Wednesday, July 20, 2011

John Lennon & The Rise of the Inner Directed

Work in Progress - This post is a work in progrees. Please Pardon the Dust. Reader input is most welcome on this subject.

"The idea that men are created free and equal is both true and misleading: men are created different; they lose their social freedom and their individual autonomy in seeking to become like each other."  -David Riesman

Fred Seaman, John Lennon's Personal Assistant from 1979 to 1980 recently made waves when he claimed that Lennon was a closet Ronald Reagan supporter.  It should be noted that Mr. Seaman pled (sorry grammer hounds but I refuse to use "pleaded") guilty in 1983 for pilfering photographs and other items from the the rock stars estate after his death. While anything he says needs to be treated sceptically, there may be some truth to it. Here are the quotes from the article that kicked off the controversy:

Closet Conservative

Lennon was a closet Republican: Assistant


"John, basically, made it very clear that if he were an American he would vote for Reagan because he was really sour on (Democrat) Jimmy Carter."

"He'd met Reagan back, I think, in the 70s at some sporting event... Reagan was the guy who had ordered the National Guard, I believe, to go after the young (peace) demonstrators in Berkeley, so I think that John maybe forgot about that... He did express support for Reagan, which shocked me."

"I also saw John embark in some really brutal arguments with my uncle, who's an old-time communist... He enjoyed really provoking my uncle... Maybe he was being provocative... but it was pretty obvious to me he had moved away from his earlier radicalism."



"He was a very different person back in 1979 and 80 than he'd been when he wrote Imagine. By 1979 he looked back on that guy and was embarrassed by that guy's naivete."

i am he as you are he as you are me

John Lennon's 1980 Playbow Interview

"LENNON: There was something wrong with me, I thought, because I seemed to see things other people didn't see. I thought I was crazy or an egomaniac for claiming to see things other people didn't see. As a child, I would say, "But this is going on!" and everybody would look at me as if I was crazy. I always was so psychic or intuitive or poetic or whatever you want to call it, that I was always seeing things in a hallucinatory way. It was scary as a child, because there was nobody to relate to. Neither my auntie nor my friends nor anybody could ever see what I did. It was very, very scary and the only contact I had was reading about an Oscar Wilde or a Dylan Thomas or a Vincent van Gogh -- all those books that my auntie had that talked about their suffering because of their visions. Because of what they saw, they were tortured by society for trying to express what they were. I saw loneliness.


"PLAYBOY: Were you able to find others to share your visions with?

"LENNON: Only dead people in books. Lewis Carroll, certain paintings. Surrealism had a great effect on me, because then I realized that my imagery and my mind wasn't insanity; that if it was insane, I belong in an exclusive club that sees the world in those terms. Surrealism to me is reality. Psychic vision to me is reality. Even as a child. When I looked at myself in the mirror or when I was 12, 13, I used to literally trance out into alpha. I didn't know what it was called then. I found out years later there is a name for those conditions. But I would find myself seeing hallucinatory images of my face changing and becoming cosmic and complete. It caused me to always be a rebel. This thing gave me a chip on the shoulder; but, on the other hand, I wanted to be loved and accepted. Part of me would like to be accepted by all facets of society and not be this loudmouthed lunatic musician. But I cannot be what I am not. Because of my attitude, all the other boys' parents, including Paul's father, would say, "Keep away from him." The parents instinctively recognized what I was, which was a troublemaker, meaning I did not conform and I would influence their kids, which I did. "


The Inner Directed

Here is a good article that contrasts Inner Directed personalities against Outer Directed personalities:


Modern Times - James Hammond

Other-directed The idea of “inner-directed, other-directed,” which was first set forth by the sociologist David Riesman in 1950, resembles the idea of the “revolt of the masses,” and makes our picture of modern society more complete. Riesman argues that, in our time, people are “other-directed,” that is, they take their cues from the people around them. In an earlier time, people often had an ideal, a hero-image in their own mind, and they would take their cues from this ideal; they were “inner-directed.” The inner-directed person has an “internalized set of goals,” goals that are often instilled by books. The inner-directed person often keeps a diary in which he records whether his behavior lives up to his ideals.

The other-directed person is molded by the peer group, and is “sensitized to the expectations and preferences of others.”17 An other-directed person is chiefly concerned with people — not with God, not with lofty ideals, not with great men from previous centuries. Education, which once consisted of Reading, Writing and Arithmetic, is now concerned with how the child gets along with other children, and how the child listens to social cues. As education has changed, so too work has changed; the economy is now a “personality market.” While the inner-directed person was concerned with self-improvement and character-building, the other-directed person is concerned with relating to others. As Riesman put it,

Instead of referring himself to the great men of the past and matching himself against his stars, the other-directed person moves in the midst of a veritable Milky Way of almost but not quite indistinguishable contemporaries.... To shine alone seems hopeless, and also dangerous.18


Radical Ron

I would like to have a crusade today, and I would like to lead that crusade with your help. And it would be one to take Government off the backs of the great people of this country, and turn you loose again to do those things that I know you can do so well, because you did them and made this country great.  -Ronald Reagan, The Second Presidential Debate on October 28, 1980


Most people do not realize it but the "Inner Directed" personality type, which certainly fit Lennon were drawn to Reagan's message of individual self fulfillment. Here is Episode 12 of the remarkable BBC documentary, The Century of the Self , which explains this phenomenon:




 Appendix


Here is a great documentary on John Lennon's life:

No comments: