a powerful image of a woman. C.G. Jung saw her as the personification of his Anima theory. Haggard drew on many personal and historical details to create her. Ayesha was titled She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed. As a child Haggard had a doll to which he gave that name. The doll must have represented his mother. If he invested characteristics of his mother into Ayesha then she must have been both warm and loving and cold and imperious. Over all one gets the impression that she was not particularly loving. Thus, Ayesha, while appearing to be in love with Leo/Kallicrates is nevertheless imperious, demanding and self-centered. In her only real display of afftection she kisses Leo on the forehead, as Haggard says, like a mother. As Haggard says of Meriamun in The World’s Desire, her love was not so much for her lover but an expression of her own vanity.
Haggard represents her as a living corpse in white funereal garments, completely shrouded. She has a strange accoutrement in the serpent belt with two heads facing each other. This is close to the caduceus. Perhaps Haggard had no idea of what the symbol meant in 1886 but by 1890 he had come up with an explanation. In The World’s Desire of that year Queen Meriamun of Egypt keeps something she calls the Ancient Evil in a box. The Evil is a small blob. When she warms it in her bosom it grows. World’s Desire pp. 144-45:
Thrice she breathed upon it, thrice she whispered, “Awake! Awake! Awake!”
And the first breath she breathed the Thing stirred and sparkled. The second time that she breathed it undid its shining folds and reared its head to her. The third time that she breathed it slid from her bosom to the floor, then coiled itself about her feet and grew as grows a magician’s magic tree.
Greater it grew and greater yet, and as it grew it shone like a torch in a tomb, and wound itself about the body of Meriamun, wrapping her in its fiery folds till it reached her middle. Then it reared its head on high, and from its eyes there flowed a light like the light of a flame, and lo! its face was the face of a fair woman- it was the face of Meriamun!
Now face looked on face, and eyes glared on eyes. Still as a white statue of the Gods stood Meriamun the Queen, and all about her form and in and out of her dark hair twined the flaming snake.
At length the Evil spoke- spoke with a human voice, with the voice of Meriamun, but in the dead speech of a dead people!
“Tell me my name,” it said.
“Sin is thy name,” answered Meriamun the Queen.
“Tell me whence I came.” it said again.
“From the evil within me.” answered Meriamun.
“Tell me where I go.”
“Where I go there thou goest, for I have war and thee in my breast and thou art twined about my heart.”
This quote gives an idea of what the snake belt worn by Ayesha signifies.
Of signficance while Meriamun is dealing in magic Ayesha denies all connection with the art saying she utilizes nature. She doesn’t use the word science but nature; nature would include psychology. She therefore draws on natural processes discovered but not scientific processes exposed. Thus when she kills her rival Ustane she does it by utilizing electro-magnetism, somehow using her own electro-magnetism to negate Ustane’s thus extinguishing her life force. We have then an example of tele-kinesis- action at a distance. As I’ve noted in other essays tele-kinesis was amongst an array of mental powers thought to reside in the unconscious being investigated by the Society For Psychical Research. Thus Haggard, probably through Lang, is up on the latest psychic developments.
The ability to kill by telekinesis places a moral burden on Ayesha. If one agrees that the use of such a power may be necessary the question arises of when it may be misused. It would seem that the killing of a sexual rival was an inappropriate use, so the warring good and evil heads of her snake belt refers to the moral dilemma Ayesha faces.
Her belt seems somewhat different than that of Queen Meriamun of The World’s Desire. The latter having accepted the aid of the Ancient Evil was committed to evil being unable to remove the belt. There seems to be an element of volition remaining to Ayesha. She is not ‘possessed.’ Of course Ayesha began her life some thousand years after Meriamun so perhaps psychology was somewhat further evolved at that time or evolved with her over her two thousand year life span.
Indeed, a topic of discussion Haggard introduces shouldn’t be dimissed lightly. That topic is the age old discussion of whether good can come from evil and evil from good. This is indeed a dilemma as bad results can arise from good intentions and vice versa. There is a serious side here.
Ayesha is pure irresistable beauty. Once she shows her face no man can resist her. She glories in this power. In The World’s Desire of four years hence Haggard will separate good and evil making Meriamun represent evil while Helen, the world’s desire, is all good.
Holly is an interesting character who may be a back hand slap at the concept of evolution. Holly also makes this the story of a beauty and a beast. Holly is described as having a low forehead with a hairline growing out of his eyebrows, further his beard and his hairline meet. He is said to have a hugely broad chest and shoulders with extra long arms, perhaps down to his knees although this is not stated. What we have in Holly then is the Wolf Man combined with King Kong. Monstrous indeed.
In contrast Leo Vincey is a Greek god, a sort of Apollo. As Ayesha is irresistable to men Leo seems likewise to be irresistable to women. Indeed, he was married to Ustane within minutes of arriving in Kor. He appears to have sincerely liked Ustane even though on sighting Ayesha’s face he too loved her. Ustane was a rival for a portion of Leo’s affections so Ayesha cut off her electrical supply.
Of several truly dramatic scenes in this spectacularly well constructed story a very dramatic one is when Leo confronts his twenty-two hundred year old incarnation 0f Kallicrates. Haggard doesn’t dwell on Leo’s understanding of this strange phenomenon although from the potsherd and his father’s letter he must have been convinced of the truth. Strangely he doesn’t ask Ayesha for an account of this earlier life, nor how it was that she came to Egypt from Yemen to interfere in his romance with Amenartas.
Haggard and Lang were aware of the early history of Yemen from whence Ayesha as a pure Semite came. She was pre-Christian, although not pre-Jewish, of some ancient Arabic religious beliefs. How she got to Egypt is never disclosed or how she came into conflict with the Egyptian princess Amenartas for Kallicrate’s affections.
Ayesha, by the way the name translates as Life, merely confronts Leo as the neo-Kallicrates without any preparation. A year or so to get to know her and become accustomed to her face might have been nice. Although, Leo was married within minutes of arrival in Kor and was apparently satisfied with his wife. He was a pretty adaptable guy.
At any rate Ayesha rushes him into immortality and while tomorrow may be a long, long time, eternity is even longer. One might want to consider a moment about a relationship of that duration. Nor does she adequately prepare Leo’s mind for the ordeal of fire that she wants him to go through to become immortal. Twenty-two hundred years of waiting had done little to improve her patience.
Haggard has put everything he has into this story. He was granted clear vision only once in his life and he took advantage of it. In later years he was frequently asked why he didn’t write another story as good as She. His reply was that such a story may only come once in a man’s lifetime. The concentration and focus probably will never return again. While Allan Quatermain, his third successive attempt to create a lost civilization was on the weak side I would argue that his last, Treasure of the Lake, comes close to She.
So, the four of them set out for the place of the fire of life. Masterful effects. High in the mountains there is a gigantic balancing rock, a huge mushroom type cap balanced on a spire. It would seems that Zane Grey was also greatly affected by She as Riders Of The Purple Sage hews very close to She. A narrow ledge of rock extends out opposite with a gap of fifteen feet. To cross this gap with high winds howling through, a plank carried by the ever patient Job has to be lowered across the gap. No mean task I’m sure, with only one chance of getting it right. Once in place, thousands of feet above the gorge each has to walk from side to side; plus they have only a few minutes for all four to get over during a single beam of light from the setting sun.
Fortunately all four make it crossing the balancing rock to descend into a cave leading to the bowels of the mountain. There an eternal flame that ensures the life of the planet rumbles by every so often. Twenty-two hundred years before Ayesha had bathed in this fire which following esoteric doctrines had burned away her gross, earthly, moral impurities making her essentially, pure spirit.
A famous incident of the process is recounted of the goddess Demeter in her travels after the abduction of her daughter Persephone by Hades. Coming to Eleusis Demeter in her form of an old crone was taken in by King Celeus and his wife Metaneira. As a reward for her kind treatment Demeter set about to make their infant son Demophon immortal. Thus each night she held him over the hearth fire to burn away his mortal impurities. Surprised one night by a startled mother, Metaneira, the process was disrupted so that Demophon retained mortal impurities and failed to attain to godhood.
In this sense then the fire that maintained the life of the Earth traveled a route through this mountain at the center of the Earth. It appeared something like Old Faithful at Yellowstone periodically. When it swept by, if one stood in the flame it burned away one’s mortal impurities leaving one, it is to be assumed, wholly Spiritual. All the materiality was gone.
Spirituality and materiality are still being discussed today. Some talk of Spirit as though it exists while the materialists aver that all so-called spirituality is a seeming effect of materiality. I am of the latter school of thought. Oneself is all there is, there is nothing more. The effect of spirituality is nothing more than a mirage created by intellect and consciousness which is entirely material. It is all reduced to psychology which is a description of material existence.
In Haggard’s story it is clear that Ayesha having lost her materiality to the flames is purely spiritual. This is going to cause her problems as she steps into the flames the second time.
The flame passes by while Leo dithers. Impatient for Leo to assume immortality Ayesha strips, as the flames will flame the material garments about her but not her body. As the flame comes around again Ayesha eagerly stands in its way. However having been once purified it is good for eternity. The second time is disastrous. Perhaps spiritually dessicated by the double dose Ayesha begins to wither devasted even in her death throes by her loss of beauty. Love in vain.
Job is so horrified he dies of fright leaving Leo and Holly alone.
The story for all intents is over but Haggard takes a dozen pages or so to get his heroes out of the caves and back to civilization.
Ayesha’s existence wasn’t extinguished. Her dying words were that She would return. Room left for the sequel which not surprisingly was called The Return Of She appeared in 1906.
Haggard hit the groove sharp as a knife in this incredibly well devised and executed story. One will find evidences of it strewn all through Burroughs’ corpus. Not least in his own character of La of Opar. La itself translates from the French as She, of course, so Burroughs even appropriates the name.
La is as ardent for Tarzan as She was for Leo/Kallicrates. Tarzan himself remains cold and indifferent to La throughout all four Opar stories finally abandoning her in Tarzan The Invincible.
She by Haggard is well worth three or four reads to set the story in mind and savor the wonderful and unearthly details
End of Review
November 25, 2009
A Contribution To The
ERBzine ERB Library Project
H. Rider Haggard
Review by R.E. Prindle
The Gruesome, The Morbid AndThe Hideous
Rider Haggard was criticized severely by certain of his contemporaries for employing so many gruesome, morbid and hideous details. Indeed, ’ She’ seems to be a study in the hideous, the gruesome and the morbid. If one concentrates on those aspects of the story one might actually question Haggard’s mental health.
Haggard himself calls attention to this morbidity. In King Solomon’s Mines he pointed out his humor with references to the Ingoldsby Legends; in She he makes a pointed reference to a Mark Tapley. I had no idea who Mark Tapley might be but thought I’d consult that most magnificent of encyclopedias, the internet. No problem. Mark Tapley was a character from Charles Dickens’ Martin Chuzzlewit. No matter how adverse the circumstances were Tapley was always cheerful and ebullient. Haggard must have thought him ridiculous. Thus he is devising a series of incidents that would bring even Mark Tapley down. Hmm. Interesting experiment.
It would seem then that Haggard was suffering from a fairly deep depression. In that sense She is sort of a horror story not too different in intent than, say, Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Indeed, at one point Ayesha explains that she rules by terror. That being the most effective way to control brutes like the Amahagger.
Certainly the storm at sea prior to entering Kor was an example of terror on the part of nature, a portent of things to come. Not least of these was the hot potting and projected cannibalism of the surviving member of the ship’s crew, Mohammed. ‘She’ had only required the safety of the Whites; as Mohammed was apparently a negrified Arab the Amahagger excluded him from the ban on Whites. An interesting example of White Skin privilege.
Their custom of killing their victims was to heat a pot red hot and turn it over on the victim’s head. There’s a gruesome and hideous enough example. You can see where Burroughs picked up his fascination for the gruesome and hideous.
The Caves of Kor are actually a city of the dead. Kor was an active civilization before Egypt existed in the fifth or sixth millennium BC. As embalming was a known practice when the Dynasties began c. 3400 the practice must have developed long before. Quite possibly it was practiced by the peoples of the Basin before the Mediterranean was flooded. In The World’s Desire Haggard mentions that the ancient Egyptians possessed writings in a precedent language. If so, how far back things like embalming go might be prodigious.
Egyptian embalming was primitive compared to that of the Korians. While Egyptian mummies became desicated the Korian process was such that the body was preserved forever in an apparent state of health. Thus bodies perhaps ten thousand years old or older had the appearance of freshness.
Now, this is positively creepy. Holly’s Amahagger attendent Bilalli while discussing Korian embalming told Holly that while he was a young man a particularly beautiful female corpse occupied the very slab on which Holly slept. Bilalli used to enter the cell and sit looking admiringly on the beautiful corpse by the hour. One day his mother caught him at it. The embalming fluid used was extremely flammable. Bilalli’s mother stood the body up and lit it. Like a huge torch the body burned down to the feet. The feet were still as good as new. Bilalli wrapped them and stored them beneath Holly’s slab. Groping around beneath the slab he brought out those ten thousand year old feet, still fresh, except for some charring at the ankles.
Haggard doesn’t stop there but goes on to emphasize the beauty of one particular foot. One wonders if perhaps George Du Maurier read She becoming entranced by the foot image thus reproducing the image in his novel Trilby when Little Billee draws Trilby’s beautiful foot on th wall. It is a thing Du Maurier would do as he inserted his literary baggage as profusely as Burroughs.
What effect this image had on Haggard’s contemporary readers may be guessed from the complaints about his gruesomeness.
In fact Haggard projects a depressed brooding evil permeating the Caves of Kor very well. This may have been caused by his and Lang’s theories of the Matriarchy. Human sacrifice was an integral part of the Matriarchal world. The sacrifices were invariably of men because women had greater economic value. When men were no longer sacrificed bulls, rams, the males of the species were substituted, the female still having greater economic value. Thus the story of Isaac and the Ram. That would be a great advance in civilization. About that time Isis ceased being the Egyptian symbol of the firmament being replaced by the female cow as the symbol of economics. Something like the kings of England sitting on the woolsack.
Depending on Haggard’s and Lang’s theories of the Matriarchy then Haggard may have been portraying a consciousness that has ceased to exist. There is always an element of misogyny in Haggard’s stories that is no longer tolerated. Then men were men and women were women instead of the attempted strange unisexuality of today. Thus the tens of miles of swamp between the Amahagger quarters and the citadel of Kor indicate the extent and quality of the Matriarchy. Swamps are the symbol of the female and the Matriarchy or, in other words, this very primitive superstitious consciousness.
The Korian swamp was haunted by mephitic vapors, evil smelling and oppressive. The ground they walked on was of uncertain solidity; it might look firm but this was only illusory as one could break through the crust. Often the litter bearers were walking through evil smelling muck up to their knees.
At one point an accident occurs and Bilalli’s litter with him in it is dumped into the slimy water. He would have drowned if Holly hadn’t leaped into the rank female waters to save him. They emerge looking something like the creature from the Black Lagoon.
It will be remembered that Holly was something of a misogynist. One may be stretching a point but even though rejecting women and marriage Holly managed to inherit a son from a man who was also a womanless widower. Haggard makes a strong contrasting point when he says that Leo was not averse to female company. The manservant, Job, is absolutely terrified of the female.
After traversing this desolate swamp of the female for days they arrive at the citadel or temple of Kor. Now, the citadel of Kor was built on an ancient lake bed that had been drained ten thousand years before. In that sense Ayesha is the same as Nimue or the Lady Of The Lake of King Arthur. Nemue lived at the bottom of a lake where she raised Lanclot who consequently was called Lancelot of the Lake.
Compare this also with Haggard’s postumously published Treasure of the Lake in which the Anima figure lives on an island in the middle of a lake in the middle of a volcanic crater. The lake of Kor was also in the middle of a crater.
When the Korian civilization was extinguished it wasn’t by invasion or other external reasons but by a monster plague something like the fourteenth century european Black Death that wiped out nearly everyone. At the resulting rate of death it wasn’t possible to embalm everyone so that tens of thousands of bodies were dumped into a huge subterranean pit.
In conducting Holly and Leo on a guided tour of Kor which was one gigantic necropolis, talk about depressing, Ayesha brings them to this pit. I quote:
Accordingly I followed (She) to a side passage opening out of the main cave, then down a great number of steps, and along an underground shaft that cannot have been less than sixty feet beneath the surface of the rock, and was ventilated by curious borings that ran upward, I do not know where. Suddenly this passage ended, and Ayesha halted, bidding the mutes return, and, as she prophesied, I saw a scene such as I was not likely to behold again. We were standing in an enormous pit, or rather on the brink of it, for it went down deeper- I do not know how much- than the level on which we stood, and was edged in with a low wall of rock. So far as I could judge, this was about the size of the space beneath the dome of St. Paul’s in London, and when the lamps were held up I saw that it was nothing but one vast charnel-house, being literally fullof thousands of human skeletons, which lay piled up in an enormous gleaming pyramid, formed by the slipping down of the bodies at the apex as others were dropped in from above. Anything more appalling than this mass of human remains of a departed race I cannot imagine, and what made it even more dreadful was that in this dry air a considerable number of bodies had become dessicated with the skin still on them, and now, fixed in every conceivable position, stared at us out of a mountain of white bones, grotesquely horrible caricatures of humanity. In my astonishment I uttered an ejaculation, and the echoes of my voice, ringing in that vaulted space, disturbed a skull which hd been accurately balanced for many thousands of years near the apex of the pile. Down it came with a run, bounding along merrily towards us, and of course bringing an avalanche of other bones after it, till at last the whole pit rattled with their movement, even as though the skeletons were rising up to greet us.
Talk about a holocaust! Imagine standing in that dimly lit space far beneath ground, in the grave itself so to speak,and viewing that. Holly was overcome and perhap Mark Tapley himself would have lost a little of his cheeriness. If that didn’t do it the ball Ayesha threw would have.
Before I move on to that though let’s take a penultimate example that might actually unsettle Mark Tapley. This is truly unsettling with truly macabre and voyeuristic soft porn details that are quite remarkable. Let me say that it is only with the fourth reading that the horrific nature of these details really began to sink in. I hope to really make this clear in the next section in which I intend to do an in depth analysis of Ayesha.
In his cell at the citadel of Kor Holly notices a cleft in the wall he hadn’t noticed before. This cleft is going to lead him to Ayesha’s sleeping room. This is not unlike King Solomon’s Mines in which upon entering the symbolic vagina they were led to the womb or treasure box. As I say Holly entered this cleft, let your imagination dwell on that, and followed a dark, dank, narrow corridor until he perceived a light.
He is looking into Ayesha’s sleeping room where in a certain deshabille, very erotic, she is addressing a covered form on a bier next to hers. This is the embalmed body of Kallicrates who she murdered twenty-two hundred years before. So she has been sleeping with this corpse for twenty-two centuries. Now, dwell on that for moment, let the horror of it sink in.
She addresses the corpse in a fairly demented way. Twenty-two hundred years of this would drive anybody nuts. Finally to the dismay of Holly she animates the body by telekinetic powers actually causing it to stand zombie like so she can kiss and caress it. A lot of necrophilia in this novel. Haggard must have been half dotty when he wrote this. Of course Kallicrates is a double of Leo so Holly has all he can do to keep from crying out. Causing the dead man to lay himself down Ayesha covers him and blows out the light.
Holly has to find his way back in the dark reminding one of innumerable passages in Burroughs where his characters have to find their way in the dark. Holly gets only so far and collapses in the tunnel. Waking he sees a light coming in from his cell allowing him to find his way back.
And then Ayesha throws her ball. If you’ve read carefully and really ingested these macabre, gruesome, and as Burroughs’ would say, hideous details they’re beginning to oppress your mind, perhaps even a mind like Mark Tapley’s.
Now Haggard trundles out the frosting. To illuminate her ball Ayesha brings out piles of ten thousand year old corpses placing them around the perimeter as human torches. Laying out a large bonfire the corpses are stacked alternately like so much cordwood and replaced as they were consumed. Remember these are as fresh looking as you or I. The Roman emperor Nero actually used live humans in the same manner. Haggard notes this in the text which I thought weakened the effect.
Ayesha seems to be aware of the effect, indeed, intended it and appears to relish the reaction.
These are the high points of these horrfic details. Minor ones are constant so that the cumulative effect leading up to the terrific images of the demise of Ayesha, temporary though it might be, is overwhelming. But about She, Ayesha, in the next part.
November 17, 2009
A Contribution To The
ERBzine ERB Library Project
H. Rider Haggard
Review by R.E. Prindle
The Framing Device
From eighteen eighty-five to two thousand nine is one hundred twenty-five years. The span records many changes. In 1885 there were no movies, no radio or TV. Movies came in c. 1900 beginning to change the literary paradigm. The movies produced a definite class structure in literature. With the introduction of sound in 1927-28 two classes of film developed. A movies and B movies. A movies employed A or literary fiction such as War And Peace, Oliver Twist and such while the developing fields of genre fiction were reduced to an inferior B status.
Time has erased the meaning of the terms A and B pictures. I suppose that if a younger person was told that he was watching a B movie he wouldn’t know what was meant. Even if a devoted movie buff, the mere classification would have no experiential significance. You had to have been there.
In the development of the film industry it was thought that studios had to have their own theatre chains. Thus MGM movies wouold be shown only at Loewe’s first run theatres and so on.
In those glory days of the movies first run theatres were gorgeous temples, often named The Temple, the Roxy in NYC has the most spectacular reputation. The goal of the studios was to produce 52 A movies a year to supply the ‘exhibition’ chain a new first run A film a week. Only MGM was to reach this goal.
Once having been exhibited for its week or period A movies were released to rerun theatres usually outside the chains where they were shown at reduced prices. As an added incentive a second feature was shown and this was a B movie.
We lucky kids who inhabited Saturday matinees every week year around usually got two B movies and selected short subjects which included previews, a serial, a cartoon, a newsreel, and some sort of film usually a travelogue on deep sea fishing or water skiing matter. These comprised an alternate reality in addition to real life and dreams. Nor did we feel shorted by B movies. To our young minds these movies were fraught with the most profound thoughts imaginable. Hopalong Cassidy and Tarzan were the favorites of most kids- Gene Autry, Roy Rogers a distant second to Gene. Unbeknownst to us of course the literary granddaddy of the B movie was H. Rider Haggard and She.
Not that Haggard movies were shown with any regularity but he managed to anticipate all the elements of B movies to perfection. Many if not most of the key elements of B moviedom were pinched from Haggard. What Haggard didn’t provide was tossed in by his disciple Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Burroughs borrowed his use of the framing device from Haggard probably with the frame of She as his model. The framing device of Tarzan Of The Apes shows emulation of that of She. It’s a good one.
Most writers of these tall yarns wanted the reader to believe he was reading a true story, in other words, an invitation to suspend disbelief- that is, everything fits in so he divised a framing story as persuasion.
The first paragraph of She’s preface is perfection of its kind:
In giving to the world the record of what, considered as an adventure only, is I suppose one of the most wonderful and mysterious experiences ever undergone by mortal man, I feel it incumbent on me to explain my exact connection with it. So I will say at once that I am not the narrator but only the editor of this extraordinary history, and then go on to tell how it found its way into my hands.
If one compares that to the first paragraph of Tarzan Of The Apes the similarities become immediately apparent. Both authors claim no authorship. In both cases the story, or history, was given to them by a second party. Thus Haggard the author as editor can speak in the first person while making editorial comments.
The hint is made that Allan Quatermain is the actual editor. The editor was visiting Cambridge University one day some twenty years previously when he noticed two interesting people. His friend knowing them offered to introduce him.
“All right,” answered my friend, “nothing easier. I know Vincey; I’ll introduce you,” and he did, and for some minutes we stood chatting- about the Zulu people, I think I had just returned from the Cape at that time.
So the canny reader hopefully having read King Solomon’s Mines can infer that the unnamed editor is, in fact, Allan Quatermain as a garrulous amiable gentleman.
Twenty some odd years after that casual and very brief meeting, as improbable as it may seem, one of the two men, Vincey’s guardian, Horace Holly sends the Editor the text for She.
Holly says: ‘You will be surprised considering the slight nature of our acquaintance to get a letter from me.’ I should say so. What a great memory.
Holly goes on:
I have recently read with much interest a book of yours describing a Central African adventure. I take it this book is partly true, and partly an effort of the imagination. However this may be, it has given me an idea. It happens, how you will see in the accompanying manuscript (which together with the scarab, the ‘Royal Son of the Sun), and the original sherd, I am sending you by hand) that my ward, or rather my adopted son Leo Vincey, and myself have recently passed through a real African adventure, of a nature and much more marvellous than the one which you describe, that to tell the truth I am almost ashamed to submit it to you but you should believe my tale.
So Holly sees through Quatermain’s preposterous story as only half true while Holly’s equally preposterous story is the whole truth, the real thing. Well, if you’ve accepted the premiss there’s no way to go but further in so, all one can say to Holly is that his story is going to have to go some to exceed Quatermain’s.
Generously Holly offers any profits from publication as a reward while underwriting any possible loss. That was real Haggard accepting that bundle on Quatermain’s part.
Rounding out the baloney the editor says:
Of the history itself the reader must judge. I give it to him, with the exception of a very few alterations, made with the object of concealing the identity of the actors from the general public, exactly as it has come to me.
As a reader my judgement is that it is an excellent whopper but I don’t believe a word- or do I?
The frame continues:
With slight [five pages] preface, which circumstances make necessary, I introduce the world to Ayesha and the Caves of Kor.
Ready when you are, C.B.
An excellent, convincing framing device. The Editor must be Allan Quatermain yet the name of the editor is concealed from us as well as the identities of the actors. Where we are going is mystery piled on mystery, the strange and wonderful lie before us, we in complete safety.
So with Burroughs framing device of Tarzan Of The Apes. While not copied word for word certainly idea for idea. The influence of Haggard is apparent but not paramount. Burroughs’ mind was a maelstrom into which innumerable influences (a slight exaggeration) are drawn to the depths of his subconscious and emerge melded into something so close and yet so different than his many, many sources.
Having roped the reader in like a carnival barker luring the victim into his peep show Haggard begins to lay out his nearly perfect story of the type.
Part B follows.