SEVEN

Concerning rabbits, we can and should take the yin with the yang. Alice follows the white rabbit into Wonderland; Donnie follows Frank, the dark rabbit, “into the future” [1] Rabbits symbolise travel, transitions, crossing over a threshold; life into to death, darkness to light. Robert Anton Wilson intermittently and semi-sincerely claimed to have communicated with Pookah, a 6-foot tall white rabbit with celtic connections, who also accompanied Jimmy jolly Stewart invisibly through ‘Harvey’. Frank is also six feet tall. In Watership Down, the Black Rabbit of Inlé guides the sun-worshipping bunnies into the great beyond, “following the river of death downstream” in the words of the song of the film of the book. The video for I Will Follow You Into the Dark by Death Cab for Cutie tells the tale of two rabbits torn apart by time and fate. ‘Death Cab for Cutie’ is the song performed by The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band in the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour film. This is followed by the closing Beatles number, ‘Your Mother Should Know’, the only obviously rehearsed scene in the film, in which a claimed ‘Paul is Dead’ clue appears in the form of black rose in McCartney’s white lapel. The closing credits roll, displaying the supporting cast in reverse order of appearance (more or less). “Let’s all get up and dance to song that was a hit before your mother was born”, sings Paul. We’re moving through time.

John Lennon’s Lewis Carrol fixation, which appears to have reached its zenith circa 1967, ties the white rabbit motif thematically to death in Beatles esoterica. The centrepiece drum skin, seen through the looking glass — ‘as above, so below’ — to be pointing straight to ‘Faul’ has a resemblance to Carroll’s personal ephgrave [2] that has escaped hardly anyone. The colour and complexity of the Sgt Pepper cover distracts from the simplicity of the scene itself: a graveside gathering of the great and ungood, called to bear witness to a resurrection of sorts. Spiffingly fluorescent, transcendent of their former selves (who stand colourlessly waxworked to their right) the Beatles gather behind the gravestone-drum to whose beat Sergeant Pepper’s Band, we suppose, living and/or dead, are ready to march; blooming ‘Paul is Dead’ clues — the bass guitar in yellow flowers that seems to spell out ‘Paul?’ being only the least obscure.

Death herself takes centre stage for in the album’s climax, A Day in the Life, where a crowd of tabloid-led voyeurs gather to gawp at the blown-out brains of some lucky lord or other — but who then, moving backwards through time to another end, turn their backs on the victors of a war that has only just been won. “But I”, sings Lennon at his most sincere, “just had to look”. While it’s “the news” that first draws the crowd and “a film” that keeps them there, it’s only “having read the book” that lets Lennon transcend the tabloid concerns and see a deeper meaning in the devastation. The gnostic-esoteric implications should, by now, be readily apparent.

Why were Frank and Harvey and Pookah all six feet tall? Let me take you down, six feet underground. Where are we going to? Strawberry Fields, Wonderland, Tartarus — these invisible landscapes, these underground lands where no thing is real, where the dead are not dead and the light hides in the darkness…and what, after all, could ever be under the ground? How can the atom be split?

“It was twenty years ago today that Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play”… According to dead-Paul-lore, the ‘Sergeant’ is ‘the Beast’ — Aleister Crowley, the pop o’cculturalist who appears on the album cover at least once, and who died — that’s right — in 1947, twenty years before the album’s release — though not to the day (precision is relative) and in which case, let’s celebrate this year as the third in another trilogy (45–47) with echoes of 66–68 as a time of paradigm explosion, marking the end of the Second World War, the start of the ‘cold’ war and the beginning of the atomic age. Out of many, one. In the United Kingdom, 1947 is also the foundational year of conspiracist touchstone the Tavistock Institute, whose supposed involvement in the transfiguration of the Beatles is a rabbit hole all of its own, leading us even further up the dubious path of evangelical Christian conspiracism, indeed a peculiarly American phenomenon: and yes over in the new world, 1947 marks history’s most famous flying saucer crash and the unfolding of a conspiracist nexus with wider implications than any one agenda could ever encapsulate. [3]

47 mirrors 74, a year we have passed through before and is the year of John Lennon’s own UFO encounter, a celebrity curiosity mined for all its worth by Uri Geller, sometime channel of the Nine, (who for Uri were, “a form of conscious computer, living aboard a spacecraft called Spectra”) [4] which reminds us of Philip K Dick’s Vast Active Living Intelligence System (VALIS) in the novel of the that name, wherein “real time” begins again, yes, in 1974. Certain years have a special resonance whose meaning we are only beginning to unravel. John Lennon’s otherworldly 1974 experience left him in possession of a small golden egg, says Geller. “When I touched it I felt a deep sadness — I don’t know why — it was like a loneliness.” This resonant solitude of the alien encounter seems always to accompany the prophet who emerges from it, and is passed on in anxiety and love to his apostles, of Lennon, of Christ, of Carroll, of Rael, whomever, et cetera. The ‘Easter Egg’ refers in contemporary parlance to the hidden gem, the nugget of truth, the part that explains the whole — or that leads us deeper down the hole, and into the dark. But Easter is also the celebration of life transformed; of resurrection, enlightenment. Life out of death, light out of darkness. (Rabbits out of eggs?) And after the resurrection, what then? “He was taken up, and a cloud hid him from their sight”. [5]

Now what?

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