December 15, 2012
Marianne Faithfull: The Faerie Queene Of The Sixties
Chaps. 3, 4,5
Of all the performers of the Rock era Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney have been the most successful while I would give the nod of most successful to Jagger. One must admire the way he learned the ropes and then used them to strangle others as he had been strangled. Mick in his own way was the Midnight Rambler and the Street Fighting Man. Don’t think I blame him; you either rule or are ruled. But, one does have to live with the reputation one creates.
Mick began cultivating his image from the beginning. As this story concerns Mick’s relationship to Marianne I will concentrate on aspects of their sexuality. Andrew Loog Oldham made a movie of the Stones’ January 1905 Irish tour. Unfortunately he sold the rights to it along with the Stones 1963-70 master recordings to Allen Klein along with, by the way, the first Marianne Faithfull masters. Klein then became the Stones’ manager.
The movie di8sappeared into Klein’s archives to surface in November 2012 when the Klein estate released it to DVD. It can now be purchased as I did. The DVD features both the Abkco edit and Oldham’s original Director’s Cut.
Mainly a concert film it also features group member interviews and Richards and Jagger cutting up. While they were horsing around they appear to improvise a song with the lyric: I’d rather be with the boys than here with a stupid girl like you.
While Jagger has always cultivated an ambiguous image he has also announced a record of having had sex with four thousand or more different girls. That’s only eighty per annum over fifty years so I imagine that shows an admirable restraint. Yet, at the same time Mick has always been misogynistic while always seeking to emasculate or squash his closer women under his thumb. In fact Mick probably has a domination or emasculation complex. He may have rather been with the boys but in his competition with them he sought to emasculate or squash them too. One of favorite forms of emasculation and domination is to take other men’s women from them.
Thus when he took Jerry Hall from Bryan Ferry he quipped he had to do it to save her from going through life as Jerry Ferry. One winces when one reads of Eric Clapton begging Mick not to take Carla Bruni from him. Mick even took one of Eric’s temps, Catherine James from him.
Mick And Chrissie
When Mick first enters the scene for Andrew Oldham he is in an alley fighting it out with Chrissie Shrimpton, the mode. Jean Shrimpton’s younger sister. If one reads more deeply into that situation it shows a very cruel sadistic streak in Mick, quite shameful in a celebrity of Mick’s first magnitude of brightness.
Chrissie began the relationship as a strong willed girl battered by and battering Mick. In that day before the change in sexual mores girls weren’t quite so sexually open so Chrissie didn’t want her parents to know she was shacking up with Mick. They insisted to Mick that they not. As a humiliation tactic to break the girl down he let it be known to her parents that in his eyes she was little more than a common whore and she and they should see it that way too as he was in fact shacking with her.
Gradually the monster beat her down completely destroying her self-respect then, more than publicly, he broadcast his triumph on records and over the radio with such songs as Stupid Girl and Under My Thumb while their whole circle knew referred to her. Dylan would later use the same tactic against Edie Sedgwick when he wrote Like A Rolling Stone to break her down.
Both Chrissie and her parents believed Mick and she were to marry but laving crushed her beneath his thumb, as it were, with a toss of his curly locks Mick sneeringly walked away adding insult to injury. Cruel in this instance it became psychotic with repeated use.
Years after world got back to Mick that Chrissie had a bundle of his letters, and, now this is unforgivable, without a word to her he immediately set his attorneys on her threatening an expensive law suit while demanding she return his letters. Even though Chrissie had not intended to publish them, still shaking this long after Mick’s brutal treatment, Chrissie without delay forwarded her letters from Mick to him. Shameful.
Mick And Marianne
Mick then turned his attentions to the Guinevere, the Ophelia, the Faerie Queene of pop music, our Marianne. While I’m sure Mick was somewhat enamored with Marianne I’m also sure he had a couple ulterior motives. Marianne was married to John Dunbar at the time while living with Mick so Mick had the pleasure of emasculating and humiliating Dunbar.
At the same time I’m sure he was envious of Marianne’s fame which was probably greater than his at the time. No room in the spotlight for two. He couldn’t stand that Marianne was getting even more press than himself. Thus he undertook to destroy her career. In the process he emasculated her and humiliated her to an astounding degree.
Marianne and Mick were playing with psychologies in a very destructive manner. The events I am going to describe did incalculable damage to their psyches while altering the direction of their subsequent lives dramatically, especially Marianne’s. Of course, few people seem to realize they have a psychology or how it was formed, what expectations they devised. Those hopes and dreams were more especially dashed when they turned to drugs. That was certainly the case with Marianne.
I don’t know how seriously Marianne took here Medieval interest and reading but she was influenced by her Arthurian studies. Like the most or possibly rest of the generation she was also influenced quite heavily by Alice In Wonderland and Peter Pan, probably both books and movies.
The key for the generation in Peter Pan was his refusal to grow up or accept adulthood. It was quite fashionable at the time to pretend that you would always be young, keep in contact with your ‘inner child.’ I was a victim of the psychosis myself.
At any ratge Marianne was influenced by all three. Thus, when she and Mick met she quizzed him extensively on his knowledge of King Arthur to see how much he knew as though that litmus test would seal his fate. Mick passed and Marianne moved in still married to John Dunbar. Thus her life clashed with her Catholic upbringing. At first Marianne had royalties coming in from her records enabling her to maintain a certain independence but gradually the royalty checks decreased making Marianne financially dependent on Mick.
At the same time Mick was under no obligations to Marianne and observed none. How this clashed with Marianne’s Arthurian expectations in an atmosphere of Peter Pan and Alice she doesn’t go into but there must have been a severe disappointment as Mick treated her as a mere possession.
While in California he was the object of desire for all the groupies including the doyenne Miss Pamela- Pamela Des Barres nee Miller- of Frank Zappa’s girl group the GTOs (Girls Totally Ornery or else in reference to the hottest car of the period, the GTO). Miss Pamela as well as the rest of the California groupies studied to come up with better and better more outrageous sexual thrills with which to astonish the boys in the band which easily surpassed the imaginations of the boys in the band including Mick.
Mick returned home and demanded of Marianne that she perform these tricks which astonished Marianne no less than Mick had been astonished. However she believed the tricks degrading. Marianne quite rightly refused to perform them.
But the repertoire of the boys in the band kept expanding so that the home girls were led to view new horizons. Group sex and that sort of thing became the norm.
As with all loosely knit movements or phenomena this sort of reputation brought more and more of the sado-masochistic libertine drug oriented element gradually forcing out the less inclined to sexual erotica just as bad money drives out good money. Rock and Roll became progressively more degenerate from 1964-65 on until it was disgraceful to be associated with it.
Mick and the Stones were leaders of this degeneration whether the Stones embraced sexual sado-masochism personally their public persona was based on it making them leading corruptors of youth and society in general. They did as much or more to change the sexual mores of the present than anyone. Their LP cover for Black and Blue was the apex of this very sado-masochistic misogynistic persona. The cover caused me all kinds of trouble in running my record store.
As one presents oneself so must one be.
The Redlands Bust.
Many psychologically devastating events happened to Marianne in the years from 1967-70. It is very difficult from this perspective to evaluate some of them. One can’t tell how Marianne’s renunciation of her career affected her mind. After all in 1964-65 and 66 she went from just another teenager to superb success far beyond her expectations financially, while becoming the female idol of the England and a phenom in the US- ultimately the Faerie Queen of rock and roll. That’s really only two short years until the Redlands bust.
In those two years she passed through several sexual transmogrifications. She went from virgin to the most outre of sexual practices. Its all very well to say that this was her decision but as Paul McCartney said of his own experience in Miles’ biography it was impossible for him to resist peer pressure, especially in the use of drugs. He was ‘forced’ to try heroin even though he was dead set against.
So peer pressure on Marianne and any young girl to be sexual ‘free spirits’ was impossible unless you were prepared to accept group rejection. The same with drugs that couldn’t be resisted so that when depression set in she ended up addicted to the greatest depression drug available- heroin. It was up to Mick to give what protection he could. Regardless of current sexual nonsense it us up to the man to guide his woman.
Now, the era began in relatively clean-cut innocence . It was never quite so white bread as it is depicted, trying to escape the sleaziness, even then, was no easy matter. Then as the decade wore on it all got worse, then it got disgusting. First pot, pills and amphetamines, then LSD that came on like a hurricane. LSD more than anything else conditioned you for cocaine that in at the end of the decade, at least on the West Coast where I was. Remember that was no national consensus in the US
In 1964 or so when the ‘counter-culture’ hit in the Bay Area it was a very local manifestation not shared by the East Coast the Mid-West or even for that matter LA. LA was never hip in the way the Bay Area was. While the Beatles are credited with introducing long hair, when the Charlatans came down from Virginia City they had hair and they must have been growing it long before the Mop Tops showed up.
The West Coast could not tolerate New York groups. Mafia outfits like the Rascals nee Young Rascals and Vanilla Fudge made the West Coast puke. There really wasn’t any place for The Velvet Underground either. Of course the British groups that had their own sound that really couldn’t compete with that of say, The Doors, an LA group. The LA groups being more commercially oriented pretty much shoved the Bay Area groups aside, although were a couple of real successes. I don’t include freak groups like the Grateful Dead commercial successes. Cults are cults.
But to the point, boy, LSD. Owsley Stanley kept the West supplied and how. By the time of Altamont and Stonewall the atmosphere was really foul. And then it got worse still.
About the time of the Redlands bust society and the police were losing their patience. Kesey and Leary had them terrified. The drug thing kept growing. When one says that marijuana was generational it is true only to the extent that a significant minority of the generation smoked it. The hippies were only a small and despised part of the generation but they, we, made a lot of noise and got a lot of notice. Without the radio, rock and corrupt record companies the Movement probably wouldn’t have broken the bounds of Bohemia. But, the time was ripe for the Bohemian conquest of America. That was led from New York, principally by Andy Warhol.j
The records made the Bohemian life seem very glamorous. Thus the cops focused on groups where actually the greatest drug activity was located and the propaganda the strongest. As the groups began to make good and even big, very big, money they were the natural prey of the drug dealers. And don’t underestimate the role of LSD. The groups also chose to flaunt their drug use- ‘I’ve got to be free to put anything into my body and life I want to’, disdaining the law, the police and actually common decency. This was the case with the Stones and it’s the flaunting, not the use, that got them in trouble.
In 1967 they naturally were set up. Brian Jones in an interview, barroom chat actually, with News Of The World reporters boasted of his drug use. The journalists then attributed the statements to Mick, whether from ignorance or design I leave to your imagination.
When Mick read the article he was indignant. As I said, while Mick and the rockers thought they were big because of records, radio and TV they were actually socially marginal and not particularly appreciated. Musicians get no respect outside their own circle.
Rather than evaluate his situation, considered that he was doing drugs and everyone knew it thus making him an obvious target, he foolishly brought suit against the newspaper. You don’t have to be brilliant to know News Of The World wasn’t going to let that one fly. Hey! Hey! What’d I say! Mick was sleeping or dreaming.
The police wanted to get England’s bad boys anyway. There may or may not have been collusion between the News Of The World and the police but the way the raid was conducted indicates there was.
Shortly before the bust some guy named Schneiderman drops from the sky with a barief case reportedly filled withy whatever you required. Mick, Marianne and Keith and a couple others, I will mention in the next section, were having an LSD weekend at Keith’s house, the Redlands. Schneiderman insinuated himself into the party with his briefcase while probably being in the employ of the News informed them and they in turn notified the police.
For Schneiderman allegedly having a briefcase full of drugs there were remarkably few drugs in evidence at the bust. Jagger was booked only for possession of four pep pills bought legally in Italy, while Keith had no drug charges at all except for being charged with ‘knowingly’ providing a place where pot was smoked. Robert Fraser actually had heroin jacks of his own on him but Schneiderman produced nothing from his briefcase and indeed no drugs were visible in it when the police required him to open it. No drugs were seen only packaging that were assumed to contain drugs by the Bohemians. In any event he hopped the first flight to elsewhere.
While Marianne had no drugs concealed on her person her situation was the most tragic of all. The Faerie Queen would lose her official status.
When the cops came calling the crowd was of course flipped out on LSD but then that was always the danger; the cops would come calling when you’re least prepared to deal with them. Come on, this was just one of the hazards of using illegal substances. And naturally, you tend to be flippant, wise cracking and mocking. Very bad behavior in such a situation when maximum seriousness is the order of the moment. It’s not like everyone didn’t live in fear of being busted. They used to call it deep paranoia.
Marianne whose clothes had become wet from walking in the rain laid them out to dry dressing in nothing more than some sort of rug wrapped around her. Well, what is one to think of a nude woman amongst a bunch of men; what is this Dejeuner Sur L’herbe redux? Even if two thirds of them were screaming fairies as they were, how is one to know that and what to think?
It was said that Marianne let her wrap slip giving the coppers an eyeful. Of course the cops were square and the gang was hip but squares outnumber hips by a very large margin while as Roger Miller sings: Squares make the world go round. And a good thing too. Roger said that hips have too much water for their land; this was a gathering of pretty watery people. Oh, OK, my people, but folks you have to be realistic. That’s what hip means in my book.
And then someone probably at News Of The World concocted the story that Marianne had a Mars bar slipped between her legs and that Mick was grazing away at it. Preposterous, wouldn’t you think? Boy, now that was a blow that will getcha and you’ll be down for a long time too. As might be expected Marianne was devastated. Boy, that opened a lot of anfractuosities in her brain. A hit like two trains running in opposite directions at top speed on the same tracks over a two hundred foot high trestle. That’s a big crash and a long way to tumble, buddy.
It ended any hope Marianne may have had of appearing on a stage. Can you imagine stepping up to the microphone and being showered with Mars bars. Oh no, no,no, better to board a rocket ship for…oops…Mars.
Marianne and Mick may have thought they were handling it well but the bile and psycho-somatic reactions entering the sub-conscious aren’t so easily dismissed. This horror was merely added to their childhood fixations.
In the turmoil of the months succeeding this mind wrenching event fixations would only worsen. Of course the intent of the establishment was not so much to succeed in jailing them but making an example of them while hopefully destroying their careers. The bust should have been career destroying but for the generational gap. When a teacher chastises a student the other students smirk but don’t disown him. After busting Mick and Keith the establishment then went after the more fragile Brian Jones, the guy who got this whole thing rolling by shooting off his mouth. If the three could have been jailed they wouldn’t subsequently have been allowed to enter the US or so it seemed. No one could have forecast the incredible changes that were about to occur that essentially placed the Stones above the law.
Enter Donald Cammell And His Movie Performance
One reads many amusing reasons for the incredible social disintegration of the sixties. One of the most preposterous to come to my attention is the notion that it was caused by lead poisoning.. There’s a hobby horse for you. While I couldn’t rule it out I think lead poisoning would be among the most obscure of reasons. No, the sixties was no more an aberration than was Hitler’s Germany; like the latter it was the result of long historical development, a part of psychological history.
If one reads a good deal with the purpose of understanding the historical background of the sixties things begin to take form. Then if one tries to make one’s intellect rise and float over the information gleaned from that reading patterns will form, a map of the past will appear. Then of course one notes nodes and axons, connections that require further reading and rereading what’s already been read so that a fair approximation of what happened can be more or less confidently stated. Much of it will be subterranean history that doesn’t make it to the history books.
Such is the psycho-sexual mind set that began to develop oh, say, about from 1890 on which a key node from 1900 to 1920. Western understanding of the human mind developed fairly rapidly from the mid-eighteenth century rapidly gaining momentum after say 1860 and the spectacular doing at Paris’ Salpetriere mental hospital under the tutelage of the amazing Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot.
While his investigations were of a psycho-sexual nature they were not perceived as such except perhaps by a transient student by the name of Sigmund Freud. Sometime after Charcot’s studies toward the nineties people calling themselves sexologists, sex therapists and sex magicians began to appear.
Along with Freud who might be called a sex therapist two leading figures slightly earlier than he were the German Richard von Krafft-Ebing (1840-1902) and the Englishman Havelock Ellis (1859-1939). In the academic scientific or pseudo-scientific manner all three made their contributions although Freud managed to incorporate their discoveries or understandings into his system acquiring preeminence in the field.
Goerg Groddeck and Wilhelm Reich, two of Freud’s disciples also gained prominence in the sex therapist field.
On the religious or supernatural side the most prominent and influential of the sex magicians was the so-called Magus Aleister Crowley and his organization of the Golden Dawn.
With the exception of Krafft-Ebing all were out to overturn European sexual mores, designated disparagingly as Victorian. Of course there was never a time when men and women didn’t behave sexually because…well, how could they? The real goal then was to disturb prevailing sexual mores and replace them with sexual license. This essentially came to fruition in the 1960s when the influence of Freud and Crowley were at their peak. The two principal cultural nodes of the US, New York and Los Angeles, were flooded with European Jewish émigrés of the Freudian school while Aleister Crowley had established himself and his Golden Dawn in Los Angeles.
The corrosive sexual mores of Freud and Crowley were aided and abetted by the rise of the equally corrosive drug use and, of course, ‘lead poisoning.’
Our next object then is to discover who Donald Cammel might be.
Searching For Donald
Cammell is the central figure in this little drama so we will begin with him although even though the Stones biographers don’t delve into these other characters they are integral to the social scene of Mick, Marianne and Keith. It appears that Brian Jones, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts served a peripherals to Mick primarily and Mick and Keith secondarily. Oldham tried to make himself a third but apparently was incompatible or other interests pulled him in a different direction. By ‘67 he would be out of the picture.
In Marianne’s biography she makes it sound like Cammell was a stranger to the group while actually he was well known to Bob Fraser, and Chrissie Gibbs who were at the Redlands bust and quite familiar with Mick, Keith and Marianne. They all knew each other before the movie began to be filmed.
Cammell was older than the three being contemporary with the first generations of rockers; he was born in 1934 in Scotland. He came from a well to do family immersed in the occult; his father actually knew Aleister Crowley and wrote a biography of him. One may then assume that his father was something of a sex magician as Marianne’s father was a sexologist. It was impossible to escape Freudian influences from at least 1920 through the fifties. So some reference to repression and the unconscious is inevitable.
Cammell’s father was likely familiar with Krafft-Ebing’s Psychopathia Sexualis with its emphasis on psychotic sexual practices. All the sexologists and magician immersed themselves in bizarre sexual practices. If a reader counters that all sex is legitimate it shows how perverted he or she is. No argument from me, we know where each other stands.
As Cammell was born in ‘34, in ‘44 he would have been 10 and 20 in 1954. Thus he would have been aware of the war between the ages of 4, 5, 6, or so and 10 but perhaps in a muddled and uncomprehending manner but in ‘44 and ‘45 he would have been aware enough to partially comprehend. Certainly when the Big Baby turned Hiroshima to ashes in August of ‘45 something would have registered affecting his mind and outlook.
I was 7 in ‘45 and while I have a clear remembrance of VE Day I don’t have any recollection at all of the Bomb or if I do it had little or no significance to me. I have never had a horror of the A-bomb.
Obviously something other than lead poisoning affected the psyches of the crop of kids from ‘33-’34 to 1942-43. It may have had something to do with the total destruction of the world capped by the Bomb. What a terrific exclamation mark to the end of hostilities. What Cammell’s reaction to this destruction was isn’t clear to me while it probably wasn’t clear to himself.
After the war he experienced rationing during the whole of his teen years. He was probably less affected than others as he became prosperous in his teens on his own as a painter. He was successful as a portrait painter. From the pictures I’ve seen he was more than talented while possibly possessing genius. His mind already exhibited an extreme darkness with sexual confusion easily perceived.
Much of the following information comes from web sites such as the fabulous Another Nickel In The Machine that records the history of London, Sam Umland’s 60X50 and many others. I have not read Umland’s biography of Cammell as yet.
Cammell divorced his first wife and then married a very successful model, the American Deborah Dixon, moving to Paris where they both lived. Cammell apparently was supported by his wife.
Bored with painting, not unlike Andy Warhol, he began to take an interest in film. There is nothing like a movie to exhibit one’s sexual fantasies in real life; indeed a movie is a record of the unconscious. Cammell and Dixon were sexually compatible taking an interest in anything remotely copulatory. Cammell’s first few attempts at filmmaking were not successful or, at least, lacked box office magic.
Along with his lack of interest in painting and his attraction to the movies Cammell gravitated toward the pop world of rock and roll seeking out Jagger. Where was a sexual degenerate to turn? The bad boys of Rock, the Rolling Stones, Mick, Keith and Marianne at least. He found Mick and Marianne’s talked about sexual escapades irresistible. He was undoubtedly attracted by Mick’s dope legend also. Mick claims not to have been an excessive user of drugs, which may be true but I doubt there was anyone at the time who didn’t think he was a heroin addict and druggie par excellence.
As an artist Cammell was acquainted with Bob Fraser and that pop art crowd. Both he and Fraser were known to the infamous crime lords, the Kray Brothers. The Krays, of course, were homosexuals as was Fraser and Gibbs. Mick’s legend is that he is bi-sexual, at least, so there is no reason that he wasn’t sexually involved with the bunch in some manner.
Cammell and Fraser also knew the Satanist and sex magician, The American experimental film maker, Kenneth Anger, as did Mick and Marianne. Fraser introduced Anger to the underground film crowd.
In addition Anita Pallenberg knew Cammell from her pre-Brian Jones, Keith Richard days. She was shown the script in the south of France the year before filming began. So, unless I have seriously misread Marianne’s first auto-biography, Cammell didn’t just show up one day with a movie proposal; it was actually old home week.
Cammell did go on to make an additional three or four movies of which I have seen two, Demon Seed and Wild Side. The last movie has escaped my vigilance so far. Wild Side is a virtual remake or variation of Performance. Demon Seed that I will review in an addendum to Chapter 5 is actually a great movie handling a major sci-fi them to perfection.
Just prior to the beginning of filming in 1968 Mick impregnated Marianne. This is 1968 and if Marianne hadn’t been on the Pill she would have had a number of children now in addition to Nicholas her child by John Dunbar. The question then is why she allowed herself to get pregnant at this time. He was still married to Dunbar so one must think he must have suffered humiliation and emasculation to have another man impregnate his wife. Perhaps Mick’s emasculation genes or maybe just a drug haze.
At any rate Marianne was exiled to Ireland while filming was going on. One can only imagine the anxiety she felt separated from her lover in her condition. One doesn’t have to imagine; she suffered a miscarriage.
In 1967 the English director John Boorman had filmed a movie that took
Cammell’s mind by storm. The movie was Point Blank starring Lee Marvin as the protagonist Walker. Cammell recommended that all the cast see the move and bear it in mind. It might be advantageous to review the movie here.
Point Blank was only Boorman’s second effort. Unsuccessful on release it has apparently become a cult classic. His movie is obviously a dream sequence or nightmare. Nothing is real. This indicated by the hero’s name of Walker. He has only one name, no first. No one even knows what his first name could be. The name seemed significant to me but I hadn’t a clue as to what it could mean. Well, you know, when the student is ready the teacher will appear. While writing this piece I was also reading Denis Machail’s 1941 biography of J.M. Barrie, the author of Peter Pan. There on page 190 was the explanation of Walker. Barrie had written a play titled Walker, London. That was a telegraphic address.
Two impudent jokes in one the second even more mysterious then as it is now. For the word ‘Walker’ is still in the dictionary- “interjection (slang) expressing incredulity and suspicion of being hoaxed” but when was it last used? Not during the present century, one would say; net before that there was a time when it was the very crystalization of Cockney humor. “Walker!” you said, to show that you could never be caught with chaff. It was the standard answer to the attempted leg pull. It was also one of those blessed with with which any comedian could bring down the house.
So now the viewer knows he is being hoaxed and suspend belief. The plot involves Lee Marvin as Walker who takes part in a heist then is shot by partner who runs off with Walker’s share or 93,000 and adding insult to injury Walker’s wife. The rest of the story involves Walker trying to retrieve his money forget the wife. The story is told through a series of frustrations to a paranoid Walker. So, we have a dream study of a frustrated paranoid.
The opening and closing settings are the same. The walking or exercise area inside Alcatraz prison. The joke seemingly being that one walks around and around, never getting anywhere while returning to the same place. Cry “Walker” and then start laughing like a Cockney at the joke.
Alcatraz, the Rock, is of course a small island in the middle of San Francisco Bay between the Golden Gate and the Bay Bridge. Established in 1934 it was closed in 1963, so the filming was done in a closed facility and before the Indians occupied the island claiming it as their heritage. The filming was done, then, in vacated premises.
As a dream story it concerns the psychic life of Walker. It’s all going on inside his head. The prison, castle or house represents the psychic the self so that Walker lives a bleak, barren, paranoid inner life.
A helicopter lands in the enclosure, picks up a package and leaves a bundle of money. Walker and his pal Mall (mal, French for bad) kill the messenger while robbing him. Walker is then examining an empty cell signifying his empty life when Mal with Walker’s wife looking on puts a couple bullets in him leaving him for dead while appropriating Walker’s share of the money and his wife. Thus we have some basic paranoia that, of course, might possibly be true. As his wife would say later, Walker just kind of left her cold.
Left for dead Walker somehow recovers while being compelled to take the only way off the island available to him- swim for it. Another grim joke as legend has it that no one who tried ever succeeded.
The rest of the story concerns surmounting treachery and double crosses Walker encounters in trying to recover his money. He finds his wife, abandons her and takes up with her sister. While he seems a little obsessive-compulsive in the matter, the money in fact represents his lost identity, purpose in life or masculinity. The recovery of the money is central to his personality.
As in the Cockney joke whenever he shows up people exclaim “Walker!” If you’re in on the joke it might be funny. Angie Dickenson makes up the sex interest as Chris as there is no love interest. Just a four letter word in this movie. The three kingpins Walker must knock down are Carter, Brewster and Fairfax. Ironically Carter and Brewster are disposed of by their own team when Walker’s paranoia protects him while the others take the hit meant for him.
The actual climax takes place in Brewster’s house when Walker and Chris have spent the night together, the only consummated sex in the movie. As Walker is walking out the door Chris asks what her last name is. Walker doesn’t know and neither do we. Walker counters, seemingly weakly, does she know his first name. Either check mate or an uproarious joke to Cockneys. But as Walker in joke is a hoax or a put on then it doesn’t matter anyway. Dreams are like that, they follow a different logic than the waking mind.
The denouement returns to the opening at Alcatraz but now Walker is more canny staying out if sight. The drop is made, Brewster calls to him to come get the money. But, as when Walker was supposed to get the money from Carter, after he survived the assassination attempt, the bundle proved to be waste paper, Walker’s paranoia saves him again. A shot rings out and Brewster takes a long off a short pier never to return again. Now enter Fairfax who is the head man and the assassin who shot Carter and Brewster and would have shot Walker. Fairfax shouts Walker several times that in another century would have brought the house down.
Walker’s paranoia prevents him form taking what might be money in the bundle but is probably waste paper so that as the bundle of funny paper represents his ego he is left stranded in the haunted empty house of Alcatraz representing his mind for one presumes the rest of his life.
The movie was a box office failure, except for the few like Cammell but holds up well as a psychological thriller. That is what Cammell saw. So, now, he’s basing his own movie ‘Performance’ directly on Point Blank.
He gathers together essentially the ‘gang’ to make his movie. Even Deborah Dixon took part. He already knew and was friends with James Fox as was apparently Mick, cast as the criminal Chas. Cammell had known Anita Pallenberg in Paris where it is said she formed a brief menage a trois with Cammel and Deborah. Chrissie Gibbs was the set designer…Mick was an old friend, a few outsiders and he had his movie.
Mick sent Marianne to Ireland for the duration. Keith who was shacking with Anita was so unhappy about Cammell’s pairing of Anita with Mick that he found it impossible to visit the set. Instead he brooded outside in his car sending Bob Fraser in to keep tabs until Cammell banned him from the set.
I can’t be sure that Cammell understood the Cockney meaning of Walker but he so admired the character that he based Mick’s role on Walker giving Mick the single name of Turner. No first. Turner is also meant to be significant. A turner is a sort of acrobat. The word could also be used in the sense of changeling, or perhaps in the homosexual sense or turning a man gay. Turner does turn Chas. from a tough guy to a passive fairy, his sort of changeling. Turner changes the tough hoods into faggots. Probably then that is the meaning of the name. So maybe Cammell was in on the Walker joke.
As the movie is permeated by sex magic and sex as a sort of therapy the influence of Krafft-Ebing, Ellis, Freud and especially Aleister Crowley is very apparent. Kenneth Anger was around at the time while being known to all the participants thus reinforcing the Crowley connection.
All the sex therapists were concerned with aberrant sexual practices that the movie concentrates on. Cammell elaborates the sexual implications of Boorman’s Point Blank, while the decaying mansion obviously represent Cammell’s mind. In the end the sex therapy or magick doesn’t seem to work as Turner turns suicidal obsessed with a death wish.
Boorman’s crime angle comes in through Chas. In order for Fox to appear authentic Cammell actually required him to live the criminal life under the tutelage of a mobster, even to the extent of taking part in actual crimes. Of course, madness is theme of the movie but even madness can go too far.
Chas. has offended the criminal chief, based on the Kray Bros., who has commanded a man hunt to track Chas. down. When he is located he is summoned to his execution. Turner says: Don’t leave me, take me where you’re going. Chas. says ‘You don’t want to go where I’m going. Turner: Yes I do. Chas. then blows Turner’s head off, gets into the car and the car drives off as he looks out the window we see Turners face. Thus the turning or change is complete as each becomes the other.
The version now available for purchase or rental is apparently much different from the original. While even the available version is violent and pornographic the original must have anticipated the current pornographic output of Hollywood . While I wouldn’t call Performance tame almost every movie you see today is as or more explicit. At any rate the movie has no redeeming moral value. If you want porn plain and simple, there it is.
The legend has it that the movie changed the lives of the participants. Perhaps so, but perhaps not. Michele Breton was already a lost child and stayed lost. Anita, no stranger to drugs moved into intense familiarity. James Fox, who was criminally mistreated by Cammell, gave up movies for ten years but he says he was already fed up with the seedy side of movie making so perhaps Performance just capped it. Keith, god, what can you say? Who was going to keep him from drugs? If cammell was already inclined toward suicide he topped himself off in 1996 finally taking Keith’s advice.
But, now, Mick and Marianne. Mick was advised to play himself but Marianne wisely overruled that advice perhaps saving Mick’s sanity but still leaving him off balance. Marianne advised him to adopt some of the fey characteristics of Brian Jones character along with some of Keith’s tough stance. Not too difficult as that is the Mick already appeared but it permanently shifted his personality in that skew. Nevertheless Mick has always remained supremely functional.
As to Marianne, how did she relate to Mick’s rejection of her by sending her to Ireland and the subsequent miscarriage of her child. That is a lot of psychological battering. I think that it is certain that as 1968 progressed she was already in a depression and sinking rapidly. While she was able to hold on for another year or so, by 1969 she would be spinning out of control as further events tested the strength of her mind.
Themes And Variations
The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs
#16 TARZAN AND THE LEOPARD MEN
This Silent River Of Mystery And Death
In our hour of darkness,
In our hour of need…
Leopard Men is an exceptionally dark novel. There is nothing about it that isn’t horrific, a sort of Gotterdamerung. There are probably more people killed in this novel than any other of Burroughs’. The threat of rape hangs heavy in the air. Old Timer/Burroughs is going through more major changes trying to burst his chrysalis.
Through it all runs the thread of religion; and not just one religion but three religious systems. There is the animistic religion of the Africans; a Semitic style religion of the Leopard Men and an esoteric interpretation concealed in a gorgeous wealth of symbolism. I will consider the last in Part B.
ERB’s life was reaching a crisis, he had the MGM contract to worry about, his ongoing war with the Reds and now his sexual crisis that had been roiling beneath the surface for nearly fifty years and was about to bubble over. Hence the novel is filled with murky, rasty sexual symbolism welling up from the subconscious disguised as religion.
For supposedly being an escapist writer without either serious purpose or intellectual content when one parses out any of his stories one is amazed that such serious purpose can be successfully disguised as escapist. ERB shares this ability with Homer of the Iliad. Since no one seems to have penetrated beyhond the surface glitter from one hundred years ago to this day I hope I will be pardoned for making the attempt.
ERB’s style of plotting is so diffuse that it is very difficult to grasp the focal point which unites the various strands of his story. In some incredible way he has half a dozen stories running concurrently each with a different point and different conclusion. One has to follow the bouncing ball. In Jewels Of Opar the uniting theme is the story of what happens to the Jewels. In Ant Men one has to follow the trajectory of Tarzan’s locket. In this one the key is Kali Bwana. ERB seems to favor this linking approach.
Leopard Men has two main stories, that of Old Timer and Kali Bwana with its subplots as well as the story of Tarzan And The Leopard Men. As the story opens Tarzan is in Leopard Men territory far from home. One wonders what Tarzan is doing in this country? Naturally Burroughs presents his information on a need to know basis. We apparently don’t need to know until p. 108 when after Tarzan regains his memory from yet another crushing blow to the skull we are told:
During the long day Tarzan’s mind was occupied with many thoughts. He had recalled now why he had come into this country, and he marveled at the coincidence of later events that guided his footsteps along the very paths he had intended on trodding before accident had robbed him of the memory of his purpose. He knew now that depredations by Leopard Men from a far country had caused him to set forth upon a lonely reconnaissance with only the thought of locating their more or less fabled stronghold and temple. That he should be successful in both finding these and reducing one of them was gratifying in the extreme, and he felt thankful now for the accident that had been responsible for those results.
Thus as Tarzan regains his memory he discovers that he had destroyed the stronghold of the Leopard Men. In rescuing Old Timer and Kali Bwana he will also destroy their temple. A good day’s work.
With this story of his quest and triumph we have a second examination of religion, a continuation of the exploration begun in Tarzan Triumphant in the first half of 1931. The reference to the accident that led to these results may be a reference to the incident in Toronto in 1899. He and Emma both believed it resulted in his writing career. Perhaps the signing of the contract with MGM in April may also be inferred to as an ‘accident.’ Much research into his relations with MGM and these critical five or six years of his career is necessary. Certainly by late July and August as he was writing this story the realization of the meaning of the contract he had signed was seeping in. By 1933′s Tarzan And The Lion Man he was fully aware. Subsequent to that discovery he formed an ill advised alliance with his new wife’s ex, Ashton Dearholt, to film the ‘real’ Tarzan. That in its place. For now his troubles were not on the laps of the gods but on the desks of Irving Thalberg and Louis B. Mayer.
If negotiations began on April 4 and were completed and signed on April 15 that means that neither ERB nor Rothmund read the contract very thoughtfully. They certainly didn’t take it to an attorney. As in Lion Man ERB complains of the duplicity of men; he was finding out what the terms of the contract meant. Perhaps in Leopard Men he was getting glimmers of the shape of things to come.
As in Triumphant the two Midian peoples obviously represent Jews and non-Jews, us meaning the Jews and them meaning the rest of the world as per Rabbi Schneerson’s division of mankind into two different species, us and them. I will treat the Utengans as us and the Leopard Men as them which is what ERB intended. The connection of the Leopard Men to the Jews can be established by two references connecting them to Hollywood:
Gato Mgungu had never had the advantages of civilization. (He had never been to Hollywood.)
And on p. 66:
Perhaps his reasons might be obvious to a Hollywood publicity agent.
I’m sure you moved out of the way so ERB’s sarcasm didn’t splash on you.
His letting his contempt for Hollywood which he had suppressed since 1922′s Girl From Hollywood show now and his associating it with Thalberg, Mayer and MGM is evidence of his frustration.
When Van Dyke returned from Africa he brought his gun bearer Riano and the actor who played Renchoro, Mutia, with him for the finishing scenes. It seems likely that ERB would have sought an introduction to these two ‘real’ Africans. One can only imagine what these two bush Negroes who had never conceived a world larger than their own Jungle thought of the twentieth century in the bizarre world of Tinseltown. How did these minds that had probably never seen a wheel prior to Van Dyke’s expedition react to what must have seemed to them a parallel universe straight out of Wells. Place yourself in their position and your head will spin. One wonders, even, having lived naked all their lives, how they reacted to dressing every morning and wearing Western style clothes all day. Did Tarzan’s experience in the shower in Tarzan Goes To New York have anything to do with these two noble savages introduction to civilization? Possibly the reference to Gato Mgungu’s never having been to Hollywood may refer to ERB’s observation of Riano and Mutia.
There is some wonderful stuff going on here. If Hollywood wasn’t centered on pornography and its concomitant degraded sadistic violence with a little imagination they might be able to put together a good movie or two from this material. Do I digress? Ah, then I digress. But back to the story.
As with ‘them’ elsewhere the Utengans are good men going about their business while the ‘us’ or Leopard Men are a destructive force in society. ERB has displaced the two religious systems to Africa where he presents two rather derogatory versions of Africans. He is uncharacteristically derogatory of the Blacks. Perhaps his concentration on so portraying the Africans was the result of his rage at the Scottsboro Boys. On p. 92 he says of the orgy of the Leopard Men:
He saw that religious and alcoholic drunkenness were rapidly robbing them of what few brains and little self-control Nature had vouchsafed them, and he trembled to think of what excesses they might commit when they passed beyond even the restraint of their leaders; nor did the fact that the chiefs, the priests, and the priestesses were becoming as drunk as their followers tend but to aggravate his fears.
ERB in his evolutionary mode had always considered the African to be less evolved but this is subjective observation and not an objective one. The bold statement ‘what few brains and little self-control’ may have been his personal opinion but doesn’t look well in print. I can’t imagine how it got beyond the Ballantine censors. I think it probable that his anger over the Scottsboro affair caused him to lose his customary discretion. In doing so he would be giving fuel to his detractors which it is never wise to do. When it is said that this is his worst novel I believe it is because of passages like this.
One wonders why the delay in the book issuance until 1936 and why then. Among other reasons one may have been that by 1936 the Communist campaign to embarrass the United States over the alleged injustice to the Boys was reaching a peak. Perhaps one intention of ERB was to show by the African example that Negroes were by nature of feeble intelligence and little self-control. If so, risky business for ERB. However throughout the novel a series of Black men is slathering at the mouth to rape Kali Bwana, recalling the train incident of the Scottsboro Boys.
ERB also introduces the concept of religious drunkenness which can exist quite independently of alcohol. Indeed there are many who can maintain a perpetual religious high. The bizarre statements of Rabbis Schneerson and Ginsburg can be attributed to religious drunkenness. In their religious enthusiasm they have certainly set aside reason. So once again a greater depth of thought is revealed than is usually attributed to Burroughs. Just two words- religious drunkenness- reveal a fair amount of thought and study.
During the great storm the Leopard Men catalyze the story by the ritual killing of a Utengan named Nyamwegi. While the storm is raging Tarzan who has taken refuge beside the bole of a great tree has it blown down with one of its great lower branches landing on his head. One admires the tensile strength of the Big Bwana’s skull. Apparently a big eighteen wheeler laden with thirty tons could roll over his head, the only possible result being a temporary loss of memory. Burroughs is going through another period of great stress so Tarzan does wake up in a world he doesn’t recognize.
A Utengan passing by notices the Big Bwana pinned to the ground on his back by the tree, not on his head, thank goodness, but somewhere over his body. No broken bones, luck is still with the Big Guy. As he had his bow and quiver slung over his back as he was pinned one has to think he’s in a fair amount of discomfort. Orando, the Utengan, is about to eliminate Tarzan from the story, which would have left a gap, when he has the suspicion that this might be his Muzimo. Orando had just been praying to his Muzimo to aid him in his hunting, perhaps Muzimo is the hunter after whom this chapter is named, and lo, he now appears. ERB goes to some lengths to demonstrate the superstitious nature of African religion. He really seems to be making an effort to belittle the African in this novel. Orando’s suspicion is confirmed a few moments later when by a series of coincidences Tarzan seems to answer when Orando calls him Muzimo. As Tarzan has no memory of another identity he assumes the role of Orando’s Muzimo. This is really quite well done.
A Muzimo is a sort of guardian angel, a spirit of an ancestor who looks after you. Tarzan really fills the role performing natural- for him- feats that Orando believes are supernatural. Tarzan, or Muzimo, directs the entire successful attack on the Leopard Men’s stronghold.
Tarzan’s role of Muzimo is a story within the story within the story which based on Trader Horn. If one keeps diving we might even find another story within the story. The story of Tarzan as Muzimo is quite independent of the story of Old Timer, the Kid and Kali Bwana. As we will learn when his role of Muzimo ends, Tarzan’s reason for coming to Utenga was to search out the Leopard Men. The fact that Old Timer, Kali Bwana and the Kid are there is mere coincidence. Their stories only become meshed at the Leopard Men’s temple which inadvertantly brings all together. Even then, after regaining his memory, as Burroughs explains, they are of little interest to Tarzan. The connection is only racial which is very weak. Really the devil is in the details; a whole lot of devils.
ERB has established the conflict between the superstition based animistic religion of the majority culture and the horrific satanic religion of his minority culture. He may be ‘fictionizing’ here the real life situation between the Western dominant culture of Christiantity, which he would still believe superstitious, and its recessive Jewish sub-culture. I’m not clear how closely he intends the comparison. At first sight Orando’s mistaking Tarzan for his Muzimo or guardian angel seems ridiculous yet even at this moment seventy percent of Americans believe in guardian angels. The figure would probably have been a few percentage points higher at that time.
Also, the Scopes Monkley Trial in Dayton, Tennessee was as recent as 1925-26, so the conflict between science and superstition in the US was by no means a settled matter. The analogy between African and American culture may be sardonic.
Just as the Utengans probably represent the Christian culture of the West so the Leopard Men may represent the minority Jewish Culture. Just as the Leopard Men had adherents functioning secretly within the majority culture directing affairs so did the Jewish Culture in the West. Just as the Leopard men had organizatonal representatives distributred amongst all the tribes across Africa functioning toward a common goal so Jewish Culture was represented in every culture of the Western world. Just as the witch doctor Sobito manipulated the affairs of the Utengans from within for the benefit of the Leopard Men so the Jewish Culture through the ADL/AJC manipulated Western Culture for its own benefit.
In the twenties and thirties the International Jewish Conspiracy phase of Jewish manipulation was the prevailing fear. The struggle to deny the Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion had not yet been effected although well along.
It seems clear to me that Burroughs always has ulterior motives in his novels. He is not simply telling a story for entertainment. Burroughs must have been puzzled by the attitude of the majority culture. While Science was daily discrediting the supernatural yet the majority of the majority clung to, not so much outmoded religious beliefs, as a religious cast of mind. The belief in Christianity was being steadily eroded as based on superstition yet rather than abandoning religion Americans frantically tried to incorporate science into religion. Thus one has the strong religious quality of Liberalism that encourages the defamation of Christianity yet pursues a religious agenda based on wishful thinking.
It is very strange, more than passing strange, that while Westerners reject Christianity they have reverence for Judaism and Moslemism. While Christianity represents an anterior stage in the psychological development of mankind, the former two are even more primitive, magical and superstitious. One has to laugh out loud at Rabbi Schneerson’s attempt to incorporate genetics into his religious system while the Moslem clerics are unfathomable by both Scientific and Liberal ideas and notions. Yet Liberals attack Christianity while endorsing Judaism and Moslemism.
Burroughs pits his alter-ego Tarzan and the majority against the minority religion launching an all out attack. Tarzan, whose memory is gone, accepts his role as Orando’s Muzimo. Curiously Burroughs describes Tarzan’s tan as so deep that he is the same skin color as Orando yet retains his status as ‘White.’ Possibly Orando was better able to accept Tarzan as his Muzimo because of the skin color. Tarzan becomes Muzimo being in fact Orando’s guardian angel until he regains his memory at which point he becomes again his own man pursuing his own interests. While he is Orando’s Muzimo he is a spectacular guardian angel directing Orando’s quarrel with the Leopard Men to a successful conclusion which as we are told his original intention was the suppression of the Leopard Men.
Tarzan foils the Leopard Men’s advantage in Utenga by exposing the witch doctor Sobito as a Leopard Man as well as the spy Lupingu. He is instrument in the deaths of both. His task is made easier because Orando believes implicitly in whatever his Muzimo says. Thus, while there is a natural explanation for what happens the results appear as genuinely supernatural to Orando and his tribesmen.
This is all handled very cleverly by Burroughs as he lets the reader see what is happening as he also shows Orando’s superstitious interpretation. It’s actually pretty funny.
By following Tarzan/ Muzimo’s advice the Utengans catch the Leopard Men coming back from a ritual orgy while hung over and either kill or scatter them, men, women and children. There was no one left alive in their village. Thus the majority expel their troublesome minority or sub-culture from their midst, perhaps as ERB wished the majority culture of the United States might do with its troublesome minority culture. He may have used Africa as a metaphor for the United States. In any event Leopard Men seems to be a continuation of Triumphant on the religious level while being perhaps the most detailed examination of religion that ERB ever did. But you can see why his Liberal detractors would call this his worst novel.
At the time of writing Leopard Men the most recently issued story was Tarzan The Invincible. Tarzan Triumphant had been written and probably submitted to Blue Book but it wouldn’t be published until 1932-33 while the book edition was published in 1932 so there couldn’t as yet have been a reaction to his portrayal of the two Midian cultures and Abraham son of Abraham and his followers of Paul.
Perhaps ERB found his religious portrayal of Triumphant too clumsy so he refined it in Leopard Men.
Riders On The Storm
If you don’t enter as an initiate you won’t get the story. The symbolism in this story is so strong and complete that it should be a standard psychological textbook. Burroughs writes as though he had just come from a course in esoteric symbolism. He continues this throughout the story too. I don’t know if I can do this justice but I will try.
Burroughs has entered the defining crisis of his life, thus the novel is full of symbols of life, death, sex and regeneration. ERB feels that he is being born again, the butterfly emerging from the cocoon. The very name Kali Bwana is the primary symbol. Kali is the Hindu symbol of life, death and regeneration. Her image is as dark as this story. This story, as it were, emerges from the very bowels of the pit, the viscera of frustrated desires and hopes of their fulfillment. Very frightening actually. I can see how on one level so many people would consider it ERB’s worst. It isn’t easily understandable.. The story deals with primal needs and desires that would drive a man insane. Indeed, Kali Bwana considers Old Timer insane. He himself says that maybe he is crazy. He makes psychotic statements and is on the verge of criminal sexual behavior throughout the book until the very end when he is reformed. This is an extremely violent but regenerative story. Sort of like Walt Disney on steroids.
Kali Bwana is the joy of man’s desiring. A platinum blonde, her beauty apparently disintegrates all men’s self control as she inspires dreams of rape rather than courting. Old Timer himself has rape in mind all through the book. No man or animal in the story every thinks of honoring her femininity; their only thoughts are to violate her beauty to gratify their illicit lustful desires or, perhaps, to cannibalize her beauty and make it their own possession. This is serious stuff.
As Kali she is the mate of Shiva. while Shiva is usually depicted as a handsome young man serenely playing the flute while all goes to hell around him Burroughs represents him as the Leopard god of the cannibalistic, criminal animist or nature cult. Thus, Kali Bwana is captured by the Leopard Men to serve as high priestess to their Leopard god thus forming an Anima and Animus. Burroughs does an excellent job of presenting both the barbaric splendor and degradation of the cult or religion.
The story is set by the book’s opening, one of attempted rape and violence set amidst a terrific storm in a sort of swamp like atmosphere. One feels this is not an ordinary storm but one fraught with significance and meaning. It is a life changing storm.
The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols which I use here for reference is readily available. It discusses storms on p. 941:
The storm is a symbol of a theophany, the manifestation of the awesome and mighty power of God. While it may herald a revelation, it can also be a manifestation of divine anger and sometimes of punishment.
Creative activity is also unleashed in a storm. In a cosmic upheaval beyond the power of words, life itself was born.
And then Burroughs refers to the storm as a hurricane. The Penguin dictionary says this of that, p. 533:
Hurricanes are almost Dionysiac orgies of cosmic energy. They symbolize the ending of one period of time and the beginning of another as tireless Earth repairs the damage.
So now we have the figure of the eternal female, the symbol of birth, death and regeneration coupled with storm and hurricane symbols also denoting major epochal changes. The impact is increased by the whole being expressed in a half dozen pages, very compressed.
It should be noted that Florence Gilbert represents Kali Bwana and Old Timer is obviously ERB. the changes are happening to him. Florence/Kali is both repelled and passive. Perhaps because of the ripening romance between his wife and ERB Ashton Dearholt had taken her on a motor tour removing her from the scene probably hoping separation would end the affir. According to the ERBzine 30s Bio Timeline the Dearholts returned to LA in May just as ERB was completing Triumphant and before he began Leopard Men. If he had been fighting his feelings for Florence her return was obviously more than he could deal with hence this terrific storm and the overwhelming number of female symbols in the novel.
At the same time as the rape attempt the Leopard Men corner Nyamwegi, a Utgengan returning from a date with his girl friend. Amidst the multiple bolts of lightning which illuminate the entire sky and tremendous crashes of thunder the Leopard Men gruesomely and bloodily murder the boy removing body parts.
ERB accentuates the ferocity of the storm and hurricane by saying that the lightning bolts were numerous and continuous, filling the entire sky. The Penguin dictionary, p. 606:
Lightning symbolizes the spark of life and powers of fertilization. It is fire from Heaven, vastly powerful and terrifyingly swift, which may be either life giving or death dealing.
And on p. 607:
As the weapon of Zeus, forged in FIRE (symbol of the intellect) by the Cyclops, lightning is the symbol of intentive and spiritual enlightenment or the sudden flash of inspiration. However, while it enlightens and stirs the spirit, lightning strikes down the drive of unsatisfied and uncontrolled desire…
So after this storm all will be changed; there will be a new Heaven and a new Earth. Kali Bwana has averted personal disaster while Nyamwegi has met his end. Nearby in another part of the forest Tarzan and Nkima crouch beside a forest giant to wait out the storm. Here the hurricane topples the tree uprooting it. Tarzan tosses Nkima out of the way but is himself struck by a branch, one assumes one of the big ones of the lower terrace. Once again the Big Fella is given a case of amnesia so that he is not aware of his racial affinity to the Whites aligning himself with the Blacks.
In another part of the forest, not too far away, Old Timer and the Kid are discussing their fortunes apparently unaware of this massive storm. As Old Timer sets out on the trail of ivory on the morrow he hears a shot which leads him to Kali Bwana. All the elements of the New Day are in place.
The action takes place not only in the forest but in the Ituri Rain Forest, the forest of forests. In Western symolism the forest is where the lost man wanders in search of his redemption. One has to find one’s way out of the forest for personal redemption. Thus Old Timer and Kali lose their way wandering around in the forest hopelessly lost. At one point Old Timer can’t see the constellations to navigate at night. At another the forest is so dark he can’t see the sun to navigate by it. Both he and Kali have to be rescued by Tarzan after he regains his memory.
As David Adams has pointed out Sheeta the panther is always associated with the Anima or female. Usually Sheeta is described as a panther but in this novel Sheeta is the Leopard. The smell of Sheeta is overwhelming throughout this novel. In this case I think we may be sure that Sheeta represents the fear of the feminine. Tarzan and Nkima are inseparable in this novel. Throughout the entire novel Nkima complains about the small of Sheeta who wishes to devour him, in other words, to emasculate him. So Burroughs is afraid of what is happening to him in regards of Florence. When Tarzan recovers consciousness after the battle with the Leopard Men the first thing he does is call Nkima. The little monkey in his place on Tarzan’s shoulder reminds one of the Egypian Ka or double. Tarzan the fearless and Nkima the fearful. Burroughs as a child confronted by John the Bully.
As an aspect of Tarzan’s- and Burroughs’- character Nkima probably represents his more chicken livered side. There is no record of Tarzan ever having fear, he doesn’t even know the meaning of the word, but Burroughs did hence Nkima who knows nothing but fear. Neither Tarzan nor Burroughs have ever been what one would call ladies men hence if not fear of the feminine at least an apprehension of it. As Burroughs is now reaching a major crisis of his life having now to choose either Emma or Florence it is not to be wondered that the forest reeks of Sheeta. Indeed, the Leopard Men themselves are symbols of the feminine and they intend to sacrifice Old Timer. Thus one has the leopard as Leopard god and Kali Bwana as his Leopard goddess.
The tremendous rainfall, itself a symbol of regeneration and fertility from the male sky god would create a steaming swamplike atmosphere as it fell on Mother Earth while the temple of the Leopard God itself was in a crocodile infested swamp.
First the Crocodile as symbol, Penguin p. 244:
The crocodile which carries the Earth on its back, is a divinity of darkness and the Moon, whose greed is like that of the NIGHT which each evening devours the Sun. From civilization to civilization and from age to age the crododile exhibits a high proportion of the countless links in that basic symbolic chain which belongs to the controlling forces of death and rebirth. The crocodile may be a formidable figure, but this is because like all expression of the power of fate, what he displays is inevitable- darkness falling so that daylight may return, death striking so that life may be reborn.
In other words, you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. Poor Emma. Obviously for ERB he is killing his past so that his future may be born.
The temple is in the center of a swamp so deep withing the forest that the sun never shines on it. The swamp is the quintessential female symbol. It is in the Lernean swamp where Heracles has to battle with the Hydra. Hydra=the water of the feminine and the irrational. Each time Heracles cuts off one of the seven heads another grows in its place until he cauterizes each severance with fire, that is the power of the male intellect.
Thus, one has crocodiles, leopards, water, swamp, the river and Stygian darkness. if you can’t rise above the fear of the feminine, you will be swamped, drowned in her waters. The only entrance and exit is this slow moving river is obscured by the forest. This river of mystery and death, this impenentrable forest. The River is the last of the great symbols we will consider, Penguin p. 808:
The symbolism of rivers and running water is simultaneously that of the ‘universal potentiality’ and that of the ‘fluidity of forms’ (Schuan) of fertility, death and revewal. The stream is that of life and death. It may be regarded as flowing down to the sea; as a current against which one swims; or as something to be crossed from one bank to another. Flowing into the sea it is the the gathering of the waters, the return to an undifferentiated state, attaining Nirvana. Swimming against the stream is clearly returning to the divine source, the First Cause. Crossing the river is overcoming an obstacle, separating two realms or conditions, the phenomenal world and the unconditioned state, the world of the senses and the state of non-attachment.
Then this from Burroughs, p. 191:
The sun was sinking behind the western forest, its 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 was plunging westward in 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.
If one looks at this novel from an esoteric symbolic point of view the symbols tell their own story.
As Old Timer says Kali means Woman. At the beginning we have Woman and the Shaggy Man.
I haven’t given the symbolism of the Shaggy Man yet so using the Penguin Dictionary of Symbols again under the heading Rags and Tatters, p. 782:
(Rags And Tatters) are the symbol of anxiety and lesions of the psyche as well as that material poverty which, in folktale, is sometimes adopted as a disguise by princes, princesses and wizards. It denotes simultaneously poverty and anxiety or cloaks inner riches under an appearance of wretchedness, thus displaying the superiority of the inner over the outer self.
Thus Kali- the Woman- the symbol of death, birth and regeneration, and The Shaggy Man or the Frog Prince, the Hero in disguise, waiting to be regenerated by the kiss of the ultimate Woman. A classic fairy tale, actually, with a tip of the hat to David Adams for insisting on the fairy tale connection.
The Man, the Woman, the Storm with a tremendous display of Lightning, Thunder, Wind and Rain completely transforming both the physical and psychic landscapes bringing the Man and the Woman together.
The Woman is then captured by the repressed sexual desire of the Leopard Men who wish to install her as their Goddess. The Woman or Kali is stripped Naked and then adorned with various attributes of the Leopard Cult.
As in various myths, fairytale and folklore stories the Man and the Woman (the Anima and Animus) have been separated by Fate and must fight through all obstacles to be reunited.
Kali (Woman) is led through the teeming, steaming forest with a rope around her neck to the big river down which she is canoed to a smaller stream, ‘the silent river of mystery and death’ in the darkest, swampiest, most crocodile infested part of the darkest of dark forests.
Abandoning all other concerns the Shaggy Man pursues Kali to the village of the Leopard Men where he is taken prisoner, then taken down the silent river (the Styx?) to be sacrificed. By a miracle the two escape only to be separated again while the Shaggy Man is taken back to the temple of the Leopard Men. Kali, Woman, is captured by a Black chief to serve his sexual needs. Rape again. White=Light, Black= Darkness. Thus the ever present threat of rape seems to be about to be fulfilled. But no, the elder wife of the Black chief objects to the White Woman. Out of the pot and into the fire. The Woman is left with Pygmies who are even more vile than the Blacks.
But now a Deus ex-machina, Tarzan, has released the Shaggy Man. Hot in pursuit he follows Woman to the Pygmy camp. He madly attempts rescue which is successful once again because of the Deus ex machina.
It’s not over yet folks. ERB can make any 192 page story go on for a near eternity. Together again Kali and the Shaggy Man are once more torn assunder when the Deus ex machina sends an ape who captures the Shaggy Man. Makes you breathless, doesn’t it? Deus once again reunites the Woman and Shaggy Man. Now, if you will notice the Shaggy Man forces a kiss on Woman. His act of violence shames him so that he finds redemption in his remorse. Thus the kiss of Woman has returned the Frog Prince to his rightful form.
As the story ends the two are about to leave the dark forest for the light of civilization down river.
Thus one has the classic myths- Psyche and Eros, Perseus and Andromeda and many others, numerous fairy tales -Cinderella, one which ERB has used before, and much folklore. It is done very well, too, if you’re following the bouncing ball.
It is noteworthy that the work of another great author is misunderstood too. I refer to the ancient poet Homer. While Homer’s reputation is very great no one understands the Iliad. The adventures of the Gods and Goddesses are beyond the comprehension of classical scholars. Thus they prefer the Odyssey which is written in a more comprehensible if pedestrian style. If I remember correctly the Five Foot Shelf excludes the Iliad while containing the Odyssey. While both are attributed to Homer they must have been written by two different mind sets. The psychology of each is too different to have been written by one mind. Besides the Iliad concerns the middle part of the Siege of Troy while the Odyssey skips all the way to the story of only one of the Returns.
There are similarities in the way Burroughs and Homer tell their stories but to avoid argument Homer is incomparably the greater.
Nevertheless Burroughs has masterfully used a set of symbols to supply a very rich subtext to this story and he has done it intentionally. He does know whereof he speaks. I don’t think there is any doubt that he has studied Esoterica. Probably the topic was of life long interest both in the old kook capitol Chicago and the new kook capitol of Los Angeles. (Kookie, Kookie, lend me your comb.)
There was a lot of esoterica going on in LA. The Golden Dawn of Aleister Crowley was out in the desert at Barstow, Manly Hall was advising the movies on estoteric matters, the Vedantists were established and the Theosophists had a terrific college in LA.
Anybody who thinks ERB wasn’t interested in such things doesn’t know how to spell Edgar Rice Burroughs.
While ERB wouldn’t touch a religious theme unless ‘highly fictionized’ he managed to highly fictionize all manner of religion in this great novel of his mature period. He was working at break neck pace too.
Love this stuff.
On to Part IV which will deal with the cast of characters. Inevitably there’s a certain amount of repitition but I try to cast the stuff in different highlights, crosslights and aspects. This stuff deserves a thorough examination.
May 8, 2011
Tarzan And The River
Edgar Rice Burroughs In Aspic
When ‘Omer smote his bloomin’ lyre,
He’d heard men sing by land and sea:
An’ what ‘e thought ‘e might require,
‘E went and took- the same as me!
The market-girls an’ fishermen,
The shepherds and the sailors, too,
They ‘eard old songs turn up again,
But kept it quiet- same as you!
They knew ‘e stole, ‘e knew they knowed,
They didn’t tell, nor make a fuss,
But winked at ‘Omer down the road.
An’ ’e winked back= the same as us.
I want a dream lover,
So I don’t have to dream alone.
First published in the Burroughs Bulletin
Spring 2003 issue.
As an author Edgar Rice Burroughs belongs to the generation of writers who wrote between the wars. He is or should be placed beside Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Faulkner, Aldous Huxley, P.G. Wodehouse, H.G. Wells, John Dos Passos and John Steinbeck, among others. Further, of all those authors ERB was the best selling writer in the entire world. His reign came to an end in 1939 and then only after his talent was dissipated. This is a remarkable achievement against some very qualified and important writers. One doesn ‘t often hear of Steinbeck societies. Hemingway or any of the others but Burroughs societies exist in many countries around the world.
I consider myself an intellectual and literary snob, yet I acknowledge ERB as important an intellectual and literary figure as any of the savants mentioned above. ERB did not parade his knowledge and savvy as most writers are wont to do. He incorporated a fairly deep understanding of many contemporary issues without a hint of the lamp. Tarzan Triumphant is a case in point. Obviously the two religious groups in the novel refer to Jews and Christians, but there is no reference to either sect. One is left to infer that the Old Testament crowd led by Abraham, son of Abraham, is of the Old Testament while their rivals are New Testament. In so far as ERB allows the story to involve religious discussion, the moral is ‘a pox on both your houses.’
Even more remarkable is that over the writing of the published twenty-one Tarzans before 1940 all the novels are interrelated. ERB was able to keep his Tarzan facts in order over a twenty-seven year period of writing while being involved in the writing of dozens of other books. In point of fact the Tarzan oeuvre is a roman a fleuve- a river novel.
A River novle is a series of novels which traces the course of a nation, people, a family or an an individual over a period of at least decades. The first novel ever written was a River novel, that was the story of the Greek invasion of Troy.
The two surviving complete books of this remakarble story are Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. Moreover, many fragments exist predating the events of the Iliad and after.
Perhaps the most prodigious of all River novels is the Vulgate Lancelot chronicling the adventures of King Arthur and his knights. The story runs on for thousands of pages.
In modern times Alexander Dumas’ five volume epic concerning the adventures of the Three Musketeers constitute a River novel. Trollope wrote two, that of the Pallisers and the Barchester series. The model for the twentieth century was Remembrance Of Things Past by Marcel Proust.
Edgar Rice Burroughs has always been treated frivolously, yet the Tarzan oeuvre is a work of some magnitude which does not compare unfavorably with Proust.
Proust’s work looks backward as he relives his life trying to make order of his psychology. Burroughs’ Tarzan oeuvre records his psychological development on a current basis as it evolves year by year.
ERB’s work is characterized as imaginative fiction while Proust’s is considered realistic fiction. In other words, realistic fiction builds on real life experience in real life situations, while the imaginative writer is compelled to ‘invent’ incidents.
Thus while the realistic writer draws primarily from personal experience and observations, the imaginative writer has to draw from published sources of either fiction or nonfiction or convert real life experiences into symbolic form. The latter is more true of science and fantasy fiction. If the science fiction writers of the forties and fifties hadn’t had a couple thousand years of esoteric literature to draw on there would have been little science fiction. Of course the writers so disguise their sources that without an extensive education in esoteric writings oneself the stories seem incredibly original.
Borrowing from every source is extensive. For instance, Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End is the same story as H.G. Wells’ Food Of The Gods with different detailing. Wells himself extrapolated his story farom Darwin’s Origin Of Species and The Descent Of Man. Darwin of course turned to nature, the ultimate source of suggestion, for his story.
That Burroughs borrowed extensively and sometimes blatantly is of little consequence, especially as his original contributions were so extensive and satisfying. As the opening poem by Kipling indicates, at least he was honest enough to admit of outside influences.
The Russian Quartet, or first four novels, is a tentative beginning to the Tarzan oeuvre. It is possible that the first novel, Tarzan Of The Apes, was just an attempt to express certain ideas about heredity and such related topics that ERB wanted to say with no thought of sequels. The story itself is absurd enough that it seems a miaracle that it was accepted and published. It is perhaps less surprising that it was so readily accepted by the reading public as the great figure of Tarzan rises shining from the pages. One ignores any story telling flaws to get a glimpse of the bronzed forest giant, the great Tarmangani, the jungle god, the Lord of the Jungle, Tarzan. A writer should be so lucky to come up with such an archetypal figure.
Return and Beasts find Burroughs groping for a direction. Beasts is is heavily influenced by H.M. Stanley’s writing on Africa as well as that of Mungo Park, not to mention Edgar Wallace’s Sanders Of The River. The story of Paulevitch’s experience in the jungle was obviously taken from Mungo Park’s Travels In The Interior Of Africa. Beasts itself which also has a lot of Defoe in it, is absurd to the extreme yet somehow redeems itself as one becomes entranced by the outrageous notion of apes and men row-row-rowing their boat down the stream. Somewhere either before the beginning of Beasts or after the end, ERB interweaves the story of Barney Custer and the Mad King and the Eternal Lover to bring his own psychology into the Tarzan character. Thus ERB pictures himself as the Son Of Tarzan in the novel of that name.
Having resolved, after a fashion, his conflicts with this father and somewhere in that tremendous gush of writing having integrated his personality, ERB then turns to himself as the conflicted Animus of Tarzan the Hero and Tarzan the Clown to resolve that psychological dilemma over the next seventeen volumes published during his lifetime.
The Russian Quartet was written over a period of three years. The eight novels between Son and Lost Empire were written over fourteen years. Whether the ‘Lost Empire’ refers to Emma and Opar is open to conjecture. In any event Lost Empire signifies a terminal junction in ERB’s psychology.
Then as the problems of his Animus and Anima resolve themselves ERB rapidly turns out six volumes over four years.
He had difficulty writing Tarzans while struggling with his psychology but wrote quickly once he had made up his mind.
From 1934 in psychologically related volumes to 1938 he published the three additional novels of Quest, Forbidden city and Magnificent. The psychologically relevant Madman was discovered and published in 1964, fourteen years after his death. Perhaps the thought the novel was too personal and painful to publish himself.
As noted “Foreign Legion’ is a propagandistic after thought to the oeuvre.
As ERB didn’t begin writing until he was thirty-six it is fair to say that his writing represents the effort of a mature mind. This is even more evident when one reflects that the majority of the Tarzan oeuvre was written between the ages of forty-one and fifty-eight. Lion Man, which is the culminating volume of ERB’s psychological odyssey was written at the last age.
The novels written between 1930 and 1934 which I consider excellent work and the best of the Tarzan oeuvre are the ones most often dismissed as repetitious. One of the very best, Tarzan And The Leopard Men, is, oddly enough, often dismissed as ‘hack work’. Very strange.
But to return to Opar and move forward from there. From 1912 or 1911 if you consider from the first moment ERB put pen to paper to 1915, things developed very rapidly in ERB’s mind. The rich experience of his lifetime, all his opinions, thoughts and fancies were so compressed within his skull that as I say he erupted with more than the force of Spindletop. It took him three years to cap that gusher and then the flow was strong and steady until 1934 when he realized himself.
Return was written in 1913 when his Anima, La of Opar, first pops up. She then disappears until 1916 when wife Emma apparently sneered at the wealth ERB had laid at her feet. She would not so soon forget the first twelve years of her humiliation.
Her rejection of ERB the Hero must have hurt Burroughs to the quick. Following Return he wrote The Mad King in which after numerous trials and tribulations and after he had disposed of Custer’s inept doppelganger, the Mad King, Barney Custer and the Princess Emma were reconciled. In all likelihood the story was a day-dream of wish fulfillment in the Freudian manner because in The Eternal Lover which followed quickly Barney Custer goes to Tarzan’s Equatorial estate but with his sister Victoria and not the ‘Princess Emma’. His marital relationship is obviously still very troubled. As noted, The Eternal Lover is a myth of the nature of Pysche and Eros, the Anima and Animus.
Interestingly, Boy Jack’s wife, which is to say ERB’s at the end of Son of Tarzan is no longer a princess but the daughter of a general. Emma had apparently been demoted in ERB’s emotions.
In a psychological quandary ERB has Tarzan leave Jane in 1916 to return to Opar and La for more gold to lay at Jane/Emma’s feet. This story is crucial for the rest of the oeuvre. ERB’s dream lover, La, spares his life and offers to marry him or in other words take him away from Jane/Emma. At this point in his life ERB is faithful in body if not in spirit. He declines her offer having his faithful Waziri stagger back to Jane under a load of one hundred twenty pounds of gold each.
Apparently the wealth of Opar of which tons of gold remained to be tapped as well as bushels of the very largest of diamonds (move ahead to the Father of Diamonds in the Forbidden City) is not enough to assuage Jane/Emma’s anger at Ed’s failure for the first twelve years of married life. She rejects ERB’s present income. This must have been a staggering blow for Burroughs who at this point in his life wanted to abandon his clown role for that of the hero.
He had already begun Jungle Tales Of Tarzan, which he managed to finish, otherwise from Jewels of Opar to Tarzan the Untamed there is a hiatus in Tarzan novels for thirty-nine months. For over three years he and Emma were apparently at a stalemate making it impossible for him to write further Tarzan adventures.
When Tarzan returns it is as The Untamed and he and Jane have been separated, possibly for good as Tarzan has no idea where she is; common report is that she is dead.
One may infer that the marriage is all but over. It takes another twenty-three months before Tarzan The Terrible appears. Tarzan goes from Untamed to Terrible. Apparently ERB and Emma are now temporarily reconciled as Tarzan finds Jane in the forgotten land of Pal-ul-don (paladin?) and he, she and Jack go swinging down the jungle trails to return to Equatoria. the family is reunited. But is it?
After the passage of twenty-two months Burroughs follows Terrible with Golden Lion. Now the title Golden Lion is somewhat misleading as the Lion doesn’t play that large a role in the story. The Lion seems to have sprung from Burroughs’ subconscious as a defense against the Lion of Emma. In this story Tarzan leaves Jane for a fairly extended visit to his dream lover, La in Opar. They are together for some time as they adventure into the adjacent lost valley called The Valley Of Diamonds. (Once again, see Tarzan And The Forbidden City.) Possibly the Father of Diamonds represents the Jewel of Great Price which turns out ironically to be a piece of coal. This was after ERB left Emma for Florence.
Golden Lion introduces the great doppelganger of Tarzan, Esteban Miranda. I am absolutely fascinated by this character. Miranda looks, talks and walks so much like Tarzan that not only can’t Jane/Emma tell them apart but Miranda even fools the faithful Waziri.
Golden Lion is paired with Tarzan And The Ant Men. You have to read both to get the whole story.
Esteban Miranda is a London actor, a clown and a cowardly fool. ERB goes to great lengths to deliniate the character of this unpleasant but goofily amiable alter ego.
In the confusion Miranda is captured by a savage tribe of Blacks where he is spared because of his resemblance to Tarzan. He escapes finally although he is a blithering idiot who has lost his memory. Get that! Even Tarzan’s doppelganger loses his memory. I haven’t been able to fugure out ERB’s problems with his memory yet.
He is discovered by the Waziri where he is once again mistaken for the real thing. He is taken to the ranch house where Jane nurses him back to health. Still mistakes him for the real Tarzan, he is about to be embraced lovingly by Jane when the terrible, untamed Tarzan appears through the French windows. Tarzan himself had been off having incredible adventures with the Ant Men returning just in the nick of time.
Here apparently Jane rejects Burroughs the Hero in favor of Burroughs the Clown of the first twelve years of her marriage. This is something which ERB can’t forgive. His resentment turns into a divorce about ten years later.
There is then another long hiatus of approximately forty months before Tarzan returns as Lord of the Jungle with Jane in a very subsidiary role. So in twelve years Burroughs wrote only about five Tarzan novels. Then between 1929 and 1934 he whipped out an additional seven.
The change of pace was caused by the quickening resolution of ERB’s psychological dilemma. He was obviously living his life vicariously as Tarzan.
It is this development of his psychology recorded through Tarzan that makes the oeuvre the most fascinating of River novels.
Let us understand that a writer, any writer, is always discussing his own psychology. this applies both to so-called non-fiction as well as fiction. Properly speaking there is no such thing as non-fiction. The difference between the two is that in non-fiction a writer describes actual events through a prism of so-called objectivity. In other words in writing about Edgar Rice Burroughs I am bound to adhere to the facts of ERB’s life and I cannot invent details to improve the story. However, in actuality I see what my own psychology has prepared me to see. My psychology, that is, in conjunction with my intelligence and emotional perspicuity.
Anyone who has read the autobiography of Frank Harris knows that his favorite adage is that no man can see over the top of his head. Therefore it behooves every man to broaden and develop his experience so that he can stand as tall as possible. In that way he can at least hopefully see over the heads of all his fellows. I was once fortunate enough to try this on a crowded street in Hong Kong where I stood head and shoulders above my fellow Chinese pedestrians. You could see the heads and shoulders of all the American sailors inching slowly along like icebergs in a sea of Chinese.
But seriously, one must develop one’s intelligence and that is exactly what Edgar Rice Burroughs did throughout his life. ERB was an avid reader both of fiction and non-fiction. He makes frequent allusion to Poe, Wells, Doyle and who I think he respects most, Rudyard Kipling. If you have read the great African explorers you will have no difficulty identifying sources. ERB was quick in picking up new titles also. Forbidden City was, I believe, based partially on Digging For Lost African Gods by Byron Khun de Protok published in 1926.
ERB was also forced to respond to hectoring outside criticism. I’m sure he little knew the effect that the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 would have on him personally, but by 1933′s Leopard Men he was thrown on the defensive by what H.G. Wells called the ‘Open Conspiracy’ or the Red Revolution. I will deal with it in the last essay in our series called ‘Star Begotten.’
All of Burroughs stories are many layered if you care to look beyond the surface details. After Golden Lion ERB develops a whole jungle family of attendant animals which follow him through all the stories. Each novel is merely one episode in the life of Tarzan/Burroughs and each leads to the next novel in true River fashion.
This is wonderful stuff. There is no difficulty understanding why Burroughs was the best selling author of his time.
After recording the difficulties of reconciling himself with Emma from 1916 to 1928 ERB reluctantly threw in the towel when he wrote Tarzan And The Lost Empire. The double entendre of the lost empire is explicit in between the lines. It is not only the Lost Empire deep in the Heart Of Darkness but also his dream of building a great empire with Emma. The dissolution of his marriage and his search for a real live La of Opar begins with the book.
At this point he has also come under attack by the Reds who cannot tolerate the success of a Conservative writer. Consolidating rapidly from 1917 to 1923, by this time the Revolution was in control of publishing. They could deny access to new conservative writers, creating the myth that all the best new writers were Communist in faith, but they still had to destroy the reputations of older, non-conforming writers.
I don’t know that any studies have been made of literary or journalistic attacks on ERB, but he responds as though there were many. In 1929 he took time out from his personal psychology to write a major counter-attack against the Revolution with Tarzan At The Earth’s Core.
While this may appear to be simply a critique of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, in fact Einstein was as much a political figure as a scientific one. Both he and Freud were prominent agents of the ‘Open Conspiracy’ along with that literary political agent, H.G. Wells, so that Earth’s Core is a counter-attack on his detractors.
Then in quick succession ERB turned out Tarzan the Invicinble, (watch the titles) Tarzan Triumphant, Tarzan And The City Of Gold, Tarzan And The Leopard Men and Tarzan And The Lion Man.
After a long struggle Burroughs quickly resolved his psychological dilemma. He rectified his Animus, disposing of the clown side of his nature while at the same time reconciling his Anima. He divorced Emma while marrying what he fancied was a La of Opar in Florence. The final conflict with Emma is recorded in City Of Gold. The basic idea for City was probably borrowed from Bulfinch’s The Legends Of Charlemagne. In Legends, an enchantress has captured many of the leading palladins of Charlemagne which she has imprisoned in a city of gold. The medieval writers borrowed the story of Odysseus and Circe from Homer.
In Burroughs’ story the enchantress Nemone has ‘captured’ a bemused Tarzan who may escape any time he chooses but he elects to stay around to see what will happen.
Lion Man is notable for the way Burroughs blends psychology, fiction, the movies and how the movies affect the perception of reality of movie-goers. Film, which was developed during Burroughs’ young manhood, had a profound effect on the movie-goer’s ability to distinguish real life from movie fantasy. Burroughs was qite precocious in understanding this. There are earlier references to the matter in his work but here he gives it a full scale examination, both as when the fictional Tarzan replaces the even more fictional Obroski in Africa and when as a Burroughs doppelganger Tarzan mixes on set with the movie people in Hollywood where they fail to recognize him as the real thing, Lion Man is perhaps the most interesting of all the Tarzan novels.
After Lion Man, which both rectifies his Animus and reconciles his Anima, his motive for writing fast and furious disappeared. In fact, his subject matter disappears. He had in effect run out of material. Tarzan’s Quest and Tarzan And The Forbidden City record his lingering problems with his two ladies at the age of sixty-three. You can see why he wrote it as a farce.
Tarzan And The Madman caps the story of his pschological development although he did not publish the novel during his lifetime.
At the end, as is not unusual, he returned to the beginning as in The Mad King. The totally farcical Forbidden City is an example of what his writing might have turned into if he had been allowed to publish under his pseudonym, Normal Bean. As a comic novel, Forbidden City is actually very funny, if absurd, as Tarzan is driven from pillar to post by his two women. This undoubtedly reflects his real life situation. In the end, he says, the fabulous diamond he and everyone else is seeking, the Jewel Of Great Price, is merely a mirage turning out to be as worthless as a piece of coal.
Both Lion Man and Forbidden City seem to have influenced Aldous Huxley, one of the major intellectual writers of the period. His novel, After Many A Summer Dies The Swan (1939), has allusions to Burroughs’ two novels. The theme of ‘Lion Man’ of the mad scientist, God, who reverts to a half-ape, half-man creature is replicated in Swan in which an English nobleman who has lived for two hundred years reverts to an apelike existence.
That the theme may be more than coincidental is the fact that Huxley incorporates an imaginary University of Tarzana into the story. Thus one of the great intellectuals of the period found much of deep interest in ERB’s novels while also reacting to Wells.
Edgar Rice Burroughs was in fact a great literary artist, if a trifle coarse. He is, in fact, a great talent which if the critics fail to realize it, the people don’t.
Surviving a hundred years is no small matter, it takes some talent to do that. Yet, after those hundred years ERB is still an active force in the literary coal mines. Well, it’s not like coal doesn’t burn with a pure blue flame and under pressure turn into diamonds.
Four Crucial Years
In The Life Of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Pt. I
Every artist writes his own autobiography.
Even Shakespeare’s works contain a life of himself for those who know how to read it.
–Havelock Ellis as quoted by Robert W. Fenton
Eighteen ninety-six found Edgar Rice Burroughs confronting the first great crisis of his adult life. The weight of his childhood experiences pressed on his mind as he turned twenty. His subconscious mind was directing his actions while his conscious intelligence futilely struggled against it. He had no plans; nor could he form any. He was in a state of emotional turmoil. He obviously did not think out his moves nor weigh the effects of his actions on others. He was to burn many bridges as he flayed about like the proverbial bull in the china shop trying to find his way out.
Having graduated from the Michigan Military Academy he had been serving in the capacity of instructor for the previous year. All his heroes were military men. He fancied a military career as an Army officer even though he had failed the West Point exam the year before. Still, he was in a fine position to realize his objective. Men who could help him were nearby friends. Captain, soon to be General, Charles King, who had befriended him as a cadet, and the Commandant of the MMA, Colonel Rogers. All he had to do was to be patient and those men of some influence would surely have obtained an appointment for him.
They had given a mere boy a position of great trust and responsibility in making him an instructor. They were military men who judged others in the military manner. Then in the Spring of 1896 Burroughs did one of the most inexplicable things in a career of the inexplicable; he abandoned his post. Without notice to those career officers who were depending on him he resigned his post and on May 13th of 1896 he joined the Army as an enlisted man, a common soldier, a grunt. Within days he was on his way to his asignment.
As he was to say of so many of his later fictional heroes: ‘for me to think is to act.’ He oughtn’t have been so precipitate. He should have thought twice. He shouldn’t have had to think about it at all.
If he seriously wanted a military career as an officer he should have known that it is virtually impossible for an enlisted man to rise through the ranks. Even in the rare cases when this occurs, the enlisted man is always an odd duck between the officer caste and the enlisted men.
In this case he had not only forteited caste but as far as Rogers and King were concerned he had deserted, the worst crime that a military man can commit. Both men wrote him off at that time. Strangely he never understood that his precipitate act would be held against him by those he disappointed.
Apparently joining in a fit of despair- for me to think is to act- as the date of the 13th would indicate he requested the worst duty the Army had ensuring his desire to fail. On one level it is almost as though he did have his next move worked out. Not normally too receptive to the desires or needs of its grunts in this case the Army was only too glad to accommodate him. Burroughs was sent into Apacheria to a place called Fort Grant in what was then the territory of Arizona. Neither Arizona nor New Mexico became States until after the turn of the century so Burroughs had actually ‘lit out for the territories’ as Huck Finn would have put it. There was still some Apache resistance going on, thus ERB was a part of the Wild West.
According to Philip R. Burger, writing in the Winter 1999 issue of the Burroughs Bulletin, the standard term of enlistment at the time was three years but, as there would be no reason to join the Army except to make it a career, the reasonable assumption for those left behind in Chicago without a word of goodbye would have been that Burroughs was out of their lives. He was a dead man.
For those of you who have never joined the services, once you leave you’re out of the lives of those left behind. Your traditions have been broken. Even when you come back for leave you are only tolerated as a visitor who will leave, the sooner the better, so you don’t disrupt their lives any longer than necessary.
Burroughs didn’t even have traditions in Chicago except with a few people. From the sixth grade on he had a record of broken attendance at a number of schools, from the girl’s school to Harvard School and then back East, to Idaho and on to the MMA. He would have known but few people well, intimate with none except the lovely Emma Hulbert.
He could have seen her but rarely over the last years which included high school. He really had no ties in Chicago. His relationshlip to Emma dated back to Brown grade school. At sometime before he began his peripatetic education he began to propose to her. As he was gone from Chicago all this time it is very difficult to believe that Emma sat home pining. She must have been dating other boys, however, at the same time she must have been waiting for Burroughs since, at 24, when she married him she was only a couple years from spinsterhood. She must have been giving her parents some cause for alarm.
Thus when Burroughs appeared to walk out of her life in 1896 without a word about his intentions one wonders what her response was. Certainly it was about this time that Frank Martin began to pay his court. We will learn more of Frank Martin a little later.
For Burroughs, like so many of us once we were inducted, ERB speedily learned his mistake. For the men who don’t fit in ‘each fresh move is a fresh mistake.’ He regretted his decision immediately. For him to think was to act, so from his arrival at Fort Grant he began a petition for discharge.
As he had been under twenty-one when he joined, he had had to ask his father for his consent. He now asked him to use his influence to get him out.
Perhaps we do not have enough information on why he now so desperately wanted out. In later life this short ten month period of his life would be fraught with great significance in his mind. Just before he divorced his lovely wife Emma in 1933 ERB took a solo vacation to return to this scene of his young manhood. That would indicate that Emma and Fort Grant were linked in his mind.
Two of his Martian novels are associated with the Fort Grant experience. In his first novel, A Princess Of Mars, John Carter serves in the Army in Arizona, is discharged, then returns as a prospector. Under attack by Apaches he seeks refuge in a mountain cave in which he leaves his body while his astral projection goes to Mars. Viewed from one point that’s as neat a description of going insane as I’ve ever come across.
During his 1933 visit to Arizona, Carter returns to visit a trembling fearful Burroughs in his mountain cabin. One gets the impression that Burroughs felt like a whipped dog.
The Apaches made a terrific impression on the young man. So much so that he could see himself joining them as a Brave as is evidenced by his two Apache novels, The War Chief and Apache Devil. Then too his two cowboy novels are placed in Arizona rather than in Idaho where one would expect them.
In his Return Of Tarzan the trip to the Sahara is an obvious reference to Apacheria. The French government sends Tarzan into the desert rather than the US government sending ERB to Arizona. In the deseart Tarzan develops a strong liking for the Arabs, much as ERB did for the Apaches. Tarzan considered becoming a Son Of The Desert just as ERB thought he might become Apache.
A large part of ERB’s fascination for the military life was based on his respect for Capt. Charles King under whom he had served briefly at the MMA. King was, I would imagine, a boy’s dream of a dashing Calvalry Officer. In this wildly romantic period of the Indian Wars, not to mention the proximity of the Civil War, a man who had served at the same time and the same place General Custer must have been held in some awe. King had also served with and knew Buffalo Bill, a nonpareil hero of the time and one ERB may have met at the 1893 Columbian Expo.
Burroughs names two of his characters after Custer.
On top of all this King was a successful writer of military novels. He wote an excellent analysis of Custer’s defeat, which is available on ERBzine, as well as a first hand account of the resultant campaign to quell the uprising, Campaigning With Crook. the latter is a superb recreation of a time and place we’ll never see again. In just a few words King is able to recreate a Deadwood, South Dakota for which the movies have filmed endless miles of photographs with less result. His single reference to barbaric cowboys wearing their guns on their hips says more than dozens of Hollywood films. ERB was also able to capture some of this feeling in his two excellent Western novels as well as his two Apache novels.
King was prolific writing nearly seventy books in his long career. I have read only a few, which I find of only of journeyman quality. King has an emascualted precious style which is reflected in his photographs. Burroughs enthusiastically said he wrote the best Army novels ever, which may be true, I haven’t come across any other novels of Army life. among his many novels of Army life are three that deal with the Pullman strike when the Seventh was stationed at Fort Sheridan. One, An Apache Princess written in 1903 might possibly have been an influence on A Princess Of Mars.
At any rate King glorifies the officer’s life. He fooled a young green ERB. In any event ERB failed to notice the haughty distinctions King drew between the relative status of the officers and the enlisted men. King had all the prejudices of the officer class seeing the enlisted man as a subhuman species. Knowing this, as Burroughs should have, I am baffled by his enlisting.
Perhaps as at the MMA he thought that one entered as a buck private working up to officer rapidly as he had at the MMA. If so he must have had a very rude awakening. It couldn’t have taken him long to realize that advancing through the ranks was rare while at the same time a long process for such an impatient lad as he.
While he was cleaning those stalls he must have had plenty of time to think out his dilemma. As he thought back over his past actions it must have occurred to him that perhaps he erred in walking out on Colonel Rogers the previous May. Accordingly on December 2 of 1896 he sent a letter back to Rogers of which the reply is extant. We don’t know what ERB said but I imagine he was feeling Rogers out to see if he couldn’t get him an officer’s appointment. Rogers reply was, of course, polite but cool and distant firmly placing Burroughs as oneof the rest of Rogers’ students. Yuh. ERB should have thought twice about abandoning his post.
The many, many references to this period of his life point to a great regret later in life that he had left it. He associated this regret with Emma. Perhaps the visit of the officer, John Carter, to him in his lonely cabin in the White Mountains of Arizona represents his lost career as an Army officer but was one of the reasons for his wanting to get back to Chicago that he hadn’t dealt with his relationship with Emma? Did he now learn that in his absence someone else was playing his old love song to Emma? Someone who Papa Alvin Hulbert much preferred to ERB?
It would be interesting to know what Emma thought when her beau just up and removed himself to Arizona. Perhaps perplexed but still hopeful she sent him her picture on his birthday in September. Remember me, perhaps?
Unhappy with his life at ‘the worst post in the Army’, how one’s attitude changes when one’s dreams are realized, he petitioned his father to use his influence to return him to civilian life.
Surprisingly his father was easily able to do this. By March of 1897 ERB had his discharge papers in his hand. He was a free man again. How many tens of thousands of us would have appreciated such an easy resolution to the problem.
Our Man still didn’t have a plan. What we he going to do with his life? Apparently Colonel Rogers’ reply to his letter didn’t apprise him of the facts of life. Nor did he seem to realize that once you reject the military the Army has no use for you. At the time, the US Army was very small, perhaps seventy-five thousand men. The officer corps was about ten per cent or seventy-five hundred men. This is virtually a club. The officers would have known each other personally, by name or by reputation. The same was more or less true of the enlisted men.
Thus Porges records a letter ERB received in 1936 from one W.L. Burroughs of Charlotte, N.C. who probes:
This morning an old army sergeant whom I soldiered with back in the nineties dropped in my office and our conversation started at Fort Sheridan, ILl. when the 7th US Cavalry and the 15th U.W. Infantry left that post for Arizona and New Mexico. He asked me if I remembered Edgar Rice Burroughs of Troop ‘B’ Seventh Cavalry, said he was discharged during the summer of 1896 at Fort Grant, Arizona account of a ‘Tobacca heart’…will be delighted to know for certain that we soldiered with so distinguished a person back in the nineties.
Whether true or not these men remembered ERB as a malingerer who obtained a fraudulent discharge. I interpet ‘Tobacco heart’ to be a feigned ailment which would make ‘so distinguished a person’ a sarcastic and insulting remark. If W.L. Burroughs is correct then ERB got himself out by reasonable discreditable means rather than through the efforts of his father. Thus forty years on an Army reputation followed ERB.
Burroughs replied cooly a few days later ‘…seldom have been in touch with any of the men I soldiered with since I left Fort Grant.’ ERB didn’t say ‘AND GOODBYE.’ but I think that is implied.
So having committed blunder after blunder it would have been wise for Our Man to reevaluate his position. Strangely he didn’t do this, hoping against hope, as I imagine to pull that particualr rabbit out of the hat over the next few years. Good luck, Edgar Rice Burroughs.
For now he could only think of returning to Chicago. As we know the Burroughs Boys were ranching up in Idaho. ERB always wanted to prove that he was a businessman. Why, I don’t know. The fact of the matter seems to be that the Burroughs family was particularly inept at business. Papa George T. had been burned out of his distillery while his battery business was steadily running down, due for extermination about a decade later.
The Boys would turn to dredging for gold after failing at ranching. Perhaps one of the reasons they failed at ranching was just this operation coming up. They had bought a Mexican herd, apparently sight unseen. They were then in Nogales to receive and transship the herd to KC. I suspect they lost their shirt. In less than two years they would be gold dredging.
The world is full of sharpers. Out West so many salted gold mines were sold to greenhorns that it doesn’t bear telling. Frank Harris, the British magazine editor in his autobiography has a great story about how he and his outfit lifted a Mexican herd driving it back across the Rio Grande. I have no doubt that some Mexican sharpers took advantage of the Burroughs Boys. They would later buy a salted gold claim.
The herd ERB put on board the train he describes as no bigger than jackrabbits while probably being less well fed. The death rate of the cows on the trip back to KC was horrendous, while the survivors became starved and dehydrated. I don’t think the Burroughs Boys did well on that transaction. You gotta watch your back or, hopefully, see ‘em coming.
Edgar Rice Burroughs came home. Perhaps he had now reached childhood’s end. At twenty-one perhaps he now realized that he had a life to lead. Perhaps. If so, it was slow dawning. But then ERB’s was not an ordinary mind, a normal bean as he would have put it. No, his was a slow ripening melon. But then, why should everyone develop at the same pace? If up to this point I seem to have been overly critical of Our Young Man it’s because there has been much to be critical of; just as there will be more, but he hasn’t done anything really reprehensible. Your record may not be much better; mine certainly wasn’t. He’s a good sort of guy; just a little on the goofy side. Slow to learn. He doesn’t seem to catch on.
However he’s watching. He’s observing. He’s ingesting and there out of sight he’s digesting all the information coming in. Plus, he will give it a brilliant interpretation when he egests it.
These four years would be of great use to him in his writing career. Always a subtle psychologist ERB was also a skillful employer of the Freudian concepts of condensation, displacement and sublimation and this before he could have read Freud. An attentive reading of any of his novels always reveals layers of hidden meaning. Simply put Edgar Rice Burroughs is the most poetic of novelists.
His poetic tastes weren’t always elevated. He did have a copy or two of Eddie Guest in his library. Edgar A. Guest. Perhaps forgotten today Guest was a people’s poet. In the 1950s when I spread out the Detroit Free Press on the floor one of the first things I read was the daily poem of Edgar Guest. Of course, I thought he had written each one the night before. I marveled at his facility. Nice homey thoughts though.
Burroughs tastes ran to the likes of Rudyard Kipling, H.H. Knibbs, Robert W. Service and others of the jingly-jangly people’s school. Although he did know enough about a high brow like Robert Browning to consider him a bore. Rightly from my point of view. He liked Tennyson, who was considered a high brow, also I suspect Walter Scott, Shelley and Byron. He frequently hints at Longfellow’s ‘Wreck Of The Hesperus’ while he probably had to read Hiawatha in school
He knows all the popular stuff of the day like ‘Over The Hill To The Poor House’ too while he had probably read that anthem of doomed labor, Edward Markham’s Man With The Hoe, too. If that one didn’t gag him he’s not the man I think he was.
Song lyrics were big with him too. On his cross country auto tour he mentions three records by name that his family wore out- of course a battery operated portable played in a field with the plows they called styluses (well, cultured people called them styluses or styli, us near illiterates called them needles) in those days they might have worn out a record in two or three plays. One song was ‘Are You From Dixie?’, another was ‘Do What Your Mother Did; and the last ‘Hello- Hawaii, How Are Ya?’ I guess he liked songs that asked questions. I’ll examine the lurics a little farther on down the road but when we’re considering the literary influences don’t forget the poetry. After all ERB wrote a whole book around the lyrics of H.H. Knibbs ‘Out There Somewhere.’
Just before he returned to Chicago one of the great newspaper literary lights and poets of Chicago Eugene Field had died- 1895. Burroughs had a collection of Field’s writings in his library while Field, when alive, hung out at the McClurg’s book store. Perhaps there were sentimental reasons for Burroughs pursuing McClurg’s so ardently as well as practical ones.
Another Chicago writer among ERB’s collection of books who was reaching an apex at this time was George Ade. While these Chicago stalwarts are mostly forgotten now they were considered immortal at the time. Ade especially is a very clever writer with a real skill at turning a phrase. His ‘Fables In Slang’ would have knocked ERB flat. ERB’s own interest in the colloquial, which is very pronounced, may have been influenced by Ade’s style.
Another columnist of the period, Peter Finley Dunne, with his Irish dialect stuff written around his character Mr. Dooley doesn’t seem to have made much of an impression on ERB.
Thus while involved in his attempts to correct his mistake of enlisting he was very attentive and observant of the life going on around him in whatever milieu.
As I mentioned earlier, when you leave for the military your friends edit you out of their lives. Returning is not so easy. Even when I returned on leave, actually almost ten months after I left, people demanded almost belligerently, ‘What are you doing here? I thought you joined the Navy.’ After explaining I was on leave, nearly asking permission to hang around for a couple weeks, I was grudgingly given permission but let it be known that if I wasn’t gone I would have some explaining to do.
ERB has left a record of his reception by his friends in Chicago. He had sixteen years to let it run around his mind before he wrote it down. It came out in Return Of Tarzan which, I imagine might be read as the Return Of Edgar Rice Burroughs. Actually as Havelock Ellis hints in the opening quote, both Tarzan Of The Apes and The Return Of Tarzan can be read as autobiographical sketches from birth to the marriage with Emma in 1900.
Burroughs describes his reception in Chapter 23 of the The Return. The jungle is a Burroughsian symbol for society as in ‘It’s a jungle out there.’ Tarzan in the jungle can be read as ERB in Chicago. Tarzan is resting in the crotch of a great limb of a jungle giant when he hears a troop of apes approaching the clearing beneath the tree. The tree is a symbol of security or getting out of or above the tumult. Trees probably correspond to his imagination.
Tarzan recognized the troop as his old band of which he is still nominally king. Having been gone for two years he rightly thinks the dull brutes will have trouble remembering him:
’From the talk which he overheard he learned that they had come to choose a new king- their late chief (the successor of Terkoz?) had fallen a hundred feet beneath a broken limb to an untimely end.
Tarzan walked to the end of an overhanging limb in plain view of them. The quick eyes of a female (Emma?) caught sight ofhim first. With a barking guttural she called the attention of the others. Several fhuge bulls stood erect to get a better view of the intruder. With bared fangs and bristling necks they advanced slowly toward him, with deep ominous growls.
‘Karnath, I am Tarzan Of The Apes,’ said the ape-man in the nernacular of the tribe. ‘You remember me. Together we teased Numa when we were still little apes, throwing sticks and nuts at him form the saftey of high branches.’
‘And Magor,’ continued Tarzan, addressing another, ‘do you not recall your former king- he who slew the mighty Kerchak? Look at me! Am I not the same Tarzan- mighty hunter- invincible fighter- that you knew for many seasons?’
The apes all crowded orward now, but more in curiosity than threatening. They muttered among themselves for a few moments.
‘What do you want among us now?’ Asked Karnath.
‘Only peace.’ answered the ape-man.
Again the apes conferred. At leangth Karnath spoke again.
‘Come in peace, then, Tarzan Of The Apes.’ He said.
So Tarzan and ERB returned to the fold. However there were two young bulls who were not ready to receive Tarzan back. We will find that two young men resented Burroughs’ return. The resentment of the principal young man would nearly cost Burroughs his life while forcing him to commit to a marriage against his will.
Thus Burroughs was received back into Chicago.
He would spend about ten months before he uprooted himself once again to make his second visit to his brothers in Idaho. I should think that this period in Chicago was perhaps the most idyllic of his life. He found gainful employment with his father at the Battery Company. However at fifteen dollars a week it was much less than his allowance had been at the MMA. However he was living and eating at home so one imagines it was all pocket cash which afforded a certain limited affluence. He could afford to take Emma out.
Emma appears to have preferred him but he was no favorite of Papa Alvin and the Mrs. If Frank Martin had begun to pay his court he was much the preferred suitor. The son of Col. A.N. Martin who was a millionaire railroad man he was to be much preferred to a penniless Ed Burroughs whose father had apostacized to William Jennings Bryan in the election of 1896. No, Martin should be given the inside track. Burroughs was forbidden the house in an attempt to disrupt his relationship with Emma.
The Hulberts looked askance at Burroughs patchy history. He was less than promising. While his father had gotten him released from his enlistment, people are wont to say there’s more to that story than meets the eye. Plenty of room for rumor, if you know what I mean. ERB probably had to explain a lot.
So while he could date Emma he couldn’t go hang around all evening every evening as lovers are wont to do.
So what did ERB do with his spare time. He obviously read. H.Rider Haggard was popping them out two or three a year at the time which is clear from the evidence ERB read. Jules Verne was alive and producing although much of his production remained untranslated.
There weren’t any movies or television, however there was the Levee, Chicago’s Sin City. In later novels ERB would show what appears to be first hand rather detailed knowledge of this area of brothels, saloons and gambling joints. Burroughs was certainly no stranger to drinking and gambling, whether he frequented brothels may not be known but, if you’re in the area….
In a city of a million six there were only about forty thousand library cards issued but it is probable that one of them was in the wallet of our investigator of curious and unusual phenomena. He sure knew a lot of odd details. One of the big intellectual questions is whether or not he knew of Theosophy. A volume of William Q. Judge, a leading Theosophist who died in 1896, is to be found among Burroughs’ books. His first story Minidoka 937th Earl of One Mile which is concerned with this period while unpublished until just recently makes mention in the descent to Nevaeh of the Seven Worlds which is a reference to either Theosophy, Dante or both.
Again, hanging around a library one might come across volumes of Dante and Theosophy. Shoot, Tarzan spent his afternoons in the Paris library becoming discouraged by the surfeit of knowledge to be covered.
And all around him floods of changes were rolling over him. The world was moving with breathtaking rapidity. If a guy wasn’t half crazy already trying to keep up would get him the rest of the way. Actually these four years were the intellectual bottom, in the musical sense, of the rest of Burroughs; life. perhaps sensory overload occured culminating with his bashing in Toronto and subsequent marriage to Emma so that he was no longer open to new experiences afater his marriage. Everything after 1900 was interpreted in the light of this experience. the interpretations were inventive enough.
His situation might be compared to that of Zeus and Metis of Greek mythology. Ordinarily when the Patriarchy took over a Matriarchal cult the event was comemorated in a myth of sexual union.
In the case of Metis, a Goddess of wisdom, she went down into the belly of the monster like a plate of oysters perhaps meaning the Patriarchy had attempted to stamp the Metis cult flat or eat it up as the Zulus would say. If so Zeus and the boys had bitten off more than they could chew or digest, as it were.
Metis lived on in his belly giving him unwanted advice until I would imagine the Patriarchy came up with a compromise solution. Thus Metis gave birth to Athene who was born fully formed from the forehead of Zeus, which is to say that the cult of Metis was transformed into the cult of Athene. Athene retained all the attributres of the goddess of Matriarchy but ‘she was all for the Patriarchy.’
So now with Burroughs; he ingested all this experience which he gave a ‘definite impression of fictionalizing’ to appear full blown from his forehead +- twenty years later.
Porges reproduces a political cartoon of Young Burroughs on page 68 of the First Edition in which Uncle Sam and John Bull are watching a scene. One or the other says: ‘How would you like to be a Russian?’
In the cartoon Russian soldiers are shooting and bayonetting obvious Jews while the Jews are bombing the Russians. The villains of the first four Tarzan novels, ‘The Russian Quartet; are two Russians Nikolas Rokoff and Paulevitch. Thus, if the cartoon was drawn in this period, twenty years later the Russians show up as villains.
Now, among all the ‘minor’ events like the depression after 1893, the Pullman Strike, Coxey’s Army, Altgeld’s pardoning of the Haymarket bombers, the Sino-Japanese war and such like trivia was the infamous Dreyfus Affair in France.
This minor event involving a Judaeo-French spy was magnified into an international cause celebre by accusations of anti-Semitism. Alfred Dreyfus was a Jewish French army officer who was accused of spying for the Germans or of selling information to them. Originally convicted and sent to Devil’s Island, a few year later after key evidence was tainted or disappeared and key witnesses had died or been discredited the case was reopened and after a terrific media blitz resulting in Zola’s article with the famous title: J’ Accuse, Dreyfus was acquitted.
The man convicted in his place, strangely enough, was probably also Jewish, one Walsin Esterhazy. Supposedly of Hungarian descent, at the instance of the chief Rabbi of Paris he was given financial assistance by the Rothschild family. It would be very unusual in that case if he weren’t Jewish.
Burroughs must have followed the Affair Dreyfus closely as it unfolded during the lat nineties. In 1913′s Return Of Tarzan he chose to fictionalize Esterhazy’s end of the Affair in the character of Gernois. Burroughs must have studied the Affair because Esterhazy actually served in North Africa where he came in contact with German agents. Of course, Gernois is compromised by our old friend Nilolas Rokoff, the Russian agent. Thus ERB combines his dislike of the Russians as eveidenced by his cartoon with sympathy for Dreyfus.
In real life Esterhazy led a dissipated life which, it is said, led him to be a spy. In ‘Return’ Gernois is led into syping because Rokoff, the hyper-arch villain had something on him.
In a sort of editorial comment on Dreyfus ERB has Rokoff tell Gernois: ‘If you are not agreeable I shall send a note to your commandant tonight that will end in the degradation Dreyfus suffered– the only difference being that he did not deserve it.’
Thus ERB comes down firmly on the side of Dreyfus.
For those who will misread racial and ethnic attitudes I believe ERB’s attitude in the Jewish-Russian conflict and the Dreyfus Affair should exonerate him, if the need exists, of any charges of anti-Semitism. Especially in the light of his portrayal of the worthy Jewish gentleman in ‘The Moon Maid’ trilogy. It would seem that all of ERB’s later attitudes remain consistent with these brought to fruition between 1896 and 1900.
Continue on to Part II
May 21, 2010
Flaming Ed Burroughs After The Divorce
…you make my heart sing!
…you make everything…
Somebody once said: The devil is in the details and so he is. Too many times we fly right over signficant facts without noticing their import, how they fit into the big picture.
Such is the case with the little Tarzan Jr story that Burroughs wrote in 1937 in a limited edition of…one. One copy? Yup! It was a special order. Today the copy is located at the Chicago Museum Of Science And Industry in the Colleen Moore Fairy Castle exhibit. Who is Colleen Moore and what did she have to do with ERB? That’s what I asked. Turns out that she is not an insignificant person in the history of the twenties. No, no, she was a a somebody, at least to the extent that she earned 12,500 dollars a week in the films.
Yes, she was an actress. She was the woman who invented the image of the twenties woman- the Flapper. The Flapper knocked Emma, an example of the Gibson Girl, out of the box just as the Gibson Girl had knocked Tennyson’s Elaine out. The Flapper knocked Emma right out of ERB’s imagination. Seems that Colleen was selected for the lead in the movie Flaming Youth. This was a big one.
The movie was based on Samuel Hopkins Adams novel of the same name written under the pseudonym of Warner Fabian. Although apparently epochal no copy of the movie has survived. Those racy scenes have disappeared forever. Miss Moore may be compared to Brooke Shields of the The Blue Lagoon of our day for impact. The tone of Flaming Youth may be learned from this quote from the novel: ‘They’re all desperadoes, these kids, all of them with any life in their veins; the girls as well as the boys; mayby more than the boys.’ Alright, man! That’s pretty good pulp style.
Miss Moore said she chose to play the part as a comedienne. She bobbed her hair, shortened her skirts and wore unbuckled galoshes that flapped as she walked, hence the term ‘flapper.’ Carefree, and careless and with the image of -easy. Flaming Youth eager for a roll and tumble. A thrill seeker at whatever cost. A role model dropped into the slot from eternity.
Perhaps Ed Burroughs sat through the 1923 movie two or three times muttering ‘yeah, yeah, that’s a what I want.’ Emma wasn’t quite that way, being a full figured woman with plenty of embonpoint, although reading inferences from pictures she may have tried a bob and weave in an effort to hold on to her man. There is a photo of Emma which caught my eye because she is so dfferent. She is leaning over the garden fence of ERB’s latest cottage, one of his umpteenth movies, with bobbed hair and a pleasantly flirtatious look on her face. ‘Hm, bobbed hair.’ I thought. ‘That’s different for Emma.’
By that time ERB had been flirting on the sly with Florence Gilbert, for a little while. I suspect Emma knew. She got her hair cut anyway.
ERB first met Florence in early 1927. Maybe he was still under the spell of Flaming Youth but something obviously clicked. A clandestine relationship was begun which would culminate in ERB divorcing Emma in 1934. He married Florence Gilbert shortly thereafter. I would have waited a bit myself. I’m not so impetuous. More of the cautious type.
The in 1937 he received a request from the Flaming Girl herself. Must have made his blood race. Maybe he and Florence should have waited. Having jumped ship once the second time gets easier. ERB, whether he knew it or not, had now gone Hollywood. He’d even checked into the Garden Of Allah, a hotel roues favored down on Hollywood Blvd., gone now, in between Emma and Florence.
If ERB kept all his correspondence as he is said to have done Danton Burroughs should have a Colleen Moore file in the archives. It would be interesting to open it to see what was up.
Miss Moore had begun building a Fairy Castle miniature doll house back in the twenties. She now asked ERB for a miniature book for her miniature library in her miniaturecastle. ERB complied, composing a suggestive little story which contains enough off color references to make one think he was trying to seduce the exemplar of Flaming Youth. Born in 1902, Miss Moore was 35 at the time, a most delectable age for a woman.
A quick review of the pictures of the book can be found on the ERBzine at www.erbzine.com/mag0/0042.html . I copy the text below.
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Illustrated y J.C.B. & E.R.B.
The little princess was walking in the garden when a bad thought sneaked up behind her and whispered in her ear, ‘Go into the forbidden forest.’ Hi! Lee! Hi! Lo! Oh, No! Oh, No! yodeled the little princess, my mamma said I mustn’t go into the forbidden forest and papa said she ought to know.’
‘But, but’ butted the bad thought, ‘Everything that you shouldn’t do, everything you mustn’t do, are in the forbidden forest, and they include about everything it’s fun doing. Think what a good time you could have.’
So the little princess put a nutty hamburger in a shoe box for her lunch, vaulted over the garden wall and went into the forbidden forest.
The little princess had not gone far into the dark and gloomy wood when she met Histah the snake.
‘Have an apple,’ invited Histah. ‘What for?’ asked the little princess. ‘It will keep the doctor away,’ replied Histah, pulling on his long black mustache. ‘But if I eat it, I may need a doctor’ countered the little princess with her left. ‘Ah, ha! Foiled again.’ hissed Histah. ‘Not so fast,’ cried the little princess. ‘Gimme that apple,’ for the bad thought had whispered in her ear.
The little princess was about to eat the apple when Tantor the elephant barged up and took it away from her. Beat it!’ he trumpeted at Histah. Then he ate the apple himself. ‘What have you in the shoe box?’ he asked.
‘A nutty hamburger,’ replied the little princess. ‘Mercy me!’ swore Tantor. ‘What’s the matter with it? – Dementia Praecox?’ No, just plain nutty,’ replied the little princess.
‘Well, you never can tell when it might develop a homicidal mania,’ said Tantor. ‘Give it to me.’ So he took the nutty hamburger and ate that too. Then he went away from there to the land of ptomaine.
The little princess was very hungry; so she went deeper into the dark, damp wood looking for another snake with an apple. But she didn’t see Numa the lion stalking her. Numa, too, was very hungry; and as there are not many callories (sic) in stalks, he planned on eating the little princess. With a terriric roar he leaped for her. The little princess turned, horror stricken; when, to her amazement, she saw a bronzed giant, naked but for a G string, leap from an overhanging branch full upon the tawny back of the carnivore. It was Tarzan Jr.!
Once, twice, thrice his gleaming blade sunk deep into the side of the great cat; and as Numa sank lifeless to the mottled sward, the Lord of the Jungle placed a foot upon the carcass of his kill, raised his face to the heavens and voiced the victory cry of the bull ape.
The little princess was still hungrey. ‘Let’s eat the Lion,’ she said, unless you happen to have an apple in your pocket.’
‘I haven’t a pocket,’ admitted Tarzan Jr.
‘All right then’ said the little princess, ‘Let’s skip it.’
So Tarzan Jr. uncoiled his rope and they skipped and skipped and skipped and skipped and skipped; and then they got married and lived happily for-ever after- and that is what the little princess got for disobeying her mamma and going into the forbidden forest.
It’s not hard to see what the sly old ERB was angling at. the dark damp forest is, of course, the symbol for unbridled desires toward which the princess is prompted by a ‘bad thought.’ She was naughty but nice. The apple is a symbol for sexual intercourse while the snake with the apple was when Adam and Eve realized they were naked hence discovering la difference.
It will be remembered that the only exhibit at the Expo of ’93 ERB ever mentioned in his stories was the Concourse of Beauty 40 Beautiful Girls 40. On his cross country trip of ’16 one of the records athe family wore out was ‘Do What Your Mother Did.’ An early Work With Me Annie. Here the song lyrics are rendered into: My mamma siad I mustn’t go into the forbidden forest and papa said she ought to know.
Which leads to a denouement which comes as no surprise. ‘Unless you’ve got an apple in your pocket.’ The princess says obviously pointing to the bulge in Junior’s G string. Reminds you of Mae West’s quip: Is that a roll of nickels in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?
Junior was glad to see the princess so he reached under his loincloth and uncoiled his rope. Rope is a symbol for…well, he said coyly, it’s a symbol. And then the two new sweethearts did a lot skipping up and down which is to say they conjugated that verb.
I would interpret the nutty hamburger to mean ERB was sensitive about being considered a dumbkopf fantasy wirter so he wanted to display a little learning, thus he jokes his way through nutty>dementia praecox>homicidal mania. For those who insist that ERB was just a simple writer from the gut I again point out that time after time the Man shows an active interest in psychological matters. He just didn’t boast about it, that’s all. When you do you depreciate the entertainment value to nil.
The little story quite cleary is intended to convey the message: I’m ready if you’re willing. Flamin’ Ed Burroughs was ready tgo swing and he didn’t mean through the trees this time. Was marriage an issue? Well, Junior and the princess married and lived happily ever after.
Once again I say there should be some correspondence in the archives that might throw some light on this issue which is probably much more complex than it looks at first glance.
As 1937 began the titillating star of Flaming Youth who had also starred in Naughty But Nice and other woo-woo flapper epics was between marriages. Her last movie The Scarlet Letter- A for Adultery of 1934 had indeed been her last. Having no longer a career in Hollywood she had retreated to Chicago.
Her Fairy Castle which had been nearly ten years in the making was finished in 1935. At that time she took it on the road to raise money for deprived children which she did successfully. She later would write a book on investing.
The Castle was complete with its own miniature library so the request to ERB was either an afterthought or the proverbial request for a cup of sugar and he poured on rather thick.
Perhaps the marriage of Florence and ERB might have ended right there as ERB ran after the even more attractive Flaming Girl of his dreams. It would be nice if Danton found that correspondence.
Whatever Colleen Moore’s intent was or whether ERB ever consummated his burning desire may be forever obscured from our sight. In any event later in 1937 Miss Moore married a Chicago businessman thus closing the door she had left ajar. After panting up that flight of steps on his hands ERB was blasted.
As the little book was intended only for the eyes of Colleen Moore the only two things we can be sure of is that she requested the little volume which she was willing to receivew and that ERB was ready to provide a very seductive one.
In 1937 ERB had come a long way from the righteousness of 1922′s The Girl From Hollywood. Now he was Hollywood panting after them.
Tales Of Space And Time:
Love, Lust And Edgar Rice Burroughs
A Short Story
As they say in Hollywood, this is based on a true story. Only the facts have been changed to make a better story. Just as in Hollywood the tale is wholly fiction. Well, not wholly, there is one true fact included. I’ll highlight it at the appropriate time. I have used real names and places so as to cast an aura of truthfulness about a story that never happened. No matter, just as in the movies you won’t be able to tell the difference. Fact and fiction blend. It’s just like your memory.
Perhaps the time is March of 1934 when a now has been actress who had once, in the days when acting really counted in silent movies, been at the top of her craft earning 12,500 smackaroonies a week. Not small change in those pre inflationary days.
Sound and the depression had changed all that, plus advancing maturity. She was no longer in demand. After her last, The Scarlet Letter the studio head had nearly thrown her torn up contract in her face. As unpleasnt as that may be life contains such humiliating moments. Still as Hank Williams song says:
My hair is still curly,
My eyes are still blue,
Why don’t you love me
Like you used to do?
Love is like that, fleeting. Box office. Demand. Transient things like that.
Angry at the treatment and now having no future in the film capitol and the hearts of the multitude, with a stamp of her pretty little foot she turned her back on Tinseltown, if not her fans, returning to home town Chicago.
There she was fondly remembered and even lionized. She had been the original flapper girl, Colleen Moore, who had created the type for her starring role in 1923′s Flaming Youth. Twenty-one at the time her success had been exhilarating but she was a tough minded practical young woman; she hadn’t let it go to her head unduly. She she thought, she had gotten to the top at an age when others were still gazing at the distant snowy crests; she was on top and she would do what she had to do to stay there.
In creating the role of the Flapper in Flaming Youth she had created a new woman displacing the former ideal of the Gibson Girl. She had bobbed her hair, raised the hemlines of her skirts, given voice to a careless, carefree, thrill seeking easy party girl who liked to go skinny dipping. True she was following the script but she had been the archetype of a newer sleazier morality.
Quickly typecast in the new role her whole career had evolved into the naughty but nice type of girl. She was the image of the girl who would go all the way. It had been a burden to bear. She had quickly retreated into unreality. Using her new found wealth she had begun building a very expensive doll house which she called the Fairy Castle. Five hundred thousand dollars worth of Fairy Castle.
Colleen was not as carefree and careless as the image she had projected. She was a hardnosed investor who turned her own money green. The five hundred thousand dollar doll house hadn’t actually been made with her own hands but for her. She employed experts to design and construct it. Even as she was paying for it she was providing against an uncertain future. The house was modular with each room having its own separate container for easy transport. The Fairy Castle could be broken down and reassembled with ease.
And now as 1936 approached, just imagine the ’34 and ’35 flipping off the calendar and floating away across the screen, the reason became evident. No longer a star but still craving the limelight Miss Moore announced that she would take the Fairy Castle on the road to raise money for needy children. This was the Depression. There was a sure fire attention getter; she knew how to appear concerned for the young after having been responsible for corrupting flaming youth.
Over the next couple years she was very successful. The Castle would eventually raise over six hundred thousand dollars which in today’s equivalents would be several tens of millions. How much of it actually got to underprivileged kids wasn’t carefully recorded.
If she wasn’t quite as in the spotlight as in Hollywood, which place she still preferred to drab Chicago which for personal reasons she couldn’t leave, she didn’t go unnoticed.
On this occasion in mid-1936 she was gathered with the lights of Chicago for the reception of a rare book collection donated to the Newberry Library by one Mr. Frank Martin. In truth Mr. Martin would have given much more than a few old books to meet the Flaming Girl but this was unnecessary. As a reward for the books at his request he had been seated beside Colleen. He’d been a handsome rogue, you can accentuate the rogue, in his youth and now although almost seventy he still retained refreshing youthful features, full bodied but not stout, a head of glistening silver hair and no paunch, altogether a prepossessing figure of a man. Much better preserved than Edgar Rice Burroughs as he would comment to his mirror.
A dissipated life hadn’t hurt him any. It was true that Miss Moore was half his age but I think I mentioned earlier that Miss Moore was a practical woman; Frank Martin was rich, while at seventy he couldn’t live forever. After him there was room for one more.
On the other hand Colleen liked older men. She herself was Irish, knowing a great many Irish proverbs, which are the most amusing kind, she had selected as her favorite: ‘It is better to be an old man’s darling than a young man’s slave.’ Alas, in her first two marriages she had erred in this dictum much to her regret. Life, being a little forgiving in this instance, was giving her another chance.
She waited for Mr. Martin to be seated and then made her grand entrance. Never truly beautiful, what nature had denied art had supplied. She passed for beautiful in any man’s eye although the camera would have been less forgiving. As she approached Mr. Martin an electric spark worthy of a Tesla experiment flew between each as each realized their desires were to be met unless things went terribly wrong which I assure you they didn’t.
Frank raised his imposing 6’3″ frame from his chair with a grace that was warmly received by Colleen. They were nearly fast friends before their derrieres touched bottom.
‘I can’t tell you how much I admire your efforts for those poor children, Colleen. May I call you Colleen?’ This was a few years back when manners were different.
‘You may call me Darling if I can call you Frank, dear.’ She replied sweetly in her most flaming manner.
‘By all means Darling.’ Frank smiled back realizing he was in like Flynn before even Flynn discovered the way in. ‘Colleen, that’s a grand old Irish name.’
‘I am an Irish girl, but Frank, I’ve heard so much about you.’ Colleen ventured, who had, indeed, wasted no time in catching up on the gossip of the last thirty years or so. As an old roue Frank had left more than a paper trail in the memories of many. But, that’s gossip, on with the story.
‘Thank you Colleen.’ Already Martin who was also Irish had discovered a new love for the grand old name of Colleen. He put that emphasis on the pronunciation that Miss Moore blushed with pleasure. ‘We’ve certainly heard here of your wonderful success in the cinema.’ He used the word cinema to raise the cultural value of Miss Moore’s contribution to the developing world capitol of porn. then he compulusively blurted out: ‘Did you know my old friend Eddie Burroughs out there?’
‘Do you mean Edgar Rice Burroughs? No, I’ve never met him but I’ve heard his antics discussed a few times.’
Antics struck the right note with Martin.
‘What antics are you talking about?’ Martin followed up, eager for dirt.
‘Well, you know he bought the Otis estate? Apparently he bit off more than he could chew because no sooner had he bought it than he tried to turn it into a movie location for the studios. Said he wanted to be a businessman. He was raising pigs, cows, sheep, whatever, in what we thought was a madcap attempt to salvage the place. Then, of all things, he developed a golf course and something called the Caballero Country Club. I guess he thought we would all rush to join, and that after he defamed us all with that horrid book he wrote called ‘The Girl From Hollywood.’ What a time we had to get the publisher from continuing to print that. I was sure he was talking about me.
Next, this was really incomprehensible, he decided to start some Bohemian Free Love community. He sold lots and advertised for people who were like minded to him who minded their own business and lived and let live. You know what that’s a code for and this after writing his horrible Hollywood story condemning the rest of us for practically the same thing.’
‘Yes, Ed always was eccentric although he had charm for some people. Fell a little flat with me. You never could tell what he was going to do next. First he was here and then he was there and then he was back again. Wouldn’t stay home and wouldn’t stay away although we all wished he would.’
Martin’s eyes set on a scene of the distant past as his brow lowered and lower lip quivered in bitter remembrance.
Colleen had heard many of the rumors and stories concerning Burroughs. Martin and Emma Hulbert from 1896 to 1910 and beyond and especially the famous murder attempt in Toronto. It appeared the gates were open in Martin’s mind. Without trying to disturb his thought processes Colleen gently insinuated: ‘Yes, I understand you and he were rivals for the same woman.’
Martin wasn’t that far gone. He looked at her sharply but then as he had already conceived in his mind the notion that he was going to marry this woman he thought it perhaps best to get the story of Emma out in the open. Thus, wheareas he had been before truly speaking from the soul he now feigned the same expression crafting his evidence for his object.
‘The man, it hurts me to call him a man, had no use for Emma but as an adornment to his ego. He had no intention of marrying her he just wanted the comfort of knowing that she was there waiting for him, she was true blue all wool and a yard wide too. I was already thirty, hadn’t been married yet, and she, at my age then,’ he wanted to leave a path open to Colleen, ‘seemed an ideal choice. She was the perfection of the Gibson image, not like…’ Here Frank was about to make a derogatory reference to the Flapper but caught himself in time. ‘…the pale bloodless Elaine of Tennyson. Quite a wonderful girl really. You must have heard that Ed divorced Emma for a tramp half his age. Disgusting.’
Colleen was half Frank’s age but both seemed oblivious to the incongruity.
‘Yes. There was a lot of merriment over that one in Hollywood. Dearholt brought home his mistress to live with he and Flo. Of course Flo would have nothing to do with it. She already had her net around Burroughs so I don’t see why she ca…’ Here Colleen had to catch herself from seeming too liberal in sexual matters. Chicago was no LA and while the same sexual misdoings might have gone on there they were spoken of in a different way. ‘…red whether he had a mistress or not. Naturally she wouldn’t have wanted a menage a trois. But wasn’t there something about Burroughs being almost killed in a barroom fight?’
‘Oh, you mean Toronto. What a trip that was. The Colonel had business in New York so he was taking the car out of the yards for the trip anyway so I asked Burroughs if he wanted to tag along.’
‘I hadn’t heard you were that close friends at the time. I mean, Emma…did he go along with a rival?’ Of course Colleen knew the whole story but led Martin on to hear him tell it.
‘Did he? He jumped at it. ‘That’s what I mean, what was Emma to him? He didn’t even consider her feelings. And then he was disgustingly drunk from the moment he stepped in the car. Drank nonstop from the first thing in the morning to the last thing at night. We almost threw him off in Cleveland.’
Characterization is the thing. It should be clear that Martin is exaggerating for effect while the truth was Burroughs himself drank
only because everyone else was as was the order of the day. The booze was provided courtesy of the Martins and pushed on Burroughs. A careful selection of facts produces the desired effect.
‘Then by the time we got to Toronto all the sot wanted to do was to go to their version of the Levee looking for whores. Far a guy who seemed pretty well acquainted with the sleazy side of life he hadn’t learned to keep his mouth shut. He antagonized a couple degenerate brutes and before Patchin and I could make a move one of them flashed a sap that would have crushed Ed’s skull if I hadn’t grabbed the slugger’s arm deflecting the blow. Had to run him down to the hospital to get him sewed up. Bloody mess he was; served him right too.’
‘Who was Patchin?’
‘Dick Patchin. He came along too.’
‘Patchin. Patchin. The name doesn’t ring a bell.’
‘He wasn’t anybody. Just a guy I knew so I let him come along.’
Martin considerably expurgated the story. In fact Patchin was a go between who knew a number of unsavory characters, being a borderline thug himself. At Martin’s request he had hired a couple Chicago thugs to travel up to Toronto to meet the party in the Yellow Dog Saloon. There while Martin and Patchin stood one on either side of Burroughs to identify him words were exchanged followed by the assault with the spring loaded blackjack.
Martin’s intent had clearly been to murder Burroughs which the blow would have done if Burroughs himself hadn’t been able to get his arm up in time.
‘Ed wasn’t anybody then. Just a bum not much better than the guy who hit him. You should have seen the excuse for a suit he wore. No one could have figured he’d become so famous.’ Martin added in self-defense. ‘Then we came back and before I knew it he and Emma were married. Cut me out, just like that.’
‘And that was that.’ Colleen smiled. The comment made Martin realize she knew more than he was letting out as why shouldn’t she, the story had been all over Chicago for decades now.
‘I’m not saying I’m not a sore loser.’ Martin sulked. ‘I gave him hell until he fled Chicago to the wilds of Idaho where he belonged although he took her with him.’
A passion seemed to seize Martin at this time carrying him along on a flood of reminiscences.
‘And then he came back with her again. the son-of-a-bitch wouldn’t stay away. Like a bad penny he had to keep turning up. A kind of madness got me in its grip then. I couldn’t leave her alone. Damn, she was true to him. I couldn’t control myself. They never had kids you know, so I thought I still had a chance, like maybe she was waiting for me. They never had kids until after that night. She was visiting some friends and I just happened by as she was on the way to the streetcar. I offered her a ride home and she accepted.’ Here what Martin means is he got out of the car forcing her in which as Emma knew him well she allowed rather than embarrassing him by screaming for help. ‘Then, I don’t know, something took possession of me. Happens to everyone. Rather than driving her home as I intended I drove out into the country. I just wanted to talk to her. She told me to turn around but I hadn’t said what I had to say yet. Then she tarted yelling at me and she hit me. I lost control of the car. It took the ditch but fortunately we were thrown clear landing in some new plowed furrows. Neither of us was hurt. Somebody came along and I got us a ride. I got her home all right.
I guess she must have convinced Ed but right after that after eight years of marriage they had two kids in a row, I mean right after each other. That took care of her figure. After that I didn’t bother her anymore. I knew he wouldn’t do right by her though. I’m just surprised it took so long. Patchin went to see him after the divorce. The self-centered son-0f-a-bitch was blithe about the whole thing. After thirty-five years of marriage and three kids he was glad he’d done it, like she had it coming. He asked Patchin with a sneer and laugh how I was doing. He was doing OK. Hah!’
Colleen put her hand on his meaning to comfort him but coming across cynically: ‘Hollywood is full of hundreds of the same kind of story. Life is like that a whole lot, isn’t it?
With the suspicion of a tear in his eye and a deep wavering sigh Martin actually more than a little embarrassed by his outburst smiled bravely and said: ‘Well, enough about me. How about you? Where did you go to school in Chicago?
‘Oh Frank, I wasn’t born in Chicago. I was born in Port Huron, Michigan, a grim little town I was glad to get out of. Dad and Mom moved to Florida which I liked a whole lot better.’
‘But I thought you were from Chicago?’
‘My uncle Walt Howley was the editor of the Examiner who used his influence to get me a screen test with D.W. Griffith when I was fifteen. The rest is history. Over the years I’ve come to consider Chicago my second home so when I left Hollywood I came here.’
And so the evening wore on very agreeably.
Frank, who was a real candy and flowers man, proved a most charming and romantic suitor. Just right for the woman whose ideas of romance were reflected by her Fairy Castle. In the back of his mind Martin obsessed on his old rival Edgar Rice Burroughs. He had written finished on that particular book but slowly an idea formed in his mind to finish the job he had begun in Toronto.
To succeed he would have to lure Colleen into using her charms to lure Burroughs back to Chicago. Prostitute herself after the fashion of a temple priestess. People always put different names and constructions on their heart’s desires so one evening in September over a candlelit dinner Frank Martin put it to Colleen Moore like this: Honey…remember when we were kids and we used to set up a chump by having a message sent to him to meet some girl for a hot date then stood and laughed while he waited in vain?’
Uh huh, Colleen had heard of such things.
‘Ed has married this young woman who isn’t half what you are. When Patchin was in LA to talk to him he said that Ed just raved about the Colleen Moore of Flaming Youth and Naughty But Nice. I’d like to play a trick on him but I’ll need your help.’
‘What kind of help, Frankie?’
‘Well, if you were to send him a letter asking for him to make a miniature book for the miniature library of your miniature castle and make it sound like you were really interested, you know, hot for him, he might come back to Chicago to see you and then we could stand him up and have a real laugh at his expense.’
A little of the romance went flat as Colleen interpreted the request to mean that as Burroughs had once taken Martin’s girl now Martin would take Burroughs’s girl. Certainly this was part of Martin’s plan but the years had passed since those golden years at the turn of the century. With the coming of prohibition the Capone Mob ahd virtually seized the streets of Chicago staging murder and mayhem on a daily basis. The recent Century Of Progress Expo of 1933 had been practically controlled for the benefit of the Outfit. The thugs of 1893 were real amateurs compared to the professional assassins of the incipient Outfit. It mgiht cost a little bit but Martin thought a drive by shooting with typewriters might be a fitting end to his nemesis. He didn’t mention that part to Colleen though.
Unwittingly Frank had thrown a chill on their relationship. Romance had flown. In truth Colleen had had enough of Chicago. Those mobsters were not pleasant to fend off and they were attracted to the Flaming Girl like moths…naw, that’s too corny. She now longed to get back to Hollywood but wished to return as a conqueror rather than as a dog with its tail between its legs. It would never have occured to her otherwise but now as she thought about it, yes, she believed she could take Burroughs away from Florence. Martin waiting with hope and expectancy didn’t notice the change in Colleen’s voice as she said: ‘I think I see what you’re after. I think I could do that, Frank Martin, yes.’
As Martin left Colleen’s apartment he smiled to himself. ‘Nearly forty years to get that bastard back but it will be worth it.’
Colleen composed a very nice letter asking Burroughs for a little Tarzan Jr. book for her miniature library. The letter breathed romance terms like ‘long term relationship’ which were mixed in such a way to imply more than just an enduring friendship. You didn’t have to be born at the bottom of a wishing well to get your hopes up.
When Burroughs received the letter in the future Porn Capitol Of The World he was somewhat puzzled to receive a letter from Colleen Moore. ‘That’s the Flaming Girl herself.’ He thought. A faint whiff of pleasing scent was emitted as he slit the envelope open which made him raise his eyebrows. When he read what he read his eyebrows went way up. To say that he was steamed would be an understatement. The man had had a smoldering crush on the image of Flaming Youth Colleen had projected in 1923. He had seen most if not all her pictures. Separating a movie image from the real person is not always as easy as it seems espcecially as Colleen had reinforced the image in picture after picture. Naughty But Nice had all but sealed the image for Burroughs. He failed to note the romantic allusions in the letter as his sexual fantasies ran away with themselves.
He imagined himself as the legendary sixty minute man rolling and tumbling all night, night after night with the Flaming Girl. Who can blame him but that wasn’t how it was.
He should have studied the Fairy Castle a little more closely. Instead he put together a fairly salacious little volume dedicated wholly to sexual fantasies without a hint of romance. I told you this piece of fiction was based on a true story; this is the true part. If you want to see a copy of the little book, Tarzan Jr., go to www.erbzine.com/mag0/0042.html . It’s right there.
So Our Man wrote this up, he and his son John Coleman drew some fairly rasty pictures, and posted it back to Colleen.
Colleen received the little book which she perused thoughtfully. ‘Why the old buzzard is just a dirty old man.’ She thought, deeply offended. She put a mental cross through the name of Edgar Rice Burroughs and tossed the little book in the fireplace. She stood looking after the little book for a few moments then went over to retrieve it. Romance was romance but the practical Colleen overrode the romantic Colleen.
When Martin got the news that Burroughs had taken the bait he was overjoyed. ‘Verily, I shall smite my enemy hip and thigh.’ He said to himself.
He left Colleen stepping blithely. Then he bethought himself to have some nice pasta at this little Italian restaurant not too far away. He didn’t pay much attention to the gentleman who entered a the same time to also enjoy a nice pasta dinner. This gentleman was Jackie Inglese who had shown too much independence in intra-mob matters. Jackie was a marked man and this night was his night to be rubbed out.
Frank emerged from the restaurant just ahead of Jackie Inglese. He was standing there contentedly digesting his dinner with roseate thoughts about those typewriters. ‘Rat-a-tat-tat.’ He said lifting a finger in imitation of a Tommy gun.
He was so absorbed in his reveries that he didn’t hear the screech of the tires of a big touring car careening around the corner with a young Sam Giancana behind the wheel. Jackie Inglese did. Seizing Frank he pulled him in front of himself as a shield beginning the drop to the ground as a battery of Chicago typewriters poked through the open windows of the speeding auto opened up. It wasn’t the St. Valentine’s Day massacre to anyone but Frank as two slugs found their to his heart and one went through his brain. Rather amazing that three Tommy guns unleashing about a hundred rounds of ammunition could only get three into Frank but that’s the way it was. The earthly career of Frank Martin was ended. Edgar Rice Burroughs would have to go unavenged in this world. Tough luck.
Inglese with a deep sigh pushed himself up from the ground. Without even a look or a thank you to his savior, Frank Martin, he casually dusted himself off, sought a train for the Coast and stayed there until he cooled off.
Colleen read the news in the papers with a misture of disgust and relief. She made no further effort to contact Edgar Rice Burroughs who had disgusted her. Within a month she had married a local businessman named Homer Hargrave. She lived happily for a while until the old geezer topped off, she really did like mature men, then with the combined fortunes made her successful entry back into Hollywood taking up a residence on Sunset Boulevard.
As for Ed Burroughs? He didn’t go on to bigger and better things. Like Colleen’s his day was past. It’s possible he might have done something but the big WWII intervened which was probably more rewarding for him than any woman. He realized his desire to be a war correspondent. And then after the war was over disease and old age carried him away.
His dying thought though was of the fabulous Flaming Girl and what could have been. It is the kind of thought to hold on to when the lights go out.
Themes And Variations
The Tarzan Novels Of Edgar Rice Burroughs
#23 Tarzan And The Madman
What A Long Strange Trip It’s Been
In everyone’s life there comes a time to recapitulate. Tarzan And The Madman was that time for Edgar Rice Burroughs. The Great Saga began in 1912 and in this novel of 1940 unpublished durng his lifetime the long strange trip, to quote the Grateful Dead, came to an end. The Big Bwana and his imposter got on a plane and flew out of Africa never to return.
Two more novels would follow but they were placed in the Pacific either in or near Indonesia. The succeeding Tarzan And The Castaways was also unpublished during his lifetime while Tarzan And The Foreign Legion could find no takers so was published by ERB, Inc. It almost seemed as though the sun had gone down on the Great Ape Man.
Of course the movie Tarzan still prospered, first with the great Johnn Weismuller and then Lex Barker. ERB even tips his hat to MGM by replicating the flight through the fog to the great tabletop of the Mutia Escarpment, an MGM invention. Thus, the last game is played out on the MGM playing field. Just as ERB and Florence left LA on a plane so Rand and the Goddess and Tarzan do Africa in this novel. In a short 157 pages ERB manages to recap the Big Fella’s entire career in print or on film.
In reading through the book this last time I suddenly realized the significance of all those doppelgangers. They signified the problem ERB was having realizing his ambition to be the man who was Tarzan. In Madman he gives up the ghost realizing his failure to become the Man-who-thought-he-was-Tarzan but wasn’t. Now typing away in exile from LA on Hawaii he throws in the towel.
As I have tried to show in my other reviews ERB read Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde probably sometime before 1890 within a four years of its issue. The book must have been a sensation during his years at the Michigan Military Academy, the subject of endless discussions among the cadets. As hard as it must be for us to realize what we consider a classic was an exciting new book for ERB. No movies could be made of it because the technology hadn’t been developed as yet. Even the primitive Nickelodeons were shimmering a ways into the future. Yea, verily, the future lay before them.
The novel was significant enough to be in the first batch of talkies being first produced in 1931. I’m sure ERB was transfixed as the story unfolded on the screen. The theme of psychological doubles had dominated the Tarzan oeuvre from the beginning. While it seems repetitious to a first rading of the novels the theme is actually developing as the series progresses. ERB didn’t so much fall back on a cliche to him but he was working out a variation on the theme of Jekyll and Hyde.
He says that he was convinced that every man had two sides to his personality, perhaps not as pronounced as that of Jekyll and Hyde but there nonetheless. He was aware of his own duality chronicling it in the pages of the Tarzan oeuvre. The duality is often prompted by a blow to Tarzan’s head. The blow certainly commemorates the hit ERB took in Toronto while perhaps the aftermath split ERB’s personality so that he became two nearly different people. Perhaps that’s the secret of his writing career as he said that he was able to disappear into the alternate reality when he wrote.
Tarzan always had two personalities from the beginning. He was both a civilized man and a beast. This undoubtedly represents ERB’s feelings about himself. Perhaps he had periods when he was something of a wild man, not unlike Tarzan on the Rue Maule in The Return Of Tarzan who became a beast and then shook himself back into a human not unlike the transformation of Jekyll and Hyde. This type of duality would characterize the Russian Quartet, the first four novels.
The Tarzan doppelganger first appeared in Jewels of Opar where having received a blow to the head he loses his memory during which he lived as an uncivilized beast, regaining civilization with his memory but he had not yet split into two co-existing separate identities. That would first occur in Tarzan And The Golden Lion and Tarzan And The Ant Men when the great character of Esteban Miranda served as a doppelganger. Esteban was identical to Tarzan in appearance but an arrant coward compared to Tarzan. This was a characteristic of all the doubles. Esteban represented the negative pre-success side of ERB while Tarzan the positive post-success side. Thus in thse two novels ERB is beginning the attempt to become Tarzan- The-Man-Who-Thought-He-Could-Be-Tarzan.
ERB was very sensitive about his early failings in his relationship with Emma. In these two novels he offered Jane/Emma the chance to recognize him as the strong Tarzan and not the weakling Esteban doppelganger. Having overcome the failures of his past he felt he had proven himself as a man and a supreme provider demanding recognition. Given the decision to make Jane/Emma chose ERB’s former existence, Esteban, thereby sealing her fate. After her ill fated choice Jane disappears from the oeuvre except for the chance encounter in the succeeding novel Tarzan Lord Of The Jungle whereas the Golden Lion assumes a prominent role.
While the next double, Stanley Obroski, appears in Tarzan And The Lion Man a double of sorts in the form of Lord Passmore makes his appearance in Tarzan Triumphant. Another double appears in Tarzan And The Leopard Men when felled by a giant tree in a storm Tarzan blanks out assuming another persona. Also, in Tarzan And The City Of Gold Valthor serves as a double. In a strange variation ERB repeats the story of Jewels Of Opar when Tarzan rescues Jane from the Arab boma. Here, in an exact duplicate of that scene, he rescues Valthor. Thus Jane and Valthor are connected in ERB’s mind.
In Tarzan And The Lion Man Burroughs kills off his weaker persona thus assuming the role of Tarzan himself. Then in Tarzan And The Forbidden City Brian is his look-a-like although the role of double is not explored. Perhaps this is the initial realization the ERB has failed in his quest to be Tarzan.
After a decade of trials and tribulations struggling against the Communists and MGM and losing ERB sat down in exile at the beginning of 1940 to write this confession of defeat.
The man-god Tarzan himself remains the same but The-Man-Who-Thought-He-Was-Tarzan but failed confesses his defeat getting into his airplane up there on MGM’s Mutia Escarpment flying out of Africa forever. First he was expelled from Opar by the Communists and then from Africa by MGM.
Although Tarzan was in the plane with him, the Big Bwana shows up again in Africa for a moment in Tarzan And The Castaways. This novel written in a style entirely different from the rest of the oeuvre was also unpublished during Burroughs lifetime hidden away in a safe.
In this novel Tarzan is defeated by a Black chief, symbolically perhaps, captured and sold as a wild man, a feral child. Once again Tarzan has lost his memory reverting to a pure beast or feral boy. As this novel was written after King Kong and Tarzan ends up on yet another island perhaps ERB was conflating the movie with this novel. Tarzan is put aboard ship with the other animals destined for the circus and taken from the continent.
Running all through Burroughs is the ghost of Jule Verne’s Mysterious Island. Once aboard ship a storm assaults the ship which, signficantly loses its rudder. Thus like the now rudderless Burroughs the ship is adrift. In a scene reminiscent of both Verne’s novel and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped the ship is tossed atop a reef while all aboard including a Noah’s Ark of animals find their way to shore as the Castaways.
Stevenson and Verne were two of ERB’s earliest influences thus ERB returns full circle to his origins.
In the last Tarzan novel and the last published in his lifetime, Tarzan And The Foreign Legion, at the very end the fugitives from the Japanese army approach the remains of the Mysterious Island that after the volcanic explosition of Verne is a mere spire of rock in the vast ocean. Not a refuge in the world left for Tarzan or ERB. Like Capt. Nemo a submarine surfaces to rescue Tarzan and the Legion from a watery fate.
It seems amazing that as an honorary Frenchman Tarzan was never placed in a situation with the real French Foreign Legion. Perhaps P.C. Wren had preempted the genre with his magnificent FFL trilogy which left no room for ERb’s imagination to operate.
The long odyssey had ended. ERB could not imitate his man-god but he left him to us as an avatar for the coming New Age. What a long strange trip it was and for us, will be.
Part II follows.
April 3, 2010
Mourning Becomes Yoko Ono
The Passing Of John Lennon Part III
When John Lennon met Yoko Ono he knew very little of art and nothing of the New York art scene. His high school years had been spent in open and futile rebellion; the next few years had been spent only in the German underworld with no time for cultivation. From there he went into the whirl of the Beatles years so one might say he had been in cultural suspended animation for all his adult life.
Yoko Ono since 1960 had been engaged in the New York avant garde art scene. She was au courant when she left for London in 1966. Hooking up with Lennon she began to educate him according to her understanding of art. By the time the Ono-Lennons arrived in New York in the late sixties that scene was dominated by the POP art of Andy Warhol while the world both she and Lennon knew in 1960 was unrecognizable. Yoko wasted no time in ingratiating herself with Andy but not the factory. After he was shot in 1969 the old Factory disappeared and after his recovery Warhol began a new life. It is possible that she tried to establish
contact with him between ’64 and ’66. She did know warhol’s associate, Sam Green, from her first days in the Village in 1960.
By the time of her return to NYC Yoko had achieved world wide fame by using Lennon and his fame in their charades for ‘Peace.’ Now she had the perfect entree to enter Warhol’s circle. Warhol was a sucker for celebrities, he did Lennon’s portrait, so he was flattered when Yoko asked him to introduce she and John into society. If Warhol could pester, Yoko was unstoppable. While Andy wasn’t exactly persona gratis at that time he was thick with Sam Adams Green who did have entree to society. Between the the two of them they set up a party to introduce the Ono-Lennons.
John was, of course, no Mick Jagger. While Mick adapted himself quickly to the demands of his fame and moved easily in society, John was awkward being out of the element of his self-styled working class hero. Yoko, too, was no mixer so at the party Yoko and John sat silently in a corner as though in one of Yoko’s bags watching the party goers.
It might be apropos to point out that Jagger and Warhol were fairly close. Jagger was one of the few people attending Warhol’s funeral in Pittsburgh while Bianca was in Warhol’s entourage in the eighties. Warhol also painted a portfolio of Jagger pictures that today command healthy prices.
Yoko still persisted with Warhol but Andy having been disappointed once was not up for it twice. He distanced himself from the pair describing them to Sam Green as boring. An ultimate putdown.
Initially the Lennons lived in the Bohemian scene downtown. Mickey Ruskin, the owner of Max’s Kansas City, described the Bohemian scene thusly: the well-to-do Bohos, the middle and the lower class. Those associated with the Kettle of Fish and its environs of which Dylan was a member were of the lower class while the Kettle of Fish itself was owned by the Mafia. He believed Max’s was in the middle. John and Yoko first lived in New York in the West Village at 105 Bank Street next door to Yoko’s her, John Cage. They took over Joe Butler’s apartment, he formerly the drummer of Lovin’ Spoonful so Ruskin would have classed John and Yoko as haut ton beatniks.
At any rate they soon left those environs to migrate to the Upper West Side where they secured apartments in the famous, or soon to be famous, Dakota. It was then that their NYC life took its definitive form.
I have been to NYC a few times so that I know the general layout and have some feel for the place but I have by no means an intimate knowledge so essentially I’m working from maps. I know where MOMA and some few prominent art landmarks are from experience but not that many.
At any rate the Dakota is a famous landmark.. Acceptance as a tenant is by committee approval. John and Yoko were strenuously vetted but finally admitted. They took over actor Robert Ryan’s apartment #72. If you have seen the movie Rosemary’s Baby the camera pans past apartments 71 and 72. No filming was allowed inside the Dakota so while the exterior shots are authentic the interiors were shot on sets. Thus the apartment of the Satanists is a fictional 7E. The apartment next to it in which the young couple resided may have been number 72. The man of the couple who was an actor sold his wife’s body to Satan as the carrier of his child for success in the theatre which he was granted. Thus the Ono-Lennons moved into an apartment closely associated with devil worship, the occult and witchcraft.. This will become more important as Yoko associated herself with all three. In fact, Yoko through John Green would have been familiar with the Yoruban Santeria religion that she in all likelihood would have reverenced. The Spirit Foundation that she established is concerned with the preservation of just such tribal institutions.
These are magnificent apartments that I presume Rosemary’s Baby duplicates. Huge fifty foot long living rooms as part of a ten room apartment. The Ono-Lennons would soon own both 71 and 72 lacking only the fictional 7E while having a Studio apartment as well.
Being now permanently settled Yoko having access to John’s superb income began to spend it. Of course, she virtually cleaned out department stores on her buying binges, any girl’s dream. But, she also began to buy heavily into art and antiques as investments. This brought Warhol’s friend Sam Adams Green into a close association with her. Rich society women were Sam’s forte. He has an interesting story. He was actually descended from the second president of the United States, Samuel Adams. He arrived in New york in 1960 about the same time Andy Warhol was trying to establish himself as a fine artist and Yoko the same. Warhol of course began as a commercial artist doing shoe ads but in 1960 he changed the emphasis of his career.
In the fine arts field one of the first gallery people Andy met was Sam Green of the Green Gallery. Different Green, Sam only
worked there and shared the name. He and Andy hit it off. By 1965 Green was associated with the art department of UPennsylvania where he staged a Warhol exhibition in the same year. From there he gravitated bck to NYC where he began a career as art consultant to rich women on both continents. They liked him. Through the socialite Cecile Rothschild he was introduced to Greta Garbo with whom he was sort of a trusted companion for 15 years.
He was very knowledgeable about art as an investment traveling between Euorpe and the US advising socialites on the most investment worthy art. He apparently derived a more than comfortable income from his efforts. He was a trusted advisor of Yoko. Some say that he and Yoko’s Tarot reader, John Green, who would enter John and Yoko’s life at about this time, combined to bilk Yoko for overpriced objects. This presumes that both men were dishonest and that Yoko was a fool. As Yoko’s investments have prospered I think we can dismiss the latter, although Yoko did take pride in being able to spend vast sums. She would have taken pleasure in overpaying.
Rather I would say that Sam Green was a very knowledgeable expert whose task was to find art that would appreciate in value. Thus the question is did he perform that function and the answer is, yes. Yoko’s acquistions increased in value far above her purchase prices. I think it is unfair then to say that the Greens bilked her. Surely the laborer is worth his hire.
Now, Sam Green as her agent had to buy the items he acquired for her. Being knowledgeable as to who in society wanted to sell what at distressed prices he may have made some excellent buys that he then tacked on his margin which of course meant that he sold to Yoko for ‘more than they were worth.’ But, heck, even Christie’s and Sotheby’s take twenty per cent each from the buyer and seller. That’s a forty per cent surcharge. However Sam served his function of providing investment pieces so I see no evidence of bilking.
Sam Green also formed a close, probably romantic, liaison with Yoko that persisted until after John’s death. Another art dealser she became close to was a Sam Havadtoy with whom she subsequently lived for twenty years beginning immediately the day after John’s death.
Now the men Yoko associated herself with were all effetes, that were either emasculated when she found them or who she emasculated. Strangely Lennon was the strongest of the lot. Both her first Japanese husband and Tony Cox appear to have been heterosexuals but both Sam Green and Sam Havadtoy were dependent homosexuals. With Havadtoy Yoko may have had her ideal relationship. He was thoroughly emasculated while with the fortune Yoko inherited from Lennon he was totally dependent on her. The classic toy boy a couple decades younger than herself. He, by the way, after his twenty year stint as live-in retired to Hungary with an abundant palimony but he isn’t talking.
In my reading of the situation then, a not particularly compliant John became somewhat of a liability to her, especially as he began to reassert himself with the return to the recording studio in 1980. The problem has the surface appearance of separating the man form his money and discarding the man.
Yoko began building her entourage, Sam Green, John Green, Sam Havadtoy and her various occult people with what appears to be an admiration for and some sort of connection with Andy Warhol. Sam Green and Havadtoy would be a troublesome presence in Lennon’s life during the recording of Double Fantasy while he does not appear to have been enchanted with the Warhol connection
As has been mentioned Yoko became involved in occult practices. She did practice hypnotism on Lennon and was an adept at suggestion which is the essence of hypnotism. Thus on the one hand she suggested forcefully to May Pang that she take up with Lennon while it is probable she hypnotized Lennon into taking up with May Pang. Post hypnotic suggestion would give her a command over all Lennon’s actions. Once implanted she would only have to say the word and Lennon would follow her suggestions.
How complicit John Green would have been in this isn’t exactly clear but any of Yoko’s suggestions to John could have been complemented by a reading. John Green was after all dependent on Yoko for a very generous income beyond whatever he may have scammed.
John Green is another interesting case. He was apparently successful as a Tarot reader before he met Yoko while he is reported to hae been a student of the African Yoruba religion called Santeria. The Yoruba are a tribe in Nigeria, middle river, Western side. He would have obtained much of the magic information he displayed in Cartagena, Columbia, SA from that source. The sixties themselves were the great period of the dissolution of the American mind and personality. One of the key items in the disintegration was the 1962 movie, Mondo Cane. (It’s A Dog’s World). It is difficult to assess the impact of this movie on the malleable college age mind of the times.
I saw the movie then and while it passed out of my conscious mind it struck me most forcibly and lodged in my subconscious mind. I, of course, reviewed the movie for this essay and while I at first remembered little gradually my conscious mind recovered the images so that I remember almost all. The viewing at the time was very repulsive and unsettling to my mind as it was for everyone I talked to about it and every college kid saw it. Still, consciously I missed the true import of the movie completely.
The filmmakers equated some New Guinea stone age people with modern Whites and equated them- said both states of
consciousness were the same- and that there had been no advance between the primitive and modern. Then they showed Whites at their goofiest and most ridiculous. Drunks at a German Oktoberfest, aged tourists clumsily trying to do a hula. The movie was a real exercise in moral relativity. It was shortly after viewing the movie that I first remember hearing the phrase ‘Nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so.’ I don’t want to philosophize on this but my thought was that if I think something is bad therefore it must be because I think it and I can’t be wrong.
The movie had a devastating effect on the attitude of the generation. It was a form of hypnosis with a great deal of post-hypnotic suggestion. Whether John Green saw the movie or not I can’t say but if he had it would have prepared him for accepting Yoruban Santeria. In fact these primitive forms of religion and what not flourished in the wake of Mondo Cane. At the same, as I indicated, Yoko would have been very open to Santeria. I think there is little doubt that Green and she at least discussed the religion and its African tribal origin. Especially as she established something she calls the Spirit Foundation. In the online prospectus she describes the foundation thusly:
The Spirit Foundation is…concerned with the protection and promotion of creative and cultural diversity amongst shamanic tribal communities worldwide. Part of the foundations work is the International Shamanic Network which aims at promoting the ancient creative archetypes of man and their binding ecological realtionship to the world.
Our emphasis is on education for action.
As mentioned Yoko and Lennon moved into the suites used in Rosemary’s Baby with its Satanic overtones. In the movie a young woman living with the Satanic couple either jumps or is pushed to her death not far from where Lennon was shot. In this very location Yoko took up Satanism. She decided she wanted to make a pact with the Devil to obtain her wishes. The ubiquitous Sam Green knew of a witch who could serve as an intermediary between Yoko and Satan. (Remember I am only retailing the story, I don’t believe Satan exists.)
Sam Green who had prospered as an art consultant had used some of his earnings to purchase what he called a castle in Cartagena, Colombia. He recommended his witch to Yoko who asked John Green to take her to the witch as he doubled as Tarot reader and Wizard. John Green did so and the witch duly negotiated a deal between Yoko and the Lord of Fire. When it came time to sign the pact Yoko asked Green to do it for her which he did. She was aghast when he told her he didn’t sign his name but hers. Yoko trying to cheat the devil.
We don’t know what she asked Satan for but we are compelled to believe she got it.
As I believe she hypnotized Lennon into taking the Long Weekend I don’t know exactly why she wanted him out of the house. She certainly closely monitored his activities while he was away both in NYC and LA. During his absence Yoko didn’t have a Power of Attorney so she was somewhat constrained as John had her on a 300K budget. When he returned she quickly obtained his POA so that she had unlimited use of his money and, in fact, his identity.
Lennon is criticized for being a recluse in the years between 1975-80. He certainly wasn’t a recluse in that he withdrew from the world. He merely limited his contacts with it. It is said there was a fifteen month period when he was completely withdrawn. While he was obviously suffering from a mental malise in my opinion the withdrawal was completely justified. He had mental issues that had to be resolved. He had the money and time to work at it as he did.
He had a mother/father fixation he had to resolve. he had the feeling that he had been either a genius or a lunatic from boyhood. In a remarkable rant within the 1970 Rolling Stone interview he rants for pages because no one recognized him as a genius in his youth while he had now convinced himself that he was and had been a genius. The fact that he never did his schoolwork doesn’t seem to him that that may have a reason why people missed his genius and though him somewhat mad. What would theyhave done if they had? So he had to reconcile the issue in his mind.
He seems to have made no advance past his school years except in music. The years between leaving school and taking up with Yoko were completely wasted intellectually while the pressures of phenomenal success and wealth disoriented him completely not to mention the massive doses of drugs. At some time then he had to come down and organize his mind and life. From 1968 to let us say 1980 he was completely dependent on Yoko for his mental balance. In NYC he went where she did and did what she did. Hence the connection to Andy Warhol and Sam Green.
There are numerous pictures of Yoko, Lennon and Warhol. Yoko even patterned some of her work after Warhol’s style as in the ‘work’ below patterned after Warhol’s double Elvis. Thus she associates herself and Lennon with Presley.
As I mentioned before the social entree arranged by Warhol and Sam Green failed because of the social ineptness of the Ono-Lennons.
While we have a full record of what Lennon was doing during his ‘Lost Weekend’ we have a less full account of what Yoko was doing. She seems to have had romantic liaisons with at least three men- Sam Green, Sam Havadtoy and the guitarist David Spinozza.
Perhaps she wanted to see how well she could do on her own as a musician, to see if her reputation as a performance artist and, in her mind, musician, was sufficient to maintain a career on her own without John. If so, she was brutally disappointed as in her only solo performance she failed miserably. Thus she realized that as of 1974 her reputation as well as her wealth depended on Lennon.
It was during Lennon’s absence that John Green came into her life. While John Green tells a fairly smooth story in his Dakota Years one has the feeling that he is being highly selective in what he tells while he slyly ridicules the Ono-Lennons as their superior. The attitude easily leads to contempt and from contempt to abuse. Of course he would have to dissimulate both the contempt and abuse as Ono would be reading the book. As I imagine, a priest in the Santeria religion, he would have been in the company of some shady characters. I don’t know how many actual Yorubas were in NYC but I have met a couple elsewhere.
One imagines most of the hierarchy Green came into contact with was African or American Blacks. Santeria involves a deal of ritual sacrifice while money would be needed. I suspect that John Green was involved in the extortion attempt on the Ono-Lennons. This may have been Santeria related. Thus a sort of Black Hand organization was created. Rather than go for the big money that would have created a stir, the group settled for hitting up people with millions for a mere 200K each. An unpleasant tax for being rich but one more conveniently paid than to die resisting.
We have only Green’s version of the extortion and his relationship to it. He paints himself in a relatively good light. The Ono-Lennons did call in the FBI, they did give the extortionists newspaper rather than cash as the FBI advised. But then things went wrong. The FBI apparently had only one tail on the extortionist who came for the money rather than a series of back ups. The agent inexplicably lost his man. The Ono-Lennons never received another call but they had been warned that if they failed to pay Lennon would be killed whether it took one, two or more years. In December of 1980 the bill fell due. On December 8th he was shot. December 7th is Pearl Harbor Day so there may be a Japanese connection. Yoko Ono being Japanese, her numerologist and the assassin’s wife while Chapman missed the appointed day by one.
The question then hangs on Mark David Chapman the shooter. He is still alive and in prison. He was an assassin as the classic lone nut like Lee Harvey Oswald and any number of assassins who pay the law for the crime while the organizers go free. The technique has been well known to criminals for centuries. Any time a lone nut assassinates someone you may be sure that they were a patsy as Oswald announced over TV he was.
It seems likely that Chapman had been hypnotized. Witnesses said Chapman acted as though in a trance and he himself said he heard a voice in his head saying: Do it. Do it. Do it. The problem would be how he was recruited. I, of course, can say nothing for certain while what I am saying now is merely an hypothesis or inquiry. The main thing is that Chapman was supposed to be a lone nut. Ridiculous.
The most obvious recruitment method was the Santeria of which John Green was a member and to which Yoko Ono was
sympathetic. There are some oddities in the Chapman story that have to be explained not least of which are the large sums of money expended by Chapman in relation to his income. He was a married man therefore had a wife to support. Yet in 1978 he was in Japan at the same time as the Ono-Lennons beginning an around the world flight.
Perhaps Tokyo was the first stop of the trip around the world that then led to Seoul, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Delhi, Israel, Geneva, Paris, London, Dublin, Atlanta and back to Hawaii. His travel agent was a Japanese woman, Gloria Abe, who he then courted and married. She is reported to have been involved in occult circles. She may have seen so involved that, through Takahashi Yoshikawa, Yoko’s numerologist she was brought in to arrange the trip. Such an around the world trip in a Westerly direction- sundown to sunup- according to Yoshikawa’s numerology would be characteristic of Yoko Ono. She and Lennon made a round the world trip for occult reasons as did both Lennon individually and John Green at her instance. Green made his trip in 59 1/2 hours only leaving a plane once to change to another. As the financing of Chapman’s trip is unknown I would suggest Yoko Ono.
Two years after this very costly trip around the world Chapman flew from Hawaii to first Chicago, then Atlanta, then to New York where he landed a few days before the assassination. Once again, well beyond his means. It is said that he took paintings to Chicago that he sold. Where he would have gotten the paintings isn’t known but once again Yoko is the obvious source. She had an art gallery of valuable art work.
While in Atlanta he contacted a former roommate, then a Deputy Sheriff, Gene Scott, who gave him the hollow point exploding
bullets for a handgun. One assumes such bullets couldn’t be bought over the counter. One wonders why Scott didn’t ask what Chapman intended to do with them. And if he did and Chapman told him Gene Scott is clearly an accomplice and should be questioned.
Chapman himself came from Atlanta where in his teen years he was known to ingest any and all drugs. Atlanta was also a Santeria center with several weird Black cults. Lennon’s death took place at the same time as the Atlanta child murders for which Wayne Williams was later convicted. The Santeria religion has been suspected in these obvious sacrificial murders while John Green establishes a Santeria connection to the Ono-Lennons and Yoko in particular.
Yoko was an excellent hypnotist who understood the use and power of suggestion. The Santerists as Africans would be well versed in the use of suggestion and hypnotism.
Chapman said he was possessed by the Devil while appearing to be in a hypnotic trance. All this rather amusingly is taking place at the Dakota, the scene of the Devil’s birth in Rosemary’s Baby. Indeed, the identical apartment.
After Lennon’s death there was no period of mourning or sense of loss by Yoko. All Lennon’s assets were in her control and name before his death. The so-called will of Lennon is suspicious, although the will was unnecessary becaue I doubt if Lennon thought of a will while the will appointed the art dealer Sam Green as the gaurdian of son Sean in the event the Ono-Lennons perished together. Lennon wasn’t that enamored of Sam Green.
Within a few days Sam Havadtoy was installed as Yoko’s live-in where he remained for twenty years.
While Yoko’s success as an artist and rock n’ roller wasn’t affected by Lennon’s death she now had the money to pay to have her art exhibited. Even then she found her reputation was indissolubly linked to her dead husband. She has become a caretaker for the Lennon legend parceling out old recordings while humiliatingly Lennon’s artwork is more in demand than hers.
She seems to have patterned her later career on that of Andy Warhol who as he acquired fame and fortune managed to insinutate himself into certain society circles. So has Yoko. Now, at 78, she has attained a certain status although still extremely self-centered while having an appearance of terminal aloneness.
November 20, 2009
A Contribution To The
ERBzine ERB Library Project
H. Rider Haggard
Review by R.E. Prindle
From London To The The Caves Of Kor
She is dedicated to Andrew Lang:
I Inscribe This History To
In Token Of Personal Regard
My Sincere Admiration For His Learning
And His Works
One may well ask then who is this Andrew Lang and what is his learning? In point of fact Haggard not only dedicated She to Lang but wrote three books in collaboration with him. Andrew Lang, 1884-1912, was a Scottish scholar specializing in folklore, mythology and religion so you can see where Haggard came by much of his esoteric knowledge. In addition Lang was one of the founding members of the Society For Psychic Research and a past-President. Lang wrote dozens of books over his lifetime. He even wrote a parody of She in 1887 called He. Today he is remembered only for his collections of fairy tales. Twelve volumes in all each titled after a color such as The Crimson, or Blue or Pink or Gray Fairy Book. The volumes are undergoing a fair revival now with a collector’s edition published by Easton Press and several nicely bound volumes by the Folio Society.
The nineteenth century was the one in which advanced knowledge of the past was rapidly extending European knowledge greatly. The Rosetta Stone deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics had been achieved as recently as the 1830s. Nineveh and the Assyrian ruins had been unearthed. Schlieman had discovered the locations of Troy and Mycenae.
The exoteric side was covered by the academics while the esoteric side was covered by independent scholars like Madame Blavatsky and probably Andrew Lang. There was a clean split between the academic Patriarchal view of ancient history and the emerging Matriarchal view that had just been developed by the Swiss mythologist, J.J. Bachofen. Bachofen organized ancient history into Hetaeric, Matriarchal and Patriarchal periods. He himself was a member of the successor Scientific period.
The academics totally rejected the notion of a Matriarchal period. This, of course, led to a complete inability to understand Homer, both Iliad and Odyssey. The Iliad especially is a description of the war by the Patriarchy to destroy Matriarchy.
Lang seems to have understood the Matriarchal phase of ancient history. He must have passed this knowledge on to Haggard. Ayesha, as She, rules a Matriarchal society. While the ideas represented in She must have seemed bizarre or merely an amusing reversal of the Patriarchal world at the time, today it all reads comprehensibly. It rings true if not exact.
C.G. Jung, the psychologist, who developed such notions as the male Anima and the Shadow was very immpressed by what he saw as the male Anima in She. Madame Blavatsky lauded the book for its esoteric content. But then, Haggard was firing on all eight cylinders when he wrote it, it is difficult to conceive of a more perfect fantasy/adventure novel. Indeed Haggard subtitles the novel: The History Of An Adventure.
Haggard was an excellent Egyptian scholar. He not only visualized Egypt convincingly in his Egyptian novels but his Egyptian ideas pervade the African novels. Many of them involve Egyptian influences and even peoples filtering down into East and Central Africa. The Ivory Child is a case in point as is She.
The set up to the trip out is brilliant incorporating details that become cliches in B movies.
Leo Vincey’s father before he died gave a metal box to Leo’s guadian, Horace Holly, that wasn’t to be opened until Leo was twenty-five. This box is now opened. It contained a letter to Leo, a potsherd (a piece of a broken jar) covered with ‘uncial’ Greek lettering, a miniature and a scarab containing Egyptian hieroglyphics that read ‘Royal Son of the Sun.’
Thus Haggard captured most if not all of the elements that went into the intellectual aura fostered by B moves primarily in the first years of the talkies through the thirties. That entailed things like the Curse of the Pharaohs, movies like The Mummy melding into Wolf Man, Dracula, Frankenstein and African juju spells. Things against which Europeans had no defense because the ancient magic was stronger than modern science, or so we were led to believe. I can’t speak for others but it took me a while to shake this oppressive spirit. This was pretty strong stuff for my ten to twelve year old brain. Not to mention being bombarded by The Creature From The Black Lagoon, The Thing and The Day The Earth Stood Still. We wuz tried in the fire and come through good.
The gist of it is that Leo’s ancestor Kallicrates lived in the time of the last Pharaoh Nectanebo as one of the royal family. Spookier still Nectanebo was said to have fled Egypt before the conquering hordes, going to Macedon where he secretly impregnated Olympia, Philip’s wife, who then gave birth to Alexander which made him the rightful heir to the Pharaohship instroducing Greeks as rulers into his city of Alexandria.
At any rate Kallicrates girl friend, Ayesha, killed him in a jealous rage. The family nursing vengeance for all these two thousand years it is Vincey’s mission if he chooses to accept it, to follow the ancient map to the Caves of Kor and kill Ayesha or, She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed who has been nursing regrets over killing Kallicrates two thousand years previously. Listen to me, I’m tellin’ ya it’s all here.
So Vincey, Holly and their man Job set out to find this place in Africa even more remote, if possible, than King Solomon’s Mines. And a heck of a lot more hostile too.
The trip out is some of Haggard’s finest writing. They are to be looking for a rock formation on the coast in the shape of a gorilla’s head. Sailing the coast they miraculously spot this head just as a terrific squall sends their felucca, dhow or other exotic ship from foreign climes to the b ottom.
But, even though the ship sinks they beat the reaper because they brought a boat containing unsinkable water tight compartments. As the storm subsides the three survivors along with an Arab float into the mouth of the appropriate stream as though it were all foreordained. What follows is some excellent writing with details I don’t need to recount.
Suffice it to say they are dragging their boat along an ancient canal when they are accosted by men from Kor. Ordinarily these guys would have speared them and moved on, no strangers needed in Kor. Using her magic She had learned of Leo’s coming a week previously thus ordering their lives spared while they were to be brought to her. Uh huh.
The detailing is terrific, this book is tight and well organized. It moves right along. The land is under the thumb of She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed. This is a tight Matriarchy as we now recognize not just some strange place where a woman is in charge.
While the three are entering the Caves of Kor, Leo Vincey, being the cynosure of all female eyes, a knockout named Ustane steps up and kisses him. Not averse to a public display of affection Leo lays one on her back. New to the area and not aware of the customs of the place Leo had just accepted Ustane as his woman. In town for a few minutes and already married. That’s the way things happen in this particular Matriarchy. Ustane is now in conflict with Ayesha, She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed.
The stage is now set for the main drama when Ayesha recognizes Leo as her long lost Kallicrates come back from all those reincarnations at last.
The exoteric Catholic Church is thus thrust aside in favor of all the heretical doctrines of the esoteric which have been bubbling under the Hot 100 for two thousand years. These unfamiliar esoteric doctrines would become the mainstay and staple of science fiction/fantasy for the next one hundred years.
Just as an example of how Burroughs probably learned esoterica, I became familiar with estoeric themes myself from reading 1950s science fiction and fantasy- Amazing Stories, William Tenn, Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury and all that sort of stuff without realizing what I was taking in, thus Burroughs surrounded by the Society for Psychical Research, Camille Flammarion, George Du Maurier and Stevenson et al. naturally learned the esoteric language. No mystery, he was speaking in tongues before he knew it.
Leo is awaiting the summons from Ayesha which will be covered in Part III.
August 20, 2009
Conversations With Robin, Page 3
Conversations between R.E. Prindle And Robin Mark
Well, well, well. Robert Goulet. I should have known that filthy bastard would be mixed up in there somewhere. What amazes me is that Guralnik could write two fat volumes on Elvis and never mention the Mob once. I think we can begin to integrate Elvis’ Mob conflicts pretty clearly now, although research will have to establish the connections for sure.
For starters, entertainment is a Mob industry both records and movies; that includes both Jews and Sicilians. If you haven’t read Gus Russo’s Supermob yet, do so. The Sidney Korshak role at MCA is crucial.
Anent shooting out TVs remember that Sinatra had a plane he called Superwop or something to that effect so it is clear he bore a grudge against the Anglo world. The plane was a small ‘Lear’ if I remember correctly. Elvis went out and bought a 707. Big plane, big penis; little plane little penis. Not exactly true in Frank’s case, but you get the point. So at least Goulet and Sinatra. I can understand why Dean Martin tried to distance himself from those creeps.
Parker must have had the business dealings with the Outfit. As he ran into gambling problems the only commodity he had to barter was Presley. Thus he would have had to ‘sell’ Presley to keep both his legs under him. Elvis’ rapid deterioration could have been because of his realization that he was ‘caught in a trap. I can’t get out.’ Devastating awareness. One could only retreat into booze and/or drugs.
Now, Leiber said that he and Stoller at one time worked for the Mafia. This wouldn’t be unusual nor should it be held against them because if you’re in entertainment you’re involved, like it or not. The question is when were they involved, for how long, and for what purpose.
We all know Fabian was a Mob creation. Why not others? If you haven’t seen and studied The Girl Can’t Help It, do so. The movie is an alegory of the record business. Everything you see in the movie is the Outfit in action. In the fifties every Juke Box in America was stocked by the Outfit. You didn’t get your record stocked unless you were Mobbed up somewhere along the line. Someone recently told me that the girls on the Dick Clark Show were prostitutes and Bandstand was used to showcase them for Johns. Don’t know that it’s true but I wouldn’t be surprised.
Leiber and Stoller could have been co-opted to write songs for, say, The Coasters. A Black act with interchangeable personnel. Kind of an early Back Street Boys. I don’t know but I’d like to hear Leiber talk about it. Might prove enlightening.
So, let us assume that the Colonel was drawn into the Mob scene from the beginning of Presley’s movie career. That might explain some of his stupid decisions and those dumb movies. Perhaps Parker didn’t have a free hand but was ‘wise’ enough to figure out that something is better than nothing.
Then after Vegas Presley was increasingly drawn into orbit until he learned the horrifying truth. Guralnik seems to have his head up his ass as far as I’m concerned.
As Presley learned the truth looking forward to forty more years of slavery he found drugs more comfortable than reality. Possible, it would make things make sense.