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Mystic-State Allusions in The Beatles' Lyrics
LSD allusion in Beatles lyrics
Beatles' doll dismemberment album art conveys Dionysian experience
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>The Beatles Anthology, volume 6, DVD #3 gets into LSD use.
It would be valuable if you could summarize this. I'd love confirmation that the song Help! was written just after Lennon's first few LSD sessions and is firmly about LSD experiencing and is the first Beatles song about LSD. Everyone thinks they know this isn't so, but they ought to simply read the lyrics and note the timing of the songwriting compared to the timing of the first LSD sessions.
What would be truly implausible is that the song *isn't* about LSD, despite being written just after the first LSD sessions and despite lyrical constructions that strongly match typical LSD experiences. Most people are totally gullible and buy Lennon's diversionary story that the song only describes Lennon's mundane plea for ordinary help from overuse of non-entheogenic psychoactives such as speed pills.
If you believe that, then you're ready to believe that 8 Miles High isn't intended to allude to LSD, and that Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds isn't meant to characterize LSD phenomena and the title doesn't mean to allude to LSD, but is completely explained by Julian's explanation of his gradeschool artwork and so we can all stop worrying that the Beatles advocate LSD use. It's as ludicrous as the poetic lyricist for Rush declaring that there are no hidden meanings; it's all just surface meaning and innocent poetry.
People are 100% gullible, especially when they want to be. Why do people *want* to believe that meditation is more effective than entheogens, even in believing this means discarding all the evidence, which points squarely to the opposite conclusion?
Why do people *want* to believe that the song "Help!" is about addiction and disparaging psychoactives, when the timing and content of the song clearly and consistently indicate that the song is a respectful report on the tremendous religious experience of ego death through LSD?
If people insist of blinding themselves to the highly plausible and most-likely truth which is flashing brightly in their face, it's not even worth trying to persuade them; it's easier to put forth the proposal clearly, for those who are willing to give it fair consideration, rather than committing to obstinately digging in against the idea no matter what, even if sanity and reason must be sacrificed.
The Beatles' packaged product was often upbeat to such an extent that the beats were annoyed; the beats had more a posture of bleakness. Most likely it was like manic depression, like I feel after blasting away at the keyboard all day, leaving me stressed out, strung out, overstimulated and beaten down in an intellectual boxing match -- even if I consider the intellectual output highly valuable.
We have too much of a New Age self-help expectation of what engaging with life is like. Realizing your potential and grappling with the messy world to contribute something often looks more like the collapsed athlete than the upbeat motivational speaker Anthony Robbins.
There are two competing historical accounts of when Lennon first used LSD, which was from Michael Hollingshead in the form of sugar frosting in coffee at Hollingshead's house. If I recall, the accounts say late 1964 or early 1965.
>"Bleak," in the sense of John Lennon's brilliant, innocence being abused, by the vicious world and his struggle with his self-imposed burden and eventual assassination. at the hand of the manifestation of hypersuggestible psychosis---in his confrontation with the insanity inherent in society. The double edged sword of entheogenic use is pretty clear in this regard, in John and then the scary reality of Mark David Chapman and his ilk of acid monstrosities. Thus the expression "Pay through the nose," I looked in "Acid Dreams" to see what they had to say about Lennon's acid usage in tems of dating, his first use. It says he and George were "slipped" acid in a beverage, at a dinner at a friends house, in "early 1965" and tells of his initial freak out.
I estimate that to write the LSD-oriented song "Help!", Lennon must have had around 3-7 LSD sessions prior to writing the song. Not just 1 session, nor 1000 sessions. This sort of exclamation and discovery of the need for rescue generally doesn't happen at the very beginning of a series of loose-cognition sessions, nor does it wait very long.
A single LSD session has a quick ramp up to the peak, followed by a long decline -- so does the mind discover the wonders of the altered state over the course of many sessions. The most amazing discovery is not in the first or second session, nor the 1000th, but more like the number of planets. For the most interesting acid-inspired album by a Classic/Heavy Rock group, look for their second album in which they evidence some knowledge of LSD -- not their first LSD album, nor their 7th LSD album.
Bob Prostovich wrote:
>I have an ancient interview with John Lennon on a reel to reel tape. In the long ago radio interview, John Lennon said that the song "Help" was written after a recording session while on LSD.
That confirmation is highly valuable, and enables me to move from theoretically 99% certain that Help! is an LSD song and Beatles' first LSD song, to 100% certain.
>He said that he was terrifed in front of the microphone. Presumably, he was having a very intense psychedelic experience. Maybe, even a *bad* trip.
>He also said in the interview that he must have taken a thousand "trips".
By what time?
>It is dubious to think that Lennon had taken a thousand trips.
>The interviewer mentioned that the song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" was obviously about LSD. Then he pointed out the words Lucy, Sky, Diamonds. Lennon remarked coyly that he had never thought of that connection.
And if you believe that pretense of innocence, you'll believe the most fantastic things imaginable, anything at all.
>In his later years Lennon wrote a song called "Mind Games". It is apparent that anything that Lennon said should be taken with a grain of salt.
>"Acid Dreams" quotes Lennon as saying he had taken LSD more than a thousand times, and " I got a message on acid that you should destroy your ego," he later explained, "and I did, you know. I was reading that stupid book of Leary's (Psychedelic Book of the Dead) and all that shit. We were going through a whole game that everyone went through and I destroyed myself... I destroyed my ego and I didn't believe I could do anything."
Ken Wilber and cohorts (Roger Walsh? -- article about the ever-presence of ego structures, in Journal of Transpersonal Psychology) have effectively clarified that transcending the egoic mental structures really means modifying them, creating a mental structure that subsumes and revised them. The successfully transcendent mind doesn't destroy the egoic structures; it destroys the serious belief in their reality, while retaining the structures as a useful, practical convention.
The 1960s rediscovery of entheogens was a sloppy initial phase, to be expected as part of collective learning -- the theory of ego death had not yet developed enough to rise to the required level of sophistication and precision; this is why I totally am against sloppy and (often willfully) careless conceptual language.
Transcendence is in proportion to the mind's precision of language; successful transcendence of ego cannot happen if the mind doesn't develop critical precision of linguistic expression and conceptual refinement. It's not difficult; it only requires a little more commitment to precision of expression than was used in the flippant, linguistically devil-may-care 1960s.
>"Lennon's obsession with losing his ego
That common expression is a criminally sloppy use of language. It's an ok shorthand for those who have done the work of being more precise, but it is certainly not, by itself, helpful at all; it's entirely misleading, without a reasonable, moderate amount of careful qualification. The enlightened mind loses its ego delusion, its firmness of buying into the ego illusion as a literal reality.
>typified a certain segment of the acid subculture in the mid- and late 1960's. Those who got heavily into tripping often subscribed to a mythology of ego death that Leary was fond of preaching.
I have to fight against Leary here to reclaim and redeem ego death theory; the author should say "that version of ego death which was expressed carelessly such as by Leary", or "ego death as described by Leary".
>The LSD doctor spoke of a chemical doorway through which one could leave the "fake prop-television-set America" and enter the equivalent of the Garden of Eden,
We shouldn't idealize transcendent knowledge as simple Edenic bliss.
>a realm of unprogrammed beginnings where there was no distinction between matter and spirit."
I don't play up the benefits of transcendent knowledge or loose cognition (the mystic altered state) or metaprogramming as providing a way to be not programmed; if anything, I talk about a specific switch from one specific program to a higher specific program: from the egoic mental operating system to the transcendent mental operating system.
The author seems to jump from deprogramming and rebirth to the philosophy of ontological idealism (that the only thing that exists is mental constructs, not their referents).
Certainly the mind can enter an experiential space in which mental constructs loom large and the referents disappear behind the screen like a virtual image projected out there by what now looks more like a dangling pointer. Mental constructs then look like a signpost pointing to something, while the referent pointed to goes missing from perception.
It's a fact -- a common observational phenomenon and datum to be explained -- that LSD is a chemical trigger for this experience of metaperception. I wouldn't equate the experience of metaperception with simple Edenic bliss, a connection which the author is highlighting in Leary's characterization of ego death.
-- Acid Dreams, p. 183
Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, the Sixties, and Beyond
Martin Lee, Bruce Shlain
Due to prohibition, with tangible heavy persecution of drug users and drug-using popular artists in the 1960s, we cannot automatically believe any public statements about artistic and poetic meaning that are made by John Lennon or other Rock artists, producers, DJs, or photographers. This artistic community has always been forced to draw a strong line between what they can allude to via artistic reference, and what they state publically for the record.
John Lennon was crucified for such statements publically on record, and was forced to put forth outright lies in his public statements, letting the artistic poetry instead do the talking. Therefore everyone has been forced to read between the lines and be fully attuned to the art itself and generally dismiss any public statements about it. Before you read the public statements, read the art itself. What does the art say?
To one who knows the premodern mythic metaphorical language, a cover picture with baby doll parts and meat and blood, with musicians who had been using visionary substances heavily for a couple years, indicates Dionysian initiation and world-religion mystic-state experiential dismemberment: loose cognition, sacrifice of one's child-self to gain a more stable and enduring mental worldmodel.
There are many religious myths about dismemberment including that of a child. Death means first mystic death, and birth means first mystic rebirth, and dismemberment means loose cognition. Child sacrifice means ego death, where the mind is brought to repudiate freewill thinking. Here are some public statements about the album cover. Don't believe the statements of the Dionysian tripper-photographer or the tripper-musicians; believe and read their art instead, and see how interested they are in religious matters and the religious mode of thought.
http://www.snopes.com/music/info/butcher1.htm -- excerpts:
the Beatles, ... leers on their faces, dressed in butchers' smocks adorned with slabs of raw red meat, glass eyeballs, false teeth, and nude, cigarette-burnt decapitated dolls.
What ... was the point behind the photograph? ... the Beatles were fed up with taking market-friendly publicity pictures. John Lennon, in an interview shortly before his death in 1980, echoed this sentiment: "It was inspired by our boredom and resentment at having to do another photo session and another Beatles thing. We were sick to death of it." Whitaker had intended the session, of which the butcher photo was only one part, to be his personal comment on the mass adulation of the group and the illusory nature of stardom. As he later said, "I had toured quite a lot of the world with them by then, and I was continually amused by the public adulation of four people . . . " To that end, what he had planned was a triptych of pictures, something resembling a religious icon, to make the point that the Beatles were just as real and human as everyone else. The "butcher" photos, along with the other pictures from that session, are included in Whitaker's books of Beatles photographs, The Unseen Beatles. There the photographs taken, and the reasons behind them, are explained as follows:
The first picture shows the Beatles, facing a woman who has her back to the camera, and hanging on to a string of sausages. This picture was supposed to represent the 'birth' of the Beatles, with the sausages serving as an umbilical cord. Whitaker explained: "My own thought was how the hell do you show that they've been born out of a woman the same as anybody else? An umbilical cord was one way of doing it."
The photograph that would have been used for the other side of the triptych is one of George Harrison standing behind a seated John Lennon, hammer in hand, pounding nails into John's head. Whitaker explained that this picture was intended to demonstrate that the Beatles were not an illusion, not something to be worshipped, but people as real and substantial as a piece of wood.
The center of the triptych (and the only pose taken in color) was to to have been the infamous butcher photo, showing the Beatles surrounded by slabs of red meat and dismembered dolls. This picture was actually titled A Somnambulant Adventure, and its intent was to present a contrast, something shocking and completely out of line with the Beatles' public image. As Whitaker revealed, the picture used on the Yesterday and Today cover was a rough, unfinished version: "If you could imagine, the background of that picture should've all been gold. Around the heads would have gone silver halos, jeweled. The finished picture would have offered a striking contrast between the Beatles' angelic image and the reality of the photograph."
A fourth picture, apparently not planned as part of the triptych (Whitaker isn't clear about this, mentioning only three pictures in his interview), can also be found in The Unseen Beatles. It features John framing Ringo's head with a cardboard box, on one of the flaps of which is written "2,000,000." Whitaker again: "I wanted to illustrate that, in a way, there was nothing more amazing about Ringo than anyone else on this earth. In this life he was just one of two million members of the human race. The idolization of fans reminded me of the story of the worship of the golden calf."
>>Whitaker ... "I had toured quite a lot of the world with them by then,"
Likely translation: "I had tripped through the cosmos with them a lot by then, experiencing loose cognition and dismemberment, and talking about religious art photography ideas with them."
>>what he had planned was a triptych of pictures ... a religious icon ...
>>The first picture shows the Beatles, facing a woman who has her back to the camera, and hanging on to a string of sausages. ... to represent the 'birth' of the Beatles, with the sausages serving as an umbilical cord. .... show that they've been born out of a woman
>>The center of the triptych (and the only pose taken in color) was ... the ... butcher photo, showing the Beatles surrounded by slabs of red meat and dismembered dolls. This picture was actually titled A Somnambulant Adventure ... the picture used on the Yesterday and Today cover was a rough, unfinished version: "... imagine, the background of that picture should've all been gold. Around the heads would have gone silver halos, jeweled. The finished picture would have offered a striking contrast between the Beatles' angelic image and the reality of the photograph."
>>The photograph ... for the other side of the triptych is ... of George Harrison standing behind a seated John Lennon, hammer in hand, pounding nails into John's head.
This recognition of the Dionysian nature of the album cover was inspired by suddenly remembering, for no discernable reason, Jay's mention of dolls a couple weeks ago in discussing the Beatles. As in the song "Little Dolls" by Bob Daisley of the Ozzy Osbourne Band, and in Rush's song "Twilight Zone", and Rush's album cover showing the slack king marionette, 'doll' means the experience of helplessness in the light of determinism or the experience of timeless no-free-will.
The original Yesterday and Today cover shoot took place on 25 March 1966.
I assume that the beginning of Lennon's heavy use of LSD started in late 1964, before the song Help!, per one of the proposed Beatles chronologies. That's 1 1/3 years of tripping experience before the doll photo session. With their Hollingshead connection and stardom, the Beatles had an ongoing supply of high-potency LSD (then legal) ready-to-hand.
>>I was interested in your hypothesis on your website regarding the Beatle's song "Help." The threads seemed to end in 1999. Has there been anything new since then?
I updated the webpage.
>>I was 11 1/2 years old at the time I saw the movie "Help." Ed Sullivan had given the Beatles his stamp of approval as fine young lads and I didn't connect them or the movie with drug use. The song [Help!] was a little different from what they had done previously, but not too drastic, still energetic, but now with a touch of anxiety.
>>Rock and Roll's stars and bands had a very short life span in those days. Most singers or groups had one big hit that made them famous for three or four months. Then they would have a much less successful similar sounding minor hit and then disappear. So it was expected of successful rock acts that they were novelties and would disappear after about a year at most of shelf life. A few singers like Elvis and Sam Cook had managed to stick around for eight or nine years, but even their popularity had drastically waned after the first four years.
>>By 1965 the Beatles had been wildly successful for three years. Nobody really believed that they would last that long. About a month after each successful song, they were regularly pronounced dead. So in this sense the Beatles were dying continuously in the popular imagination and suddenly being reborn every few months since 1962.
>>The Beatles were like a Vegas gambler who bets and wins doubling their money and bets five, six, seven, then twelve, thirteen, fourteen times in row. Everyone knew it could not go on forever. Everyone expected their last win would be their last win.
>>In the meantime all sorts of conmen and hucksters were surrounding the Beatles looking for a piece of the action and promoting all sorts of deals. Lots of power struggles going on at all levels, lots of advice on which way to go to stay at the top.
>>Most of the rock acts made very little money, cheated by promoters, and went broke after a few years. Remember Buddy Holly had to do his fatal Winter Tour because he didn't have any money even after a dozen hit records in 18 months. Sonny and Cher after half a dozen hit records went broke three years after hitting it big, betting it all on a movie starring Cher.
>>I remember at that time, one night, coming home from Hebrew School, Hillcrest Jewish Center in Flushing Queens N.Y. I saw the new Beatles Album, in a corner store. I think it was called "Yesterday and Today" it contained chopped heads of what I thought were babies. I thought it was disgusting. I heard on the radio that they were pulling the album off the shelf because of complaints. I was glad. I thought the Beatles were finally over. That's what everyone was saying.
>>Charles Manson thought the Beatles were the 'four angels,' and how his actions followed metaphoric interpretation from the scriptures. You might consider adding to your website an interview with Charles Manson for supplemental interpretation of religious myth.
That is probably a good idea. Charles Manson is fairly important, somewhat like Altamont with the Angels taking care of crowd control.
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