From saki@evolution.bchs.uh.edu Tue Jan 16 21:34:53 CST 1996
Re: SAKI - Why the vendetta against the "Paul is Dead" hoax??<br>

Re: SAKI - Why the vendetta against the "Paul is Dead" hoax??

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In article <4de2fm$lbs@lyra.csx.cam.ac.uk> rnw1001@cus.cam.ac.uk (R.N. Weinstein) writes:

>I've noticed, Saki, that you seem to have a particular distaste for any
>suggestion that the 'Paul is Dead' hoax is a recognisable Beatles
>phenomenon. You seem to be there at every turn, deconstructing (this
>seems to be the word of the 90's) and rationalising away any suggestion
>that something funny was going on.

Well, it *was* a phenomenon, and something funny *was* occurring...but the Fabs themselves seem to have been as surprised as anyone that it happened!

>I'm not saying I don't want answers. I'm saying that *answers aren't the
>point.*

Interestingly, this is the theory that explains the tenacity of true believers. :-) And it explains a little something about the nature of faith, as well.

>No amount of debunking NOW, in 1996, is going to take away from
>the fact that as a 13 year old in 1969 I was awed and fascinated and
>fixated by these rumors; that in all the subsequent years I enjoyed
>remembering these rumors and pointing them out to anyone who had the
>remotest interest. It is part of Beatles lore.

It is, and your note tells me---warns me, in fact---that perchance I've been less patient than I ought with people asking about it. If that's so, I apologize. There's no excuse for disrespect. A question, sincerely and forthrightly asked, is worthy of attention.

It had also not occurred to me that something like the hoax might hold some mystical, emotional fascination for Beatles fans, quite beyond the question of whether it's true or not, or with whom it originated.

You've opened my eyes.

>Well hell, maybe this gets a little too deep for some 'Paul is dead"
>rumors, huh? We don't exactly need to raise The Beatles to the level of
>religion ... do we? :-)

Out of the whole Paul Is Dead hoax, I think this is central to it: that we *do* need some vital, mythical point of connection with the Fabs. We wouldn't be here in this newsgroup if it weren't true. Even those who come merely to troll or prevaricate eventually are inspired (or disgusted!) with our zeal.

The hoax needn't be the conduit for everyone. I'll confess, I have my own tether, and like you I'd be cut to the quick if someone ever told me I hadn't a right to it. In fact, it hurts me to know that indirectly I'm Harrison's anathema, sort of, but I can't help it. Okay, so I know Beatlemania is long gone (sort of). I *know* they think we were mad but I also know that this "madness", however its scientifically measured, was part of my experience, and it's precious to me.

But it's me. It's a "truth" that has a certain existence for me, one of those guilty pleasures that makes me suppress a scream whenever I see the final rapid-fire sequence in "A Hard Day's Night". Somehow, I think, my Beatles experience would be lessened if I couldn't have that.

Sure I know it's not "adult". It's not even real for everyone else. Some of us may prefer a different Beatles symbol: their experiments with drugs; their societal insouciance. Some may love the anti-hero folklore of Goldman or his ilk, writers whose deepest desire is to kill idealism with alluring but unsupportable diatribe.

While it's surely everyone's right to hold dear the theories that make them happy, I'm not sure it's anyone's obligation to remain silent when faced with such a multiplicity of theories. I know to some the answer may not be important. But may I point out, most gently, that this *is* a worldwide discussion group. And while affirmative action may work well in the workplace, in the world of Beatles scholarship, there can't be a cacophony of truths. :-)

Much worse, in a certain sense, these peripheral facets can detract from whatever it is (as if we could all *agree* on whatever it is :-) that the Beatles were really about.

You're not far off, Mr. Weinstein, to compare the hoax and its passel of clues to a religion. It bears a resemblance to that---the certain indicators of truth (never mind that they're only externally and not exclusively supportable! :-) and the fond mystery of its genesis.

For those who have the emotional connection to it that you do, it's nice not to debunk it. In its own way, the hoax provides the vital connection between you and the Beatles. Secret messages make its decipherment analogous to a musical game of philosophy. You find the clues, and you're stunned, perhaps, at the cleverness of the Beatles who *could* have intended such a translation...or is it the fans who have become clever in perceiving such intricacy?

Which dreamed it? Whose art do we view?

Imagine the beauty of it! Each fan who finds and shares a clue has woven a web with a fellow Beatlemaniac. Maybe this web is more tenacious (and certainly more cerebral) than the threads of raw emotion that knit together fans of only a limited spectrum of time, when the mania was newborn.

Mythmaking is a powerful practice. Sooner or later it matters very little whether a legend was based on reality or illusion; the latter can often captivate more profoundly. And like biblical scholars who bedevil true believers, PID debunkers only spoil the mythic glow.

I admit that the glow---wherever you get it---is eminently attractive. But it occurs to me that if we rely on that glow to give substance to our understanding of the Fabs, we *are* doing the Beatles a disservice.

They're not about the initial madness watched cynically by Fleet Street (at least not *only* that); they're not about drugs (alone) or clever hoaxes (whether or not you believe they were a part of them).

The Beatles are about their music. Everything progresses from the music.

And considering the energy and love the Beatles put into their music, I worry (perhaps more than I ought!) that peripheral fascinations may prevent us from focusing on the message they *meant* to give us. If---as you admit---there's a 99.9% chance the Fabs had *nothing* to do with the PID hoax, then embracing the hoax is likely to distract us from the real truth of their tale.

This isn't to say that *you've* lost track of the core of their art. But newcomers---witness the thousands of young and old alike turned on by "The Anthology"---may come to the fold enraptured by the Beatles' creative game plan...and it's not the Beatles at all.

After thousands of years, perhaps it won't matter who or what the Beatles are or were. Whatever humankind loves, at that stage of history, I hope they still understand the basic passions the Fabs communicated to us through their music.

The Beatles thought in music's language, intuitively. They grew as artists under its influence. You want real passion? Clues to life? Hidden messages and aural pleasures?

It's all in the songs. The music carries all the coding we'd ever need.

You don't need to play it backwards, sideways, hold mirrors up to it, or filter it through nonexistent Norse legends. It's not morse, it's not foreign. It's the same rhythm as your heart.

The real mystery, I feel, is how they knew what was in our hearts, when for some of us it takes half a lifetime to find it ourselves.

--
"They have brought a distinctive and exhilarating flavour into a genre of music that was in danger of ceasing to be music at all."

** saki@evolution.bchs.uh.edu * saki@seltaeb.ghgcorp.com **



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