This is a guest post by Paul Peterson, who has given me permission to republish his letters here. He is responding to an article by Dana Larsen which I brought to his attention, on the cartoon character, Popeye the Sailor Man.
There is no way Popeye was not a metaphorical advocate of marijuana usage. I mean, really, all the green stuff goes through the pipe-he gets supermanish, he finds always the “proper intent” he only uses his powers for good, and only after he has given a number of chances for the bad guy (a beer guzzler no less) and he is always chilled out otherwise. No road-rager there, nope, un-uh, nada.
He always cleans up his messes, and you never see him smoking real nicotine products, do you? In 2001, in fact, I tried home grown green, undried, as a “tea” infusion. I was immediately stricken with the realization that “blanched” green tastes remarkably like steamed spinach-then it struck me just what Popeye was into.
You see, in pre-hippy societies in North America, the repression was almost as bad as it is today in some conservative bent circles. Writers and animators and film makers had to hide their messages embedded in the media.
Two good examples? Sergei Eisenstein (sorry if I butchered the spelling) was a Stalin era film-maker in the Soviet Union. He got the project to do a film about the Russian Revolution-the name: “Battleship Potempkin”. He was also quite gay, which was forbodden in that era and place. So he would insert these scenes in the film of soldiers polishing long, phallic symbols-like shiny missiles, long guns, artillery stuff-you get the message.
Another example comes to us from that “Bible” book. There, certain authors would do a narrative-but with say 4 or five levels of meaning. The auspicious “historical” narrative, the logical, rational analysis of reality, then a “pesher” level, with social commentary & beneath that, a true statement (you have to dig for it) as to what cannabis had to do with the happenings. Remember, of course, that the Catholic Church, by the time they got possession of the visual “metaphors”, strung Jesus up on a cross for every church. Then they dashed all around the coast-line, pillaging and murdering every “priest” and accolate in every competing religious practice-especially the ones that used “mysteries”.
So the only evidence of the “mysteries” in the Bible, at least, is that evidence that was occluded and sent just outside the radar zone of the Council of Nicea (325 AD) and other councils of conservatism.
And by the way, right after I had my first experience with “Spinach” someone told me they had read a book about that Popeye writer-and yes, he was a strong advocate of this stuff.
That, boys and girls, is just the point. Each and every one of us watched those visual metaphors for hours each week. Which is maybe why we have the strong visual affinity to pipes and such, being so well indoctrinated to the supporting visual metaphorology. And that is the story for today.