Some Velvet Morning – My Personal Exploration

May 31, 2020

Some velvet mornin’ when I’m straight
I’m gonna open up your gate
And maybe tell you ’bout Phaedra
And how she gave me life
And how she made it end
Some velvet mornin’ when I’m straight

Flowers growing on a hill, dragonflies and daffodils
Learn from us very much, look at us but do not touch
Phaedra is my name

Some velvet mornin’ when I’m straight
I’m gonna open up your gate
And maybe tell you ’bout Phaedra
And how she gave me life
And how she made it end
Some velvet mornin’ when I’m straight

Flowers are the things we know, secrets are the things we grow
Learn from us very much, look at us but do not touch
Phaedra is my name

Lee Some velvet mornin’… 

Recently while listening to Rich Terfry on CBC FM on a dark, rainy, Covid afternoon, he shared a story about the song “Some Velvet Morning” sung by Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra. I was familiar with Nancy from the sixties when like many mid-twenty year olds I had a crush on her after watching the music video “These Boots Were Made for Walking” 

However I had not heard of Lee or Some Velvet Morning. Rich wove a fascinating story about how Frank had asked Lee to resurrect Nancy’s failing music career and the result was a collaboration that began with Boots and lasted for about three years before Lee moved to Sweden. One rumour suggested that Frank did not like how close Lee and Nancy had become and put a contract out on Lee resulting in his hasty move.

I was entranced by the story and also by the beauty of the song. (At one time British music journalists elected it the most beautiful duet ever.) I could not get enough of it. I found it on YouTube and began to listen to it repeatedly, followed by some of the other beautiful duets they sang together. 

Then I wanted to find out more. Who was Phaedra? What did these lyrics mean? Research suggested that no satisfactory meaning for the song had ever been found. Some claimed it was about drugs but Lee dismissed that saying he did not do drugs. Others wondered if it was about Lee’s close relationship with Nancy but in reality it remains a mystery.

I was curious, the song had a dreamlike quality and featured Phaedra who seemed integral to the lyrics. Just who was Phaedra? She was a minor Greek Goddess, wife of Theseus who had fallen in love with her half brother Hippolytus who had rejected her and so the spurned Phaedra told her husband she had been raped by him. Theseus, appears to have cursed him, and different legends refer to various unpleasant outcomes for Hippolytus.

Based upon my understanding of Jungian psychology, if Lee did not know why he had chosen Phaedra as the focus of this song then his unconscious had chosen it for him. He must have known the story of Phaedra so how could this story be relevant to him and Nancy. 

I also knew that my compulsion around this song and its story was related to my unconscious and likely represented a projection of some kind. Eminent Jungian Analyst and author James Hollis describes projection as “a mechanism whereby the psychological contents leave us and enter the world seeking an object – a person, an institution, a role – upon which to fasten.”

Mine had chosen this song and its story – why? I was sharing this adventure with a friend who is also a therapist and when she asked me, “what is the projection”. I heard myself say, “unrequited love”. Up until that moment I had not seen the connection but knew immediately it was significant. A major theme of my past twenty years has been unrequited and unrealized love. For some reason it had been projected on Lee and Nancy.

Then a story emerged that seemed to make total sense combining myth, the lyrics and rumours to find my sense of meaning in this song. Suppose Nancy fell in love with Lee, not uncommon when two people are so closely intertwined. Perhaps her father Frank found out and was not amused. Hollywood royalty would not condone a relationship with the “help”- the son of an oil worker and his precious daughter. 

However every Father knows that you cannot tell your daughter who to fall in love with or to prohibit the liaison, invariably they will do the opposite. So maybe Dad went to Lee and told him the score, “You are not to reciprocate my daughter’s feelings and you are also never to tell her I have interfered. In fact I think it better that you leave town.”

Then one day this song emerged whereby Lee’s unconscious created a song of his unrequited love – explaining something he could never express possibly in fear of his life. So perhaps Nancy is the Phaedra who “gave him life” but also “made it end”; he was never allowed to touch only to look. Perhaps this solution simply satisfies my own projection but on the other hand it also seems an elegant resolution to the mystery of Phaedra in the lyrics and “secrets we will never know”.

PayPal – A Corporation Without Soul?

May 23, 2020

A Case Study in Corporate Hypocrisy over Covid-19

On March 25th I had a lovely e-mail from Dan Schulman, President of PayPal assuring me that: “as we all continue to navigate through these unique and evolving challenges, we want you to know that PayPal is here for you.”

I felt relieved as I had a PayPal nightmare on my hands. I had engaged in three interactions over the PayPal message system to try and resolve a problem directly related to Covid-19 and had actually received no empathy, sympathy or support to handle the problem so his words felt particularly reassuring.

Since September 2018 I had been organizing a conference in Italy scheduled for April 2020. I had collected most of the payments on PayPal for which I had willingly paid them a fee of about 5%. Now I had to refund the money however PayPal deactivate the refund button after 180 days and most of my deposits had been before that date. I had been told in no uncertain terms that they could not simplify my life by activation of the refund button, nor would they refund any of the fees. In fact they suggested that my only recourse was to refund the money as though I was sending it to friends and actually pay them an additional fee.

So imagine how relieved I was to get Mr. Schulman’s nice message that “he was there for me.” I found his company email address and forwarded a note to let him know that his organization was not living up to his promise. I wasn’t rude but perhaps a little pointed. 

“After four fruitless attempts to get help about a specific problem that Covid 19 has caused, to receive these platitudes was to say the least distressing and completely undermined the essence of your communication. YOU CERTAINLY HAVE CERTAINLY NOT BEEN THERE FOR ME!”

I went on to explain my plight and sat back waiting confidently for an understanding response. After a month I had received no reply at all – nada, nothing, not a peep. So I wrote again wondering if my missive may have got lost and I would appreciate a reply.

This time success! In only a couple of days I saw an impressive looking e-mail in my inbox from “Joshua with PayPal’s Office of Executive Escalations“. This was more like it, I had got their attention and surely they would now live up to Mr. Schulman’s promise to me and all his customers.

Unfortunately not! As I read Joshua’s long eight-paragraph reply I realized all he had actually done was repeat what I had told him then confirmed that they were prepared to do absolutely nothing to help me. I wondered if I had misread and sent him a query, “Dear Joshua, thank you for your reply (I think). Could you please clarify that you spent eight paragraphs telling me that PayPal are absolutely unwilling to provide any support to me as a result of the losses I will incur from Covid-19 or did I miss something?” Not surprisingly no response

How does a corporation justify this hypocritical behaviour? I guess I’ll never know. They had about sixty thousand dollars of my money for approaching two years and I am sure they made a profit on it. In addition the share price has increased 25% about $40 a share since the Covid-19 crisis started so Mr. Schulman’s executive compensation is likely benefitted enormously and I suspect their corporate coffers are bulging. 

Yet they will do nothing to make life easier for the poor sap who has lost money due to the virus but is now is forced to contribute even more to their corporate coffers. 

Shame on you Mr. Schulman for your pretence at helping through this crisis while really representing the epitome of corporate greed and avarice. I think your company’s response is a disgrace and so are you. Of course I am powerless in our relationship, however I hope to extricate myself from your claws as soon as this is over. 

NB I am pleased to say there is at least one company I know of – AirBnb who have placed the needs of their customers ahead of their own corporate financial gain. Kudos to them for truly caring and helping in a time of need.

It looks like Shakespeare, It sounds like Shakespeare yet it NOT Shakespeare

May 8, 2020

Not a Quote

It looks like Shakespeare, It sounds like Shakespeare yet it NOT Shakespeare

This exploration began ten years ago when I encountered a quote in a book by an eminent Jungian analyst that resonated with me, “No prisons are no confining than those of your own mind”. He identified the play as Twelfth Night but it was not until some time later that I had reason to question his citation.

I decided to use the quote in a blog I was writing but as dislike using secondary sources I decided to source the reference on line. To my surprise the only allusion I could find was to the Jungian analyst and his book. There was absolutely no indication of Shakespeare ever writing such a quote.

I was puzzled. Was it possible that such an excellent quote from Shakespeare had never been added to the world wide web?  Somewhat resigned to what seemed an ordeal I committed to reading the play. I have a reliable reference book The Complete Signet Classic Shakespeare and when I reached the scene where Malvolio is confined to jail I became optimistic but there was nothing even close. So I repeated the process and again nothing.

Was I so unobservant that I had missed it on both occasions? I was bemused but decided that it was from an alternative play. I was not sufficiently intrigued to read through all of his 41 plays so let it go. However it was only when I met the great man himself at a seminar he was giving in Vancouver that I was motivated to pursue the matter once more.

It was four years later. I know that because I approached him during a break to get a book signed that was a gift for my 69th birthday. As he kindly inscribed his good wishes I mentioned I had been trying to find the quote. He interrupted me, “You didn’t find it did you?” Then confessed he too had failed.

He was still convinced that it was a true Shakespearean quote so I embarked on a personal crusade to track it down. Initially I could find nothing that was not a direct quote from him but maintaining my zeal like an old fashioned prophet I soldiered on. I encountered something similar in Anthony and Cleopatra “Make not your thoughts your prisons” which indeed was close and that Franklyn Roosevelt once said something almost identical – “Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds.” I reported back suggesting that he may indeed be the original author of this precise quotation but he was convinced not. I surrendered and let it go.

Another six years passed and while reading his latest book, that I came across a similar quotation.. It was slightly revised “no prisons are more confining than those we know not we are in” and this time was not attributed to a specific Shakespeare play.I decided to write and ask if he ever been able to find the original source of the quote and he replied to say he thought it was the Tempest and provided a link 

When I looked it up; it was cited from The Tempest Act 5 Scene 1. “This thing of darkness I acknowledge mine. There is nothing more confining than the prison we don’t know we are in” Not quite as eloquent as the one in the book but close enough. Satisfied I breathed a sigh of relief that I had resolution to a question that has troubled me for ten years. I did feel a tinge of concern that I had come across none of these citations only six years ago yet now there were 203 entries substantiating the quote as being from the Tempest. So I thought I should at least check the reference.

Back to my trusty Signet Classic Shakespeare and looked up the Tempest. What I found astonished me. Act 5 scene 1 contains Prospero’s summation at the end of the play. He is talking about Caliban and says, “This thing of darkness I acknowledge mine”. Period. There is no line about prisons. In fact in the context of Caliban, a monster in the play, the lines would make no sense.

So where does this quote originate? It is now listed on a number of quotation sites as being from the Tempest – azquotes, quotemaster, pinterest, citatis to name but four. Google identifies 203 entries affirming this as a genuine Shakespeare quotation. none of which existed only six years ago!

So how does a false quote achieve so much traction? It even has the act and verse of a real play together with a real quote added to increase its legitimacy. Is this deliberate or is it a technological screw up that can occur when many people quote and requote a statement. How does anyone determine fact from fiction anymore? Don’t these sites that claim to offer quotes verify their sources?

I feel perhaps wiser and more sceptical; I need to be more discerning and cautious about attributing truth to any claim that crosses my path. I was going to conclude by a quote by Aldous Huxley “The victim of mind-manipulation does not know that he is a victim. To him, the walls of his prison are invisible, and he believes himself to be free.” However further research indicates that it too is a hoax. What a bizarro world we live in!