The Sixties: A Comic Book Heaven
by
R.E. Prindle

Look Out Sixties, Here I Come

Look Out Sixties, Here I Come

Of course, everyone is, and always has been, slightly mad. Still, repressing the unreasonable side of his nature man in the Western world has, since the eighteenth century, built a civilization based on scientific reason and classic Aristotelian logic- the heritage of the Enlightenment. And the result, especially in this country [US] during the past fifty years [article dated 1970], has been a rational society that has made one technological break through after another, from the invention of the pop-up toaster to the ability to land men on the moon. Here, until recently, two plus two had inevitably equaled four, not five, as Eastern mystics suggest, and no one other than J.D. Salinger had been able to imagine the sound of one hand clapping.

–Thomas Meehan- Horizon Magazine, Spring 1970.

Comic books were first sold in 1933-34. Thus the first two comic book generations coincide with those too young to serve in WWII while many of the first generation was obliged to serve in the Korean war while the second generation missed both.

How deeply the mind of the first generation of comic book readers was formed is problematical. Comic books didn’t take their classic form until 1938 when the character of Superman was formed. The number of comic characters proliferated during WWII but as these, i.e. Capt. America, were war specific they fell out of favor after WWII.

The first generation of potential comic book readers, those born from 1933-34 formed the substratum for the sixties when they created rock and roll and the base for 60s pop culture during the 50s. That was Presley, Sanford Clark, Cash, Vincent, Nelson et al.

Following the war those born in 1937-38 and subsequently through about 1943-44 had their minds formed by comic books although not all to the same degree. A significant percentage of them were forbidden to read comics by their parents, perhaps wisely. There were some who indulged themselves indiscriminately. I was one of those. I read them all, avidly. The question is how were we affected?

There was a terrific reaction against comic books. Angry parents fought to have them banned. In perhaps the only, certainly of a very few, successful efforts of censorship, comics were banned in 1954. The survivor, of course, was Mad Magazine published by the worst offender, William C. Gaines. All of the comic book readers plus many of those formerly excluded shifted to Mad thus further polluting our brains. While I never gave up reading the comic books till their banning I did abandon Mad for political reasons after a year or so.

Now, with the exception of Capt. Marvel, and that may only be partial, the comics were exclusively of Jewish origins. Thus we in the US, Britain was excluded, were shown the Jewish point of view without our knowing.

One of the key themes was the all male group of do-gooders. These were some of my favorites. The tops, perhaps, was the very influential Blackhawks comics. The Blackhawks were a group of five ex-WWII pilots who each owned his P-38 fighter and flew around the world, Third World mainly, if I remember correctly, righting wrongs they recognized more quickly and efficiently, that is vigilante style, than organized government could or would. I remember the Blackhawks as terrific, I loved them. The fellowship of the pilots, each with a different character, each loyal to the others was something that I and I suppose every reader wished to emulate, especially the notion of a bonded group of five like minded guys.

Another was called the Daredevil. He had a red and blue set of body tights upper right and lower left red and vice versa for the blue. Weird but that’s the way he was. Daredevil was a surrogate father figure to five orphan boys, same character makeup as the Blackhawks, who righted wrongs in their neighborhood and lived in the same clubhouse. The later musical group The Monkees was probably based on them. The Monkees were short one, being four, which lessened their impact. If they’d had that fifth member I would have been an avid fan although older by then.

The Blackhawks- Vigilante Justice At Its Best

The Blackhawks- Vigilante Justice At Its Best

Thus in 1954 the origins of Top 40 began on radio. Twenty four hours round the clock seven days a week full time music. An innovation created by the arrival of television. The first generation of rockers were solo artists. Some came attached with a band such as Bill Haley And The Comets or Gene Vincent And The Blue Caps who were proto-Blackhawk type groups but mainly they were solo artists with a band not a group. Presley, Sanford Clark and that curious mixture of both, Ricky Nelson.

The societal maturation process was continuing and then in the mid-sixties the Charlatans came down from the hills of Virginia City dressed in movie style cowboy outfits to home base San Francisco and the first group of costumed crusaders a la the Blackhawks burst forth in full flower.

2.

In Britain the situation was somewhat different although coeval with the US. While the US escaped devastation in WWII the South of England was bombarded mercilessly destroying millions of buildings. A good representation of the situation may be found in John Boorman’s I suppose accurate, I wasn’t there, movie, The Hope And The Glory. As Boorman, who was there, portrays it, acres and acres of rubble stretched in every direction. The kids who scavenged and roamed the area are portrayed as little savages. An interesting education for the age cohort that came of age in the fifties.

Those born in the early forties, the core of the second generation of rockers, themselves played in this same although shrinking devastation. But rations were short in hard hit Britain, restrictions were not lifted until 1954. How their psychology was impaired isn’t so clear, although in the mid-sixties a wild party time called Swinging London appeared. Gay abandon one might say.

The group situation there may have been the result of the generation’s discovery of American slave music- Rhythm And Blues. R&B as a new entry to the British music scene met with resistance so that the devotees were possibly forced to form small groups who recognized each other, many wanting to play the music so they naturally formed groups, two guitars, drums, bass and a singer.

At any rate the British invasion of the US consisted of these four and five man groups coinciding with the comic book groups of the US.

3.

Other formative influences other than comics and radio were films and TV. Those all involved a specific point of view repeated ad nauseum or lessons from a know-it-all crusader cum super hero.

Of course we all grew up with Hopalong Cassidy and Gene Autry among others during the forties but with the fifties came the fantastic science fiction movies. One of the most important was The Day The Earth Stood Still with its famous characters Klaatu and Gort. The premise was preposterous but no one got it. Klaatu is an alien landing a saucer in the US. He is here to vet Earthlings to see if the they are ready to enter the intergalactic community in which peace reigns. Alas, Earthlings, you and me, are hopelessly primitively addicted to violence. Klaatu boards his saucer with a sign of benediction delivering a long sermon about shaping up and saying he’ll be back if we ever sort things out. Alright.

Movie after movie repeated the same message until today people actually believe that extra-terrestrials are all peaceful and Earth is the only rogue planet in the universe. Ask anyone. Flying Saucers were portrayed as hovering out there where the communications satellites would soon be. There they carefully studied mankind for any sign of the diminution of violence. Boy, I bet they think they’ve been wasting their time. Imagine circling Earth for seventy years waiting for indications of peacefulness. Obviously they’ve been sadly disappointed while being joined by the Negro Mother Wheel that appeared some time in the seventies to keep them company Hello, Earth calling Mother Wheel.

These movies established the idea that the whole universe except for Earth is highly developed and pacific along with the idea that Earthlings are worthless, hence most people accepted as fact we were being watched by superior beings and found wanting. We were inferior.

The movies established the notion that there were millions of inhabited worlds out there inhabited by superior beings who could travel billions of light years and get to home base in time for dinner. ‘Honey, I’m home.’

Now, at the same time, pulp magazines existed. Monthly editions of Amazing Stories, Astounding Tales and others poured out endless reams of the most astonishing stuff imaginable. Thus, all three, comics, pulps and movies, sci-fi and movies were rushing through our minds, forming expectations. Of course, the number of us who read sci-fi, almost as despised by parents as the comics, was small, but then as TV developed, Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone and Star Trek came along both of which mined the sci-fi stories of the fifties while spreading the notions throughout the entire population. This reduced the intellectual discrimination of the people whose minds were prepared to accept anything.

4.

The Bunny Himself

The Bunny Himself

These years of the fifties were very crowded with the most exciting new developments. TV was perhaps at the top of the list. Bear in mind that cable didn’t exist. There weren’t even three channels in most places including a major market like the San Francisco Bay Area. People didn’t think TV would be profitable. The channels didn’t even broadcast until noon and shut down at ten o’clock prime time. There was no 24/7 TV.

There wasn’t even enough original programming to fill a ten hour day so they ran old movies and almost anything anyone could think up. Arthur Godfrey’s show ran for hours every day.

One of those odd things they chose to fill time was a character called Crusader Rabbit. I don’t know how well remembered the Rabbit is today but he had a profound effect in forming the minds of the 60s generation. Crusader Rabbit was a distant relative of the Blackhawks. While they flew around the world able to determine who were the good guys and who the bad, Crusader Rabbit was a self-righteous little bastard of a vigilante squad who instilled certain little minds with his self-righteousness and made them think they should impose their vision of reality on the world by mounting ‘crusades.’ Hawkeye of the later TV series Mash combined Crusader Rabbit with the Blackhawks.

Now, all this was happening in a short six years from 1950 to 1956. In many ways this was a major intellectual/psychological revolution preceding those revolutions of the sixties.

Equally, if not more important, was what was happening in the classrooms of our schools.

5.

If an astonishing variety of educations was going on outside the classrooms what was going on inside was no less astonishing. I don’t know if everyone saw it the way I did but I had a tough time assimilating what I heard. Of course American superiority and the inferiority of Europeans was standard staple. At the same time we were warned to be humble as bearers of these great gifts and to share them with our inferiors who after all couldn’t help it that they weren’t born Americans. True enough I suppose.

And, because of the success of our own American revolution, barring any negative thoughts caused by the French and Bolshevik revolutions, we were taught, indeed, indoctrinated and conditioned to believe that revolution per se was good, indeed, a blessing. Ignoring whatever may have been going on in the world we were taught to revere the South American George Washington, Simon Bolivar, who flitted from country to country on the whole continent until he came to end of it in Venezuela tossing the Spanish aside like so much chaff. Viva Bolivar, hey? Well, Viva Zapata next.

Well, I came from the orphanage and I had a different idea of right and wrong. Heroes were much scarcer for me than for the kids from normal homes.

By the time we got to high school, 1953-56, teachers were preaching revolution, revolution, revolution full bore. Revolution was everywhere. Minute changes in processed breakfast cereals were described as revolutions. Crusader Rabbit was a revo. Who wasn’t?

The reverence for revolution continued in college too. Another four years of revo, rah, rah, rah followed in college which ended for my class in 1960. Portentous year, what? That was the year our limp President, John F. Kennedy created the Peace Corps. We were eager to share our wonderful achievement so recent college graduates with absolutely no knowledge of the world and inadequate educations sallied forth to tell the world how to do it right. OK? How’s that for arrogance?

Now, there were plenty of revolutions in progress in 1960 and all those graduates from say, 1954 to 1959, were primed for revo. Lived for it, breathed it. They didn’t even have to be recruited; they went searching for it. Give us revolution, they screamed.

These were years of the magnificent march of progress too. Years of change and hope, revolutions one might say, in all areas of endeavor. The people born from 1938 to 1945 leaped in with both feet and arms flailing. The sixties belonged to us, it was a world that we would make ourselves.

The next age cohort born from ‘46-’53 would be instrumental in forming the seventies, the eighties going to the next age cohort. Of course these cohorts created nothing merely extending the ethic of the 60s’ cohort. The interesting thing is that there was a fairly complete break between us and The Greatest Generation as our fathers have been styled.

Those revolutionary minded teachers of ours were mostly born c. 1890 so they were at the tail end of the post-Civil War corps, lived through two world wars and the Great Depression. Our fathers born somewhere around 1918 caught the Depression and WWII while witnessing the Korean War. We younger ones, in the US, avoided that while TV,  Top 40 and other assorted wonders made us rather distinct, nothing alike in outlook. Our fathers didn’t really like, couldn’t trust us, and certainly were not going to accord us the dignity of adulthood and the authority that goes with it. So we grew distant from them not really thinking an awful lot of them or giving them our trust. Fuck, they couldn’t even deal with the Mafia.

Politically they kept control during the sixties while culturally and socially we managed affairs. As it was a new beginning of sorts the succeeding age cohorts respected us and what may be called our achievements, sex, drugs and rock and roll, but still maintaining that sense of breakfast cereal revo.

To make the break even sharper, in 1960 the real old guard headed by Eisenhower checked out and an Irish upstart son of a bootlegger, Jack Kennedy, leader of the Celtish Camelot and a guy who could twist the night away even with a bad back, attempted to lead the way.

His best wasn’t very good and he caught a piece of flying lead allowing that pale Texan reincarnation of FDR to see how badly he could muff it. He did a good job of muffing it too.

So, there we were on the brink of 1960 raring to show the world what we could do. Really revo the whole machine? We’ll see.

6.

Charlie Whitman

Charlie Whitman

Richard Speck

Richard Speck

The psychological background of the sixties as exhibited by the second rock generation from 1938 to 1945 is a major manifestation of an effort begun back in the WWII days. It is the realization of the theologico-metaphysical notion of what Sigmund Freud dubbed the Unconscious. As the quote opening this essay indicates the sixties was the undoing of the several hundred year effort to realize the conscious. We thought we’d seen enough of the unconscious to last much more than a millennium. As the effort was begun before the awareness of the nature of the Un or subconscious the effort was achieved as Mr. Meehan states by the repression of sub-conscious motives not their elimination.

Freud quickly discerned this and he understood the function of dreams that he called the ‘royal road to the unconscious.’ Thus the motto he appended to his volume The Interpretation Of Dreams published appropriately in 1900 is ‘Flectare si nequeo, Superos, Acheronta movebo.” which translated means ‘If I cannot deflect the will of heaven I shall move hell.’

Freud interpreting the conscious mind as heaven chose to deemphasize consciousness in favor of his vision of the unconscious that he interpreted as Hell. Thus, you will find almost nothing in Freudian psychology referring to the conscious mind while he enthrones his Unconscious as the moderator of the human mind. He actually believed that the Unconscious was an agency separate from the body. In theological terms it had a supernatural existence. Thus, he has negated consciousness, or Science, in favor of Religion. As he has rejected God or Heaven then it follows that he embraced Satan and Hell.

As the sixties progressed the generation abandoned consciousness embracing unconsciousness. Time Magazine proclaimed in 1966 ‘God Is Dead’ while Satanism came alive, indeed according to Ira Levin in his novel, Rosemary’s Baby, Satan’s son, Andy, was born in 1966 just as God died. Levin continued his story in 1999’s Son Of Rosemary. Interesting.

It is no coincidence that Freud was both a druggie and a homosexual. Now, the royal road to free the mind of consciousness or Heaven is an obsession with sex and the free indulgence of drugs especially Freud’s favorite, cocaine backed with a pounding jungle beat. Eh voila- the sixties.

Sex, drugs and the hypnotic jungle beat of Rock and Roll. The sex was facilitated by the introduction of the birth control pill and anti-biotics; the amusing Shel Silverstein sang of Penicillin Penny who always had VD. If the girls took the pill both they and their boys were freed from the fear of pregnancies while the ga-ga types had no fear of Venereal disease because the cure was quick and easy by a regimen of anti-biotic pills. Almost paradise here and now and on Earth. For less than a buck you could get a nice big piece of pie too.

Freud had achieved his goal; he had overturned Aryan society.

Freud essentially by fraud allowed us to indulge forbidden appetites and responsibility from forbidden acts, for after all as the conscious mind had no authority and the will of the unconscious was unresistible we had no responsibility for our acts- If it felt good, we did it, as the mantra was. Hence by 1966 we had Richard Speck killing all those nurses in Chicago and Charlie Whitman up his clock tower at UT blowing away his fellow students. Guns aren’t the problem; Freud is the problem.

Hell, Dick and Charlie just wanted to be free. Indeed, freedom in the freest of all societies became a problem to the generation.

Sally Banks in her Greenwich Village 1963, Chapter 5, appropriately titled, Dreaming Freedom, explains her views on what being free actually meant to her and a very large part of the age cohort. She is writing from New York City.

In 1963 freedom was a vital political issue charged with artistic consequences for both the mainstream and avant-garde. Part of the avant-garde’s utopian vision was that liberty could be found within community. But, in fact, the very concept of freedom sets autonomy and the notion of individualism in conflict with the bondedness of community. For social life is a potent source of restraint [suppression of freedom], yet, paradoxically, total freedom would mean the humanly unrealizable (and unbearable) state of complete isolation. Thus there is a deep ambivalence in Western culture toward freedom and social life. The dream of community, itself, may be incompatible with the dream of freedom, a contradiction the avant-garde sought to discover.

The Sixties artists constructed an art that re-imagined daily life in terms of achieving both liberation and community. If such a situation proved illusory, in 1963 it seemed necessary- and it still seemed possible given the booming economic infrastructure- to find a model that would make these imaginings concrete.

Yes, people wanted total freedom- that is a disconnect from the reality of having to deal with unpleasant facts- free from all restraints including gravity and mostly free from themselves. The drugs seemed to serve as those releases. Under the influence people could imagine themselves as someone else who ‘really had their shit together‘, miracle men and women able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, move mountains with the wave of a hand, fly through the air like a host of angels but they inevitably came back down where if they were anywhere near a mirror they could watch their bodies disintegrate.

Freedom from reality has its price.

So, the sixties that began with such ‘High Hopes’ to realize ‘The Impossible Dream’ of Camelot began to crash in 1966 just as like a flash of lightning in the sky the realization of those dreams seemed to dawn. As Lewis Carroll said, be careful that your Snark is not a boojum, for you see….

7.
The Truth Is No Defense

The sixties, then, was when the impasse between the Scientific Method came into its latter day conflict with the Theologico-Metaphysical mindset. The T-M system is merely a mental state that not only does not require objective validation but positively rejects it in favor of subjectiveness; what Freud called inner wishful thinking.

While the sciences of sociology and anthropology and biology produced irrefutable, by logical methods, results that ran counter to the inner wishful T-M thinking, as there were no means to refute the scientific results the T-M people merely denied them and forced scientists to suppress their accurate but uncongenial truths.

To ensure that the truths were suppressed and remained suppressed the T-M partisans passed laws making it criminal to express these truths. These laws called ‘hate’ laws were then applied to any who spoke these truths. As the truths were undeniable T-M partisans corrupted the law, common sense, and, one might say, the will of God to declare in a court of law by the judges that ‘the truth is not a defense.’

The truth is not a defense! Think about it. Such a rule of law is the triumph of absolute criminality and ignorance. And this happened during the watch of an age cohort that claimed to love freedom and revolution. Well, it was a revolution, one that enslaves the mind.

Now, in a position to punish those who disagreed with them the beneficiaries of the T-M mentality were able to enshrine their will as the law of the land. As the law was no longer concerned with the judgment of facts as evidence but the religious beliefs of the T-Ms the US at that point turned into a theocracy. The religious left became an established religion running counter to the old dispensation of the Constitution in favor of something not yet codified and something not approved by the former electorate that now became passive and an ineffective annoyance to the new slave masters.

8.

The ruling social ethos in the US when the sixties dawned was the theory of the Melting Pot formulated by the Jewish writer Israel Zangwill c. 1900. According to that theory that had nearly the effect of a law all the disparate social elements forming the population of the US would fuse into one people of uniform American belief.

In 1960 or thereabouts the new theory of multi-culturalism was introduced which stated that each culture should have an autonomous existence. This was the dream, wishful thinking, of the wannabe Jewish Autonomous people. Nothing new, it was their age old dream. Thus the body politic of the US as a matter of principle was fractured into many warring cultures.

While the Melting Pot had always been a fantasy having no real existence in fact multi-culturalism was alive and real and exacerbated in 1965 when the immigration act was reformed allowing unlimited immigration to all the peoples of the world. And if they didn’t come willingly members of the T-M mentality went into the actual jungles of Africa, dragged the natives out, put them on a plane, free fare, and flew them to the US.

What can one say to such zaniness.

The whole notion of freedom advocated by the age cohort was thus negated. Dozens of laws were passed giving these ‘immigrants’ precedence over the rights of the native population, depriving the natives of equal rights. This is a true story. Incredible but true.

9.

And lastly, for this essay we come to the complete overturn of reason in favor of a comic book utopia and the installation of an age of inner wishful thinking caused by the introduction of drugs as a mass phenomenon.

Drugs in the sixties were nothing new. Drugs begin to show up in literature during the nineteenth century Romantic period. Thomas de Quincey’s Confessions Of An English Opium Eater is the first famous confession or novel on the topic. Opium was much used in Victorian England as an ingredient in Laudanum which was given to infants to make them stop crying.

Opium was further reduced to morphine and then heroin. Freud is famous as the promoter of the joys of cocaine, synthesized from the coca plant. As chemistry developed, synthetic chemical drugs such as amphetamine began making their appearance at the end of the century.

Drug labs were busy and soon creating drugs that attacked any area of the brain. LSD was discovered in 1938 and popularized after 1943. Drugs like Miltown and other tranquilizers began filling women’s purses after 1950. Pot and hash had been simmering below the Hot 100 for some time but moved up the charts after 1960. So the whole pharmacopeia was available as the decade began. New formulas would be discovered in the following decades as drugs became part of the entertainment industry.

Drugs of course suppress the conscious mind exposing the raw wiring of the user. They also lower resistance to hypnotic influence. Hypnosis is merely a heightened sensitivity to suggestion. A drugged out population can be swayed by propaganda as no other, which is merely suggestion by another name, in any direction. They can be swayed but you mist control the means to do so. The mass media was the means, namely TV, Movies and records, and it was in the control of Jews with their special agenda.

Thus Movies, TV and Records propagandized a pro Jewish revolution agenda along with its subordinate Negro revolution agenda.

It is strange how all trends worked to favor the Negro/Jewish agenda. Of course, Jews had been instrumental in breaking down Aryan resistance to Negro music. Jewish DJs such as Alan Freed and Cousin Brucie along with Jewish song writers such as the hugely influential Leiber and Stoller and Goffin-King led the assault.

The songs they wrote were performed by Negro artists. While the Jewish song writers were not so familiar with Aryan culture as is supposed it was enough to bridge the Aryan-Negro gap making the Negro performances potable while paving the way for Barry Gordy’s Motown label.

As of 1960 there was virtually no one who listened to or was familiar with Negro Blues. The Blues was

Robert Johnson

Robert Johnson

brought forward by the British Invasion who apparently listened to that crap. I am always astonished by White Blues artists citing Robert Johnson as a source. There was nothing available by Robert Johnson until 1960 when CBS released its first collection that virtually no one bought. The second collection was released in ‘62 with the same result.

I first heard of Robert Johnson in 1968 when I owned a record store. Many people talked about the Blues but when I started a first rate Blues section the records remained untouched and unsold. I doubt that I ever had a Robert Johnson sale.

I was in a university town and when such Blues artists as Lightning Hopkins were brought to town the ‘séances’ were held in someone’s living room with maybe fifteen people attending, ten of which were girls worshipping blackness. Nevertheless White Blues was popularized by the British, spreading to American performers.

I should point out that White performers of the forties and early fifties such as the Singing Cowboy Gene Autry sang many Blues based songs. Autry’s song The Yellow Rose Of Texas is of course about a Negro woman, high yellow.

By decades end the cohort’s fascination with exaggerated notions of freedom and revolution had turned into drug addiction and violence. By the late sixties looney tunes like Bomber Billy Ayers and his female side kick Bernardine Dohrn with their Weatherman organization and the Jewish Defense League and its offshoot the Jewish Defense Organization were killing and bombing at will and furthermore they would get away with it. ‘Free as a bird and guilty as Hell.’ as Bomber Billy Ayers would put it.

So by the end of decade ending with the Caped Crusader, Mick Jagger, at Altamont a comic book vision of reality had triumphed over the real thing. Who can forget Mick Jagger mounted on a giant inflatable cock on stage before sixty thousand people. Now, there was a comic book fantasy. Two and two added up to any number you wanted.

Ride 'em High Mick

Ride ’em High Mick

Exhuming Bob:

The Jewel In The Forehead Of The Toad

By

R.E. Prindle

 

I ride on a mail train; can’t buy a thrill.

-Bob Dylan

 

Bob Dylan. How did this guy get into my life? As someone said of Hank Williams: Bob Dylan sang my life. Up to a point. How he could know so much about me is totally unbelievable. I’m three years older than Bob which is not all that much, especially at this age. Our mental states were quite similar while we were working out our mental problems in somewhat the same way, not that Bob had ever heard of me but one of the hazards of exposing yourself on records or in print is that kindred spirits recognize each other. One of the occupational hazards, I suppose.

I’m going to use as a starting point Dylan’s record of Mixed Up Confusion. I must confess that I had never heard the song until a couple years ago. I had bought three copies of Biograph when it came out but never opened one. I bought all three copies as an investment and that turned out to be one lousy investment. So after twenty years these sealed copies weren’t listed for much more than I paid for them so I didn’t think I’d be losing much by opening one. It was then I first heard Mixed Up Confusion. Was it a revelation you ask? Hell no. It was just a noisy song. But as I was sitting watching the river flow and reading Greil Marcus’ Lipstick Traces it occurred to me that the book needed some constructive criticism so I gave it. You may have read that criticism right here on this blog. Then having the kind of mind I do I had to read the rest of Marcus so as to make knowing and intelligent comments on the guy. Marcus reopened the subject of Dylan in my mind. I dismissed the guy a few years ago, right after hearing Mixed Up Confusion. I had to start thinking about the Bob again because I couldn’t figure out exactly what I used to see in him.

Bob and I first made extra-sensory contact back in ‘64 and as you are well aware this is ‘08. A lot of water had flowed by in the river and under the bridge while I was sitting and watching it since way back when.

In the interval I had worked out my mental problems even integrating my personality according to the tenets of C.G. Jung. I’ve got the same old face, and getting older, but I’m a different guy.

Here’s the rub. I lived by Dylan for maybe five years from Blonde On Blonde until my life began running so fast I had too many other things to think about. Greil Marcus raised some irritating points about Dylan that made me regret my former adulation. Now, this created a small problem because I love my life and I have the notion that I have perfect taste and that whatever I have ever liked I must still like or I don’t really have perfect taste. You can see how Marcus put me up against the wall. Another one of those extrasensory contacts. And there was Bob getting more ambiguous by the moment as Marcus plodded on.

Damn near threw me into a panic.

So now I had to develop a new perspective for my infatuation of the toad with the jewel in his forehead. That’s how I look at Bob now. Well, you know, I’ve read most of the books on Bob, not so much reviews or interviews so that I have the means to analyze this prime influence on my young manhood.

I’m standing in my library when my hand fell on a Dylan book I bought some time ago. It occurred to me that maybe I hadn’t read this one yet. The book was the Rough Guide To Bob Dylan by Nigel Williamson. English fellow, obviously never been to America. Nigel had a pretty good handle on Bob so my mind focused on the jewel in Bob’s forehead. Mixed Up Confusion. This was where Bob was at in 1962. The rest of his career is the working out of this song. Trying to clear up the confusion. Get Straight. Walk like a man and the words of that tune..

Not enough attention has been devoted to Bob’s boyhood in Hibbing although guys like Howard Sounes in Down The Highway: The Life Of Bob Dylan have made a stab at it. Nobody has touched on the real source of Bob’s malaise though. I mean why was he living in mixed up confusion? His songs give off hints that could be investigated by someone in the right frame of mind but it’s not going to be me. I’ve got other things to think about. I’ve got my own life to live. Bob does generously provide the lyrics on his web site however for anyone interested.

Obviously the early years were not so happy as they could have been. Bob had difficulties with his mother and father; nothing too egregious but one gets the notion that perhaps Bob thought parents and child were mismatched. Should have been born to someone else. I live with that feeling too. Bob and I both knelt at the same altar praying: There must be some way out of here… But just through that door over there and when it closes behind you you can’t get back in. I didn’t design this place I just live here.

How well he got along at school isn’t absolutely clear but it seems that no one felt any compunction to take Bob at his word which should be the finger on the sign pointing: This Way.

That Bob had time on his hands is obvious by his listening habits on the radio and his reading habits. Bob took it all in as did I. Country, Rock, Swing, Folk, Easy Listening. He doesn’t seem to remember the Folk very much but he must have heard those Harry Smith songs before if he crawled all those late night country stations beaming up on a million watts or so from Del Rio, Texas. He must have got Waterloo real clear. One of the great country stations of the Midwest. I don’t know if he could get WCKY in Cincinatti O-ha-o, as the announcer always pronounced it up there in Hibbing or Wheeling West Virginia. Boy Wheeling used to play some unusual items. Came in pretty clear in Michigan where I lived. Carter’s and all that? Old hat.

So I don’t know what blew his mind so much when he got to Dinkytown down at U. Minnesota. Atmosphere I guess. The hip thing was pretty heady. Tickled my fancy.

I’m totally amazed he was blown away by Woody Guthrie. Never had much use for Guthrie myself. This machine kills fascists! Who the hell ever saw a Fascist in America? I never did and I looked. I was curious. I wanted to find one.

Read Bound For Glory too. Left me cold but then that’s a matter of taste or perhaps temperament. Anyway Bob’s got all these musical influences rolling around in his mind and he meant to do something with them. He took off hitchhiking for NYC in the middle of a Minnesota winter. God, what balls. If anything got him into the Hall of Fame that must have been it.

I’ve done it. Not Minnesota but over on the Illinois, Indiana, Michigan side. Must have been out of my mind. Well, just young and dumb, but even that’s no excuse. I bet Bob feels the same way. There I was in three feet of snow with trucks going by at fifty miles an hour. Rearranged my own personal snow bank every time it happened. But this isn’t about me, well, actually it is but only in relation to Bob.

This hitchhike through the winter wonderland must have left an indelible stamp on Bob’s mind. Did mine. Made him cold. Bitter. Put bite into some of his songs. Tears of rage. Hello New York City sayonara Chitown. Boy, there’s two places that’ll give you a vivid impression of mankind. Did me.

Bob was there at the creation of Rock and Roll and it was a life changing experience for him. Some guys like Eddie Cochran and Ricky Nelson could settle into quick and easy imitations but Bob had trouble sorting our his influences and making a sound that was his own. Landing in Greenwich Village and its vibrant Folk scene, if some of those guys can be called vibrant. I’ve got a whole collection of their records and some of ‘em are so dull they make Bobby shine.

So Bob settled in doing things like Talking New York and other folkie stuff as he put his musical roots down coming up with Hank Williams influenced Folk stuff. He was doin’ all right too but he couldn’t forget those Rock and Roll rhythms.

So just as he was drolling out Folk anthems in ‘62 he went into the studio and did this strange Rock and Roll record called Mixed Up Confusion. Tryin’ to be Elvis Presley. Sun years. Hot licks and all that jazz.

So Mixed Up Confusion is not good but it’s not bad either. All his miserable past is focused into that song and all his magnificent rise emanates from it. The song is a knot. It’s like when I first started writing. I could tell my whole life story in three Ernest Hemingway style sentences. Brief and pithy but there couldn’t possibly be that big a demand for a haiku on my life. I’d have to kind of elaborate, get loquacious, a little. That’s what Bob did after Mixed Up Confusion. He began to elaborate. Stretch it out. Separate those musical strands. Mercerize it whatever mercerize means. Seen the world somewhere. Memorized it. This might be the appropriate time to use it; might not.

2.

 

Now, I only heard the song in 2005 but in the way memory works I was able to shift it from here to there so that me and Bob was in two places at the same time together. You know, we went to the same school together at different times. It was a lot easier to do than explain.

Bob and I began to work out our problem in the same way, he singing, me listening. See, I told you it was easy. First though Bob had to dump those Folkies. He was made of stiff stuff though. It was a lot easier for him to do it than it would have been for me. But he was gonna climb that mountain no matter how high. When you get to the top you’ve left everyone behind anyway. I’ll say I know but that wouldn’t be 100% true. Wouldn’t be a 100% lie either though. Kinda half way between the pillar and the post. You could kinda reach out and touch each one with your hands. Have to be kind of a contortionist though. I saw a guy once who could fit himself into a shoe box, big shoes, cowboy boots, size nineteens, but I never wanted to emulate him.

So Bob had been laying this folk stuff on the people pretty thick. They believed in him. They thought he was sincere, didn’t bother to ask. But he got himself a hot electric band and showed ‘em what boogie folk was. That’s when the sh.., uh stuff, hit the fan. It was messy. Got all over everybody. But Bob was kind of a Magic Man. He survived it. Prospered. Took more balls than I got to do it though.

They booed him. Loud. Shouted things at him. Like, Judas and Traitor and Go Home. He said he didn’t believe them but that must have been sheer bravado. They had their point. Well, don’t look back as Farragut said in Mobile Bay. Full speed ahead boys. Let ‘em deal with this.

Bob knew a thing or two about himself, if you know what I mean. He was beginning to sort his Rock and Roll ideas out. Tears of Rage. All the anger and frustration of his youth was finding a vent. The mood was terrific, who in the hell cared what it meant. If you wanted your songs to sound heavy but mean something plain you could borrow the Sound of Silence from Simon and Garfunkle.

He was beginning to be able to project his vision of Rock and Roll. It would appear that he wanted to create an entirely new paradigm as he does manage to sound different but retains similarities to both Presley and Little Richard, two of his major influences. The tentative gropings of Bringing It All Back Home progressed through Highway 61 Revisited to full realization in Blonde On Blonde. Rainy Day Women is a weird and raucous vision of Rock music but in reality is neither fish nor fowl. The general reaction to Blonde On Blonde was one of puzzlement. The music of Rainy Day Women was repellent to most while the lyrics of that summer of ‘66 were impenetrable. Nobody and I mean nobody had any idea of what Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands was about. Still Dylan’s vision of Rock was loose and exciting.

Bob Dylan had also reached a plateau with the release of this his major opus. He had realized or perfected the style. No farther development was possible. The rage and resentment that had fueled the music even perhaps psychotic had reached a culmination.

Thus in the summer of ‘66 Dylan had no place to go. I presume he was out of ideas hence his accident and retirement.

The summer of ‘66 was traumatic for the Dylan, myself and the country. While Bob’s new record lay on the counter waiting to be bought on July 13th Richard Speck committed a horrific crime in Chicago. He ritually murdered a passel of nursing students. At the time the memory of Kennedy’s assassination was still strong. At the time he was shot there were people who thought and said that the assassination would release an epidemic of murder. I don’t know that Speck had any relationship to Kennedy, perhaps his killing was merely a harbinger of the murderous unrest stalking the land.

I had just graduated from Cal State at Hayward that June of ’66. I was taking graduate courses at UC Berkeley. Twenty-eight years old at the time. The Dylan record had hit the stores at the end of June. Now, the record was psychologically disturbing and unsettling by itself. Records were the generation’s means of expressing itself, replacing the movies of the previous generation and books of still earlier generations, so Blonde On Blonde had earth shaking qualities not present in CD s today. Not only did Blonde On Blonde erupt in that memorable summer but Procol Harum, Cream and Canned Heat first emerged. All exhibited a new form of craziness what with Cream’s I Feel Free and Canned Heat being named after a drug substitute. The following June, The Summer Of Love would see the release of the even crazier record Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles.

So we were reeling from Speck’s astounding crime under the influences of the psychotic or near psychotic Blonde On Blonde when two weeks after Speck Charlie Whitman barricaded himself in his tower and opened fire on the world or at least as much of it as he could reach on the University of Texas campus. Whitman killed or wounded dozens.

At the time I was cracking my brain trying to learn a year’s worth of Latin in an intensive six week course while trying to prepare for a move to graduate school at the University of Oregon.

At the same time Bob was working out his rage and hatred in full view of the world with what were actually night thoughts I was privately doing the same under the influence of his lunacy as he exposed himself on records. I was still hurtin’ every single day searching for my own release and the way out of from where I was at. I was strange enough, hair parted in the middle getting longer by the day, to feel some affinity to Speck and Whitman as well as Dylan. Whatever I saw in Dylan I saw aspects of in Speck and Whitman. Dylan did too; at least he said so at an awards ceremony setting his audience on their ears. I know what he was talking about and everyone in that audience should have too. No man is an island, send not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.

3.

 

In the summer of ‘66 the so-called Free Speech Movement at Berkeley was in the mopping up stage. The new paradigm of ‘Freedom’ was in place at the home of the Golden Bears. The obscene rag The Berkeley Barb was being hawked on the street corners and wherever. The homeless and runaways were throwing down their sleeping bags in doorways creating the new street sitcom of the Brave New America.

The man who dubbed what went before as The Old Weird America had graduated from US Berkeley that very same June of ‘66. He was on his way over to San Francisco to become the reviews editor of the new journalism espoused by The Rolling Stone, the most successful of the generations publishing ventures. The San Francisco Oracle published for a year then disappeared.

I gathered my things together and headed North to the land of perpetual overcast, Oregon.

While I was familiar with Bringing It All Back Home and Highway 61 with the addition of Blonde On Blonde I began to immerse myself in the three records for about three years. I listened to a side a day every morning when I got up. I know that when Bob talks about his hour of darkness he really means his whole life. That’s what I would mean by it. That’s what I meant by it. It wasn’t a question of not dark yet it was a question of when is the sun going to shine. I was trying to stay on the sunny side of the street but I just couldn’t figure out which side was it. It was going to be dark for a while yet.

Those Dylan years were dark years for me. Probably as dark as it has ever been. Let’s hope so because I don’t want to go there again. But I suppose I have to thank Bob for steadying me through the dark period. Apart from the stray line popping up in my memory from time to time I cannot remember the lyrics of a single song or could I quote a whole verse. The titles were terrific though and I remember a lot of them. Whole novels were in those titles. Whole novels were in many of the lines. I responded to the title It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry. How great. I didn’t need the song that rumbled and loped in the background of the thoughts it released. The tone and mood were the perfect background to the darkness swirling in my mind. Occasionally a line that was another novel in itself would break in like ‘I ride on a mail train, baby, can’t buy a thrill.’ One more line and I would have had a trilogy. Possibly I could have named the trilogy The Weird Old Greil Marcus. I might yet.

4.

 

Here’s Greil Marcus forming this weird extrasensory relationship with Bobby. Marcus gets himself all wrapped up in the lyrics of Like A Rolling Stone; begins to live his life like it’s the fifth gospel right after John. I mean, Dylan’s good, but…

Dylan had an effect on a lot of people not least Greil Marcus. Marcus had seen Dylan in ‘63 in Philly and was blown away. He attended several concerts between ‘63 and ‘66 each apparently a religious epiphany. As just a spectator in the audience he could do nothing but adore his idol. Beginning with his job at Rolling Stone in ‘66 he had an entrée backstage at anyone’s concert including his idol Bob’s. Thus he could get up close and personal with his hero. Ask almost any question; form a relationship. Shape Bob’s thinking and attitude a little even in time display his SI credentials.

Apparently Marcus got as involved with Bobby’s lyrics as much as I did, heck, as much as a multitude did. Marcus has followed Bobby down seemingly owning all the records and CD s having heard all the songs at least once, as indeed has Nigel Williamson who wrote the Rough Guide. I can’t really go much further than John Wesley Harding. I gave up on Bob after that, not necessarily because his stuff wasn’t that good, but wherever he was going I wasn’t following. Our minds and problems slipped out of sync. Most likely he went his way and I went mine.

But Greil Marcus became obsessed with one Dylan song: Like A Rolling Stone. He went so far as to write a long essay on the song published as a single volume. A song has to be in your gene’s to devote that much effort to it.

From this point on I’m going to refer to Marcus as Greil for convenience and because I’m going to get more personal. I hope there are no objections.

Speaking from the ‘bully pulpit’ that Greil has created for himself he has declared Like A Rolling Stone not only the best of Bobby’s extensive canon but the greatest song of all time. As an influential critic he has got the ball rolling in the direction he wants it to go. But, there are dissenters.

Nigel Williamson, who may be considered an authority on Dylan’s entire oeuvre equal to Greil, in his Rough Guide to Dylan lists what he considers Bobby’s Top 50. He lists Like A Rolling Stone no higher than eighteen of Dylan’s best not even considering the whole song corpus of the world. Williamson’s top 18 all come from Bobby’s albums before John Wesley Harding. Further of those songs which I know well I would agree with Williamson with the exceptions of #4 Girl From The North Country, #5 Mixed Up Confusion and #8 Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll. I would move To Ramona closer to the top. The Flying Burrito Bros. Version of the song is as good as it gets.

The extravagance of Greil is alarming in a critic. The excess can only be explained by Greil’s relation of the song to some intense personal problem. Now, Greil has not only written several books that almost repeat the same thematic material, John Winthrop- Abraham Lincoln-Mike King Jr., but he has written numerous reviews, essays and been interviewed many times. A great many are available for downloading from the internet so that Greil’s psyche can be searched. In searching through his essays one comes to a remarkably irrelevant and revealing essay. Irrelevant because it has nothing to do with any subject anyone would go to here him lecture about.

On Oct. 13, 2006 Greil read a piece for an audience at the Richard Hugo House. In it he revealed his central childhood fixation.. Because of the death of the inseminator of his mother, a father he never knew by the name of Greil Gerstley, Greil Marcus apparently considers himself an orphan which he is in a manner of speaking in fact.

The incident that catalyzed his feeling he tells thusly:

http://www.hugohouse.org/newwork/marcus_obsessive_memories/ 

     Quote:

It was 1955; I was 10. We had just moved into a new

house in Menlo Park, California. There was a big radio set up, and I’d play with it at night, trying to pull in the drifting signals from across the country; Chicago, Cleveland, Omaha, even New Jersey. One night a few lines came out. I don’t remember the exact words, but the gist is clear: “When American GI s left Korea, they also left behind countless fatherless babies. Once everyone talked about this. Now nobody cares.”

————————–

As I got older I realized it was an echo of something other than what the words from the radio described. I know it was an echo of an absent memory of my own father, whose name was Greil Gerstley, who was lost in a typhoon in the Pacific when his destroyer went down.

———————————

So in times of teenage unhappiness, the fantasy that I might have lived a different life, been a different person with a different name, was more a fact than a fantasy. If my father had lived, both my mother and I would have lived very different lives. But it was the kind of fact that, when you try to hold onto it, slips through your fingers like water.

Unquote.

Alright. Bobby’s song is addressed to a woman while Greil dwells on, delights in the line ‘How does it feel.’ So, what woman does Dylan’s song call to mind in Greil’s experience. I’m afraid it must be his mother. I won’t speculate on whatever lingering fears Greil may have. Suffice it to say that his mother and father in the pressures of war were a dockside romance and marriage. Virtually as the marriage was consummated Greil Gerstner was shipped to his death in a Pacific typhoon.

Greil tells us that he was born six months and a day after his father’s ship went down. Thus as his father sank into the waters of the Pacific Greil was a mass of stem cells evolving into hands, fingers, ears, eyes, nose and…a memory. It is almost eerie the way he dates his memories from this period when he was scarcely recognizable as a human being..

I suspect he considers his mother’s remarriage in 1948 some sort of betrayal of the memory of Greil Gerstner. One wonders if Greil is a Junior. One has the feeling that he was never really comfortable with his adoptive father, Mr. Marcus. I can understand this. There was no genetic affinity to the man. When my mother remarried also in 1948 when I was ten I could never consider my step-father as other than a stranger and an interloper in my mother’s bed. I was furious that he was sleeping with her when my inseminator, my own genetic material, wasn’t.

Both Greil’s reaction and my own were irrational but fully natural and understandable. It matters little that the Gerstners would have undoubtedly been divorced within two years of his father’s return while he would have ended up with a step-father anyway. He can thank his lucky stars his mother remarried as well as she did.

At least his half brother Bill is looking out for him. Thank the Lord for what few favors he bestows.

Greil’s mother is his problem and the source of his admiration for his favorite song and he has become obsessed with his dead father. Then things began to happen. Someone was doing a documentary on the death of the Hull, his father’s ship. Certain stories were told Greil in the course of the documentary that don’t make sense to my experience.

I was in the Navy on a Destroyer Escort, a hundred feet or so shorter than a Destroyer. We were sent through the heart of a typhoon also. I know what the term ‘towering seas’ means. The ship came close to dying several times but we made it through. If the ship had rolled there would have been no survivors. I can’t understand how there were any survivors of the Hull, Gerstner’s ship. In seas like that the ship is tightly sealed to prevent flooding and consequent sinking. The only exit is on the bridge to allow changes of the watch and whatever. When that sucker rolls it is a floating coffin. Nobody gets out. If you happened to be on watch on the bridge you would be thrown into frigid waters with a life expectancy of two minutes at most. To protect myself from the numbing cold I had on so many clothes that they would have saturated and pulled me down before I could come up for air the first time.

I do not understand that there could be survivors of the Hull.

Greil should check his facts more closely, the ship rolls over it doesn’t pitch over. The ship will not right itself at something like a thirty degree roll. Anything more than that and it’s Hello, Davy Jones, goodbye San Francisco.

All that baloney about breaking out of a trough is sheer nonsense. Only a fool would cut the engines. There are so many things happening with the water that survival is sheer luck. At one time the seas were flowing beneath us faster than our headway. That makes the rudders useless. If you don’t have control of the ship you’re sunk. I don’t know how we made it. I really don’t.

So Greil should research his father’s situation more fully and stop blaming everyone. It was just one of those things. Could have happened to anyone. Ask me.

At any rate Greil made the connection of those abandoned Korean children with his own and his father’s. Greil obviously believes that he is as one of those abandoned kids.

The problem then gets back to the woman of Like A Rolling Stone. Only Greil’s mom situation makes Like A Rolling Stone the greatest song ever written. He has to come to terms with his feelings about his mother. That’s all I’ll say. If he rereads Obsessive Memories closely she should be able to find his way out and maybe find another world’s greatest song.

Greil’s obsessions with Like A Rolling Stone soured Bobby beyond redemption for me. However in forcing me to reexamine my own fixation on Bob’s three greatest LP s he has compelled me to come to a truer understanding of what I found in those songs. The use I made of them.

Unfortunately as one door closes another opens. Memories come flooding back of that memorable summer of ‘66. I ride on a mail train, baby, can’t buy a thrill while it takes a lot to laugh, it takes a train to cry. Blonde On Blonde, Richard Speck, Charlie Whitman, there’s a novel or two or a trilogy in there somewhere. Can it be found before I die?

 

A Mother’s Eyes

Part III

Cow Eyed Hera And Edgar Allan Poe

by

R.E. Prindle

Stories under consideration:

Metzengerstein  1832

Berenice March 1835

Morella April 1835

Ligeia  1838

Fall Of The House Of Usher 1839

William Wilson 1840

Eleonora 1842

…Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is not the loftiest intelligence- whether much that is glorious- whether all that is profound- does not spring from disease of thought- from MOODS of mind exalted at the expense of the general intellect…In their visions they obtain glimpses of eternity, and thrill…to find that they have been on the verge of the great secret.

-Eleonora  1842

page 1.

Sonnet- To My Mother

Because I feel that, in the heavens above,

The angels, whispering to one another,

Can find, among their burning terms of love,

None so devotional as that of ‘Mother’,

Therefore by that dear name I long have called you,

You who are more than mother unto me,

And fill my heart of hearts, where Death installed you,

In setting my Virginia’s spirit free.

For mother- my own mother, who died early,

Was but the mother of myself, but you

Are mother to the one I loved so dearly,

And thus are dearer than the mother I knew

By that infinity with which my wife

Was dearer to my soul than its soul-life.

-1849

page 2.

     As we study Poe keep in mind Dali’s picture: The Temptation Of St. Anthony.  Keep those symbols in the forefront of your mind.

     Edgar Allan Poe is a classic study on the effect of abandonment by the mother on the psyche, specifically affecting the brain stem as part of Structural Psychology.  Poe exhibits the classic symptoms of the eyes, the horse and the female substitute for the Mother as well as adding several other twists due to his extremely analytical mind.

     As the opening quote from his story Eleonora indicates Poe understood that he was quite mad.  Although he was able to describe quite clearly in symbolical language the source of his madness his intelligence was unable to sift below the psychological barriers which would have cleared his mind of his madness.

     In five really remarkable stories with extreme clarity he delineates his problem.  They are the first story he wrote, Metzengerstein of 1832, Berenice of March 1835, Morella of April 1835, Ligeia of 1838 and Eleonora of 1842.

     The Fall Of The House Of Usher and William Wilson demonstrate his inability to deal with the problem adequately.  Under stress his personality begins to disintegrate. 

     Poe lived a short life of forty years from 1809 to 1849.  His first story, Metzengerstein, was written when he was only twenty-three.  It would have been interesting if he had lived long enough to consolidate his stories into at least one full length novel, other than Arthur Gordon Pym. 

     His own mother died in 1811 when he was only two.  Thus the connection between his and his mother’s eyes was disrupted very early.  He was then adopted by a Mrs. John Allan for whom he had the greatest respect and love.  Mrs. Allan died February 28, 1829 when Poe was twenty years old.  The horror of the death of this second mother festered in his mind for three years until his feelings began to find expression for him in 1832 with Metzengerstein.

page 3.

     The woman he refers to in his rather confused poem- Sonnet- To My Mother- was the mother of his wife Virginia, a Mrs. Clemm.  This poem was written shortly before his own death two years after the death of his wife Virginia in 1847.  As the poem says, Mrs. Clemm, his mother-in-law filled ‘his heart of hearts’ where Death had placed her when her daughter Virginia died.

     Clearly Poe was having mother figure after mother figure taken from him by death.  His response apart from his literary outpourings was to drug and drink himself to death in 1849 two years after Virginia’s demise.

     The Mother Archetype is truly a very powerful figure.  In giving the figure prime importance Sigmund Freud was absolutely correct.  What does that Mother figure mean to a man?

     In ancient Greece the Great Mother goddess was ofter referred to by Homer as ‘Cow-eyed’ Hera.  This image has been difficult for subsequent generations to understand.  Many current translators of the Iliad drop ‘cow eyed’ in favor of euphemisms they can understand.  If we would understand Homer this is a very serious mistake.  Hera as the Great Mother is associated with the cow for good reason.

     Whether she was ‘cow-eyed’ before she caught Zeus philandering with Io is unclear.  Caught in the act Zeus attempted evasion by turning Io into a cow.  Hera retaliated by having Io tormented by a vicious gad-fly.  The gad-fly drove Io in the form of a cow from Greece to India to Egypt.  In Egypt Io was transformed back into human shape as the goddess Isis.  Formerly the Egyptians had depicted Earth and Sky, or the sources of plenty, in the form of a woman arching over with her feet on one horizon and her fingers on the other.  After Io was introduced to Egypt the image of the woman was replaced by that of the cow.

page 4.

     In nearly every country Io visited the cow has been considered a sacred animal.  Whether in India, Egypt or the cattle raising tribes of Africa the cow was never killed.  This miraculous animal was so beneficial live that its life became sacred.  The cow was not only wealth but a symbol of wealth.  One imagines that the first coin might have been called the ‘cow.’

     Cattle lifting or rustling has been a way of life since perhaps the time of Io if she represents when the cow was domesticated.  To lift a man’s cattle was to strip him of all social significance while making the lifter significant in his place.

     Thus in Greek Mythology and history men and gods are stripped of significance by the lifting of their cattle.  When the god Hermes was born his first act was to lift the cattle of Apollo thus assimilating himself with that god. Apollo tracked Hermes down but was so pleased with the little trickster that they established an accord, became blood brothers so to speak.  Both sides of the coin.

     In the Odyssey the Cattle Of The Sun were inviolable.  Odysseus incurred the wrath of the Sun when his men after having been warned not to, killed a single cow.  As the Sun sees all from his heavenly abode retaliation was quick and sure.  Obviously that was a reason the Sun’s cattle were inviolable.

page 5.

     The story of the lifting of Geryon’s cattle by Heracles is also significant.  In former times before the advent of the Patriarchy Heracles as Hera’s consort had been the Sun God.  When the Patriarchy replaced the Matriarchy Hera was assigned to Zeus while Heracles was demoted to a human and made an enemy of Hera.

     Now, prior to the end of the Ice Age before the Mediterranean Basin was flooded, Hera and Heracles, by whatever names they were then known, must have been the chief gods of  the pre-flood peoples of the Mediterranean.  Thus two cults of Heracles grew up as the Western Mediterranean became separated from the Eastern Mediterrean in the post-flood Basin.  One cult in the East in Greece and the Levant and another in the West of Spain.

     The two cults must have come in conflict as the Greeks colonised Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, Marseilles and the northern Spanish Coast around Barcelona.  It became necessary for the Spanish cult to be suppressed or co-opted in favor of the Greeks.  Thus, in myth the Greek Heracles is sent West to lift the cattle of the Spanish Heracles or Geryon.  Relieved of his cattle the Spanish Heracles became a non-entity while all the glory accrued to the Greek Heracles.

     Such was the poltical and social significance of cows.

page 6.

     The economic importance of cattle was equally great which, of course, led to their social importance.  Cows produced offspring.  Fifty percent bulls and fifty percent cows.  So one’s social importance increased every Spring if you could hold onto your cattle.  The bulls being superfluous in large numbers, there being no reason to waste valuable feed on them, were used as sacrifices in the ancient Mediterranean.  The gods were given the bones and fat while the flesh was consumed by the human votaries of the holocaust.  Thus cows, without killing them, provided an abundance of meat.  They also provided milk and its various by-products including butter and cheese.  The African tribes bled their cattle to acquire nourishment from the blood so it is not unlikely that the Greeks and others did the same.  The Africans never did figure out butter and cheese.

     The cow being female was naturally related to the Mother Archetype.  Hence we have ‘cow-eyed’ Hera.  The mother is to her son, like a cow to mankind, a source of superabundance or should be.  She sacrifices her own happiness, or should, to supply all his needs, she feeds him from her own body.  She psychologically nourishes him with the love pouring from her eyes.  It seems to be a fact that the longer a son nurses from his mother the better his chances for success in life are.  Sons who nurse for two years or more are assured of the best chances.

     Thus to be abandoned by your mother, death being a form of abandonment, is the greatest tragedy that can befall a son.

     In Poe’s case he was abandoned by his mothers, once at two and once at twenty and by his wife-mother surrogate at forty-seven.  The unconscious strain was simply too much for him so he drank and drugged himself to death succeeding in 1849 at the age of forty.

     Fortunately he recorded all the classic symptoms plus some in his series of magnificent short stories.  They are or should be a treasure trove for the analyst.

page 7.

     As noted above, when his adoptive mother died in 1829 his reaction was intense.  Poe began his inquiry into his anguish in a raging examination of the effect on his Ego or Animus in Metzengerstein.  The story culminates in the destruction of Metzengerstein’s house or castle by fire.  Fire is a purifying agent.  The house is a psychological symbol for the self just as a room in the house is a symbol for the mind.  As his house was being consumed the smoke gathered above to form the shape of– a horse.  Thus as with Aldous Huxley and my other examples the mother is related in the male to the horse and more especially the eyes.  It is not improbable that if Hera had come into existence after the introduction of the horse into Greece that she would have been known as horse-eyed Hera.  As it was Athene who may have been a Patriarchal attempt at superseding Hera was depicted on occasion theriomorphically with a horse’s head and hence horse’s eyes.

     I can’t say for certain, as I am not a clinical psychologist, but I am reasonably sure this symbolism is not true for the female although the female retains a need for the masculinity expressed by the strength, force and grace of the male horse.  This need was transferred from the bull.  As women their symbolism is probably relative to the cow as in ‘cow-eyed’ Hera.

     Indeed, many men derogatively refer to women as cows.  To do so may refer to a hatred of women and mothers in these men.  The significance of all this symbolism has been ignored far too long.

     Poe knew he was distaught or mad.  Madness may indeed be a road to intelligence or self-discovery.  Duller intelligences are usually quite satisfied, seeing no reason to question or investigate.  Another madman, the poet and singer Roger Miller, put it as that he had too much water for his land.  In other words his intelligence was bubbling out all over the place drowning his land or stability.  When land and water are in balance in Miller’s scheme one has normality.  When land is more prevalent than water one has a desert and a pretty nasty fellow.  According to Miller too much water made one hep while a balance of land and water made one square.  His moral was that squares made the world go round.

page 8.

     He was certainly correct.  Stolidity leads to solidity.  Society needs a solid basis to exist as a beneficial organism.  The mad, bad or sad in the proper proportions either leaven society or destroy it as at present when the Bohemian and Libertine influence is so dominant.  The influence of all three has to be controlled or monitored or their intrinsic evil destroys any equitable basis for society.

     But to return to an analysis of Poe’s stories.

     Oppressed by his psyche the dam began to burst shortly after the death of Poe’s adoptive mother.  First his own mother died when he was two and then his adoptive mother when he was twenty.  The effect on his psyche must have been unbearable to cause such a violent irruption as Metzengerstein when he was twenty-three.

     The story of Metzengerstein centers around what appears to be a flesh eating horse.  There is only a brief significant mention of the horse’s teeth as the horse pictured on a tapestry in the attic or mind turned to look at M. with a baleful eye.

     The same horse is then given to him by his grooms who capture it fleeing from the burning stables of M.’s rival Berlifitzing.  They claim the horse is M.’s even though it was seen coming out of the burning stables and is branded with this rival’s initials W.V.B. in a rather unusual place for a horse, the forehead.  No missing that brand, sort of reminds you of a wedding ring.

page 9.

     Now, the horse with eyes and teeth is part of the Structural Psychology located in the brain stem.  This one represents his dead adoptive mother.  Poe had become estranged from his adoptive father, John Allan after receiving marked benefits from him as a child.  The cause of the disruption is attributed to drinking and gambling but the literary evidence of Metzengerstein would indicate an intense sexual rivalry.

     B. is the older man as was Allan.  M. had just come of age following a course of action not too different from Poe’s.  The horse, representing Poe’s adoptive mother, has B.’s brand on her.  Or in other words the horse represents Mrs. Allan, B.’s wife.  Disregarding all the evidence to the contrary M. is given the horse as belonging to him.  Seems fairly clear on the surface of it.

     She is a difficult flesh eating horse of firery temperament which only M. can ride.  As Mrs. Allan was no relationship to Poe there can be no question of incest so that he could ‘ride’ or have sex with Mrs. Allan without incestuous guilt.  In fact M. frequently rides off on her into the forest at night.  Night is the usual time for love making while the forest is a symbol for the lost soul who cannot find his way.

     The tapestry on which the horse is pictured is located in a very large room at the top of M.’s castle or house.  Psychologically the house represents the self.  The room represents one’s mind.  The tapestry functions as memory.

page 10.

     Having left on a night ride of some duration into the forest, as M.’s servants are anxiously awaiting his return M.’s house or castle myteriously bursts into flame.  This must represent the death of Mrs. Allan or Poe’s being caught by Mr. Allan in flagrante dilecto.  The horse returns at a mad gallop out of control bearing a screaming M. to rush straight into the burning house, up the stairs to the upper chamber and one assumes onto the tapestry.  Then in a supernatural manner the violence of the flames subsides while the rising smoke forms the image of– a horse.

     Forgive me for saying so if you are a Poe fan but the story qua story is stupid.  Only as an allegory of Poe’s relationship to the Allans does it make sense, specifically the relationship of the Mother Archetype with the Son.

     Metzengerstein was merely the first bursting of the dam; the next four stories on our list named for women develop the horror of Poe’s fixation on the Mother Figure.  Let me say here that I do not believe that Poe’s adoption of the name of Allan refers in any way to John Allan; it is rather in memory and tribute to Mrs. Allan.  The death of Mrs. Allan seared Poe’s mind.  The trauma was so intense that his mind did become rather disordered.

     Those teeth, those teeth which got such a brief mention in Metzengerstein form the focal point of his next story dealing with his horrible fixation.  As with Huxley those teeth could bite you.

page 11.

     Berenice is the story of the teeth of the flesh eating mare.  In the story, in an abortive attempt to exorcise the demon of Mrs. Allan, Poe abandons the omniscient observer of M. for the first person.  Berenice and Morella are now written in the first person.  They are attempts to violently dispose of the horrifying losses of his Mother Figure.  Always an astute psychologist Poe now creates an image of monomania.  He knows he is quite distraught, men have called mad.  The mania is centered around the teeth so briefly mentioned in Metzengerstein.  All Poe can think about now is those teeth.

     As noted in Huxley, the Mother Figure is always exempt from retribution so that one’s obsession is transferred to another woman usually a beloved but not necessarily.

     Most of the violent so-called crimes against women by men can be traced directly to the man’s relationship with his mother.  In other words, crimes are not against women per se but against mother surrogates.  One has to look behind the symbolic victim to the source of the discomfort.  The hand that rocks the cradle is at fault.

     Ted Bundy, all the various stranglers and mutilators, Richard Speck, they are all retaliating the crimes of their mothers against them on other women.  Bundy is an exceptionally interesting case when viewed from this perspective.  His symbolism is quite astonishing.

page 12.

     Extreme violence is only an extreme response to what the perpetrator considers an extreme crime against himself.  One may assume that the way a man treats his wife or lovers is a reflection on the way he interprets his mother treated him.

     The drive and push since the turn of the nineteenth century for the destruction of the family by Reds, Communists and Fellow Travelers can have only the most dire consequences.  One can hardly consider the Reds well intentioned in their obtuseness.  One might begin by examining their relationships to their mothers.  In disrupting the eye to eye relationship of the infant with his mother they are in essence condemning the world to a reign of terror, and against women, unparelleled since the beginning of time.

     On the score of rejection and abandonment one can only shudder at what the results of these idiotic infant day care centers the Reds favor will be.

     A woman’s preoccupation with sex condemns her offspring.

     One has to assume from Poe’s writing that he found his relationship with his adoptive mother of the most troubling nature.  Whether he actually had sexual relations with her or only fantasized them the result is the same.

     As I say, in attempting to exorcise or control her memory he concentrated on the man eating quality of her teeth.  In the story Berenice the narrator becomes quite conscious of what he is doing.

     In a fugue state he attacks the living Berenice restraining her in some way while he pulls every tooth from her screaming terror stricken head and then buries her alive keeping the teeth as souvenirs.  When he is discovered coated in mud after having buried her he is horrified at this evidence that proves his guilt of which he is unaware.

page 13.

    

     This, shall we say, is psychotic behavior.

     Poe may have fantasized the whole incident but one wonders if somewhere he had not actually committed such a crime burying the woman’s body where it wouldn’t be retrieved.  One has visions of Ted Bundy.

     Imagine if Ted Bundy had written a series of ‘imaginative’ stories centered around his murders or if Richard Speck had written a novel about the murder of those nurses.  Could the descriptions of the killings have been more realistic or chilling than Berenice?

     Then turning quickly from the writing of Berenice Poe promptly followed with his story of yet another woman, Morella.  Probably emotionally drained from the excessive violence of Berenice Poe is more subdued in Morella as he struggles to bring his agony under control.  In Morella he is attached to a woman who he does not kill by burying alive.  Instead Morella sickens and dies from neglect as the first person narrator subtly spurns her.  Thus if he couldn’t defang and bury his mother alive from which she would only return to haunt him perhaps he could just sort of forget her.  Really?

     Morella is determined that he will not rid himself of her so easily.  On her deathbed she gives birth to a daughter who is in reality herself.  The narrator cannot help loving and devoting himself to this child although he never gives her a name.  Still, necessity compels him when she is fourteen to have her baptized.  Asked for the name compulsion makes him whisper the name ‘Morella.’  The child answers, ‘I am here’ and expires.  Upon taking the child to the tomb to be buried beside its mother he finds the tomb empty.  He just can’t pull those teeth.

page 14.

    

     It was some three years after Berenice and Morella in 1838 that he returns to the theme in Ligeia.  Here he tries to marry once again.  The dominant theme of Ligeia is her eyes.  A subordinate theme is her teeth.  Once again after expatiating on Ligeia’s eyes for some two or three pages Ligeia sickens and dies but she warns that she will not go quietly into the beyond but that she intends to will herself back into life.  Ye gods.  Poe’s mother fixation does torment him.  Why don’t you read Poes’  Sonnet- To My Mother again.

     The first person narrator remarries but his memories of Ligeia remain so prominent that he disgusts his new wife.  She in turn sickens and dies, in fact, she is murdered by Ligeia from beyond the grave in a supernatural manner.  By some process of metempsychosis Ligeia as a mature woman gains possession of the corpse.  The narrator is able to recognize the revivified body as Ligeia from her eyes and teeth.  Definitely brain stem stuff.

     Now, up to this point Poe is dealing with this intense stress in his own persona.  This is an intolerable situation that cannot go on.  Thus his ego or Animus splits in two as he creates a doppelganger who can deal more directly with the problem while he watches.  In other words he remains himself as the narrator while creating a Ted Bundy like double.

page 15.

     In 1839 he wrote ‘The Fall Of The House Of Usher’

While being more comfortable for himself, Poe’s personality enters a critical stage.  The narrator visits the doppelganger, Roderick Usher, and his sister in their castle which is quite reminiscent of the castle of Metzengerstein.

     During his stay Usher’s sister sickens and is thought to be dead.  She is sealed in a coffin.  The narrator helps Usher carry the coffin to a cell at the bottom of the castle.  At this point Poe has passed the responsibility from himself to his doppelganger a la  Bundy or Speck.  Unlike Berenice in which the narrator personally tore out Bernice’s teeth while burying her alive the crime is now performed, albeit unintentionally, by a split off personality.  Poe in essence watches deeds performed by someone else relieving him of guilt although in this instance he participates in carrying the coffin to the cell.

     Significantly the cell is directly beneath his own chamber in the castle, from which cell he hears mysterious sounds as though the sister were stirring in her coffin.  The two rooms answer to the brain and brainstem so that he is still unable to escape the specter of the Mother Figure.

     Eventually the sister frees herself going to the same room in which Usher and the narrator are chatting.  They are naturally together as dopplegangers must be.  Usher throws open the door to discover his sister covered in blood.  To his and the narrator’s horror they discover that they have buried her alive.  She collapses on Usher and they both fall down dead.

page 16.

     There is a correspondence here with Poe’s poem The Raven in which he hears a tapping on the door.  Opening the door he finds no one there.  The tapping transfers to his window.  When the narrator opens the window the Raven enters to sit on a bust of Athene above his chamber door.  Athene in one guise is the goddess of wisdom, her bird is the owl, so the Raven, an omen of death, replaces wisdom as the symbol of Athene.  When the narrator leaves through that  door he passes to the Land Of No Return.

     As the narrator leaves the house or Usher, once again representing himself, great rents appear in the stone walls.  The house collapses just as the castle of Metzengerstein burned to the ground.  Perhaps Poe thinks he has solved his problem by dissociation but he is still not dealing directly with it.  By killing off his doppelganger, Usher, and his sister he still has only an ineffective solution.

     However he has now moved from intense first hand suffering to a suffering once removed in the creation of a doppelganger.  He may believe that in killing the doppelganger as well as the Mother Figure he has disposed of his problem but once again he is deceived.

     In William Wilson that directly followed Usher in 1840 the doppelganger has truly become an alternate persona.  To punish himself for his inability to resolve the Mother Figure dilemma the double goes around defeating Wilson in all his criminal schemes.  In the story the narrator leads a life of crime while the doppelganger functions as his conscience.

     In a rather silly ending Wilson confronts himself in a duel realizing that it is he himself who is hurting himself.  Thus he kills not only his doppelganger but himself.   On the streets of Baltimore.

page 17.

     This theme was examined well in the movie:  Who Is Harry Kellerman And Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me.  Certainly Poe in his own life, this man of talent, is botching his own career.  This of course begs the question would he have had the talent if he hadn’t been mad?  If he had been one of Roger Miller’s squares who make the world go round no more notice would have been taken of him than any other square, whose name is Legion.

     From Wilson, Poe moves to the last of his woman stories, Eleonora of 1842, only seven years from his death.

     In this story  his demon seems to be laid to rest as Eleonora finally gives her consent for the narrator to marry.  One imagines that Poe’s union with Virginia receives the blessing of the Mother Figure.  The question is why would she?  What ulterior motive does Poe have?  This brings us back to Poe’s Sonnet- To My Mother.  Looked at closely this poem is evidence of a seriously deranged mind.  This is not a poem to Poe’s mother or even Mrs. Allan.

    ‘My mother- my own mother’, he says, ‘who died early, was but the mother of myself; but you (Mrs. Clemm) are mother to the one I loved so dearly, and thus are dearer than the mother I knew…’   He mentions his own mother who died early while one presumes that Mrs. Allan was the mother he knew.  Both previous mothers are now dismissed in favor of his mother-in-law because of what must have been a mother surrogate in his beloved Virginia.

page 18.

     Now, what Virginia has in common with Morella and Ligeia is that she is sickly and dies while his beloved mother-in-law, who is more than a mother to him, whatever that might mean, is healthy and lives.  Even then she is Poe’s ‘heart of hearts’ where DEATH installed her in setting Virginia’s SPIRIT free.  No real murder in Poe’s mind.  He rationalizes Virginia’s murder as that her soul was set free.

     Can one find any similarities with Morella and Ligeia?

     The appearance is that he married Virginia to obtain a mother.  This may have been the only way he could assuage the pain in his brainstem caused by the loss of the mother he didn’t know and the mother he knew.

     Now, Poe’s personality split back in 1839 or, at least, Usher was the first record of it.  One imagines that Virginia was superfluous and possibly an impediment to enjoying his relationship with this latter day mother who Poe says is dearer than the mother he knew by that infinity with which ‘my wife was dearer to my soul than its own soul-life.’  Was his real mother his soul-life?  If so that is quite some distance between the mother he knew, Mrs. Allan, Virginia, Mrs. Clemm and his own mother or soul-life.  Certainly his deeply proclaimed affection for Mrs. Clemm was of very recent origin.  Why this intense depth of affection so quickly?  Thus when Eleonora released him to be married the conclusion is that Virginia replaced his real mother in his brainstem.  She became a surrogate mother who had to die so he could resume a relationship with a true mother figure.  Very possibly a sexual one or an attempted sexual one.

     Once again, it is absolutely forbidden for a man to avenge himself on his mother’s person.  Impossible in this case since Poe’s own mother died when he was two and the mother he knew when he was twenty.  Nevertheless Hera’s great cow-eyes have seared his soul.  His mother’s eyes appear again in the face of Ligeia and hence Virginia.

page 19.

     A person may not be able to recall infantile impressions or memories clearly but they survive in Structural Psychology or what Jung called the ‘collective unconscious.’  As the infant mind has no way to put the experience into words or clear images the adult transforms them into metaphors which control his life but against which he has no defence as he cannot ‘remember’ in the sense of recalling them.

     Poe could not punish his mother but he could select a mother surrogate and punish her while transferring his affections to the mother of she who was dearer to his soul than its own soul-life.  All of Poe’s fictional heroines sickened and died except Berenice who the narrator actually mutilated and buried alive.

     Poe himself had created a persona which would never murder a wife but he had also created a double who would and did inadvertantly in the character of Roderick Usher.  Certainly Poe’s doppelganger was capable of doing what he could voyeuristically observe but still feel free of participation and, hence, guilt.

     Which brings to  mind the ‘Mystery Of Marie Roget’.  Just as Ted Bundy rigidly created an amiable trustworthy everyday persona to live his life and a doppelganger who avenged himself on his mother by killing girl substitutes it is possible, I don’t say that it is so, that Poe himself killed Mary Rogers and possibly some others.

page 20.

     It may have been a display of his genius in demonstrating that Mary Rogers was killed by a single person rather than a gang but on the other hand he created a doppelganger of Mary Rogers in the character of Marie Roget to demonstrate his reasoning.  Perhaps he was so clever because he had actually committed the murder.   It is not impossible that Poe split off a doppelganger of Mary Rogers in Marie Roget who was killed by Poe’s own doppelganger while Poe killed Mary Rogers.

     That was a pretty neat trick for a deranged mind.  He not only demonstrated a murder, he did it but no one caught on.  Compare the idea behind the Purloined Letter.

     There can be little question that Poe suffered severely in his Structural Psychology which was reflected in his personal psychology.

     Here we may raise the question of what effect the balance of Menos and Ate has on a man’s actions.  There must obviously be degrees of imbalance.  For people like Huxley, Poe, Freud, Jung, Polarion and myself there is the creative outlet of Menos.  Those like Ted Bundy and Richard Speck have insufficient Menos but are all Ate.  Without a creative outlet they may be condemned to commit murders to express their anguish at their treatment by their mothers.

     In Huxley’s case he was, on the Menos side, able to express himself in novels thus relieving the pressure while on the Ate side he appears to have become his mother while marrying a woman who would willingly compensate him for his mother’s neglect.

     I hesitate to review my own behavior in that respect.

     Poe who was much more deeply troubled seems to have had correspondingly greater gifts on the Menos side than Huxley while on the Ate side the pressure appears to have been so intense that he may have resorted to murder of unrelated women while he may surely have caused the death of Virginia by a combination of neglect on the one hand as evidenced by the examples of Morella and Ligeia or even willful poisoning as in the case of Ligeia and the narrator’s wife.  The negative actions would have been caused by his doppelganger while Poe himself looked on.

page 21.

     Jung and Freud, who while not abandoned by their mothers had troubled relationships with them, applied the Menos to make significant contributions to the understanding of psychology while their expression of Ate was either minor or extremely well hidden in Jung’s case and not exposed in Freud’s case.

     I hope that Polarion and I are making our contribution to psychological understanding while on the Ate side we merely express indifference to externals.

     All of us probably are or were introverts.

     The solution of the problem is completely out of the hands of men.  The solution, if there can be one, rests with The Hand That Rocks The Cradle.

     End of Cow-Eyed Hera And Edgar Allan Poe.  Go to Part IV,  The Hand That Rocks The Cradle