A Review: Woman: The Incredible Life Of Yoko Ono by Alan Clayson

April 28, 2010

 

 

A Review

Woman

by

Alan Clayson

Yoko Ono And The Men Who Influenced Her

Review by R.E. Prindle

Clayson, Alan: Woman: The Incredible Life Of Yoko Ono, Chrome Dreams, 2004.

 

Girlish Yoko- Warhol School by Richard Bernstein

     Yoko Ono involved herself with several of the most influential men in the arts during the sixties, seventies and eighties of the twentieth century.  She drew her inspiration from them patterning her own efforts after them.  At the same time she was one of the leading feminists of the day having her share in shaping and furthering the movement.  The mantra was female liberation, equality between men and women.  In fact women were equal to men in the West but only by acknowledging the biological differences between men and women.  The fact is the differences are real and not social constructs as women would have us believe.  The fact is women are women and men are men.   So, in seeking ‘female liberation’ feminists were seeking much more than ‘equality’ however the term may be defined.

     The fact is that in the Ages old war between the sexes feminists are seeking to restore the Matriarchy and destroy the Patriarchy.  That is why many men favor feminism, they prefer the Matriarchy.  Thus the feminists are atavistic.  Yoko and her cohorts wished, in her words, to restore ‘heart’ as she viewed the Matriarchy and eliminate ‘reason’ as she viewed quite rightly the basis of  Patriarchalism.  Nevermind that bilogical science has invalidated the concepts of Matriarachy and Patriarchy.  This is a post Matriarchy and Patriarchy world.

     Circa -2000 in the West men revolted against the mind stifling Matriarchy and the vaginal swamp of the ‘heart’ seeking to establish

Smilin' Jack Cage

the authority of the infinite power of the mind of Zeus on ethereal Olympus.  This is the story of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey and the Greek myths in general recording the struggle.

     The Western male was able to impose the ascendency of reason over the heart for 3000 years until the disestablishment of the old order by science about mid-nineteenth century.  The center could not hold during this period of extreme change as W.B. Yeats put it as the rearrangement of the intellectual order moved into the twentieth century.

     Yoko Ono sought with her feminist fellows to return to the biological innocence of 2000 BC.  She herself had no talent.  Filled with audacity she pitted her ‘heart’ against the reason of John Cage, Andy Warhol and John Lennon.  I’m sure she had a mentor for her so-called performance art but I am as yet unaware of who he may be.  Perhaps Maciunas and the Fluxus group.

     Thus her first manifestation as an artist was based on the musical ideas of John Cage while her artistic efforts were at least based in the avant garde ideas of the Fluxus group.  Her first assault on the NYC art world failed so in 1961 she returned in defeat to Japan.  When she returned to NYC in 1964 she found an entirely different art scene.  On the musical side the focus was on Bobby Dylan and the Beatles while on the artistic side Andy Warhol and his Factory had destroyed the Abstract Expressionists and the old avant garde.  Dylan, the Beatles and Warhol had in fact usurped the avant garde which now had little meaning.  From my point of view held at the time the avant garde had ceased to exist.  Of course I didn’t understand exactly why or how.

     From 1964 when Yoko returned to NYC until 1966 when she left for London I’m sure Yoko was at a loss.  She developed her silly

The Bag Yoko And Tony Are In

notion of Bagism at this time even having a black bag on a stand in Max’s Kansas City that some one or ones were supposed to slide into.  This seems to have been thought a lame idea at the time as it seems now.

      At this time while retaining allegiance to John Cage’s musical ideas she was falling under the influence of Andy Warhol’s artistic notions.  Warhol’s intent had been to destroy the idea of ‘fine art’.  In this he pretty well succeeded.  As Yoko expressed it you didn’t need any talent to be an artist.  She seems to demonstrate this notion in her own artistic efforts.  Warhol had also redefined the notion of film with his static studies.  He then sought to combine his film ideas with live music, probably in competition with Bob Dylan who was also attempting to move in that direction.   Warhol adopted Lou Reed and his band the Velvet Underground as the Factory house band while creating a multi-media show called the Exploding Plastic Inevitable, innovative for its time.  Thus a concert at his hall, the Dom, was an ‘experience.’

     While Yoko makes no mention about how this, actually, incredible development affected her there can be no doubt that she was well aware of Dylan, the Beatles and the Warhol Experience and was affected by it.  Indeed, the first manifestation was the making of her Warhol style films such as Bottoms.

     The second manifestation was her removal to London to seduce either Lennon or McCartney of the Beatles, thus in the manner of Warhol’s adoption of the Velvet Underground she sought to co-opt the Beatles, the premier rock group in the world.  Real chutzpah and more than one upping Warhol.  I think it would be nonsense to think she had any other goal in mind.

     She undoubteldy learned that Paul McCartney was actively involved with John Dunbar and his Indica Gallery that opened in 1965. 

Psychedelic Dylan

Some say she first set her sights on McCartney but the more vulnerable Lennon showed up and the Spider Woman spread her web.

     She was still married to her second husband, Tony Cox, but, regardless of what she says she very aggressively pursued, or attacked, Lennon.  Lennon was emotionally under water unable to handle his success while drugging himself out of his mind.  He was unwillingly married to his wife Cynthia.  It appears that he married Cynthia out of duty when she became pregnant.  He doesn’t seem to have been happy in his virtue.  Yoko had no difficulty in capturing his affections.

      Now, just as Warhol had adopted the Velvets and imposed his female singer, Nico, on the band Yoko sought to imp[ose herself on the Beatles through Lennon.  At this time she was still musically completely in thrall to John Cage understanding nothing about Rock music.  She and Lennon had made a ridiculous LP called Two Virgins in 1968.  She combined her cagian screechings while using an avant garde ‘performance’ notion of the couple posing nude on the cover; full frontal on the obverse, full posterior on the reverse.  As no store would carry the cover the couple reverted to Yoko’s idea of Bagism placing the cover inside a plain manila envelope or bag.  While it didn’t sell the record this form of Bagism was actually a successful artistic statement.  The nude cover given an outer garment so to speak.

     Well, the public was prepared to forgive the Beatles anything but the other three Beatles weren’t prepared to forgive Yoko for forcing herself on them thus she broke up the most successful act of the sixties.  Still, she had succeeded according to her wildest dream.  Lennon and his wonderful reputation and fortune were hers.  She had gone from a neglected, nondescript ‘performance’ artist to center stage, not on her own womanly talents but by attaching herself to a talented man.   Yoko’s ‘heart’ was useless without the male intellect.   Yoko was now the most influencial feminist in the world.  She knew what to do with that.

     After several ‘performance’ acts such as the ‘Bed In For Peace’ the couple left England to return to the place Yoko wished to subjugate artistically, New York City.  She had raised herself to a par with Andy Warhol.  She now had to meld her musical and artistic goals through Lennon and Warhol.

     On the musical side she began to develop her rock n’ roll skills under  the tutelage of Lennon.  While not abandoning the avant garde notions of John Cage she now emasculated her husband.  Always semi-delusional or perhaps completely so, she fantasized that she was not only equal to Lennon in skill and popularity but superior to him.   She imagined herself more popular than Lennon.  Thus one has such travesties as the LP Double Fantasy.  It was only after Lennon’s death that she was forced to recognize than Lennon’s fans did not appreciate her efforts.  So she failed as a musician.

     She quickly tired of being Mrs. Lennon.  Thus she and Lennon separated for eighteen months or so during the years 1973-75.  She then realized that her financial well being and musical acceptance depended on Lennon.  In 1975 she called him back resuming their relationship until his death in 1980.  But, things had changed.

     She began to adopt Warhol’s life style on her return to NYC.  While she propagated the notion that she was some sort of business whiz Iam having difficulties discovering any such skills.  It appears that with the enormous income of Lennon she emulated Warhol in

Andy the Demon

spending her way to prosperity.

     She was in a position to not only match Warhol’s spending but exceeding it by many times.  Through the seventies and eighties Warhol came into his own as an artist while reaping a fortune doing portraits.  There appears to have been no effort on his part to invest in income producing vehicles.  Rather he bought stuff.  He purchased buildings in NYC and elsewhere while acquring undeveloped acreage in places like Aspen.  He shopped nearly every day buying antiques from furniture to objets d’ art by the bushel almost as though he were trying to excel the incredible W.R. Hearst.

     He usually didn’t even look at the stuff once he bought it merely filling rooms with his shopping bags.  At his death all this junk was auctioned off for 25 million dollars, a nice appreciation in value.

      Yoko followed the exact pattern buying apartments and houses as well as an extensive dairy farm with a herd of prize cows.  She not only had but has five apartments in her principal dwelling, the Dakota apartment building and many other houses scattered around.

     Like Warhol the Dakota apartments are stuffed with junk.  Valuable, but, you know, stuff.  She bought at good prices.  Her extensive collection of Egyptian antiquities was mostly purchased before a steep rise in value.

     Like the Rothschilds of old Yoko didn’t do all her own shopping but employed agents to search things out.  Chief among these was an associate of Warhol’s, Sam Green, and an Hungarian immigrant by the name of Sam Havadtoy.

Buddies- Yoko, John, Andy

     There should be no surprise then that she now has an extensive collection of  Warhol’s artwork as well as his portraits of Lennon.  The Warhols would have been purchased for form 25 to 50K while now being listed on her assets at tens of millions.  She also has been said to have a good collection of Magrittes as well as one assumes other artists.  So, much of her net worth is tied up in artwork purchased through Sam Green.

     Sam Havadtoy was an antiques dealer as well as an interior designer.  He appears to have been a somewhat shady character.  It is very difficult to find much about him, however there is a sharp portrait available from the notorious A.J. Weberman ( http://www.acid-trip.org/lennon/ )

     …(the Lennons) hired a sleazy Eastern European bisexual to renovate the pad. (Dakota)  I had heard of this dude, whose name escapes me, from an asswipe named BRUCE KIRSH, who worked for him.   KIRSH told me that the dude, who worked for the King of Morocco, would form a dummy renovation company, hire employees like Kirsch who were willing to work under false names, then, when it came time to pay taxes, everyone would disappear.  I learned of him long before he was hired by John and Yoko, and I was taken aback when Yoko took up with him after John’s death.

     I know that Weberman is not particularly well thought of by fandom but this is because of his harassment of Dylan who did, after all, misrepresent himself to the revolutionaries like Weberman.  A.J. himself is an intelligent observer who was wading through it when it was deep.  I do believe he knows what he’s talking about although his interpretations of Dylan’s lyrics seem absurd.

     I would have to question Yoko’s judgment in taking him in.  Both he and Sam Green were candidates as successors to Lennon with

Lennon by Warhol

whom she consorted in front of  Lennon before he died while Yoko chose Havadtoy as his successor the day he died.

     Perhaps she selected Havadtoy over Green because he was more rough trade.  With Lennon while managing to reconcile revolution with peace and love with Havadtoy she discarded peace and love in favor of strong arm methods against her former employee Fred Seaman when it was totally unnecessary.

     Havadtoy was living in a homosexual arrangement with his business partner when Yoko beckoned him to switch to her.  Apparently an able switch hitter he was lured by the money to this much older woman.  The arrangement did last for twenty years before Havadtoy removed to his native Hungary taking a nice cash settlement and several of the Warhols.

     Thus, just as Warhol had his live-in homosexual arrangement so after Lennon’s death Yoko adopted the exact arrrangement.  Today she apparently lives alone, a seventy-eight year old woman.

     After Lennon’s death there was an accession of from 30 million to a possible 100 million dollars as their last album, Double Fantasy, sold into the millions while the rest of Lennon’s catalog and one assumes the Beatles’ catalog was reinvigorated while all things Lennon sold.   This is, of course, no reflection on Yoko but the inevitable result  with intellectual properties when the maker dies.

     Post-Lennon, then, Yoko realized that her recording and art careers were nil.  Heart without intellect is worthless.  She then became the caretaker of the Lennon legacy.  His recordings, of course, continued to sell, but even his artwork eclipsed that of Yoko.  So she suffered the humiliation of being a mere appendage to a man.  The feminine dismal swamp was eclipsed by the Olympian heights of the male intellect.   As in ancient times the God had trumped the Goddess.  And yet as with Hera and Zeus the Goddess gets her way.   Yoko came up with the money and goods while Lennon’s spirit was wafted into the stratosphere.

     As any reader of mythology knows Hera ruled the Lernean swamps of Argolis while Zeus ruled the gods on ethereal Olympus.  Thus one has the symbolism of the biological difference between the male and female.

     In ancient times the female had her share in magic.  She knew herbs and plants, was familiar with poisons and cures as with the arch witch of the ancient world, Medea.  The reputation of the female witch even as a consort of Satan persisted down through medieval and post-medieval times, indeed, even up to the dawn of the scientific enlightenment.  One would have thought that magic and witchery were a thing of the past in the 1960s and yet Yoko embodied the whole female swamp mentality.

     She established something called the Spirit Foundation attributing the direction to Lennon who in fact knew nothing of these matters but followed her lead.  The Spirit Foundation celebrated the ancient art of the Shaman or witch doctor.  Shamanism itself even preceded the Matriarchal swamps of Argolis.  It was a rich repository of magical tradition.  Further the Foundation was feminist in that it was dedicated to preserving the magical traditions of the women of the Pacific islands still living in such archaic societies.  The wealth generated by the male intellect was appropriated by the female vagina or ‘heart.’

     In her own life and that of Lennon’s Yoko was addicted to a variety of magical practices- astrology, numerology, Tarot readings, and indeed she traveled to the Caribbean to sell her soul to Satan through the offices of a female curandera.  Her Tarot reader, John Green, was a priest in the shamanistic, magical, Yoruban African cult of Santeria.

     Her feminism was more a magical effort to restory Matriarchal supremacy over the Patriarchy thus reversing the Patriarchal victory of three thousand years previously.  Indeed, what has been called the movement for female equality is nothing more than a covert campaign to restore the Matriarchy.

      Thus while Yoko o9riginatd nothing she usurped the abilities of the reason of men- Cage, Warhol, Lennon and male magicians such as John Green.  Indeed the Trojan War itself was a war of men in service of  women.

     In her associations with men she preferrred to deal with emasculated types such as homosexuals like Cage, Warhol, Sam Green and Sam Havadtoy.  Lennon claimed to have always been dependent of women for comfort and guidance while Yoko caught him at his most confused and vulnerable. 

     While she received direction from Cage and Warhol she was able to manipulate Lennon out of his talent somewhat as Vivian did that of Merlin of the Arthurian saga.  When Vivian had usurped Merlin’s magical knowledge she buried him deep much as Lennon was put out of the way.  Yoko  then appropriated his wealth and residual income after his death.   It was this constant inflow of cash that allowed her to propagate the notion that she was a financial genius.

      Then as the female of the ‘heart’ or vaginal swamp she managed and appropriated the reason of Olympus through Cage, Warhol and Lennon.  What she got from Havadtoy other than brute strength is not clear to me.

     As such Yoko is Woman.  In her case a seeming reversion to the archetypal Shaman of the most ancient times.

 

 

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