A Review

Woman

by

Alan Clayson

Yoko Ono And The Men Who Influenced Her

Review by R.E. Prindle

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

 

Girlish Yoko- Warhol School by Richard Bernstein

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

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

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

Smilin' Jack Cage

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

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

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

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

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

The Bag Yoko And Tony Are In

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

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

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

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

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

Psychedelic Dylan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Andy the Demon

spending her way to prosperity.

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

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

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

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

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

Buddies- Yoko, John, Andy

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

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

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

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

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

Lennon by Warhol

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

A Review:

Dakota Days

The True Story Of John Lennon’s Final Years

by

John Green

Review by R.E. Prindle

Green, John: Dakota Days- The True Story Of John Lennon’s Final Years, St. Martin’s Press, 1983

John and Yoko looking pretty palmy.

  The book should perhaps be subtitled: A True Story.  John Green has crafted very nice portraits here of Yoko Ono and John Lennon, especially that of  Yoko.  She was very superstitious being dedicated to the occult from witchcraft to Japanese numerology to Tarot readings.  It was the last that brought Green within her ken.  She not only wanted a reading of the Tarot cards but she kept Green hopping day and night giving her readings on whatever little problem that pressed her mind.  So for six years Green made a very good living reading for John and Yoko while developing a profound familiarity with their characters; in other words, he knows whereof he speaks.

      Neither he nor the Japanese numerologist who he mever met were the only occultists Yoko was consulting but Green seems to have been unaware of the others.  He is very careful and doesn’t overstep the bounds of what he knows first hand.  There was a great deal that Green wasn’t privy to making this A rather than The true story.

     While I know that many people know what the Tarot is I will give an explanation for those who don’t.  While I don’t participate in Tarot myself I do have a deck of cards on hand to study for historical reasons.

     The Tarot is a deck of 78 cards of some psychological subtlety.  It arose as a means to preserve the Egyptian religion when after the various invasions of the first millennium BC the matrix of the religion was shattered.  The Tarot was devised as a means of perpetuating the religion.  The various spreads of cards provide means of interpreting responses to a problem.

     Over the centuries many different decks have evolved representing various time periods.  I have the Egyptian deck.  It would be

Tarot Card From Deck

interesting to know which deck Green used.  He fails to tell us.

     To be able to read well one must have an implicit understanding of each of the cards as well as being a subtle enough psychologist to apply the meanings to he or she for whom you read.  Green apparently had both qualifications.  Thus over thousands of readings over the six years he became very familiar with the characters and personalities of his subjects John and Yoko.  Still, they seem to have been very successful in letting him know only what they wanted him to know.

     As he apparently didn’t take notes, limiting in itself,  he relies on his memory and familiarity with the Ono’s mental processes to reconstruct a continuum of the six years.  While one may question the veracity of his method he seems to capture the mental and vocal traits of both John and Yoko.  I have no trouble accepting the portraits while as the details can be corroborated elsewhere I see no reason to question Green’s general accuracy.  Otherwise there is no one who doesn’t make mistakes in fact or interpretation.

     His two portraits while revealing conflict with other accounts such as that of May Pang or Fred Seaman the obvious reason is that

May Pang

 the Onos are only letting him see what they want him to see.  For instance, in their 1980 interview the Onos state that Yoko had brought the estate up to 150 million dollars yet Green has Yoko spending so fast that they are always on the brink of insolvency.  At times expenditures seem to exceed cash on hand.

     Green believes himself to be their only investment advisor but that isn’t the case.  Just as Yoko had her Japanese numerologist who Green didn’t come into contact with and other occult advisors she must have had other financial advisors.

     The picture Green paints of Yoko is far from pretty while he never openly denigrates her yet as he creates his layers of detail she not only becomes but goes beyond eccentric.  Her dependence on the occult is such that when someone advised her of a ‘genuine’ witch in Colombia she dragged Green along on the trip to South America to visit the woman.  Always lavish in her expenditures, she gave one medium a blank check for her to fill out, she gave this woman 60,000 dollars for her ministrations.  When Green protested that the woman had meant pesetas rather than dollars Yoko was unfazed.

     Thus while Yoko denied any dependence on John she only was able to realize her vision of herself through the former Beatle’s wealth and influence.

Yoko in one of her many guises.

     This was no more evident than in Yoko’s competition with her mother.  For two successive summers John and Yoko visited Japan.  According to Yoko the intent was to establish some rapport so that her son Sean wouldn’t be cut out of the family fortune that was considerable.   The trips were conducted on such an extravagant scale that according to Green the Onos were cash poor as a result.  Nevertheless Yoko went on spending so either they had funds of which Green knew nothing or they got money from somewhere.

     The fact that they always seemed to have enough cash to do anything from spending a few millions on dairy farms and cows to Japanese vacations that it seems strange that when they received an extortion attempt for 200,000 dollars Yoko said they had no money.  The extortion attempt seems to have been a protection racket- pay and live or go the police and die.  As the extortioners told Yoko that if she went to the cops they would only protect her for a while.  When they left whether a year or two later the extortioners would strike.

     The Onos refused to comply calling in the FBI.  The FBI advised them to substitute newspaper for money and they would arrest the pickup man.  Strangely the pick up man was able to elude the FBI.  And then two years or so later Lennon was hit by exploding bullets and killed on his doorstep.  While one cannot say the two events are connected yet the assassination followed the extortionists plans.  Chapman did make a stop to speak to an unidentified party before he pulled the trigger.  But nothing is clear.

     Yoko first contacted Green during Lennon’s ‘Lost Weekend.’  While Lennon believed, and it seems clear, that Yoko had informants watching John while he was in LA, Green has her denying this saying that it was his card readings that kept her informed of John’s doings.   In all likelihood she checked her spies’ information against his readings. 

    From ’75 to ’80 Lennon was in a severe depression being unable or unwilling to function in a normal way.  Of course there was no reason for him to act ‘normal’ as he was able to deal with his funk in his own way.  Who is there to say that ‘normal’ was better?  As he told Green his muse had left him leaving him unable to write.  As he said, call it writer’s block or whatever, he couldn’t work.  Enough reason for depression in an artist.

      Then in 1980 when he came out of it being again able to write, Yoko in her desperate attempt  to be his equal insisted on being part of the new record she called Double Fantasy.  John adamantly refused to let her perform on his own tracks while she didn’t want her tracks all on one side for fear that no one would listen to side B, so they alternated tracks.

     Thus, even though Yoko insisted that she was the most talented artistically and musically of the two she was forced to hitch her wagon to John’s star.

Yoko in one of her variety of men's hats and double fantasy glasses.

2.

     I found Green’s treatment of Lennon to be more sympathetic than his treatment of Yoko.  The inevitable conclusion one comes to about Yoko is that at best she was a pathetic human being while at worst an obsessive-compulsive and a dangerous one at that.

     The portrait he depicted of John is that of a man with a completely disintegrated personality entering the mid-life crisis.  During this five year period he begins a process of reintegration.  Actually his course is that of the mythological hero who experiences his ‘madness’ at this period of the mid-life crisis.

     During this period Lennon is essentially egoless.  Part of Timothy Leary’s LSD mantra was that one should abandon the ego.  Of course to abandon the ego leaves one defenseless and a prey to sharpers who use their ego only too well, nevertheless Lennon bought in and abandoned his ego, or so he says.  As he abdicated his identity to the use of Yoko Ono this was obviously the case.

     So, he allowed himself to be manipulated by Yoko spending long periods of months over years ruminating naked in his bed, totally exposed as it were protected only by the good will of Yoko.  Then, for whatever ulterior motive, Yoko sent John on a solo trip around the world.  This was her mistake.

     While in Macau, China Lennon had an epiphany in his hotel room.  This is a fairly common one but self-revelatory.  One might name it the peeling of the onion.  In Lennon’s case he obviously felt that he had multiple personalities acquired through various traumatic events in his life.

     As he described it to Green he was in his hotel room when he succeeded in peeling a layer of the onion, a personality, off which appeared as real and visible to him as shirt or a suit of clothes.  He draped the personality over a chair then began to peel off layer after layer hanging them about the room or draping them over the furniture.  When he awoke the next morning he could see them just where he put them.  He then conceived the notion of leaving them there as he ran away from their influence.

     This is a beautiful little fantasy.  But then he turned the corner and there was oneof his selves waiting for him.  Visualize the Rock And Roll cover and I think you begin to have it.  He then realized he couldn’t escape in that fashion so he went back to his hotel and said ‘C’mon’ to his personalities and continued on his journey.  However having identified his ‘problems’  by name, as it were, the seeds for resolving those problems had been sown.

     He then returned to the Dakota and while he confined himself to his room rather than merely sinking into depression he began working through those layers of fixations or depression gradually recovering his muse and removing his writer’s block enabling him to compose again.

     It would seem that Yoko preferred John psychologically incapacitated so that she could either control him or make herself believe that she was the more talented.  Green notes that as John improved Yoko seemed to deteriorate.  He quotes her as saying that she had heard some of John’s new songs and they were not very good while hers were.

     Dissociated from reality as she was then she couldn’t let John record an LP of songs that might be a hit while anything she recorded on her own would be relegated to the garbage.   She even refused to record one side all John and one side all her for fear that no one would listen to her side so she demanded they alternate tracks.  I presume that is one reason the LP is entitled Double Fantasy.

     While Yoko actually believed in the Tarot and her Japanese numerology, witchcraft and whatever John intelligently disregarded the occult aspects while he might have seen the utility of the Egyptian religous aspects to reveal character and motivation.  In fact the innumerable readings of the Tarot might have led up to the revelatory epiphany in China and hence the lifting of his depression.

     If that were the case then there would have been little difference between the Egyptian system of Tarot and psychoanalysis.  But, as I say, I have no idea of which deck Green was using although the principle remains the same.

3.

     After having been on 24/7 call for six years as the Onos moved into what seems to have been a new phase Green lost his usefulness to Yoko sitting by a phone that never rang.

     Green had succeeded too well.  As he has John explain to him when Yoko first employed him she set him seven tasks.  He had successfully completed all seven being now redundant.  While John promised to look out for him, of course events eliminated any such possibility.

     Regardless of whether the Ono Lennons were the subject of Green’s book I found the whole concept interesting.  I like the way Green told his story, his tone and his outlook.  His telling made me take an interest in himself.  Unfortunately his name being so common makes it too difficult to search out anything of his subsequent career other than he moved to Washington DC.

     Perhaps he could write a sequel to Dakota Days from another angle and with more detail.  Pressing issues might not be so pressing now.  I’d be interested.

 

Happy Trails To You.