A Review

John

by

Cynthia Lennon

One Giant Step For Somebody

Review by R.E. Prindle

Lennon, Cythia: John, Three Rivers Press,  2005

Remember what the door knob said…

–Grace Slick

We built this city on Rock and Roll.

–Jefferson Starship

If you want to be a girl of mine

You’d better bring it with you when you come,

–Trad.

John and Cynthia- Sometime In Liverpool

     Cynthia Lennon’s autobiography of her life with John Lennon opens the door to a number of possibilities of which I’ll explore one, at least, here.

     Let’s begin with Lonnie Donegan’s 1955 hit The Rock Island Line.  Lonnie was the originator of his own genre- Skiffle Music.  Skiffle was all the rage in the British world from England to Australia to New Zealand while passing very lightly over the States except for the fortunate few of which I was one.  Rock Island Line was a major hit in the US though.

     Lonnie, may he rest in peace, was also the originator of the Big Beat.  Of course Lennon and most of the young English rockers studied at Lonnie’s feet.  The first band Lennon formed, the Quarrymen, was a Skiffle band.  That was back in the fifties before the second stage of the big change kicked off.  The first stage began about 1950 with Johnny Ray and his song Cry.

     Eisenhower had the world pretty well organized in 1960 before John Kennedy stole the baton from the intended successor, Richard Nixon.  With the accession of Kennedy the American personality or identity, such as it was, began to disintegrate- I mean in the psychological sense.

     The Celts tried to establish Kennedy as the second coming of King Arthur and his Camelot.  Not the smartest thing they could have done; a couple bullets fired in Dallas on November 22, 1963 put a period to that dream.  By the then the sixties were fairly launched about to begin in earnest in January of 1964 when Lennon’s next group, the Beatles, hit.

     The Beatles began as a Big Beat band rooted in the fifties.  Seized by the avant garde they were made the avatar of the sixties.  In their own way they launched the sixties although the makins’ were already out of the can.  Kennedy was shot almost in December and in January the Fab Four washed his memory out on the Ed Sullivan Show.  The Kennedy assassination was so then, then.  The Beatles were NOW.  IS in capital letters.

     While the Beatles were revamping fifties music they edged into the future with modified Prince Valiant haircuts and collarless suit jackets.  They were then NEW emerging into a brave new world.

     Almost at the beginning of 1960 the art world was shaken by the emergence of Pop Art.  Jasper Johns, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Indiana, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg and especially Andy Warhol with his Campbell’s Soup Can set the sixties on its ear.  On

Premier example of Pop Art

the film scene the James Bond series with its new sensibility began.  Bond also was a revelation portending changes with unintended consequences.

     Pop Art would figure signficantly in Cynthia Lennon’s life in a few years when one of its more laughable practitioners, Yoko Ono, would step into her life and filch her husband from her.  In fact Pop Art would be inextricably linked with the record industry.  All the pop motifs would find their way onto record covers with increasing frequency.  Tiny Alice would have a cover that opened like a match book.  Talking Head’s colored disc would even become a happening designed by Rauschenberg himself.  The burgeoning poster business would find its way into record sleeves.  Astonishing packages never seen before in the record business although perhaps anticipated by the experimental ESP label of NYC.  Some interesting stuff.   Perhaps Milton Glaser’s poster of Bob Dylan could run for the distinction of the most popular poster design of the whole era.  It was innovation itself at the time although not quite so fresh today.

     Now, all this was happening so fast and from so many directions that it was impossible to get it all or even keep up on what you did get; after all people had lives to live.

     In the San Francisco Bay Area where I was during the sixties the Scene was especially heavy.  I wasn’t in the thick of things but a little off to the side.  Thus while the UC Berkeley Free Speech Brouhaha took center stage in the East Bay, Ken Kesey, the Merry Pranksters and the Acid Tests were simmering on the Peninsula, but actually invading the middle class especially at Stanford and UC Berkeley.  The San Fransciso Mime Troupe was very important in the early stages while Bill Graham was commercializing the Trips Festival with his Fillmore shows and Chet Helms was organizing the Avalon Ballroom out at the beach.  The posters for the ballrooms which epitomized the psychedelic was the first inkling I had that something ‘new’ was happening.  I don’t know how quick on the uptake I was  but the first inkling of New York Pop I had was 1966-67 when I opened a poster store soon to be a record store.

     LA, always commercial, would nevertheless provide the great Ron Cobb political cartoons for the LA Free Press one of the best of the Hippie papers soon to degenerate into porn as did the Berkeley Barb and all the rest.  R. Crumb in San Francisco became the king of Hippie porn which characterized the movement from then on.  The scene was then set for George and Pattie Harrison’s famous descent on the Haight-Ashbury that disappointed them so.

     This brief sketch only contains a few of the highlights of the period.  It was into this world that John and Cynthia Lennon stepped unprepared.  Both Cynthia and John came from a background of very low expectations.  Cynthia’s dreams were very modest while per her John’s dreaming was no bigger than reaching the tops of the pops in England.

     Indeed the much touted German clubs showed no promise of a future whatever.  Essentially playing in brothels in Hamburg one wonders what the ‘lads’ were thinking of the whole process.  The wonder is that they paid enough attention to hone their skills.  One of those making lemonade from lemons situations.

     Only the greatest good luck showed them to success and fortune.  They would have labored in the vineyard for a while and then drifted off into jobs but for the fact that an entrepreneurial romantic by the name of Brian Epstein saw them as the vehicle to realize his own dreams.  He had the direction and energy to galvanize their careers.  Still they were rejected by all the labels until a producer, George Martin, apparently heard what the rest of the world would hear and agreed to record them.  It was then that the unbelievable happened elevating the Beatles into the most successful pop group ever.  It was success far beyond their imaginations.  With that success came challenges that neither John nor Cynthia could meet.  The fact that they failed is no reflection on either one; they came from very low expectations and having fallen down the rabbit hole they were slightly unprepared.  ‘One side makes you larger, the other side makes you smaller.’

     To this time in their lives neither had even eaten at anything other than the English equivalent of McDonald’s, fish and chips or whatever.  Now in one great step they were introduced into the haut ton by their manager Brian Epstein.  Cynthia leads us to believe that Epstein gave special attention to John over the other ‘lads.’  As Epstein was a homosexual and as other sources, Peter Brown, Goldman actually state that Epstein seduced Lennon he obviously had a crush on John seeking to mold him in his own image.  Indeed, John may have been his incentive for taking the Beatles on.  Lust at first sight.

     John had an attractive flip attitude that left the impression that he was much better educated than he was.  Actually he left Art School, already a step down from the top,  flunked out or whatever preferring to devote himself to his guitar chords.  Most of the rockers were in the same situation.  It’s amazing that their fans looked to them for salvation.  This was tragic, because the generation invested all their hopes and dreams in these muscians attributing universal knowledge and genius to them, each and everyone.  While they all did changes on certain political and social themes there was an appearance of ‘deep’ knowledge.  Being anti-pollution was a badge of authority.  Grace Slick of the Jefferson Airplane made the mistake if, one hopes, jesting that one should never trust anyone over thirty; this while she, John and others were about twenty-nine.

     The phrase stuck.  Those under thirty trusted these youthful, perhaps well-meaning rock stars.  Being somewhat older at the time I could only see some very ordinary boys and girls who were just youthful wiseacres as we all were in that phase of our journey through life.  Give me a break.

     The most revered of all were the three Beatles John, Paul and George with Ringo thought of more as the court jester.  John seemed to take his role most seriously as the guru of the generation, especially after he abandoned Cynthia for, spare me, the psychotic Yoko Ono.

     Her abandonment by John for Yoko Ono is of course the most traumatic incident in her story.  One can only commiserate with Cynthia.  Then one has to search for reasons why; there was certainly no physical attraction there.  Lennon did release a solo album called Mind Games so perhaps the best place to look is the mental.  Lennon’s success must have placed great stresses of various kinds on him.  The transition from a fair degree of poverty to one of a very large income to great wealth under the management of Yoko Ono would be psychologically unsettling in itself.  Cynthia was unable to transit from poverty to wealth always remaining a lower middle class haus frau while John appears to have lacked the social climbing instincts of, say, Mick Jagger.

     Musicians in general are held in very low esteem by the social elite so without unbounded desire and chutzpah, an ability to endure slights of the most painful kind it is highly unlikely that a musician would ever find acceptance in society.  The aristocrats, Marrianne Faithfull describes as associating with Jagger appear to me to be more of the Black Sheep variety.  So, Lennon may have been experiencing some frustration at that level.

     At the same time there are numerous flatterers who are adept at putting ideas of omnipotence into your head not only intimating but saying that you are godlike.  Even though one rejects the notion on the conscious level still a feeling of super powers creeps into your subliminal mind.  One feels invulnerable, that one can do what’s never been done, that one can do drugs with impunity.  There was never a time when the availability of drugs was ever greater or more socially acceptable.

     At the time rumors abounded which have since turned into facts.  During the Kennedy administration there was one Dr. Feelgood operating in New York to whom the social elite went for their drugs.  His name was Dr. Max Jacobson and he was your friendly amphetamine pusher.  His speed cocktails were extraordinary and they lasted for days.   It’s comforting to know that President John F. Kennedy was amphetamine fueled while he was making those difficult international decisions- like Cuba.  Nothing like having an A-man on the job.  He wasn’t alone, VP Lyndon Johnson, followed in his footsteps into the office of Dr. Feelgood.  He would have found his place at the end of the line of the NYC elite.

     One person who took the good doctor’s prescription said that he went blind for three days staying high for several.  Max was the economic type, dirty needles too.

     At the same time Dr. Timothy Leary was sending everyone from prison inmates to Beat poet Allen Ginsberg tripping into inner space with his free handed distribution of LSD.  Kennedy was involved in that too.

     Prior to their arrival for the Sullivan show we are led to believe that the Mop Tops had only used pep pills in Hamburg to fuel their twelve hour sets.  We are told that Bob Dylan was the one who turned them on to La Cucuracha, the most mild of the intoxicants.  From there the boys graduated to LSD through spiked drinks or food.

     Just as Harrison’s wife, Patti, records a spiked introduction to LSD so does Cynthia Lennon.  Cynthia quite properly was revolted by drugs having no use for them.  John was quite the opposite.  He embraced LSD apparently ingesting regularly for long periods of time.  As he would describe it, thousands of trips.  At that point in my estimation the marriage was over.  There is nothing for which Cynthia has to reproach herself except for her small divorce settlement.  Nothing disintegrates the personality like drugs.

The Ghost In The Machine- Albert Hofmann

     The drug influence was followed by a change in their music patterned after Dylan.  When I first heard the Rubber Soul album I found it extremely noisy and unpleasant.  This album was probably influenced by the Band’s playing behind Dylan on the ’65-’66 tour or perhaps the Bringing It All Back Home and Highway ’61 albums.  It seems p;robable to me that the song Norwegian Wood commemorated  Dylan’s turning them on to marijuana.  The girl obviously represents Dylan.

      Succeeding albums would aim for a ‘heavier’ feel with more social significance.  As Lennon said in his ’80 Playboy interview, I Am The Walrus was written in imitation of Dylan.

     The cover of Rubber Soul was traditional uninfluenced by pop art trends.  The succeeding cover in the US, the famous ‘Butcher’ cover would be widely interpreted in the US as a comment on the Viet Nam War.  It may have been meant as a pun- prime cuts of  both meat and record tracks, but I don’t know.  Whether there was a Pop Art influence isn’t clear.

     The cover for the following Revolver by Klaus Voorman seems to indicate an awareness of Pop.  For a band that was thought to be on the cutting edge of everything there are only two covers very avant garde with neither being very satisfying to me.

Acid Art- Victor Vasarely

     Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band that follows Revolver is a complete Pop Art package.  A bizarre and macabre conception it does succeed.  The grave in the foreground with the floral Beatles is chilling, perhaps a presage of the break up of the band.  As Dylan said:  If you’re not busy being born you’re busy dying.’   The Beatles are pictured in dead black and white looking down mournfully on their grave while the newly born Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band stand front and center in vibrant living color.  Obviously the one has risen from the other.

     Behind the band are row on row of ‘ancestors’ or, as was commonly assumed, influences.  In fact members of the band contributed only a few of the names while the rest were contributed by others.  Dylan is certainly among the pictures.  The album comes complete with a childhood toy, a sheet of cut outs, making a complete Pop Art package.  They could have had a designed inner sleeve but they overlooked that.  Peter Blake, the main designer, is known as a Pop Artist.

     The musical content follows the downer social significance motif with aural pyrotechnics such as had not been heard on record before.  The release, as everyone is aware, was a complete smash, but it went beyond smash into realms not achieved until Michael Jackson’s Thriller.  Thriller failed to excite as did Sgt. Peppers.  That summer of ’67 was literally a surround of Sgt. Peppers.  It was almost the only record anyone played.  The Beatles easily trumped Dylan’s Blonde On Blonde  of the summer of  ’66.

     The rest of the Beatles’  covers are pedestrian.  The White LP probably influenced by One was trite at the time.

     Cynthia seems to lack all understanding of what tremendous pressures the very unstable Lennon was subjected to , how his mind was being affected by adulation from the fans and respect from the world at large.  Kid me, being named one of the three most influential men in the world wouldn’t have inflated the head of a Liverpool loser?  My god, the Beatles even sung ‘I’m a loser.’  I couldn’t believe anyhone would sing such a song much less the Beatles who were clearly winners.  How does one endure thinking of oneself as a loser on one hand and one of the most influential men in the world on the other?

     At the same time that Lennon was enlarged Cynthia shrunk into the Liverpool realities of her youth.  The couple had a mansion but unfamiliar with so much space Cynthia preferred to live in one small room!  Clearly she was not equal to the demands of her situation.

     The situation became critical when Lennon began mass consumption of drugs, including heroin, which Cynthia correctly declined to do while at the same time the poisonous Yoko Ono injected herself into Lennon’s life.  There was no hope for Cynthia.  Yoko Ono was a walking disaster looking for a place to happen- and then there was John.

Yoko Ono- Single Fantasy

     Quite frankly Yoko Ono’s ‘career’ was going nowhere.  Born in 1933 she was 33 in 1966 when she began her assault on John who was 25.

     The sexual dynamic is that Lennon seemed to prefer older women than himself having a masochistic submission impulse.  Cynthia herself was a year older.  She too apparently sought security in younger men.  Her second husband was two years younger and her third six.  She seemed to lack the dominating impulse to make such marriages work.  Ono had it in spades.

     While John was by this time psychotic, Ono had been so from childhood, in addition she seems to suffer from extreme cognitive dissonance.  Ono got the rock critic Robert Palmer to shill for her in her 1992 release, Onobox.  In the essay Palmer states:

     It is quite likely that having John Lennon fall in love with her was the worst thing that could have happened to Yoko Ono’s career as an artist.

     Notice the lack of mention of falling in love with Lennon.  This was written, I almost said, dictated to Palmer, in 1992 twelve years after Lennon’s death.  No serious critic could have written that line so one must assume that it was dictated by Ono herself.  The line shows how far she has distanced herself from reality.

     Ono was in fact, a poor little rich girl.  As a woman she felt inferior to the male writing such pieces as ‘Woman Is The Nigger Of The World.’   Once again cognitive dissonance.  Yoko Ono was never in the position of being  ‘a nigger in the world.’  It is true that her father advised her against attempting composing believing that women didn’t make good composers.  How wrong was he, hey?  Ono milked every man she was ever with before actually going into the dairy business herself.  Secondly, having chosen to enter the Western world as an Asian she places her artistic neglect on the twin facts that he is a woman and an Asian.  It never occurs to her that her art is unpleasing.

     As an artist, whether woman or not, Asian or not, she had nothing to offer the art loving peoples of the world.  In this increasingly globalized world of the sixties being Asian meant nothing while being a woman held no one with talent back.  Indeed, male artists were increasingly being suppressed in favor of women in all the arts.  If all girl rock bands isn’t an oxymoron I don’t know what is.

     By her own admission she thought she was an influential person in the New York City art world of the early sixties after an apprenticeship of one year even gaining  ‘an international reputation.’  As she told May Pang:  I was famous before I met John.  So, one asks how does one reconcile her imagined great success with the feeling of being held back as an Asian and woman?

      She rented a loft for fifty dollars a month which she coyly implies that as a starving artist the money was not easy to find.  Well, Daddy was only a phone call away, she should have reached out and touched him.  You can be sure he wasn’t going to let his little girl starve.  By comparison I was paying 125.00 a month for an apartment in the Bay Area.  I think we can dismiss the impoverished struggling artist scenario as so much more cognitive dissonance.

     Ono spread herself pretty thin apparently attempting to cover all aspects of the avant garde.  She’s keen on belonging to the avant garde.  In music she patterned herself after John Cage and that weird contemporary ‘classical music’ approach with perhaps more than a nod to the early electronic composers such as Robert Maxwell who she mentions.  She began her career in 1969 between the end of the Absract Expression mode and the beginningof the Pop movement so she was too late for the one and too early for the other.  She and Lennon would try to rectify this in 1971 by doing obeisance to the Pop guru, Andy Warhol.

     In 1961 she threw a party and was devastated that a snow storm discouraged the uptown crowd she had invited from coming.  At least she said there was a snow storm.  This may be another instance of cognitive dissonance.  As she was an actual nobody she had no reason to expect society people to attend, snow storm or no snow storm.   Nevertheless she was devastated, leaving town for Japan shortly thereafter.  One may question where she obtained the fare for that flight when she had difficulty of meeting a fifty dollar rent bill.

     In Japan she acquired her first husband simultaneously being committed to an insane asylum.  As difficult as it may be to believe, her  soon to be second husband, Tony Cox, heard these marvelous things about Ono in NYC deciding to fly to Japan to look her up.  He found her thoroughly doped staggering around the halls of the asylum.  He succeeded in getting her released then he, Ono and her first husband formed a menage a trois.  The first husband wisely was the first to leave so Cox claimed the prize and the couple returned to NYC in 1964 so she is having an eventful four years.  Shortly after their arrival they pulled up stakes and headed further East to London.  Of the move Ono says:

     I thought (the) avant garde world in New York was still very exciting but that it was starting to become an institution in itself, and there were rules and regulations in an invisible way, and I just wanted to get out of it.  I never considered myself a member of any group.  I was just doing my own thing.

     That is just another way of saying that the art scene was a cliquish group in its terminal stages that was difficult or impossible to break into so unable to do so Ono was ‘just doing her own thing.’  It might be noted however that the NYC art scene was or was in becoming a nearly totally homosexual affair.  At any rate we have evidence of sour grapes- I never considered myself a member of any group.  And the result of rejection-  I was just doing my own thing.

     After her rejection she ‘composed’ a musical piece called Wall Piece For Orchestra in which she knelt on a stage and repeatedly banged her heard on the floor.  Today that would be called ‘acting out.’

     Off to new worlds to conquer in London and at the Indica Gallery of John Dunbar, the resident ‘head’ art gallery.  Now, at this point she ‘ruined her career’ by pursuing John Lennon until he caught her.  I imagine that she had been shrewdly observing his career and undoubtedly came to the psychological conclusion that he was a dependent personality who could be easily manipulated by the older maternal type with the right touch.  That John Lennon could be made dependent on this woman eight years his senior is proof positive.  Indeed, John even referred to her as Mother.

     Cynthia for whom the role was impossible correctly assessed the situation noting the influence of Lennon’s Aunt Mimi who brought him up.  Ono courted Lennon, interfering directly in his marriage.  Ono was quite willing to drug herself along with Lennon so that both were heroin addicts.  Ono thus established a sado-masochistic control over Lennon that Cynthia had no chance of breaking.

     Rather than ruining Ono’s career the ‘third most influential man’ in the world gave her a stage on which to perform that she could never have found on her own.  She now considered herself a collaborator with the Beatles.  The injection of the Cage and Maxwell garbage combined with Lennon’s erratic behavior produced the nonsense of Revolution #9 on the White Album.

     Lennon on drugs and under the influenceof Ono, who had her motives, according to Dire Corrector’s blog quoting the biographer of Paul McCartney, Many Years From Now, says:

     The meditation had essentially precipitated a nervous breakdnown which was not helped by John’s tremendous drug intake.  On May 18, 1966 he summoned a meeting of the Beatles at Apple and announced to them that he was Jesus Christ…the night after he told the other Beatles that he was the Savior, he finally called Yoko Ono and told her to come over.

     Quite obviously Lennon was either teetering on the brink or had fallen over the edge.   If he hadn’t broken with Cynthia by this time it is quite clear that apart from a certain inappropriateness of being wed to the Savior she was quite innocent of causing the break in any manner and should have a clear conscience.

     Lennon’s state of mind would explain the insensitive manner in which he broke with Cynthia and its aftermath.  The man must not have been in his right mind.  While easing Cynthia out was relatively easy, from Ono’s end Tony Cox to whom she was still married was not such a simple matter.  One wonders why he would fight so hard to keep a women who was so psychotic.  Perhaps it was their daughter who he later took into hiding to keep her away from Ono.  Justly so, it seems.

     At any rate by ’69 Ono and Lennon were free to marry.  Definitely by this point Lennon had all but surrendered his identity to Ono.  She was now in possession of the reputation of one of the three most influential men in the world.  Blending her identity with his she was about to become hermaphroditic.  Perhaps Lennon was overawed by her avant garde credentials, such as they were, as well as whatever passed for her musical sensibilities.

     She became Yoko Ono Lennon while he legally changed his name to John Ono Lennon so they both became Ono Lennons.  After a number of happenings which one must believe were entirely Ono’s conceptions, such as the ‘bed in’ in Holland and the organization of the Plastic Ono Band, the pair settled in New York in an apartment building known as the Dakota.  The Dakota was a connection to Ono’s past fulfilling an old desire to surpass those uptown types who she felt had slighted her.

     In that connection also the cover of the Plastic Ono Band is a fulfillment of an old desire of Ono’s.  While a child she witnessed the fire bombing of Tokyo in the US attempt to bring an end to the war.  The blue sky was obliterated by the billowing clouds of smoke.  While she didn’t witness Hiroshima yet she imagined the same sky as that over Tokyo.   She then developed a blue sky obsession.  If you notice the cover of the Plastic Ono Band is just a blue sky.  One assumes then that Ono’s plans were coming together.

     The NYC art world of 1960-’61 had shifted totally, the Abstract Expressionists she had tried to piggyback on were gone having been replaced by Pop Art of which Andy Warhol was the reigning doyen.  If the Abstract Expressionists had been exclusive Warhol was nothing if not inclusive.  He worshipped celebrities and Lennon was the number one celebrity.  Himself a groupie and maximum social climber he welcomed an association with the Onos.  For Yoko Ono the association with the leaderof the NYC art scene was her dream come true.  Nothing but blue skies from now on.

     In the accompanying picture you will notice that Warhol is seated in between a standing Yoko Ono with one hand on her right tit while his hand is on a drugged out looking John Ono with his hand on Warhol’s crotch.  The symbolism is quite clear.  The standing Yoko

The transfer of power.

 is the master of two emasculated males who happen to be two of the most influential men in the world.  She ain’t no nigger no more, Maggie’s Farm is a thing of the past, yes, men are now niggers in relation to herself.  Warhol as an artist takes precedence over the disposable oafish John Ono.  Yoko is tallest and standing, Warhol is second tallest and sitting while the now disposable John is lowest, lying on his back.  The future is clear.  Study John’s face; study all three faces.

     The sexually besotted John Ono has surrendered his entire identity even as a musician allowing Yoko Ono to usurp his place by putting out those horrid hideous LP musical montrosities.  Robert Palmer aside, with song titles reminiscent of her head bashing days:  What A Bastard The World Is, I Felt Like Smashing My Face In A Glass Window,  Woman Of Salem (Witches), Coffin Car, Hell In Paradise and Walking On Thin Ice.  Clearly this woman had an unsettled, disturbed mind.

      Having usuped Lennon’s role and identity he became expendable.  Her problem now was to transfer his past and his wealth to herself thereby becoming Yoko-John Ono, Double Fantasy.  Two fantasies melding into her one personality.

     John Ono’s finances were, of course, in complete disorder.   As Yoko was soon to show billions of dollars were disappearing down a sink hole.  She rapidly organized his finances turning his money green.  Within short order the Onos were worth a hundred million or so which she would swell to a billion or more after John’s death.

     I imagine it was fairly easy to have John Ono give her a power of attorney, indeed he forked over his identity allowing her to function in his stead as himself.  An awesome abdication.  A POA would negate the need for a will, and indeed having made herself not only co-owner of John’s assets as well as his identity Yoko Ono would merely acquire full ownership leaving no assets to be willed.  Indeed, she could have turned him out penniless at any time.  When Cynthia was clamoring for a reading of the will she was wasting her breath; if a will existed, unlikely in itself, there would have been no assets to bequeath.

     Yoko Ono having now incorporated John Ono’s reputation and identity into her own had also incorporated the assets and with the assets the legacy of all copyrights held by John Lennon as the double fantasy melded into one fantasy.  The only obstacle to Yoko’s apotheosis  into man-woman was John himself as he was alive.  However John was only thirty-five.  To wait thirty-five years or more with a man she didn’t love or even like would be unbearable.  Some hard thinking was in order.

     She manipulated the poor dolt into thinking he was a boorish oaf who needed to go off to get himself together.  Rather than just sending him off she chose an employee, May Pang, an Asian like herself, to be John’s consort while away.

     In reading May Pang’s book, Loving John, it becomes clear that Yoko Ono was a master hypnotist.  She knew how to make suggestions and have people act on them.  Acccording to Pang she fixed an hypnotic glare on one, assuming an authoritative posture while intoning her suggestion.  She had the reputation of always getting her way.

     Of course her version of what happened is different than Pang’s.  Yoko having suggested she go  off with John, the act was soon consummated.  Pang insists she and John were in love, yet a year and a half later when Yoko called John back he came running.

     Thus, from 1975 to Double Fantasy in 1980 Yoko and John Ono were out of public life living as a double fantasy of Howard Hughes.  Then in 1980 Mark Chapman became the man who shot John Lennon.  There have been speculations that Chapman was hypnotized when he committed his deed.  Conspiracy theories therefore have sprung up.

     One must ask who the death of John Lennon benefited.  Two possible people.  Yoko One on one hand and possibly Chapman on the other.  On the one hand Yoko Ono achieved the psychotic desire to escape being the ‘nigger of the world’ by becoming John Ono Lennon while physically remaining the sweet little girl she had been before the fire bombing of Tokyo.  She was unable to manage the memory of that transformative experience.  In her mind, then, she became the prominent artist-musician of the world.

     I don’t believe the government had anything to do with the assassination.

     As we know Yoko Ono was a master hypnotist; the question is how did she find Mark Chapman and how did she hypnotize him?

     Earlier in the day Chapman had approached Lennon for an autograph.  He can be seen worshipfully  smiling beside his hero in the picture.  There appears to be no indication he meant to harm Lennon.  He might easily have shot him point blank at the time, yet when he came back in the afternoon with a voice in his head insistently saying:  Do it. Do it. Do it. he gunned his hero down.

     At the time Yoko Ono had dropped a few steps behind John.  In similar murder attempts, people step away from the intended victim so as not to be caught in the line of fire.  This may have been the case with Yoko.

     Certainly Yoko is opposed to Chapman’s release from prison even though he has fulfilled the twenty year requirement of twenty to life.  I doubt if he is a threat to society however he may be a threat to Yoko Ono if he were to remember or reveal the details leading up to his shooting of John Ono Lennon.

     Of course, I don’t know why Chapman shot but I do know that Yoko Ono Lennon was the sole beneficiary.  She left Cynthia holding the bag while she realized her double fantasy.

 

Double Fantasy- Yoko Looking Over John's Granny Glasses

 

A Review

Trilby

by

George Du Maurier

George Du Maurier

Review by R.E. Prindle

      Du Maurier is interesting as a possible influence on Burroughs.  Du Maurier not only borrows from authors he admires but tells the reader he’s borrowing.  Burroughs borrows without creditation.  The great literature of the nineteenth century was written during Du Maurier’s lifetime.  Thus Alexandre Dumas’ Three Musketeers of 1845 was a new book.  It was also a book that overwhelmed Du Maurier’s imagination while having a later profound effect on Burroughs.  Thus Du Maurier tells the reader his plot is based on The Three Musketeers.  Like Burroughs Du Maurier incorporates several sources in an obvious manner.  He was apparently fascinated by Henry Murger’s Scenes De La Vie Boheme of 1851.  I haven’t read the book as yet but other reviewers say the influence is there.  I pick up an influence from La Dame Aux Camellias by Dumas fils also.  Du Maurier refers to many poets and writers whose writing left him helpless but as I am not that well grounded in many aspects of early nineteenth century literature I can’t identify the influences myself but they are as plentiful and obvious as with Burroughs himself.

     In his own life Du Maurier had aspirations to be an opera singer but lacked the powerful voice.  He then aspired to be an artist but lacked that talent becoming one of the premier illustrators of the century instead.  And then as he felt death approaching he turned to writing.  Thus a failure as a singer, a failure as an artist but success as an illustrator he became a huge success as a novelist.  The careers of his protagonists generally follow the same course.

     He is also a nostalgic writer as he lovingly recreates the scenes of his youth and life.  He always retained the impress of La Boheme living his life in a genteel bohemian style.  I suppose today he would be like an old hippy walking around in a gray pony tail, sandals and the garb of the sixties while making a fortune as a stock broker.

     Thus Trilby opens in an artist’s atelier on the Left Bank of Paris in the Latin Quarter.  The Latin Quarter of his time may be compared to New York’s Greenwich Village or San Francisco’s North Beach of the fifties and sixties.  Du Maurier himself lived such an existence for a couple years at the end of the eighteen fifties.

     We are thus introduced to his three musketeers- Taffy, the Laird and Little Billee.  They are fine comrades living the Bohemian life style much as some upper middle class hippies took to a bohemian life style with torn jeans and the pose of the impoverished in the nineteen-sixties.

     The whole ensemble  is gathered thogether in the atelier for the opening section.  Taffy, The Laird and Billy are letting the studio.  As Du Maurier says on the title page this is a love story.  Trilby O’ Farrell the love interest turns up immediately.  She and Billy love each other but Trilby is classed as a grisette which was apparently the equivalent of a hippy chick who was somewhat free living.  Trilby declassed herself completely by posing as an artist’s model in the altogether or, in another word, nude.  This was no small thing to all concerned although the bohos tended to be a little tolerant.

     After Trilby arrives come Svengali and his sidekick Gecko.  They are musicians.  Svengali is billed as an incomparable musician which is to say performer.  He was a great pianist.  He taught Gecko his violinist everything he knew.

     We are discussing the nineteenth century and nineteenth century views in context.  The story can’t be told any other way.  If the attitudes and opinions of other times and other people offend y0u be forewarned and proceed at  you own risk.  I will bowlderize history to suit no one’s whims.  As Walter Duranty facetiously said:  I write as I please.  Du Maurier, the gentlest of men, nevertheless had well formed opinions.  Svengali is a Jew and pretty much a stereotype of the Jew at the time.  He appears to be a beteljew from the Pale actually although he is said to be German but the accent Du Maurier gives him could just as well be Yiddish as German.  It is important to bear all this in mind because in the contest for the possession of Trilby between Billy and Svengali the latter is going to  obtain her.

     There’s an interesting contrast here the meaning of which isn’t exactly clear to me.  Trilby has a beautiful foot, the kind that drives fetichists wild.  After this first encounter Billy, the consummate artist, sketches the foot on the wall to perfection.  All the others are amazed at the likeness.   This sketch occupies as central place in the story as does Svengali’s hypnotism of Trilby.  Svengali on the other hand demands that Trilby open her mouth wide so he can look in.  Raises your eyebrows when you read this.  Not only does Trilby have a beautiful foot but she has a cavernous mouth that made for an amazing sound chamber, the kind that comes along apparently once in ever.

     The problem is that Trilby can’t put two notes together nor can she even find the note while finding the key is bothersome.  Much is made of her inability to sing as she screeches ludicrously through Sweet Alice, Ben Bolt.  (Ben Bolt was one of the most popular songs of the century on both sides of the Atlantic.  Due to the wonders of the internet if you’ve never heard Ben Bolt you can get a good performance on the net.  I’d heard of the song but never heard it until I checked it out on the net.  Just amazing.)

     Her rendition was a cause of great merriment.  So you have the European sketching the foundation of the girl while the Jew is inspecting the intellectual possibilities.  The Jew will win because he’s at the right end.  As I say the mystery of these images float over my head.  I’m merely making a stab at the meaning.  I know there’s a contest and what it’s about but the symbolism is shaky to me.

     And so the introduction ends with everyone agreeing that Svengali is a cad after he left and all three musketeers falling in love with Trilby.

Svengali Type

   There is much description of the fine times the musketeers have.  One gets the impression that Du Maurier was living the life in the sixties in Paris but such was not the case.  He signed on at Punch in 1860 and thus was working as an illustrtor for them from that date until his death.  He seems to have been familiar with the Pre-Raphaelite painters of London of whom he speaks highly most especially of Millais.  He seems to have been friends with a Fred Walker who he thought was a great artist but who seems to have been lost in the mists of time.  I’d never heard of him anyway but one can find his pictures on the internet.  Du Maurier loved the artist’s life.

     Much of this book as well as the other is a loving recreation of the times and his memory of the times is one of wonderful things.  Very refreshing against the unremitting negativity of modern literature.  The book is set mainly in the sixties but the ‘horrible’ year of 1871 and the French Commune obtrudes.  Du Maurier while recognizing its ugliness nevertheless passes over it quickly with a shrug and back to the good times.  He introduces some additional charming characters but then come the crisis.

     Billy had asked the declassed Trilby to marry him nineteen times and she had always refused because she knew she wasn’t in his class.  After an amazingly wonderful Christmas feast in the atelier Billy asks again.  Trilby, as she says, in a moment of weakness accepts.  When the news reaches Billy’s mother, Mrs. Bagot, she scurries over to Paris from London to check Trilby out.  When she learns that Trilby had posed in the altogether she persuades Trilby to give up her son.

     Trilby leaves town without a goodbye.  When Billy finds out he has his brain fever or a nervous breakdown that prostrates him for weeks.  There was a chance he wouldn’t make it.  He does but with psychological consequences.  He can no longer love while he lives in a deep melancholia.  There are some who know where that’s at.  After he recovers he returns to England.  the wonderful Bohemian rhapsody is over.

     Trilby had left Paris to go to the provinces.  She had a little brother who she was supporting and bringing up who she took with her and who then dies of a fever.  This devastates Trilby who cuts her hair, dresses as a man and walks back to Paris.  Her old haunts have disappeared in the interim so she shows up on the doorstep of Svengali who is but too happy to take her in.  The hypnotized Trilby is a small part of the book.  The next hundred pages or so describe Billy’s wonderful success as a painter and the loss of camaraderie as the young idealists of the Latin Quarter age and lose their affinity for each other.  Charmingly told with just the right touch of heartache.

     In the meantime and off stage, as it were, Svengali accompanied by Gecko keeps Trilby in a hypnotic trance as he

Henri Murger

teaches her to use her tremendous oral cavity to sing.  While she has the exact equipment to be a great singer she lacks the musical sense and can’t learn it sober.  Svengali instills the musical sense through hypnosis but as Gecko later explains Trilby is merely providing the instrument while Svengali is actually singing through her.  For three years they labor in the salt mines, as they say, performing on street corners or wherever.  Then Trilby is properly trained becoming the rage of Europe as La Svengali becoming bigger and better than such stars as Adelina Patti or Jenny Lind, two real life divas.

     Thus while Billy has lost Trilby’s foot or body, Svengali has captured her soul or oral cavity.  That’s about the only way I can make sense of foot and cavity.

     Now, in real terms the Jews had been emancipated beginning in 1789 by the French Revolution although occuring at different localities in Europe at different times.  With the emanicipation a contest began for the soil and soul of Europe.  Europeans owned the soil but the Jews while originating nothing became the cultural virtuosi of Europe.  Not only in the performing arts but in finance, science and as entrepreneurs.  The soil temporarily remained European but the culture was becoming Judaized.  It was then that Freud made his assault on European concepts of morality.  So Du Maurier has portrayed the situation poetically in a magnificent manner.

     Thus the Jews while offering no Beethovens, Bachs or Mozarts became virtuoso interpreters of the music as performers.  As Svengali says:  Piff, what is the composition compared to my ability to render it.  There you have the exploiter’s motto.  The Allen Kleins and Albert Grossmans of the world suck the talent, as it were, out of their performers or, boys, as they call them, as agents taking nearly everything leaving the actual talent a pittance.

      Nothing changes, this is what Svengali was doing with Trilby or, in another word, Europe.  He was making a fortune while Trilby in her hypnotized state was wasting away.  Oh, Svengali dressed her well but for the sake of his appearance not hers.  When she died, of the fortune  that she had made for Svengali none was left to her.  Except for presents she had received in appreaciation of her singing she had nothing.  They were supposed to be man and wife but, in fact, Svengali never married her.  Here I think we have the real import of the story; the competition for Europe between the Jew and the European.  Having given up the soul of Europe Europeans were losing their very substanc, the soil, or Trilby’s foot.

     Du Maurier is also describing the rise of the artist from a despised menial to the central position in society that they have attained today, especially movie, TV and musical stars.  One only has to look at the position Bob Dylan has attained to see the result today.  Here is a man with no qualities revered as if he was the savior while poised to begin a tour of stadiums at 67.50 a head that will sell out earning him a fortune within a couple months.  Thus as with Svengali he has conquered the soul and wealth of virtually the world.  This is truly astonishing.

     So Svengali is on top of the world.  Despised as a beteljew in the atelier a short five years ago he now has Trilby/Europe and the fortune that goes with her.  Alas, he is sucking the life’s blood from her to do this and she is within weeks of death when the Three Musketeers hearing of La Svengali’s fame travel back to Paris to see her perform.

     Of course they are so astonished at seeing someone who looks like Trilby singing that they can’t believe it is indeed her.  Svengali harbors ill will toward Billy because Billy is always in her heart while her relationship with Svengali is strictly professional.

     The Musketeers and the Svengalis are staying at the same hotel where Svengali meeting Billy can’t resist spitting in his face.  Billy, who is actually known in the story as Little Billee is much smaller than the six foot Svengali but he nevertheless goes after him getting the worst of the fight until Taffy, a giant body builder type, shows up grabbing Svengali’s ‘huge Hebrew nose’  between his first two fingers leading him around by the nose.  Oh, those unintended consequences.  The humiliation is too much for Svengali, he becomes vicious toward Trilby in revenge.  Readying for their London debut he bullies Trilby in front of Gecko, now his first violinist, who stabs Svengali in the neck with a small knife.

     Svengali while wounded is not hurt that bad but his physicians advise him not to conduct the opening performance.  This creates a problem because Svengali must make eye contact to sing through Trilby.

     He takes a box directly in front of Trilby.  But he spots Billy and the other two musketeers in the pit in front of him.  The malice and venom he has toward Billy makes his heart fail.  His face freezes into a risus sardonicus as he sits lifelessly leering at the Three Musketeers, triumphant in death.  Of course Trilby can’t sing a note on her own so that ends a fine career.  Now begins the denouement.  While seemingly superfluous this is a very important part of the story giving it its secondary meaning.

     The Musketeers take Trilby in charge.  No one is aware she had been hypnotized while she has no memory of performing and little of the lost five years.  The situation between she and Mrs. Bagot, Billy’s mother, are now reversed.  Trilby is the great lady while Mrs. Bagot is merely a middle class hausfrau.  One might say Svengali has created the real Trilby.  Mrs. Bagot still hadn’t posed in the altogether however.  Where was Hugh Heffner when you needed him.

     On the surface it looks as though Mrs. Bagot has gotten her comeuppance but as Trilby is the creation of Svengali she would have remained the simple little grisette that Billy loved without him.  She would have remained the foot without realizing the potential of her oral cavity.  Nevertheless this Trilby was Trilby as she should have been.

     The woman was fading fast.  Svengali had drawn the vital energy from her in his exploitation of her.  Mysteriously, just before she dies, a life sized portrait of Svengali is delivered.  The contest between he and Billy is still in effect.  Gazing in the painted eyes of the hypnotist Trilby breaks into song as a final effort in her best manner.

     Billy is grasping desperately for Trilby’s love.  On her death bed he leans close to hear her breath out- Svengali, Svengali, Svengali.  Thus he believes she loved Svengali more than he.  His brain fever is reactivated, he dies.  In grand operatic style the love story ends.  All because Mrs. Bagot was a snob.  But, I think a correct one.  Although, what the heck, Billy was just a boho painter.

     As an anti-climax in a final chapter titled Twenty Year After as tribute to Dumas whose sequel to The Three Musketeers was title Twenty Years After, Taffy takes a trip to Paris where he finds Gecko playing fiddle in a music hall.  He sends a note that Gecko accepts requesting a meeting at his hotel.  There Gecko resolves the mystery filling Taffy in on Trilby’s missing five years.  He reveals that Trilby had always loved Little Billee and never Svengali.

     The reading public then and now has concentrated on the Svengali-Trilby hypnotism aspect of the novel ignoring the rest.  That aspect is actually a very small part of the novel but without it I suppose the story woud have fallen flat.  Even today a manager like Colonel Tom Parker is thought of as a Svengali to Elvis Presley, so the name has come into common usage for someone’s inexplicable control of someone else.

     Edgar Rice Burroughs who had a fascination with hypnotism was probably charmed by that aspect of the story.  In his most detailed reference to hypnotism in Thuvia, Maid Of Mars he seems most influenced by stage hypnotism in which the audience is induced to see what is not there rather than the Svengali type.  Still, Thuvia-Trilby and the relationship between Jav and Thuvia and Thuvia and Tario has some resonances.  I dout that ERB would have been conscious of his borrowing  imagining rather that he was creating the story from whole cloth.

End of Part Two, Go to Part Three the Review of The Martian.