Robert Graves

catalog

Well-known member
I've been thinking he should have his own thread for a while, cos of all the things he was mixed up in:

  • He's another one of those who creates or births the 60s, in terms of his "conversion" via magic mushrooms. And the link with Robert Gordon Wasson. A bit like, say, Alduos Huxley, in that sense.
  • But he's also, again like Huxley I suppose, firmly got one foot in the pre-60s with all his work on myths and the classics
  • His connection with the soft machine and Robert wyatt
  • His complicated love life
  • Lived abroad in the sun, like idlerich and shakahislip.
So he's sort of the end of something, and the beginning of something, through sex and drugs.

He is a bit fusty but a bit freewheeling, conservative and liberal, liminal etc etc

But the main thing that made me start the thread is that I went to one of those Viktor Wynd lectures a few months ago now, by a guy called Andy Letcher, and he was talking about the cultural history of magic mushrooms and said Graves sort of "broke" them. And he had this image of him which i thought was very haunting

2320.jpg


This is not quite the same lecture, but it's basically the same


Might be of interest to some.

And the main essay by Graves, about mushrooms, that he references are:


I DNF the white goddess and have not read this essay, but I'm enjoying 'I Claudius' a lot so will put a few bits in here about it from now on, and everyone else can add some brilliance.
 

WashYourHands

Cat Malogen
No idea about the mushroom links, personal bridgeheads are The White Goddess, I Claudius and bits on Greek myths

The White Goddess has an inaccurate, outdated chronology but its main thrust is still convincing - language as occulted symbolism representing the Anglo-Saxon invasion’s magical front, the British seeking to enchant and encode their aims and methods against an invading enemy rapidly gaining territory

It builds on your tree shagger thread too due to the nature of tree symbolism - Cad Goddeu or The Battle of the Trees


Is a deeper, more occulted agency at work representing the White Goddess of fertility, as Graves claims? That’s a reach but the rest is still startling. The Art of Memory by F Yates is worth reading prior to dipping into TWG first as it delves tangentially into bardic memory schemes. A foundational intro but the field of archaeo-linguistics, carbon dating and language studies in general have evolved considerably since
 

catalog

Well-known member
i did read the first 50 or so pages of TWG but then my mate who lent it me wanted it back.

The things that i remember from it are the long intro/foreword where he is banging on about the poet's duty and marking it out as a vocation.

And yes, as you say re treeshagging, the bits where he's on about all the different tree conferences and how they all mean different stuff.
 

WashYourHands

Cat Malogen
It’s a code which still hasn’t been exactly cracked, so to see someone with a fair degree of hubris go at it with such gusto, I mean he has to caveat it as a quest. Noble, highest set of intentions etc

Try The Art of Memory. It avoids the less ivory towered faff of Graves, so if you subsequently return to TWG certain mnemonic significances will resonate with more attuned detail
 

catalog

Well-known member
well that's the thing with him that's intriguing isn't it, he was Oxford Professor of Poetry but he's on the shrooms.

And apparently was a family friend of the guy from soft Machine and had Robert Wyatt round his place in Majorca

 

catalog

Well-known member
I sort of know what you mean, but they are actually pretty different people and I think graves criticised blake a bit. What I mean is that graves is very well to do, classically educated, and that shines through. Whereas blake is such a one off, doing his own thing.

Bbut maybe if you explain a bit more?

I read the poets paradise essay i linked to above over the weekend and it's very interesting.

His description of being on mushrooms is good, he closed his eyes a lot, which is not something I would typically do.

There's also quite a bit of discussion as to thd meaning and origin of "paradise" which is a nice sync with what woops was saying in spendys thread.

In ancient times, "Paradise" was strictly reserved for an illuminated aristocracy, until the Church at last threw open the gates to all converts, however brutish or feeble minded, who would accept baptism

I didn't think it at the time I read it, but as I copy this out now, it makes me think that our correlate for Church now could be conceivably "Tech" and baptism is a coding boot camp.

St John's Apocalyptic Paradise is borrowed from chapters of the pre-Christian Book of Enoch, which are themselves based on the "Eden" chapters of Ezekiel and Genesis; and these, again, on the Babylonian Paradise described in the Gilgamesh Epic and elsewhere. The Persians knew a similar Paradise; and their name for it; paradaeza, yields the Syrian-Greek word paradeisos and the Hebrew pardess. Those middle-Eastern Paradises, so far back as the Sumerian, are reported as being delightful mountain-top gardens watered by a four-headed crystal river, their fruit trees laden with flashing jewels
 

woops

is not like other people
I sort of know what you mean, but they are actually pretty different people and I think graves criticised blake a bit. What I mean is that graves is very well to do, classically educated, and that shines through. Whereas blake is such a one off, doing his own thing.

Bbut maybe if you explain a bit more?

I read the poets paradise essay i linked to above over the weekend and it's very interesting.

His description of being on mushrooms is good, he closed his eyes a lot, which is not something I would typically do.

There's also quite a bit of discussion as to thd meaning and origin of "paradise" which is a nice sync with what woops was saying in spendys thread.



I didn't think it at the time I read it, but as I copy this out now, it makes me think that our correlate for Church now could be conceivably "Tech" and baptism is a coding boot camp.
What say you @padraig (u.s.) do you feel yourself being inducted into a patrician secret society?
 

woops

is not like other people
He was ruined by the war

He formed a cult-like ménage à quatre also involving the interesting-sounding poet Laura Riding which culminated in multiple suicide attempts

He later married Beryl and went on to betray her for an increasingly inappropriate string of "muses"

The mushroom stuff was only lightly discussed

The biographer probably found it embarrassing and obviously preferred his own personal recollections of Graves and how much Graves liked him. There must be a better bio
 

catalog

Well-known member
From this morning's reading of 'I Claudius'

"Do you believe that the souls of criminals are eternally tormented?"
"I have always been taught to believe that they are."
"But the Imoortal Gods are free from any fear of punishment, however many crimes they commit?"
"Well, Jove deposed his father and killed one of his grandsons and incestuously married his sister and... yes, I agree..."

Step change from the Roman religions and I suppose something like Hinduism to the Semitic religions where you have an infallible God.
 

WashYourHands

Cat Malogen
plus the rise of imperial cults (Augustus/Octavius) as republic morphed towards empire

you could view Livia’s actions as seeming to justify (to her) some form of higher moral ground where she becomes a goddess, hence the ruthlessness of Caligula tormenting her as she lies aged with failing health
 

catalog

Well-known member
the other bit i folded over this morning was about Livia's views on the republic and all her endless murdering being basically cos she didn't want a republic

You refuse to see that one can no more reintroduce republican government at this stage than one can reimpose primitive feelings of chastity on modern wives and husbands. It's like trying to turn the shadow back on the sundial: it can't be done.

i mean, trump and bozza, what are they if not decadent emperors?
 

WashYourHands

Cat Malogen
I can’t recall the source, maybe Miranda Green, that women from elite families yielded more power and influence under imperial dynasties than republican equivalents

If Livia intuited or saw that coming, her nature would do the necessary rest
 
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