Pt. III: Edgar Rice Burroughs And The Accreted Personality

April 12, 2012

Edgar Rice Burroughs

And

The Accreted Personality

by

R.E. Prindle

Edgar Rice Burroughs Searching For The Answers

The Sea In Which He Swam

 

“I will tell you my history!

And you, excellent agnostic as you are,

‘Shall minister to a mind diseased,

And pluck out the memory of a rooted sorrow!’

What a power of expression there was in Shakespeare,

The uncrowned but actual King of England!

Not the rooted sorrow alone was to be ‘plucked out’;

But the very memory of it.

The apparently simple here holds complex wisdom;

No doubt the poet knew,

Or instinctively guessed

the most terrible fact in the universe…’

“And what is that?”

“The eternal consciousness of Memory,…God cannot forget- and, in consequence of this, His creature, may not!”

Marie Corelli- The Sorrows Of Satan

Miss Marie Corelli- The Soul Of Confidence

 

There can be no mind without memory. While I personally believe that the unborn infant does have inchoate memories obtained in the womb, let us just say that the memory banks begin to fill with birth. With memory comes an ability to analyze, that is compare, memories. As an example when I was lying on my back in my crib looking at the room for a long time (read, a couple months ) and all I saw were incoherent geometrical forms, angles and triangles, circles and whatever one moment as I looked on in amazement these geometric forms cohered into three dimensional objects forming walls and ceilings, While I didn’t know the names for lamps and lampshades, the lamp in the corner became one. And that was by unaided instruction.

Then they stood me on my feet and my education began in earnest. From that point an infant has to memorize vast amounts of information while somehow learning how to manipulate it for use. By the time you get to school they’re cracking your brain with masses of information.

The basis of mind is memory, that is to say the mind is nearly vacant at birth like an unprogrammed computer. The matrix for memorization is there but the content has yet to be loaded. While loading a computer is a matter of minutes filling a mind takes a lifetime with the crucial years being the first twelve. Zeus in the Iliad had a mind of infinite power and it is the duty of every individual to develop the power of his mind to as close an approximation as Zeus according to his ability.

George Du Maurier

Strangely the psychologists of the period failed to realize this, although the philosopher Carus came close. Freud himself seems to ignore the basic role of memory while some novelists of the last quarter of the century grasped it. George Du Maurier’s wonderful novel, Peter Ibbetson, is a marvelous exposition on the nature of Memory. Marie Corelli’s Sorrows of Satan is likewise built on the nature of memory. In short, without memory we are nothing, without the ability to remember as a child we can amount to nothing, while in old age if we lose our memory we become a vegetable without any purpose. Our existence is really a story of how we accumulated our memories and what we did with them.

There are also kinds of Memory. Experiential memory forms the basis of which much of the content is what the nineteenth century American sociologist Graham Sumner called Folkways. The ways one’s people do and see things that we begin to acquire at birth naturally, or perhaps unconsciously. This memory is supplemented at age five or six with organized education- school. Education is a very hard and painful thing requiring periodic restructuring of the brain when enough knowledge is acquired to demand a change of scale. No wonder fair numbers of people fail this rite of passage. Education gives or should give one a means of interpreting one’s acquired knowledge and experience, hence the importance of reading, writing and arithmetic.

Matters have changed a great deal since the nineteenth century with the development of various forms of media so that the child is bombarded with propaganda that he probably can’t evaluate properly so that the pre-school years have become very dangerous to him. Burroughs didn’t have that problem.

Ed was born into the world in 1875 so that his youth and young manhood was lived in the horse and buggy world shaping his ideas of reality. This would force a severe adaptation to the changes of scale, folkways and technology after 1900. In the sense of H.G. Wells’ novel Men Like Gods the world passed through an interface into a parallel universe where horses and buggies disappeared to be replaced by motor cars and an unparalleled wonder- the airplane. I get ahead of myself. Ed’s mind had assumed its form by 1900 so let’s see, if we can, what he saw, as his memory received its input.

H.G. Wells- Men Like Gods

Today we look at his novels of lost world after lost world and sneer at it as an overused literary device. But consider:

To give it a convenient date, the Western consciousness went through a change of scale about 1795. Philip Farmer, the American sci-fi writer picked this date to begin his fictional Wold Newton Universe. The change was the beginning of what might be called speculative fiction. Mary Shelley’s influential book, Frankenstein, would possible be the earliest or very early example.

Oddly enough this very period saw the introduction of the historical novel in the works of the Scotsman, Walter Scott, perhaps the greatest novelist who ever lived. In my book he is. Thus we have a sense of the past and vision of the future emerging as the Western mind set. The historical novel itself is an exercise of racial memory so that along with the change came a realization of the racial self as well as the individual self, an expanded consciousness.

The Western mindset was changed, had been changing, the changes of which took shape during the French Revolution, preceded by the Age of Reason which melded into the scientific outlook.

Hence, when Napoleon, for whatever quixotic reason , invaded Egypt in 1799, he took along a contingent of scientists, who did not exist before that time, to catalog the wonders of that ancient civilization. This was the first of the Lost Empires to be discovered by Europeans only 76 years before Ed was born. And what a Lost Civilization. All had been hidden from Western eyes by the veil of the Moslem occupation of what were traditionally Western lands. But now, the Pyramids, Luxor, the Great Sphinx! The last was celebrated by Shelley’s mind in his great poem Ozymandias nineteen years later:.

The Great Romantic- Percy Shelley

I met a traveler from an antique land

Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert…Near them, on the sand,

Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

And whose wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:

And on the pedestal these words appear:

‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:

Look on my work , ye Mighty and despair!’

Nothing besides remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.

 

The European mind was astounded, dumbfounded, amazed beyond measure. This was also the time that the Arabian Nights or alternatively The Thousand And One Nights of Scheherazade was placed in the European canon of literature. And the Egyptian hieroglyphs, so inscrutable, concealed the mystery of this amazing ancient people that preceded the Israelites of the Bible. Yet thirty years later Champollion of France decoded the hieroglyphics and revealed their meaning to the amazement of the world.

So vast were the Egyptian treasures of memory that year by year more astounding tombs were opened, hundreds and hundreds of mummies were discovered, legend after terrifying legend revealed this amazing past until the discovery of King Tut’s tomb in the 1920’s more or less put an end to this terrific hundred and twenty year voyage through mankind’s memory. The curse of the Pharaohs haunted the Western imagination well into the thirties with many movies, the technology unheard of in 1799, exploited the fantasy. Marvel of marvels. The curse of the Pharaohs.

Heinrich Schliemann

Nor did archaeology stop in Egypt. Heinrich Schliemann, a German enthusiast, defied the experts and uncovered the site of Homer’s fabled Troy, the lost civilization of the Iliad. The Iliad that incredible legend of 800 BC turned out to be based on fact. The Greek Myths themselves shape shifted from incredible fantasies to be myths based on actual events. So actual that Schliemann leaving Troy traveled to the Argolid of Greece and unearthed the marvelous lost civilization of Mycenae, revealing a shaft tomb containing what might have been a death mask of the fabled King Agamemnon of the Iliad.

Oh yes, this is old hat to us now but imagine the gasp of astonishment then. And, it didn’t stop with Schliemann’s discoveries either. The walls of Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire too were exposed to the light of day with their thousands of cuneiform tablets that once again were almost miraculously translated to reveal that amazing civilization thought to be a figment of the imagination of the Jews but now found real.

These discoveries went on an on and on. Even impoverished Africa contributed the memory of the Malagasy Empire of South Africa with its remains of Zimbabwe.

The British captains returned from India bearing tales almost too marvelous to be comprehended. Read General Forlong’s magnificent Rivers Of Life. The jungles of Southeast Asia gave up many incredible remains including Angkor Wat.

Burroughs is thought to have taken the concept of the lost civilization from that great English author Rider Haggard and while he read Haggard’s works, definitely influenced by them, he really only needed his newspaper to be astonished on, shall we say, a daily basis?

Thus year by year Ed’s memory banks filled with truths made even more incredible by having been the stuff of repressed memory for centuries even millennia.

II.

 

And then there was the War Between The States and Reconstruction. The Indian Wars post States Rights. How to take all this in. This was not a static period or a simpler happier time as many so fondly imagine.

Ed’s father George T. was an officer in the Civil War serving from the first Bull Run to Lee’s surrender at Appomatox. While soldiers don’t like to talk about their experiences surely little Eddie must have gotten some stories while the Grand Old Army of the Republic, the GAR, would have been prominent marching in parades and having a general political presence at a time when the politicians waved the bloody shirt as having fought.

Ed himself was born two years before the crime of Reconstruction, with all it attendant horrors for the Southerners, so while not having any real memories of the period he would have been aware of it as the following Jim Crow period developed. Romancing the South was prominent through the First World War dissipating in the twenties and thirties and disappearing after WWII. On his 1916 cross country auto tour on which Ed took a portable record player along one of three songs he played over and over was Jack Yellin’s Are You From Dixie?, a favorite of mine. Yellin himself was a Lithuanian Jew who came to the country at five in 1900 and by 1915 was able to write a song reflecting the feeling of the country such as this:

Jack Yellin- Master Songwriter

Hello there Stranger, how do you do,

There’s something’ I want to say to you,

You seem surprised that I recognize

I’m no detective I just surmise,

You’re from the place that I’m longing to be,

Your smiling face just seems to say to me,

You’re from my homeland, my sunny homeland,

Tell me, can it be?

 

Are you from Dixie, I say from Dixie, where the fields of cotton beckon to me,

I’m glad to see you, tell me, I’ll be you and the friend I’m longin’ to see.

Are you from Alabama, Tennessee or Caroline

Any place below that Mason-Dixon line.

Are you from Dixie, I say from Dixie, ‘cause I’m from Dixie too.

 

It was way back in old ‘89,

When I first crossed that Mason-Dixon line,

Gee, but I long to return

To those good old folks I left behind.

My home was way down in ol’ Alabam’

On a plantation close to Birmingham,

And there’s one thing for certain, I’m surely flirtin’

With those southbound trains.

 

Pretty incredible for someone who probably still spoke with a Jewish accent. Goes to show how pervasive the sentimental vision of the South was. The Uncle Remus stories of Joel Chandler Harris kept the vision alive until it ended shortly after WWII when Walt Disney produced his remarkable Song Of The South. That movie is now banned because Negro objectors wish to deprive us of our cultural heritage even though the movie presented Blacks as so adorable you just had to love them running counter to all the facts as evidenced today.

Ed’s attitude is probably best expressed in the War Between The States/Reconstruction novels of the great Thomas Dixon Jr. and reinforced by D.W. Griffiths’ great movie The Birth Of A Nation.

The Great Thomas F. Dixon, Jr.

Because Dixon points out several unpalatable facts about Northern conspirators who fomented the War and almost certainly conspired to assassinate Lincoln after the War because he wouldn’t crucify the Southern Aryans and attempted to impeach Lincoln’s successor, Andrew Johnson for the same reason, who also resisted their villainous genocidal schemes. Dixon has been slandered to the point of being a veritable non-person, however he wrote very good novels. His diptych The Southerner and The Victim about Lincoln and Jefferson Davis respectively is really must reading for the period.

So John Carter of the Mars series was a Virginian as well as most of Ed’s heroes while he also translates his ’father’ from the Union ranks to those of Virginia. Probably based on memories of Massachusetts’ Phillips Academy he invariably excoriates New Englanders.

Ed’s memories of the War and Reconstruction while learned second hand were a very important part of his mental furniture.

III.

 

Not inferior to Lost Civilizations and the Civil War to Ed’s mind were the very exciting events of the Scramble For Africa of the last quarter of the century. The Scramble of the European States for colonies in Africa also involved the stories of the searches for Livingston and the sources of the Nile, H.M. Stanley, Richard Burton, and King Leopold of the Congo Free State and many, many exciting stories, real life adventures and adventurers that wouldn’t be believable is they weren’t documented. The imaginary adventures of John Carter on Mars pale before them. I’m sure the character of Carter owes more to them than has been recognized. Certainly the Tarzan adventures couldn’t have been written except for the memory of these great explorers and the events of the Scramble which ended only a few years before Ed began writing.

King Leopold- Man Of Destiny

The incredible story of King Leopold of Belgium is certainly one of the most amazing stories of all time. Originally the Congo was not a colony of Belgium but the personal property, private domain of Leopold, thus Tarzan’s claim to hegemony of all Africa. In addition to the Congo Leopold annexed Katanga while also acquiring Rwanda-Burundi and almost the whole of the Southern Sudan otherwise known as the Anglo-Egyptian province of Equatoria. Unlike most of the other colonies, once the bicycle and its wheel was developed, the discovery of rubber in the Congo made the Congo a cash cow.

Rubber at that time was collected in the wild, later grown on plantations in various locations, then replaced by synthetic rubber made from garbage during WWII. The methods of collecting the rubber were brutal as the Negroes were forced to search the wilds and punished in they didn’t make their quota.

While it’s true that Leopold sanctioned this, Whites anywhere in Africa regressed from civilization to the level of native cannibals. Kurtz of Heart of Darkness was based on a real person. Thus the French in what became French Equatorial Africa were guilty of as heinous crimes as those in the Congo but Leopold took the brunt of the criticism. The Congo Free State was given to Belgium as a gift after the turn of the century. The Tarzan series thus is a memory of the period. The attitude prospered until the thirties when realities obviated the colonial past.

In the post-MGM series of Tarzan pictures filmed by Sol Lesser all the stories take place in Lost Civilizations while the actors, savages and all are White, no Black Africans at all.

Sol Lesser- Tarzan Producer

IV.

 

Another building block of memory not inferior to the others was the development of science in the nineteenth century. The key event for Ed Burroughs was the introduction of Evolution by Charles Darwin in 1959. Ed uses several strands of biology in his corpus. He knows the earlier work of Lamarck as well as that of Darwin and later evolutionary contributions of Gregor Mendel and the germ theory of August Weismann and his contribution of the Weismann Barrier that Ed apparently rejected.

Thus contrary to the popular conception that Burroughs was some sort of idiot savant. He kept up on current developments well aware of the Curries’ discovery of radium when he began to write. The awareness of radium poisoning was not yet known as he seems to be unaware of it.

Although it is not generally accepted he was also very well informed on the development of psychology. There is no reason that he couldn’t have known of Charcot while he was well up on hypnotism, an essential part of Charcot‘s method. Psychology before Freud preempted the discipline which was a fairly broad loosely defined subject. The field was also open to any and all investigators not yet preempted by the medical profession.

While it is generally believed that Freud discovered or invented the unconscious, this is not so; he merely defined the unconscious to suit his purposes and then by dint of shouting loudly and continuously managed to impose his view as orthodox driving all other understandings off the field. In fact he managed to make his interpretation, almost fabrication of psychoanalysis, the gold standard of psychology.

Sigmund Freud- Dream Weaver

Psychology was split off from philosophy rather late gaining momentum only during the eighteen eighties.

Robert Louis Stevenson

The most significant aspect of psychology that Ed exploited was that of the split personality which

Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde

he embraced to an astonishing degree. He seems to have gotten the notion from Robert Louis Stevenson’s great little novelette, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Stevenson got there before H.G. Wells or otherwise Wells would likely have appropriated the genre as well as interplanetary warfare, vivisection, invisibility, time travel and futuristic dystopias, all of which were of inestimable influence on the plastic memory of Edgar Rice Burroughs.

While Ed certainly tried to out-wow these amazing writers perhaps the closest he came was the little recognized story, The Eternal Lover, the title of which is often changed to the Eternal Savage, which completely misses the point. This story was even answered by Kipling and Haggard in their Love Eternal. Eddie was moving in fast company.

He was familiar with many novelists writing in psychological genres including George Du Maurier with his three incredible novels, William Morris of Notes From Nowhere fame and several other interesting but not compelling novels, as well as, I believe, some few novels of Marie Corelli who was working the psychological memory games.

Thus, by the time Ed began writing in earnest in 1911-12 he had a well defined notion of contemporary psychology. One must always bear in mind that Ed read continually and was omnivorous in his choice of reading material. While not of the University he had the more random reading habits of the autodidact.

V.

 

Having two remaining topics of memory to cover, literature and immigration I think I’ll deal with that of literature first saving immigration for last.

The nineteenth century was the unfolding of the Aryan mind, an age of self-realization and the beginning of the effort to attain full consciousness. This is the story of psychology from then to now. The search for awareness was carried on in medical circles, philosophical circles and literary circles. Psychology was transferred from philosophy into medicine and science in the last half of the century. The quest for awareness was no more prominent than in literature. The German Romantics were the first in the field to explore the nature of the mind. Men like E.T.A Hoffman, La Motte De La Fouque and Charles Nodier represented psychological ideas in their fiction. These are significant but overlooked works.

Friedrich De La Motte Fouque- Wonderful Novels

There have always been stories and storytellers. First in poetic form then evolving into prose. The Greek novels of the Hellenic period are just great. Papryus was expensive and copying by hand was laborious and also expensive. With the invention of paper and moveable typeface and the printing press, books became more economical and multiple copies into the hundreds or thousands feasible. This meant that more people of diverse backgrounds could find their way into print. The key form of expression was poetry but prose gained ground. Then in the mid-eighteenth century the modern novel form took shape to explode after 1795.

Sir Walter Scott- Number One

Perhaps the first great novelist was Walter Scott who, himself began as a poet. His long poems such as The Lady Of The Lake and Marmion are still great reading although out of style along with Scott himself. What do I care about what’s out of style? Do you? Nevertheless Scott became the model for such mid-century greats as Alexandre Dumas, Balzac and Eugene Sue.

Scott and the great French novelists were also influenced by the Gothic novelist Mrs. Ann Radcliffe who wrote her romances in the last quarter of the eighteenth century.

There are a myriad of authors, now forgotten except by the scholar or enthusiast who seeks their charm. George Borrow while an eccentric turned out a few worthwhile novels, Thomas, Peacock, Pierce Egan, G.W.M. Reynolds Mysteries Of The Court Of London is a fabulous five thousand page, ten volume novel of the period. Everything you’ll ever need to know. Charles Dickens and all the great novelists of the mid century wrote scores of interesting worthwhile novels now nearly slipped through memory. Of course there is only time and room in the mind of we moderns who are bombarded daily by radio, songs, film and TV plus tens of thousand of books appearing annually, for so many old books. The need for selection is paramount while the changing social and political situations are relegating the world of pre-9/11 to the historical dust bin. Still the treasures are there buried like Long John Silver’s gold for those who care to dig. Let’s hope you’re one.

As I have noted, after Darwin in 1859 and the rise of psychological sensibilities, of which Darwin was ignorant, changed for the upcoming generation who took the stage in the eighties. The great modern genres were in embryo. Jules Verne had already begun his scientific romances that were influential while he continued writing into the twentieth century. His books are now heavily bowdlerized because his acute observations of the reality he perceived are no long thought proper by our modern social Mrs. Grundys.

Camille Flammarion, the very great French scientific neo-romantic writer made the space travel and planetary romance popular beginning in the sixties at the same time as Verne.

In 1880 Percy Gregg published Across The Zodiac which is erroneously credited as the first Martian romance beginning the long fascination with the Red Planet for which Burroughs was for so long credited. It was in the mid-eighties that a major influence of Ed’s began to publish and continued to publish at the rate of two or three volumes a year for nearly forty years, the great, wonderfully imaginative Henry Rider Haggard. A most versatile writer now known mainly for his African novels as the Scramble was in process. Haggard also wrote a half dozen great ancient Egyptian lost civilization romances that are well worth reading along with a couple Hebrew volumes of the Roman wars that are exceptional. It appears that Ed read most or all of Haggard.

The year after Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines, Stevenson published his great scientific psychological thriller, Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde. A key fact for Ed’s mental development is that these novels that are considered classics today were published during Ed’s lifetime or the decade or two before his birth so these really startling and amazing novels were as fresh in their impact as, say, a Rolling Stones record in the sixties and seventies. One imagines schoolboys gathering in knots and talking about them excitedly, much as we did about the latest sci-fi pieces in the fifties. While we know that Burroughs read these books we can’t be sure when but I imagine that to have read these books he must have done most of them close to the publishing date or they couldn’t have been part of his mental furniture by the time he began to write in 1911-12. And he had a lot of reading to do.

The Sherlock Holmes of Conan Doyle who began his career in 1886 also which continued intermittently for twenty-five years or so dazzling Ed’s mind. Doyle as I see it was also dealing with a split personality. Holmes and his alter ego are essentially two aspects of the same personality. Watson belongs to the pre-scientific past while Holmes is the scientific thinking machine devoid of sympathy. Watson takes the sentimental side. In addition Doyle introduces a third personality element in the criminal mastermind Moriarty who is a sort of Hyde to Holmes Jekyll, hence his is the social negative to Holmes positive.

Jekyll and Hyde and Holmes and Watson were introduced in the same year of 1886 as Marie Corelli’s Wormwood that also deals with the splitting of personality. As these books couldn’t have been influenced by each other one has to assume that the notion of split or multiple personality was being bruited about. Corelli seems to have attended Charcot’s demonstrations so that all psychological roads lead back to the Salpetriere.

There is no clear evidence that Burroughs read Corelli but as she was among the best selling and most sensational authors of the period I have little doubt myself that Ed followed his unerring instincts at least sampled her work.

Another author plowing the same furrow that Burroughs read for sure was George Du Maurier whose first novel, once again dealt with a split personality. In his novel, Peter Ibbetson of 1891, his character has a childhood in France which was very happy. Through the death of his parents he was sent to an uncle in England who while providing generously for Peter’s education nevertheless was cold while being disgusted at Peter’s rejection of his ideas of manhood. Peter’s glowing childhood expectations were dashed throwing him into a deep depression. Now let’s catch up on Burroughs’ development and I’ll return to Du Maurier later in another context.

Mark Twain

Now, Burroughs’ loved three novels that he read and reread six or seven times by 1920. They were Mark Twain’s The Prince And The Pauper, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s Little Lord Fauntleroy and Owen Wister’s The Virginian. Ed was led unerringly to the three novels that dealt most explicitly with his mental fixations. The first two were published during Burroughs’ childhood while the last was published shortly after the turn of the century in 1902.

Two of these three books relate to Burroughs life from birth to age twenty in 1896 with the last relating to the next period. One’s favorite books, songs or music are always going to relate to psychological needs developed during your early years. You may or may not have realized their psychological importance. It can’t be said whether Ed knew why the books were his favorites or not. All three relate to the blighted hopes of his youth. As far as I can recall all of Ed’s books tell the same story as these three in variation.

All three tell of a young prince who is disinherited and then after a series of adventures comes into his own again. In Twain’s Prince And The Pauper we have the double, or split personality of the Prince and the Pauper. Identical in appearance. By some literary magic the two exchange places with the Prince trading roles with the Pauper. In the end the Prince reassumes his proper role.

In Burnett’s Little Lord Fauntleroy one has the boy who is the son of a Lord, thus being a little Prince, growing up in America in straitened circumstance who then is discovered and comes into his inheritance and true identity. He has a sort of double in a newsboy who follows him to England before moving to California where he becomes the successful manager of a ranch thus foreshadowing Ed’s flirtation with and move to California where he bought the Tarzana estate.

The Virginian of 1902 does not properly belong to his childhood but follows the same theme with the addition that the hero meets his true love and has an idyllic wilderness honeymoon. Shortly after reading the book he took his young wife Emma West to Idaho in what seems like an attempt to live the book. Emma was the wrong girl and the wilds of Idaho the wrong place.

It would seem then that Ed was highly influenced by what he read. He was also able to retain an accurate remembrance of the stories in his memory. The period from 1896 to 1911 was also filled with literature that furnished his mind for the literary tasks ahead of him.

So, in addition to the truly great literature of Dumas and Sue, Verne and Haggard, he was drawn to the interplanetary adventure. Like Freud who appropriated the long history of the Unconscious to himself so Burroughs absorbed and transcended the thirty years or so of previous interplanetary adventure to himself. Just as one erroneously thinks Freud invented the unconscious so one thinks Ed Burroughs invented the Martian interplanetary romance. No so. Earlier examples are constantly being discovered. At this time the earliest Martian novel is considered to be the one by Percy Gregg entitled Across The Zodiac published in 1880.

Greggs’s novel is written in the high Victorian style reminiscent of Anthony Trollope or just any of the crop of English writers of the 1820 or so generation so that the emphasis is sort of pre-scientific and stuffy unlike Burroughs’ writing which began after the invention of cars and airplanes, movies, phones and the whole works. Probably for that reason Burroughs displaced all other Martian writers with the exception of H.G. Wells’ War Of The Worlds. Even that which was on the edge between the Victorian and Edwardian periods relates more to the past than to the future.

There is a question as to which of these books Ed may have read. I think it not improbable that if he had heard of them he would have sought them out. Nor would, say, Percy Greg’s Across the Zodiac be as obscure in Ed’s day as it is now. There would have been not a few people who were familiar with such a book to refer Ed to it. As an inveterate magazine and newspaper reader there is no reason he might not have come across a reference. After all he did read Popular Science and Popular Mechanics both of which originated in the last quarter of the century. So, while it cannot be said for certain I think it probable that he was familiar with most of the Martian literature so that when he began A Princess Of Mars he knew what the landscape should and shouldn’t look like and knew what to avoid.

He was early introduced to the idea of the double and multiple personality through Jekyll And Hyde. The book was a clear cut example of split personality. The puzzle of a divided personality fascinated Ed while the literature of the subject is fairly extensive with numerous writers discussing it in various manners of doubling. From 1886 to 1900 many outstanding examples appeared that given Ed’s attraction to the sensational he would definitely have heard of while when reading those works and Ed’s works the same themes and even details are recurrent in both. Thus, while I have never read of Marie Correli’s name being mentioned in connection with Ed’s work she manages that same dark, murky sensibility in connection with personality dissociations. She was one of the best selling authors from 1886 to 1900 so there is no chance Ed hadn’t heard of her.

While he may have read Corelli it is certain that he read all three of the novels of George Du Maurier- Peter Ibbetson, Trilby and The Martian.

The first, Peter Ibbetson, 1891, follows Ed’s usual formula of a happy childhood disrupted by an untoward event. In this case having been brought up in France, his parents died and he was sent to an uncle to be brought up in England, thus a personality divided by French and English identities with the latter unhappy.

Now, Du Maurier concentrates on the need for memories. As he says, quite rightly, without memories what is a man. Nothing. Just a vegetable. Ibbetson, then, chronicles his childhood French memories while abhorring his current English situation. The crisis comes when Uncle Ibbetson insults Peter’s mother; Peter then murders his uncle.

Before he did Peter meets his childhood sweetheart, Mimsy, now married as Mary, the Duchess Of Towers. The childhood affection was sincere but she is now a married woman. Peter would have been hanged for the murder except for the intervention of Mary and her powerful friends and then is given life without parole.

Before Freud appropriated the topic for his own ends the Unconscious was thought to be a source of great intellectual riches with incredible paranormal, that is to say supernatural powers. At the same time dreams were improperly understood while also thought to have paranormal powers attached to them. Du Maurier invented something called Dreaming True while at the time Lucid Dreaming was a hot topic. Lucid Dreaming is when you consciously invade your dreams without waking and direct the dream’s course. Robert Louis Stevenson, who died in 1894, said that he wrote many of his stories while dreaming lucidly. They read like it too. Ed Burroughs, also, was interested in Dreaming True and Lucid Dreaming and said that he too took his stories from his dreams. If you read Burroughs with Lucid Dreaming in mind you can trace those influences too.

So, and now this seemed possible at the time and may seem possible to some today, Peter and Mary agreed to establish mental contact and Dream True. That is to say that they would each enter into one another’s dream together. This they succeeded in doing thus each led a double life. Now, in the very nature of things, they could not dream of anything that was not in their memories. Thus, they could only dream for instance of chairs they had seen, places they had been, only that of which they had memories. Du Maurier intuited that mind was wholly memory. Nothing comes out that didn’t go in.

As they had read of prehistory they could travel back through time into prehistoric situations. Everything went well for twenty-five years until one day the dreamgate was closed. Peter couldn’t enter from his end. His worst fears were realized. Mary had died.

His disappointment unbalanced his mind so that he went insane. He was removed from the prison to the asylum, his memories in disorder. I suppose Du Maurier meant shizophrenic in which one’s memories are so painful they became confused, working against each other so that the mind can’t function properly.. Over time he became reconciled to the reality and regained the use of his memories. And then one night while Dreaming True he sat by a dream river when Mary, released from heaven as a very special dispensation, appeared to him, explained the situation and told him they would meet in heaven.

The second novel, Trilby, one of the most celebrated of its time deals with the iconic hypnotist, Svengali, evil but potent, who exploited Trilby, a memory creation Du Maurier borrowed from the novel of the same name by Nodier, the Romantic. Hypnotism will play a significant role in Ed’s work. And finally the third novel, The Martian, inspired Ed, and his mind focused on Mars.

Du Maurier’s Dreaming True meshed with Stevenson’s Lucid Dreaming as a source for obtaining material unconsciously. It is clear that Ed was heavily influenced by Stevenson having read most if not all his fiction. It seems probable that he would have read articles about his hero who spoke freely of his Lucid Dreaming technique. Thus when Ed said he found his stories in his dreams there is no reason not to believe that he was familiar with these dream theories and their source in the unconscious.

The Fantastic E.T.A. Hoffman

Lin Carter believed and I concur that Ed also read novels by William Morris of News From Nowhere fame who writes dreamlike stories bearing some relationship to those of Ed.

I intend to pause at 1900 continuing on with Ed’s life experiences to 1911, but to close on this theme, this next book appeared shortly after 1900 but is very much a product of the pre-industrial period before 1900 so I include it here.

In England during the last quarter of the century the spiritualist movement gravitated from the US to England and even Germany where it was treated as a science to be investigated, hence the plethora of novels like those of Du Maurier and Marie Corelli.

Not only was the unconscious thought of as a repository for multiple personalities but even the fantastic notion of past lives. Thus people sprang up who believed, or said they did, that they could remember previous incarnations. This notion was also helped along by the appearance of Hindu and Buddhist missionaries in Britain and the US with their notions of reincarnation.

Among these imposters was a Swiss woman using the name of Helene Smith whose supposed lives were recorded by the psychologist Theodore Flournoy. Now, he conducted a serious scientific investigation of the woman’s claims. That Flournoy could allow himself to be so deluded demonstrates the psychological novelty of the Unconscious.

Miss Smith was a shop girl who was much displeased with her situation so she began to fantasize. Using the spiritualist movement as a stepping stone Flournoy made her famous. She would have done much better to turn her fantasies into novels much like Ed would but she enjoyed the attention her past lives claims got her. She chose three past identities, one as an Indian Princess, another as a Martian and the third as Marie Antoinette. Of interest here is that she invented a Martian vocabulary that only she could translate. Burroughs himself followed a few years later with his own vocabularies of various provenance including African Ape, the first and once universal language.

There is no reason to go into the details of her debunking, the point here is that it is thought that Ed read Flournoy’s account: From India To The Planet Mars. Certainly he would create three ‘past lives’ as identities to explore his own fantasies- Mars, an imaginary Africa and the Earth’s Core. The late life Venus stories can be discounted. By c. 1900 then the foundations of his novels had already entered his memory banks where they bubbled under his conscious mind where he could work on them both consciously and unconsciously letting them slowly ferment.

Terminating the nineteenth century were two works by the deviser of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. The first was his Interpretation Of Dreams and the other, The Psychopathology Of Everyday Life. The true significance of these books are overlooked but they both deal with the primacy of Memory as the basis of mind. Reminiscences as he would say.

As Freud noted that the problem hysterics suffered was not biologic but the distortion of memories or reminiscences, so both his two volumes deal with the distortion of Memory in ‘normal’ people. Freud must have thought he was normal as he used himself as a subject in both books.

As Freud grasped, dreams are based not only on memories but the distortion of memory by one’s fixations. That is, a fixation of a memory too hurtful to face so that it is fixated in the form of the hurt from which point it constellates similar subsequent memories and even shapes them and one’s actions to conform to its fears. So, from reminiscences of hysterics Freud had moved on to the memories of dreams and parapraxes.

Even more prescient was the study that followed a couple years later: The Psychopathology Of Everyday Life. The book is ill-titled, being somewhat off putting although very easy reading, but of even more significance than his dream book. This was the study that gave rise to the term ‘Freudian slip’. It is a study of parapraxes and how one’s memory interferes with another memory to blot it out. Strangely Freud missed the import of the significance of Memory taking it more or less for granted.

Freud’s analysis of parapraxes such as forgetting a word you commonly use was superb. He demonstrates significantly, from his own example, how unpleasant memories that one might associate with a word cancels out the ability to recall the word. In other instances one means to say one thing but let out one’s true intent by saying another.

Thus the subconscious whether in dream distortion or waking distortion affects one’s life, clashing with the conscious. The memories one has, the subconscious, one’s true desires emerge against one’s will. Of course, practice can eliminate or reduce word substitutions which is done by sharpening one’s conscious efforts to deny entrance to the sub- or Unconscious. In the struggle to unify one’s consciousness, that is, as Freud would put it, have your ego fill the space occupied by the Id- a later name for the Unconscious one must eliminate the interface. The only successful method is to integrate one’s consciousness so that the mind functions as one unit however perfectly or imperfectly. This is rare but it can be done by searching for and recognizing the significance of one’s fixations. Forget the term Depth Psychology; that’s a misnomer.

Barring that the choice is to recognize the influence of the unconscious and try to pose an impervious barrier to its influence in the sense of W.E. Henley’s famous poem, Invictus (The Unconquerable) Henley wrote the poem in 1875 although the title was added later by an editor, so that one may be sure that Ed knew the poem and used it as bedrock as so many of us have. There are interpretations, I give mine:

W.E. Henley

Invictus

 

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

 

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeoning of chance,

My head is bloody but unbowed.

 

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms the horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

 

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishment the scroll,

I am the master of my fate.

I am the captain of my soul.

 

There is a temporal interpretation as well as a psychological one. I am interested in the latter. D.H. Lawrence is quoted by Rudiger Gorner in his essay ‘The Hidden Agent Of The Soul’: “The novels and poems come unnoticed out of one’s pen.” This is true. One has conscious intentions but as one writes trancelike, hidden meanings emerge from the pen allowing for different interpretations of the words. Whether Henley had a conscious understanding of the unconscious psychological meaning of his words, the psychological interpretation fits. That’s all I can say.

‘Out of the night that covers me…’ In Greek mythology the night is construed as female, that is, the unconscious, the unknown, as with the depths of the sea, another female symbol. Daylight was considered as conscious and male as one can clearly see. The Night, is uncertainty and darkness when the goblins come out. It was feared. Henley clearly interprets night that way: …black as the pit from pole to pole. In other words he is in the grip of the unconscious with not a glimmer of light from one end to the other, he might have added, and from East to West.

But Henley is defiant of the darkness. He thanks whatever gods may be for his unconquerable soul. In other words, come what may he will not tamely submit. ‘Black as the pit…’ In my own hour of darkness, one of them, in my own hour of need, sometime in my teens, I gathered courage from Henley’s pen to fight that mountain of despair. I’m sure that Burroughs did too.

‘In the fell clutch of circumstance, I have not winced nor cried aloud. Under the bludgeoning of chance, my head is bloody but unbowed.’ I’m not sure of the wincing but I have been strong enough not to cry out loud. Henley had his problems. He contracted tuberculosis of the bone and at seventeen had a leg removed at the knee. The doctors wished to take his other leg too but Henley stoutly refused. Thus he lost a leg but rather than succumb to despair his ‘head was bloody but unbowed’ under the ‘bludgeoning of chance.’

The first two stanzas were all there was of significance for me at the time while, for myself, I have considered it a two stanza poem but it continues with Henley’s rejection of the gods and of heaven and hell, both subconscious projections. ‘Beyond this place of wrath and tears, looms but the horror of the shade’. I interpret shade as nothingness. ‘And yet the menace of the years find, and shall find me, unafraid.’ A fine show of bravado just in case. Henley certainly spoke for Burroughs and I suspect for a great many of you, us.

And then a dismissal of consequences: It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll… It don’t bother me none, he says. And why? Here comes the clincher, that line that gets ya, because: I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul. Damn right! And that’s called Positive Mental Attitude. Life isn’t worth living without it.

So Ed hangs in there, head bloody but unbowed, waiting for the turning of the tide. As the proverb goes: It’s a long road without a turning.

In closing this part let me remark that Ed was very fond of popular poetry of the Kipling kind. For those interested, I’m sure someone may be, there is a compilation called The Best Loved Poems Of The American People compiled by Hazel Felleman first published in 1936, in print since then, of which every poem I am sure was known to Burroughs. A poem couldn’t be too schmaltzy for him, he even has the collected Edgar A. Guest in his library. These bits of poetry were as essential to furnishing his memory as anything else he read.

VI.

 

The history of immigration in the US is the least understood and most misrepresented topic in US history. The history of immigration has invariably been written by Liberals or immigrants themselves so the story as taught in schools is rather one sided. The Key text is Gustavus Myers The History Of Bigotry In The United States. If you’ve read that you’ve got the official story. Just for the record, on my mother’s side I’m Polish and Pennsylvania Dutch; on my father’s side solid Scotch-Irish from the Kentucky hill country, both grand parents. I’m a hillbilly boy with a Polish accent. My name, Prindle, is usually thought of as English so I have the field covered. I have been subject to the all the discrimination currently employed against the English.

In discussing Ed’s point of view he thought of himself as pure English while on his father’s side he was English with an Irish admixture and on his mother’s side, Pennsylvania Dutch. Amusingly in the twenties he wrote his mother-in-law asking for Emma’s genealogy. Mrs. Hulbert, aware of Ed’s vanity on the issue, sniffed that Emma was English on both sides.

The first immigration problem was, of course, the Irish and if I may say so, with good reason. I rather favor the Know Nothing side of the argument. The animosity during Ed’s youth between English and Irish was intense. Apropos of Ed and John the Bully who was Irish I think the following probable. The Burroughs had two Irish maids, young women, before whom I suspect Ed put on airs about being English and therefore superior to the Irish. I think this got on the girls’ nerves so that they got an Irish kid to terrorize Ed and put him in his place. Otherwise I don’t see John waiting on a corner for a kid four years his junior who he couldn’t possibly have known. The consequences were more than the girls could have imagined.

After the Irish came the Socialists of the failed Revolution of ‘48- The Forty-eighters, another of Ed’s bete-noirs. Mostly German they contributed to Ed’s disgust of Germans when he saw them marching through Chicago under their red flag. The Haymarket Riot of 1887 also made a big impression on him especially as his father attended their execution.

Up to 1871, post-Civil War immigration had been Northern European which was thought to be compatible with the Old Stock, at least in retrospect. Prior to the Civil War, industry in the US had been more or less of the cottage variety, recalled by Longfellow in ‘Under the spreading chestnut tree, the village smithy stood…’ But, with the invention of the steam engine on steel rails in 1830 a much larger scale of industry was required. Bessemer process steel, rolling mills and what all that also called for a greater concentration of labor.

To obtain that the industrialists moved further East into Europe recruiting from other than Nordics. At the same time the Jews of the Pale (the prototypical ’Eastern European’) discovered America quickly advancing from a trickle of immigration to a flood. Thus during Ed’s youth the character of Chicago changed year by year, unnoticeable consciously until the Great War. Then in the nineties the Italians added the US to their migratory circle. For at least a hundred years the Sicilians had been migrant labor in Europe, going North during the summer and returning South in winter.

Their first Western addition was Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. In the days of sail the circuit lasted a year or two as they could follow the sun North into Brazil, and Central America. With the reliability of steamships it was possible for them to return home more frequently and cheaply in steerage. Then in the nineties the Sicilians discovered New York and the US, which they added to their circuit.

They were never true immigrants being more of what were disparagingly called Birds Of Passage. They came for the money. In most years prior to the Great War nearly as many returned to Sicily as arrived. The Great War stranded them in the US but post-war Mussolini still considered them Italian citizens and so did they.

The Americans, never a very realistic people, believed that all these immigrants were on the same political and psychological wavelength as themselves, hence that the immigrants would assimilate overnight. The world war was an eye opener when all loyalties overrode American sympathies. A howl of pain went up from Teddy Roosevelt when he realized the reality and exclaimed against the ‘American boarding house.’

Of course, the history books tell it quite differently but, in fact, there was as much sympathy as not for Germany. Not everyone saw the English as innocent. The Irish who sided with the Germans in both wars were on the side of whoever was fighting England, hence if the US officially sided with England they were less than loyal to the New Island.

Chicago itself during Burroughs’ time as now had a remarkably low percentage of Old Stock, on the order of only 15 to 20%. So the babel of other tongues and accents must have offended him more than they did John Rocker of our time who was sent back to the minors for observing the fact in New York City. The second Black List one might say, but unbacked by a rehearsed voice of objection such as the Communists had in the forties and fifties.

Ed had his prejudices as every man must, Old Stock, immigrant or what. He observed the Revolutionary activity in Eastern Europe with a wry eye taking the side of neither the Jews or Russians. He definitely added the Russians to the Germans as objects of distaste. The villains of the first four Tarzan novels would be Russian. The early novels have been heavily censored so his attitude toward the Jews requires early editions to unravel. There appears to be no animosity to them but as an anti-religionist he had to find their religious beliefs as ridiculous as any of the three Semitic religions. There doesn’t seem to be any problem with the Jews until they caused it in the aftermath of the War but that’s slightly in the future and will be dealt with at that time.

It is enough to say that Ed was proudly Anglo-Saxon as he should have been and that whatever his beliefs on immigration he endured the immigrant nations stoically. At present there is no evidence that he took an aggressive stance toward them as many of his countrymen did. But, listen, I was in the orphanage and I have a very good idea of what aggression is and it didn’t just come the Old Stock. My immigrant brothers were in there too. We were told to take the alleys and stay off the city streets or take a beating. These were seven, eight and nine year kids these grown men were threatening and some of the kids did take a beating although I never did. I know where discrimination is at. So what.

Part IV will continue Ed’s temporal life from 1886 to 1911-12. Part V will review his reding from 1900 to 1920. Part VI will pick up from where Burroughs Rides the Rocket Pt. I left off. There will probably be four or more additional parts but I don’t have blocked out yet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Response to “Pt. III: Edgar Rice Burroughs And The Accreted Personality”

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