Only A Hobo / The Big Rock Candy
Edgar Rice Burroughs On The Road To Salvation
R. E. Prindle
Continued from Part 1 in ERBzine 1330
The Affair Jack Johnson I
When Irish eyes are smiling
Sure, it's like a morn in spring,
In the lilt of Irish laughter
You can hear the angels sing:
When Irish hearts are happy
All the world seems bright and gay,
And when Irish eyes are smiling,
Sure, they'll steal your heart away.
~ Chauncey Olcott
And when they're not . . .?Get comfy friends, this is going to be a bumpy startling ride.
In the first volume of the trilogy, The Mucker, ERB sets the scene for his remarkable psychological resolution. The idea of what he was doing apparently only occurred to him at the end of that story at which point he introduces the notion of Byrne being a boxer.
In The Mucker, having the need to be of service to his oppressor, Burroughs sets out to demonstrate that the Irish Mucker, John the Bully, had reasons for his behavior.
He, in the person of the Irish protagonist Billy Byrne, is accused of murder in Chicago. John the Bully had actually murdered ERB's Anima and possibly his Animus. Byrne flees to San Francisco where he meets tougher men than he who shanghai him. He ends up on Barbara Harding's yacht. Comes the squall, yacht sinks, survivors reach jungle island, Byrne and Harding become separated from the others, come upon a primitive people in the jungle. So far we are dealing with Burroughs' inner realities but then, amazingly, amongst this nondescript savage tribe are members of an abandoned group of medieval Japanese Samurai. Pretty startling, even if you expect Burroughs to be startling.
The attentive reader asks how did the surprise originate? Why Japanese Samurai? As usual Burroughs is paying close attention to contemporary affairs but in giving "a definite impression of fictionalizing" to it or in writing in another key we tend to dismiss this strange interjection as mere phluph.
Let's look for some possible sources for Burroughs' surprising detail.
Beginning in the sixteenth century White Europeans began the infiltration or invasion of Asia. First came the Spanish and the Portuguese. The Chinese referred to these invaders as South Sea Barbarians because they came up from the South Seas.
The Iberians brought Catholic missionaries with them who began naturally to proselytize. Invading South Honshu of the Japanese Empire they made great inroads in the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Ever heard of these places before? They bid fair to convert all Japan to this strange religion unless they were stopped. The Japanese tried extreme measures of discrimination against the alien faith such as torture and murder. These measures failing they closed Japan off from the world.
Whereas Japan previously had been an oceanic trading nation all ocean-going vessels were destroyed. No Japanese could leave, no missionary could enter.
This policy endured for two hundred years as the French, English and Americans invaded the rest of Asia annexing tremendous land masses including parts of China. The Japanese were content in their seclusion but the Euro-Americans looked upon Japan as a great commercial opportunity for their wares going to waste. Then as now Euro-Americans were deficient in their psychology.
"Those people must open their doors to the world," we said. Matthew Perry (Burroughs has a character named Abner Perry in the Pellucidar series who becomes an admiral) was sent with a couple hundred cannon to tell the Japanese what we thought they must do. A couple hundred cannon against those without them is a pretty convincing argument; as our own Mafiosi would say, an offer they can't refuse. Japan opened its doors to the world.
Enter the law of unintended consequences.
The West had negated the Japanese Animus, Ego or Will. In other words the little yellow men suffered a feeling of castration. Now, these were the very kind of men Americans profess to admire -- men of high spirit. Before closing off the country wild Japanese sailors had been the terror of the Orient. In South East Asia they were not allowed ashore with weapons. Feisty! To use a word of which Americans approve. T.R. was to give them a "Bully" when they made a surprise attack on the Russians. Americans withdrew the "bully" when the same tactic was used on December 7, 1941 at a place called Pearl Harbor.
Now, the Japanese tactic for foiling the European invasion in the 1600s hadn't worked. The Europeans hadn't gone away. What was left? The East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere for the expulsion of Euro-Americans from all of Asia. They needed a little time to effect that desideratum.
For the present Japan realized that they had to modernize along European scientific lines to succeed. They chose Germany as their model for modernization. They had already seen the Spanish, Portuguese, English, French and Americans not wanting to have anything to do with them. Interestingly they refused to lick the boot of the oppressor. One wonders what their response would have been had they already seen the Germans.
Within a generation the Japanese had reorganized their system along European political and scientific lines. They became involved in world affairs in the most aggressive manner. They took their guns to town. They needed to release the cathartic energy of the fixation given them by Perry and the United States.
Enter seventeen-year-old Edgar Rice Burroughs.
During the Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago Young Burroughs spent the summer at the Chicago World's Fair driving a demonstration electric auto for his father's American Battery Company.
Driving any kind of horseless carriage in 1893 was cutting edge without a doubt. Mind-blowing in itself, the Exposition was something else going far beyond electric cars.
Jack Olmstead, the landscape architect for the Fair, had created an Arcadian paradise known as the Wooded Island in the center of the Fair. He had insisted that it be but a pleasure garden with no exhibits. He had repulsed several spirited attempts to annex a location on it with success. Nevertheless the Japanese successfully invaded the sacred soil of his precinct. He had to cede them the North East corner of his island where they created a little Japan. Symbolic, hey? Japan a series of islands, little Japan on an island in the United States not too dissimilar in form from Honshu.
The Fair made a tremendous impression on Young Burroughs; echoes reverberate throughout the corpus. As he drove his electric car up and down the Plaisance or Midway his approach to the Wooded Island in a moment of leisure would have been the bridge at the South end of the island or the Northwest bridge. From either location he would have traversed dense foliage to suddenly burst upon this exotic authentic Japanese village right in the middle of Chicago. Put yourself in his place.
Walk the same mile in his shoes; imagine your surprise in 1893 when few people had traveled in the East, when large numbers had never even heard of Japan. Do you think your jaw might have dropped? Breathless, breathless, that's what I would have been. This wasn't any cheap Disney imitation.
Now, flip ahead to Byrne and Harding as they come out of the jungle to burst upon this scene of Samurai warriors. Nice job of fictionalizing, huh?
But, leaving the conquest of the Wooded Island behind them the Japanese next invaded China in 1895. A slightly larger job, they were no less successful than in Chicago. They collected a bundle of boodle in reparations; they learned something from those crafty Irish politicians in the Windy City.
Well, when you're on a roll, don't stop. Successful in Chicago and China the Japanese began the invasion of California sending paramilitary troops by the thousands. California wasn't Chicago; the Californians had already defeated the Chinese invasion getting the Chinese Exclusion Act passed in 1882. They now wanted a Japanese or even Asian Exclusion Act. Bully TR who was on the East Coast far away wouldn't hear of it.
While he pondered a solution Jacob Schiff, a Jewish financier of New York raided the Equitable Assurance Society of a couple hundred million to finance the Russo-Japanese war of 1905. Don't think he wasn't feted as a hero in Japan after that one.
Then in 1908 TR reached a "Gentlemen's Agreement" with the Japanese Emperor to limit the invasion of California to "doctors and lawyers" rather than mere paramilitary privates. That was a good deal but the Emperor still howled discrimination.
To assuage their hurt feelings the Japanese annexed Korea in 1910, turning their fury on them. Thirty-five years of Japanification. No wonder the Californians got so hostile. They didn't want any of that stuff. The Koreans should have passed a Japanese Exclusion Act too.
Then the Japanese turned to fortifying the islands in preparation for the attack on the United States. No? Even as he concluded the Gentlemen's Agreement, TR muttered to his cronies that we would be at war with the Japanese within a generation. Everybody knew it and it was true, although it took thirty-three years which is a smidgen more than a generation.
Moving outside the story a trifle, having adopted German manners, the Japanese cagily declared war on the Germans in the Great War, demanding the German island possessions as compensation while establishing a toe hold in China by receiving Germany's rights in Shantung province. How's that? The Allies gave away what didn't belong to them? Some war to make the world safe for Democracy huh? The rest to December 7, 1941 is an easy walk across some Wooded Island.
ERB who was politically aware would have known of recent Japanese activities which he was able to combine with his memories of the 1893 Columbian Exposition to produce the startling and colorful interlude on his imaginary jungle island.
Back again in the USSA or, New York, Burroughs leads Byrne into the epic story of the first Black heavyweight champion, Jack Johnson. That bouncing ball moves pretty fast when you want to sing along with Burroughs.
Edgar Rice Burroughs was a big boxing fan. He wrote The Mucker from August to October 1913. Jack Johnson had had to flee the country on July 1 of the same year to avoid imprisonment on unjust and false charges. When Jack Johnson had won the championship in 1908 he had shocked and amazed White America. A cry went up for someone to step forward and pulverize the Negro champ. Thus arose the legend of the Great White Hope and all the defeated lesser "hopes." At the end of The Mucker Burroughs has Billy Byrne in training as the next "hope." By 1916's incredible "Out There Somewhere" ERB appears to have adopted a firm opinion on the Affair Jack Johnson. The plot of the novel follows closely the Johnson Affair with a "definite impression of fictionalizing."
The Johnson Affair was one of the most traumatic of the American Century. While the facts represent history, the true significance goes much deeper than that. Let's place the situation in its times and not ours. The evolution of American society makes the facts unintelligible to the modern person.
At the present the Doctrine of Diversity has replaced the Doctrine of the Melting Pot which prevailed at that time. The idea behind the Doctrine of the Melting Pot was that the immigrant nationalities and races would, upon setting foot on the soil of the United States, shed all their own national and racial characteristics becoming one with America and "Americans."
It was during this period of the Great White hope that faith in the Melting Pot doctrine was shattered by the great World War. After the War the Doctrine of Diversity began to take shape which gained momentum after WWII until becoming triumphant today. I consider the Doctrine of Diversity as silly as the Doctrine of the Melting Pot, but as it is the prevailing mode I will analyze the Affair Jack Johnson by its light. As the Doctrine is very crudely thought out, if thought out at all, I am going to interpret the Doctrine in the scientific light of Freud's Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego. The two primary Groups in this case are the Irish and the Blacks.
The nature of the Melting Pot, for the conception of which another group, the Jews, takes credit, was nonsense from the conception. People do not lose character traits by emigrating from their homeland; they take their homeland with them modifying the traits to fit their new environment. So it was with the Irish. They had no intention of being anything but Irish. To have become "American" would have been to succumb to the ruling Anglo influence existing in America. They had been at war with the English for centuries. The question was how to turn the New Island as they expressed it into New Ireland excising the Anglo influence.
The Scotch-Irish had already formed an important constituent of the population before the Revolutionary War. They had arrived in large numbers to occupy the hill regions of the Eastern Mountain chain. After the Revolutionary War there was a steady flow of Irish until with the Potato Famine of the 1840s they began to invade in their millions. By the time of Jack Johnson's championship they comprised the most influential group of the Diversity in the country almost on a parity with the Anglos. They had already captured the municipal governments of Boston, New York and Chicago. It was the California Irish who had forced through the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.
While the Anglos were attempting to perfect a governmental system based on scientific principles and the rule of law that would eliminate favoritism, the Irish, following their national ideal, founded on Bossism or, using the governments for their personal enrichment, established corrupt governments at odds with the Anglo population of these cities. In other words "democracy" was not an ideal of governing but a means to capture rule, much as Hitler was later to do in Germany.
The Irish, like most people, lay their own psychological problems at the feet of others, in this case the English. While it is true that the English had been trying to pacify Ireland for centuries this was not the cause of Irish truculence. They would be mad bombers and arsonists with or without conflict with the English. Whatever the cause may have been it lies much further back in the Irish psychology than the English. The problem with Ulster, for instance, antedates the English by centuries, possibly millennia. The problem will not be solved by the English leaving. The war is between the Irish southern provinces and Ulster. The legend of the cattle raid of Cooley will get you closer to the cause than reviling the English.
The Potato Famine drove the Irish out of Ireland settling them throughout the world. Crossing the Irish Sea they invaded England in huge numbers destroying the wage scale and plunging millions of English into dire poverty. Their hatred was so great that even while they accepted the open hearted welcome of England they plotted its destruction.
The Irish brought this hatred of the English to the United States, thus introducing a fighting but non-shooting war with the Anglo-Americans. In America the Irish were on a political parity with the Anglos, hence fought on a political basis. The Irish attacked Anglo-Americans with or without provocation. The incident suffered by Edgar Rice Burroughs is but one evidence of Irish truculence against Anglo-Americans.
Actually the Irish were not necessarily an English speaking people. A large number of the invaders spoke only Erse, a Celtic dialect. Of course, most did know English but there were still adjustments to make. Assimilation was no more effortless for the Irish than for any other Group of the Diversity.
Arriving at the puritan stronghold of Boston, with its strong anti-Catholic leanings, the Catholic Irish were not particularly welcome, nor should they have been; the combination of Irish and Catholic signified unwonted conflict. Help wanted signs often included the initials NINA which meant No Irish Need Apply. While the Irish called this crass discrimination the action was probably inspired by their truculent hatred of the Anglos. Nevertheless this sort of placed the Irish in the character of White Negroes. Thus apart from reasons of Darwinian natural selection this made the Irish particularly sensitive about Black Folk. The Irish became very discriminatory. These guys not only warred with the Anglos but they also fought the Jews in New York, the Blacks here, there and everywhere while being the protagonists in San Francisco for passing the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.
We all have our ways.
Stereoview of Heavyweight Champion James J. Corbett and PartyNow, it is just about this time that modern times began. Nearly all our current institutions took shape among which was the emergence of the notion of a world heavyweight boxing championship. The Irish were a scrappy lot. Of the first ten champions which is all that will concern us here, six were Irish. The last of the bareknucklers, John L. Sullivan, who took his title from Paddy Ryan, qualifies as the first modern world champion. This great Irish fighter was followed by his Irish compatriot, James J. Corbett. These men as well as the Irish that followed were trained in Boston, the hotbed of Irish boxing.
Sullivan held the title about seven years from 1885-92; Corbett from 1892-97. Bob Fitzsimmons, who sounds Irish, but was actually Welsh, intervened. Then came the Pride of the Irish, James J. Jeffries, who won the title from Fitzsimmons in 1899, retiring undefeated in 1905. An Anglo named Marvin Hart succeeded Jeffries for eight short months until he was defeated by the Canadian Tommy Burns who fought under an Irish name but was born Noah Brusso of Italian ancestry. Actually, he was the first Italian heavyweight champion. He took an assumed name so his mother, who disapproved of boxing, wouldn't know. If you can fool your mother you can fool anyone else. Even Jack Johnson who won the title from Burns thought he was Irish. Now things warm up.
The Negro Jack Johnson who had been fighting for several years wanted his shot at the championship. Now, I make no moral judgments; I only tell things as I see them. Burns felt a great deal of repugnance at fighting a Negro, even though Johnson had been in the circuit for years. He did all he could to avoid the match but Johnson ran him to ground in Sydney, Australia the day after Christmas in 1908. Johnson was allowed only one seventh of the pot, which he had to accept. Burns even insisted that his own manager serve as referee. Nevertheless Johnson easily defeated Burns to win the Championship.
In terms of Group Psychology the battle now became one of the Irish versus the Negroes. Let's make a little digression now to look at the Doctrine of Diversity in terms of Freud's notions of Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, plus his Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety.
The Doctrine of Diversity fragments the various Groups of Americans into semi-autonomous Groups. The Groups are in the State, but not of it. Rather than working for the common good of all as in the Doctrine of the Melting Pot, each group goes hell bent to get the most for themselves. They have perverted the term "democracy" to characterize their grabbing autonomy.
As in the song "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" each group wishes to be taken at its own valuation without criticism or objective analysis of the Group Psyche by others. All the positive attributes are assigned to the Group while all the negative attributes are shucked off on "America." Hence each unit or group considers itself above reproach while "America" becomes a repository for negative affects. Hence the scorn with which the Diversity speaks of "America." America becomes the scapegoat for all these Groups of "sterling" character.
In the United States with its maddening system of double standards the notion is accepted. It is held in academic circles which pushes the notion that there is no such thing as a national character; we are all the same. Same is not synonymous with equal but means in this case identical. If that were true of course, then there would not be Groups or nations or races. I think we should not only acknowledge but respect and honor those differences.
In point of fact there are groups such as the Irish and Negroes which have their own separate identities which were formed by their very different histories. Freud himself gives a very clever analysis of part of the Jewish psycho pathology given it by Moses in his "Group Psychology."
I have already discussed some origins of the Irish pathology. The Irish arrived in the United States with a distinctive Group identity which they have maintained to the present day. In many ways the US is merely a base from which to further desires in Ireland.
The Negro also brought with him a set of characteristics which survive into the present day although altered almost out of recognition by their circumstances with the US.
The Ego although tough and resilient is also a delicate mechanism. Affronts to it, what the French call amour propre, will have devastating effects in a psychologically ignorant person or group. It is a very serious mistake to hang your ego on a notion that is subject to the whims of fortune. That is a mistake the Irish made in their attitude to the Negro and their own boxing ability.
This means intellectually and physically. Thus, when the Negro Jack Johnson defeated the faux Irisher Tommy Burns for the heavyweight championship of the world, the Irish were literally struck in their gonads or manhood, being symbolically castrated.
Now, in analyzing the Ego, Freud noticed a general fear of castration, literal emasculation, which did not seem warranted by the frequency of such occurrences. Freud, who was a homosexual, hence obsessed with the act of sex, did not understand that an obsession with sex was an affect caused by affronting the Ego. He was also unaware of the physical reality of the Anima and Animus or Ego. In point of fact the sexual apparatus of men and women is the visual representation of the Ego. Thus affects generated by certain types of insult to the Ego finds expression in pathologically sexual ways. Freud did notice that the fear of castration was especially prominent among homosexuals. This should have been a primary clue to Siggy. The reason the fear is so prominent is because homosexuals have all suffered severe emasculation which leaves them without a normal male sexual identity.
Freud made the strange statement that one becomes a better person the more frequently one had sex. There seems to be no basis in reality for such a statement. As a homosexual Freud must therefore have had a castration complex. A castration complex arises from an affronted Animus. As the Animus, spinal cord and penis are one unit it follows that the affront to the Animus can only be massaged through the penis, although you will see people rubbing their heads. Hence the sexual rubbing of the penis is the same as rubbing the affronted Animus or by analogy a physical wound. Thus the homosexual obsession with intercourse demonstrates the intensity of the affront to the Animus. Perhaps the massaging of the Animus through sexual intercourse temporarily relieved Freud of the pain associated with the affront of the Animus making him feel temporarily "better."
The homosexual preference for male sexual objects indicates the source of the affront.
Homosexuality is merely an extreme reaction to the emasculation of the Ego or will. Homosexuality is merely an affect, only that and nothing more.
When in a rage one man may shout out that he would like to castrate another man. In other words, the man has had his sexual power or Animus severely challenged. He wants to get his own back by castrating the other fellow thereby rendering him impotent.
Some women are known as man-eaters meaning they want to usurp the male ego. Many men fear or hate women for the very reason that they fear women will castrate them or negate their will.
Unable to reach another man they hate by actual castration, men will attempt to achieve the same result by injuring symbols of the ego such as the automobile. They may damage his car, flatten his tires, or steal it and drive it into the ground. They may wish only to drive his car which is a usurpation of the Animus or a symbol of anal intercourse. They may attempt to seduce or even rape his wife thus showing their contempt for him in surrogate.
It is not even necessary that there be intent to negate the Animus of oneself. It is only necessary that castration be perceived. Thus, the Japanese had no choice from the proffered insult of the Americans but to feel castration. They then had a legitimate reason to correct the affront. That they strayed beyond the limits of their power, or chose the wrong approach, and suffered defeat has only exacerbated the problem. The Japanese still suffer from the affront of 1853. They suffered a second defeat when their economic assault of the second half of the twentieth century failed. What their frustration will lead to heaven only knows.
The Negro Jack Johnson could not help affronting the Animus of the Irish by defeating their champion in a fair fight. Nevertheless the Irish perceived an inevitable situation as an intentional insult. The only way for them to remove it was to accept the inevitable or defeat the Negro champion in a fair fight. They couldn't do either.
Anytime such an offence to the ego is internalized by the victim, an affect either psychological or physical results. Sex crimes are often the expression of such an internalization. The imprisonment of an innocent Jack Johnson was the equivalent of a sex crime or castration.
In this psychological sense castration is not rare but is an ever present and serious threat. Freud's patients were right.
When Jack Johnson, representing the Group Negro, defeated Tommy Burns representing the Group Irish the defeat was felt by the Group Irish as a form of castration. On the one hand they felt their manhood lessened, while on the other the Group Negro felt their manhood augmented at the expense of the Irish in particular and the Whites in general. The victory was a huge morale booster for them.
To the majority of the Negroes all Whites look alike; they can't distinguish between Irish and English. Even though many of them bear Irish slave names they blame all their woes on the English.
The Johnson - Jeffries FightThe Irish knew or learned soon after Johnson defeated their Pride, Jim Jeffries, that they had no one who could win back their manhood for them. What to do? Level the playing field or, in other words, cheat. Seemingly an effective way on the objective level; subjectively or subconsciously one knows one has cheated so the guilt remains. The Irish didn't have the psychology or the honesty to deal with the problem effectively. Affects linger on.
In terms of Group Psychology the battle now became one of the Irish versus the Negroes. Meanwhile the idea of a Negro defeating a White for the championship of the world became a cause celebre.
As Burroughs records, the search began for a Great White Hope to lay Jack Johnson down. Johnson laid a series of hopes down. In fact, he couldn't be defeated by fair means.
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