January 12, 2013
Edgar Rice Burroughs And The Revolt Against Civilization
A Review Of
Lothrop Stoddard’s 1922 Eponymous Title
Stoddard, Lothrop: The Revolt Against Civilization: The Menace Of The Underman, 1922, New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, First Edition.
In the name of our To-morrow we will burn Rafael
Destroy museums, crush the flowers of art,
Maidens in the radiant kingdom of the Future
Will be more beautiful than Venus de Milo.
Quoted by Stoddard p. 202
A perennial problem in Burroughs’ studies is what did he believe? Was he a racist? Was he an anti-Semite? Was he an irredeemable bigot? Shall we just say he was not of a contemporary Liberal frame of mind. If you listen to Richard Slotkin author of Gunfighter Nation and a professor at Case Western Reserve at the time he wrote his book a couple decades ago, Edgar Rice Burroughs was an evil man responsible for all the evil in the US from 1912 to the present. Slotkin even sees him responsible for the My Lai massacre of Viet Nam.
Himself a Communist Slotkin can overlook all the crimes of the Soviet Union in which tens of millions were exterminated to find the ultimate evil in the killing of a few dozen people in Viet Nam.
Slotkin, who rampages through his history disparaging any non-Liberal writers as atavistic bigots firmly attaches Burroughs’ name to two scholars, Madison Grant and his Passing Of The Great Race of 1916 and Lothrop Stoddard and his historical studies of the twenties. He considers the two hardly less evil than Burroughs. To someone less excitable, perhaps, or lessLiberal, the two writers have written responsible and astute studies. I certainly think they have.
When I first read Slotkin I rejected the notion that Burroughs had been influenced by either. Ten years on I have to retract that opinion. It is now clear that Burroughs read both while being heavily influenced by Lothrop Stoddard, especially his 1922 volume, The Revolt Against Civilization. While the studies of both Grant and Stoddard would at best supplement Burroughs already developed opinions The Revolt can easily be seen as a template for Burroughs’ writing after he read it. While the study complemented his own developed social and political opinions I am sure that Stoddard’s explication of the history provided Burroughs with many new facts. Based on its opinions that appeared in ERB’s novels I would place the reading somewhere about 1926 or 1927.
Contrary to what some admirers want to make him ERB was what today would be considered a very conservative man, today’s Liberals would be anathema to him. He was decidedly anti-Communist, a Eugenicist, while not bigoted he was not a Negrophile or Semitophile. He was essentially a man with a social and historical outlook that was formed before 1900, a pre-immigration outlook formed while the Indian wars were still in progress. In short he was a man of his times.
Thomas Dixon Jr. to whom he is often compared was one of the most successful writers of the period who carefully examined both the Civil War and Reconstruction as well as the growing Socialist/Communist movement. He was not a bigot as he is always construed but a man of his own people. Burroughs was influenced by his work and thought well of him. He did not abhor him. ERB read many of Dixon’s novels and admired the movie based on his books, The Birth Of A Nation. He sympathized with Henry Ford in his struggle for the welfare of America and read the Dearborn Independent, Ford’s newspaper. In short, Burroughs was a stand up guy.
Now, what evidence is there he read The Revolt Against Civilization: The Menace Of The Underman? Let’s begin with this quote, p. 34 et seq.
Down to that time the exact nature of the life process remained a mystery. The mystery has now been cleared up. The researches of [August] Weisman and other modern biologists have revealed the fact that all living beings are due to a continuous stream of germ plasm which has existed ever since life first appeared on earth and which will continue to exist as long as any life remains. This germ-plasm consists of minute germ cells which have the power of developing into human living beings. All human beings spring from the union of a male sperm-cell and a female egg-cell. Right here, however, occurs the basic feature of the life process. The new individual consists, from the start, of two sorts of plasm. Almost the whole of him is body plasm – the ever multiplying cells which differentiate into the organs of the body. But he also contains germ- plasm. At his very conception a tiny bit of the life stuff from which he springs is set aside or carefully isolated from the body-plasm, and forms a course of development entirely its own. In fact, the germ-plasm is not really part of the individual; he is merely its bearer, destined to pass it on to other bearers of the life chain.
Now all this was not only unknown but even unsuspected down to a short time ago. Its discovery was in fact dependent upon modern scientific methods. Certainly, it was not likely to suggest itself to even the most philosophic mind. Thus, down to a generation ago, the life stuff was supposed to be a product of the body, not differing essentially in character from other body products. This assumption had two important consequences. In the first place, it tended to obscure the very concept of heredity, and led men to think of environment as virtually all important; in the second place, even where the importance of heredity was dimly perceived the role of the individual was misunderstood, and he was conceived as a creator rather than a mere transmitter. This was the reason for the false theory of “the inheritance of acquired characteristics,” formulated by Lamarck and upheld by most scientists until almost the end of the nineteenth century. Of course, Lamarckianism was merely a modification of the traditional ‘environmentalist’ attitude: it admitted that heredity possessed some importance, but it maintained environment as the basic feature.
Now there you have the argument of God in Tarzan And The Lion Man of 1933 nearly word for word. I hink it unlikely that ERB actually read Weisman who published following 1900 and who ERB may never have heard of, so his source was in all probability Stoddard.
Stoddard’s presentation nicely straddles the change of consciousness from the nineteenth to the twentieth century. It sounds a trifle naïve to our ears but was cutting edge at the time. Weisman’s theories were a big step in the direction of the discovery of DNA a short 26 years after Stoddard’s study.
It is important though to remember that more than fifty percent of the US population today rejects the concept of evolution while being more Lamarckian in outlook than might be supposed. We are as a whole not quite as advanced as we think we are.
As a quick affirmation of the influence of Stoddard on ERB on pages 95-96 he gives an account of the famous Jukes family of degenerates that appeared in ERB’s 1932 novelette, Pirate Blood.
Stoddard was well aware of what was happening historically and presently and one can see that he passed that understanding on to ERB. Almost as though writing today, on page 237 Stoddard writes:
Stressful transition is the key-note of our times. Unless all signs be faulty, we stand at one of those momentous crises in history when mankind moves from one well-marked epoch to another of widely different character.
Extremely prescient observation in 1922 while his study has been borne out in detail. The chapter titles give a clear outline of the contents:
1. The Burden Of Civilization
2. The Iron Law Of Equality
3. The Nemesis Of The Inferior
4. The Lure Of The Primitive
5. The Ground Swell Of Revolt
6. The Rebellion Of The Underman
7. The War Against Chaos
As can be easily seen novelists such as Rider Haggard, ERB, Edgar Wallace as well as many others from 1890 to the 20s were grappling with the problems indicated by the chapter titles.
The natural tendency in humans is to be rather lax in mental activity. Precision calls for an active mentality and concentration. Not everyone is capable of this, yet, beginning in the nineteenth century such mental qualities were increasingly necessary. Such disciplines as Chemistry and Physics didn’t allow for personal vagaries or individual style. One couldn’t bend the disciplines to one’s own desires, precise measurements were necessary requiring mental concentration. A little bit off and who knows what might happen. In a way then the Overman and Underman were created. Either you could or you couldn’t and if you couldn’t you slipped beneath- an Underman. Higher civilization was impossible for you.
Burroughs addressed this problem continually. In his character Tarzan he resolved the problem giving his creation a split personality, in a loin cloth he was one man, in a tuxedo he was another. Two separate gorillas in one and always a beast. In real life society split into two possibilities- the Over and Underman.
Worse still scientific methods were able to measure the ineffable, the unseen. In chemistry sub-tiny atoms were able to be detected and their sub-miniscule weights actually measured. Measurement is the bane of the Underman. A Mole contains 6,022 x 10 to the 23rd power of atoms, an incredible incomprehensible number that still might weigh 12 grams or less. Astonishing. Beyond the comprehension hence belief of the Underman. As the process can’t be seen it can’t be believed.
In human intelligence the Englishman Francis Galton began to devise measuring devices of intelligence in 1865 shortly after Darwin announced Evolution in 1959. Thus uncertainty about mental capacity was eliminated. As Stoddard calls it, The Iron Law Of Inferiority. Biology and measuring excluded something like eighty-five percent of the population from the ranks of the most intelligent. Without that high measurement of intelligence 85% of the population was automatically excluded from the possibility of higher attainment while at the same time being prejudged.
Big strapping fellows, all man, were relegated to manual labor while wimps like perhaps, John D. Rockefeller, became billionaires. Not right, the big strapping fellows said, but not measuring up in intelligence, which they couldn’t see, they were condemned to the shovel for life.
Intelligence measuring tests were improved between 1865 and 1920 although not as accurate as could be desired. Men entering the armed forces in WWI were an excellent testing group. Of 1,700,000 tested intelligence levels were fairly accurately determined. It was then discovered that only four and a half percent were very bright with another seven or eight percent bright, while the huge bulk were C+ to C- descending from there.
One imagines Burroughs read this with extreme thoughtfulness.
So, now as the bulk of the good things were going to those who could do, what were those who couldn’t do about it? The great issue since 1789 has been equality; the Underman demanded equality as a first condition. He could organize. He could sabotage. He could rage. And that is what the Underman has done.
The Communist Party was formed. And what was their chief demand? Equality. Absolute equality. As they couldn’t rise to a natural equality then the only other feasible solution was to bring the Superior intelligences down to their level. Thus they raged against that great equalizer, education. Screw science, screw physics, screw chemistry, screw biology. Who needed what you couldn’t see and that especially included intelligence measuring?
One of ERB’s bete noires was the I.W.W.- The Industrial Workers Of The World, syndicalists. Imagine his reaction when he read this:
Viewed in the abstract, technical sense, Syndicalism does not seem to present any specially startling innovations. It is when we examine the Syndicalists’ animating spirit, their general philosophy of life, and the manner which they propose to obtain their ends, that we realize we are in the presence of an ominous novelty,- the mature philosophy of the Under Man. This philosophy of the Under-Man is today called Bolshevism. Before the Russian Revolution it was known as Syndicalism. But Bolshevism and Syndicalism are basically one and the same thing. Soviet Russia has really invented nothing. It is merely practicing what others had been preaching for years- with such adaptation as normally attend the putting of theory into practice.
Syndicalism, as an organized movement, is primarily the work of two Frenchmen, Fernand Pelloutier and Georges Sorel. Of course, just as there were Socialist before Marx, so there were Syndicalists before Sorel. Syndicalism’s intellectual progenitor was Proudhon, who in his writings had closely sketched out the Syndicalist theory. As for Syndicalism’s savage, violent, uncompromising spirit, it is clearly Anarchist in origin., drawing its inspiration not only from Proudhon but also from Bakunin, [Johann] Most, and all the rest of that furious company of revolt.
“Revolt!” This is the essence of Syndicalism: a revolt, not merely against modern society but against Marxian Socialism as well. And the revolt was well timed. When, at the very end of the nineteenth century, Georges Sorel lifted the red banner of Syndicalism, the hour awaited the man. The proletarian world was full of discordant and disillusionment at the long dormant Marxian philosophy. Half a century had passed since Marx first preached his gospel, and the revolutionary millennium was nowhere in sight. Society had not become a world of billionaires and beggars. The great capitalists had not swallowed all. The middle classes still survived and prospered. Worst of all, from the revolutionary viewpoint, the upper grades of the working classes had prospered, too. The skilled workers were, in fact, becoming an aristocracy of labor. They were acquiring property and thus growing capitalistic; they were raising their living standards and thus growing bourgeois. Society seemed endowed with a strange vitality! It was even reforming many of the abuses which Marx had pronounced incurable. When, then, was the proletariat to inherit the earth?
The Proletariat! That was the key word. The van, and even the main body of society, might be fairly on the march, but behind lagged a rear guard. Here, were, first of all, the lower working class strata- the “manual” laborers in the narrower sense, relatively ill paid and often grievously exploited. Behind these again came a motley crew, the rejects and misfits of society. “Casuals” and “unemployables”, “down-and-outs” and declasses, victims of social evils, victims of bad heredity and their own vices, paupers, defectives, degenerates, and criminals- they were all there. They were there for many reasons, but they were all miserable, and they were all bound together by a certain solidarity- a sullen hatred of the civilization from which they had little to hope. To these people evolutionary, “reformist” socialism was cold comfort. Then came the Syndicalists promising, not evolution but revolution; not in the dim future but the here and now; not a bloodless “taking over” by “the workers” hypothetically stretched to include virtually the whole community, but the bloody “dictatorship” of The Proletariat in its narrow revolutionary sense.
Here, at last, was living hope- hope, and the prospect of revenge! Is it then strange that a few short years should have seen revolutionary Socialists, Anarchists, all the anti-social forces of the whole world grouped under the banner of Georges Sorel? For a time they went under different names syndicalists in France, Bolshevists in Russia, I.W.W.s in America but in reality they formed one army, enlisted in a single war.
Now, what was this war? It was, first of all, a war for the conquest of Socialism as a preliminary to the conquest of society. Everywhere the orthodox Socialist parties were fiercely assailed. And these Socialist assaults were formidable, because the orthodox Socialists possessed no moral line of defense. Their arms were palsied by the virus of their revolutionary tradition. For however evolutionary and non-militant the Socialists might have been in practice, in theory they had remained revolutionary their ethics continuing to be those of the “class war”, the destruction of the “possessing classes” and the “dictatorship of the proletariat.”
The American economist, Carver, will describe the ethics of socialism in the following lines: “Marxian Socialism has nothing in common with idealistic Socialism. It rests not on persuasion, but on force. It does not profess to believe, as did the old idealists, that if socialism be lifted up it will draw all men to it. In fact, it has no ideals; it is materialistic and militant. Being materialistic and atheistic, it makes no use of such terms as right and justice, unless it be to quiet the consciences of those who still harbor such superstitions. It insists that these terms are mere conventionalities; the concepts mere bugaboos invented by the ruling caste to keep the masses under control. Except in a conventional sense, from this crude materialistic view there is neither a right or wrong, justice nor injustice, good or bad. Until people who still believe in such silly notions divest their minds of them they will never understand the first principles of Marxian socialism.
“Who creates our ideas of right and wrong?” asks the Socialist. “The ruling class. Why? To insure their domination over the masses by depriving them of the power to think for themselves. We, the proletarians, when we get into power, will dominate the situation; we shall be the ruling class; we shall determine who is right and wrong. Do you ask us if what we propose is just? What do you mean by justice? Do you ask if it is right? What do you mean by right? It will be good for us. That is all that right and justice ever did or ever can mean!
People ask what Burroughs believed? Was he a racist? Was he an anti-Semite? Well, Burroughs’ beliefs can be extrapolated from the above quote as well as Stoddard’s whole book. If Burroughs could have expressed himself concisely he would have written The Revolt Against Civilization. You don’t have to look any further.
There could be no more ardent anti-Communist, anti-Socialist, anti-IWW than ERB. The book was published five years after the Russian Revolution, a mere three years after the narrow quelling of the Communist disturbances of 1919 while in 1922 the Harding administration was putting the finishing touches on the suppression of that Communist revolution in the US. Make no mistake the crimes of 1919 were part of an American Bolshevik revolution. Things would not return to what Harding called normalcy but it would be a reasonable facsimile that would endure until the engineered great crash of 1929 opening the way for the Communist revolution of FDR in the US.
These were perilous times ERB was living in no less than those of today. One can’t be sure when Burroughs read Revolt but many of the same themes almost in quotation were employed in his 1926 novel The Moon Maiden. And from the Moon Maiden he went to the more sophisticated approaches of his great political novels from Tarzan At The Earth’s Core to Tarzan And The Lion Man.
As Stoddard thinks the Underman breeds at a very fast rate while the Overman limits his family the obvious consequence is that people of intelligence decrease rapidly in relation to the Underman. Of course Stoddard has all kinds of tables and charts to prove his point. As this was published in 1922 the results are heavily skewed to prove the English are the top of the heap; a result not uncongenial to Burroughs’ sensibilities.
One imagines that as of induction time in 1917-18 a great many of the recent immigrants at least had underdeveloped English language skills that affected the results but at this point it no longer matters; the general idea has been proved sound.
As we have a war between the Underman and the Overman and make no mistake, as far as Sorel and the Syndicalist/Bolshevik ideology goes it is a war to the knife, it may be asked what Stoddard’s formula for the Overman’s success might be.
This returns us to the Underman’s great fear that science, that is objective analysis supported by an array of facts will condemn him to the virtual condition of servitude. It might be surmised that this is an intolerable but inescapable conclusion unless education and science are destroyed reducing the more intelligent to the masses.
Stoddard then relying on Darwinian and Weismanian evolution and the notion of Eugenics introduced by Francis Galston resolves the problem by ending the reproduction of the ‘defective’ classes, that is, forced sterilization. Forced sterilization was actually employed. It is interesting that he never brings in the issue of race thus on the surface his book is neither racist for anti-Semitic. However as the book assumes that the superior intelligences are English or Nordic the text qualifies as anti-Semitic in Jewish eyes and hence has been placed on the Jewish Index Of Forbidden Literature.
One may be horrified at the Eugenic solution to the intelligence problem but one must be equally horrified at the Underman solution to their Overman problem. Liquidation is more horrifying than sterilization and Liquidation was employed by the Underman in Russia and will be employed again if they can consolidate their gains in the US and Europe today.
The problem is that while being founded in reality it is impossible in execution. The human mind is too subjective to be trusted with such a great responsibility. Many statues were placed on the books commanding forced sterilization and many such were executed.
Schools classes were organized based on supposed mental aptitudes. How objectively I will demonstrate by my own example. Until Jr. High in my home town schools did not systematically differentiate based on mental capacity, however at the end of the ninth grade just before I.Q. testing in the tenth there were three options, Trade School for those deemed not of academic ability, in other words destined for the labor force, and once in high school a division between business, that is white collar, and college prep. This was still a process of self-selection thus I signed up for high school however someone changed my papers to trade school.
Thus when I showed for classes at high school, I was told I was enrolled at trade school. Now, this was the fight of my life, and for it. I was told I was in trade school and to get out. I said I wasn’t leaving and sat down where I waited for four days for the situation to resolve itself. My argument was that the law required that I be given an education and it wouldn’t be at trade school. Whatever the behind the scenes machinations were I was reluctantly allowed to enter but they then insisted it would be business level while I demanded college prep. With an unexplained prescience I was told that I would never go to college so I should be in business. Nevertheless I won that struggle too.
I am sure that if enforced sterilization had been possible at the time I would have been compelled to undergo it.
Now, here’s the kicker. Came time for I.Q. tests and I placed in the upper four percent. I have no idea what the reaction to that was although my critics had to tone down their act. So human passions invalidated the whole Eugenic idea.
In other words there is no equable solution to this terrible human dilemma.
In that sense the solution offered by Aldus Huxley in his famous comic novel Brave New World is of some interest. In Huxley’s story he enlists science, chemistry, to produce different levels of mental competence. The zygote is nurtured in test tubes while at certain levels of development certain chemicals are introduced limiting the development of the fetus. Thus the labor problem is solved by creating classes only capable of menial tasks. The upper classes are bred like race horses to various degrees of excellence. Huxley was tongue in cheek to be sure but, actually the only solution to this otherwise insoluble problem.
Stoddard didn’t introduce any ideas to which Burroughs wasn’t already familiar and in agreement. At best Stoddard’s superb research and explication clarified ERB’s understanding for him. I don’t know how familiar he was with Georges Sorel. Today Sorel is unknown except to specialists although I am beginning to see his name pop up so with the Communist regime of Barack Obama perhaps the way is being prepared for Sorel’s extreme measures of exterminating the Overman.
At any rate I have come to the opinion that Richard Slotkin is correct in thinking the Burroughs had read and was in accord with both Madison Grant and Lothrop Stoddard. However Slotkin evaluates their work through the distortion of his own Communistic lens which is only valid to those of his point of view.
His view does not make Burroughs a racist or anti-Semite. It makes him an objective and accurate observer and analyst of the situation of his time. As indicated above Burroughs absorbed Stoddard’s information, that point of view and used it to create his wonderful works of the late twenties and first half of the thirties. If one bears Stoddard’s book in mind while reading those novels it will make them make great sense while presenting his view of the political and social situation
Of course the novels are not confined solely to dealing with these issues; Burroughs had a much more far ranging mind, both subjectively and objectively.
Stoddard’s The Revolt Against Civilization is a major study as relevant today as the day it was written. The last ninety years have only borne out his theses. The Revolt Against Civilization is well worth a read, perhaps two. At any rate you will have an accurate idea of Burroughs’ social and political beliefs.
October 13, 2012
The Ancient Evil:
Diana And The Goddess Tradition
A problem that has been perplexing me for some time is the role of the Goddess Diana as the female archetype for the last half of the Age of Pisces. The adoption of the goddess Diana or Artemis as she was known in Greece signifies a resurgence of the Matriarchy. This is a rather remarkable comeback as the Matriarchy was virtually unknown in the nineteenth century, all but forgotten.
I’m sure the interpretation of Diana’s history and her relationship to Astrology will be met with some dismay as these subjects are not properly understood. Essentially the problem is one of memory; in this case historical and racial memory. Memory on one level is a desire to retain and understand the past whether on a personal or historical level. From the past the future may be predicted. What has gone before will likely happen again. It was this knowledge that made the calendar a necessity. If one has a starting point, such as the shortest day of the year the return of flora and fauna may be roughly known. To make the year more manageable it was divided into seasons and months to mark more easily the passage of the days of the year. This knowledge led to a whole cycle of gods, goddesses and myths. Thus a terrestrial zodiac was derived denoted by symbols appropriate to the seasons. As it was assumed that what happened on earth was a reflection of what happened in the skies the terrestrial zodiac was translated to the stars and thus we have the Astrological Zodiac in which the twelve signs reflect the weather pattern on earth.
Just as there are twelve months in the year so the skies were divided into twelve portions called Ages. The length of the Ages was determined by the Great Year that was of some twenty-five thousand years plus duration. The Great year was determined by the rotation of the earth on its axis as evidenced by the stars of the North Pole.
Each Age has it male and female archetypes. In Greece the Arien Age was presided over by Zeus and Hera. Thus each set of archetypes has a lifetime of two thousand plus years and then they make the long slide to Far Tartary and back again.
The Piscean Age which has become universal began with the male archetype of Jesus of Nazareth while in mid-Age the archetypes where transferred to the female side- Diana in the North of Europe and Mary, the mother of Jesus, in the South of Europe.
While the mechanism used to achieve this is fairly clear the exact process can only be surmised.
While it may be difficult to believe the Astrological Zodiac must have begun development about a hundred thousand years ago being in the fourth cycle at the time of the dawn of the Age of Pisces. Thus as a method of timekeeping the Zodiac has a long history.
One may question the hundred thousand years and yet the Mesopotamian myths mention a past of at least that long. One usually doesn’t credit the ancients with actual knowledge but I think it is time to take them more seriously.
For much of that hundred thousand years during the long Ice Age the level of the Mediterranean was much lower probably being a long valley with a succession of large lakes fed by the Nile and the Propontis while the outflow was at the Pillars of Hercules. As the Med Valley was habitable it must have been inhabited. Undoubtedly a civilization developed that was fairly sophisticated. One needn’t look for extraterrestrials for human development.
Thus when the Ice Age ended returning the accumulated waters to the oceans the waters rose forcing the Valley’s inhabitants to seek higher ground until the sea level became static. While denizens fled to all sides of the Med the civilization bearers occupied Lower Egypt, the emerging Nile Delta. A second area in which civilization in some form must have survived was the island of Crete.
It was on this island that the religious formula that became a basis of Europe was formed. The basis was provided by the Hellenic Greek tribes that began their invasion of the Greek peninsula c. -1700.
The Greek penisula was occupied by an ancient people called Pelasgians. They like the Cretans were descendants of the Med Valley peoples as were the Cretans and Lower Egypt. The Pelasgian religion closely resembled that of the Cretans. The conquering Hellenes imposed their Greek language on them while setting about solving the religious differences into one unifed religion. This was done following a usual pattern.
The Hellenes followed an Aryan Patriarchal model while the Pelasgians and Cretans followed a Matriarchal type.
How much religious development took place between 8000 BC when the waters rose and 2000 BC when things had settled must have been very large. An important thing to remember is that the human mind is continually handling information. Problems of memory have been continually remedied with new storage technologies. They have been continually developed to today’s immense ability to be able to very nearly store entire reality. Every phone call in the world 24/7 can be stored and retrieved at will so that totally inconsequential information is on record but will never be read.
The time lapse between improvements in storage and retrieval were immense in the early days increasing rapidly to the present. The earliest known city, the remains of which date not coincidentally to c. 8000 BC is located at Catal Huyuk in Anatolia which would have been a rural backwater to the Med civilization, but a high degree of communal organization is evident. One imagines the Cretan civilization was similar but more highly developed. There is every evidence that the Great Mother religion was fairly highly developed at the time the waters rose.
The Cretans certainly brought the religion to a degree of perfection. Obviously there is no agreement as to the degree while the substance of religion can be only guessed at.
Presently the Goddess advocates picture the Matriarchy as some kind of golden age of
peace love and happiness. This is not the case. The Matriarchates lived in a period of very primitive mentality. Nor is the female of the species any less bloody minded than the male. The memory of the matriarchate was still strong enough for later males to dismiss the matriarchate as a period that was not too kind to men. Indeed, if one bears in mind that the sacrificial bulls were substitutes for men and that bulls were often sacrificed in holocausts which means a hundred bulls or more then it follows that at one time a hundred men or more were sacrificed to the Great Mother. Obviously this would leave rueful memories in the minds of men.
This memory may have been played out in the tale of Iphigenia At Aulis.
Shall we examine the participants in this drama, Agamemnon, Clytmnestra, Iphigenia and Diana?
Zeus in the apparition of a swan had intercourse with Leda who then lay two eggs. Both bore twins. From one egg Castor and Pollux emerged. These two represent the soltices, Castor, winter and Pollux summer. From the other egg Helen and Clytemnestra emerged. These two represent the equinoxes, Helen the Spring, Clytemnestra the Fall. One might compare Helen to the Cretan Loving Goddess with the erect snakes held hip high and Clytemnestra to the Angry Goddess brandishing the two writhing snakes. Thus the two goddesses are representatives of Diana.
Now Agamemnon was punished by Diana for killing a deer and then boasting that he was a better hunter than she. Agamemnon and the Greeks were assembled at Aulis but unable to sail for lack of wind. A sacrifice was deemed necessary to allay the winds. Ordinarily a male would have been the sacrifice to Diana. Instead Agamemnon sacrificed his and Clytemnestra’s daughter probably in vengeance for his punishment by Diana and the slaughter of all those males during the Matriarchy.
Clytemnestra herself was a representative of the Matriarchy so the story is involved.
While my interpretation might be controversial I think it clear that the Cretan goddess became Artemis/Diana. At any rate it was the Argive (from Argos) mainland goddess Hera who would be chosen as the wife of Zeus. Therefore the Cretan goddess would have lost her consort and been a loose cannon.
Zeus himself was of Cretan origin probably intended to be the annual consort of the Goddess. As religion evolved the characters of the Gods and Goddesses changed so that while there is continuity the attributes and characters change enough so that the religious figures have to be located in time and place.
When the Hellenes, or Greeks, began to arrive the Cretans had already created a political organization known as a thalossocracy, a sea based empire. The islands and at least the coasts from Aegean to Italy were under Cretan rule. The Greeks then challenged the power of the Cretans as well as seeking to impose the Patriarchal religion on the Matriarchy.
This method of taking control was the same as that of all religions replacing another. As in such situations the overcome religion submits to greater power but continues a more or less clandestine existence. Thus the Aryan Greeks converted religious sites such as Delphi to Patriarchal shrines. Where the necessisity existed in Matriarchal strongholds, they apparently attempted to exterminate the Matriarchates. Persecute them out of existence, perhaps, as happened to the Lollards of England.
In this case, Perseus’ assault on the Gorgon Medusa could have signified an all out assault on the Matriarchal stronghold as was the story of the Iliad in which the Patriarchal Greeks waged a ten year war to exterminate Matriarchal Troy. Whether factual or not it is true that when the post-Troy dark age ended the Greeks were in possession of the Anatolian littoral.
Of course the preferred method was by stealth and intermarriage. Intermarriage may have required the extermination of the males to acquire the women which was commonly done. Thus, Zeus’ frequent rapes of women may commemorate such takeovers.
As the assimilated gods appear to have been indigenous the Greeks must have taken over the pre-existing gods while changing them to Patriarchal from Matriarchal. Thus, while Zeus is clearly a Cretan god, probable annual consort of the Great Mother, he was transported to mainland Argos where as a woodpecker he raped the Argive goddess Hera becoming her lord and master, or her husband.
The consort of Hera was Heracles, a sun god. When Zeus took Hera from him as his wife this left Heracles at loose ends without a purpose. The Greeks gave him a new lineage and the role of the champion of the Patriarchy and punisher of the Matriarchy.
In this case Zeus seduces Alcmene in the disguise of her husband Amphitryon impregnating her with Hercules. Just as Heracles was a loose cannon after the marriage of Zeus and Hera the Cretan Great Goddess was without a consort when Zeus left Crete. The problem is what identity was she assigned? When Heracles was born two snakes were sent by the Matriarchy to kill him. The baby Heracles strangled both, one in each hand. Symbolically then the Cretan religion was imagined to be destroyed and possibly its Great Mother murdered.
A great problem however that remains hidden from me is the origin of the Peloponnesian Lady Of The Lake. As the Cretan Great Mother was also a Mistress Of The Animals it is quite possible that she was taken to the mainland from Crete where she became an Artemis and possibly the Lady Of The Lake.
At some later time the Cretan priesthood would be carried from Crete and installed as the priesthood of Apollo at the premier Greek shrine of Delphi. So, how much of the Greek religion was of Aryan origin and how much of the ancient Med Valley religion through its Cretan development isn’t clear but the two must have been extensively intermingled making the Cretan Great Mother a probable Artemis/Diana and the Lady Of The Lake.
I have found no references in Greek mythology to the Lady Of The Lake but the Lady as Vivian turns up in the Arthurian epics of +1000-1300 when they were formulated. In those she is referred back to ancient Peloponnesian times. I haven’t found the sources of the medieval writers but they must have been in possession of some mythological sources that no longer exist.
I would now like to examine the transition from the male archetype of Jesus in mid-Piscean Age to Diana in Northern Europe and Mary, the Mother of God in the South.
Before leaving the Ancients however let me say that having organized a pantheon the Greeks then removed the various gods from their home locales and established their residence on Mt. Olympus deep in the more densely Aryan populations of the North of Greece.
The religion of no one Age is secure because the transition to the next Age is always looming. Just as Zeus had replaced Cronus of the Taurean Age so the Greek male archetype of the Piscean Age, Dionysus, was maturing as Zeus’ replacement.
However, in the long war between Europe and Asia the balance of power was to shift toward the Asians. Dionysus was discarded to be replaced by the Semitic Jew, Jesus of Nazareth. The Jews had quietly been infiltrating Western society while actually contending for pre-eminence in the East and Egypt. This would erupt into the Roman-Jewish wars of the first two centuries AD.
As the early Christians were a purely Jewish sect it is no wonder that when Paul of Tarsus turned the Jewish cult into a universal religion that that religion reflected Judaism to a large extent. Judaism being an intolerant religion that intolerance was replicated in both the Roman Catholic and the Greek Orthodox Churches. The result was that any competing religious views were viciously suppressed. After the fourth century the old Creco-Cretan religion was anathematized on the pain of death.
As would happen in the fifteenth century when the Ottoman Moslems conquered Constantinople and the Greek scholars fled East to India and West to the Roman successor States numbers of the Olympian priesthood undoubtedly fled into the German lands to the North. Just as the Arian priests fled North to escape Catholic oppression where they converted the German tribes so the Olympian priests sowed their beliefs among the Germans. That’s one reason so many Olympian beliefs are found in German folk tales as collected by the Grimms.
As the Lady Of The Lake is a Matriarchal myth it follows that the Cretan priesthood of Delphi sowed Matriarchal ideas among the Germans. It can be little wonder that Vivian, The Lady Of The Lake, appeared in the French chivalric myths created from the eleventh though fourteenth centuries.
Not only that but Vivian represents the Matriarchal resurgence against Catholic Patriarchalism. Vivian of course was none other than Artemis/Diana. It was thus that Diana became the female archetype of Northern Europe in the second half of the Piscean Age.
It would be a mistake to suppose that the Olympian gods died quiet deaths or deaths at all. It is one thing to outlaw a belief system and another to erase it from the memories of those who had used that belief system for two thousand years. The Christians were at best a conquering horde no different from the Patriarchal Greeks who attempted to destroy the Cretan religion. The Catholic Church was no more able to contain the Olympians than the Greeks were able to contain Cretan religion. Just as the Greeks had had to accommodate the Cretans by installing them at Delphi so the Catholic Church had to accommodate Olympians while the struggle never ceased.
Just as the Iliad was part of an immense mythological cycle detailing the struggle between the Matriarchy and the Patriarchy so the Arthurian epics detailing the Matriarchal, Patriarchal and Church as Aryans sects was even more immense and sprawling. The huge corpus of the Vulgate-Lancelot may just be the largest literary work in the world while being only part of the story.
So Arthur being installed at Camelot as the wise and benevolent Patriarchal monarch, Vivian had her home beneath a northern French lake. The problem for her was how to subvert Camelot and restore the Matriarchy. After all the court of Arthur was guided by and protected by the magic of the great magician Merlin. So long as Merlin was on the job Arthur was invulnerable. Vivian’s first task was to eliminate Merlin.
Bear in mind that an ages old system that these participants can have had no knowledge of is being satisfactorily worked out according to the principles of that system. One can understand how active minds could penetrate this arcane system but the miracle is that naïve minds could understand what was intended and how to further it. But then I am participating here in furthering events into the Aquarian Age and am no member of any priesthood; I was just a guy standing on the corner watching the girls go by while reading the odd volume. Do I know what I say I know? I can’t even guess but at the same time I can’t keep from writing as though I do. Blame it on the muse.
Vivian was a cute girl; Merlin was a half daft old man susceptible to a young beauty’s charms even though he knew better. Vivian smiled at him and the wisest dope in the world fell for it. But, isn’t that the way the sisterhood always works. If you’ve got a job to do, keep it zipped up.
Enamored of Vivian Merlin took her into his confidence. He was reluctant to share his magic with her but she coaxed and he caved. Once the wiliest of womanhood had obtained the old wizard’s knowledge she turned on him entombing him in the matriarchal symbol, Mother Earth, where he remains today muttering useless spells in an effort to remove the stone.
Part one of her effort was now achieved. Arthur was unprotected and vulnerable. It was only necessary to find the means and the agent. Vivian already knew the means. Arthur would marry the beautiful but flighty Guenivere. Arthur was old sobersides as he had a kingdom to rule so Guenivere was on the lookout for the dark romantic lead. It just so happened that Vivian had a boy in training who was now about to emerge into lusty young manhood. He was the most perfect knight in the world save one, who was yet unborn and to be his son.
When this lad was a young boy Vivian had lured him down to the lake from whose shores she abducted him taking him to her submarine palace for training. Lancelot became a fairy prince. Now, this is important: Vivian although a virgin was an alpha mother . All those bundles of genes out there who yell and stomp thinking that makes them alpha males aren’t. It’s not in the genes its in the mothering. Look for the alpha female. So, Lancelot was the alphaest of all living males.
As an emblem of her authority Vivian dressed Lancelot as well as the horse he rode out on in shining white velvet. Guenivere’s prince had come.
This Dandy, Lancelot, then went to Camelot and was deputized by Arthur to fetch his bride from her father and thus began a liaison with the Queen that would disrupt the famous Round Table resulting in a war between Patriarchal Arthur and Matriarchal Lancelot that brought the kingdom to its knees.
Arthur’s original sword drawn from the stone had been stolen and replaced by Excalibur a sword given to him by Vivian. Thus Arthur originally armed by the Patriarchy was now defended by the power of the Matriarchy or Diana. When Arthur died the sword was returned to the Lady Of The Lake and Arthur was taken to her bourne, Avalon to be tended by the fairie maidens. Symbolically England had passed from the Patriarchy to the Matriarchy; what began two thousand years earlier between the Cretans and the Greeks was now resolved in England in favor of the Matriarchy.
In the South of Europe the female archetype of the Piscean Age was Mary who delivered Jesus to the world in Virgin birth somewhat like Vivian giving virgin birth to Lancelot. At the same time that Diana assumed authority in the North Mary began to be worshipped in a form known as Mariolatry in the South and assumed pre-eminence over Jesus, the male. The contest then shifted to one between the Dianites of the North and the Marionites of the South.
If one assumes that the sexual battle was over by 1300, then the battle of the female archetypes began. That began to resolve itself when Henry VIII separated England from the Papacy rejecting Mary, the Mother of God. Luther did the same for the Germans. This conflict resulted in the horrific Thirty Years War that nearly destroyed the German people. At war’s end Protestants, that is the Dianites, were in control of the North while the Marionites held the South.
Dissension in the North and South was still rife until the Enlightenment broke the power of the Church releasing all kinds of repressed religious views of which the religion of Diana was merely one. One wonders how much of the women’s movement of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries was influenced by the concept of Diana The movement today is heavily influenced by a goddess cult, not Mary, but Diana and probably the Egyptian Isis. One imagines that there must be some continuity.
The interest in both Greek mythology and the Arthurian epics did not wane during the nineteenth century, if anything increasing. Tennyson’s Idylls of the King was a major retelling of the story while the quest for the Holy Grail is an ongoing theme.
The Matriarchy was all but forgotten in the conscious memory of Europe that had become patriarchal on the surface. In mid-century against stiff resistance the Swiss mythologist, J. J. Bachofen uncovered the Matriarchy reintroducing it into intellectual history. The concept was stoutly resisted but a reevaluation of the evidence over the succeeding hundred years has reestablished the knowledge of its existence.
On the popular level the great English novelist H. Rider Haggard toyed with the idea in several significant, even great, novels that have been slighted through a lack of understanding. The most significant of that set of novels, the She saga, has become one of the world’s great classics.
She, or Ayesha, her actual name, means Life was definitely not a mother goddess, as far as we know she had been chaste for two thousand years. Life might be interpreted in the sense of Mistress Of The Animals, so it wouldn’t be unfair to associate Ayesha with Diana. Haggard was no mean mythologist.
He associated with the well known mythologist Andrew Lang with whom he also collaborated on The World’s Desire. He was very well read in mythology, Greek, Egyptian and Israelite. The year after Haggard wrote She in 1888 he followed up with Cleopatra, a very good Egyptian novel. He followed that with the astonishing interpretation of the Helen myth in The World’s Desire of 1890. Within the compass of these three novels he unraveled the meaning of the Hermes/Mercury staff- the Caduceus.
In She Ayesha wore a golden belt composed of two snakes whose heads opposed each other at her waist. They represented the combat between good and evil in Ayesha’s mind. Both natures of the Cretan goddess were united in Ayesha.
By the time Haggard wrote The World’s Desire two years later he had separated the two impulses into two persons. The evil aspect of the goddess was the ruling aspect of the Egyptian princess Meriamun while the pure loving aspect of the goddess belonged to the spirit of Helen whose character was the world’s desire.
Thus the rod of Mercury’s staff represents the spine while the two snakes entwining the rod represent the good and evil impulses who facing each other are at war with each other. In modern psychological terms it could be said the snakes represent the Anima and Animus- the left and right halves of the brain or, in other words, the ovate strand of DNA and the spermatic strand. The wings mean that the whole apparatus is sheltered under the wings of the goddess. It is also quite probable that the points of the chakras are intended by the twining. See my full explication here: http://idynamo.wordpress.com/2009/12/04/a-review-part-iv-she-by-h-rider-haggard/
Hermes/Mercury was one of the old Matriarchal gods who was reborn as a Patriarchal god so that the Patriarchal Mercury bears the Matriarchal emblem of the Caduceus before him thus representing both religious outlooks.
Haggard was the rock on which his near disciple, Edgar Rice Burroughs, built his church. Without saying that Burroughs was an expert Greco-Roman mythologist he began reading mythology at a very early age while his Junior High years were spent at the Harvard Latin school of Chicago where he was placed under a heavy classical regimen. He also continued to read Greek mythology throughout his life while also being interested in anthropology. Thus, while he might not have had the scholarly background of Haggard he must have known enough to follow Haggard’s argument, if not consciously at least in his subconscious memory.
When Burroughs created his fantasy lost city of Opar its goddess, or high priestess, was even named La which is French for She. Whether he was aware he was working with a vision of Diana isn’t relevant as the notion of She/Diana was engraved in what Jung would call the collective unconscious and hence his own.
Ever the Patriarch, Burroughs turned the tables on the Diana/Vivian Merlin story and made La submissive to Tarzan while Tarzan was unmoved by either her beauty or her love.
A sort of version was also told by the very good but now nearly forgotten novelist Robert Hichens in his novel of 1905, The Garden Of Allah. This story in turn influenced Burroughs as well as the much more conscious mythologist Edith Maude Hull who wrote The Sheik in 1921. Today Mrs. Hull’s reputation, such as it is, rests on The Sheik and The Sheik’s reputation on the movie represention of Rudolph Valentino. In point of fact Mrs. Hull’s novel was a study of Diana, the name of her heroine, that follows to some extent the version of Burroughs. (See my full review of The Sheik here http://idynamo.wordpress.com/2007/10/12/a-review-1921s-the-sheik-by-em-hull/)
That Mrs. Hull was a part od some sort of Diana cultish interest is evidenced by this 1920s photo of woman posing as Diana. The collective memory and/or unconscious has kept the vision of Diana/Great Mother alive for a minimum of three thousand years. The Ancient Evil had been transmuted into Freudian psychology.
Today the worship of the Goddess has been revived in the Feminist Movement and is thriving. Indeed, a Matriarchal Revolution has been in progress since perhaps the 1850s and now seems to be rapidly approaching fruition, at least among the Aryans of Europe and America.
Time will tell whither the Ancient Evil will triumph.
April 3, 2012
Only The Strong Survive
An Examination Of Bridge And The Oskaloosa Kid
As Created By Edgar Rice Burroughs
(Alternate Title: The Oakdale Affair)
Into The Mysteries
(Some capitalization appears in the text that has no significance. For some reason it just showed up. I didn’t do it)
Burroughs does a good job in the Holmesian sense in this book enclosing mysteries within mysteries. The central mystery is who is committing the crime wave in Oakdale. Having learned from his mentor, Conan Doyle, Burroughs skillfully withholds details to enhance the suspense then disclosing them to reveal the mysteries. The organization of the scheme of crimes gradually unfolds to show that the real Oskaloosa Kid is one of the perpetrators. So we have a clever doubling of a sweet girl posing as the vicious criminal The Oskaloosa Kid. This is obviously a transfer of his Anima identity from the male De Vac/Oskaloosa Kid to the resumption of a female identity for his Anima through the fake Oskaloosa Kid/Gail Prim.
The girl who was seen with the criminals could have been Gail since she had disappeared without a trace never having arrived at her destination. Gail was not the girl seen with Reginald Paynter, who was robbed and murdered, and the crooks. That person was Hettie Penning who was ejected from the car speeding past the abandoned Squibbs place by the real Oskaloosa Kid. Thus symbolically De Vac/Oskaloosa Kid returns his Anima to Bridge/Burroughs.
As indicated Hettie Pening represents the dead early Anima of Burroughs who has here been resurrected. As in all cases of Burroughs representation of his failed Anima she appears to be a ‘bad’ girl but in reality is merely misunderstood. He compensates for himself.
Bridge himself is a mystery man and double. He is a hobo but with great manners and an excellent education. He is definitely a member of the Might Have Seen Better Days Club. The real club was organized by Burroughs when he served as an enlisted man in the Army in 1896.
In this case Bridge is in actuality the son of a wealthy Virginia aristocrat who has left home because he prefers a life on the road. In the framing story of a Princess of Mars Burroughs portrays himself in his own name as a Virginian. In reality Burroughs was declassed at eight or nine by John the Bully and by his father’s subsequent shuffling of him from school to school finally sending him to a bad boy school that Burroughs describes as little more than a reformatory for rich kids.
If one looks at his career he was on the move quite a bit. During his marriage he seldom lived in one house for more than a year or two then moved on.
Just as Bridge will assume his proper identity at the end of the novel so through his writing Burroughs has abandoned the shame of his hard scrabble years from 1905-13. In a sense he is assuming his proper identity with this novel.
Bridge and the Kid joining together at the fork in the road, one is reminded of Yogi Berra’s quip: When you come to a fork in the road, take it, in this case the less traveled dirt road.
I read word for word frequently dwelling on the scenes created. Burroughs is a very visual writer. Standing at the fork in a driving Midwest summer lightning, thunder and deluge storm they can hear the pursuing hoboes shouting down the road. Ahead of them is a dark unknown and a house haunted by the victims of a sextuple murder.
Indeed, Burroughs describes almost a descent into hell, or at least, the hell of the subconscious.
Over a low hill they followed the muddy road and down into a dark and gloom ravine. In a little open space to the right of the road a flash of lightning, followed one imagines by either the crash of deep loud rumbling of the thunder of perhaps if over head the sonic boom of the air splitting and closing, revealed the outline of a building a hundred yards (that’s three hundred feet, a very large front yard) from the rickety and decaying fence which bordered the Squibb farm and separated it from the road.
There are those who say Burroughs doesn’t write well but in a short paragraph he has economically drawn a verbal picture which is quite astonishing in its detail. The house is a hundred yards from the road. In the rain and muck that might be a walk or two or three minutes or more.
A clump of trees surrounded the house, their shade adding to the utter blackness of the night.
That’s what one calls inspissating gloom. One might well ask how any shade can add to utter blackness but one gets the idea. There is some intense writing thoroughly reminiscent of Poe but nothing like him.
The two had reached the verandah when Bridge, turning, saw a brilliant light glaring through the night above the crest of the hill they had just topped in their descent into the ravine, or, to be more explicit, the small valley, where stood the crumbling house of the Squibbs. The purr of a rapidly moving motor car rose above the rain, the light rose, fell, swerved to the right and left.
“Someone must be in a hurry.” commented Bridge.
There isn’t any better writing than that. Another writer can say it differently but he can’t say it better. Just imagine the movie Frankenstein or Wolf Man when you’re reading it. Burroughs did as well in less than the time it takes to show it.
A body is thrown from the speeding car a shot following after it. Bridge goes to pick up the body.
Thus the mystery and horror and terror of the dark and stormy night has been building. Bridge carrying the body which may or may not be alive asks the Kid to open the door.
Behind him came Bridge as the youth entered the dark interior. A half dozen steps he took when his foot struck against a soft yielding mass. Stumbling he tried to regain his equilibrium only to drop fully upon the thing beneath him. One open palm extended to ease his fall, it fell upon the uplifted features of a cold and clammy face.
Yipes! What more do you need? Cold and dripping, half crazed from fear, overwhelmed by the thought he might be a murderer the Kid’s hand falls on cold and clammy dead flesh. Bridge is standing there with maybe another dead person in his arms. The Kid is also aware that the murderous hoboes are hot on his trail.
If that doesn’t get you then somehow I think you can’t be got.
Not yet finished Burroughs builds up the tension. Striking a match from the specially lined water proof pocket of Bridge’s coat they find a dead man wearing golden earrings. Obviously a gypsy but while staring in unsimulated horror they hear from the base of the stairs of a dark dank cellar the clank of a slowly drawn chain as a heavy weight makes the stairs creak.
This is too much for the nerves of the Kid. Burroughs brilliantly contrasts the terror of the unknown in the basement with the fear of the dark at the top of the stairs. You know where that’s at, I’m sure, I sure do. In a flash the Kid chooses the unknown at the top of the stairs to the horror in the cellar.
What do you want?
The hoboes are still slipping and sliding down the descent into the ravine of the subconscious. Horror in front, terror behind. There is absolutely no place to hide. Nightmare City, don’t you think? How could anyone do it better? What do you mean he can’t write? Put the scenes in a movie and everyone in the theatre would be covering their eyes. Itd\ would be that Beast With Five Fingers all over again. Maybe worse. Never saw that one? Check it out. Peter Lorre. Terrifying. Of course I was a kid.
The clanking of the chain recreates an incident in Burroughs’ own life when he had a job collecting for an ice company. He called on a house and while he was waiting he heard the clanking of a chain coming slowly up the driveway. Waiting with a fair amount of trepidation he saw a huge dog dragging the chain appear. ERB backing slowly away forgot about the delinquent bill.
In this case the chain is attached to Beppo the dancing bear but Bridge and the Kid won’t know that until the next day.
They retreat into an upstairs bedroom. Here what Burroughs describes in capital letters as THE THING and IT pursues them. I remember two movies one called The Thing and the other It.
Just when the thing retreats the murderous gang of hoboes enters the house. Wow! Out of the frying pan and into the fire in this night of terrors as the lightning continues to flash and the thunder crash.
Discovering the dead man and as the bear begins moving again four of the hoboes flee while two who were on the staircase being trapped in the house flee into the same bedroom as Bridge, the Kid and the girl, Hettie. Shortly thereafter a woman’s scream pierces the lightning and the thunder then silences as the storm settles into a steady drizzle.
The rest of the night is one tense affair between the murderous hoboes and the Bridge and the girls. Not a moment to catch your breath.
In the morning when they go downstairs the mystery increases when they find the dead man gone and nothing in the cellar. If they’d had Tarzan along he would have not only been able to smell the bear but to tell whether if was black or brown.
After a brief confrontation Dopey Charlie and the General are driven off. Bridge’s relationship with the Kid is then deepened. Even though all the Kid’s reactions are repulsive to the manhood of Bridge he feels his attraction to the seeming boy growing stronger.
Not since he had followed the open road with Byrne, had Bridge met one with whom he might care to “pal” before.
This brings up an interesting hint of latent homosexuality. My fellow writer, David Adams has objected that in my analysis of Emasculation as applied to ERB is that he should have been a homosexual but wasn’t.
There are degrees of emasculation and there are various degrees of psychotic reaction to it. I don’t say and I don’t believe that ERB was a homosexual but there was a degree of ambiguity introduced into his personality by his emasculation. I have touched on this in my ‘Emasculation, Hermaphroditism and Excretion.’
Here we have another example of it as Bridge is experiencing some homoerotic emotion which is very confusing to him as he has never wanted a ‘pal’ before. In hobo lingo I believe a ‘pal’ has a homosexual connotation.
If Burroughs took his ‘inside’ information on hoboes from Jack London’s The Road then Bridge is the sort of hobo London describes as the ‘profesh’, the hobo highest in the hierarchy of hobodom. London always thought of himself as a quick learner, so one doesn’t have to award his statement too much credibility but Burroughs apparently took him at face value.
As London describes the ‘profesh’ he has been on the road so long he knows all the ropes. Unlike the unkempt bums he realizes the importance of a good front and always dresses neatly. But he is hardened and capable of committing any crime.
While Bridge is obviously intended to be a ‘profesh’ he is neither criminal nor does he dress to put up a good front.
Another category of hobo London lists is the ‘road kid.’ These are young people just starting on the life of the road. The ‘profesh’ would often take one of more of these road kids under his wing as his fag, as the British would say, or in Americanese, a ‘pal.’ In other words a homosexual relationship. Thus this displays ERB’s sexual ambiguity which David couldn’t locate in my psychological analysis of ERB’s emasculation. In this case the ambiguity will be resolved and explained when we learn that the Kid is the beautiful young woman, Abigail Prim, and both Bridge and Burroughs heave a sigh of relief.
Nevertheless ERB is discussing homosexuality in an open and natural way that couldn’t be missed by the knowing and which may be unique for its time. But then, remember that one of ERB’s hats in this story is that of the Alienist, so that in these pages we are deep into the psychological abstractions and Doyle’s mystery stories as influences.
Now comes the time for breakfast. Someone has to ‘rustle’ grub. We have already learned in ‘Out There Somewhere’ that Bridge doesn’t rustle food, he rustles rhyme. Nothing has changed. The Kid goes out to get breakfast and when she comes back with the goods, true to form Bridge bursts forth with several snatches from H.H. Knibbs which surprisingly the demure Miss Prim recognizes. What has she been reading?
How might this apply to Burroughs’ own life. Let’s look at it. Burroughs was enamored of How to books but in his heart he must have considered them a fraud. Willie Case will soon pick up his copy of How To Be A Detective which he finds completely inapplicable to his circumstances. He also has the good sense to throw the book away reverting to his native intelligence which may be a subtle comment on How To books by Burroughs.
ERB always considered himself of the executive class. After his humiliating experience trying to sell door to door he never attempted it again. Instead as a master salesman he preferred to write how to sales manuals for others to use as they went door to door selling his line of pencil sharpeners or whatever while he sat in the office waiting for orders. Hence in his own life he was the ‘rustler of poetry’ or manuals while others rustled grub in the door to door humiliation of the actual selling. Here the Kid will do the door to door gig. ERB always makes me smile.
In this case in what may be a joke the Kid just buys the goods from the homeowner reversing the roles.
There are those who insist Burroughs can’t write but I find his stuff wonderfully condensed getting more mileage out of each word than anyone else I’ve ever read. Just see how he describes breakfast.
Shortly after, the water coming to a boil, Bridge lowered three eggs into it, glanced at his watch (an affluent hobo) greased one of the new cleaned stove lids with a piece of bacon rind and laid out as many strips of bacon as the lid would accommodate. Instantly the room was filled with the delicious odor of frying bacon.
“M-m-m-m!” gloated the Oskaloosa Kid. “I wish I had bo- asked for more. My! But I never smelled anything so good in all my life. Are you going to boil only three eggs? I could eat a dozen”
“The can’ll only hold three at a time,” explained Bridge. “we’ll have some boiling while we are eating these.” He borrowed the knife from the girl, who was slicing and buttering bread with it, and turned the bacon swiftly and deftly with the point, then he glanced at his watch. “Three minutes are up.” He announced and, with a couple small flat sticks saved for the purpose from the kindling wood, withdrew the eggs one at a time from the can.
“But we have no cups!” exclaimed the Oskaloosa Kid, in sudden despair.
Bridge laughed. “Knock an end off your egg and the shell will answer in place of a cup. Got a knife?”
The Kid didn’t. Bridge eyed him quizzically. “You must have done most of your burgling near home,” he commented.
The description of the breakfast between the time Bridge looked at his watch and when the three minutes were up was delightfully done. I could smell the bacon myself while I especially like the detail of swiftly and deftly turning the bacon with the knife point. The knife seemed to have disappeared between the bacon and knocking the end off the egg.
Nice details aren’t they? You’d almost think Burroughs had actually done things like this for years. There’s enough blank spots in his life that he may have had more experiences of this sort than we know about. Take for instance the three days in Michigan between the writing of Out There Somewhere and Bridge And The Oskaloosa Kid. He says it took him twelve hours by train on four different lines to return to Coldwater from Alma. It is not impossible that he was hoboing back for the experience. He knew that he was going to write Bridge And The Kid next; might he not have been picking up local color?
Likewise in Bridge And The Kid he mentions the road from Berdoo to Barstow with seeming familiarity. Had he met Knibbs and the two embarked on a few days road trip as the expert Knibbs showed him some of the ropes?
I don’t know but there is something happening in his life which has not been explained.
Perhaps also the hoboism which appears in 1915-17 in his work when by all rights his success should have permitted him entry into more exalted social circles symbolized a rejection by so-called polite society. If so, why? Certainly the serialization of Tarzan Of The Apes in the Chicago paper must have raised eyebrows when people said something like: Is that the same Edgar Rice Burroughs who’s been tramping around town for the last several years?
After all people live in a town where a reputation is attached to them whether earned or not. In reviewing the jobs Burroughs had after he left Sears, Roebuck there is a certain unsavory character to them. Indeed, one employer, a patent medicine purveyor was shut down by the authorities while ERB then formed a partnership with this disgraced person. Where was Burroughs when the authorities showed up to shut the business down? I make no moral judgments. I’m of the Pretty Boy Floyd school of morality: Some will rob you with a six gun, some use a fountain pen. Emasculation is the name of the game.
It is certainly true that many, perhaps most, of the patent medicines of the time were based on alcohol and drugs therefore either addictive or harmful to the health. Samuel Hopkins Adams was commissioned by Norman Hapgood of Collier’s magazine to write a series of articles exposing the patent medicine business in 1906.
http://www.mtn.org/quack/ephemera/oct7.htm . A consequence of the articles may very well have been the shutting down of Dr. Stace. I think it remarkable that Burroughs didn’t distance himself from Stace at that time.
Even as Adams was presenting his research on patent medicines Upton Sinclair was exposing the hazards of the Chicago meat packing industry whose products were no less hazardous to the public health than patent medicines. Sinclair’s book, The Jungle, as well as perhaps Adams’ articles resulted in the Pure Food And Drug Act of 1906.
The products of meatpackers were so bad the British wouldn’t even feed them to their Tommies. That’s pretty bad.
So, if the Staces of the world were criminal and ought to be put out of business then by logic so should have the Armours and Swifts but what in our day would be multi-billion dollar industries don’t get shut down for the minor offence of damaging the health of millions.
One can’t be sure of Burroughs’ reasoning but his writing indicates that he was keenly aware of the hypocrisy of legalities. Perhaps for that reason he stuck by Dr. Stace.
However Stace was put out of business and the Armours and Swifts weren’t. While I applaud ERB’s steadfastness I deplore his lack of judgment for surely his reputation was tarred with the same brush as Dr. Stace.
When society figures may have asked who this Edgar Rice Burroughs was they were given, perhaps, a rundown on Dr. Stace and patent medicines as well as other employments that seem a little murky to us at present. I’m sure the ERB was seen as socially unacceptable. Thus Bridge who has lived among the hoboes has never partaken of their crimes so there is no reason for society to reject him especially as he is the son of a millionaire.
In any event ERB left Chicago for the Coast returning in 1917 then leaving for good at the beginning of 1919. Life ain’t easy. Ask me.
As Bridge, the Kid and the putative Abigail Prim were finishing breakfast the great detective Burton pulls up in front of the Squibbs place. Burton is obviously a combination of Sherlock Holmes and Allan Pinkerton. We have been advised of the Holmes connection in the opening paragraphs of this book. ERB describes Burton thusly:
Burton made no reply. He was not a man to jump to conclusions. His success was largely due to the fact that he assumed nothing; but merely ran down each clew quickly yet painstakingly until he had a foundation of fact upon which to operate. His theory was that the simplest way is always the best way. And so he never befogged the main issue with any elaborate system of deductive reasoning based on guesswork. Burton never guessed. He assumed that it was his business to know; nor was he on any case long before he did know. He was employed now to find Abigail Prim. Each of the several crimes committed the previous night might or might not prove a clew to her whereabouts; but each must be run down in the process of elimination before Burton could feel safe in abandoning it.
That’s a pretty good understanding of Doyle’s presentation of Holmes. ERB did learn Holmes’ dictum that it was necessary to read all the literature on the subject to understand the mentality of one’s subjects. Burton did demonstrate some acumen in his arrest of Dopey Charlie and the General. He deployed an agent fifty yards below and fifty yards above to converge on the two criminals while he approached from the front. Either Burroughs had been doing some reading of his own or he picked up some experience or information from elsewhere.
Another keen point was when Burton went back to where the hoboes had been hiding to dig up the evidence they had concealed that would lead to their conviction for the Baggs murder.
It’s little details like these that always make me wonder where Burroughs picked up this stuff. He does it all so naturally but one can’t write what one doesn’t know. He must have been a curious man, good memory.
So Burroughs has a a pretty good understanding of the methods of Sherlock Holmes. It must be remembered that ERB was reading these stories as they first appeared not as we do as part of literature. Holmes, O.Henry, Jack London, E.W. Hornung, these were all fresh new and extremely stimulating with a great many references and inferences which are undoubtedly lost on us. Even in Bridge And The Kid ERB’s reference to the Kid’s bringing home the bacon is a direct reference to a quip the mother of the ex-heavyweight champion of the world Jack Johnson made just after he won the championship from Jim Jeffries: He said he’d bring home the bacon and he’s done it. I don’t doubt if many caught it then but I’m sure the phrase has become such a commonplace today that only a very few catch the reference and share the laugh.
Doyle’s stories such as A Study In Scarlet dealing with the Mormons and The Valley Of Fear dealing with the Molly Maguires would have had much more thrilling immediacy for ERB than they do for us. Also Burroughs has caught the essence of Holmes which was not so much the stories as the method of Holmes.
I have read the canon four times and while I could not reconstruct any of the stories without difficulty, if at all, maxims like- When you eliminate the impossible whatever remains no matter how improbable must be the truth. – have lodged in my mind since I was fourteen guiding my intellect to much advantage. So also the dictum to read all the literature. Not easy or even possible, but the more one has read the or read again the more things just fall in place without any real effort. You have to be able to remember, remembrance being the basis of all mind, of course. Holmes has been like a god to me.
If you wish to learn a source of Burroughs’ stories then all you have to do is apply the above methods; it will all become clear.
Burton moves the story forward as his appearance causes Bridge who isn’t sure what the status of the Kid and the putative Gail Prim is, elects to avoid the great detective even though they are friends.
The trio slip out the back into the woods following a track leading to ‘Anywhere’. Burroughs in a masterful telling catches the feel of a Spring day on a recently wetted trail littered with the leaves of yesteryear. Ou sont les neiges d’antan?
They come upon a clearing where a gypsy woman is burying a body. By this time Bridge has solved the mysteries of the previous evening.
The girls make noises upon hearing the clank of a chain in a hovel causing the gypsy woman to look around. Rather than spotting the trio she spots Willie Case hiding in the bushes who she drags out.
The gypsy woman, Giova, is as good a character as Bridge, the Kid, Burton and the hoboes, but my favorite of the story is Willie Case, the fourteen year old detective. While to my mind ERB presents Willie as a thoroughly admirable character, he nevertheless vents a suppressed mean streak not only on Willie but on the whole Case family.
ERB doesn’t let his mean streak show very often, it lurks in the background, but he lets it loose in this book. He must have been under personal stress.
He describes Willie as having no forehead and no chin, imbecilic traits, literally beginning with the eyebrows and ending with the lips. A freak of nature, a real grotesque. That means that Willie was a real ‘low brow’ as Emma accused ERB of being, even a no brow. Is it a coincidence that Emma called ERB a low brow or that the literati thought ERB wrote ‘low brow’ literature?
In point of fact Willie strikes me as an intelligent boy. He analyzes the situation always being in the right place at the right moment. Burton himself pays him a high but sneering compliment then cheats him out of the promised reward of a hundred dollars but in the manner McClurg’s published his books Burroughs was cheated out of a large part of his reward.
I don’t say that’s the case but if so it fits the facts.
In any event ERB treats the Case family meanly; they might almost be prototypes of Ma and Pa Kettle of the Egg and I or the meanly portrayed characters of Erskine Caldwell’s Tobacco Road. Jeb Case behaves very reprehensively at the lynching although once again he merely reported the facts that the Kid gave Willie. The Kid did tell Willie that he had burgled a house and killed a man. So, perhaps ERB created some characters that he could kick around as he felt himself being kicked.
And then we have the gypsy woman, Giova. She and her father are not only pariahs in general society as gypsies but because of her father they even have been cast out by the gypsies. Her father was a thief from both general and gypsy society. The former may have been laudable in gypsy terms but the latter wasn’t. They make, or made their living by thieving and cadging coins with Beppo, their dancing bear. Beppo of the evil eye.
Burroughs presents Giova as being sexually attractive with lips that were made for kissing, in echo of the refrain from Out There Somewhere. Here we may have a first inference that Emma was in trouble; the kind of trouble that would have ERB leaving her for another woman a decade or so hence. There are numerous rumblings indicating the trend not least of which was ERB’s fascination with Samuel Hopkin Adams’ novel, Flaming Youth of a few years hence and the subsequent movie starring Colleen Moore.
Bridge is now on the run with three women and a bear and he hasn’t done anything wrong to get into such hot water. One woman his emergent Anima, one, his rejected Anima, and the last a longing for a woman whose lips were made for kissing. Wow! This is all taking place in a ravine that opens into a small valley too.
All this has been accomplished in a compact one hundred pages. One third of the book is left for the denouement that Burroughs scamps as he usually does.
Giova decks them all out as gypsies which must have been an amusing sight to the Paysonites as this troop of madcaps complete with dancing bear in tow troop inconspicuously through town. Surprised they didn’t call out the national guard just for that.
As the story draws to a close ERB contributes a wonderful vignette of low brow Willie dining out at a ‘high brow’ restaurant called the Elite in Payson. The idea of Willie being conspicuous in a burg like Payson which we big city people would refer to as a hick town good only for laughs is amusing in itself. You know, it all depends on one’s perspective:
Willie Case had been taken to Payson to testify before the coroner’s jury investigating the death of Giova’s father, and with the dollar which the Osklaloosa Kid had given him in the morning burning in his pocket had proceeded to indulge in an orgy of dissipation the moment that he had been freed from the inquest. Ice cream, red pop, peanuts, candy, and soda water may have diminished his appetite but not his pride, and self-satisfaction as he sat down and by night for the first time in a public eatery place Willie was now a man of the world, a bon vivant, as he ordered ham and eggs from the pretty waitress of The Elite Restaurant on Broadway; but at heart he was not happy for never before had he realized what a great proportion of his anatomy was made up of hands and feet. As he glanced fearfully at the former, silhouetted against the white of the table cloth, he flushed scarlet, assured as he was that the waitress who had just turned away toward the kitchen with his order was convulsed with laughter and that every other eye in the establishment was glued upon him. To assume an air of nonchalance and thereby impress and disarm his critics Willie reached for a toothpick in the little glass holder near the center of the table and upset the sugar bowl. Immediately Willie snatched back the offending hand and glared ferociously at the ceiling. He could feel the roots of his hair being consumed in the heat of his skin. A quick side glance that required all his will power to consummate showed him that no one appeared to have noticed his faux pas and Willie was again slowly returning to normal when the proprietor of the restaurant came up from behind and asked him to remove his hat.
Never had Willie Case spent so frightful a half hour as that within the brilliant interior of the Elite Restaurant. Twenty-three minutes of this eternity was consumed in waiting for his order to be served and seven minutes in disposing of the meal and paying his check. Willie’s method of eating was in itself a sermon on efficiency- there was no waste motion- no waste of time. He placed his mouth within two inches of his plate after cutting his ham and eggs into pieces of a size that would permit each mouthful to enter without wedging; then he mixed his mashed potatoes in with the result and working his knife and fork alternatively with bewildering rapidity shot a continuous stream of food into his gaping maw.
In addition to the meat and potatoes there was one vegetable side dish on the empty plate, seized a spoon in lieu or a knife and fork and – presto! The side dish was empty. Where upon the prune dish was set in the empty side-dish- four deft motions and there were no prunes in the dish. The entire feat had been accomplished in 6:34 ½ , setting a new world’s record for red headed farm boys with one splay foot.
In the remaining twenty-five and one half seconds Willie walked what seemed to him a mile from his seat to the cashier’s desk and at the last instant bumped into a waitress with a trayful of dishes. Clutched tightly in Willie’s hand was thirty-five cents and his check with a like amount written upon it. Amid the crash of crockery which followed the collision Willie slammed check and money upon the cashier’s desk and fled. Nor did he pause until in the reassuring seclusion of a dark side street. There Willie sank upon the curb alternately cold with fear and hot with shame, weak and panting, and into his heart entered the iron of class hatred, searing it to the core.
The above passage has many charms. First, it is an excellent piece of nostalgia now, although at the time it represented the actuality, thus, as a period piece it is an accurate picture of the times. And then it is excellent comedy as well as a a parody as I will attempt to show.
One has to wonder if ERB really thought the Elite was a pretty fine restaurant. If so, one wonders where he took Emma and kids for a night out. Not too many gourmet Chicago restaurants served breakfast for dinner. Ham and eggs with mashed potatoes? Reminds me of the Galt House Hotel in Louisville where a ‘starch’ is served as a side dish. What exactly was this side-dish Willie wolfed- stewed tomatoes? The dessert prunes- dessert prunes?- was a nice touch too. Dessert for breakfast? Another nice quality touch at the Elite was the cup of toothpicks. Of course, those were the days cuspidors were de riguer so what do I know, maybe the Palmer House had a cup of toothpicks on the table too. I know they had cuspidors.
It does seem clear that little Willie was far down the social scale of little rural Payson. They had electric street lights, though. I’m not even from New York City but I would find the Elite, how shall I say, quaint and charming? Of course, New York City is not what it used to be either. Can’t fool me in either case; I’ve dined out in Hannibal. Good prices. Bountiful. Plenty of side dishes something that I’d never seen before.
I’m sure I’ve been in Willie’s shoes, or would have been if he’d chosen to wear them, too, so I have a great deal of sympathy for the lad. A man with a dollar has the right to spend where and as he chooses. Damn social hypocrisy!
In addition to the charm and light comedy ERB interjects a little parody of Taylorism and mass production into the mix.
For those not familiar with Frederick W. Taylor and his methods I quote from
Taylor wrote “The Principles of Scientific Management in 1911. These principles became known as Taylorism. Some of the principles of Taylorism include (Management for Productivity, John R. Schermerhorn, Jr. (1991)):
Develop a ‘science’ for every job, including rules of motion, standardized work implements, and proper working conditions.
Carefully select workers with the right abilities for the job.
Carefully train these workers to do the job, and give them proper incentives to cooperate with the job science.
Support these workers by planning their work and by smoothing the way as they go about their jobs.
Taylorism which led to maximum efficiency also give the lie to the unconscious of Sigmund Freud, or at least puts it into perspective. If the twentieth century has been the history of the devil of Freud’s unconscious it has also been the century of the triumph of the god of conscious intelligence. The question only remains which will triumph.
One of the recurring themes in ERB’s writing of the period is efficiency. Indeed, a couple years hence he will write a book entitled The Efficiency Expert.
It was the age of efficient mass production which required standardized motions and produced terrific results where applied as at Henry Ford’s marvelously efficient factories. Ford brought the task to the worker in well lighted clean factory spaces at a level which required no time consuming, fatiguing and unnecessary lifting or bending. Plus Henry Ford blew the industrial world away by doubling the going wage for unskilled labor. He changed the course of economic history singlehanded. He achieved more than the Communists or IWW could have accomplished in a million years earning their undying enmity. He may in one fell swoop have defeated the Reds. They sure thought so.
But, go back and review how Willie organizes his repast for consumption. Taylor-like he eliminated all non-essential motions then with maximum assembly line speed-up he gets production into one continuous stream.
A comic effect to be sure but there is even more comedy in the parody of the assembly line and Taylorism. I’m sure ERB intended it just that way.
Willie may be a joke but there is a certain flavor to be obtained by filling a continuum of food, mouth and time. Such an opportunity for enjoyment may present itself once in ten years or so. Willie saw his opportunity and seized it which he does throughout the story. Willie is OK with me.
I have eaten that way but I now reserve the method for ice cream and highly recommend it. My last opportunity, they present themselves but rarely and can’t be forced, was several years ago when I was insultingly offered a half melted Cherries Jubilee. The dish was of a perfect consistency for assembly line consumption. I saw my chance and like Willie, I took it. I kind of distributed cherries and ice cream chunks in the creamy stew, got mouth in the right position and cleaned the bowl in sixty seconds flat, reared back gripping the bridge of my nose, honked a couple times as the freeze seized my brain and then took a few minutes for consciousness to return. One of the great natural highs in this drug infested time. I tell ya‘, fellas, they was all lookin’ at me but I am much beyond the iron of class hatred. If they can’t take a joke…well, you know the finish. So I think Willie Case did the right thing.
Clumsy waitress to get in his way anyway. Fourteen hours on the job was no excuse.
Willie didn’t feel guilt for too long though, for what ERB calls a faux pas, it put him in the right place at the right time to see Giova and her dancing bear fresh from Beppo’s own slops. How could ERB be so cruel to a dumb animal- the bear, not Willie-, one that was going to save the heroine’s life- both the bear and Willie.
After having had dinner and refreshments Willie still had 20 cents left from a dollar of which he spent 10 cents for a detective movie and had ten cents left over for a long distance phone call to Burton in Oakdale after he spotted Giova and her dancing bear when he came out of the movie theatre.
He followed Giova to Bridge and the girls, fixed their location then called Burton. Not only did Willie spot the fugitives but so did the four leftover bums. Dopey Charlie and the General were impounded for the Baggs murder while we will learn that the real Oskaloosa Kid and the putative Gail Prim remain as well perhaps as the true identity of L. Bridge.
Burroughs is full of interesting details. The hoboes are gathered in an abandoned electrical generating plant which had formerly served Payson but had been discontinued for a larger plant servicing Payson from a hundred miles away. We don’t know when that might have happened but electrical generation and distribution was relatively new. The consolidation into larger generating units was even newer. Samuel Insull, whose electrical empire collapsed about1938 had begun organizing distribution in 1912 when he formed the Mid-West Utilities in Chicago absorbing all the smaller companies such as this one in Payson obviously.
I find details like this the exiting part of reading Burroughs.
The murderous hoboes set out to rob and kill Bridge and the Kid while Sky Pilot and Dirty Eddie elect themselves to return the putative Gail Prim who we will learn is actually Hettie Penning, thus doubling ERB’s Anima figure and connecting the latter to the former.
One is put in mind of the Hettie of H.G. Wells’ novel In The Days Of The Comet. Both Hetties exhibit the same traits. While it may seem a slender connection, still, ERB has so many references to other authors and their works that the connection is not improbable. For obvious reasons ERB always insisted he had never read H.G. Wells. Wells? Wells, who?, but how could he not have?
Bridge and the girls would have met their end except that Willie Case’s call brought Burton on the run who arrives in time to save their lives. Unfortunately Beppo of the evil eye meets his end after having done Burton’s job for him much as Willie always did.
In between the girls, the ‘boes, Bridge and the coppers Burton has a full load so he drops Bridge and Kid at the Payson jail. Willie Case had not only solved the case for the ingrate Burton but saved the life of Gail Prim posing as the Oskaloosa Kid. In a heart wrenching scene little Willie seeking his just reward is cruelly rejected and cheated by the Great Detective. I don’t know, maybe I read too closely and get too involved. Or, just maybe, ERB is a great writer.
It’s all over but the shouting and along comes the mob howling from Oakdale for the blood of Bridge and the Kid. I tell ya, boys, it wuz close. Burton arrived in time but not before Bridge with a well aimed blow broke Jeb Case’s jaw. What did those Cases ever do to ERB I wonder?
In the end Hettie Penning is identified, clearing up that mystery. Burton is able to tell Bridge’s dad who has spent $20,000 looking for him that he is found. It may even have cost less for Stanley to find Livingston. Of course there was a lousy rail system in the Congo in Livingston’s time. Bridge is united with Gail obviously prepared to renounce the roving life. Thus the promise of Out There Somewhere is redeemed. Bridge has found his woman.
Thus on paper, at least, Burroughs is reunited with his Animus in gorgeous female attire. No more men in women’s clothes or women in men’s clothes.
Bridge And The Kid is a very short book, only 152 pages in my Charter paperback edition of 1979 (Septimius Favonius BB #24. Charter didn’t see fit to include a date.) Although first issued in book form so late as 1937, it was reprinted in 1938 and 1940 so there must have been some early readers however when reprinted in 1974 there could have been few who remembered it.
My fellow writer, David Adams wrote a short review in the same issue #24 of the Burroughs Bulletin, October 1995, in which he also recognized the importance of this book to the corpus:
It may come as a surprise that anyone could possibly think of calling the novelette, THE OAKDALE AFFAIR, a major work of such a prolific writer as Edgar Rice Burroughs, but I found it to be such an animal…
I am unaware that any other than Mr. Adams and myself have reviewed the book. To sum up:
There seems to be an obvious connection to Jack London in the Bridge Trilogy (I prefer Bridge to Mucker because the latter draws reproving stares and no one today knows what a mucker is. It sounds slightly obscene.)
Mr. Adams, who is more of an authority on Jack London than myself, I’ve only begun to read London as a result of Bill Hillman’s series of articles in ERBzine, which posits a strong connection between Burroughs and London, and not the other way around, feels the novels have a great deal to do with London. The connection seems to be there but I have only begun to read London’s relevant or major works.
What ERB’s attitude towards London may have been which seems ambiguous isn’t clear. Burroughs never wrote about London and never mentions him explicitly. There are many points of disagreement between the two politically and socially. Burroughs does seem to have liked London and his work although what he read or when he read it isn’t clear. There are no London titles in his library.
The second major influence in the novel is the problem of hoboism connected with the IWW and labor unrest.
In the background Burroughs is working out his Anima/Animus problem.
The whole is framed in the form of a rather magnificent detective story patterned after Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories with a dash, perhaps a soupcon, of E.W. Hornung thrown in.
Attention should be paid to the psychological aspects.
Many of ERB’s favorite themes such as the efficiency expert are also thrown in. Nifty historical details like Samuel Insull’s electrical empire are added to the mix as well as Taylorism.
If anything ERB was too efficient, too economical in his use of words. The Book could easily have been fleshed out another sixty or hundred pages with no loss in the marvelous immediacy of the telling. If anything the story is too condensed. I found myself pausing over each description to recreate a mental image of the depiction. I was willing to do so and the personal reward was great. How much ERB was the creator of my vision of the story and how much my own as collaborator isn’t clear to me. Perhaps ERB just outlined the story ‘suggesting’ the scenario, expecting the reader to ‘customize’ the story as he reads along. This may be the first ‘inter-active’ novel. If so, Burroughs may be an even more innovative and greater writer than he is commonly thought to be.
March 14, 2012
Edgar Rice Burroughs And The Accreted Personality
Time may fly but life seems long. Long enough for circumstances to alter your personality more than once. Consider for instance the National Guardsman secure in job, wife and family who is jerked out of his ideal existence to take a tour of duty in Iran or Afghanistan, foreign wars which betray the promises of his enlistment which were to defend his home state. Do you think a personality change didn’t occur when he received his notice? If he was kept in for several tours of duty over a period of years so that his former existence doesn’t appear to him as a dream that took place in a parallel universe? And if he comes home without an arm or a leg or, perhaps, both, that he doesn’t suffer from reminiscences or have a dual or multiple personality. You can bet he does. Nor does your life have to be as hard as the National Guardsman for your own personality to acquire personality accretions over your lifetime, all of which are stored in your mind and may be reassumed at any time.
As I said in the first part, these various existential states don’t disappear, they become part of your reminiscences whether suppressed or remembered and as possible fixations or idees fixe they influence your daily actions.
So now, let’s turn to the life of Edgar Rice Burroughs to illustrate the idea of the accreted personality. Psychology is simple if you don’t make it complex by mystifying it. I hope I can make Burroughs’ story clear without unnecessarily complicating it. I will try to use Occam’s Razor judiciously.
Edgar Rice Burroughs, who would become very famous as a fiction writer, entered this world of pain of pleasure on September 7, 1875 in Chicago, Illinois. He was parented by George T. and Mary Burroughs, he of Anglo-Irish ancestry and she of Pennsylvania Dutch, that is say, German. Eddie always considered himself pure English at a time when being English meant something, a much depreciated coin these days.
George T. was an upright man who had been an officer on the Union side in the Civil War a scant ten years previously. George Custer had not yet gone down at the Little Big Horn nor was Sitting Bull yet starring in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West. George T. had two other sons, George and Harry, who were born just after the Civil War.
George T. was a whisky distiller while at this time the Whisky Trust was coming into existence. George T. was an independent sort who needed the Trust less than they wanted him. I don’t say the Trust was responsible but George T. was burned out. Chicago loved a good fire.
The relationship between Ed and his parents was not a warm one. His father made his life difficult, seemingly on purpose, while his mother seems to have been rather cold. Burroughs seldom mentions her nor were any of his characters named Mary, or George for that matter.
Nevertheless, born into a world of creature comforts with high expectations in a fine house on Chicago’s West Side with two Irish maids Ed began life in a happy state of mind walking down the street singing Zippity Do Dah or the equivalent. He stayed that way for about eight years until his first personality changing event occurred.
Eddie attended Brown School in his neighborhood. I haven’t been able to find out much about Brown but the schools stands out as special in Ed’s mind. The school had several prominent graduates one of which was the showman, Flo Ziegfeld. As Ziegfeld was Jewish it is quite possible the school was close to Maxwell St. Maxwell St. would figure prominently in Ed’s later novel, The Mucker.
One day when Ed was eight he found a big twelve year old Irish kid by the name of John belligerently blocking his way. It isn’t known whether he was walking with future wife Emma Hulbert or not but I suspect he was. At any rate John threatened to beat him up. Thoroughly terrorized Ed took to his heels and as he did so several suggestions entered his terrorized mind. To be in terror is to enter a hypnoid state in which all ones psychic defenses are lowered or discarded. Suggestions are easily fixated in your mind. Thus at the age of eight Ed’s original personality was submerged, he assumed his central childhood fixation. Not only was he emasculated on his Animus but, perhaps because he shamed himself in front of Emma, he transferred his Anima to John; he then set up John as his ideal of manhood wishing to be just like him.
The result was that John became his favorite name. In his future novels he named a disproportionate number of characters both good and bad John. His two key characters were both named John- John Clayton, aka Tarzan Of The Apes and John Carter of Mars. Both have the initials JC referring to Jesus Christ, one supposes. Thus on the masculine side their names commemorate John the Bully while on the feminine side Jesus Christ. Ed also wore a book under the assume name of John McCullough.
As Ed was shamed by running, defenses against cowardice are liberally sprinkled throughout his works with justifications for the advance to the rear maneuver, or running.
Particularly troubling to him was the occupation of his Anima by a male. Probably not very usual but given the limited range of responses available to humans, probably not that uncommon. But this result of the fixation was particularly troubling to him appearing in a succession of his initial output of the ‘teens.
The clearest exposition of the results of this fixation was reproduced in the pages of Ed’s second novel, The Outlaw Of Torn. The hero of the novel is a boy of Ed’s age on the street corner, who is the king of England’s son c. 1400 AD. The King has a quarrel with his fencing instructor, De Vac, who then avenges himself by kidnapping the son, Norman.
The scene is that Norman is playing in the garden under the watchful eye of his nurse/Anima when De Vac appears outside the garden gate- I. e. Ed’s mind- luring Norman to him. Norman has passed the gate when his nurse who had been chatting with another woman notices. She rushed through the gate where De Vac struck her dead. Thus his Anima was outside Ed’s mind when she was destroyed.
Now, this is the replication of a dream story. The meaning is that Norman/Ed was safe inside when De Vac/John caught him, as it were, with his pants down, killing and assuming the role of his Anima. The nurse represents his Anima or right brain which was then disabled.
So, as an eight year old boy Eddie has an emasculated Animus, left brain, and destroyed or shattered Anima, right brain. This has to be dealt with in some way so he can carry on and survive.
What Burroughs does then is create a myth to repair the damage as well as he can. De Vac now on the run with his prize who he must conceal takes Norman to a three story house in the slums of London built on stilts out over the water of the River Thames. The two live in this attic/mind for three or four years. During this entire period De Vac is dressed as an old woman. So, here we have the emasculated Animus combined with the dead Anima with the waters of the feminine flowing beneath the house, I.e. Burroughs’ self.
The two live this way for three or four years, Norman never leaving the attic. At the end of this period De Vac dons men’s clothes and takes Norman to a ruined castle in the Shires. The remarkable thing about this castle is that on one side, the right side, the roof has completely fallen in, can’t be used.
The interpretation is that Ed so identified himself with John that he had to put his own life on hold until he turned twelve, the same age John had been. At that point he recovered or began to recover some control of his Animus while his Anima remained destroyed.
De Vac then began to train Norman in the manly arts to be a killing machine to attain physical vengeance for De Vac on the King.
One can’t be sure of what effect the encounter had on his personality but the next year after the confrontation his father took him from Brown transferring him to an all girl’s school. George T.’s reason for this was that there was a fever going around and he wanted to protect Ed from it. How one would be safe from a communicable disease in a girl’s school isn’t clear so perhaps Ed’s father had another reason.
In Ed’s psychological state it is not unlikely that he went into a fairly serious depression while emasculated and crippled he may have become very effeminate. The placement in the girl’s school may have been one of disgust and to teach the boy a lesson to act like a man.
The humiliation on top of the emasculation was difficult for Ed to bear. He pleaded and pleaded to be transferred from the girl’s school. His pleas were heard although his father didn’t send him back to Brown but a couple miles across town to Chicago’s Harvard Latin School where Ed stayed through what would have been his Junior High years. During this period, the date isn’t clear, Ed fell off his bicycle banging his head against the curb; it isn’t known whether it was the right or left side. This left him dizzy and walking round in circles for three or four days, then the obvious effects disappeared. George T. then jerked him out the Latin School and sent him West to his brothers’ cattle ranch in Idaho. He doesn’t seem to have attended any school for the year he was in Idaho. However he learned to be a cowboy and had a great time.
Even without school the period was not without intellectual stimulation. George and Harry Burroughs were graduates of the Sheffield Scientific School attached to Yale University but not yet integrated with it, along with their partner Lew Sweetser. Sweetser was a fairly remarkable guy deeply interested in psychology when the subject was just beginning to assume its modern form.
William James had just published his two volumes on Psychology but I haven’t been able to discover who Sweetser’s teachers may have been at Yale. Departments of Psychology were rare at American Universities in the 1880s. However, as Sweetser apparently studied whatever psychology was available it seems certain that he would have been at least aware of Charcot’s experiments at the Salpetriere that were world famous. It is also clear that he was familiar with the idea of the sub- or unconscious. However much Ed may have retained, as he himself was relatively well informed on psychological matters when he began writing the foundations of his knowledge were probably formed at Sweetser’s knee.
Having left Ed in the wilderness for a year, George T. then moved him to the East Coast to Massachusetts’ Phillips Academy. Ed was now being moved around almost with the frequency of a military brat with its devastating personality consequences. Having consorted with a rough bunch of fellows for a year, Ed was now in an elite school without a great deal of preparation.
He was in Idaho at the end of Wyoming’s Johnson County War when the big ranchers squeezed out the small ranchers. Many of the small ranch soldiers whose shootings were classified as murders had fled to Idaho where Ed knew one or two; from the company of murderers, or killers at any rate, he was now in with a bunch of elitist schoolboys.
When his brothers had attended Yale their father had refused them an allowance that would have allowed them to associate with their richer school fellows as equals. If he continued the practice with Ed at Phillips then an extra burden was placed on the kid that would help explain his behavior. At any rate he assumed the posture of clown to gain acceptance while neglecting his studies. Naturally he was requested to leave.
Certainly he could have expected to return home and attend school in Chicago but this was not his father’s plan. His father enrolled him at the Michigan Military Academy outside Detroit billed as The Paris Of The West which is most laughable. This was the second great psychological trauma in his life adding another major accretion to his personality. Ed rebelled at being sent away again.
This was not merely rejection but also a condemnation of him by his father. As Ed saw the situation, with a great deal of accuracy, the Military Academy was just a holding pen for juvenile delinquents whose parents didn’t know how to handle them so they put them away in what was essentially an asylum or reform school where they could get some ‘discipline.’
Ed was horrified at these suggestions about himself coming from his own father. He rebelled at the rejection and its implications. He left the academy to return home or as his biographer Porges puts it, he ran away. George T. wasn’t going to put up with that. He collared Ed and dragged him back to Detroit, told him to stay put or…who can say or what? At any rate crushed and rejected Ed had no choice but to obey, but his mother and father died for him that day, slain by their own hand. Thus when Ed’s literary alter ego Tarzan came into existence in 1912 his parents had been slain by murderous apes and Tarzan was an orphan as Ed imagined himself.
Ed stayed at the Academy into 1896 when he was between twenty and twenty-one. He took the Commandant of the Academy, Charles King, as his surrogate father and mother. Because King was a captain in the Army, later a general, Ed decided he wanted to be an Army officer too. It is also noteworthy that King was a successful author of novels which Ed may have wanted to emulate when he too chose to become an author. One of King’s first novels was An Apache Princess while Ed’s first commercial effort was titled A Princess Of Mars.
Ed attempted in vain to win an appointment to West Point but failed. Then in 1896 while serving as an instructor at the Michigan Military Academy Ed foolishly abandoned his post choosing to join the Army as an enlisted man before the school term ended.
By now twenty years old his past with its many personality accretions had formed him. His original personality had been destroyed to be replaced by that caused by John. The accretions accumulated as he was shifted from school to school and West to East to MidWest leaving him dazed and confused while the final accretion of that youthful period was the devastating rejection by his parents all of which left him depressed and fatalistic. The high expectations of his childhood had been completely eliminated. The bright young boy had been transformed into a gloomy young man. But no former personality had disappeared; they all lived on in his unconscious where circumstances could revive any or all at the appropriate moment.
But, one is still alive and one must toddle on. Ed was not lazy or adverse to work. His intellectual interests were vast. He was a great wide ranging reader.
In the next part then, let’s turn to his personality forming accretions from reading and his general intellectual , social and political milieu.
November 8, 2011
Themes And Variations
The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs
#16 TARZAN AND THE LEOPARD MEN
How The Story Is Told
Obscure but persistent workers in these decades of disaster
Pieced together the puzzle bit by bit.
There is a scale of fantastic disproportion
Between the scale of the labourers and the immense consequences
The psychology of association,
Was a side of social biology that had been disregarded
Almost entirely before the time of which we are writing.
People still had only the vaguest ideas
of the social structure in and by which they lived.
They accepted the most arbitrary and simple explanations
Of their accumulated set of relationships
And they were oblivious even to fundamental changes in that set.
Wild hopes, delusions and catastrophes
–H.G. Wells, The Shape Of Things To Come, pp. 245-46
This is actually an interesting story. If you search for references they are there aplenty. I’ve already referred to some but another that might be overlooked is the apparent reference to Edward Bulyer-Lytton’s famous opening sentence to his 1830 novel Paul Clifford. The original goes:
It was a dark and story night, the rain fell in torrents- except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for this is in London our scene lies), rattling along the housetops and fiercely agitating the scanty flames of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.
There is even an annual contest to see who can write the most successful parody. The line has such a reputation that many writers seek to write a variation on it to open one of their own stories. ERB has successfully replicated the feel as this story opens on a dark and stormy night.
The lurid horror of the story is set in this opening scene in which the headman of Kali Bwana’s safari attempts to rape her. She shoots him but only wounds him in the arm. Her safari then deserts her leaving her alone in the middle of the Ituri Rain Forest where even on a bright sunny day the gloom is never lifted. Now, that was a dark and stormy night.
She is discovered by Old Timer who himself takes it into his mind to rape her. He is prevented from shaming himself by the abduction of Kali Bwana by the Leopard Men in his abscence. The story of Kali Bwana and Old Timer is set in motion then as he sets out to rescue her from the deplorable fate of being Leopard Goddess to the Leopard God.
The complementary story of Tarzan And The Leopard Men is set in motion by A. The murder of an African swain, Nyamwegi by the Leopard Men during the story. B. The felling of Tarzan by a blown down tree with subsequent amnesia and C. his rescue by Nyamwegi’s friend Orando and his assuming the identity of Orando’s guardian angel or muzimo.
We are first introduced to Old Timer as he sits around the campfire with his partner, The Kid. They are ivory poachers, very disreputable. They split up to search for elephant in two different areas which leads to Old Timer’s discovery of Kali Bwana.
The protagonists of the story are the Leopard Men. They are an African clandestine religious cult who terrorize all the tribes over a large but unspecified area although they originated in a far away place, probably the Calabar Coast as in real life. They have been active as far away as among Tarzan’s Kenyan Waziri which has drawn his attention to them. He doesn’t want that kind of trouble on his estate.
The Leopard Men were a real phenomenon although not too much is known about them. Burroughs was apparently working from newspaper or magazine articles about them, National Geographic maybe. If he had a book or two they don’t appear in his library. To accentuate their horrific nature ERB makes them not only murderous but cannibalistic. They probably were both.
Cannibalism is a theme which recurs throughout ERB’s corpus not just in his African novels. Whether he leaned on the ntion for horrific effect or whether it has some deeper psychological meaning for him I have yet to determine. The fate of the Donner Party with its alleged cannibalism has always been discussed in hushed tones in California so he may have picked up the theme from that although the theme was prominent in earlier novels like The Mucker and Marcia Of The Doorstep. Burroughs has a way of working it in.
It becomes necessary for the Old Timer to rescue Kali Bwana from the Leopard Men. The Utengans wish to destroy them while Tarzan’s goal for coming to the Utengan country in the first place was to seach out their ‘fabled village and temple.’ As ERB explains coincidence allowed Tarzan not only to discover them but to destroy them.
Old Timer in his attempt to rescue Kali Bwana is led to the town of Gato Mgungu who is the political leader of the Leopard Men. Old Timer who has traded with Mgungu never knew his connection with the Leopard Cult. Whereas before he was welcomed now he is made captive to become the feast at the Leopard cult orgy. Then to the temple where he discovers Kali Bwana decked out in the regalia of the Leopard cult presiding at the festivities.
Burroughs introduces some wonderful details such as that the high priest is a ventriloquist who has deluded the Leopard Men into believing that the Leopard God actually speaks in their dialect. Tarzan, watching from the rafters, on behlaf of the Utengans although he has neither heard or seen ventriloquism before applies his mighty intellect, this guy learned to read an unknown language from a picture book, to the problem of divining the secret. Of course Tarzan had been to Paris and was familiar with London music halls so ERB may be laying it on a little thick here. Tarzan was surely sophisticated enough to know of ventriloquism. In his defense, however, he was suffering from amnesia so that while he did know of ventriloquism he had to work it out anew. I do detect a slight inconsistency here nonetheless.
Let us retrace out steps to recover Tarzan’s story after he was released by Oranda the Utengan. Tarzan has absolutely no recollection of who he is or where. Thus when Orando suggests to him that he is his muzimo Tarzan readily accepts the role. His companion, Nkima the monkey, who has not lost his memory can’t understand why Tarzan doesn’t accept the information when he tells Tarzan that Tarzan is Tarzan and Nkima is Nkima and not the spirit of Nyamwegi. Tarzan is unconvinced and even Burroughs refers to Tarzan only as Muzimo until he regains his memory.
Muzimo and Orando then set out on the trail of the Leopard Men to avenge Nyamwegi. Four Leopard Men were involved. Muzimo and Oranda kill three while the fourth escapes.
The next task is lunch. For this Tarzan, who only kills for food, never for sport, dispatches an Okapi described as bigger than a cow. The two hunters cut off a couple pounds for lunch and leave the rest for roving scavengers.
The Okapi would have been unknown to most of Burroughs’ readers. The beast was a native only to the Ituri. Its existence was only confirmed in 1900, so definitely an exotic touch to the story for its time.
The next task is to organize an army to attack the Leopard Men. The Leopard Men were much feared so this was not only difficult but nearly impossible. Only a hundred men showed up for the summons including the secret Leopard Man, Lupingu. Orando also has to counter the influence of the witch-doctor, Sobito, another secret Leopard Man. Even though Sobito’s influence is enormous Muzimo is able to counter it with his own seeming supernatural influence.
Sobito and Lupingu have a conference from which Lupingu is sent to betray Orando’s force to the Leopard Men. While Orando attends to the details of marshalling his force Muzimo acts as the intelligence wing reconnoitering Gato Mgungu’s village. Gazing down from the large lower branch of the ubiquitous tree Tarzan detects Lupingu betraying the force. The Leopard Men arrange a 300 man force within minutes attacking the Utengans while meeting Muzimo on their return.
The Utengan force had been decimated which is to say one in ten had been killed which is what decimated means. As someone interested in military matters one wonders if this is an inside joke of ERB’s.
Reconnoitering further Tarzan attends the installation ceremony of Kali Bwana. He is surprised to find the two white people there, Old Timer was there as a prisoner, but as a Utengan Muzimo, in fact as in name, has no racial interest in Whites.
He returns to Orando to tell him that the Leopard Men will be returning completely hungover so a perfect opportunity has presented itself. Orando takes advantage of the opportunity completely routing the returning Leopard Men while exterminating the men, women and children of Mgungu’s village and appropriating their left over beer. To the victor belongs the spoils.
In the battle Muzimo is knocked unconscious who when he comes to is Tarzan once again. Muzimo disappears from the story. Tarzan informs the awestruck Utengans that he is really the legendary Tarzan of the Apes whose exploits are the stuff of the campfire tales of the Utengans. Yes, friends, even in the depths of the Ituri Rain Forest the legend of Tarzan is a huthold word. The goddess Kali must have been running a close second.
Apparently when amnesia strikes one forgets one’s life prior to the attack but when one regains one’s memory one can remember the amnesicac details because Tarzan now remembers the two White people at the Leopard temple deciding to check up on them because of some faint racial affinity.
In the meantime without the aid of Tarzan Kali Bwana and Old Timer manage to escape with the bumbling aid of the African chief, Bobolo.
They manage to appropriate a gigantic dugout that Old Timer is able to manipulate on his own. Leaving the mysterious and silent river of death they enter the main river, one presumes the Aruwimi. While they are thus engaged the Leopard Men between them and downstream at their village are defeated and the survivors flee back to the temple. Old Timer perceives the first batch of canoes, steering his lumbering craft into the shadows of the bank where he is perceived. Rather than waiting to see if any others are following he immediately heads to center stream where he encounters Bobolo’s contingent. Old Timer is captured while Bobolo captures the glowing white Kali Bwana. Raising a warning cry he is able to detach himself from the little flotilla carrying Kali Bwana back to his own village to be his White wife.
Old Timer is taken back to the Leopard temple to serve the noble function of lunch. All this is convincingly well described by Burroughs with his usual economy. All this takes fewer pages than one might imagine.
Tarzan returning as Tarzan to the Leopard temple sends all the canoes save one downstream. He reenters the temple in the nick of time to save Old Timer who he sends downstream in the single canoe. Apparently all those canoes he released didn’t form a log jam on that narrow nearly stagnant slow moving mysterious and silent river of death.
As Old Timer poles his pirogue laboriously downstream Tarzan demands the Leopard Men give him Sobito who he had recognized behind his mask as a hostage. He then leaves carrying Sobito through the otherwise trackless and impenetrable swamp and jungle. The Leopard Men find all their canoes missing seeing only rows of crocodile eyes facing them. They have no way to escape the temple and…they are all cannibals, if you know what I mean.
So now Tarzan has destroyed this whole Leopard Man contingent. He leaves Sobito with Orando. Sobito contrives to escape himself heading downstream to his old friend Bobolo. So the whole crew is moving toward an assemblage at Bobolo’s village.
Now, when Bobolo showed up with this White wife his Black wives objected especially the Mduze like older wife. Bobolo is compelled to remove Kali Bwana. Rather than giving her up he transfers her to the Betetes, a tribe of Pygmies, for safekeeping intending to visit her on the sly. He promises to send food in recompense for her keep to the hapless Pygmies. Before he can the escaped Sobito shows up placing himself under Bobolo’s protection.
Old Timer who has been treed for several hours notices the canoe of Sobito coming along just behind him while from his tree he hears some native women discussing the fate of Kali Bwana. From them he learns Kali Bwana has been transferred to the Pygmy village. He sets out to the rscue. If you notice, through this whole story there has been nary a lion. Tarzan hasn’t killed his usual half dozen nor has Jad-Bal-Ja made an appearance. Instead Nikima has spent the book complaining about the overwhelming aroma of Sheeta.
Burroughs during his long career has made several errors of fact concerning the fauna of Africa. One of them is placing lions in the jungle. Lions are savanna dwellers. In Invincible Burroughs acknowledged there were no deer in Africa by changing Bara the deer to Bara the antelope. In this volume the antelope is known as Wappi. As there are no lions in the jungle Tarzan finds a savanna in the middle of the Ituri full of lions. While there are no lions in the jungle there are also no savannas in the Ituri but one assumes it will take his critics some time to discover the fact. You always have to be one step ahead.
Apparently Burroughs cannot write a book without a lion kill or two by Tarzan so he gratuitously throws in Chapter XVII: Charging Lions. This is a completely unnecessary episode that adds nothing to the story. It is interesting nonetheless.
Tarzan is hungry. Game is scarce. He reaches a savanna in the forest. The grass is tall, over his head. he spots a herd of herbivores off in the distance. Tarzan has eaten carnivores in the past when necessity dictated it but he much prefers herbivores.
Leaving the cowardly Nkima in a tree quaking because of the smell of Sheeta that pervades the forest Tarzan starts out over the savanna. He hasn’t gone too far when the aroma of lions assails his sensitive nostrils. But, he can smell that they have just fed so he is not worried. Well fed lions never charge. However worse than being unfed he has stumbled upon a mating pair which did escape his sensitive nostrils. Bad news, because a lion disturbed in copulation will always charge. Information like this has prevented me from making reservations for the Serengeti. Now the story actually gets not only improbable but a little bit on the looney side.
Apparently ERB is psychologically compelled to include this episode that adds nothing to the story while being difficult to understand. Tarzan and the lions which include the copulating pair and another four or five males are in tall grass so they can’t see each other. Only the grass waves indicating the seven lions. Tarzan has carefully kept a tree within fifty feet which with his lightning speed he can reach before any lion. However Tarzan is irked at having to run. He doesn’t mind a dignified advance to the rear but he resents having to make a headlong flight. Thus as the great male head appears through the grass the Big Bwana decides to kill him. His giant muscles rolling like molten steel beneath his bronzed skin he launches his heavy war spear at the charging lion. Muscles, weight and charge add up to a skewered lion.
Tarzan hasn’t counted on the female who is right behind her lover so he has to make his undignified pell mell flight anyway.
The female is plenty sore. She won’t go away. Just hangs around, waiting. The other male lions sit in a semi-circle first looking up at Tarzan, over the at the female and then at each other. A very peculiar and incongruous image.
The reluctance to flee and the brutal killing of the male are easy to understand. The male obviously represents John the Bully on the Chicago street corner. Burroughs was ashamed of having run so he stands his ground killing the image of John.
What of the enraged female and other males? Don’t know. Possibly the female represents his failed Anima. The strange image of his Anima and John the Bully copulating is very difficult. The four male lions looking on might easily be imagined as four boys watching ERB’s humiliation on the street corner. As Caz Casadesus points out Tarzan in the tree pelting the lions may represent the story of Kit Carson treed by a bear. The story must have tickled Burroughs so much he often places Tarzan in a tree tormenting the beasts below. Caz is probably correct in making Kit Carson a hero figure to ERB as Carson Napier of Venus is obviously named after him
I will get into this next section but as David Adams points out much of these stories are reported as viewed from above. We may have the reason explained here as John symbolically ran ERB up a tree causing dissociation or a splitting of the personality.
About noon of the next day the female gets tired of waiting, moving off. Tarzan retrieves his spear, which in itself was a great feat of strength withdrawing it from the carcass of the lion, returning to Nkima.
After this strange, irrelevant episode Tarzan is heading for Bobolo’s village because Old Timer had said Bobolo took Kali Bwana there when he passed near, not too near, Betete’s village. In Van Dyke’s Horning Into Africa he mentions that the Pygmies he dealt with had an overwhelming stench. Tarzan is downwind so this stench is wafted by Usha the wind right to him. Amidst this stench he detects a more delicate aroma that reminds him of something. Oh yes, a White Woman. Not bad work even for so sensitive a nose as his. Could there be two White women in the same patch of the Ituri Rain Forest? Not likely. Tarzan will peek in.
Now, Kali Bwana’s situation is getting desperate. No supplies have arrived from Bobolo and these cannibals are pretty darn hungry. You get the idea. Both Tarzan and Old Timer arrive at this particular spot in the Ituri at the same time. Fortunately the Leopard Men had overlooked a jackknife in Old Timer’s pocket so he is able to cut through the hinges of the gate in the nick of time. His daring attempt of rescue is about to fail when a shower of arrows from ye olde overhanging bough cinches his opportunity. Chucking the naked Kali Bwana over one shoulder he hightails out the gate as he hears a crash behind him.
As Tarzan turned to leave the branch he was standing on sheared from the bole. Stunned by the fall, like Lilliputians the Pygmies bound him and tossed him in a hut. ERB uses a device he has fine tuned several times, most recently the previous year in Invincible.
Burroughs always establishes these things. On his way to Bobolo’s Tarzan chanced to run into some great apes he knew who had only recently moved into the Ituri. Zutho and Gayat were old acquaintances for the wide roaming ape man.
Nkima is waiting in a tree trembling in fear of Sheeta. The fear of the feminine is very pronounced in our little monkey. Nevertheless Tarzan gets him to direct Zutho and his fellow tribesmen to the village for his relief. These apes are seven and eight foot giants so when they scramble over the wall the Pygmies move back. Tossing Tarzan over a shoulder they scramble away. An entertaining page or two.
The diabolical Betetes had not only bound the Big Guy with thongs but they had also used copper wire. Nkima could chew through the thongs but neither he nor the apes could manipulate the copper wire.
Tarzan tells Goyat to go find him a Gomangani to unwind the wire.
Back again to Kali Bwana and Old Timer.
Having been gotten safely into the jungle Kali Bwana is surprised that her new abductor is Old Timer. As she wearily says she is getting used to being abducted. As the two tramp through the jungle Old Timer gains his redemption while Kali Bwana falls in love with him. They are busy building a shelter when who shows up but Gayat. His instructions are for a Gomangani but his primitive brain figures a Tarmangani will do just as well. Not only do all the humans in this comedy want the delectable White Woman but Old Timer figures the apes do too. ‘Run, Kali,’ he exlaims, ‘he wants you.’ Old Timer was wrong there as he discovered as Gayat tucks him under his arm.
Old Timer releases Tarzan who hurries back to Kali Bwana. Not only do the humans and apes want Kali but so does a Leopard who now crouches for the leap. Employing a new variation on an old theme as the Leopard leaps Tarzan launches landing on his back in each’s mid leap. Work the geometry out on that one. Although unarmed the Mighty One wrenches the Leopard’s head breaking his neck. Boy, would I have liked to have been there to see that one while sneaking a peek at the voluptuous Kali Bwana at the same time. She doesn’t faze Tarzan though.
OK. We’re almost there. Only a few paragraphs to go but with Burroughs a few paragraphs are always a near lifetime. Tarzan is leading his party through the forest with his unerring nose as a compass when they come upon an army detachment searching for them. The native contingent is led by a couple White French officers. The French are invariably good in Burroughs for some strange reason. With them is the Kid, Jerry Jerome. Old Timer feels out in the cold until Jerry explains that Kali is his sister. ‘Your sister,’ ejaculates the incredulous Old Timer. Why not? Coincidence is coincidence but if Burroughs strains anything in the oeuvre it is coincidence.
Well, you know, it only take another couple paragraphs but everything ends happily. Tarzan takes Sobito back to his just deserts, Bobolo and the remaining Leopard Men are arrested and Old Timer is not only redeemed but gets the girl. What a story, hey? Almost too incredible to believe. Well, it is too incredible to believe. This issue is not the issue though and it’s the other issue that is believable.
Next the sixth and last part.
October 25, 2011
The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs
Themes And Variations
#16 TARZAN AND THE LEOPARD MEN
While Tarzan And The Leopard Men is not well thought of by Bibliophiles being considered the worst of the series, I can’t find any reason to believe this. I couldn’t place it in the top five but the book is on a general par with the rest of the series, perhaps a little better.
I think the problem arises because it is thought to portray the African in a negative light. As with the Mafia there are those who deny the Leopard cult because it is offensive to their sensibilities. They prefer to see the African as a ‘noble savage.’ I have no problem with this attitude but I prefer historical accuracy to anything I might wish to believe.
The existence of the Leopard cult in no way diminishes the character of the African. Secret societies are part of every culture in this multi-cultural world. Many of them are murderous. The Assasins of Hasani Sabah of Persia are a notorious example. The Illuminati who were responsible for the worst atrocities of the French Revolution are another. The Freemasons who while perhaps not so violent function, have functioned and do function as a secret brotherhood who help each other against society. The Mafia and Organized Crime in general are secret societies on a par with Leopard Men. During the thirties Lepke Buchalter ran the infamous Murder, Inc. So I see no reason to lower one’s opinion of the book because it may seem to certain sensibilities, by no means shared by all, to disparage the Negro. The events in the Congo after independence and the events in Shonaland happening now are so horrific they make the Leopard Men seem like novices.
The book Tarzan And The Leopard Men was written over July-September of 1931; a trifle of a rush job even for a fast writer like Burroughs. The story was published in Blue Book from Auguast 1932 to January 1933. Book publication was delayed until 1936 so there may have been some editing to reflect personal events over that period.
As the novel shows a rather direct influence from both the book and movie of Trader Horn Burroughs may have received some criticism from the magazine publication hence delaying book publication until time had dimmed the memory.
When Burroughs formed his publishing company he had expected to write a Tarzan novel a year. That schedule would have been adhered to except for this novel that was interjected into the series out of order of its writing.
The cause of the disturbance is very easy to find. In February of 1931 MGM released it great African epic Trader Horn. According to the ERBzine Bio Timeline for the 1930s, on February 23 ERB and Emma drove into Hollywood to catch the show. So we do know exactly when he saw the movie, or, at least, the first half of it. At intermission Emma remembered that they were to babysit for daughter Joan drawing her husband from the theatre. I’m sure ERB steamed over that for more than a day.
At that date he was in the midst of writing Tarzan Triumphant but Trader Horn aroused him so much that he began to plan a rejoinder. After completing Triumphant in May he conceived Leopard Men and rushed it through. Perhaps ERB thought Horn infringed on the Big Bwana’s African domain as Leopard Men is a virtual reformulation of Horn using elements from both the book and movie. Of course ERB ‘adapted’ Horn for his own needs. Trader Horn was to be an influence on the rest of the series.
Trader Horn as a book first appeared in 1927. It was a non-fiction best seller in both ’27 and ’28, in the top five for both years, a tremendous success. That alone might have aroused ERB’s jealousy. Whether he read the book between its issue date and his viewing of the movie isn’t known but that he had read it by the time he wrote Leopard Men is clear. The title does not appear in his library although Director W.S. Van Dyke’s 1931 story of the African filming, Horning Into Africa, does. ERB undoubtedly used Van Dyke’s book as background for his 1933 effort, Tarzan And The Lion Man.
Don’t look for a copy of Van Dyke in your library; the book was privately printed and distributed. Copies are available on the internet but at collector prices of from one to several hundreds of dollars. Thus it will readily be seen how large a space Trader Horn formed in ERB’s consciousness.
I’m sure that when Emma dragged him from the theatre to babysit, ERB had no idea how influential Trader Horn was going to be in his life. For at least three years his career centered around it. In 1931 he saw the movie, possibly read the book for the first time and wrote Leopard Men. In ’31 the contract with MGM surrendering the rights to the portrayal of his Tarzan characters was signed. Then Van Dyke and Hume fashioned Tarzan, The Ape Man after Trader Horn. Tarzan, The Ape Man was a major success changing the public’s understanding of the character of Tarzan from a literate cosmopolite to feral child. In answer Burroughs wrote a parody of Van Dyke’s African filming of Trader Horn. When the screen Tarzan, Johnny Weissmuller, gave up the role in the late forties he put on some clothes and became Jungle Jim who might very well have been modeled on Trader Horn. Perhaps an inside joke.
Trader Horn and Ethelreda Lewis
At the time Alfred Aloysius ‘Wish’ Smith otherwise known as Trader Horn told his story to the woman who wrote it up and got it published, Ethelreda Lewis, he was a seventy year old derelict living in a doss house in Johannesburg, South Africa. Etheldreda Lewis was a well-known South African novelist.
Horn made his meager living by making wire gridirons and selling them door to door. He had developed a sad sack routine meant to induce housewives to buy his gridirons out pity. It worked with Mrs. Lewis.
She engaged him in conversation. As a novelist she realized he had a story to tell, she encouraged him to do so. Horn wrote up a chapter a week bringing it to her on Mondays. As she treated him respectfully offering him tea and cakes and a last chance at self-respect before he peeled off for the other side of the river he managed to prolong his story over twenty-six chapters and one presumes as many weeks of tea and cakes. Trader Horn the book is indicated to be Vol. I. There is a volume two telling of his other adventures. Vol. I is currently in print for 16.95, probably less on Amazon. Highly recommended.
In addition to Horn’s story Mrs. Lewis also recorded their weekly conversation which she appends to each chapter. Horn makes some very interesting and timely observations, a little sad but on the knowing side. I’m sure ERB was sympathetic as Horn confirmed his own beliefs. Altogether a very interesting and entertaining book which should have been a best seller not only for two years but more.
Horn’s experiences were so wonderful that naturally the question has arisen as to how accurate his recollections may be. I have read a number of vulgar opinions stating that Mr. Horn was a liar. I take offense at such an assertion. The man was relating his life. He may possibly have gotten a few details wrong but, as they say in Hollywood, his life was based on a true story.
I have read the book five times now within the last four years. My opinion as to Horn’s veracity is this. He very much wants to please and prolong a pleasant interlude to a rather grim life at the time. He had read a number of books including Burroughs and Du Chaillu. He claims to have known the French explorer De Brazza. He was an educated, intelligent and experienced man. He had apparently always had literary leanings.
Everyone has to be somewhere every moment of their lives and I have no doubt that Horn was on the Ogowe River in Gabon at the time he says he was. As a reader I hope I can perceive the ring of authenticity in a man’s reminiscences . Also I have been around myself enough to have seen some things, even seen some repeatedly, for which I get looks of incredulity, so just because I haven’t seen some things doesn’t mean they aren’t true. I reserve the right to question them to myself but stranger things have happened than I’ve ever seen.
While Horn is telling his own story I think he tries to make a good story better combining fiction with a factual tale. One questions his story of the White Goddess, Nina T. That story just doesn’t ring true. It seems like he borrows a little from ERB. Nina T. has been the Egbo goddess since the age of four, five or six being now in her twenties. She was the daughter of an English trader George T. who died when amongst the Blacks. They then appropriated her to groom as their White Goddess.
While Horn is plotting to spirit her away he has to communicate with her in writing, one imagines cursive. He has to explain how she can read, write and understand English. Nina T. and Tarzan should have gotten together. Horn explains that before George T. died he taught the very young Nina how to read and write using a picture alphabet book. Over the intervening twenty years or so Nina never forgot, itself a great feat of memory. Not quite as amazing an accomplishment as Tarzan teaching himself to read and write from possibly the identical picture alphabet book but still very impressive.
The natives also have a giant ruby as a fetish that Horn says he lifted by having a replica made solely from a description he sent to his friend Peru. As he was the first White man to be initiated into Egbo such a betrayal of his oath doesn’t speak well for his integrity or trustworthiness.
Thus, while I don’t have any trouble believing his trading and hunting adventures I have to conclude that as Burroughs would say, he was ‘fictionizing’ the rest. Nevertheless it makes a good story and if relating it made him feel good so much the better. No reason to call him a liar and his story lies.
One has conflicting reports on his subsequent life. On one hand there is a story he lived well off the proceeds of the book in England. When he was about to die the story goes that he said: Where’s me passport, boys, I’m off to Africa. Famous last words, indeed. On the other hand it is said that he died in 1927 in SA before he received the fruits of his labor. I would like to think he lived long enough to see a version of his story on the silver screen. If he had one imagines he would have been brought to Hollywood for the premier. He wasn’t.
So, whichever way he went, a tip of the hat for you Trader Horn.
Horn, Van Dyke, Hume and Burroughs
Had ERB known of Trader Horn in far off South Africa turning in his weekly installments to Mrs. Lewis I doubt if he would have realized how large a part Horn’s story was to play in his own life.
When the book was published and became a bestseller, something which Burroughs must have heard of, there must have been a glimmer of interest but still no recognition of Horn’s future impact on his life. When he saw Van Dyke’s movie he was duly impressed and was influenced but still probably had no idea of what loomed ahead.
By 1932′s MGM movie, Tarzan, The Ape Man, he had begun to realize the significance of Trader Horn to his own life. When he sat down to write Tarzan And The Lion Man the Old Campaigner was aware. While no copy of Trader Horn found its way into his library we know for certain he read it. A book that did find its way into his library was W.S. Van Dyke’s account of the filming of Trader Horn, Horning Into Africa of 1931. This book was used as the basis for Tarzan And The Lion Man.
It seems certain that Van Dyke read Trader Horn shortly after issue. By 1929 as the book was moving down the charts Van Dyke, a cast of many and several tens of tons of equipment were moving to Africa to form a safari to end all safaris. Not since Henry Morton Stanley in his quest for Livingstone had Africa seen such a spectacle.
Trader Horn was the first entertainment film shot on location in Africa. All the footage was authentic except those scenes shot on lot in Hollywood. I’m learning to talk Hollywood…all, except. The movie was a mind blower when it hit the theatres being one of the biggest grossers of all time. Burroughs saw it, picked up his pen, dictaphone or whatever, and following the script and book closely dashed off Tarzan And The Leopard Men leaving out the bit about the music box. Let’s compare the three versions of Trader Horn.
In the book Horn is the central character. He is a young man of seventeen or eighteen who has run away from school. Peru, his schoolhood chum, does not enter the story until the very end. His faithful Black companion, Renchoro, plays a very secondary auxliary role.
In the movie Horn is a grizzled Old Africa Hand tutoring his young pal, Peru. In the opening scene they are sitting around the campfire before setting out for the interior.
Burroughs follows the movie in having Old Timer teaming up with his young pal, The Kid. Even though the character of Old Timer seems to be based on a man of Burroughs’ age it is explained that he is under thirty while the Kid is twenty-two. Maybe ERB looked old but felt young.
In Horn Nina T. is a dark haired beauty the daughter of an Englishman George T. and an octaroon which means Nina is one sixteenth Negro but not so’s you could tell. She is literate, after a fashion, being able to read Horn’s handwritten notes in English. Horn buys her European clothes which she wears while yet a goddess.
In the movie Nina is a real primitive with the brain of an ape. Burroughs may have been thinking of her when he created Balza of Lion Man. She is astonishingly well played by Edwina Booth who has a mane of blond hair that would have gained her entrance as the queen of the Hippies in the sixties. A very exciting appearance. Just as Van Dyke and Hume made Tarzan an illiterate they show no favors to Nina. She couldn’t have begun the the alphabet let alone recite it.
In the book her mother died before her father. In the movie Horn and Peru encounter her mother walking through the jungle in search of a daughter lost twenty years previously. I laughed. I wouldn’t know if anyone else did as I was watching alone in front of my TV. By the way the VHS I was fortunate enough to buy new for twenty dollars, now out of print, is advertised on Amazon for up to one hundred seventy-five dollars. What a strange world. I hope they issue it on DVD. Maybe this essay will spur enough interest.
Horn coyly refused to give Nina’s last name as she is an heiress to the T. fortune which had been claimed long before. The movie boldly proclaims her as Nina Trent.
As Burroughs tells it, the future White Goddess is known as Kali Bwana, a name the natives gave to her. Her real name is Jessie Jerome. Her brother is Jerome Jerome. This is probably a coy reference to the English writer Jerome K. Jerome whose classic Three Men In A Boat was in ERB’s library as well as Idle Thoughts Of An Idle Fellow. Three Men is supposed to be one of the most comic books in the English language. If so, it was too subtle or too broad for this reader. I didn’t find it amusing. ERB must have liked it. Jerry Jerome covers the Jerome Jerome parts of the name while the K of Kid provides the middle initial. Jerome K. Jerome.
The names are conceald from us until the very end of the book so there must be a haw haw there for the knowing reader. ERB calls Jerome Jerry never calling him Jerome Jerome.
Kali Bwana or Jessie Jerome is ‘what is known as a platinum blonde.’ So the goddess has gone from dark hair to the blondest. Jean Harlow had starred in Howard Hughes 1930 production of Hell’s Angels making her the Blonde Bombshell of Htown so ERB was duly impressed.
In the book Horn was a bright young man, in the movie, an old African hand. In Burroughs although ‘not yet thirty’ he is an Old Timer, a bum because of what a woman done to him. Since Kali Bwana/Florence redeems his attitude toward women we are free to assume that Emma was the woman what done it to ERB.
Kali Bwana is deserted in the jungle by her safari because she refuses to submit to the embraces of her Negro headman. Old Timer discovers her camp where she tells him she is looking for her brother Jerry Jerome, in yet another parody of Stanley and Livingstone. Old Timer and the Kid have never asked each other’s names so Old Timer has never heard of Jerry Jerome, even though he is Old Timer’s partner. Thus the rest of the story need never have happened had they known each other’s names. ERB likes this sort of thing, using it often.
Old Timer puts Kali Bwana under his protection which proves ineffective against the Leopard Men who seize her and carry her away to their Josh house to be their goddess.
In the book Renchoro is merely an associate of Horn. In the movie Renchoro becomes virtually a romantic interest of Horn. Several scenes are tinged with homosexual overtones, especially Renchoro’s death scene while when Peru and Nina T. board the paddle wheeler for the return to civilization and Horn remains behind a big balloon containing a picture of Renchoro appears as a hearthrob for Horn. Horn returns to the jungle presumably to find a substitute for Renchoro. Interesting comment on the Black-White relationship.
In the Burroughs’ story the Black-White relationship is removed to one between Tarzan and Orando. Tarzan has a tree fall on his head as the story opens not unsurprisingly giving him another case of amnesia. Orando happens along. He is about to put an arrow through the Big Bwana when Tarzan speaks to him in his own dialect. A handy thing to not only know every dialect in Africa, human and animal, but to know when to employ the appropriate one. Probably has something to do with a refined sense of smell.
Speaking of ape languages, Spain is about to vote on a measure giving apes human status in the country. So not only is the human species to be counted politically in Spain but leaping the Last Hominid Predecessor, an entirely different evolutionary strain is to be accounted human. It will be interesting to see how the Spanish ape population votes.
Orando then mistakes Tarzan for Muzimo or his guardian spirit. Thus for most of the book the relationship between Muzimo and Orando is that of the movie between Horn and Renchoro. And also between God and Human.
Horn traded on the Ogowe River in Gabon. Much of his story concerns his navigation of the Ogowe and its tributaries. Unlike every other African explorer I have read Horn makes Africa seem a wonderland. Every other writer makes Africa dark and forboding with piles of human skulls laying around, walkways lined with skulls. Horn’s Africans are laughing back slappers who are merry even as they are shooting and killing each other. The rain forest along the Congo depresses all other explorers but Horn finds the Ogowe otherwise. The skulls are still there but Horn apparently finds them amusing. The river Horn navigates unlike those of Conrad’s Heart Of Darkness or Stanley’s Through The Dark Continent and In Darkest Africa is a bright cheery place. Maybe it’s all a state of mind.
Van Dyke has only one river and that does not play a central role while it is on the dark side, a river of death. It is also the Nile in East Africa. Most of the movie takes place on terra firma.
Burroughs makes the rivers central to his story but they are dark, violent rivers of death. ERB borrows more heavily from Stanley on this score than he does from Horn. Actually, if one is looking for similarities there is some resemblance of Horn’s story to the Beasts Of Tarzan, but the latter is based on Edgar Wallace’s Sanders Of The River. We don’t know what of Burroughs Horn read; it is quite possible that he read a few of the six or seven Tarzans available in his time.
Horn has the Egbo fraternity practicing their rites in a long building quite similar to that employed in Burroughs’ Cave Girl of 1913. Horn would have had to have read that in magazine form which is possible but seems a stretch.
Van Dyke has his rites practiced in the open. Horn originates the idea of crucifying the victims upside down so that when the head is cut off the blood drains into a pot for ritual uses. Van Dyke includes an upside down crucifixion but leaves out the more grisly details.
Burroughs dispenses with the crucifixion scene entirely relying on his often used cannibalism. This may be one of the reasons the book is disliked. In the sixties the traditional cannibal cooking pot was derided as a false stereotype of the African. It was denied that cannibalism had ever been practiced in Africa. Black musical groups in the US like Cannibal And The Headhunters ridiculed the facts. Thus imputing cannibalism to Africa became bad taste. Perhaps when Leopard Men was reprinted in 1964 its heavy reliance on such rituals prejudiced a certain mental outlook against it so the story was derided as the worst of Burroughs novels. While very dark and even gruesome the story isn’t noticeably inferior to any of the others.
In the book Horn is not only on good terms with the various tribes but he was the first White man initiated into the Egbo society. Egbo is at its most innocent a sort of Freemasonic society and at its worst on a par with the Leopard Men. Horn describes Egbo as a sort of vigilante society who do in anyone any member has a grievance against. Neither Egbo nor Leopard Men figure into Van Dyke’s movie. As I understand it , Nina T.’s people merely practice savage primitive rites.
Burroughs who has moved his story from the Ogowe of Gabon to the Aruwimi of the Ituri Rain Forest with which he was familair from Stanley’s account in his In Darkest Africa relates the Leopard cult that was notorious at the time. Horn does have a lot of leopards in his story giving a detailed description of how their talons leave cuts looking like they were sliced by knives. His natives wear a lot of leopard skins. There isn’t much on Egbo available on the internet except a notice that it originated on the Calabar Coast which, if I’m not mistaken is where the Leopard cult comes from.
Fellow Bibliophile David Adams gives a good short account of the Leopard Men.
Burroughs undoubtedly had sources so that his presentation is based on facts of the Leopard Men but adapted for his own purposes. Thus he makes the Leopard Men the central idea of the story. Tarzan becomes involved with the Leopard Men through his role as the Muzimo of Orando. As an ally of Orando’s Utenga people Tarzan engineers the destruction of the Leopard Men’s village and cult in that part of his domain.
In Horn’s book as a member of Egbo he is familiar with the Negroes, a member of the cult and has full access to the ldge and, in fact, Nina T. He has no difficulty in rescuing her whatever. He had just previously defeated the Egbo chief in battle so that worthy was thoroughly cowed refusing to even give chase.
In Van Dyke’s movie Horn and Peru wander into an African Chief’s village attempting to trade. The chief is uninterested in trading seizing them as victims for his sacrifical rites.
Horn and and Peru as trade goods offer the chief a music box that the chief scorns. In the book the music box is known as Du Chaillu’s Music Box. At some earlier time Du Chaillu while researching gorillas had left a music box and compass behind that enthralled the Africans. Peru shows up with another that they leave behind, presumably in payment for the monster ruby.
Van Dyke apparently thought the music box ridiculous while Burroughs doesn’t use it at all although he does follow the movie scene with the African chief closely.
In his version the Old Timer in pursuit of Kali Bwana learns that she was abducted by Gato Mgungu and taken to his village. Gato means cat so perhaps the name has some reference to leopards. Gato Mgungu is chief of the Leopard Men. Old Timer who has traded with Mgungu before barges into his village alone demanding he release Kali Bwana. In the movie the chief is a tall, extremely well built, handsome fellow. Quite astonishing actually, while Burroughs gives Mgungu a huge pot belly. Old Timer is given as short a shrift as the movie Horn. He is seized, dumped in a canoe and taken down river to the Leopard Men’s lodge also, as in the movie, destined for the stew pot.
In the book Horn and Nina T. are well acquainted. She trusts him and is eager to be rescued. They easily escape down river in Horn’s boat. In the movie Horn and Peru are shown o Nina T. who falls in love with Peru. Somehow an escape plan is concocted that she more or less leads. They are hotly pursued by her people. The band finds its way to the trading post on the river although Renchoro is killed.
Burroughs has Kali Bwana taken to the lodge where with titillating details involving gorgeous nudity she is prepared to serve as chief goddess of the Leopard King who is a real leopard along the lines of the various lion kings of Burrough’s stories.
Old Timer is held captive among the crowd of Leopard Men gathered for the rites. As Kali Bwana is led out they both recognize each other and gasp. Unknown to everyone the Big Bwana is up in the rafters observing everything. From then on he becomes the agent of deliverance.
In the book Nina T. having been rescued, Horn provides the happiest of endings. Horn and Peru have only one goddess between them. She must go to one or the other. The happy-go-lucky goddess is willing to take either the one or the other so they flip a coin for her. The outcome is obvious since Horn didn’t marry her. Peru wins the toss and gets the goddess. Peru is the son of the owner of one of the richest silver mines in the world in his namesake Peru. He has just come of age so he is one Porfirio Rubirosa. Nina T. has left the jungle to fall into unimaginable wealth. As I see her as nearly a feral child I do not envy Peru.
The two are married aboard ship by the captain then after a pleasant interlude in Madeira Peru and Nina go their way while Trader Horn and his ruby go another. Horn sells his ruby to Tiffany’s from whom he does quite well. The stone while large has flaws so he didn’t do was well as he might have.
In this volume at least Horn doesn’t mention ever hearing from Peru and Nina T. again. He may mention them in volume two but I haven’t read it.
In the movie with Nina’s tribesmen hot on their trail Nina and Peru go off in one direction while Horn and Renchoro lead the tribesmen on a wild goose chase. Renchoro is killed but Horn makes it back to the trading post. Peru and Nina are now an item. She has either quickly picked up enough English to understand a proposal and say yes or she just likes the color of Peru’s eyes. They offer to take Horn with them but that balloon of Renchoro pops up with the implication that Horn can find himself another African ‘boy’, which he seems to prefer. The paddlewheeler steams down the river with Nina and Peru while Horn turns back toward the jungle presumably in search of another ‘boy.’
Burroughs version is much more involved. Suffice it to say that after many tribulations the French army shows up to suppress the remnants of the Leopard Men who were destroyed by Tarzan and the Utengas. Jerome K. Jerome locates Old Timer and the goddess Kali Bwana. The latter two have been reconciled and now are in love with each other. When Old Timer learns that her real name is Jessie Jerome he fears the worst.
In one of Buroughs, name games Kali Bwana had refused to give him her real name insisting he should call her Kali. Old Timer refused to give his last name but confessed to being named Hiram. Perhaps his last name was Walker. Kali could him ‘Hi.’ Just as there is a joke in the Kid being Jerome K. Jerome there is probably a joke in Old Timer being called Hi.
I refer you to Lewish Carroll’s Hunting Of The Snark:
There was one who was famed for the number of things
He forgot when he entered the ship- but the worst of it was
He had wholly forgotten his name.
He would answer to “Hi!” or any loud cry,
Such as “Fry me!” or
Fritter My Wig!”
There is a copy of The Hunting Of The Snark in ERB’s library so he must have read and reread the poem, as well as, one might note, The Rubaiyat Of Omar Khayyam, so I think telling Kali Bwana she could call him Hi or any old thing is another of his literary jokes which are sprinkled throughout the novels.
Old Timer is overjoyed when he learns that Jerry and Jessie are brother and sister instead of husband and wife. As they are about to board the old paddle-wheeler, as in the movie, Jessie asks Old Timer to come with her. (Old Timer plays coy.)
The sun was sinking behind the western forest, the light playing on the surging current of the great river that rolled past the village of Bobolo. A man and a woman stood looking out across the water that plunged westward on its long journey to the sea, down to the trading posts and the towns and the ships, which are the frail links that connect the dark forest with civilization.
“Tomorrow you will start,” said the man. “In six or eight weeks you will be home. Home!” There was a world of wistfulness inn the simple, homely word. He sighed, “I am so glad for both of you.”
She came closer to him and stood directly in front of him, looking straight into his eyes. “You are coming with us,” she said.
“What makes you think so?” he asked.
“Because I love you, you will come.”
It can be plainly seen how all three versions of this scene are related while being derived from the original of the novel. As Burroughs adapted the movie version of the relationship between Horn and Peru he followed the movie ending.
Thus the novel and movie reoriented his own approach to Tarzan novels. The relationship of the three stories has literary repercussions. While it is plainly seen that Burroughs was, shall we say, highly inspired by Horn’s novel and Van Dyke’s movie, what might not be so apparent to the untrained eye is the extent to which both Horn and Van Dyke were influenced by the work of Burroughs which preceded theirs by a couple decades.
Horn admits to being familiar with the Tarzan stories. He was a first time writer here, while he had his own story to tell, he needed a format. He has chosen to emphasize many characteristics of the few Tarzan novels he could have read by 1925. While the Ogowe River figures in his life he probably would have been excited by the river scenes in Beasts Of Tarzan. He treats elephants and gorillas that he had actually seen in the wild differently than Burroughs but includes generous doses of both because they have worked for Burroughs.
Viewing from a distance as we are compelled to do one loses the savor of the times. A Burroughs reading Horn carefully might easily have picked up many references that slip by us.
Van Dyke and Hume on the other hand had been exposed to Tarzan movies for a dozen years or so. What they read can’t be so obvious. But the very format of the jungle thriller would have derived from previous Tarzan movies. ERB may have felt he was entering a turf war as the Big Bwana’s domain was being invaded.
He may have believed himself justified in expropriating the expropriators. If Horn died in 1927 his opinion no long mattered. What Ethelreda Lewis may have thought isn’t known. She apparently had a hand in writing the movie script for Swiss Family Robinson. Whether she came to Hollywood to do it I am not informed although she was around the movie capitol for a number of years. A meeting between her and ERB would have been interesting.
What Van Dyke and Hume may have thought I am equally uninformed, however between the release of Horn in February 1931 and the release of Tarzan, The Ape Man in March of 1932 was a year during which a contract was negotiated between MGM and Burroughs for the use of his characters but not of any of his material on April 15 of 1932. (Erzine Bio Timeline, 1930s). Within nine months then the movie Tarzan, The Ape Man was in the theatres.
The generally expressed view is that Hume first wrote up a script involving a combination Horn and Tarzan story. This was before they might have seen Leopard Men in print. To quote William Armstrong from ERBzine 0610:
Cyril Hume who had turned the filming of “Trader Horn” in Africa into a suitable story outline, was given the assignment of writing the script for Tarzan The Ape Man, Hume’s original script had Trader Horn leading an expedition to Africa to search for a lost tribe. En route, they discover Tarzan, who kidnaps the woman scientist member of the safari. She eventually returns to the safari and they are captured by the tribe they seek (who worship the moon), and are to be human sacrifices to a sacred gorilla. Tarzan leading a pack of elephants, arrives in time to save the safari. The woman scientist decides to stay with Tarzan while Trader Horn and his party return to the trading post.
This script may give some idea of how conventional Hollywood minds viewed both Horn and Tarzan. Apparently the relationship between th two was very close in their minds. This script leaves little room for the development of the Tarzan yell while it gives the feel of making Tarzan a subordinate character to Horn. Tarzan might or might not have been a part of the next Horn movie. If MGM continued to use Harry Carey in the Horn role he may very likely have had a stronger film presence than Tarzan who, one imagines would still have been portrayed as a feral boy as he essentially was in Tarzan, The Ape Man.
It would be interesting to know when MGM decided to film a Tarzan movie and in what connection to Trader Horn. The success of Horn may have prodded them but one is astonished at the speed at which the project was conceived and executed especially as we are led to believe that they had no actor to play Tarzan in mind when the contract with ERB was signed.
As Leopard Men was probably not even fully conceived in ERB’s mind when he signed it could have had no effect on the signing. The release of Tarzan, The Ape Man in 1932 did have an effect on Burroughs. After writing Tarzan And the City Of Gold from November of 1931 to January of 1932 he was stunned by the MGM characterization of his great creation.
That shock resulted in early 1933′s novel Tarzan And The Lion Man.
As influential as Horn was for the main frame of the story of Leopard Men ERB had all his usual themes and variations to employ which he lavishly did. This is a very dark story that I do not fully understand. The Trader Horn connection was the easy part. Now to the hard stuff.
September 20, 2011
EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS VS. THE COMIC BOOK HEROES
In the attempt to put together a historical puzzle the missing piece or pieces, the clarifying pieces, appear from time to time. Thus with the release of the movie, Captain America this year a significant piece of the puzzle falls into place that clarifies the role of Edgar Rice Burroughs and his literary creations in the panorama of the twentieth century- the fabulous twentieth century.
It is difficult today to conceive of how the early twentieth century was perceived as a complete break with the Victorian nineteenth. One only has to compare the streamlined Santa Fe Chief in this picture alongside a nineteenth century locomotive to see how the Twentieth Century was perceived as the century of absolute exciting progress. The time certainly justified General Electric’s motto: Progress is our most important product.
Burroughs role in this fabulous century is essentially the story of how Edgar Rice Burroughs created the concept of the super hero on the cusp of the emergent movie and comic book industries. It is in the latter two industries that the super hero found his definition.
Just as in the days of yore mankind projected its needs in the psychological projection of Gods so the twentieth century saw the beginning of the demise of the old gods and the birth of the new. While the creators of the Old Gods have disappeared into the mists of time, and there must have been human creators of the Gods, the creators of the new gods can be easily traced.
The predecessors of the Superheroes can be found in the rise of the mega intellects of the nineteenth century detectives such as Monsieur LeCoq, Sherlock Holmes and arch fiends such as Dr. Moriarty and the French Fantomas. Influenced by such as these Edgar Rice Burroughs created the actual prototypes of the mid-century superheroes in the characters of John Carter of Mars and Tarzan The Ape Man. While John Carter is less well known than Tarzan, who became a household word within a half dozen years of his creation, Carter truly had super human powers having been transported from the higher gravity of Earth to the lower gravitational field of Mars, or Barsoom, as Burroughs renamed the planet.
While not able to leap over tall buildings his saltational powers functioned at a level of efficiency unattained by any other Barsoomian. For a decade or so Burroughs had the superhero field to himself while his lessons sunk in to the minds of those following him.
The two most significant men of extraordinary if not super human powers to follow Tarzan and John Carter were Maxwell Grant’s superb character, The Shadow and Lester Dent’s Doc Savage. Preceding the comic book character Superman by a few years Doc Savage was actually advertised as a superman, undoubtedly in reference to Nietzsche.
Then in the early thirties in addition to movies, in which Tarzan was a stellar attraction, the modern comic book or magazine came into existence. Of course newspaper comic strips had been developing from the turn of the century but the actual comic book was a development of the thirties.
As fate would have it the comic book industry like the movie industry became a province of the Jews.
Thus two streams of influence formed comic book heroes. On the one hand the Jewish writers and cartoonists were influenced by John Carter, Tarzan, The Shadow, and Doc Savage and on the other by a fifteenth century Jewish super creature known as the Golem. This was a creature fashioned from clay, as per Adam of the Old Testament, by a Prague Rabbi named Loewe who breathed life into his creation as God had breathed life into Adam. The Golem was created to wreak vengeance on Jewish victims as a sort of avenger as would be the status and role of the latter day Jewish superheroes of the comic books.
First out of the box in 1938 was the prototype of the rest of the comic book heroes, Superman. Like Burroughs with his creations the two Jewish creators built Superman’s origins from the Biblical story of the Exodus. Tarzan of course was born to noble English parents in Darkest Africa who then died or were killed by the Great Apes while the she ape, Kala, snatched him from the cradle and raised him as an ape.
Superman was born of noble parents on the planet Krypton which was about to be destroyed, and sent on a rocket ship to Earth while his parents died. On Earth he was raised by kindly goy Earth people. Thus we have two different versions of Moses in the bullrushes. Superman, then, combined John Carter and Tarzan.
Superman was a good thing in commercial terms being the equivalent of a literary best seller. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery so that while Superman imitated Burroughs’ great characters a host of comic book superheroes soon trod in Superman’s footsteps. Next in 1939 there was Batman, probably the most successful of the Jewish superheroes, and then in 1940 the temporarily successful Captain America, really the product of WWII, losing his popularity with the end of the war. The most successful of all the superheroes was the strange goyish creation, Capt. Marvel but he doesn’t concern us here.
The above is very interesting I’m sure but what significance does it have; what is its meaning; what is going on? Well, the back story is very interesting indeed. One must remember that our lives are not lived in a social vacuum of unrelated incidents. All is part of a continuum that does not just happen but is created by the participants. All is a drive to attain a desire. The question is who are the participants? As has already been indicated, the Jews and the Gentiles or goyim. From what do those desires arise? Suggestion. Suggestions having been received, when a body of suggestions have been ingested, our minds begin to digest those suggestions. One then interprets the suggested reality according to one’s temperament which itself has been built on a body of suggestions.
All society is education, indoctrination and conditioning, in other words hypnotic suggestion. Burroughs was born in 1875 as the scientific revolution was in an advanced stage of development; by 1893 when Burroughs was seventeen the whole of human knowledge and scientific advances was put on exhibition at the Chicago Columbian Exposition. The Expo was probably the high water mark in Western Civilization or, at least, its confidence in itself. The Expo was an unparalleled achievement of human endeavor far surpassing all expos of the nineteenth century with the possible exception of the 1851 London Exposition. Interestingly both were burned to the ground by anti-civilization elements. The Columbian Expo of 1893 was the most powerful element of Burroughs’ education.
Shortly before the boy’s birth in 1875 the character of immigration changed. In 1871 Jews from the eastern European Pale of Settlement began to flood the country until in 1914 possibly half of European Jewry had been transferred to the United States. The great immigration myth is that the immigrants were assimilated into the ‘Melting Pot’ of the United States; nothing could be further from the truth. The immigrants merely transferred their national cultures to the United States where because they were compelled to speak English it appeared that they had been assimilated. In reality the immigrants came to the sparsely populated United States where they established an outremer population on the New Island as the Irish had it, a new Sicily, a new Zion etc. They came in such numbers that they actually were colonists. The old cultures were merely adapted to the new realities and developed along side the Native peoples.
These alien or invading cultures then shaped the development of the United States in their image as much as possible. Thus they were able to blame their cultural shortcomings on ‘America’ while emphasizing their virtues as their own. Hence ‘America’ developed into a sort of dirty word, a catchall for the crimes of the immigrant cultures. This state of affairs was masked until the Great War when the social conflicts came into the open and were immediately subsumed into the Communist ideology after 1917.
Young Burroughs observed this immigration phenomenon or suggestion with misgivings associating himself with Nativist views although he remained independent to our knowledge of association with Nativist organizations. Thus while interpretations of these social suggestions are found through out his early writings the conflict didn’t come to a head until after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in what became the USSR as Russia disappeared from the map. With all the national dissidents operating under the rubric of Communism the world was divided into us and them- ostensibly Communism and Capitalism. The dichotomy was created by the Communists. However each national culture could function with representatives in each camp while furthering their parochial objectives.
It was a new world the morning after the Bolshevik Revolution. Burroughs immediately came into collision with the new realities. As this new world was us and them it was possible to hate Communism while retaining virtue in the Capitalist camp. However one couldn’t detest national, religious or racial components even though they may have been Communists. As Communists always denied being Communists one was always dealing with cultural groups that dissembled their Communism.
When Burroughs began his career in literature even as he wrote the movies began to assume a transcendent place in US and world culture. By the end of the second decade it was evident that movies were where the big money was. That’s when Burroughs’ troubles began.
He quickly ran afoul of the Communists who controlled publishing and the Jews who controlled the movies. The Communists wished to suppress all non-Communist writers who refused to put out the Communist message. The Jews wished to discourage all criticism of their activities. Burroughs was marked out as one to be destroyed.
Behind the Communist outrage and obscured by it was the Jewish attempt to realize the Messianic age which assault was begun in Europe and the United States in 1913 and was to continue to 1928 according to Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver. While the assault was violent in Europe emanating from the transformation of Russia to the USSR, in the United States it was more peaceable after the violent year of 1919 while being conducted on a propagandistic and social level buttressed by the doctrines of Sigmund Freud as executed by his nephew and disciple Edward L. Bernays and others. You should become acquainted with Edward Bernays if you aren’t already.
Among the first of these propagandistic efforts was the promulgation of a ‘Jewish Bill Of Rights.’ This document along with a questionnaire was sent to the prominent men and women of America to discover their ‘anti-Semitic’ propensities. Burroughs failed this test so that he was black balled in Hollywood after 1922. The blacklist was broken by Joseph Kennedy and his FBO Studios in 1928. MGM then stepped in with a different approach from blacklisting. They bought the movie rights to Tarzan from Burroughs for much less than a song. Burroughs then was essentially neutralized in 1931 while MGM acquired the supreme super hero Tarzan to shape or mishape as they pleased. Within a few years there were not many who remembered that there was a literary Tarzan. My amazement when I learned there were Tarzan books when I was twelve in 1950 was a revelation of the first order.
The movies were able, of course, to shape all the goy literary heroes from Frankenstein to Sherlock Holmes into their own intellectual mold from then into the present while comic books added Jewish superheroes to displace them.
The planned Jewish revolution hadn’t succeeded by 1928 but the groundwork had been laid leaving the future promising and open. While in the US the Jews were able to sweep all opposition aside even to the extent of putting their creature, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, into the White House for an unprecedented four terms, in Europe unexpected opposition occurred when Wolf Hitler was elected chancellor of German in 1933. While having their creatures Joseph Stalin as Premier of the USSR and FDR in the USA with Popular Front governments if office throughout Europe with the exception of Germany, Italy and Spain, the Jews seemed to be in a position to realize their millennium.
Indoctrination and conditioning was still important in the US thus when sound movies were introduced at the very end of the twenties and the comic book in the early thirties the Jews had two of the most powerful propaganda tools available under their ownership and control.
Their need in the thirties was to isolate and marginalize the Nativist opposition. This would be achieved in the forties wartime conditions when FDR had the prominent Nativists arrested and charged with sedition. At that point the Jews had succeeded in capturing the government and mind of the country although a long mopping up process would be necessary into the fifties and sixties. Thus while Wolf Hitler rounded up Jews in Europe, Jews were rounding up Nativists Americans in the US while advising any dissidents to keep their heads low.
The movies and comic books would play a big role in indoctrinating Americans to believe that the Nativists were Fascists and/or Nazis and not true Americans. It was at this time that Edward L. Bernays succeeded in changing the definition of Democracy from that of individual opportunity to recognition of groups having rights to a share of government based on group identity rather than individual identity. This would be a key concept as the century developed.
After the Bolshevik Revolution the American reaction to Communism was strongly against it. The Communist Party was even outlawed for a time until the Fellow Travelers and Parlor Pinks had the ban lifted. The silent movies of the twenties then were not heavily influenced by the Reds although as indicated the Tarzan movies of Edgar Rice Burroughs were blacklisted. By the thirties the Reds were better organized while with the arrival of sound playwrights capable of producing dialog were needed. The Red exodus to Hollywood began.
The US Communist Party as with all national Communist Parties, was a majority or plurality Jewish affair to the point where an attack on one was an attack on the other. Thus as the thirties advanced the drum roll for US involvement in a war against the Nazis began. This would involve the formation in the US of an opposition led by the America First Committee which was opposed to any involvement in foreign wars as a reaction. As this was opposed to Jewish wishes the America First Committee was designated as Fascist while its putative leader, Charles Lindbergh was designated Hitler’s stooge.
In order to discredit the opposition, no sooner was FDR sworn in than Samuel Dickstein, a Jewish representative from New York, began to agitate for a House Un-American Activities Committee to stamp out Nativist opposition. As Dickstein was a Soviet agent this meant that the Nativist opposition was un-American while the Jewish Roosevelt government were the true Americans. So, the Jews were well on the way to usurping the American identity which the comic book superheroes represented. Dickstein was successful in establishing his HUAC committee in 1938 but the chair eluded him and went to a real American, Martin Dies of Texas, who then used the committee to harass Communists as well as ‘Fascists’ much to the dismay of Dickstein and FDR.
Hollywood in support of Dickstein began turning out anti-German movies and by implication anti-Nativist well in advance of American involvement in 1942. Involvement in the European conflict was of course brought about by forcing Japan to declare war on the US in late ‘41.
The comic book industry forming about 1932 was becoming real by 1938 when the two Jews from Cleveland devised their Golem character Superman followed by Batman and Captain America. The comic book heroes fell in with the anti-German propaganda. If the Jews, British and FDR were not yet openly promoting the war against Germany the tendency was well formed in that direction.
All those comics were openly anti- German with Capt. America socking Hitler on the cover of the first issue. Capt. America was a creation of two Jews from Brooklyn, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. To quote the Rabbi Simcha Weinstein from his book Up, Up, And Oy Vey!: How Jewish Culture And Values Shaped The Comic Book Superhero:
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 gave 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 at 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 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 Jewish ‘Americans’ in the country I might suggest that the response from that culture 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 America, in fact, none did. 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.
All the Jewish comics were openly anti-German, thus the FDR administration, the movies and comic books were fighting for the Jewish ‘good war.’ When Charles Lindbergh pointed this out he was immediately portrayed as an agent of the Nazis whereas he was merely telling the truth while being an ideal American. Philip Roth in his 2004 novel, The Plot Against America, recounts the Jewish atmosphere of the time while he postulates that Lindbergh was elected president in 1940 as a satrap of Hitler. Thus the Jews became the real Americans and the real Americans were totalitarians out to destroy the Democracy the Jews had created.
In his essay in the New York Times of 9/19/04 titled: The Story Behind The Plot Against America Roth says that he is recreating America as it really was in 1940 but that is not so. As Roth lived in a New Jersey Jewish colony he and his family was out of touch with the real America as his fictional brother who had gone to Kentucky tries to tell him.
In fact in the America of the time in which Samuel Dickstein was an evil presence the American Jewish Committee and The Anti Defamation League were paramilitary organizations conducting spying operations against the non-Jewish public. Numerous agents unaffiliated with any government agency crisscrossed society looking for any activity that might be considered against Jewish interests. These forays were gathered together in 1943 under the assumed name of John Roy Carlson and published as an indictment against Jewish ‘enemies.’ Many of them were arrested and tried as ‘un-Americans in 1944. So, Roth’s paranoia is at best unbalanced.
Roth says the idea of Lindbergh’s having been elected occured to him while reading Arthur Schlesinger’s autobiography:
I came upon a sentence in which Schlesinger notes that there were some Republican isolationists who wanted to run Lindbergh for president in 1940. That’s all there was, that one sentence with its reference to Lindbergh and to a fact about him I’d not known. It made me think, “What if they had?” and I wrote the question in the margin.
While this may be how Roth came upon the notion his was not the first such idea. As Paul Buhle and Dave Wagner in their Radical Hollywood of 2002 point out, Donald Ogden Stewart in his script for 1943’s Keeper Of The Flame, Charles Lindbergh is posited as a plotter of a coup to replace FDR in alliance with Hitler. This would have been propaganda to indict Lindbergh for the upcoming trial of the Nativists. I don’t know whether Roth saw the movie as a boy but if he did perhaps the idea festered in his brain for several decades until he was reminded by Schlesinger’s book while his mind was half prepared.
So the actual plot of the Jews to take over the American government was displaced to Lindbergh and the Nativists. The Jewish coup was represented in the comic book character of Captain America. This situation is made clear in the current (2011) movie Capt. America: The First Avenger. Thus Philip Roth and Stan Lee of the comics recapitulate and clarify Jewish activities in the 1933-43 era. Captain America is actually Jewish assuming an ultimate American identity.
The origins of Captain America then emanated from the Jewish dream subconscious of Jack Kirby which was quite different form real Americans. He therefore, as all writers must, made Capt. America in his comic book existence from his own 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 have 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. weakling into an all powerful goy Charles Atlas without the hard work of body building. I’m sure Kirby saw those ads 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 [this is what used to make we boys puke] 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 protectors of genuine American Democracy while Anglo-Americans or Native Americans or America Firsters were out to destroy the great American Dream the Jews had created. This is the theme of Philip Roth’s novel The Plot Against America backdated to this period. The current movie Captain America could easily be subtitled The Plot Against America Foiled.
Rabbi Weinstein 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 characters, 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.
I hope this makes clear that Superman, Batman and Captain America are Jewish in identity and what their purpose is in American society.
Having created a competing line of Jewish superheroes the problem then became how to discredit and supplant the goy super heroes. As should be clear by now what we have going on is a religious war but fought by propagandistic means. In other words the battle field was literature, comic books and the movies. As in all religious conflicts the goal is to displace the religious icons of the other; thus, in early Christian times churches were built on the sites of pagan temples while sacred groves were cut down. Nothing has changed; nothing can change. The Jewish goal was the elimination of ‘Christian’ or goy symbols.
Capt. Marvel was gotten rid of in 1953 when the Jews sued him out of his cape. As I’ve pointed out in my review of Tarzan And The Lion Man, parts 8,9.10, a key text in this colossal battle, MGM attempted to destroy the character as well as Burroughs when they bought movie rights to Tarzan in 1931. They got his birthright for a mess of pottage. It may be coincidental but in 1942 after the success of the Jewish comic book super heroes MGM discarded their lucrative rights to Tarzan to movie maker Sol Lesser presumably as worthless or, at least, of no more interest to them. Of course Lesser continued the franchise with phenomenal success. This necessitated a continued campaign to debase the character continuing today. At the same time that Tarzan is debased the Jewish characters, Capt. America is now one of a group of four ‘Avengers’, hence the double entendre of ‘The First Avenger’, who are increasingly Judaisized, while presented in a positive way in the attempt to marginalize Tarzan.
Now, some seventy years after the demise of the man, the continued demonization of Wolf Hitler is becoming less relevant, even annoying if you’re not Jewish, so in Capt. America Wolf Hitler is demoted to an incompetent dead threat while the scepter is passed to the mega Nazi/anti-Semite recreated in the mental projection of Red Skull or the Hydra. The mythical symbol of the Hydra is well chosen to represent anti-Semitism as no matter how many heads you cut off another one, two or three grow back. The threat never ends and the paranoia is justified.
Thus in the Freudian sense Jews have a dual personality: on the one hand you have the ineffective completely innocent assumed goy persona of Steve Rogers, who is the equivalent of Abel, the Chosen one and the crazed madman Hydra who is a projection of the negative aspects of the Jewish character imposed on the other as the anti-Semite. Thus the Jewish character is always at war with itself in the Freudian sense and hence never successful in its aims.
August 5, 2011
Themes And Variations
The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs
#15 Tarzan Triumphant
Threads And Strands Of The Web
For I must speak what wisdom would conceal,
And truth, invidious to the great, reveal.
More than likely it is a coincidence that Burroughs wrote a fictional account of time and space weaving a web at this time, for Fate was bringing together threads and strands of the web of his own life in a picture of unparalleled opportunity and deadly peril. The decisions Burroughs would make would determine the outcome. His life could have gone another way. Or, perhaps, Burroughs sensed the impending crises and fictioned them in an attempt to deal with them.
We are already aware of the conflicts with the Judaeo-Communists. It seems clear that they were the original aggressors and that Burroughs was in reaction to them, in other words, on the defensive. Thus these first two Tarzan novels of the thirties are direct attacks on both aggressors. If Burroughs expected counter attacks there seems to be no evidence that he prepared for them. He never seems to have sat down to coolly analyze the problem in order to have a plan.
In fact, there seems to be little evidence that he ever actually realized the consequences of his success or how to handle it. While he had incorporated himself he made no effort to corporately structure his writing enterprise. In point of fact as a creative artist he was fundamentally incapable of running a structured business. Doing so would have interfered with his creative function. In fact, I am convinced that he dissipated his creative energies by becoming involved in business decisions to the extent he did.
Developing an organization is very difficult. While he should have done this, without a very fortuitous combination of circumstances it is very doubtful he could have. Hollywood was full of sharpers ready to take advantage of creative talent and in this case and nearly all others they did.
On the positive side, from 1911 to, say, 1928 ERB had created an unparalleled intellectual property in Tarzan. One in a zillion chance. As the twenties developed unparalleled opportunities to exploit the property evolved.
Apart from publishing, the three key profit centers were comics, movies and radio. All three strands came to fruition as the thirties began. Each required a slightly different approach. Each required thinking out with an intellectual departure from the past.
At this crucial moment ERB’s past arose to drag him down from behind. He was unable to make the emotional transition from what was essentially an emotionally battered youth to a successful, affluent man in control of his destiny. He remained psychologically attached to his personal relationship to Tarzan as an aspect of his personality rather than objectifying the character as a psychological projection for the world. He had prepared the way to make Tarzan a savior man-god but then couldn’t separate him from his own personality. If Fate had thrown the right people in his way they could have done this for him.
Thus rather than maximize his financial returns he essentially shot his feet off. He carped at the various media companies to the point where he was viewed as troublesome, an undesirable actually. Thus while he expected great financial returns including the means to buy a yacht, he sabotaged his own efforts to obtain them.
He belittled the returns of the comic strip for instance, bemoaning that it only returned thirty dollars a day. Well, that was eleven thousand dollars a year, every year. He could count on it. His MGM contract for Tarzan, The Ape Man provided him the exact same return. Twenty-two thousand divided by two years is eleven thousand a year.
At the time ERB signed the MGM contract he had a very valuable intellectual property already fully developed but he had developed a reputation among the Studios. The Studios had already had extensive dealings with him from the silent era. ERB, without a plan to market Tarzan had accepted whatever money came his way. Two of his titles had been sold in 1921 although production of them had been shelved. In 1927 FBO Studios decided to film Tarzan And The Golden Lion. While this film was lost for decades a print of the film was discovered which was issued on DVD in 2006 so that it can now be viewed.
In my opinion FBO did handsomely by ERB. A good clear scenario was written by William Wing that remained true to the spirit of Burroughs’ work; perhaps more than it ought to have in a movie sense. The filming, the photography is terrific; it has never been done better, not by MGM, not by RKO. It is true that Wing invented a sister for Tarzan but this is a minor point.
I find it difficult to undertand what ERB was disgruntled about except that another writer was handling his alter ego. The difference between a movie scenario and a book is very distinct. There would have been no way to get the entire convoluted story of Golden Lion on the screen so Wing wisely chose to develop a variation on the story of the Valley of Diamonds. Even so he threw in an earthquake scene a la Jewels Of Opar and Tarzan’s jumping the gap in the tunnel.
If anything his attempt to write as closely to Burroughs as he did lessened the impact of the film with some needless clutter. If, in 1935′s New Adventures Of Tarzan for which Burroughs provided the story idea, Dearholt attempted to tell the story more or less as Burroughs wrote, then the result was a hopeless mish mash. The movie was no truer to Burroughs’ Tarzan than FBO’s film, while lacking the clarity and force of the latter. Burroughs should have been grateful to FBO for an excellent movie. My idea of the best of the lot even though silent.
Had I been associated with FBO I would have found ERB’s criticisms nitpicking and offensive. After all FBO broke the boycott ERB had been under since 1922. The FBO movie triggered a response from Universal which held the rights to Jungle Tales and Jewels Of Opar. These titles were released as Tarzan The Mighty and Tarzan The Tiger starring Frank Merrill. At present there is no print of Tarzan The Mighty while as of December 5, 2006 I am still awaiting the release of Tarzan The Tiger. ERB once again was unhappy with these films, voicing loud complaints. All this carping could have done little for his reputation among the Studios. Before the long hiatus of Tarzan movies from 1921 to 1927 he had been run off the lot during the filming.
According to the ERBzine Timeline for the ’30s ERB approached MGM in 1930 asking $75,000 for a movie and was rebuffed. If this is true, $22,000 in 1931 was quite a comedown. MGM solved ERB’s querulousness by obtaining the rights to do with the character as they wished. They promptly disdained Burrughs’ storylines for their own while changing the character of Tarzan from that of an international sophisticate to that of a feral boy.
As the first full sound Tarzan, MGM hit the jackpot with the victory cry of the bull ape. The Tarzan yell would be the trademark of the charcter, although hardly a blood chilling fearsome holler. Burroughs himself couldn’t do better as Herman Brix in New Adventures merely growls out a long drawn Tar-man-gan-eee with the last sylable in falsetto. More laughable than fearsome.
In between these two films Sol Lesser released a monstrosity starring Buster Crabbe. Lesser never got the handle on Tarzan on his own, instead borrowing the MGM Characterization when he acquired the rights from them.
Lesser and his brother Irving were independent producers of some substance. Sol was born in 1890 in Spokane, Washington, dying at 90 in 1980. There is even a biography of his life. Not easy to find and not available on any site when I looked. If anybody knows where one is or having one could make a copy for me it would be much appreciated.
Lesser’s father who was in the nickelodeon business died in 1907 in San Francisco leaving the business to Sol and brother Irving. Sol got involved in distribution in 1910 eventually forming the Golden Gate Film Exchange in 1915.
In that year San Francisco’s infamous Barbary Coast was shuttered. Before the closure Lesser filmed the area, selling the movie. It would be interesting if the film was still around.
He made the right moves. After distribution he became a producer for First National and then formed a chain of movie theatres. After an aborted retirement he reentered production forming his own independent studio called either Principle or Principal Pictures. David Fury spells the name Principal in his Kings Of The Jungle and that sounds right. This was apparently Sol’s status when he acquired the rights to Tarzan from a third party in 1928 and when he made the Crabbe abortion in 1933.
Lesser was influential in Hollywood. He made it a point to know and be known. In the early thirties it was he who was responsible for introducing Disney to Joseph Schench (pronounced Skenk) and facilitating Disney’s move from Columbia to United Artists.
One can’t be sure of his politics from the sources cited but according to the New York Times:
…Lesser forsook production for distribution again, returning to the creative end of moviemaking in 1931 when, through is friendshlip with writer Upton Sinclair, he became involved with the Sergei Eisenstein project, Thunder Over Mexico.
Thunder Over Mexico was undoubtedly a Communist diatribe. Sol Lesser while involved with consevatives like Disney and Burroughs, also played the other side of the street with the likes of Upton Sinclair and the Jewish film maker, Sergei Eisenstein of Battleship Potemkin fame.
It would seem probable that he at least knew such luminaries as Louis B. Mayer and possibly Irving Thalberg. Even though he could have foiled both Burroughs and MGM with his prior rights to Tarzan, he characteristically stepped aside, for remuneration of course, to let their films play through. It would be interesting to know how and why he obtained his rights from a third party and how they had obtained theirs.
One doesn’t know what his relationship to Mayer and MGM was at this time but it is noteworthy that he acquired exclusive rights to Tarzan when MGM abandoned the profitable series. Under Lesser the movies continued to gross two to three million a picture.
Sound movies should have been a gold mine for Burroughs if he had handled himself properly. Instead through his impulsiveness and vanity there were at least four competing Tarzans on the screens from 1930 to 1935. This must have created confusion in the public’s mind, while injuring Burroughs’ financial returns.
At the time sound brought the potential of immense movie profits to Burroughs the thread of radio also came to maturity about 1930. While the evangelists were quick to capitalize on the potential of radio, Burroughs wasn’t far behind. Perhaps the success of Aimee Semple Mcpherson showed him the way.
As the decade dawned, his eye turned in radio’s direction. By 1932 he was successful in launching a show. Once again ERB failed to analyze the difference between books and a new medium. Radio was for him the most lucrative of all his ventures. His revenues from radio equaled his income from all other sources combined. This income stream could have continued unabated through the thirties but, once again, ERB interfered with the show rather than contributed. Undoubtedly because of his constant carping the first series was not renewed. A second series was launched which was also discontinued. From 1935 until his death he was unable to get on radio again. After his death in 1950 a new series was launched.
Thus, between publishing, comics, movies and radio ERB was provided opportunities to exploit his great labor in creating the ultimate intellectual property of the twentieth century and blew it. The personality forming psychology of his youth popped up to prevent his realizing his most cherished dreams in this sphere of his life as it did in his relationship to women.
If ERB had read his Homer at some earlier time, or possibly, earlier times in his life, it seems evident that he reread the Odyssey, for sure, at this time. The evidence is prominent in these five novels, especially Triumphant and City Of Gold. A text in all five novels is the struggle between the La aspect of his Anima and that of Jane. Subconsciously he had steered his love life to this critical juncture where he would have to choose one and reject the other.
There may have been a fortuitousness in his choosing to concentrate on his own Odyssey at this time. He was able to capitalize on a number of good story ideas, while on the other hand a major story line of the Odyssey is the examination of a man’s control of his sexual desires. A key story of this aspect is the story of the seductress Circe. By inducing all men to abandon themselves to unbridled sexual desire she turns them all into pigs. A lesson for contemporary times. Odysseus avoids this by having a pocketful of Moly. Moly is some sort of charm that allows him to resist Circe’s seductions.
Thus Odysseus retains his manly integrity while securing the release of his crew. The Sirens, Calypso and the other women are all temptations for Odysseus to abandon his manhood for the luxuries of sex or in other word, the Matriarchy. He resists them all to return home to Penelope in Ithaca where she sits lonely endlessly weaving her web.
One can’t know directly how Burroughs read the story or even if the above details registered with him; nevertheless these five novels are about a man’s relationships with women and more specifically they concern the details of ERB’s relationships with women. The story as told by him is a troubled one.
It would appear that his cherished Anima image of the previous forty years or so, La of Opar, no longer answered his needs, so at the end of Invincible Tarzan abandons La of Opar. She and Opar disappear from the oeuvre never to be mentioned again.
In real life perhaps La has been replaced by Florence who now figures as the Golden Girl. With the appearance of Jezebel in Triumphant the Golden Girl makes her first appearance to dominate the stage until Lion Man and the end of this five novel series.
In Triumphant the Jane aspect which has been missing for the last couple novels parachutes back into ERB’s life. He marries her off to the stable aspect of his Animus while pairing the Golden Girl with the low life aspect of his Animus.
Emma had always said ERB was a low brow so perhaps he found it too unpleasant aping high brow manners giving up the fight to indulge that aspect of his Animus more comfortable to him.
In this struggle Florence had been removed from the scene. Back during the writing of this novel Burroughs quickly opted to join his low life aspect with his sexual desire for the Golden Girl. His Moly gave out on him. Thus Danny ‘Gunner’ Patrick is transformed into Old Timer of Leopard Man while Jezebel becomes the platinum blonde, Kali Bwana.
Having made the decision to take the Golden Girl he has to eliminate the Jane aspect which he does in City Of Gold. Perhaps wavering a trifle in Lion Man he seems to have created a type of middle Tarzan Anima figure in Rhonda Terry. While he rejects Naomi/Jane he seems to have misgivings about Balza/Florence as the Golden Girl.
But, by this time the die had been cast so that in real life he does leave Emma to begin his life with Florence as a born again sex hound. As Old Timer in Leopard Men he says he was entitled to some pleasure in life and by God he was going to take it.
So, in both his business life and his personal life his past rose up and bit him in the behind destroying any chance he had to realize his true desires. I’m afraid I have to look at the remainder of his life as a failure as he was unable to eliminate the psychological impediments placed in his way by his early life. Not that he didn’t try. He appears to have studied psychology trying to find a way through to the other side of the maze of consciousness. Thus we have the subterranean passages too dark for anyone to find their way, yet his characters do. As he searches for a way out, the past rises up in the shape of deformed monsters like the Oparians beneath the Sacred City.
Or the round about way Tarzan and La found their way out of the lion cage in Invincible to be betrayed by the Old Man who professed to be true to La. Who was the Old Man? The shade of the past? David Adams has brought emphasis to this scene in his review of “The Ancient Dead of the City of Horz,” itself a dead city on the shores of a dead sea in Burroughs Bulletin #68.
By the writing of The Ancient Dead, ERB no longer had any hope to escape his past, while at the same time it was too late.
So, as the matter turned out, this period from 1930 to 1934 was the final crucial period in ERB’s life where he could have taken control of his destiny. He apparently sensed that the threads and strands of the web of his life were being brought together by Fate.
I neither condemn nor advise, unlike the literary fashion of today. I assume no superior airs, nor do I have a right to do so, but the fact is that had he been able to control his sexuality while restraining his impulsiveness, Fate might have been kinder to him at this juncture. As he was unable to order his psychology Fate, as it were, laid him low.
The critical junctures were the impetuous signing with MGM, his abandonment of Emma and his mismanagement of his radio affairs.
I have now covered four of the five Tarzan novels of this period. The last, The City City Of Gold deals with his ferocious sexual needs that destroyed his chances for success.
August 4, 2011
Themes And Variations
The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs
#15 Tarzan Triumphant
In The Footsteps Of The Lord
If anything the action of this novel reminds me of Ray Bradbury’s Illustrated Man just as the invasion of Opar brings strong recollections of the last story of Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles. In the latter all the great fictions of mankind, fairies, ogres, and whatnot have been driven from earth by Reason taking refuge on Mars. But as the true condition of Mars becomes known their world crumbles and disappears as there is no place in the universe left for them.
That fate will never overtake Tarzan as he represents very real hopes, dreams and desires of mankind. Even as the old world and old heaven of the Piscean Age begins to heave and crack as the new Age of Aquarius struggles to come into existence, the archetype of the Age is forming around Tarzan. Tarzan will emerge triumphant.
The next two scenes of Burroughs’ tapestry which come to life not unlike the pictures on the tattooed man are as vivid as any scenes Burroughs wrote. The agony of Gunner Patrick when he awakes to find himself alone is palpable. There is even an element of tragedy in his situation if one has sympathy for murderous criminals. Burroughs rather sneers that without his machine gun Patrick is a pathetic figure. But, while the machine gun represents advanced tochnology man’s prowess has always depended on his weapons, whether they be stones, spears and bows and arrows, an old harquebus or the machine gun or stealth bombers and self-guided blockbusters. The fellow with the latest model is always top gun on the block. Without his weapon he is naturally nothing. Even Tarzan would have been a dead man long before this without his father’s knife. What makes Gunner Patrick so reprehensible is that he uses his weapon for injustice rather than justice. Thus without his weapon he is subject to the same injustice he would inflict on others.
Still, he’s our criminal so we have to take his side. One would say he is less criminal than the men who stole Jezebel from him except that out there they live by a different lawless code. As Patrick would say: They ain’t no cops out there.
Law is a matter of the strongest; so Tarzan as the strongest and justest will reestablish Law and Order according to his terms. He acts as the judge and jury which some people with an opposing notion of Law might find offensive or even dangerous to their plans. How much of a coincidence then is it that in Tarzan’s New York Adventure he is stripped of his status as lawgiver and subsumed to a different legal code? No coincidence at all in my mind. The legal decision declaring Tarzan a criminal also showed who was strongest in Hollywood. In fact, in late 1941 and into ’42 Burroughs had been ousted from Hollywood himself, living in exile in Hawaii.
The Golden Girl, Jezebel, had been taken into custody by Capietro but Stabutch has eyes for her. The two men decide to play poker for her, best three out of five. Strange that an Italian and a Russian should be familiar with the quintessential American card game, but there you have it, they were.
Stabutch loses but calls Capietro a cheat.
This scene recalls ERB’s own loss when he and Emma were in transit in Parma, Idaho. While Emma waited upstairs ERB got cleaned of the couple’s last forty dollars in what may very well have been a crooked game. I haven’t played poker a lot but I’ve never been in a straight game, so as a stranger in Parma, the odds are that Burroughs’ game was crooked. He doesn’t say so, of course, but I’d be willing to bet he thought so. The memory was a horrendous one for ERB; it crops up frequently in the corpus. My memory of a Navy game is always with me. In fact, someone I hadn’t seen for forty years brought it up the first thing. These things are like the scar on Tarzan’s forehead.
Capietro and Stabutch fight, one out of one, that Stabutch wins. He then flees with Jezebel. the Gunner who has been gathering his wits above the scene sees the two ride out the gate. He follows in pursuit on foot.
Stabutch and Jezebel put up for the night during which a lion scares their horses away. Hungry the next day, Stabutch stashes the Golden Girl in a tree while he goes hunting. Staking out a water hole he is surprised to see Tarzan drinking. A golden opportunity to accomplish his mission but the strain is too much for his nerves; he misses his shot. Running as fast as he can, Tarzan following torments his victim with a couple of arrows before, as Stabutch begs for his life, putting an arrow through his throat. His throat! I was ready for ‘his black heart’ but was surprised by ‘his throat.’ As a probable surrogate for Stalin who sent him, why his throat? At any rate Tarzan has now completely defeated the Communists; once in Invincible and again here.
Patrick has been miraculously reunited with Jezebel but now all three are captured by the shiftas. The outcome is clear. The faithful Waziri stage a frontal attack on the shifta stockade. Patrick and Jezebel, who have been bound and left in the same tent, free themselves. The hard thing Patrick has been lying on turns out to be ‘his better half’, the machine gun. He then opens up on the shiftas from the rear. No contest.
The final picture in the web then, is the successful bringing together of all the threads and strands which began two thousand years previously in an entirely unrelated event, when Paul was martyred in Rome and Angustus fled for the African hinterland bringing his slave girl with him.
Lord Passmore as it turns out is Tarzan in disguise. He assumed the identity so as not to arouse suspicion. So once again Tarzan displays an effeminate side. A disguise hardly seems necessary for the Big Bwana but as ERB needed the faithful Waziri for the big battle scene finale, perhaps so.
Tarzan at this point seems to be a solo act; there is no hint of Jane awaiting him back in Kenya. Lafe Smith and Lady Barbara are brought together. Thus the bright alter ego of Burroughs is paired up with a member of the English aristocracy who may represent the writer Dorothy Sayers, perhaps a match ERB would have liked in real life.
Already three or four years into his affair with Florence, of which surely Emma was aware, one wonders what she thought when she realized she had been written out of the story. Well, she did turn to drink.
More interestingly, Burroughs’ dark alter ego, Danny ‘Gunner’ Patrick and the Golden Girl, Jezebel are brought together. He is going to leave Chicago taking Jezebel to somewhere in LA to buy a service station. A worthy ambition; for some reason the movie, The Postman Always Rings Twice, pops into my mind. The screenplay for that movie was written by Raymond Chandler who, for no explicable reason, I associate with Burroughs. There must be some similarity between Philip Marlowe and Tarzan. Marlowe did get sapped a lot. Chandler even turns sapping into an art form.
In pairing Jezebel/Florence off with his dark side ERB may be hinting at the direction his relationship with Florence will take. His life with her was certainly different than his life with Emma as he let his hair down and began dressing like quite a dandy, or, perhaps, Lord Passmore.
On that score, in this novel, Burroughs selects his dark side to take the obligatory bashing. One wonders then if he attributes this dark side to the bashing in Toronto. Is he saying that his dark side was the result of the bashing? Did he begin living some sort of double life some few years after he was laid out? Was his character even more erratic than it appears? How much did Emma put up with?
His emphasis on the notion that every man has two characters that may diverge as did Jekyll and Hyde give reason to think so. At any rate the following couple years ERB himself would be leading a double life. As Lafe Smith with Lady Barbara/Emma and as the desperado Danny ‘Gunner’ Patrick with his amour Jezebel/Florence Gilbert Dearholt. Jezebel is certainly appropriately named.
The next two novels explain his own relationship to Florence and Emma. Leopard Men, which I have already reviewed, deals with his opting for Florence while City Of Gold deals with his rejection of Emma. But first some conclusions and organization.
To be concluded in Part 6: Threads and Stands Of The Web
August 2, 2011
Themes And Variations
The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs
#15 Tarzan Triumphant
The Born Again Lafe Smith
The time has come the Walrus said
to speak of many things;
Of shoes and ship and sealing wax
Of cabbages and kings.
And why the sea is boiling hot
And whether pigs have wings.
The learned nonsense of Lewis Carrol was never far from Burroughs’ mind. In the long list of influences Carroll ranks fairly high although more disguised than others. Both adventures of Alice as well as The Hunting Of The Snark formed the backbone of Burroughs’ ideology. Thus the entrance to the Land Of Midian in many ways resembles Alice’s descent into the rabbit hole. The sexual implications of the rabbit hole should be self-evident as is the the entry into the Land of Midian.
The Lafayette of Smith’s name refers of course to the revolutionary Marquis de Lafayette who fought against the monarchy in the American Revolution. Recently General Pershing had repaid the debt when, as he stepped ashore in France he grandly proclaimed: Lafayette, we are here. A famous utterance then and now so that it appears that Burroughs is associating freedom and liberation to his alter ego. He might exclaim as he stepped through the hole: I am Lafayette and I am here.
Smith is studying the geology of the area when he discovers a cleft in the mountain which he enters. In some ways Burroughs old life ended when the Reds invaded Opar. La was forced out into the the real world when her people rebelled because of La’s fixation on Tarzan. The Big Bwana restored her to her throne having destroyed the rebel chiefs. We are led to believe that La reigned happily ever after even though her manifestation as well as Opar disappear from ERB’s dream world. With the death of his old dream world ERB seeks to find another; one which other people cannot enter. Jungle Girl written shortly after this novel provided one such place in the ancient Khmer kingdoms of Cambodia and Thailand.
Thus Midian is a pale reflection of Opar. While the way to Opar was known to the world, indeed, Zveri, Stalin and the Communists as well as many Africans knew of the fabulous wealth of Opar and where the city was located. They didn’t know where the gold was located because in was in Burroughs’ mind.
Having had his dream world violated ERB creates another but this time the location is so remote and the entrance so difficult, although identical to that of Opar, to find that none but his Anima and Animus figures can find it.
Like the great red and gold city of Opar Midian is surrounded by high cliffs but unlike Opar they are unscalable from either side. No casual visitors are going to get in there. Like the actual city of Opar the only entry is through a cleft in the walls. In Opar once through the cleft one climbs a stairway to enter the ruins. Here, led by his interest in geology Smith enters the cleft in the mountain reft by titanic forces ages ago to follow it deep within the mountain wall. To insure that he continues on down the rabbit hole Burroughs sends a lion in after him blocking any exit should he wish to turn back. Thus the lion as Fate is forcing him to his destiny. The role of the lion in the oeuvre remains elusive to me; I fail to grasp the nuances as well as the essence. The lion may be another side of Tarzan, the Lion Man, who is helpful. On the other hand the lion as an expression of Burroughs’ Anima is extremely dangerous and hateful falling beneath Dad’s knife repeatedly, these are usually female. Still a problem for me.
Following the cleft for some way Smith reaches the end which is a very small hole that he can just force his way through. The symbolism of birth is quite clear; the descent from the womb and the breakthrough to the other side through the vagina.
Both aspects of Burroughs’ Anima are already inside Midian. Lady Barbara parachuted there while Jezebel was born there. Thus, it would seem that the La, Jezebel, Balza figure was native to Burroughs’ X chromosome while Jane, Lady Barbara, Rhonda Terry was an acquired image.
Smith will also be joined by the two remaining Animus figures, Gunner Patrick and Tarzan. All five of his Anima/Animus figures that he acknowledges were then functioning in his dream world. This may have represented his brain or the womb or a combination of both. What seems to be clear is that with the destruction and death of his old dream world he is being born again. The resurrection scene will follow.
When Tarzan enters Midian as when he is entering the cleft of Opar it is necessary for him to manipulate his shoulders through by turning them sideways. Thus there is a clear reference to birth.
Perhaps when Burroughs began self-publication he felt as though he were making a break with his past. Leaving McClurg’s and Joe Bray behind, making a new start as it were, he was beginning a new life. That was probably part of it as was the invasion of Opar by his enemies but I’m sure there is personal development involved that isn’t clear to me yet.
Once inside, convinced that the lion is following him although one believes the small hole would have baffled the lion, Smith finds the convenient tree in front of the hole into which he climbs for safety. Then Smith does exactly what Patrick, the dark side of the ego, will do, he goes down to the lake and gorges himself on water. This could be construed as baptism of the born again man; the living water of redemption.
He then meanders in the direction of Midian. As night has fallen the bonfires attract him.
By this time Lady Barbara after a few refreshing skinny dips waiting for her clothes to dry, Burroughs actually writes these strange interludes, finds her way back to Midian. For some strange reason the Midianites pay no attention to her mind boggling miracles, sometimes you can’t buy a thrill, choosing to disregard the apparent will of their god.
She and Jezebel are condemned to be crucified and burned to death. Both have been placed on the crosses with faggots piled round when Smith and his trusty nickel plated .32 burst upon the scene.
Now we have the resurrection of Smith and his Anima figures. The implication is that the trinity have symbolically died and are now resurrected. This is some fancy footwork.
Imagine the scene: Two crosses are erected. The Anima figures are placed on the crosses. As I imagine it there is a space of four to eight feet between the arms. Smith forces a way to a place in fornt of the crosses as he kicks away the burning faggots between the two crosses. Although not on a cross himself he is symbolically so he and Burroughs assume the role of Jesus Christ in the middle while the Anima figures represent the two thieves, one on either side.
Thus we are playing out a reenactment of the Christian crucifixion that will have a different result.
The Christians are pressing in on Smith. This is yet another version of Burroughs’ confrantation with John the Bully on the street corner. Back then he turned and ran. Now Smith is in a quandary. Christ in the same dilemma turned the other cheek saying: Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.
We have all been taught to revere turning the other cheek. Some even attempt to practice the precept. I’m sure the ploy may work from time to time but in nine times out of ten it won’t. That is more or less the dilemma of the Western world today. it is steadfastly trying to turn the other cheek but every time it does a steel-toed boot gets planted on it.
Thus as Smith is dithering a clear cultured English female voice comes down from the cross saying: You’re going to have to shoot to kill, you know. In other words, turning the other cheek is sure death. Burroughs is especially good at surprise twists like this.
Astonished, perhaps thinking the angel of the Lord had spoken to him Smith complies, firing into the crowd. As the joke is that his aim is so poor he couldn’t hit the side of a barn he is fortunate enough to actually kill someone.
Momentarily stunned by the magical weapon but not overawed the crowd pauses long enough to allow Smith to get Lady Barbara down. Thus Burroughs chooses the older more stately aspect of his Anima rather than the Wild Thing, sex kitten. Perhaps as Florence was out of town ERB temporarily shifted bazck to the Jane Anima aspect. Within a matter of weeks or days he will decide on Jezebel/Balza/Florence when Florence unexpectedly returns and he writes Leopard Men in celebration.
Smith succeeds in lowering Lady Barbara but then Jobab challenges the efficacy of his .32. Smith fires at Jobab point blank missing him. Jobab vindicated rushes Smith knocking the gun out of his hand. Lady Barbara scoops it up, places the muzzle against Jobab’s side where he learns the efficacy of the Colt. Thus the Anima and Animus of Burroughs have now killed a man.
This give the crowd pause once again so that Jezebel is lowered and the Trinity run away. The two Anima aspects and Burroughs’ bright Animus are now whole. The confrontation with John the Bully has been resolved.
They attempt to find the opening but in the process wander into North Midian where they are captured by the fair haired, blue eyed, small nosed but no less superstitious North Midians. They manage to escape.
They capture a kid to eat but in the process the goatherd misses it. What the symbolism of eating the ‘lamb’ is escapes me just now. Smith and lady Barbara are recaptured, taken to the village.
In the meantime Tarzan and Patrick enter the crater. Burroughs now has all five of his Anima and Animus figures in the crater. Tarzan separates from Patrick. The latter comes across Jezebel who had escaped the North Midians. The meeting is apparently love at first sight so the Wild Thing Anima and the killer Animus are united. As they are tired they lay down together. You can draw your conclusions but Jezebel appears to be ready for any ‘beautiful’ man who comes along. Whether a comment on Floence isn’t clear however Burroughs in his mind would be seeing her in his Desperado aspect while she would be his Wild Thing or little Flapper girl.
Perhaps with Smith/Lady B ERB is representing his Dr. Jekyll side, his married status while with Jezebel/Patrick he is representing his Hyde side in his affair with Florence Gilbert.
Jezebel and Patrick leave the crater. On the outside they are spotted by Capietro’s men who bash the Burroughs surrogate on the head leaving him for dead while they carry Jezebel off. This would be the same situation with John the Bully or the bashing in Toronto however it may also represent Ashton Dearholt’s taking Florence out of town for a cooling off period.
Burroughs interjects a comedy routine back in North Midian with a lampoon of religosity over whether Paul had yellow hair or black hair. The upshot is that Smith is to die.
However a pair of eyes are watching the scene. An unknown lurker to the North Midians, Tarzan to us. Tarzan’s own role in this story is his battle with Capietro and Stabutch. Otherwise he functions as a deus ex machina– a God from the machine a common feature of Greek drama to resolve an otherwise unresolvable plot point — to get the Anima figure out of difficulty. He does in this case too.
Then leaving he crater Tarzan escorts the pair to his friend Lord Passmore’s safari leaving them there in safety with the faithful Waziri. Then he goes back to deal with Stabutch and Capietro.
Thus Fate and Burroughs go about weaving their web. The similarity to Penelope of the Odyssey is close with the exception that Burroughs does not unravel the previous day’s work. But one is invited to see this story as a series of pictures woven into the tapestry somewhat like the contest between Athene and Arachnae. One might also compare the novel, in the classical mode, to the Shield of Achilles which is decorated around the edge with a series of pictures portraying the life of the Bronze Age. So Burroughs has woven a series of such pictures into his tapestry. A clever idea and well executed. How many people have ever gotten it except for us is open to question.
So far Burroughs has insulted the Jews and ridiculed religion in general and Christianity specifically. He now turns to the strand of Communism, humiliating them in his dreamworld. It is all well that he should take the attack to them but one is surprised that he either didn’t anticipate a counter attack or didn’t anticipate the direction from which it would come if he was even yet aware that his defenses had been overrun by MGM.
The man was playing with fire without an awareness of real life consequences. It would be amusing to know if a copy of Tarzan Triumphant was rushed off to Stalin. One can be sure that the ADL/AJC/MGM combination had an advance copy perhaps even the chapters as they were being written. It is inconceivable that his enemies had no spy within his organization. That is just the way things are done and had to have been done in this instance. The usual mode is to capture the position of secretary through whom all information passes. That means that ERB’s typist may have been the conduit, Cyril Ralph Rothmund or perhaps even both. I’m betting on Rothmund for sure. I would love to see his finances. He may also have been on the ADL/AJC/MGM payroll was well as Burroughs’. Itr was he who negotiated the contract Burroughs signed giving away the control of Tarzan.
The next picture on the web is the reunion of Jezebel and Patrick followed by the battle of Tarzan and the Communists.
To be continued in Part 5: In The Footsteps Of The Lord