Turn Off Your Mind, Relax, And This Book Still Sucks: Studies in Crap Meets John Lennon in Heaven
Each Thursday, your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from basements, thrift stores, estate sales and flea markets. I do this for one reason: Knowledge is power.
John Lennon in Heaven: Crossing the Borderlines of Being
Publisher: Pan Publishing, Oregon
Discovered at: Thrift store
The Cover Promises: Pink-clouded adventures in heaven with the guy who sang "Imagine there's no heaven."
- "'I thought when I died, I would finally get some rest from fans - but shit no! I didn't become "free" until I could find me way out of those bloody clouds.'" (page 36)
- "'Take this and bear it honorably,' says the man in white, presenting John with an exquisite, gleaming sword which materializes out of the Light.'" (page 214)
Author Linda Keen claims to gad barefoot through the dandelions with dead John Lennon. He's her afterlife BFF, her "personal spirit guide," and he can't stop telling her how she's very much like him, death and genius notwithstanding.
They'll talk on and on about how tragedies on earth are no big thing since our souls learn from them, and then he'll look at her with a Beatley twinkle and say "Well, dearie, you and I have a hell of a lot in common."
Or: "I haven't had a conversation like this since Huey Newton."
Together, they amble through meadows and past Mystic Oceans, having adventures, dishing the secrets of creation and Beatledom. John complains that Yoko keeps throwing memorials for him, boasts about his past lives in Arthurian times, and then, after some 200 pages of tedious bullshit, passes bravely through an underground chamber in which their own corpses lay decaying in coffins.
There John Lennon meets an ancient man in white named Pendragon -- as in "King Arthur" Pendragon.
Pendragon is so impressed by John and Linda's moxie that he bestows upon the peace-loving Beatle an invisible sword made of light and I guess also advances him to level 8 and the Goblet of Fire.
The publishers tagged this edition of John Lennon in Heaven "Novel/Metaphysics," and the back cover copy cannily makes no claims to truthfulness: "You'll be so deeply engrossed with the world you see through John Lennon's eyes, you'll forget to ask the obvious question: 'Is this real?'"
There's no such ambiguity between the covers or on later editions. For Across the Universe With John Lennon, a more sensibly titled 1999 reprint, the word "novel" is stripped away entirely, and the back cover now exclaims "John Lennon lives! And not just in metaphor!"
Both editions make much of what must be least committed blurb in book jacket history:
"It doesn't matter whether you consider this book to be fact or fantasy - those of us who love John Lennon will enjoy the story with the knowledge it was written with love." -- Louise Harrison, Beatle Sister
Anyway, it turns out that Arcadia - the non-paradisaical Irish countryside of a heaven in which Lennon loiters - is something of a giant school in which billions of souls from across the universe learn how to make the most of their next "Expression," or life. Since classroom size remains an issue even in the after the grave, the souls are grouped into "themes" and subdivisions, where they receive individual "theme evaluations."
A noted proponent of hierarchical structures, Lennon explains further: "There's about 500,000 in my Blue Ray theme, and 5,000 in my subdivision. My Green Wave topic has about 600, and my subdivision has seven."
Yes, the afterlife has breakout sessions.
In other news:
- John says "A soul has to fit into a particular system that relates to its own awareness and perception. Otherwise it would be like trying' to mix rock n' roll with dixieland jazz." See? Even he skips "Honey Pie."
- The homosexuality of Beatles manager Brian Epstein bothers even this enlightened Lennon. After Epstein skitters by without deigning to notice Keen, Lennon observes "You shouldn't take his inadequacies personally. He has a lot to work out with women-- but it's something he won't solve until he's in another body. Who can say? He might need to be a chick next time around."
- John becomes a black American woman whose life he lived in the early twentieth century. He says, "Lord Almighty! Ain't this a homecomin'!" and "You shore could sing 'em good yourself, honey."
- Also, Lennon-the-black-woman died in childbirth . . . and, I bet you can't guess what super-bestest writer friend's spirit he was giving birth to! Here's a hint: she's the most sparkling conversationalist since Huey Newton!
Eventually, Keen is granted the rare opportunity to meet beneath a "Learning Tree" with John Lennon's afterlife support group. It's worth a roll call.
- Mashoe, a talking lion
- Chief Oneye-Ooh
- Donna Dee, a Gold-Rush era prostitute who greets John and company with "How are y'all? Ah thought ah might be late!"
- Tubber, the Irish Innkeeper, whose dialogue I can't bring myself to excerpt
- Shehe, a silvery being from Andromeda who recites poetry in "the language of panpipes."
Their leader is a Greek philosopher named Archimedros. He returns papers they have written and insists on "a dash around the lake" before he leads their discussion of "the coming Eighth Cycle of Bloom." Then, in a sort of she said/Shehe said, Keen and the Andromedan hash over the meaning of gender in outer space.
Anyway, let's review.
Things John Lennon Believes In According to "God," by John Lennon:
- John Lennon
- Yoko Ono
Things John Lennon Believes In According to John Lennon in Heaven, by Exploitative Dingbat Linda Keen:
- That the Corn Goddess influences how "the yellow cast of the sun affects a human being's solar plexus."
- That "AIDS is a cosmic message - a way of teachin' people in a tough new way about their limitations and how ta find new forms of lovin' each other."
- That John and Yoko were, in a previous life, Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
- That he was also Mozart. (For fun, he becomes Mozart in the afterlife and conducts "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," which was Paul's song.)
- That it's funny to exclaim, "Hot diggedy dog! I'll be a monkey's psychotherapist!"
- That it's no coincidence that the last names Keen and Lennon "are both derived from the Irish."
- That Keen was his father in a past life in Atlantis.
In other news, the three best Beatles CDs are Revolver, A Hard Day's Night, and Past Masters Volume II. There is no sense in arguing otherwise.
[The Crap Archivist lives in Kansas City, where he originates his on-line Studies for the Voice's sister paper, The Pitch.]
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.
- Read J. Hoberman’s 1983 Cover Story on Chantal Akerman’s 'Jeanne Dielman'
Sat., Oct. 10, 7:00pm
Sat., Oct. 10, 8:00pm
Sun., Oct. 11, 12:00am
Sun., Oct. 11, 12:00am
- Uncut: A Look at the Wacky, Wrinkly World of Foreskin Restoration
- A New Video Game Lets You Experience Life as Pizza Rat