November 26, 2008
You Really Turn Me On
Review by R.E. Prindle
Whitcomb, Ian: Rock Odyssey, 1973
I don’t suppose too many people today remember Ian Whitcomb. He surfaced in 1965 with his hit song
‘You Really Turn Me On. In 1965 I was a very old twenty-seven but getting younger every day. I saw Whitcomb once while visiting my wife’s relatives. Her young cousin was watching the Lloyd Thaxton show out of LA. I’d never heard of Lloyd Thaxton either but according to the cousin he was the hottest thing on TV. If I remember correctly the Kinks had just sung Dedicated Follower Of Fashion that I thought was very OK. The Ian came on and did his breathy falsetto androgynous song: You Really Turn Me On. At one point after suggestively fondling the microphone stand he shot down out of sight like a tower from the World Trade Center resurfacing moments later. Pretty startling stuff at a time when nearly every new group was an actual mind blower- The Rolling Stones, Animals, Dave Clark Five and this was just the beginning. More and even stranger and stronger stuff was to follow quickly only to begin a slow fizzle even as it peaked ending in the Rap and stuff that passes for music today. A very old Bob Dylan trying to bring light into the heart of his growing darkness. After the startling sixties came the sedentary seventies. But then Whitcomb disappeared like his fall from the microphone stand and I never saw or heard of him again. A true one hit wonder.
Years later I came across his LP Under A Ragtime Moon. Then I knew why he had disappeared. He was into that English music hall stuff. But then, I didn’t mind that. He sounded quite a bit like one of my personal favorites The Bonzo Dog Doo Wah Band. Of course they didn’t really get that far with that stuff either. You have to be a member of the cult to really dig it. In order to like the Bonzos you have to have a fairly eccentric side to your musical taste. A little out of the mainstream which is where I preferred to live my life. I thought the Bonzos were wonderful, still do. But I was pretty much all alone out there. I liked and like, Neil Innes and the late great Viv Stanshall, two of the Bonzo stalwarts. ‘Legs’ Larry Smith. Ragtime Moon lacked the modern rock foundation the Bonzos infused into their music but to this day I couldn’t tell you whose version of Jollity Farm I’m familiar with. Anyway I have a soft spot for this sort of thing so over the years I’ve played a side of the Bonzos fairly often and dusted off my copy of Ragtime Moon occasionally.
You Really Turn Me On always stuck in my mind, great song. Kinda struck my lost chord and made it gong into the distance. If you’re only going to have one hit you might as well make it a good one. And then for some reason, I don’t know, I googled Whitcomb and saw that he’d written a few books, including this autobiographical sketch cum pop history so, as it was cheap on alibris, I sent for a copy. I was delighted with the volume as I read it through. As biographies go this is one of the better ones, right up there with Wolfman Jack’s not to mention that of that phony Jean-Jacques Rousseau although I stop short at Casanova. Casanova is one hard one to top. As a history of the period it is more balanced and beats the hell out of that crap from the Boys Of ’64.
Ian took offense at being a one hit wonder; he really wanted to be up there with, say, Jim Morrison of the Doors, Mick Jagger, people of that ilk. I have to believe that stories Ian tells are true although some are stunningly improbable but then those things can and do happen that way, you know. It’s all in how you see what goes on around you. Toward the end of the book he’s pondering on where he went wrong, he’s sunk into a fair depression over this, he flees from his apartment in his pajamas one early morning to take a stool in a coffee shop. That’s depression. But, let Ian tell it in his own inimitable fashion. As improbable as it may seem he took a stool next to Jim Morrison who recognized him first.
When ‘Light My Fire’ had reached number one, Jim had gone out and bought a skintight leather outfit. At the Copper Skillet, it wasn’t so skintight anymore.
“How do you do it?” I asked.
“I never dug Jerry And The Pacemakers. How do I do what?”
I wanted to kick myself for bringing up my obsession with pop success, but I plowed on: “How do you stay intellectual and still be a hit with the kids, the masses?”
“You could have done it. You were into the theater of the absurd. I saw you on ‘Shindig’ and ‘Lloyd Thaxton’ goofing off and telling the audience that rock n’ roll was a big joke. That the whole of existence is a big bad joke. You were too comic. Tragedy’s the thing. Western civilization is ending and we don’t even need an earthquake; we’re performing crumble music for the final dance of death and you know what? Truth lies beyond the grave. I’ll pick up the tab.”
I couldn’t have put it better. Ian’s problem was that he was working from a different ethic. He didn’t understand that the singer and the song was the show, the whole show. Nothing else was needed. We were only there to see the singer sing his song. It’s nice to know that Jim and I were watching the same Thaxton show together. If I hadn’t seen Ian on Thaxton I wouldn’t have been as impressed because on that show singer and song were a single projection.
Due to the wonders of the internet I was recently able to catch several versions of Ian’s song but not the Thaxton one. One had him and a half dozen other guys charging around a series of pianos. Completely missed the point of the singer and his song. Not even good entertainment. Ian considered himself an entertainer bacause of a childhood encounter with a music hall comic named O. Stoppit. Fateful encounter. Because of it Ian wanted to be a comic, ended up a singer and as Morrison noted the two were too dissimilar to work.
Ian was probably headed for depression from the age of five or six or so as he came to terms with bombed out London in ’46 or ’47. His biographical sketch is a wonderful tale of a seemingly cheerful man’s descent into a deep depression. By book’s end Ian is nearly out of his mind.
He quotes a psychoanalyst for his definition of depression:
It was the great Serbian psychoanalyst Josef Vilya who concluded that chronic depression is the result of a head on collision between dream and reality. The patient dreams of becoming King but goes on to become a member of the tax paying public.
That’s probably what Morrison meant by tragedy. Life always fails to meet our expectations so that humanity responds by assuming at least a low grade depression that makes comedy an adjunct to tragedy. Thus in the Greek theatre there was a terrifically depressive tragic trilogy followed by some comic relief. The burlesque of an Aristophanes.
Ian’s problem was as Morrison noted that he saw the absurdity of the human condition but was too jokey about it. Absurdity is a serious thing and has to be so treated. O. Stoppit taught Ian a silliness unmixed with tragedy. A tragedy in itself. When silliness such as You Really Turn Me On met the tragedy of a one hit wonder Ian began his descent into depression as Vilya suggested.
I’ve never been depressed myself, never had the blues, but I have visited the lower depths as a tourist so I have some notion of what Ian’s talking about. Dirty Harry in drag. I just never got off the bus that’s all, except once, to walk through Haight-Ashbury where I saw first hand how horrible true depression could be. Boy, did Ian find out about that. Good thing he never found his Debbie.
In his narrative combining grim humor with his developing depression Ian gets off some rippers. I had a good many uproarious belly floppers. Try these few lines. Two good ones in succession. You do have to have the same sense of humor. The North and South are those of England.
These frightening stories of Southern travelers stranded in woebegone depressed cities and suffering under the rough natives. For example a well known Shakespearean actor, having missed the last train out of Crewe, knocked on the door of a hotel. “Er, do you have special terms for actors?” the traveler asked. “Yes- and here’s one: Fuck off!”
And if they weren’t being aggressive, the Northerners were acting daft. One heard of a Lancashire lad down in London demanding another helping of dressed crab (in the shell): “Give us another of them pies- and don’t make the crust so hard.”
Of course Ian can’t do that on every page but laughs are liberally sprinkled throughout the underlying depression.
Ian’s book opens with his youthful encounter with O. Stoppit and ends with another unifying his theme nicely.
In between Ian enters the world of rock almost serendipitously with his one hit song: You Really Turn Me On. After that his story is a search for a sequel that he can never find but which he pursues somewhat as Alice down the rabbit hole. He loved his one brush with fame so much that the clash between his cherished hopes of finding his sequel and the grim reality of not being able plunges him deeper and deeper into depression. Personally I would have gone out and found a songwriter. There were thousands in LA.
However his odyssey, as he calls it, Brave Ulysses ne Ian, led him through the heart and soul of the Golden Age of Rock And Roll from the Beach Boys and Beatles and Rolling Stones through Morrison and the Doors, Procol Harum, Cream, Pink Floyd, Donovan, you know, like that. After that crescendo followed the diminuendo ending in Rap and the current rather laughable music scene.
Ian has encounters with the aforementioned Morrison, Mick Jagger and others. His observations of the social scene are trenchant. He makes an acute observation do in place of a couple hundred pages of twaddle a la Todd Gitlin and Greil Marcus.
Along the way he sprinkles the little known odd fact:
Procol Harum is Latin for ‘beyond these things.’ Have no idea what that has to do with Procol Harum’s music.
…the name Pink Floyd was taken from a record by two Georgia bluesmen named Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. Amaze your friends with that one.
And in conversation with Bobby Vee he confirmed a question about Bob Dylan that I needed confirming:
The afternoon I taped “Hollywood A Go Go” a syndicated TV rock n’ roll show that’s allegedly seen as far away as Rhodesia and Finland. The set was sparse- cameras, lights and a few rostrums. The empty spaces were filled with boys and girls who danced or gazed. All the acts had to lip synch their records. Chubby Checker (the Twist King) was on the set and, when he heard my record he pronounced it “bitching!” Bobby Vee was a special guest and looked every inch a star in his sheeny silk suit. He really had his hand movements and head turns down to an art. We chatted during a break and I brought up the subject of Bob Dylan and my concern about him. To my amazement, Vee told me that Dylan- before he got into the folk kick and when he was plain Bobby Zimmerman back in Minnesota- had played a few gigs with Vee’s band- as pianist! Vee said Dylan was very good, in the Jerry Lee Lewis sytle, but he could only play in C. He said he knew a lot about country music, too. As it was hard to find pianos at their gigs Dylan didn’t play with Vee very long. But as he has fond memories of him and said he was really well versed in current rock n’ roll at the time of their meeting. He had the impression that Dylan was very hip to whatever was happening. ;I wondered if the young Zimmerman had ever been a Bill Haley fan.
So, that would confirm that Dylan did play with Vee in the summer of ’59 after his graduation.
The book is a great read, a very good book, as Ian struggles and fails to find success. In a fit of depression he returns to the seaside pier on which he had seen O. Stoppit. An old poster is hanging that he secures then finding his model’s address he visits him to present him with the poster. O. Stoppit tells him bluntly to stop living in the past. A fine thing to tell a historian but Mr. Stoppit was apparently a blunt, unfeeling brute. Also well past the sunny side of life.
Has Ian ever adjusted to his being a one hit wonder? I’m afraid not. It still rankles. As late as December 1997 in an essay written for American Heritage Magazine Ian quotes a letter from fan Arlene:
Dear Mr. Whitcomb:
I have watched you several times now and I want to say that sure you have talent and you’re magnetic, but why, oh, why, do you screw it all up by horsing around, being coy, by camping, as if you’re embarrassed by show business? You could be great if you found your potential and saw it through, but that would take guts. Instead you mince, and treat it all as big joke. Come on now!
Well, that was the same thing Morrison told him thirty years earlier; the vaccination didn’t take then either.
I think Ian entered his depression early in life, as many of us do. Then one has to face it. Some become phony chipper optimists in their attempt to overcome the conflict between expectations and reality. Some become goofs and jokers. Something I fought for years. Some like Ian become silly. The most extreme type of this I ever saw was Red Skelton the ‘great’ clown who was painful for me to watch. In fact I couldn’t do it. I saw too much of myself in him and ended up hating the bastard.
If Ian wants that second hit and more he has to master his silliness. Weld the singer and the song like greats like Jagger and Morrison. Be to some extent what his fans want. A good sense of humor on songs done with respect for the song, himself and his audience. Scratch Red Skelton. People want to love Ian, just as Ian wants to be loved, but as the saying goes, he won’t let ‘em. I’m not criticizing or demeaning, I know where that’s at too. I am recommending the course of action however. I, Arlene, Jim of blessed memory and others want a sort of closure that has been left hanging.
The book is a great one through Ian’s struggles to come to terms with his times, himself and the future.
The High Brow And The Low Brow
The Mucker And Marcia Of The Doorstep
Living On Tulsa Time
R.E. Prindle, Dugald Warbaby and Dr. Anton Polarion
Livin’ on Tulsa Time.
Livin’ on Tulsa Time.
Gonna set my watch back to it,
‘Cause you know that I’ve been through it,
Livin’ on Tulsa Time.
- Danny Flowers
During the ’60s a lot of energy was put into the notion that one live in the HERE and NOW or someone else’s impression of the NOW. There used to be a big San Francisco poster with nothing but a black background with the giant word IS in white. NOW IS NOW.
They didn’t know how much they were asking. It is impossible to actually live in the NOW; No one can do it. Rather the past is a drag on NOW preventing a full involvement with the present. The period of time it takes to digest the previous NOW and update to an approximate notion of the current NOW is excruciatingly slow. The sharper the break between the past and present the more traumatic the reaction.
In the song Living On Tulsa Time the singer, no matter what time zone he is in sets his watch to Central Tulsa time.
I know where that one is at. One of my shattering breaks with the past was when I went active in the Navy in ’56. Sent from Eastern Standard to Pacific Standard I kept my watch set to Eastern Standard time nearly the whole three years of my enlistment. I only switched to PST in 1959 when I accepted the fact that I would never return East; that California was my new home.
Brought into contact with a new NOW I was still not ready for the present. I continued to dress as we did in ’56 well into the sixties. Got hard to find some new duds. I only ceased dressing that way when I became a Hippie in ’66 and adopted fantastic Hippie garb. I was an urban spaceman:
I’m the Urban Spaceman
I’ve got speed,
I’ve got everything I need.
I don’t feel pleasure,
I don’t feel pain,
If you were to knock me down
I’d just get up again.
I wake up every morning with a smile upon my face.
My natural exuberance spills out all over the place.
I was really NOW there for just a little while but I wasn’t alone. As Bob Dylan said, everytime I looked back the past was just behind. When the Hippie era ended I reverted to a modified 1956 style. The past came back again. All those screaming about living in the NOW in ’67-’69 are still back there claiming they’re still living in the NOW but time has passed them by. I didn’t wait around, baby, I slid out into limbo and I’m doing fine now, thank-you.
Thus when ERB began writing in 1911 he was not so much concerned with his NOW as he was in vindicating his past from 1896 to 1905. His reality in those early novels from 1911 to 1915 continue to reflect his earlier travails. Thus in the group of novels embraced by The Girl From Faris’s he is trying to vindicate his past to his present and hopefully to his future.
After nineteen-fifteen he was released from his past to a large extent and began to concentrate on adjusting to the NOW of his altered circumstances. Change is NOW and ERB was going though a lot of ch-ch-changes. His nerves were jangling as he was jerked from time frame to time frame but he didn’t enter the Promised Land of NOW. Oh Lord, he might have prayed, if he could have seen the future- Deliver me from NOW.
Ten years after and a world of different NOWs the Mucker far in a distant past that had disappeared behind a cloud where he couldn’t see he tackled almost the identical theme in a different world, a fast moving world, a world where NOW was so strange it was unrecognizable from day to day. The political situation he had grown up with was no longer recognizable; it had been replaced by a new reality. He was almost living by two different clocks in some strange Einsteinian time zone where the guide posts had been removed and renamed and everything was relative to another reality that couldn’t be recognized by any clock ticking.
Living on Tulsa time in another time zone. There I was in ERB’s sunny Southland with my watch running three hours ahead of everyone else’s. It didn’t matter. I was on the water where time stands still for everyone. The crisis came in ’58 when I stepped back on land to journey through the time zones back to Eastern Standard Time. I was all alone out there, you know, cut off from a past I was soon to learn couldn’t be retrieved. Wolfe was right, you can never go home again. The only secure place, as dangerous and that was, was my ship. My terminal place was also a realtively secure harbor but I was stuck in the middle for six days between the time zones in which I had no place and no identity except the tenuous one of my leave papers. A queer cop threw them into the wind and let those blow away in Illinois. After that I was naked to the universe. I’ve hated cops ever since.
I wouldn’t recommend hitchhiking to anyone. My life was on the line for twenty-five hundred miles and six days. Twenty-five hundred miles and six days on the road without food or sleep. I’d add without drink but in a gas station in Gary I downed six seven ounce bottles of Coca-Cola in a row. Created a minor sensation.
After surviving a lunatic who picked me up on the western edge of the Mojave who wanted to kill me because he was convinced I had two hundred dollars on me, which by a strange coincidence I had, I was picked up Mountain Standard in the Panhandle of Texas by a couple homosexuals who wanted a different treasure I possessed and dropped off Central Time in Tulsa. My watch was only one ahour ahead by then. I was getting close to some kind of NOW or was I? No. Time is much more relative than that. I was soon to be living a strange combination of NOW and THEN.
Tulsa was a tough town. I don’t need to see Tulsa again. I wasn’t about to start living on Tulsa Time. I was an hour ahead which couldn’t have been better. I had to walk through Tulsa, hungry and thirsty. I spied a place across this great expanse of grass between it and the freeway. As I approached the place began to glitter. Fancy, but I could see a coffee shop at the top of a long flight of stairs to the left. I didn’t want to spend money so I thought I’d just get a glass of water.
Oh Dan, can you see
That great green tree
Where the water’s running free
Just waiting there for you and me.
But between me and the water was this big cowboy in high heeled boots, a tuxedo and ten gallon hat. Fancy goings on as I noticed ladies entering to the right in ball gowns escorted by tuxedos. I came prepared or thought I did. I was in my dress blues and my Uncle Sam told me I should never be ashamed of my uniform, it could pass for a tuxedo anywhere. Anywhere but Tulsa. That cowboy had never discussed the issue with my Uncle Sam.
I was bold but the problem was he had the advantage being on the landing at the top of the stairs and I had to climb the stairs to get past him. He had his fist doubled and these high heeled boots with those silver plates on the toes. That was a mean looking business proposition. I had a lot further to fall than he did. Get my uniform messed up and things. Then where would I be out of time and place? Whew! Why does one have to face tough choices?
I’m getting a drink of water, I said, trying to combine thoughness with masculine geniality a al the cowboy ethic.
Not here you ain’t. He said, making a move to kick me down the stairs.
Hey buddy, this is a tuxedo I’m wearing. I faltered.
His reply was not one of which my Uncle Sam would approve.
I left Tulsa still thirsty not liking cowboys any better than I liked cops. NOW has its perils.
A day or so later I was still in Central Time. Tulsa was a tough place and the rest of Oklahoma was no California. I was heading North now which kept me in the same time zone. Then I made the mistake of crossing the Mississippi into East St. Louis. After just a couple minutes I really liked Tulsa. Wished I was back there.
I don’t know what evil forces made me want to hitchhike across country, damn Jack Kerouac, but I was within a hair’s breadth of being sliced and diced on the streets of East St. Louis. Whould have tossed me in the river as so much driftwood. Three Black guys with switchblades in their hands kept inching toward me while I kept inching closer to the middle of the highway.
That morning some guy got in his car for a pleasant drive to Louisville. He decided ot go through East St. Louis for some mysterious but critical reason. He arrived in East St. Louis just as these three knives were deciding to make their move. This guy sized up the situation from a couple blocks away, slammed on his brakes throwing open the passenger door at the same time shouting ‘Get In’ for God’s sake get in, NOW.’ Novel experience for a hitchiker. I wasn’t sure I wanted to rush because if I made a break for it those three knives might move faster than i could. I hopped in casually casting a smiling glance over my shoulder. The driver peeled out of there nearly separating a hand from the wrist on the door handle. I was saved from that particular NOW and END but I was on the road to Louisville which was still a far cry from Eastern Standard which was the time zone I so ardently desired.
It took me another day or so as I had a lot of North to make up but I did get into Eastern Standard. Now my watch matched the time zone but there was a mismatch between the present and the past. Rather there were two different presents and pasts going on at the same time. Mine and theirs. I don’t think Einstein is right but well, maybe, time wasn’t that relative but the uses they and I were making of past and present sure were.
That’s where memory comes in which makes time and space so relative. I had been absent for two years and what I had been experiencing was much different than what they had been experiencing. They had actually been living on Eastern Standard Time while I was just pretending. I knew I was out of time. For me time had been rapidly changing but for them time had more or less stood still or, rather traveled in a straight line. To me they were still living in the past. Oh, they had aged a couple years but their trajectory was different and slower. Relatively they had stood still while I had rocketed away.
It was as though I had been a gamma cloud burped from some collapsed star in some galaxy a billion light years away. As is known once set in motion an object will travel in a straight line at the same speed unless some other agent interferes with it. It was as though I had been careening through space ripping apart the fabric of time and space or disregarding it completely as though it wasn’t there; at any rate completely unaffected by this fabric which apparently has no tensile strength, there was no gravity of any force that deflected my course in a curve while if space is curved I was traveling so fast I careened right off the curved track.
Who knows how many black holes i passed over without being drawn into the vortex; who knows how many puny suns I swept across without having one atom deflected by the puny gravitational pull of the strongest sun; who knows how many planets I depopulated. One billion light years and running, my speed and trajectory were the same as when I was emitted from that distant star.
Now, as though by some miracle here I was back where I began but in two different time zones at one time. Theirs and mine. Obvious I must have passed through a worm hole or fallen into a memory hole. We stared at each other blankly each unable to comprehend the other. They thought I have become weird,or perhaps weirder, because they had stood still while I had been careening through time and space in timezones they would never know.
I smiled and got on a bus, enough of the adventures of hitchhiking. One the way back to Standard Pacific Time I abandoned Eastern Standard adjusting my watch as I passed through Central Standard and Mountain Standard. I was not exactly living in the NOW but I was in the correct time zone.
Minor but vital adjustment.
So, when ERB caught up with himself in 1914-15 he was no longer living on Tulsa time. He was trying to adjust his watch to his current time zone.
But as he was careening through space and time, space and time was moving at an even more frantic pace so it was difficult for him to get his bearings.
Science was changing his world at a rate faster than the mind could follow. Events in the far off Detroit that he had known and loved as a young fellow were going to affect his life just a few years hence. In 1914 Henry Ford had shocked the industrial, moral and social world by ‘unilaterally’ doubling the wage for unskilled labor.
This was a violation of ‘natural law’ which is to say religious sensibilities. At the time a natural law of labor was believed and incorporated into religion. The law was that if only one man can do a job he can command his price. Skilled labor can demand more than unskilled labor but when anyone can do the job as in unskilled labor they will have to take what is offered. Thus Ford pitted science against serious religious beliefs.
At about this time a Judge in a labor dispute asked the strikers if they didn’t know they were going against God’s will on earth.
This was at the time when the Liberal Coalition was forming and there were strangers in the land, to use John Higham’s expression, who believed they truly represented God’s Will. There is no greater enemy to God’s Will on earth than Science and the Scientific Consciousness. If you recall the so-called Christian Scientists reject scientific medical cures preferring to depend on the Will of God. Apparently it has never occurred to them that a case of a ruptured appendix means God’s Will is death while a simple operation means life.
Nevertheless Ford upset the natural or religious order of things and had to be stopped. Ford himself believed he had discovered a universal law in mass production so that he was actually a prophet of his own new religion. Believing himself in the possession of the truth he acted accordingly seeking to apply his method to each and every problem. Thus when the Great War began it was deemed possible to negotiate with the participants on a personal level to get them to cease hostilities. Ford believed he could do it. The Strangers In The Land who were living on Babylon Time saw their opportunity to pit their religion against Ford’s science and they took it. The Man of Science was in their pocket. They convinced Ford to take a horde of well meaning but naive people to Germany for a confab with the Kaiser. Ford fell for it. This was the famous Peace Ship episode that shredded Ford’s reputation two short years after he had made it.
Ford always maintained that after the ship was at sea the Strangers revealed themselves telling him that only they could change the course of the war. They began it and only they could end it. When he returned home he found the Strangers in charge of the War Industries Board and they and the Wilson Administration were telling him how to run his business. Babylon Time had met the Twentieth Century and found it could make the clock run.
Ford with his universal panacea was not the kind of man to take this sort of thing lying down. Ford Motor Co. had as much cash laying around as Bill Gates and Microsoft does today. Ford put his money to use. These are complex times so I am going to edit out all information that doesn’t pertain to my moral.
Ford believed in his method. By applying it properly he saw no reason he couldn’t solve the age old problem of the Jews here and now. He thought reason would work, poor man, so he bought himself a library of Jewish studies, put his man Bill Cameron on the job to study the library and publish the results in his newspaper, the Dearborn Independent, that he bought to disseminate his reasonable solution to the problem. He made the Dearborn Independent a national newspaper, perhaps the first of its kind. He even had a distribution system handy. He made all his Ford dealers distribute the papers, even out in Hollywood, California.
The Independent made such a noise that the papers couldn’t be given the silent treatment.
The independent appealed to a very large number of people although Liberal historians have given the impression that the paper went unread. The paper didn’t go unread. Out in Hollywood a man named Edgar Rice Burroughs apparently read the paper assiduously. As, why not, even if you don’t agree with the premise of a movie like The Passion Of The Christ that doesn’t mean you don’t go to see it. I used to read The Christian Science Monitor and I’ve never been a Christian Scientist. I used to read the Daily Worker and I’ve never been a Communist. A lot of people did go see the Passion making it one of the most lucrative films in history and lots of people read the Dearborn Independent, even devoured it.
Each week the paper issued a new article exposing the true nature of the ‘Jewish Problem.’ The articles were well researched, reasonable and accurate, but as they criticized a religion, no religion will stand any criticism if they can help it, they were necessarily labeled heretical, infidelic, bigoted, anti-Semitist. In this case you can check anti-Semitist. From this particular religion’s point of view they were anti-Semitic but from a reasonable scientific viewpoint they weren’t and aren’t.
The Jewish reaction was strong and violent. As a member of the Liberal Coalition they called in their allies who branded Ford an anti-Semite and ostracized him. Then Ford was out there all alone. A major campaign of vilification and defamation was conducted against him. All the hypnopaedic media were called into play against Ford. William Fox, the Fox part of the later Twentieth Century-Fox, used his Movietone News shorts to portray every Ford that was in an accident as at fault and unsafe. Now that’s defamation with a capital D. By 1925 it was clear that Ford could use some allies.
Enter Edgar Rice Burroughs and Marcia Of The Doorstep.
As we know Marcia was never published so ERB’s aid was hypothetical. A reasonable question is what evidence do I have for ERB’s intent. I offer Marcia Of The Doorstep as my evidence and certain articles from the Dearborn Independent. As I’ve said before ERB in Marcia exhibits a seemingly involved knowledge of the theatre. I have been puzzled as to where he got it.
I think I may have his source. The original Ford articles were issued weekly beginning in 1920-21 later being collected into a series of four volumes entitled ‘The International Jew’. What I am dealing with here is literature and history. I have no concern in the nature of the Ford articles. My only interest is what Ford and Burroughs understood and how they expressed it. Leave it at that. (It wasn’t left at that. As of 10/27/08 this essay has been censored by being left out my catalog of essays and not mentioned under any of the tags; Old habits are hard to break, I guess.)
Like Burroughs believed, or as Burroughs understood Ford there are two types of Jews. The ordinary Jew who goes about his business and the international Jews who is causing all the mischief. Thus the title International Jew excludes the mass of ordinary Jews and refers only the the International trouble makers. For Burroughs there was the ‘type’ of Max Heimer corresponding the the International Jews and the type of Judge Berlanger representing the ordinary of ‘Good Jew.’
In Volume II of the Interntional Jew there is a series of four atrticles on the American Theatre.
The books themselves have long since been stolen from the libraries and destroyed in an informal kind of censorship but due to the wonders of modern technology they’re available on the internet. The relevant theatre chapters can be fund at the URLs below:
The first is entitled Jewish Control of the American Theatre of 1/121; the second: The Rise of the First Theatrical jewish Trust of 1/8/21; the third: Jewish Aspect of the Movie Problem; and the fourth Jewish Supremacy In The Motion Picture World of 2/19/21. I believe all the necessary theatrical information is contained in these four atircles. All were written in 1921 giving ERB plenty of time to involve himself by 1924.
As you may remember ERB was sent a copy of the Jewish Bill Of Rights in 1919 and it was demanded that he endorse them. Thus there are an additional three articles from Vol. II that may be applicable. They are found at:
While the last three do not reflect on Marcia to a great degree they will provide a better backgrund to ERB’s thinking on the issues as he must have studied them carefully.
It is very probable that ERB coded information into the novel to let Ford know this one was for him. For instance Clara Sackett was probably named after Clara Ford. Could be coincidental but the engineer of the Lady X was named Sorenson while Ford’s Chief Engineer was Charles Sorenson. Given ERB’s obvious connection to the Dearborn independent which Ford would easily have recognized, if he would ever have read the book, I think the references are conclusive.
While on this topic I would also like to point out that when the ban on Tarzan movies was broken in 1926 it was done by the arch ‘anti-Semite’ Joseph Kennedy who owned FBO Studios at the time. FBO was a little later bought by David Sarnoff of RCA who formed RKO. Radio-Keith-Orpheum thus editing Kennedy and FBO out of the picture. Punishment?
Also if you want a lively account of these proceedings check out Upton Sinclair’s self-published Upton Sinclair Presents William Fox. Sinclair’s is a nice first person I Was There type thing plus when William Fox was driven out of the movies, this is really exciting stuff, he went to Sinclair with his story. so Sinclair not only lives through this from a distance but is told part of the story first hand. I just love this stuff.
I am not particularly concerned here with whether the Dearborn Independent articles are true and accurate, although I am sure they are, but my concern is that Burroughs read them, believed them and acted on them. Bearing in mind his contact with the AJC he had no reason to disbelieve the articles.
In the first article ‘Jewish Control Of The American Theatre’, after an introduction that relates Jewish activities in Russia to Jewish activities in the United States a general statement on the theatre is made:
The Theatre has long been a part of the Jewish program for guidance of the public taste (hypnopaedic media) and influencing the public mind…it is the instant ally night by night, week by week of any idea which the ‘power behind the scenes’ wishes to put forth. It is not by accident that in Russia, where they now have scarcely anything else, they still have the Theater, especially revived, stimulated and supported by Jewish-Bolshevists because they believe in the Theater just as they believe in the Press; it is one of the two great means of molding popular opinion.
Cameron should have mentioned movies and song publishing and he would have had the major elements of hypnopaedic conditioning so brilliantly illustrated by Aldous Huxley in his Brave New World.
As we all know Burroughs was opposed to the Bolsheviks; he undoubtedly believed as did any knowledgeable observer that the Bolsheviks were predominantly Jewish. We may believe that he endorses the premises of these article.
Further down (a shortcoming of the internet is that there are no page numbers) the article says:
Down to 1885 the American Theater was in the hands of Gentiles. From 1885 dates the first invasion of Jewish influences. It meant the parting of the ways, and the future historian of the American stage will describe that year with the word “Ichabod.”
Second paragraph below:
About the time that Jewish control appeared, Sheridan, Sothern, McCollough, Madame Junuschek, Mary Anderson, Frank Mayo, John T. Raymond began to pass off the stage.
All that remained after the Hebrew hand fell across the stage were a few artists who had recieved their training under the Gentile school- Julia Marlowe, Tyrone Power, R.D. McLean and a little later Richard Mansfield, Robert Martell. Two of this group remain, and along with Maude Adams they constitute the last flashingsof an era that has gone- an era that apparently leaves no great exemplars to perpetuate it.
There you have the premise of ERB in Marcia and enough history to flesh out the fiction. The old school was gone. ERB then names several players as here. The last surviving exemplar of this tradition is Mark Sackett. But even for Mark there are no plays worthy to perform in. As a member of Abe Finkel’s troupe he condescends to perform in problem plays and the new sex comedy.
The article continues:
“Shakespeare spells ruin”: was the utterance of the Jewish manager. “High brow stuff” is also a Jewish expression. These two sayings, one appealing to the managerial end, the other to the public end of the Theater have formed the epitaph of the classic era.
So there you have the complete story of Mark Sackett.
He was the last of the breed, a fine old Gentile actor of the old school of pre-1885. Corrupted by the Jewish influence on the theatre he accepts demeaning roles.
When he comes in to money he tells Max Heimer that he is going to perform Shakespeare. Max takes the position that ‘Shakespeare spells ruin’ arguing for a Ziegfeld Follies type show, a problem play or a sex comedy which he feels is a surer hope of success than the ‘high brow’ stuff. Straight from the Dearborn Independent.
‘…the rage is for extravaganze and burlesque.’
In this manner was laid the foundation of the latter day Theatrical Trust. The booking firm was that of Klaw and Erlanger, the former a young Jew from Kentucky who had studied law, but drifted into theatrical life as an agent; the latter a young Jew from Cleveland with little education but with experience as an advance agent.
Thus Abe Finkel is probablly the Klaw of Klaw and Erlanger. It may be coincidence but Judge B-erlanger is Erlanger prefaced with a B. thus those two would reprsent Klaw and Erlanger. Another version would be Finkel and Heimer in Hollywood also patterned after the Potash and Perlmutter movies of Samuel Goldwyn.
The trust was resisted just as Mark Sackett resisted.
(From The Rise Of The Theatrical Trust)
The opposition offered by the artists was prolonged and dignified, Francis Wilson, Nat C. Goodman, James A. Herne, James O’Neill, (Eugene O’ Neill’s father) Richard Mansfield, Mrs. Fiske and James K. Hackett stood out for a time…
Mark Sackett held out then in defiance of theatrical wisdom forming a Shakespearean company. This might be seen as a form of the Little Theatre movement which Cameron says developed in reaction to the first Theatrical Trust.
So the basis for the New York and theatrical end of Sackett’s career may be said to have been inspired by the two theatrical articles of Cameron in the Dearborn Independent. ERB probably read them in newspaper form shortly after publication in 1921. Because of the AJC approach to him as well as heightened anxiety over the immigrant question caused by loyalty concerns in the wake of the War Burroughs was especially receptive to Ford’s concerns.
If the germ of the story was conceived in 1921 the concern over Ford’s struggle was becoming difficult by 1924 may have inspired Burroughs to come to his literary aid. Thus we have this story of Marcia which when examined more closely is very involved in post-war Revolutionary and Jewish problems.
While the novel was universally rejected for publication this was undoubtedly because of ADL censors closely watching the publishing industry.
One can’t be certain but it is possible that Burroughs would have been finished in Hollywood but for Kennedy’s FBO Studios breaking the blacklist on Burroughs in 1926. Jewish movies of Tarzan began again in 1927. After 1932s MGM film which in itself may have been a parody to discredit the Big Bwana, the property became so lucrative especially in a Depression Era climate, that movies continued to be made saving Burroughs from complete ruin.
The war on Ford continued. Henry Ford is an interesting figure who, like Burroughs, would continue to be a Judaeo-Communist target into the thirties and forties, to the end of his life and beyond.
Ford zipped into the NOW in the years around 1914 when his Model T transformed America. But then he slipped back into Tulsa Time. The Model T was so successful for him that he failed to keep up with developments in the industry. The Model T remained essentially the same until 1925 when a better Chevrolet overtook the Ford as the best seller.
Ford then did an extraordinary thing that baffled conventional minds. He shut down production for over a year as he designed the new Model A. For this model he revolutionized the industry by designing the V8. The Model A was an instant success reviving Ford’s fortunes but the present and the future were now so commingled, things were changing so fast that the NOW was gone before you sat down to dinner. Constant model changes were now necessary. The world that Ford had created had gotten away from him.
He realized that he had lost his battle with the Jewish establishment. He capitulated in 1927 when Louis Marshall of the Jewish government demanded an ‘apology’ to call off hostilities. Ford told him to write one out and he would sign it. Marshall wrote an abject apology which Ford signed without edits or reading. Marshall then had the ‘apology’ published, bound and sent to every library free of charge. The apology is easier to find than the Dearborn independent articles.
The fracas came to a humiliating end for Ford and the Scientific Consciousness. ERB’s reaction isn’t known, however on December 10, 1929 (ERB Bio Timeline 1920-29) in a letter to his son Hulbert he made these observation on Religion and Science:
A man can be highly religious, he can believe in God and in an omnipotent creator and still square his belief with advanced scientific discoveries, but he cannot have absolute faith in the teachings and belief of any church, of which I have knowledge, and also believe in the accepted scientific theories of the origin of the earth, of animal and vegetable life upon it, or the age of the human race…(Religious) enthusiasms and sincerity never ring true to me and I think there has been no great change in this all down the ages, insofar as fundamentals are concerned. There is just as much intolerance and hyprocrisy as there ever was, and if any church were able to obtain political power today I believe you would see all the tyranny and inustice and oppression which has marked the political ascendency of the church at all times.
You can’t be any more clear sighted than that. Here ERB has clearly and succinctly stated the religious problem of the twentieth century and beyond. His is an objective analysis of facts; religion is a subjective projection of desires and wishes. As he notes science and religion cannot be reconciled. As he goes on to note in the conflict between the objective and subjective, the conscious and unconscious, the tyranny of the unconscious is an unavoidable fact. The question of which religion he fears would impose all the tyranny, injustice and oppression was clearly the Liberal Coalition and more especially the Jewish element of its multi-cultural diversity.
We now come back to Richard Slotkin and his charges against Burroughs as the ‘mastermind’ of My Lai. that an objection was lodged against Burroughs because he was interested in Eugenics can be discarded. People of all political persuasions were interested in Eugenics. If any abuses of Eugenics were made, Burroughs didn’t make them. Besides, it’s a matter of how you interpret Eugenics. The half man, half beast of Stalin is obviously an objectionable use.
On the score of whether Burroughs was an anti-Semitist, which is what Slotkin really means, from a subjective religious point of view that may be so but it is not a question for the religious to decide; they are not competent to do so. Sigmund Freud himself said that religion is a neurosis. (That means a departure from mental health.) If he is to be respected as a scientific genius why shouldn’t we respect his opinion? If religion is a neurosis then it should be treated as a mental disease.
On a Scienfitic basis then is it possible to call Burroughs an anti-Semitist? Clearly not. The man was a clear minded rational human being of great achievement and should be honored as such.
Should his scientific opinions differ from those of a religious bent it is they who must take a back seat not Burroughs.
Slotkin is clearly wrong in his interpretation of Burroughs. Slotkin represents the unconscious rather than the conscious.
For the foregoing reasons then I think that Marcia Of The Doorstep and 1924 was the pivot of ERB’s career. After 1924 it was no longer possible for him to live on Tulsa Time. He came under attack from the Liberal Coalition which was as formidable for him as it was for Henry Ford.
His novels after Marcia reflect this attack. Those novels are perhaps his greatest. Certainly one of the high points where he meets his enemies head on is Tarzan The Invincible that he was forced to publish under his own imprint. The title says it all.
I may be sentimental but I like Marcia Of The Doorstep. I only wish he had had the patience to flesh out the ending.
ERB wrote well in any time zone there was from Babylon Time to Tulsa Time to the NOW.
You know that I’ve been through it
But I just can’t go back to it.
There is no living on Tulsa Time.
NOW is the time.
End of Review
July 9, 2008
Men Like Gods
Tarzan Pays Homage To Heracles
First published in the online Magazine: ERBzine
The Golden Age of Strongmen had captured the imagination of the world between 1890 and 1910….Into the 1920s the strongman continued as a living wonder and inspiring vision that could be had for the modest price of admission
-Ed Spielman: The Mighty Atom:
The Life And Times Of Joseph L. Greenstein
When I was a child and youth in the 1940s and ’50s the legendary strongmen of the turn of the twentieth century were, if no longer living, living legends. At least one, Bernarr Madfadden, the father of American bodybuilding, was still going strong.
The most legendary of the strongmen was Frederick Mueller who was known professionally as the Great Sandow.
In his heyday Sandow was so strong that he was capable of ‘exploding’ or breaking the ‘Test Your Strength’ machines in the arcades of Vienna, Austria. There were so many broken machines that it was thought a vandal was destroying them but when apprehended it was discovered that Sandow was not only testing his own strength but the strength of the machines. He flippantly suggested that they be made of better materials.
On stage as Spielman relates, Sandow, who was trained as a turner, could do a back somersault over a chair with a thirty-five pound dumbbell in each hand. He could do a one arm chin-up with the grip of any of his fingers of either hand, including his thumbs.
He could…wait a minute! I’ve heard something like that before. Oh yea, I remember now. In Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan And The Lion Man he has Tarzan leap up to seize stakes pointing down from a ten foot high wall, then draw himself straight up until his torso was above the stakes, then roll over the top defeating the purpose of the stakes. Was he thinking of the Great Sandow when he wrote that?
I think he was.
Burroughs was a fan of boxing and a great admirer of the strongmen of the Golden Age, although he didn’t like the bulky physiques. He repeatedly denounces the physical build of the Strongmen in preference for Tarzan’s ‘smooth rippling muscles.’ In my day the bodybuilders were ridiculed as being ‘muscle bound.’ But the ladies panted when they said it. Tarzan is as strong or stronger than the strongmen but sleek.
Next one asks is there any place that it can be shown that Burroughs ever saw Sandow? yes, and where else? The Chicago Columbian Exposition of 1893. The Expo was a life changing experience for 17 year-old Ed Burroughs. Bill Hillman of ERBzine has written a wonderful series on the influence of the Fair on young Burroughs.
The influence of the Fair was as moving for the rest of America and the World as it was on Our Man. There apparently has never been so influential a World’s Fair as that of Chicago of 1893.
One of the best attended features of the Fair was put on by the Great Sandow. Bodybuilding had already gotten started in England. Sandow was a student of the innovative Professor Attila in London. He came to the attention of Florenz Ziegfeld while performing in New York. Ziegfeld brought him to Chicago for the Expo. Sandow was a sensation.
He created quite a stir at the fair. Not only did Burroughs see him there but so did a man named Bernarr Macfadden. At the time he was known as Bernard McFadden but he chose Bernarr because it sounded more like a lion’s roar and Macfadden because he thought it looked more distinguished in print. As a result of seeing Sandow Macfadden became the father of bodybuilding and the health movement in the United States. John Dos Passos spoofs him in Vol. III, The Big Money, of the his USA Trilogy.
Macfadden was the discoverer of isometric exercises, which his student, Charles Atlas, renamed Dynamic Tension and made a fortune.
Unless I’m mistaken Macfadden would cross ERB’s path sometime between 1908 to 1912.
Sandow made bodybuilding a rage after the Fair while Macfadden organized the sport around his magazine ‘Physical Culture’ which he began publishing in the wake of the Fair. Sandow also opened the way for a number of strongmen to build careers on their physiques.
They all passed through Chicago. How many of them ERB paid the modest price of admissio to see we can’t know, but as he always speaks of the strongmen in the plural one assumes that he saw several.
Anyone who has watched the Strongest Men In The World competition on cable TV will understand how impressive both the feats and the physiques of these men were.
In ERB’s day a man called Warren Travis Lincoln could lift a platform that held twenty-five men with his back. That was a weight of about 4200 pounds.
G.W. Rolandow could stack three decks of playing cards and tear them in two. One assumes that was before they were plastic coated.
Emil Knaucke who weighed in at five hundred pounds, a spectacle in itself, could hold a car above his head with one hand. Spielman doesn’t specify make or model.
Louis Cyr, one of the most famous strongmen, could restrain a team of horses on either side at the same time. Really spectacular stuff.
A man like Arthur Saxon of the Saxons was considered to be the strongest man in the world. He could do a bent press of nearly five hundred pounds. As in the photo, in the bent press a lifter raised a barbell above his head with one hand in a bent posture then raised another weight with his other hand.
Eighteen ninety to nineteen-ten were formative years for ERB. He would have from fifteen to thirty-five so that when he saw Sandow in ’93 at seventeen he was at a most impressionable age.
ERB turned 40 in 1915 and 50 in 1925.
By the twenties vitamins and food supplements had been discovered and were being developed for commercial use. Vitamins were still novel when I was kid in the late forties. Not everyone knew of their value as late as then.
The Great Sandow, Louis Cyr, and a trio of German strongmen called the Saxons were all naturally strong but by the 20s it was possible to build muscular Adonae from the scratch of a 98 lb. weakling. With vitamins, food supplements and a rigorous regimen for bodybuilding a normal body could be turned into as mammoth a specimen as Tarzan, as witness Arnold Schwarzenegger and his contemporaries who emerged from New York City gyms in the 1960s.
In point of fact you didn’t even need all that gym equipment. If you followed the body building plan of the most famous Adonis of the 40s and 50s, Charles Atlas, all you needed were your own opposed muscles.
Atlas took Macfadden’s isometric exercises and called them the more commercial sounding Dynamic Tension. By pitting one muscle against its opposite fantastic results could be achieved.
Charles Atlas, who changed his name from Angelo Siciliano, was voted the world’s most perfectly developed man in 1922 by his mentor, Macfadden and Physical Culture magazine.
Angelo, born in 1894 in Acri, Sicily came to the US in 1904, thus he would have been 18 in 1922, 18 in 1912.
Siciliano actually had been a 98 lb. weaking who had sand kicked in his face by a bully. His girl friend actually did walk away from him. Siciliano then built himself up into what I’ve always considered to be the image of Tarzan and changed his name to Charles Atlas.
I was not as successful with the Dynamic Tension plan Chuck sold me in the 50s but then I didn’t try that hard and I couldn’t afford the food supplements which are indispensable. Nevertheless it had become possible to turn out ‘Men Like Gods’ on an assembly line basis.
It is more than likely that Burroughs was very familiar with the bodybuilding or fitness program of Macfadden. That photo of him flexing his muscles on the dock at Coldwater is that of a man who has been working out. I can’t beleive that a man who was interested in magazines as Burroughs was couldn’t be familiar with Physical Culture Magazine. Not only would he have the living memory of the Great Sandow in his mind from the Expo but Bernarr Macfadden had moved his headquarters from Battle Creek to Chicago in 1908. He had a very prosperous looking facility.
During these years from 1899 when ERB was bashed in the head in Toronto to 1910 at least, he complainedof excruciating headaches that began when he got up in the morning and lasted through half the day. These would have been very enervating affecting his ability to work. In The Girl From Farris’s he has his hero Ogden Secor suffering from the same headaches going from doctor to doctor ‘tinkering with his skull’ in hopes of finding relief. The doctors could do nothing for Secor so he undertook a fitness regime which eased his situation. So must have ERB.
Once again, the picture of ERB standing with his legs apart flexing his muscles on the dock at Coldwater in 1916 shows that he was either proud of a moderate physique or he was trying to develop those ‘rippling’ muscles like Tarzan and Charles Atlas.
At fifty in 1925 ERB probably thought himself beyond the age when he could develop his physique into a semblance of his creation, Tarzan. Ten or twenty years younger and you might have seen Burroughs as another Charles Atlas or Tarzan.
There is every reason to believe that sometime between 1908 and 1912 he developed an interest in Macfadden’s program.
When he sat down to begin his Tarzan series at the end of 1911, Burroughs’ mind must have been filled with the feats of Sandow and the other strongmen. Anent this, Tarzan’s leopard skin loin cloth was borrowed from the strongmen. Leopard skin shorts were de riguer for the bodybuilding crowd.
Of course the role models for these strongmen were Samson and Heracles. The latter is better known in his Roman usage as Hercules. For the purposes of this essay I will refer to him as Heracles in hs Greek manifestation.
Especially in his original manifestation Heracles was a Sun god as the companion of the Earth Mother, Hera. When the Patriarchal system was imposed on the Matriarchy Hera was wed to Zeus while her former consort, Heracles- The Glory Of Hera- was demoted to the role of Holy Fool and the strngest man in the world.
ERB often refers to Tarzan as a Jungle God and a latter day Hercules. Burroughs had a good Greek and Latin education so one might asume that he had some familiarity with the cycle of myths devoted to the feats and tribulations of that ancient type of all strongmen, Heracles.
In fact, without stretching the point unduly, one can posit a relationship between the Pelasgian Sun God, Heracles and the Flaming God of Opar and through them to Tarzan; they can be construed as one.
Whether ERB was conscious of what he had done in conflating the three cannot be determined for sure but as he was manipulating valid historical data why shouldn’t he have been conscious of what he was doing? The Aztec ritual of tearing the heart out to offer to the sun god is implicit in scenes where Tarzan lies across the sacrificial block, pardon me, altar. The annual sacrifice of the queen’s consort is implicit once again as La raises the sacrificial knife. A blatant resemblance to Cybele and Attis.
While the subconsious is always important it is the conscious mind that organizes, plots and writes. As a writer I may have subconscious motives which may emerge but assembling and organizing my material is a conscious intellectual act. It is axiomatic that one cannot write what one does not know.
One of the great mysteries of mythological studies has been the relationship of Heracles to his namesake the former Matriarchal Earth Goddess, Hera. I noted just previously, during the matriarchy as the Sun, Heracles would have been appropriately called ‘The Glory Of Hera’ or of the Earth. The same notion can be applied to Mesopotamian and Egyptian mythology. For instance, as David Adams points out somewhere, the lion is a symbol of both the sun and the matriarchy. It is a fact that the body of the Sphinx at Memphis is older than the head. The head of the original has been replaced by that of a man. It therefore follows that the Sphinx was carved during the Matriarchy having either a lion’s or a woman’s head. After the succession of the Patriarchy the head was changed to reflect the New Order.
In the Greek Oedipus myth the Theban Sphinx was still represented as the original matriarchal symbol of a lion with a woman’s head. Woman-lion/sun/Heracles. The answer to her riddle after which she committed suicide was ‘man’ which denied the Matriarchy, hence she had to kill herself as the Patriarchy thus symbolically replaced the Matriarchy. Apply that to the Egyptian Sphinx and the change of heads.
Now, the original Egyptian Sphinx was exactly the same as the Theban Sphinx: a woman’s head on a lion’s body. the Sphinx is positioned to be looking due East at sunrise in the Age Of Leo. Thus, perhap, the secret of the Sphinx is simply that as Mother Earth she sat waiting for her consort Heracles (or his Egypian counterpart) to appear on the horizon each morning.
The notion has simplicity to recommend it.
As we all know, Oparians were a group of Atlanteans isolated from the main body when mythical Atlantis broke apart and sank beneath the waves of the Atlantic Ocean. The worship of the Flaming God was inherited from the parent civilization by Opar.
Thus whether Burroughs knew what he was doing or not he always gets the sequence of events right.
Without getting into any discussion of if, where or when Atlantis may have existed, let me say, neverttheless, that all the evidence points to a predecessor civilization anterior to Crete, Pelasgian Greece, Egypt and Mesopotamia in much the same way Atlantis preceded Opar.
The predecessor civilization must have existed in the Mediterranean Basin during the last ice age when ocean levels, scientists tell us, were several hundred feet lower than they are today. There are evidences of quarrying several hundred feet below sea level on the flanks of the island of Malta for instance. Given this as a fact, then when the ice melted and the waters rose during the Great Flood to their present levels any society or civilization that existed in the Mediterranean Basin was forced to move to higher ground which is to say above the present sea level.
One thing is certain, if the Basin was habitable it was inhabited.
The disruption caused a long dark age from which mankind only slowly recovered. At the same time these relatively highly developed people moving into less developed savage societies had a fertilizing influence introducing more sophisticated ideas and methods such as agriculture.
Lower Egypt, one of Two Lands, was obviously settled by the displaced Libyan dynasty. After centuries of warfare the Upper Egyptians succeeded in conquering Lower Egypt uniting the Two Lands. The Third Dynasty was a Libyan Dynasty so that the warfare was translated from an external one to an internal one in which the Libyans defeated the Upper Egyptians. During the Libyan Dynasty the great pyramids were built reflecting in some way the the flooded predecessor civilization.
So Crete and Pelasgian Greece received survivors also. The Sumerians of Mesopotamia attribute their civilization to the advice of Oannes, John in English, who came from the sea.
Often ignored by classical scholars but obviously part of this great Mediterranean culture is ancient Spain. Now, Spain has one of the great traditions of the worship of Heracles as a Sun god. This tradition preceded and was uninfluenced by any Patriarchal tradition from Greece. In point of fact the Patriarchal Heracles went West to annex the Spanish traditions to the Patriarchal cause. In the process he rounded up the cattle of the Sun i.e. the Matriarachal Heracles to bring back to Greece. Throughout history, including modern Africa, lifting another man’s cattle transferred his authority to oneself. See the great cattle raid of Cooley in Irish mythology. It therefore follows that the Greek Patriarchal myths of Heracles are built on an earlier Matriarchal mythological cycle while being perverted or converted to Patriarchal needs.
Heracles was originally a sun god. He was the original of the Flaming God. I can’t say Burroughs knew this either consciously or subconsciously, however as we will see there is substantial evidence to indicate that he was consciously manipulating the material.
The city of Seville in Spain is built over a Sun Temple in which Heracles was the sun deity. This site beneath Seville can still be vistited today. Assuming that the history of the Spanish Heracles developed independently of the Greek Heracles which after all is a Greek interpretation of a Pelasgian god then it follows that the two traditions must have come from a common source. That source cannot have been other than the ante-deluvian civilization of the Mediterranean Basin.
It follows then that whatever names they were known by in this anterior civilization Hera was the Great Mother Goddess while her ‘Glory’ Heracles must be no other than the Flaming God, the Sun. What else could the ‘Glory’ of the Earth Mother be?
Thus when the Great Flood, which must be the same as that spoken of by the Sumerians who would have gotten the story from Oannes, destroyed the civilization of the Mediterranean Basin the inhabitants fled to the former highlands surrounding them taking their traditions with them. The Spanish Heracles was yet identical to the Pelasgian and Cretan models which later became variant.
When the Greeks entered Pelasgia at the beginning of the Arien Age, the Zodiac dates back to the anterior civilization, they found this remnant of the ante-deluvian civilization with immemorial religious traditions occupying the land. As the Arien Age began a great shift in the mental and social organization of man progressed in its evoltuion. The shift was from a Matriarchal consciousness to a Patriarchal consciousness. In other words, the God replaced the Goddess as the most important sex. Fecundation became more important than actual reproduction.
This meant that all the divine myths had to have all the sexual relationships reversed so that the God took precedence over the goddess. Hera could no longer be allowed to have a male god as her subordinate ‘Glory’, the roles had to be reversed. Hera would have to become the dependent of Zeus.
Homer’s Iliad is one key in the story of this reversal.
As Hera was unwillingly made subordinate to her Lord and Master, Zeus, Heracles had to be appropriated by the God. The Patriarchy then turned Heracles into a scourge of Hera and she his enemy in ridicule of the previous dispensation. Kind of a Burroughsian style sly joke.
The meaning of the name Heracles as the glory of Hera was thus lost. Heracles lost his identification with the Sun becoming a buffoon as the greatest of men; a physical giant of somewhat dim intelligence. Hera’s glory was turned into a laughing stock but still a good sort of fellow who could aspire to godhood at death.
In the Patriarchal myths Heracles destroyed various Matriarchal cult centers such as the Hydra at Lerna, the Stymphalian Swamps, the Stag of Artemis, the Nemean Lion and others. His cycle of adventures was involved in replacing the Matriarchal with the Patriarchal sarcastic ‘Glory’ of Hera.
To make a feeble Patriarchal attempt at accounting for the meaning of Heracles’ name Homer tells the following story in book XIX of the Iliad. Zeus, influenced by the goddess Folly, announced to the assembled Gods on Olympus that before the day was out a descendant of his lineage would be born to a mortal woman who would be the greatest man in the world.
Hera, who hated the infidelities of Zeus, heard his proclamation with scorn. She knew her husband but too well. She knew he referred to Alcmene who was bearing Heracles but she also knew that a son was to be born to the wife of Sthenelus who was only seven months pregnant. Sthenelus was of the lineage of Zeus.
Hera rushed off to visit Eileithyia, the goddess of childbirth, to ask her to hasten the birth of Eurytheus while delaying that of Heracles. The former having been born first became the greatest monarch of the age after the Patriarchal fashion but by Matriarchal means.
Hastening back to Alcmene Eileithyia uncrossed her legs allowing Heracles to be the younger son of Zeus born on that day. While Heracles was the bravest and strongest of men he was nevertheless compelled by Hera’s resourcefulness and prompt action to be subservient to Eurystheus. Thus the will of Zeus which could not be averted was perverted by Hera to thwart the Big Guy’s will.
Heracles was still the strongest man alive but he was subordinate to the will of Hera through Eurystheus, portrayed as one of th weakest and most cowardly men of his time hiding behind his mother’s skirts but by the grace of Hera and the matriarchy, the greatest ruler.
Zeus, appalled by his lapse of judgment threw Folly off Olympus from which she is still banned.
In that sardonic manner Homer explained the meaning of Heracles as the glory of Hera. She had used him to Ace Zeus. Heracles had been stripped of his role as the glorious Sun companion of Hera. He comes down to us as the strongest man who ever lived. In the Roman nomenclature of Hercules he became the role model of every strong man who ever lifted a dumbbell. Yet they all wore leopard skin shorts, the leopard being a symbol of the Matriarchy. You can’t fool Mother Nature.
To Burroughs who was a student of Greek mythology the great strongmen of the Golden Age must have appeared as men like gods. Their feats of strength, their marvelous physiques, were so far beyond the abilities of ordinary men that they must have seemed to be in a class by themselves far above mortal men.
In that sense Tarzan is the greatest of the strongmen, above Sandow, Arthur Saxon and even Heracles.
Heracles himself had been demoted to a mere mortal although his legend was so great that he was allowed immortality by the Patriarchy after his mortal death. Unwilling to grant him too much credit he was allowed to be the doorman of Olympus. He held this position throughout the Arien Age being replaced by St. Peter in the New Dispensation of the Piscean Age.
Burroughs, familiar with the mythic cycle of Heracles, however he understood it, plays with both identities of Heracles in the person of Tarzan at Opar. He also brings in a number of elements from H. Rider Haggard’s novel She. There can be no doubt of the influence of Haggard. Burroughs even names his heroine La which is what ‘She’ is designated as in French translations of Haggard’s novel. The palance of Opar is also based to some extent on the labyrinthine caves of She.
There are many literary influences for the creation of Tarzan not least of which are the real life H.M. Stanley and Haggard’s fictional heroes Sir Henry Curtis and Allan Quatermain. I would now like to direct attention to a third, that of the heor of She, Leo Vincey.
If one closely examines Vincey it will be discovered that he too was a Sun King whose death had been caused in an earlier incarnation by She. The cartouche which contains the name of Leo’s distant Egyptian ancestor was translated as ‘The Royal Son Of Ra’ or son of the Sun as in Egyptian mythology Ra is the sun.
Leo also translates from the Latin as Lion so we have the Son of the Sun who also is a Lion Man which is how Burroughs refers to Tarzan in ‘The Invincible’ and undoubtedly as how he always thought of his creation.
Haggard translates Vincey as the Avenger. Tarzan is the ‘Avenger’ or guard of Africa. Haggard describes Vincey as almost inhumanly beautiful while Tarzan is the most handsome man in the world not unlike Charles Atlas.
Haggard’s She is indescribably old kept forever youthful by having bathed in the fire of eternal youth. Hera was also eternally youthful and a virgin queen. She restored her youth and virginity by bathing annually in a holy spring. Hera’s bath obviously refers to the Spring rains which inundated Mother Earth just prior to vegetation springing forth in virgin birth. After the summer heat the vegetation dies down and Earthy Hera becomes barren once more to await her bath and return to virginity.
So a connection can be made between Sun>Heracles>Vincey>Tarzan and Mother Nature>Hera>She>La.
Burroughs La was neither ancient nor immortal in the personal sense although she was the latest in an immortal line of Priestesses. She is a priestess of the Sun or Ra, The Flaming God.
Haggard’s Leo Vincey was the direct descendant of Kallikrates She’s great love of two millennia past. She, or Alyesha, to use her name, had killed Kallicrates in a rage. Kallikrate’s descendants were sworn to avenge the murder. Thus Vincey travels from England to far off Africa to locate this fabulous woman.
Kallikrates was the love of Alyesha’s very long life. When she recognizes Leo Vincey as her lost lost love she saves his life while offering him eternal youth if he will only bathe in the flames of eternal life. He hesitates to do so. To encourage him Alyesha steps once again into the flames which was a serious miscalculation. She crumbled to dust. Thus while Leo Vincey doesn’t actually avenge the death of Kallikrates she is nevertheless his victim.
Tarzan while actually born in Africa was conceived in England so he made the trip to Opar from England although he is ignorant of La. When Tarzan is captured in Opar he is laid on the altar of the Flaming God, La with the sacrifical knife raised, looks down on this Jungle God, this man like a god, and falls in love. Thus we have a replay of the She-Kallikrates situation.
Unable to take Tarzan’s life, La releases him begging him for his love. Alyesha’s full title was She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed in the Matriarchal sense. The old conflict arises, Tarzan is more on the Patriarchal side, he has his moly in the waistband of his loin cloth, monagamous we are led to believe, happily married, so the Lion Man Sun King declines the honor of being mated to La>Hera. He asserts his Patriarchal prerogative to disobey although he always has a soft spot in his heart for La.
In a fairly masterful way ERB conflates the legend of Heracles, the fiction of H. Rider Haggard and the incredible strongmen of the Golden Age and his own little bit to write a charming and beautiful story which is fairly simple on the surface but one which becomes immensely rich with a deeper understanding of the sources.
Ernest Hemmingway once said that before one sat down to write one should have ten time the information in your possession as you put on paper else the story will seem shallow and contrived. It would seem that the sources upon which Burroughs was drawing, from the bodybuilding strongmen of his day to the legendary cycle of Heracles to the adventures of H.M. Stanley and the fiction of H. Rider Haggard might well fulfill Hemingway’s dictum.
When one searches for the sources of Burroughs one finds layer after layer of golden riches while discovering that in fact ERB did indeed create a man like a god- Tarzan The Magnificent.
This is a quote taken from Bonzo Dog’s song Mr. Apollo. I don’t know whether the reader is familiar with the Bonzos but they were one of my favorites. Several glorious LPs. Neil Innes came from them as well as the great but tragic Viv Stanshall. Leave those drugs alone, boys.
Follow Mr. Apollo,
Everybody knows a healthy body
Makes a healthy mind.
Follow Mr. Apollo,
He’s the strongest man the world has ever seen.
If you take his courses
He’ll make you big and rough.
And you can kick the sand right back in their faces.
A few years ago I was a four stone apology-
Today, I am two separate…Gorillas.
Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band
Long may they wave.