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 1965 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 disappeared 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 the 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 model 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 which 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 having 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 word 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 own 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 her 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 rate 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 youth of 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 there 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 as 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.
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, considering 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 day 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 brief case reportedly filled with 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 was 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 doings 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 magicians 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 were 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. She 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. Quote:
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; yet 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 can suspend belief. The plot involves Lee Marvin as Walker who takes part in a heist then is shot by his 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 Mal (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 the 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 for 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 walk 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 from 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 Cammel 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 name. 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 the 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 guy stance. Not too difficult as that is the way 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.
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.
Thuvia, Maid Of Mars
Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Review by R.E. Prindle
Civilization And Its Malcontents
Let us say that for the fifty years or so before the 1920s there was a growing sense of societal malaise. This malaise was reflected most notably in the creation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ psychological projection, Tarzan Of The Apes. One has to account for the immediate acceptation by society of such an absurdity. Tarzan, in fact, completely rejected civilization for the life of the romantic ‘unrestrained freedom’ of the jungle. The noble savage in fact.
Thus in a metaphor Burroughs reflected the malaise of his time so brilliantly that his creation was accepted as virtually a real person. Writers like Grant and Stoddard put the same theme into more scholarly terms. As noted, contrary to Richard Slotkin’s idea, Grant had little or no influence on Burroughs while the slightly later Lothrop Stoddard whose three relevant works appeared only from 1920 to 1922 could have had no influence on Burroughs’ formative years. It seems probable that Burroughs did read Stoddard and was influenced by his work but only after his ideas were fully formed. Even then The Revolt Against Civilization appeared after Burroughs had examined some of the same problems in his rejected manuscript, Under The Red Flag of 1919.
The problem of the malcontents and their war on civilization was examined by a number of writers during the twenties and thirties so why Slotkin singled out Burroughs, Grant and Stoddard isn’t as clear as it might be. Postwar German cinema was intensely concerned with the matter as why should it not? Germany was under asault by what Stoddard called the Underman. Nor need Slotkin think Stoddard was alone. I’m sure there were dozens of forgotten books prophesying the end of the world by one means or another including the Undermen of Communism.
The Underman, or the Communist, was not even a term unique to Stoddard. Gustave Le Bon, the French scholar on whose work Sigmund Freud based his study Group Psychology And The Analysis Of The Ego wrote prolifically on the psychological foundations of the Underman. Freud based his book on Le Bon’s 1895 study The Psychology Of Crowds. Unless I’m mistaken he based his 1930 study Civilization And Its Discontents on Le Bon’s 1921 book The World In Revolt: A Psychological Study Of Our Times.
On the cinematic side the problem was examined in the great silent films The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari and Fritz Lang’s 1922 film Dr. Mabuse, The Gambler. Lang would follow that ten years later with the sound film The Testament Of Dr. Mabuse.
Even though Buroughs’ Under The Red Flag was rejected in 1919 he persisted, rewriting and extending the text into the 1926 story, The Moon Maid. This story reflects a possible reading of The Revolt Against Civilization but such a reading was much more evident in 1934’s Tarzan And The Lion Man.
The development of the problem was evident to all these writers which it seems to have escaped Slotkin who attributes the recognition of societal evolution to mere ‘racism’ in the writers. One thinks that perhaps Slotkin is too involved in his own agenda.
Rider Haggard enunciated the problem quite clearly in his 1888 novel Allan Quatermain in which Quatermain grouses about the ‘strict limits’ of civilization compared to the ‘natural’ life of the African Zulus. It might almost seem that the idea of Tarzan arose in Burroughs’ mind from that observation. In fact science was undermining all the comforting beliefs that mankind had been settled in for a hundred thousand years. During that long period characterized by the mental mode of what is called mythopoeic thinking man’s mind devoid of true knowledge projected a vision of reality that resulted in the notion of God. Thus reasoning from insufficient knowledge man’s mind came up with an erroneous result. You can’t get out of a mind what isn’t in it; all education is suggestion.
As Freud was to say, man’s settled view of reality received its three great shocks when Galileo disproved the geocentric notion of the universe, Darwin disproved the uniqueness of man’s position in the animal kingdom and he, Freud, displaced the conscious mind with his vision of the unconscious mind. Once again Le Bon was there ahead of him.
Thus as the nineteenth century opened and progressed the bases of mankind’s notions of reality were shattered leaving him emotionally and intellectually bereft of foundations of belief. Adrift without an anchor.
As if that were not bad enough the great cataclysm that ushered in the modern era, The French Revolution, was based on the the absolute notion that not only were all men created equal but remained equal in all aspects of their existence. The advance of civilization would toss this certainty into the trash can of history also.
As civilization placed greater and greater demands on the intelligence and self-discipline of men and women the incontestable gap between those less intelligent and those more intelligent became more and more obvious. Thus as the century progressed the notion of the Overman and the Underman began to become clear.
At the same time the first tentative efforts at measuring the intellectual potential of the individual began to become possible. Of course the basic inequality of men and women in its physical aspect had always been apparent. Some men were naturally stronger and better muscled than others. But, even that was changing. The science of physical culture was making it possible for the 98 lb. weakling to develop himself into a man mountain. Thus artifically developed srongmen like the Great Sandow ushered in the golden age of the strong man topped off by Charles Atlas who guaranteed he could turn you into a man mountain if you followed his program.
There was the promise that you could dethrone that bully and kick sand back in his face. On the other side Francis Galton was originating the first primitive tests to measure intelligence potential. Burroughs would have seen both proponents during his miraculous summer of 1893 at the Chicago Columbian Exposition. I mean to say that both facts entered his mind where they could be digested and emerge later. Nothing can come out of your mind that didn’t go in it.
And then after the turn of the century Binet devised he first actual IQ test. Thus, just as Sandow and Atlas could measure the size of muscles, the psychologists became able to measure the intelligence potential. Those with high IQs were set up; those with low IQs were cooked. The upshot was that all men were not created equal nor could they ever attain intellectual equality.
To a very large extent what became the Communist Party recognized the inequality while demanding equality against reason. Recognizing subconsciously, perhaps, that men could never be intellectual equals rather than try the futile task of raising the less fortunate they sought to destroy education which brings out the inequality but doesn’t create it. No matter what happens there are always going to be the more intelligent just as there will always be the physically stronger. As Le Bon points out, if you needed to hear it, nature don’t know from equality.
Thus the Communist Party devised the well sounding slogan- From each according to his ability; to each according to his need. Good plan for the needy, slavery for the able. The needy were organized beginning their struggle to achieve superiority by collective action. This was accomplished in Russia in 1917. The battle was joined.
Just as individuals are created with different capabilities so are peoples and races. Some can achieve and some can’t. Slotkin who must be a Communist thus takes offence at what he perceives to be, and is, an attitude of White Supremacy in Burroughs, Grant and Stoddard. While I am aware there are those who will disagree with White superiority it is nevertheless not an attitude but an evolutionary fact. That is the reason Communists have Darwin under attack. While Darwin doesn’t say it, it is the inevitable result of his studies. Just as it was necessary for the Undermen to destroy education in the hopes of creating intellectual equality so it became necessary to destroy White achievement of the last five hundred years. The whites must be demonized and made to feel evil and inferior morally. That is the import of Slotkin’s Gunfighter Nation.
At that level all three writers are guilty. As has been stated in Canadian courts- Truth is not a defense. So there’s nothing to discuss. Might is right and whoever has the might will prevail.
It is a fact that all three writers were anti-Communists so it may be assumed that whatever Communists believe, they didn’t. And why should they? Might may be right but it can still be nonsense. Communism is a flawed ideology based on a false premiss. It always fails wherever it is introduced. Failure is not evidence of a bad plan in Communist eyes. One just continues to shovel sand against the tide and pray. So succeed or fail they always think they can succeed by the same flawed ideology. The fault for failure lies elsewhere.
In that sense Burroughs was wasting his time assailing this religion of failure with his Under The Red Flag and its successor The Moon Maid. The only people who would applaud his effort would be we non-Communists but he could never convince anyone with Communist leanings. Of course that wasn’t well understood at the time.
If Burroughs were accused of not believing in equality that would be true. Not only are John Carter and Tarzan superior to any contemporaries on two worlds but Burroughs has a whole hierarchy of value. John Carter is the Warlord of Mars ruling from the top city of Mars, Helium. The races of Mars pretty much reflect those of Earth and their relative stations. The main exception is the ruling Red race. As Whites do and have existed on Mars in Burroughs stories while at one time being the dominant race perhaps the Red race is some sort of amalgam of the various Eropean immigrants of the United States. I believe the Green Men represent the American Indian. Both roam the great plains while being essentially savages.
Tarzan though always spoken of as being White is described as a bronze giant. Bronze is a fairly dark metal so that Tarzan and the Red men of Mars may be more or less identical in color.
Tarzan is the man-god so there are none superior or even equal to him. Below him come the English who are the cream of mankind. Perhaps slightly below the English are the French and then the rest of the Whites. Tarzan himself is psychologically an animal having been raised by the Apes. Not your ordinary gorilla or Chimp but a species intermediate between Gorilla and the Negro. Slotkin hasn’t read enough Burroughs to make an intelligent comment but the undeniable attitude of Burroughs is enough for Slotkin to condemn him as an unregenerate bigot. The reader may believe as he likes. I have stated my opinion eslewhere and that is enough. Whether any of these opinions of Burroughs influenced American soldiers at My Lai is open to question. The burden of proof is on Slotkin and he hasn’t provided it.
Along with the Undermen however, speaking through Tarzan, Burroughs is heartily discontented with civilization.
The spectacle of Chicago of the 1890s as a dirty unpleasant place haunts Burroughs. In contrast to the great White City of the Columbian Expo was what was afterwards known as the Black City of everyday Chicago. The contrast was so strong and so offensive to the Undermen that within a year of the Expo’s closing the entire White City was burned to the ground with the exception of one building. Hence perhaps the decayed crimson and gold ruins of Opar and the crimson and gold twin cities of Helium. One wonders what effect the sight of the ruin of the White City had on Burroughs when he revisited the site sometime after his miraculous summer of ’93. The mind creates nothing from nothing so there must have been models of the great cities of ERB’s imagination.
There are points at which Burroughs and Communism have quite similar views. It will be remembered that Burroughs only reluctantly married and throughout his life expressed discontent with the institution. To some extent or other ERB must have been an advocate of free love. Communists would have heartily approved of ERB’s women who went nude except for certain ‘adornments.’ Communists of course want women to be accesible to any man who wants them at any time while they have always advocated bare breasts.
In many ways when the Communists appropriated Tarzan for the MGM movies it took but slight changes to make Tarzan conform to their ideals. The MGM Tarzan and Jane were not married. While Burroughs’ Tarzan was a highly educated on-again off-again sophisticate the MGM Tarzan was a stupid illiterate oaf and one who rejected the attributes of civilization high up there in the Cloud Cuckoo Land of the Mutia Plateau.
On the essentials though Burroughs rejected the demands of the Underman as The Moon Maid clearly shows. There was very little in Stoddard’s The Revolt Against Civilization that Burroughs would have disagreed with. At the same time there was probably very little he didn’t already believe although he had never codified his information as Stoddard had. Slotkin’s contention that Burroughs was influenced by either Grant or Stoddard is surely wrong. ERB had already taken hs positions before either men had begun to write.
Each writer was, in his own way, an advocate of White Supremacy. It now become clear that White Supremacy has nothing to do with a fringe element in Liberal ideology. All Whites are White Supremacists in that ideology unless they reject ‘White skin privilege’ whatever that is. Ayers and Dorhn explain in their recent Race Course In White Supremacy. Interestingly constructed title. Nor as Slotkin would have it is the attitude based on mere racial pride and bigotry but on a solid record of achievement unattained by any other people. The quesiton is not was it right for some people to rule or be supreme because in the nature of things some people will rule and be supreme but which of the peoples are most qualified to be supreme.
All people have had equal opportunity so that one can only conclude that the race has gone to the most qualified participant. In the contest the Whites unified the other peoples against them as must inevitably be the consequence of being the top people. As they say, getting there is the easy part; staying there is the hard part.
Slotkin merely represents the envious losers, the Undermen. who clutch at any firebrand to burn the White House down. Who is most to be admired and emulated? Builders or destroyers?
Finis of Thuvia, Maid Of Mars Review
Edgar Rice Burroughs On Mars
Thuvia, Maid Of Mars
Apparently at this time in his life ERB’s mind was focused on hypnotism. The raison d’ etre of the novel seems to be his explanation of hypnotism and some of its effects. He certainly makes a fascinating story of the phenomenon. In fact the whole story concerns hypnotism with a few embellishments to get Carthoris and Thuvia to Lothar and once he’d exhausted the possibilities of his hypnotic theme he ended the story and even then he ends on a wild hypnotic note.
Thuvia was his fourth Mars novel and his first without John Carter. The hero is Carthoris the son of John Carter and Dejah Thoris. ERB’s father, George T. had died about a year previous to the writing. This novel was written shortly after The Lad And The Lion. As it includes a scene of psychological rebirth it may be a declaration of independence from his father, severing the relationship more denfinitely than did Lad.
On entering the land of the Lotharians Carthoris passes through a cave quite similar to the birth canal. There are Banths, Martian lions, before and one huge one behind him. Those before seem to vanish while the one large Banth remained behind him; that would be the memory of his father and the past. Carthoris placed himself in a posture of defense in the dark but the charging Banth passed to his side missing him much as a ghost from the past might do. Thus ERB seems to dispense with the Old Looney aboard ship in The Lad And The Lion who did represent ERB’s dad.
Thuvia had been kidnapped by a disappointed suitor who had her taken to Aanthor, one of the innumerable dead cities lining the shores of the vanished seas. There she was captured by the Green Men who fled through the cave to Lothar. There Carthoris and Thuvia are delivered to the scene of the action by ERB.
Carthoris then finds Thuvia in the possession of the Green Men who are waging a gigantic battle against the Phantom Bowmen of Lothar, themselves aided by large prides of both phantom and real Banths.
Piles of Green Men killed by little arrows lie about amongst legions of Bowmen who have been cut down, and still they stream through the city gates. Carthoris who has gotten to the side of Thuvia and she marvel at the carnage. They turn to watch the defeated Green Men flee. When they look back they are astonished to see that the dead Bowmen have all disappeared while the dead Green Men no longer have phantom arrows sticking in them. The pair are at a loss for an explanation. The Banths however were real and were now gorging themselves on the remains of the Greenies.
As a nice touch ERB has Thuvia essentially hypnotize the Banths. Rather than fear them as Carthoris does she merely makes a low melodic warbling sound that so charms the Banths that they come fawning before her.
This may seem improbable or even impossible and yet I have seen it done but with house cats. What can be done with one size cat I’m sure can be done with all sizes. The effect was quite astonishing with the woman I saw do it but the result was exactly as ERB describes it. Apparently he’d seen it done too. ERB thus establishes the ability of Thuvia that will be even more important soon.
Thus they gain access to the city of Lothar by passing through the Banths with safety. As a nice touch ERB gives Lothar an exotic round gate that rolls back into a slot. Perhaps he had seen a house with such a door somewhere. Once inside they meet the Lotharian Jav who begins to unfold the story while unfolding the hypnotic power of the mind.
If ERB had read H. Rider Haggard’s Cleopatra that deals quite extensively with hypnotism in a scenario somewhat similar to this one Haggard may have been another source for Thuvia. Quite possibly ERB had ingested and digested his earlier reading so that he wasn’t aware of how close he was to the originals. After all, anyone who could learn of Numa, the Roman King, from his Jr. High studies and think he had invented the name Numa for the king of beasts twenty years later, which he says is what happened, probably could think he was inventing his details himself.
Many strange phenomena appear to the pair on their way to the palace of the despot who was named Tario. They see marching files of Bowmen who appear and disappear. But the Bowmen are not real they are a projection of the mind of Tario who has hypnotized the pair into seeing what isn’t there.
While it is clear that ERB is quite familiar with Homer’s Odyssey it isn’t quite so clear what he knows of Homer’s Iliad or Greek mythology in general. One hesitates to give him too much knowledge and yet elements from the Iliad and Greek mythology seem to materialize before one’s eyes like the Phantom Bowmen of Lothar.
One can’t know whether ERB read the Iliad more than once and whether that once was in the seventh or eighth grade. How much he understood of an early reading like that would be questionable. I first read the Iliad in the seventh grade but got nothing but impressions of the action from it. The gods, goddesses and humans were very confusing. Lot of boy and girl stuff that was well beyond my experience. I have read the book seven times in various translations since. It was only in the fifth, sixth and seventh readings that I began to develop what I would consider any real understanding of Homer’s message.
One of the things I understand is that the Iliad is a story about the power of mind and its limitations. Zeus, of course had the mind of ultimate power that gave him the advantage over mortals and the other gods. Tario in Thuvia has the most powerful mind in Lothar which keeps him in authority over the few permanent emanations in Lothar. But, these are all figments of his or someone’s imagination.
It seems that long generations before the women had all died out leaving only the men who over a period of time would also have died out but they survived by being able to imagine themselves. Here we have a possible reference to Poe’s The Facts In The Case Of M. Valdemar. In that story Valdemar was a dying man who was first hypnotized and then expired. Being under hypnosis while alive he could not actually die as he was hypnotized alive. This is somewhat the condition of the Lotharians.
Taking hypnosis a step further ERB posits that there are phantom ‘realists’ who believe they can wish themselves into a permanent corporeal existence of which Jav is one. Opposed to them are the phantom ‘etherealists’ represented by Tario who believe they must remain imaginary.
Getting back to Greek mythology in which we do know that ERB was read the ‘realists’ believe that they have to eat so they conjure up ‘ephemeral fruits’ on which to gorge themselves.
Ephemeral fruits make their appearance in the myth of Typhon and Zeus. So there is a possibility that Jav and Tario is a version of that myth. Hera in her squabbles for supremacy with Zeus conjures up the monster Typhon to take on Zeus. Typhon makes mincemeat of Zeus removing his sinews and bones and placing them in a leather bag in a cave in Caria. Sad plight for the Big Fella with the all powerful mind and no sinews. Worse yet, as a god he is immortal so there he and his all powerful mind are in his sack perhaps for all eternity.
While Apollo and Hermes come to the Big Guy’s aid by putting the dry bones back together and reattaching the sinews the nymphs feed Typhon ‘ephemeral fruit’ that looks like the real thing but lacks nourishment. Thus when Zeus is reassembled and ready for action he faces an enfeebled Typhon who this time he easily defeats. Great story when you think about it. So there you have two stories reflected that ERB may or may not have read but having read them probably didn’t consciously remember them as he was writing. I can’t guarantee ERB read those stories but I can state with assurance that ERB just didn’t make this stuff up. He never does; it all has been suggested from someplace. It is not impossible that he heard similar stuff from Baum and the Theosophists in California. ERB does have a retentive memory that provides him with a lot of material.
Thuvia and its successor Martian novel- The Chessmen Of Mars- are an examination of mind and matter. The later Mastermind of Mars and the Synthetic Men Of Mars are examinations of the application of mind to matter. In the Chessmen the mind and body were separate entities. It will be remembered that the Kaldanes were also skilled hypnotists.
Here ERB is interested in a projected reality, in itself a form on insanity in an unbalanced mind. PP 66-67, Ace paperback:
Jav speaking: “(The Banths) that remained about the field were real. Those we loosed as scavengers to devour the bodies of the dead Torquasians. This thing is demanded by the realists among us. I am a realist. Tario is an etherealist.
“The etherealists maintain there is no such thing as matter- that all is mind. They say that none of us exists, except in the imagination of his fellows, other than as an intangible, invisible mentality.
“According to Tario, it is but necessary that we all unite in imagining that there are no dead Torquasians beneath our walls, and there will be none, nor any need for the fierce scavenging banths.”
‘You, then do not hold to Tario’s beliefs?” asked Carthoris.
“In part only,” replied the Lotharian. “I believe, in fact I know, that there are some truly ethereal creatures. Tario is one, I am convinced. He has no existence except in the imaginations of his people.
“Of course, it is the contention of all us realists that all etherealists are but figments of the imagination. They contend that no food is necessary nor do they eat, but anyone of the most rudimentary intelligence must realize that food is a necessity to creatures having actual existence.”
“Yes,” agreed Carthoris, “not having eaten today I can readily agree with you.”
“Ah, pardon me,” exclaimed Jav. “Pray be seated and satisfy your hunger,” and with a wave of his hand he indicated a beautifully laden table that had not been there an instant before he spoke….”It is well,” continued Jav, “that you did not fall into the hands of an etherealist, then indeed, you would have gone hungry.”
An interesting passage laden with humor and a joke or two. On the one hand this is a takeoff on Bishop Berkeley and those who believe that nothing is real but only a figment of our imaginations. They do believe that when you close your eyes the world ceases to exist. I could never follow the argument, and on the other hand the ideas can be construed as a variation on the Theosophical belief that the gods were first ethereal becoming more materialistic as existence descended to man who is most material. Thus Tario is visible air, as it were, as an ethereality while Jav is condensed into, as he believes, permanent air/matter while Carthoris and Thuria are solid matter as humans.
The food Jav produces is ephemeral food. It looks real but having no real substance has no nourishment. As he smirkingly says: It is well that you did not fall into the hands of an etherealist. Then, indeed, you would have gone hungry.” A funny joke. But Jav has hypnotized the pair into seeing the food even though Carthoris is not so hypnotized as to not realize it is not real food. He eats it anyway.
Once in this land where nothing is real but the Banths, one wonders that we don’t have a situation that was replicated later in the movie The Manchurian Candidate. In that movie the hypnotized soldiers imagine they are at a ladies social and actually see American women where Korean people are.
Perhaps Carthoris and Thuvia are standing in an empty field talking to themselves. Perhaps the Lotharians exist only in their own imaginations but have conjured Carthoris and Thuvia out of thin air. Pretty spacy stuff.
As Carthoris is hypnotized he is easily persuaded to do things he wouldn’t ordinarily do such as letting Thuvia be led away alone to Tario. He does and Thuvia meets Tario alone mystyfied that Carthoris would let her out of his sight. Seeing Thuvia the etherealist’s phantom cojones are aroused and he makes an all out assault on Thuvia. As he doesn’t exist, of course, the assault can only have force in Thuvia’s imagination. Just as those little arrows the Torquasians believed were real killed them one wonders what effect a phantom penetration would have on Thuvia. Would she have a little phantom child after a phantom pregnancy?
We’ll never know because she pulls out her thin blade stabbing Tario to his phantom heart. He falls apparently dead seemingly oozing out his lifeblood. But, as we know he is an etherealist hence only a figure of someone’s imagination we know he must be feigning death with phantom blood.
Hearing Thuvia’s screams Carthoris races to the rescue followed by Jav. Jav, who should have known better, is overjoyed confessing his desire to replace Tario. It was almost like a plan. Tario leaps up explaining he always thought Jav did and now he is going to execute him.
Here ERB evades the issue taking a cheap but effective way out. These two guys are actually magicians and should be made to match powers in efforts to do the other in. ERB isn’t up to it so he has Jav cave just awaiting his fate that he could always evade with his hypnotic powers. Now, we’ve all been advised not to trust our senses so whether any of this happened is open to question. Nevertheless a hole opens in the floor, the floor dishes so that all falls into the memory hole. The three are ostensibly history.
They are precipitated into the chamber of the Lotharian god. One might expect this god to be pure essence but instead he is pure matter. As so often is the case a Burroughsian god turns out to be a lion or the Martian Banth. Why Jav should be concerned isn’t clear as he has no real substance and can’t be eaten while with his hypnotic powers he could make the Banth believe it was a mouse.
Carthoris draws his sword but this one’s a piece of cake for Thuvia. Using her own particular hypnotic talents she charms the Banthian god and all four walk out through the Banth’s quarters as chums.
At this point Jav calls into existence old Lothar for us all to see.
Outside the gates of Lothar Jav conceives a desire for Thuvia. Using considerable hypnotic talent he persuades Carthoris that he and Thuvia are heading for the woods. Carthoris walks off alone convinced he is leading Thuvia by the hand. He is soon disillusioned. Returning he finds the realist Jav really mauled by the Banth and dying. Thuvia and the Banth have headed back to Aanthor. Carthoris has no choice but to follow.
Now, what’s been going in addition to this hypnosis stuff is ERB’s ongoing attempt to reconcile his Anima and Animus. He has followed the usual Pyche and Eros storyline of Apuleius’ Golden Ass of Greek mythology. The Anima and Animus get together, circumstances separate them, then during the rest of the novel they try to get together amid difficulties, finally succeeding.
In Lad And The Lion ERB introduced the lion as his totem. Even though a male lion it is associated with his female Anima. At the risk of repeating myself, just in case anybody has been reading this stuff for the last four or five years the cause and evolution of his dilemma progress thusly:
In 1883 or 1884 ERB was terroized on a street corner by a young thug he identifies only as John. Possibly Emma was with him and kept walking abandoning him to his fate. Thus it was suggested to his subconscious that his Anima had abandoned him. John being the terrorist filled the vacancy. Thus ERB had the seemingly impossible anomaly of a male representing his female Anima.
We know this was the result because ERB writes incessantly about it. In the Outlaw of Torn the king’s fencing master, De Vac lures young Prince Norman/Burroughs outside the gate. Norman’s nurse Maud representing his Anima noticing too late rushes to the scene to be struck down dead by De Vac. Thus ERB’s Anima is murdered. How does ERB handle this? In his dream image ERB has De Vac take Norman to London where they live in the attic of a house over the Thames River. The house is a symbol for self, the attic being the mind. Water is a symbol of the female. The house extending out over the water but separated from it indicated the separation from the Anima. To compensate for the impossible situation of a male on the Anima, De Vac improbably dresses as a woman for the three years they live together in their attic. At the end of the novel Norman/Burroughs kills De Vac.
In the succeeding novel The Mucker he associates himself with the Irish thug Billy Byrne. Byrne being paired up with the socialite Barbara Harding is also an impossible match. It would seem probable that ERB’s father and John were two of the components clothing ERB’s Animus. Thus ERB has this very strong feeling about having a dual personality that he talks about constantly.
In Lad And The Lion we have the improbable situation of a powerless ship, representing the self, drifting up and down the Atlantic endlessly, manned by the deaf and dumb Old Looney, the Lad, and a Lion in a cage on deck. That the Old Looney who represents ERB’s father was deaf and dumb probably indicates he wouldn’t listen to ERB and had nothing to say that the Lad/ERB wanted to hear. So, the Lad was brutally abused the whole of his childhood. That’s how ERB saw the Bad Father. It would seem that John Carter represents the Good Father as ERB would have liked him to have been.
With De Vac and John dead the Lion begins to take his place as the male aspect of ERB’s Anima which has now been reoccupied by a female reprsentative. The male lion becomes a permanent aspect of the Anima in 1922s Tarzan And The Golden Lion as Jad-Bal-Ja. In Lad he and the Lion go ashore after the death of the Old Looney, or, in other words, his father, where the lion is loosely associated with the Arab princess Nakhla. Lad was written a short two months before Thuvia.
Now Thuvia wows Carthoris/ERB by charming the raging Banths/lions of the battlefield and the Lotharian God. Thuvia and the god become as one as she walks by his side her fingers twisted in his mane. So the traditional goddess of the male Anima is united with a male god to form ERB’s Anima. The female Anima who moved closer to reassuming her place in Lad now definitely becomes part of ERB’s psyche.
They pass through the tunnel before Carthoris. As ERB exits the tunnel he encounters his doppelganger Kar Komak. This is great stuff actually. Komak is literally a new man. He was the first successful materialization of an hypnotic imaginary man of the Lotharians. That’s likely enough, isn’t it?
He comes running through the scarlet furze, naked, to greet Carthoris. Well, picture that. Nakedness is something else appearing regularly in ERB”s works most notably in Tarzan And The City Of Gold. (See my review.)
The duo then continue on to Aanthor where as they arrive they are met by Torquasians who upset the plans of the men of Dusar who had come back to pick up Thuvia. We know that Carthoris for sure represents ERB because he takes a sword swipe to the forehead that lays him out. Thus the novel has the obligatory bash to the head recalling ERB’s adventure in Toronto.
When the sleeper wakes he finds the dead carcass of Thuvia’s lion lying half across his body. Probably his left half that derives from the ovum. Must have been uncomfortable to say the least. Thus the male half of his Anima is now dead and the female half in possession of the Dusarians. ERB gets her back and as in Psyche and Eros the Anima and Animus we may assume are permanently reunited.
Not quite but that will take us too far afield to discuss it this moment. I deal with the future development of the problem in my reviews of Out There Somewhere (The Return Of The Mucker), Bridge And The Oskaloosa Kid (The Oakdale Affair) and Marcia Of The Doorstep.
A Part 3 will follow that attempts to deal with the bigotry charges against Burroughs. If there is such a thing as guilt concerning the issue, ERB is not guilty, of course.
March 14, 2009
Edgar Rice Burroughs On Mars
Thuvia, Maid Of Mars
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Review by R.E. Prindle
This very interesting sdtory was written shortly after ERB returned to Chicago from his first San Diego excursion. It was placed between the Girl From Fariss’s, the last story written in San Diego and The Cave Man.
The material deals almost exclusively with suggestion and hypnosis. Although hypnosis is a recurring theme in Burroughs one is startled by his concentration on the subject and his seemingly informed ideas of it, especially the role of suggestion.
One wonders why his interest surfaced at this time and where ERB learned or developed this information. He was just back from San Diego and I’m going to suggest he picked it up from his hero, L. Frank Baum. As Baum was such a significant influence on Edgar Rice Burroughs perhaps it may be worthwhile to attempt an assessment on Baum’s role in literature and history. There can be no question but that the OZ series of Baum took a central place in the American psyche and a place in the European psyche. Baum’s books have been in demand since 1900 when he began writing them to the present. Baum put Kansas on the map. The Wizard, Dorothy and Toto are household names. Baum’s play from the Wizard was a box office success while MGM’s movie is certainly in the top ten of influential movies, perhaps even in a tie for first with Gone With The Wind. Even American Negroes made their own Black version called The Wiz. The list goes on.
I’m going to suggest that Fritz Lang, the movie Director, was highly influenced by Baum as reflected in his important film, The Testament Of Dr. Mabuse. I wouldn’t be surprised if Lang was also very familiar with Burroughs.
Baum himself was a committed Theosophist. Introduced to the religion by his mother-in-law Baum picked up his card in 1893. By 1913 when he met Burroughs he had been a practicing member for twenty years. When he left Chicago he first went to Coronado across the Bay from San Diego. Katherine Tingley had established her Theosophical organization on Point Loma near that city. Baum must have been an important member of that congregation. Perhaps he had a falling out with Tingley but he did remove himself to Hollywood in 1910. In Hollywood he undoubtedly connected with the Pasadena Theosophical Society that at present is the mother organization.
As a Theosophist Baum would have had to have been familiar with the works of Madame Helena Blavatsky. Her great works are Isis Unveiled and The Secrect Doctrine. Theosophy of course is on a par with the Semitic religions of Judaism and Christianity. While Madame B is often referred to as nonsense she is in fact very learned in the ancient religious doctrines of the human mind that went to form all Middle Eastern religious expressions. Hence while Madame B’s works are metaphysical in nature they are no less relevant to the development of the human intellect than say, St. Augustine or others of the metaphysical ilk.
Madame B had some strong opinions on hypnotism. Hypnotism had come to the fore of Euroamerican consciousness in the years preceding the French Revolution through the efforts of Dr. Franz Mesmer. Though discredited as as a charlatan he was dealing with the real thing as subsequent history shows. He originally called hypnotism Animal Magnetism. That was changed to Mesmerism and then to Hypnotism. As far as possible influences on Burroughs it will be remembered that Edgar Allan Poe wrote Mesmeric Revelation in 1844 and The Facts In The Case Of M. Valdemar in 1845. There are clear indications that ERB was familiar with the Valdemar story.
Now, the essence of hypnotism is the suggestion. Suggestion is perhaps the most important intellectual or psychological phenomenon. Suggestion isperhaps the basis of intellect, intelligence and psychology. C.G. Jung in his investigations of symbols was dealing with the nature of universal suggestion from nature. Freud early learned to separate suggestion from the hypnotic trance. Artfully used suggestion obviates the need for trancelike states. Thus people don’t understand that and how they are hypnotized by movies and TV.
The art of successful literature is merely to suggest scenes and situations and have the reader visualize them in his own mind. Once accepted the suggestion becomes part of the intellect of the reader. He may be able to reject it later but that is a separate volitional act. The great writers realize this. Freud understood perfectly, while Baum developed the art of the concrete image to a remarkable degree. His works are a series of remarkable images. If Freud had had Baum’s skill, and he wasn’t far short, he would have been even more effective than he has been.
The prescient Fritz Lang picked up on Freud, Baum and hypnotism in his remarkable Dr. Mabuse series of movies. The first story, Dr. Mabuse The Gambler of 1922, concerns a Freudlike megalomaniac named Dr. Mabuse. Freud’s activities during the Great War and after would be known to the cognoscenti. It would be foolish to think that Adolf Hitler and other Volkish leaders wouldn’t have been aware of what Freud was up to. Mabuse is into all kinds of criminal activities to undermine society and the State, as was Freud. He is also a master hypnotist as was Freud. In a scene reminiscent of the scene in Thuvia where Jav says ‘You want to see them? Then, look.’ The scene of ancient bustling Lothar then appears to Carthoris and Thuvia’s wondering hypnotized eyes. As well as mine, certainly. I had no trouble seeing what Burroughs wanted me to see. So Dr. Mabuse in his role of stage hypnotizer, the man wore many hats, makes a parade appear before the wondering eyes of his audience. It can be done. I saw a man make Diamond Head disappear before the whole world on TV. Pretty amazing.
At the end of the movie Mabuse is captured and conveniently tucked away in an insane asylum. He goes catatonic until 1930 or so when Lang made the sequel The Testament Of Dr. Mabuse. The Dr. emerging from his catatonic state makes signs that he wants pen and paper which the head of the asylum, one Dr. Baum, provides.
Mabuse then turns out page after endless page of instructions to destroy civilization not unlike what Herr Dr. Freud was doing from his study in Vienna. The writing had an hypnotic effect on Dr. Baum who executes the plans of the cell bound Dr. Mabuse.
The use of the name Baum could be a coincidence but Dr. Baum like the Wizard Of Oz is an unseen superior. He issues orders but is otherwise an unknown to those he directs. In issuing his orders we are led to believe that he sits behind a curtain unseen while giving his directions. Then, just as Dorothy did, the hero dares to pull back the curtain and he finds…a phonograph player. Unlike Dorothy who finds a tubby timid little imposter, there is no one there. Surely this is a parody of Dorothy’s famous scene which makes the name Dr. Baum less of a coincidence.
So it would seem that L. Frank Baum’s influence extended to Germany and an originator of film noir. Not so unlike as Baum’s stories are much darker than they might appear at first reading. At any rate his literary images make long remembered illusions of reality not unlike that of Dr. Baum while being of a suggestive hypnotic nature. I can still visualize Dorothy pulling the curtain back exposing the mild mannered Big Brother sixty years after. I can remember the image I formed.
So, my suggestion is that L. Frank Baum was the direct inspiration for Thuvia of Mars. As noted ERB was probably familiar with Poe’s stories of hypnotism while I am certain that he had read George Du Maurier’s Trilby concerning the hypnotist Svengali and probably also Du Maurier’s other two novels, Peter Ibbetson, and The Martian both related to unusual psychological states. Len Carter believes that ERB read William Morris who also uses some hypnotic themes in his fantasy novels. Lew Sweetser, ERB’s mentor in Idaho via Yale, might also have given him some information on hypnotism while ERB was still a boy. Plus I’m sure hypnotism was a hot topic of popular discussions.
ERB’s emphasis on suggestion as the operative means of hypnotism points to some more direct instruction. Most think that ERB first met Baum in 1916 which means the two formed a fast friendship immediately. I think it more likely that they met in 1913 renewing the acquanitance in 1916. Whether Baum had read any of Burroughs’ stories in 1913 which seems would be paying pretty close atention to literary trends in pulp magazines he may have heard of Tarzan. Probably aware of this ERB may have brought along a magazine or two to show Baum. If Baum then read the proffered stories he certainly would have seen his influence in the Mars stories if ERB didn’t actually point them out to him hoping for the Zeusian nod of approval from the master.
Probably flattered Baum would have encouraed the relationship. Assuming that to be true the two men having similar interests would certainly engage in conversations on Theosophy, hypnotism, writing techniques and whatever.
Certainly Burroughs writing style which while always colorful was a little heavy on the narrative side seems to open up to a more allusive suggestive style blossoming significantly in 1915’s Tarzan And The Jewels of Opar.
I can’t find a more immediate source for ERB’s sudden interest in hypnotism. But, on to the story.
February 16, 2009
Edgar Rice Burroughs On Mars
The Chessmen Of Mars
The Golden Handcuffs
And now comes the part that readers find the most fascinating, that of the contest on The Field Of Honor. Gladiatorial contests are frequent occurrences in the novels of ERB. This one seems to combine Arthurian influences as well as Roman.
Burroughs’ tenure of a couple years at the Chicago Harvard Latin School must have made an indelible impression on him. The recurrent, one might say underlying, Homeric influence from the Odyssey of Homer would indicate that the school concentrated on that work of Homer although not on The Iliad as there seem to be few references to the latter poem. In later years ERB would complain that he had learned Latin before English cramping his English style.
Perhaps, but I don’t see anything glaringly wrong with his English style. His psychology makes him a little stiff but that’s not through a lack of understanding English. It would be nice to know the curriculum of the Latin School and what texts he did study. Late in life when he wrote I Am A Barbarian his background as evidenced by the reading list he appended was shallow while not mentioning the great classical scholars. Still Roman themes are a recurring motif in the corpus. About this time he was rereading Plutarch’s Lives that compares the lives of various Greeks and Romans so that the Lives may have been a text at school. Especially as he says that while rereading it he discovered that Numa was the name of a Roman king while he thought he had invented the name for the Lion.
Also Arthurian references pop up in Chessmen. In 1912 when his editor Metcalf of Munsey’s asked him to write a medieval story that turned out to be the Outlaw Of Torn he claimed to have little knowledge of the period. Now, the Manatorian party leaving the city after Gahan entered is more reminiscent of Arthurian stories than Roman. The city of Manator itself also has a decidedly Camelot feel. The party’s subsequent return and capture of Tara and Ghek has more of the courtly flavor than the Roman. In 1928’s Tarzan, Lord Of The Jungle ERB would create a medieval society of lost Crusaders deep in the heart of darkness. So while he claimed to know nothing of medieval themes in 1912 by this time he seems to have done some reading in the field.
In many ways Manator bears a great resemblance to Mythological, Graustarkian and Ruritanian stories that he did admire as a young man. Combining all those influences with the Oz of Baum we have Manator.
Thus in addition to Roman gladiatorial contests we also have a similarity to medieval battle melees where the favors of women were of paramount importance.
Here we have the great mock battles and actual battles to the death played out on a gigantic Jetan board. Burroughs modifies the Earthly game of Chess to create a similar Martian game of Jetan complicated by the grotesque addition of battles to the death between the live ‘pieces.’ Indeed as is explained there had been games recorded in which the only survivors were the the two female prizes and one of the Jeds. Once again mimicking Arthurian literature ERB describes sword blows that cleave the opponent through the brain pan down to the breast bone. ERB seems to delight in the most violent and gruesome details. And lots of them.
A-Kor, his cellmate, fills Gahan in on what he must do to enter the games conveniently giving the latter enough money to bribe his team, get this, while returning the remainder to his purse.
The strategy is all very probable. The number of slaves from Gathol in Manator is enormous so Gahan has no difficulty in enrolling a team of Gatholians who will be fighting for their freedom. Gahan is famiiar with Jetan as played elsewhere on Mars on a board so he has no difficulty with strategy. The main change in strategy is that when a piece captures another the pieces then draw swords and fight to the finish. Thus a piece can successfully evade capture negating strategy.
Relying on the prowess of his men and his own incomparable swordsmanship Gahan then makes a drive directly for the opposing Jed, U-Dor.
Can it be a coincidence that he who stands between himself and Tara is a man called U-Dor (door)? Considering the important roles doors play in these stories it would seem that U-Dor is one more door he must hack his way through to get to his objective.
The only other work I’ve seen where doors were so important was the old TV show, The Mod Squad. In that TV series doors of every description were constantly being slammed; not just closed but slammed. I haven’t quite figured out ERB’s obsession with doors as yet.
While Chess and one imagines Jetan are supreme games of strategy Gahan seemingly abandons the fine points and gamesmanship and makes a drive straight for U-Dor. ERB says he was a good Chess player while I have never played to perhaps the moves he describes are possible especially as any move is good or bad depending on which player is the better swordsman. Gahan is the best so he experiences no difficulty in reaching U-Dor who he cuts down.
Tara and he are seemingly reunited. But while Tara thought she killed I-Gos he was only wounded. Present at the games he denounces Gahan and Tara who flee as aforesaid to the pits. Then begins the spectacular double climax; that of Gahan/ERB’s triumph over John the Bully/O-Tar and the subsequent triumph of Gahan/ERB over Frank Martin/O-Tar.
To a large extent Chessmen is an examination of ancestor worship. Certainly the Taxidermist of Mars preserved ancestors going back at least five thousand years to the reign of O-Mai. ERB explains Gahan’s and perhaps his own ideas on the significance of ancestors.
Gahan, a man of culure and high intelligence held few if any superstitions. In common with nearly all races of Barsoom he clung more or less inherently, to a certain exalted form of ancestor worship, though it was rather the memory of legends of the virtues and heroic deeds of his forefathers that he deified rather than themselves. He never expected any tangible evidence of their existence after death; he did not believe that they had the power either for good or for evil other than the effect that their example while living might have had on following generations; he did not believe therefore in the materialization of dead spirits. If there was a life hereafter he knew nothing of it, for he knew that science had demonstrated the natural phenomenon of ancient religions and superstitions.
The above is probably as close to a confession of faith as ERB is going to give. It is certainly one that I can accept for myself. The above may also be a reference to spiritual seances in which dead ancestors supposedly spoke through mediums. Harry Houdini was debunking such seances around this time much to the chargrinof ERB’s literary hero, Conan Doyle of Sherlock Holmes fame, who did believe is such ancestral contacts.
There may be a joke in that case when Gahan arose from O-Mai’s bed ululuing and putting the fear of God into O-Tar exposing him as a coward.
Having thus disposed of O-Tar/John ERB turns to debunking O-Tar/Martin.
When Gahan was playing his joke on O-Tar I-Gos stole Tara away. He delivers her to O-Tar who is so smitten that he decides that he will marry her and take his chances with this she-banth.
O-Tar immurs Tara in a tower not unlike the story of Rapunzel. Her location is pointed out to Gahan who then makes a perilous climb of the tower in order to tell her that no matter what it looks like on the morrow’s wedding date he will rescue her and she is not to commit suicide.
While talking to her through the grated window a eunuch sleeping at the foot of the bed awakes moving toward him sword in hand. Tara instead of shrinking back removes her little blade from her harness running the eunuch through the heart.
There must be significance to this scene as ERB is retelling the story of both John and Martin. If Emma was with ERB on the corner and abandoned him to his fate by walking on it would appear that ERB never forgave her while having Anima trouble ever after. Here he rectifies the situation by having Tara come to his defense acting with a both a blade and heart of steel. Thus not only has his Animus surrogate Gahan proved John/O-Tar to be the coward but Tara the Anima figure defends Gahan/ERB from a similar attack by John absolving his Anima.
We now go to the wedding. Of course, having read the book several times in my case we know the story so I will just follow it. In the book John Carter tells ERB the details after the fact.
I-Gos has allied himself with Tara and Gahan against O-Tar. Before the wedding O-Tar retires to the Hall of Ancestors to commune with the dead. I-Gos has let Gahan into the hall where he sits as though stuffed on a stuffed Thoat. When O-Tar pauses beside him Gahan falls on him striking him on the forehead with the butt of a heavy spear.
Thus we establish that at this point O-Tar has become Frank Martin. Just as Gahan/ERB proved O-Tar a coward by merely rising in O’Mai’s bed and making weird noises so now he reverses the situation in Toronto. Instead of ERB being struck on the forehead Gahan/ERB strikes O-Tar/Martin in the same place leaving him for dead.
Now, this is strange. Donning O-Tar’s Golden Mask Gahan goes foth in O-Tar’s guise to marry Tara. The Golden Mask undoubtedly refers to Martin’s money bags to which ERB undoubtedly attributes whatever success Martin had with Emma. Why Gahan/ERB wore O-Tar’s mask is fairly clear but why ERB would have isn’t. Also if O-Tar hadn’t recovered from the blow Gahan would have been married to Tara in O-Tar’s name.
Perhaps ERB in a reversal means to imply that Emma would actually have been marrying him but won by Martin’s ‘golden mask.’ By the process of reversal then ERB would have recovered and stolen Emma from Martin on the altar so to speak. Or, as he actually did.
The symbolism of the golden handcuffs then would mean that the proposed wedding of Emma and Martin would have a mere commercial transaction. Or, perhaps, he felt himself attached to Emma for financial reasons when he’d rather not be. Complications, complications.
While the two antogonists Gahan and O-Tar are staring each other down the ‘cavalry’ Gahan sent for has arrived. Carter and troops from Helium, Gathol and Manatos arrive to end the story.
O-Tar himself then falls on his sword like a true Roman thus redeeming his miserable life. Perhaps ERB is saying that that is what Martin should have done- left the couple alone rather than constantly interfering.
If as Sigmund Freud argued dreams are based on wish fulfillment the Chessmen of Mars proves his case. In this series of dreams or nightmares ERB attempts to reverse the results of the three greatest disasters of his life.
John the Bully and Frank Martin are a matter of history. That ERB links his fiancial disaster with these two earlier disasters indicates that he knows he has crossed the line in his mistaken purchase of the Otis estate. He knows that he as no way out as he has the ‘cavalry’, John Carter and the united forces of Helium, Gathol and Manatos come to the rescue. In the final denouement of this error in 1934’s Tarzan And The Lion Man even the cavalry can’t help. Tarzan/ERB leaves the burning castle of God a defeated man.
His great dream of getting back to the land and becoming a Gentleman Farmer has crashed to the ground. His attachment to his fantasy can be traced in his letters with Herb Weston. Weston warned him as strongly as friendship would allow that it would be a mistaken approach to farming in any other way than on a factory basis with profit firmly in mind. ERB chose to ignore this sound advice probably believing that between books, magazines and movies his future was golden.
Unfortunately for himself his income crested in this very year, 1921. Undoubtedly because of his strong anti-Communist stance and his resistance to the Semitism being imposed on him his sources of income came under attack. Nineteen twenty-two was the last year he received income from movies until 1927-28. Publishing difficulties with McClurg’s and G&D increased. His long time publisher, McClurg’s, even refused outrightly to publish his opus of 1924, Marcia Of The Doorstep.
His foreign royalties once so promising slowly dried up because of political pressures. Later in the decade his troubles with McClurg’s became so intense that he was forced to abandon that long standing relationship. No other major publisher would touch him. Why, will probably never be clear. After a tentative stab with a less established publisher he turned to forming his own publishing company. This move was apparently successful enough to float him through the early part of the thirties before the spring of his inspiration began to dry up.
In a desperate attempt to save Tarzan he attempted many expedients, none successful. He incorporated himself to protect his income from creditors. He subdivided a portion of Tarzana, he attempted to sell off acreage, he tried to turn part of the estate into an exclusive golf club, he turned part into a movie lot attempted to lease that out, he invited oil geologists to find oil on his land. He invested in airplace engines and airports. Nothing came of anything. In the end the magnificent estate slipped through his hands.
A premonition of all this can be found in the The Chessmen Of Mars. Even the name of the story indicates the he is involved in a chesslike game of many moves.
Stress was now to be ERB’s other name.
A world famous figure, nominally rich, still retaining many of the trappings of wealth he had gone from prince to pauper, regained his princely stature and now slipped back to the role of a prince in exile from the Promised Land.
Nothing daunted he went on working. In the end his magnificent intellectual property, Tarzan Of The Apes, would always save him from a fate worse than death. A form of wish fulfillment in itself, I guess.
February 10, 2009
Edgar Rice Burroughs On Mars
The Chessmen Of Mars
The Taxidermist Of Mars Part 2
To return to the arrival of Gahan, Tara and Ghek at Manator. The three have been drifting before the wind for days as they have no propeller to move them. Tara is in dire straits badly needing water and food. Landing some disntace from Mantor Gahan decides to enter the city in search of food and water. He is espied on his approach and a trap set.
I am assuming that Manator represents LA and Burroughs is decribing his arrival there in 1919.
Porges was the ERB trailblazer while to my knowledge he is the only researcher allowed in the archives to this date. Robert Barrett seems to have had a close relationship with Danton Burroughs, ERB’s grandson, and Danton released snippets to him from time to time but there is no evidence in Barrett’s wrtings in the Burroughs Bulletin that he has spent any time in the archives.
Not even Bill Hillman who has done so much for Danton and ERB, Inc. has been allowed to work int he archives. Danton promised HIllman documentation for some time but never found the time to send it. I once talked to Danton by phone and he indicated he was withholding access for ‘effect.’ I didn’t ask what effect. He did release a valuable snippet to me though. So, to a very large extent one is forced to combine Porges’ seminal but fairly meager information with what was happening in Burroughs’ life as reflected in his novels.
One of the areas that have troubled me is the relationship of ERB’s rival with Emma, Frank Martin, both before and after their marriage.
Martin was disgusted with Burroughs who he thought, correctly I believe, didn’t actually want Emma but didn’t want anyone else to have her either. I think it probable that ERB wanted to keep Emma on the shelf indefinitely as the result of the confrontation with John the Bully.
Driven to desperate measures Martin drew ERB to New York on his father’s private rail car and attempted to have him murdered in Toronto.
That attempt failed. ERB in defiance married Emma against her family’s wishes a few months after the attack. Now, what was Frank Martin’s reaction to the wedding? Did he resign himself to the reality or did he interfere in the marriage any way he could?
We have a couple facts that indicate that at the very least he kept an eye on the couple. Hard facts. Martin’s associate or stooge was a man called R.S. Patchin. He was on the trip to New York and present at the assassination attempt in Toronto. In 1934 aftr ERB divorced Emma Patchin showed up in LA and sought ERB out for what appears to be the first time since 1899. Did he just happen to be in town at that moment or was he acting as Frank Martin’s agent?
Before we answer that let us consider Patchin’s next appearance in ERB’s history.When ERB died in 1950 Patchin sent a condolence letter to the family specifically recalling ERB’s bashing in Toronto. That is why we have a good record of the event. Sometime between 1934 and 1950 Martin died so Patchin was operating on his own. In his note he reminded the family of the Toronto incident that might be considered as even gloating perhaps.
The interest of Martin and Patchin then appears to be malevolent. If Martin and Patchin appeared at one of these unpleasant occurrences then it follows that perhaps Martin was working against ERB’s interests from 1900 at the the time of the wedding on.
Martin may have driven ERB and Emma out of Chicago in 1903. In 1907 and ’08 when ERB impregnated Emma twice in close succession that may have been a defensive move against Martin. The angry ex-suitor very likely then continued his machinations behind the scenes after ERB’s literary success finally driving ERB from Chicago for good in 1919.
Now, Chicago was a movie making center before the rise of Hollywood. Many of the important movie people in LA originated in the Windy City. It is not improbable that the son of a railroad magnate who owned his own private rail car knew some of them. As starlets were starlets then as now it is not inconceivable that Martin spent time in LA part of each year. Thus, when ERB moved to LA which Martin would have known in advance it is conceivable that he planned his revenge. The trap was laid so innocuously that as in his entry into Mantor Gahan/ERB wasn’t aware of the trap until he was completely in its meshes with little chance of escape left.
That ERB was an impetuous lad given to snap decisions must have been known to anyone who observed him as closely as Martin must have. ERB left Chicago to seek twenty acres 0n which to raise his hogs. Instead he was shown the 540 acre estate of General Otis of the LA Times. As I understand it ERB did not seek the estate but that notice of it was brought to him. There was the bait. The bait was too attractive. ERB bought the estate and was hooked. The trap was sprung.
ERB went on a spending spree of magnificent proportions without realizing what the costs were and how vulnerable his income was. Now saddled with care he had to struggle to find time to keep up his writing. Publishing became more difficult for him while his movie revenues came to a halt in 1922, the year after Chessmen. Whether you look at it like the impetuous Burroughs, who acted first and thought later, merely mad a very bad decision or whether he was lured into buying the estate he either was trapped or trapped himself. Chessmen would indicate that he believed he had been trapped.
In any event he was moving with the big boys in LA according to the big guys’ rules. That is a very difficult transition to make. The big boys play rough.
Let us see how ERB portrays Gahan’s entry into Manator. His entry is noted by a sinister unknown figure from the walls. We never hear of this figure again. He just disappears from the story. Gahan’s entry into the city is unopposed. He merely enters the unguarded gate and begins walking down a street. There the three figures dogging him split up. The figure who spotted him follows him from a distance, another runs ahead so that Gahan is caught in the jaws of the vise. The third figure parallels him keeping him in sight.
When they wish him to enter a building the man ahead creates the sound of a patrol approaching from the front. A door stands conveniently open. Gahan ducks in. This door may represent his buying the Otis estate. As the patrol draws closer Gahan retreats around a corner into a hall. someone of the patrol enters the door forcing Gahan farther along the corridor. The figure retreats closing the door behind him. Gahan now finds the door locked. He is trapped in the corridor. He must go forward. Thus ERB having bought Tarzana has no choice but to live with his mistake.
He proceeds down the hall in this charade of doors that is part and parcel of ERB’s psyche. Gahan is directed on his way by being compelled to enter the only unlocked door. Finally he approaches a bank of doors all locked except door number 3 that is standing open. Yes, this scene was repeated in 1934’s Tarzan And The Lion Man but more of that later. Gahan enters hearing the door click shut leaving him absoltuely no exit. His course has been downward. He is now in the pits of Manator.
He is now directed to a room with a table parallel with the wall. He sits down. Gas is emitted from holes in the wall sedating Gahan. He passes out. How clever, Gahan ruminates when he comes to, I have been good and roundly caught and not a hand was laid on me. We too marvel at the masterful description of Gahan’s capture. In real life ERB is saddled with an estate too large for his income and spending habits and which is slowly consuming him. Thus when he awakes from the sedation he finds a giant ulsio, the Martian Rat knawing on his arm. One assumes that if Gahan hadn’t wakened when he did he might have had his limbs consumed. Had ERB just become aware of his predicament? Was the game now on?
Nicely done, great atmosphere and from we readers’ perspective a great story. But now let’s backtrack a little before we move on. This is really quite a story.
While the Jetan game is the most fascinating aspect of this novel for perhaps most people the game itself may be the game within the game, so to speak, the story within the story. The whole Manator story may be considered as a game of chess in which each episode is a move in the game. Remember in the framing story ERB had finished a game of chess with Shea. The Secretary turned in leaving ERB ruminating about his loss and blowing smoke at the head of his king- the head. As he does so John Carter walks in. He tells ERB, in the latter’s own persona, that Chess is similar to Jetan on Mars. So, smoking the head of his king very likely gave ERB the hint to construct the story along the lines of Chess. Thus the opening gambit, the first move is Gahan’s entry into the city countered by the mysterious figure who engineers his capture.
As ERB comtemplated how he had gotten into his Tarzana dilemma he may very well have compared his situation to a game of chess that must be played well if he were to extricate himself unharmed.
He has chosen to present his problem in the form of a dream. Because in dreams as he has a character in Fighting Man Of Mars say, you can’t get hurt.
In Gahan’s entry ERB creates a bizarre dream image of balconies full of people observing his progress but who seem oblivious of it. Soon we learn that I-Gos the taxidermist of Mars spends his life stuffing these dead people who populate this strange city. In dreams of course all the participants have no real life; like the dead past they have no volition.
Apparently this novel is activating dreams in me. The other night I dreamt I was walking down a boardwalk as in old Chicago with the crazy ups and downs. As I mounted a higher part of the boardwalk I was accosted by six thugs. As they were discussing what to do with me I was paralyzed with fear not unlike ERB before John the Bully. Then I said to myself: This is a dream and I can’t get hurt in a dream. So saying I grabbed the closest thug and threw him through a plate glass window. Turning quickly I grabbed a second thug and hoisted him over the railing. The remaining three, there must have been only five, were paralyzed in their turn. Then I grew bored and woke up.
So ERB in the same way is examining his dream world but tweaking it from his daytime consciousness. His real life is being interpreted through his symbolism.
That in 1921, the time he wrote this story, one knows that he was already in deep trouble is because in 1934 when he was already going through the trauma of battling MGM, the Communists, and divorcing Emma and marrying Florence he replicates his entry into Manator in his entry into London and the City Of God. The bit with the three doors, the third being open and clicking quietly shut behind him is an exact duplication of Tarzan And The Lion Man. In that novel he enters a prison where he finds his Anima ideal, Rhonda, already imprisoned. In this one he is chained beside A-Kor(rock spelled backwards). In Lion Man the strange creature is God; in this one the Taxidermist Of Mars. There is no reason not to believe ERB is going through some real stress.
When the effect of the gas dissipates, first he dispatches an ulsio, The Giant Rat Of Mars (echo of Sherlock Holmes and the Giant Rat Of Sumatra?) he notices that the table that had been parallel to the wall is now vertical to it. At the far end he notices the key to his manacles. Here he employs his classical education by recalling the story of Tantalus. In that story Tantalus was standing in water with fruit trees above him but could neither eat or drink because water and fruit receded before his grasp.
Thus the solution to ERB’s problem is frustratingly just beyond his grasp as he stretched out manacle biting into his ankle. I believe this image probably refers to his childhood fixation of John The Bully that he can’t quite consciously recall or resolve. Part of the story develops around the fixation in the form of Gahan’s contest with O-Tar the Jeddak. O-Tar represents John the Bully as well as Frank Martin.
In Gahan’s predicament then ERB represents his own psychological dilemma.
I will give another example from my own dreams. Several years ago I had this wonderful dream that I thought was so spectacular that I wrote it up as short story. Anyone interested can read it at reprindle.wordpress.com. It’s called The Hole In The Sky.
At the time I was struggling to resolve my own central childhood fixation. I thought an image my mind employed so amazing that it was the only literary image I had ever had that I thought was completely original. We’ll see.
In this dream my fixation appeared as a giant Gordian Knot three or four feet in diameter. There’s a real fixation for you. I hadn’t been able to unravel this knot so now Alexander like I was going to cut it. I had this giant pair of scissors so huge I could lean on the handles like a crutch. I could see the problem and had the tool in my hands to resolve it but I couldn’t manipulate the huge tool. Two guys offered to help so instead of of helping me with the scissors they picked up the knot with a rod running through it.
I didn’t recognize the two but they were obviously the ones who gave me the fixation not unlike ERB and John the Bully. They stood grinning mockingly at me holding up the fixation. I struggled with scissors then asked them for help. In response they laughed and shook the knot at me. I had to give up.
Just to show how the dreaming mind works I later discovered that the image that I thought was so original was based on a scene from a 1957 movie I’d seen. So twenty or twenty-five years later I duplicated a scene from The Incredible Shrinking Man in a dream. Richard Matheson who wrote the wonderful I, Legend also wrote the equally wonderful, Shrinking Man.
In the movie the Man had shrunk down to the size where a now giant spider was attacking him. He was about to fight the spider using a needle but he had to cut the thread with a now giant pair of children’s scissors. In attempting to manipulate them he knocked the needle over the edge of the table.
So there you have it. Just tell your story; don’t worry about being original; it can’t be done. So ERB employs Greek mythology to creat his image. I can’t say he was conscious of it anymore than I was in mine but so many of his details fermented in his mind for decades before they spilled out onto the paper.
Gahan sits back down in exasperation. then he notices the doors to his prison have been left open. No matter, he can’t leave chained to the wall. He marvels at the diabolical cleverness of his captors. They intend to totally frustrate him. So ERB in real life was caught in a trap where while not in a jail he was effectively imprisoned.
As Ghek at this point becomes mere foolery in the story I’m going to ignore his doings unless tangential.
To further the story A-Kor is arrested and chained next to Gahan. He provides Gahan with the information that will allow the latter to organize his Jetan team and bring the story to its denouement. In the meantime Gahan is brought from the pits to be interviewed by O-Tar along with Tara and Ghek who have been captured. There Ghek uses his hypnotic powers to allow Gahan and Tara to escape to the pits together. ERB uses a device that seems to have been a favorite. There is a curtain over an opening behind the throne they escape through. Opar has the same arrangement through which Tarzan and La emerge in, I believe, Tarzan The Invincible.
In the pits the couple encounter I-Gos who explains his grisly business and solves the mystery of the immobile viewers lining the streets. The scene then follows in which Gahan is locked in the storeroom at the very bottom of the pits of Manator or the equivalent of the brain stem.
Separated from Tara the interlude of the Jetan game occurs in which Tara was the prize for the winners of the game. I will deal with Tara and the game in Part 6. Tara and Gahan return to the pits. It does seem a bit strange that Tara never recognized Gahan in his panthan guise. But, there you have it, anything goes in a dream story.
The couple find their way to the quarters of O-Mai an ancient Jeddak who died five thousand years previously. His quarters are believed to be haunted so that in 5000 years they are the first to enter with the possible exception of I-Gos. Now, I’m not going to say that ERB ever read Isis Unveiled by Madame H.P. Blavatsky written in 1877 but consider this passage on page 560 of Vol. I:
…Tcharaka, a Hindu physician, who is said to have lived 5,000 years B.C., in his treatise on the origin of things, called Usa…
ERB also mentions something called usa. I thought perhaps it meant United States Of America which, indeed, it may double as but the singular connection of Usa and the 5,000 year old Tcharaka is singular. ERB was friends with L. Frank Baum and as David Adams points out Baum was into the occult which is clear from his writing so that he may very well have been familiar with Madame B and encouraged ERB to read Isis unveiled which is quite a book. I merely point out the coincidence.
It is here in this dismal past of truly ancient history that ERB chooses to attempt to resolve his fixation with John the Bully. In the character of O-Tar he has conflated John and Frank Martin so that in eliminating John he hopefully eliminates Martin at the same time. It would seem that these two psychological facts exist in his mind as closely related or in another word, one. At this crucial turn in his later life the fear caused by John and the imputation of cowardice ERB endured as a child that conrolled the nature of his response to problems has to be met if he is to successfully meet the challenges of Tarzana. That Frank Martin may be operating against his interests behind the scenes, he who followed behind Gahan as he entered Manator, is evident because ERB associates his marriage to Emma in this context. The figure who followed Gahan and disappears from the story now reappears in an aspect of O-Tar. In ERB’s mind both John and Frank would be rats. Thus we have both the cowadice issue in O-Mai’s quarters that prove John is a coward and Gahan/ERB isn’t and the marriage scene where Gahan in O-Tar’s disguise steals Tara/Emma away.
Gahan and Tara explore O-Mai’s quarters that are spooky enough. A group of warriors playing cards appear as lifelike just as I-Gos arranged them. Initially taken back Gahan slowly realizes that they are the work of the Great Taxidermist of Mars.
They discover the mummy of O-Mai lying on the floor where he died with his foot caught in the bedding. This is a terrific dream image. We know it is a dream because Tara and Gahan can see in the dark. In dreams yours eyes are closed hence you are in the dark but you can see clearly with an inner light whether deaming of sunlight or the pits.
I-Gos becomes aware that they are there. He informs O-Tar who sends his troops down to get them. The incredible legends associated with the place have them terrorized. Thus when they enter spotting the four warriors weird screams fill the chamber. Panicking they flee.
Now comes the crucial test of O-Tar/John. He ridicules his warriors who then challenge him to go. There’s no backing out so off he goes. He is given the treatment by Gahan swooning away for over an hour. He of course invents a story for his delay and returning empty handed which is proven false by I-Gos. Thus he is a self-convicted coward. In the way the mind works ERB would have exonerated himself of the charge if this had been real life. As it wasn’t we can only guess how effective it was.
While Gahan was concentrating on O-Tar in O-Mai’s quarters I-Gos spirited Tara awaypresenting her to O-Tar/Martin who becomes enamored of her. She haughtily rejects him so offending him that he makes her the prize of the Jetan game to be shared by the whole winning team. Gets worse and worse.
Now comes the piece de resistance of the story; the part everyone concentrates on. That’s in Part 6.
November 16, 2008
Edgar Rice Burroughs On Mars
ERB scholars have long noted that the entire corpus of novels reads almost as one long book. I believe this is because ERB records his life in his novels. If one reads the novels in the sequence in which they were written and if one understands the symbolism used by Burroughs against a background of what’s happening in his life ERB actually records his mental state of the moment.
In this essay I am going to concentrate on a role of John Carter in the Mars series and that of Ulysses Paxton in the Mastermind Of Mars.
In real life before ERB began writing he was powerless on earth. I would call him an abject failure but even though he appeared one he was only on the verge of being one and if his attempt at a writing career in 1911 had failed he would have been plunged into the abyss.
As he was a failure or at least an unfulfilled seeker in 1911 he makes John Carter into a mold he admired, that of a Virginian and a soldier who was seeking his post-Civil War fortune in the deserts of the Southwest. Carter, whose initials are JC, actually finds his gold mine but attacked by Indians he escapes death by transporting himself to Mars.
Mars has a lesser gravity than Earth so on Mars he has superhuman powers. Thus unable to realize any of his ambitions on Earth ERB transports himself in his imagination to Mars as the Superman, John Carter.
Amazingly the idea struck a responsive chord in his soon to be Editor at Munsey’s, Metcalf, who bought the story. It doesn’t matter for how much, the point is it validated ERB’s lofty opinion of his destiny. Fortified by this response he brought himself down to Earth in the fantastic form of Tarzan Of The Apes in an imaginary Africa. Here was the gold mine he as John Carter was seeking. There was no one, no Indians, to drive him off so he was off to the races.
The first rush carried him through the line into 1920 when he left Chicago behind and fled to Los Angeles.
In LA his careless financial habits soon led him into hot water virtually bankrupting him but definitely stripping him of his assets. By 1926 when he wrote The Mastermind Of Mars he was virtually financially prostrate.
The hero of Mastermind is Ulysses Paxton. Ulysses can stand for the Greek wanderer and seeker Odysseus or for the great warrior, Ulysses S. Grant. So what we have is a duplicate of John Carter.
ERB is on record as saying that he thought that every man was two persons not unlike Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde, some more divided , some less. Under stress the two personas like Jekyll and Hyde became distinct.
Now, in 1911 ERB was an unrealized genius but in 1926 he was a failed genius. In other words he had had his legs cut from beneath him. He might as well have been dead. Therefore Ulysses Paxton while serving in the Great War has a shell explode beside him. When he comes to he realizes his legs have been blown away. While he lies dying he looks up to Mars as John Carter had fifteen years before. When he next comes to his legs are restored and he is standing in a garden on Mars.
Thus in real life ERB imagines himself figuratively in Paxton’s situation returning in his imagination to the Red Planet in the hope of making lightning strike twice.
He hadn’t written a Tarzan novel since Ant Men four years previously. He was black listed by the movie colony that refused to make any Tarzan movies even though they would have been lucrative. He was under attack nationally and internationally by the Reds who were doing everything possible to destroy his sales and reputation. ERB truly had his back to the wall or figuritively had had his legs cut off.
Fortune would once again favor him when FBO Studios broke the blacklist against him. After a couple fumbling attempts at Tarzan novels he would hit a magnificent stride through the Tarzan novels from 1929 to 1936.
The Mastermind Of Mars was his attempt to recover his career. His style while revered by his fans was old hat by 1926 so he could no longer take the world by storm as he had in 1911.
Mastermind is a complex novel of which I haven’t completely broken the code but let us concentrate on two aspects. The first is ERB’s troubled state of mind over his marriage. Thus he invents the story of Xaxa and Valla Dia as he fights to deal with his sexual problem. The second is the religious problem caused by his confrontation with the Jews beginning in 1919 and continuing not only through 1924’s Marcia Of The Doorstep, and 1926 but to the end of his career.
In 1926 ERB had not yet met Florence Dearholt although he was probably already familiar with her husband Ashton and through that acquaintance he may already have seen her, and perhaps, also on the screen as she was an actress. He did meet her in March of ’27 when Dearholt approached him on a movie deal and was either immediately smitten or had the opinion of her he already had confirmed.
In Mastermind ERB expresses the thought that he has a wife to whom he owes everything but who he hates. This strong emotion would be realized at his own Emma’s death.
In this novel Emma is represented by the brain of the horrid Xaxa. Ras Thavas, the demon mastermind of Mars and physician nonpareil, has transplanted the brain of Xaxa into the beautiful body of Valla Dia and vice versa. Dia is Latin for goddess. I don’t know what Valla means.
The body of Xaxa containing the brain of Valla Dia is held in suspended animation by Ras Thavas. Bringing the body to life Paxton is smitten by the beauty of Valla Dia’s brain. Knowing that her body is of incomparable beauty he conceives the notion of restoring her brain to her body and taking her to wife. Valla Dia may also be seen a version of Helen of Troy.
I interpret this to mean that ERB’s Anima ideal was the beautiful Valla Dia, perhaps as he had once viewed Emma. But to his mind Emma had developed an ugly mind that animated the body of his Anima ideal. the beautiful mind he sought was thus in an ugly body while an ugly mind was in a beautiful body. ERB’s dilemma was to shuck Emma and find a beautiful mind in a beautiful body. When he met Florence in 1927 he thought he had found his Anima ideal of a beautiful mind in a beautiful body. His problem then was how to rid himself of Emma.
On that level then ERB is struggling with his sexual problem. In this book his struggle would take the form of an astonishing number of dual and split personalities. This is quite a study in that sense and an indication of ERB’s extreme stress. Perhaps Mastermind is a worthy successor to Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde.
The second and less resolvable problem is the religious issue. At this moment in time the Jews of Hollywood have got ERB boxed. Indeed, they have cut off his legs. The logjam was about to be broken by FBO Studios which would free ERB up until the late thirties when he was forced into exile in Hawaii. For now though he has to deal with this very difficult problem. He has by now learned that freedom of speech ends where Judaism begins. If I am right he was denied publication of Marcia Of The Doorstep because of the manner in which he discussed his dilemma.
In Mastermind while the religious issue assumes primary importance ERB puts it into an ecumenical form denouncing all religion. Does he refer to his Jewish situation in any cloudy form? I think he does.
The god in this story is a huge several story high idol named Tur to which all must bow down. The name Tur is an odd name for a god, at least in my mind. I have said before you cannot talk about that which isn’t in your mind. If you haven’t studied religions there is nothing you can say about them. As ERB has a great deal to say it is obvious that he knows something about religion and religions. Theology isn’t the issue here, that is a separate matter.
Given ERBs method, when he learned he had a problem with Judaism I’m sure he went out and learned something about it. It isn’t necessary that he had a profound knowledge; it is only necessary that he learned some things. We can’t be sure what. The word Tur is signficant in Jewish historiography. His use of Tur may be a coincidence but there you have it- Tur is Tur any way you turn it, frontwards or backwards, Tur is Tur.
The word Tur appears in Judaic lore in this manner:
…Rabbi Jacob (Yaakov) ben Asher (1270-1343) the “Baal ha-Turim” compiled the Arba Turim, first printed in 1458. “Tur” is used as shorthand for both the title of the whole work and for Rabbi Asher himself since it is customary in Judaism to call a compiler by the name of his compilation. The Tur is the predecessor of Rabbi Joseph Karo’s Schulchan Aruch. The four part structure of the Tur and its division into chapters (simanim) were adopted by Karo in the later code, Shulchan Aruch. Each of the four divisions of the work is a Tur, so a particular passage is cited a Tur…
p. 127 Hoffman, Michael, Judaism Discovered, 2008
While one can’t be certain ERB learned the above fact it isn’t particularly recondite and might have been easily learned. At the least the use of Tur for the god is a remarkable coincidence.
Making Tur an idol to which all must bow would have been an egregious offence to the Jews and one which any knowledgeable Jew, who might have read the book, always a precondition, would have picked up on it whether Burroughs intended it or not. Paranoia strikes deep.
The idol itself could possibly be modeled on the Alexandrine Egypto-Greek god, Sarapis. Burroughs would have known of this from the Bible if not from his readings in the classics. We know he reread Plutarch’s Lives at least twice with one of those times just previous to writing Mastermind. If he read the Lives twice he undoubtedly read other classics so there is no reason to believe that he didn’t have knowledge in these matters.
The manner of Paxton’s posing as Tur and bamboozling the bamboozlers is a mockery of religion in general although given the context of the word Tur the application of the mockery might have been taken more personally.
Forced to use the most discreet measures to avoid accusations of anti-Semitism ERB may have thought he was undetectably clever while he is certainly having a good laugh. Paxton congratulates himself and gives himself a couple pats on the back at the success of his ruse.
The end result, of course, is that he frees the people from the bondage to the false religion of Tur.
I’m not quite clear on the nature of Ras Thavas who is named after the Ethiopian Prince Ras Tafari who became the Emperor Haile Selassie and the namesake of the Jamaican Rastafarians.
The book is a worthy of the attempted second birth of ERB’s faltering career. The characters are magnificent and finely drawn. Ras Thavas is surely one of the great characters of pulp fiction. Mastermind paired with The Synthetic Men Of Mars makes for one of the greatest diptyches of science fiction.
November 13, 2008
Conversations With Robin
Robin Mark and R.E. Prindle
Well, you know, the river just keeps right on a flowin’ and you have to stay afloat but the bozos in Washington just don’t seem to have a clue and they’re so cynically dishonest. Eighty percent were against the bailout but they said we had to have it or the world would end yesterday. Now the bailout has gone away. first there was a bailout, then there was no bailout.
I thought both Obama and McCain were genuninely crazy to want to step into Bush’s shoes and I hope Obama gets what he’s got coming.to him before I get mine. The Commies have to be stopped this time; twice was enough of that bull roar.
But to turn the radio back up. Have you read any of Miss Pamela’s latest: Let’s Spend The Night Together? she interviews twenty-four groupies mining their minds for golden memories.
As super Presley buff you’ll want to read the first chapter by someone called Tura Satana. Taught Elvis nearly every thing he knew. How to kiss, the whole works. Came to her as a country bumpkin and left as The Sheik. Funny I haven’t heard you vent on her before.
And then a Catherine James invents the most improbable story about Dylan you’ve ever heard.
Elvira makes her guest appearance with some more info on Elvis that sounds like it might be as true, at least, as a Hollywood movie.
It’s kind of a kiss and invent book but Miss Pamela is her usual charming self. Get’s a little gruesome after a while though, but, Hey, here it is 2008 and they’ve all survived. Even Miss Mercy. Carazy mama but she’s got a few more tidbits on Elvis. Did he ever have an interest in a Memphis area club called Hernando’s Hideaway?
Those girls did get around but the question is what can they actually remember? It makes you wonder how Jimmy Page ever had a spare moment to practice guitar.
Good luck with your school. We’re a long way from the bottom yet. It amazes me how few people understand how far its fallen and that it is absolutely impossible for it to bounce back. For crying out loud the Faller has barely gotten ‘Timber’ out his mouth already.
I pity those poor Liberals who’ve finally gotten their wish. Now what are they going to do with General Motors. There is no forgiveness in my heart for them.