Tuesday 28 February 2023

Kryptonite of the Übermensch

From The Philosopher, Volume CXI No. 1 Spring 2023

Kryptonite of the Übermensch

The Purgatory of  Soulmates Schopenhauer and Nietzsche 

By David Comfort

When Frederick Nietzsche stumbled on a copy Arthur Schopenhauer’s The World as Will and Representation, at the tender age of twenty-one, he was electrified. “Here every line shouted renunciation, negation,” the precocious philology student at the University of Leipzig later wrote. “Here I saw a mirror in which I spied [my] own mind in frightful grandeur.” 

But then, in many ways, Nietzsche and Schopenhauer, though separated by fifty years, were brothers. Both German iconoclasts were classical scholars, anti-establishment polemicists, depressives, bachelors, misogynists, syphilitics, self-exiles, animal lovers, skilled musicians (Schopenhauer flute, Nietzsche piano) and lovers of melodramatic opera to the point of weeping.

Most importantly, both believed that two thousand years of metaphysics had to be recast by shifting focus from divinity and empty abstraction, towards authentic living human experience and motivation, no matter how lowly or perverse it might seem. Accordingly, they were among the first philosophers who thought and wrote passionately – like human beings, not logic-driven automata. Their writings went on to inspire both the Existentialists with their “Existence-before-Essence” mantra and Freud’s science of psychoanalysis with its tripartite Ego-Id-Superego distinction.

In fact, while describing egotism as the fundamental incentive in all life, Schopenhauer wrote in On the Basis of Morality
“A man prefers the entire world’s destruction sooner than his own… and is capable of slaying another, merely to smear his boots with the victim’s fat.” 
In his own case, he insisted that he had checked his own ego at the door for the good of humanity. As a young man he had tried to fast-track his career by ingratiating himself to the then ascendent star of Germany, Goethe, a member of Johanna Schopenhauer’s – his famous mother’s – literary salon. He critiqued and provided an addendum to Goethe’s highly acclaimed colour theory, informing “His Excellency,” as he addressed him, that he was adding the ‘Apex’ to the genius’s ‘Pyramid’. When Goethe responded with faint praise, the young Schopenhauer obstinately declared, “Posterity will erect a monument to me!” 

The prodigy’s next career move was to throw shade on the esteemed philosopher, Georg Hegel, who he called “Monsieur Know-Nothing,” a “charlatan,” a “swaggerer” and (most famously) “a cuttlefish that creates a cloud of obscurity around itself.” On his appointment to the University of Berlin, where Hegel was professor, Schopenhauer, scheduled his lectures at the same time and was furious when only a few students showed up. Humiliated, he left Berlin but, shortly after his departure, welcomed the news that cholera had claimed Hegel.

Hoping to discredit, if not entirely replace, Hegel’s abstruse theocentric system, Schopenhauer, after much difficulty, managed to publish his anthropocentric manifesto The World as Will and Representation (later carried into World War One in his knapsack by the young German soldier, Adolph Hitler), Though Schopenhauer was convinced the eight-hundred page treatise would revolutionise two millennia of philosophical thought, he was criticised for parroting his grad school professors, Johann Gottlieb Fichte and Friedrich Schelling. Outraged, the outlaw insisted not only that his work was completely original but that those of his predecessors nothing more than “great bloated soap bubbles,” as David Cartwright recalls in his classic biography of the philosopher. Perhaps it was comments like this that led another celebrated German megalomaniac, Ludwig Wittgenstein (whose own students called him “God”) to say many years later: “Schopenhauer has quite a crude mind ... where real depth starts, his comes to an end.”  

But then, as far as Schopenhauer was concerned, his works were pearls before swine. “Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see,” he pompously pointed out in The World as Will and Representation. The result was that soon, even his few supporters were calling him a “chained, barking dog.” Responding that he would, in fact, prefer to die if not for the companionship of dogs, Schopenhauer wandered restlessly from city to city with his beloved poodles, Atma and Atma. (Eccentrically, he called all his dogs by the same name…Atma, and nicknamed them all Butz. Atma being the Hindu word for the universal soul from which all universal souls arise.)

Fearing he might drown himself like his father, Frau Schopenhauer sent her son urgent letters, fretting about his poor health, “dark disposition” and isolation. Ignoring her meddling, and insisting that “to live alone is the fate of all great souls,” Arthur continued to travel solo – his only companions the dogs, a Buddha statue which he called his “crucifix surrogate” and a copy of the Upanishads, the Hindu scriptures that he called “the consolation of my life.” But when critics claimed his work owed much to the holy texts, he boasted that his writings were unprecedented and nothing less than the legendary Philosopher’s Stone itself: the absolute and divine truth as sought by alchemists for millennia. Even so, fearing continued rejection and obscurity, he started to think that the highest form of ascetism was voluntary starvation.

Suicide had been a hotly debated topic in the ancient world, as he well knew. Stoics such as Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius considered it an “honorable” option. Socrates had obviously agreed, preferring the hemlock to exile. Plato, however, whom Schopenhauer called “divine,” saw both sides of the matter and straddled the fence. Aristotle condemned suicide as ignoble – a cowardly act. Actually, Schopenhauer considered Kant “marvellous” until his hero seconded Aristotle, declaring that self-destruction violated one’s divinely mandated “duty to live.” But then, Schopenhauer reserved his utmost contempt for theist optimists, arguing that the perverse will-driven life “wasn’t worth living.” Nevertheless, thanks to late, hard-won recognition, he managed to soldier on.

Toward the end of his life, Schopenhauer, now regarding himself as a prophet, insisted his doctrine was inspired by the “spirit of truth and the Holy Ghost.” He had at last gained worshipful ‘apostles,’ eight by his count, with no traitorous Judas among them. Once, when they had to meet without him, he reminded them of the Gospel of Matthew (18:20): “Where two of you gather in my name, I am there with you.” Presumably, he was joking, having once declared, “A sense of humor is the only divine quality of a man.”  

Like Buddha, Schopenhauer said compassion was the source of all virtue. He defined the emotion as feeling another’s pain in one’s own body. “Extreme egoists,” he wrote in Parerga and Paralipomena, “ignore the misery that their unchecked self-interest produces, and malicious persons delight in the wretchedness of others.” Earlier in his life, he hadn’t seemed to vicariously feel the pain of his seamstress neighbour who sued him for assaulting and permanently disabling her after he flew into a rage during an argument on the shared landing of their apartment block, but instead wrote of his relief when she died and he no longer had to make court-mandated payments to her. Likewise, when one of his first critics, F.E. Beneke, committed suicide his gratification seemed to eclipse his compassion. As his biographer, David Cartwright wrote, “His ability to hold a grudge was elephantine.” 

As for his love life, the misogynist had for years satisfied his ‘animal’ urges with prostitutes, and likely contracted syphilis. By the time he reached his seventies, he suffered from rheumatism, deafness, and nervous disorders all of which combined to make handwriting almost impossible. Soon, palpitations, shortness of breath, and inflammation of the lungs took him to bed. “I have always hoped to die easily,” he wrote in his diary and so, apparently, he did.

Suffering a fear of being buried alive – a not uncommon phobia at the time – Schopenhauer had instructed that his body lay in state for days. And though the philosopher remained a vehement opponent of Christianity, in accordance with his dying wish, a Lutheran minister presided over his funeral and delivered the eulogy. 

*     * *     * * *     * *     * 

Another Lutheran minister, Carl Nietzsche, died of ‘softening of the brain’ when his precocious son, Frederick – named after King Wilhelm IV of Prussia – was five years old. Schopenhauer was laid to rest eleven years later while Frederick, planning to become a pastor like his late father, was attending boarding school in a medieval monastery.

After graduating with honors, Nietzsche changed his plans while attending University of Bonn and perusing The World as Will and Representation. Later, as a young philology student at University of Basil, he led a Schopenhauer chat group which he compared to “the first Christians.” One of them described the “master” as having “a god-like brow that appears to rise to infinity, framed by beautiful white hair under white eyebrows like those of the Olympian Zeus.” Nietzsche himself wrote admiringly of Schopenhauer’s theory of ‘Will,’ his asceticism-to-salvation doctrine, and shared his contempt for Hegel’s “cheap optimism and brain-rotting obscurity.” Later, Martin Heidegger, who wrote three books about Hegel, confessed in Contributions to Philosophy, “Making itself intelligible is suicide for philosophy.”

As with Schopenhauer, Nietzsche’s first career move was to hitch his wagon to a star: in his case, that of Richard Wagner. But, while the young philosopher was courting the favor of Germany’s lionised composer, he fell in unrequited love with Wagner’s wife and muse, Cosima, the illegitimate daughter of Franz Liszt. His falling out with the Wagners was followed by an even more devastating split from a Russian femme fatale by the name of Lou Andreas-Salome. He had hoped the brilliant young beauty would become a worshipful disciple and wife, but, fiercely independent, Salome decided that the supposedly ‘lofty’ philosopher was in fact a “mean egotist... concealing filthy intentions of a wild marriage.” As Curtis Cate reveals in his book entitled simply Friedrich Nietzsche, after she revealed her feelings, Nietzsche – who had formerly praised her as “the most gifted and reflective” of all his acquaintances – described her to a confidante as:
“…a sterile, dirty, evil-smelling she-ape with the false breasts – a calamity!”
Mortally wounded, he wrote to his sister, Elisabeth (who later gave his walking stick to Hitler): 
“I am too proud to believe that any human being could love me: that would pre-suppose he knew who I was. Equally little do I believe that I will ever love someone: that would presuppose that I found – wonder of wonders – a human being of my rank – don’t forget that… I find the founder of Christendom superficial in comparison to myself.”
On the rebound from the Salome calamity, he dashed out the first sections of Thus Spoke Zarathustra in a matter of weeks, describing the manuscript as a “bloodletting” inspired by her rejection, “turning my humiliation into gold.” Though he only printed forty copies and distributed a mere handful to associates, he called his masterpiece “the Fifth Gospel,” a replacement for “dead Christianity” and one of the two or three most important books in human history. Its critical recognition, though belated, “unleashed the floodgates of Nietzsche’s self-infatuation and megalomaniacal fantasies,” noted his biographer, Curtis Cate.

Meanwhile, having written God’s obituary in The Gay Science, Nietzsche declared that a replacement deity was necessary: the Übermensch or Superman. To escape nihilism, he argued that a new morality was also imperative. He laid this out in Zarathustra which he described as “a new holy book that challenges all existing religions.”  In a later work, Ecce Homo (a reference to Pilate’s greeting to the defendant Christ), containing such chapters as “Why I am so Wise” and “Why I am so Clever,” he claimed that his gospel was written “by God Himself” and that the authors of the Bible and the Vedas were “unworthy of unlatching my shoes.” (Ironically, Zarathustra was a second-coming of the Iranian prophet Zoroaster, an evangelist for absolute good and evil, a doctrine Nietzsche ridiculed in his follow-up title, Beyond Good and Evil.)

The ‘Madman’ hero of his early manifesto, Joyous Wisdom, carried a Diogenes lantern in the morning sunshine, and cried: “I am looking for God! Where has God gone? We have killed him - you and I!”

Despite Nietzsche’s claims, like Schopenhauer’s, of complete originality, the Almighty’s decease had been announced a few years earlier in The Philosophy of Redemption (1875) by the poet-philosopher, Philipp Mainländer, who had written: “God has died and his death was the life of the world.” Mainländer didn’t look forward to resurrection, reincarnation, Heaven, Hell, or Purgatory, but to nothingness. For him “the supreme principle of morality” was that “non-being is better than being.” For him, Schopenhauer’s Will-to-Live was the Will-to-Die, making death “salvation.” At age thirty-four, Mainländer hanged himself – using a pile of unsold copies of Redemption as a platform. Disgusted that his predecessor hadn’t found the courage of the Greek martyr, Sisyphus, Nietzsche called Mainländer a “dilettante” and a “sickeningly sentimental apostle of virginity.” 

Still, a dead God invited questions. Did Nietzsche or Mainländer mean dead to them, or objectively – to everybody? And, Who or What was dead: the Christian Trinity, the Abrahamic One-and-Only, or the idea of divinity generally? Finally, since the definitive characteristic of any god is im-mortality, how could one be dead, much less a murder victim?

Though Nietzsche provided no solid answers, he had no illusions about the implications of his conviction. If God were indeed dead, then weren’t morality, salvation, and immortality DOA too? Moreover, without divinity, death itself becomes the only inescapable Absolute, rendering life meaningless. Denouncing Kant, Hegel, and other “old maids with theologian’s blood” who perpetuated the “romantic hypochondria” of the Church, Nietzsche insisted that man should bravely press on alone and defiantly. “How shall we comfort ourselves?” he demanded. “Must we not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?”

Indeed. And through his own prophet, Zarathustra, successor to ‘The Madman,’ Nietzsche introduced the Übermensch. Going beyond good and evil, this Superman -- disdaining not only the Christian “master/slave morality” but “decadent” compassion too – would become a law unto himself. In so doing, he would avoid hopelessness and nihilism by immersing himself in the dynamic present world of his own life.

In the context of his Will to Power doctrine, the self-declared Superman identified two kinds of egotism: ‘Good’ or ‘holy selfishness’ and ‘Bad’ or ‘the unholy’. Like Schopenhauer, Nietzsche considered his to be of the first kind. He, too, prided himself in his ascetic life: having no close friends, living anonymously in cheap hotels, and avoiding “loud, shiny” things. To describe the second kind of egotism, he turned Luke 18:14 on its head, replacing “All those who exalt themselves will be humbled” with “All those who humble themselves wish to be exalted” – apparently not considering that this might apply to him.

Both philosophers suffered from chronic depression, a curse which, long before, Aristotle had called the all-too-common fate of insatiable minds. Was the despondency of the duo the inevitable by-product of their unflinching pessimism about the human condition, the other way around, or two sides of the same coin? In any case, Nietzsche called his melancholy “the worst of all penalties that exists on earth.” He feared that his few friends might regard him as a “crazy person driven half mad by solitude” and told one “not to worry too much if I kill myself.” For years he had been plagued by migraines, nausea, and seizures. He was convinced that lightning and thunderstorms triggered the attacks, and that his sanity depended on clear weather. He self-medicated with opium, hashish, cocaine, and chloral hydrate (a potent sedative used in asylums). In a moment of rare levity, he wrote in Twilight of the Idols: “Man does not strive for happiness; only the Englishman does.” Though he may never have experienced such pedestrian felicity, he was fortunate enough to be bipolar: his depression was sometimes swept away by sudden, unprovoked ecstasies especially during his solitary mountain marches under cloudless skies. When the darkness returned, he tried to steel himself: “What does not kill me makes me stronger!”

But, by his own admission, the Superman had been fighting “monsters” – Minotaurs in his cerebral labyrinth -- all his life and, in the process, trying not to become one. As even the comparatively upbeat Kant said: “Only the descent into the hell of self-knowledge can pave the way to godliness.”

The problem, by Nietzsche’s own admission, was that “If you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss gazes back into you.” So, even before losing his mind, the abyss-gazer confessed: “The thought of suicide is a great consolation: by means of it one gets through many a dark night.” The story goes that one morning, after seeing a horse being brutally beaten in the street, he collapsed, weeping, and was soon carried to a sanatorium in Basel.

Before being committed, Nietzsche had tried to ballast his ship with his Pythagoras-inspired Amor Fati or ‘Eternal Return’ doctrine. Like the Buddhists, he regarded time as a timeless circle which always returned to itself. In the face of such inevitability, the challenge of “the great soul” was, he thought, to embrace the process, to love one’s fate and believe everything happens for the best. “As long as I remain attached to my ego, willingly eternal return remains beyond my grasp,” he wrote. “Only by becoming myself the eternal joy of becoming, can I guarantee for myself eternal life… Happiness consists in dwelling in the realm that is beyond death.” Ironically, days before his collapse, his megalomania was peaking. He wrote to a friend that he was the reincarnation of, among others, Buddha, Dionysus, and Napoleon, “I have also been on the Cross,” he added, signing the letter the “Crucified One.” Having for years endured the strings and arrows of his critics, family and “friends,” had he seen himself in the unmercifully beaten horse?

Nietzsche spent the last ten years of his short life in asylums. At first, he introduced himself to visitors as the German emperor and Cosima Wagner’s husband. “There is no name that is treated with such reverence as mine!” he reminded everyone. In a letter signed ‘Nietzsche Caesar,’ he told the poet August Strindberg (struggling with his own mental crisis at the time) that he had ordered the Emperor’s execution, and would have the Pope thrown in jail for good measure. Later, he became Dionysus the “dying-and-rising” son of Zeus and Persephone, Queen of the Underworld. Like the god of wine, revelry, and madness, Nietzsche stripped himself naked and spent his days dancing, singing, and howling.

When he calmed down, as Curtis Cate recalls, he repeatedly wept: “I am dead because I am stupid, or I am stupid because I am dead.” Following many small strokes, the author of The Birth of Tragedy reverted to infantilism: according to another biographer, Julian Young, he played with dolls and toys, drank his own urine from his boot, and smeared his cell walls with his own faeces. After he had completely lost his mind, the Übermensch’s last words to his long-suffering caretaker were said to be: “Mutter, ich bin dumm” – “Mother, I am dumb.”

Early on, he had predicted his premature and tragic demise. Spoke Zarathustra: 
“And if one day my cleverness abandons me – ah, how it loves to fly away! – may my pride go on flying with my folly.” 
In the end, the prophet went on to even predict his creator’s martyrdom: “Your soul will be dead even before your body.” 

At his funeral, attended only by a handful of friends, his sister, Elisabeth, followed his strict instructions: “Promise me that when I die … no priest utter falsehoods at my graveside. Let me descend into my tomb as an honest pagan.”

After honoring her brother’s final wish, Elisabeth burst into tears, crying, “Zarathustra is dead!” And his eulogizer, Dr. Ernst Horneffer, beholding the philosopher in his final sleep, declared: “He looks like a dead god. Truly he does!”

*     * *     * * *     * *     * 

Like Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, philosophers throughout history have not addressed themselves to the commoner, but to the intellectual aristocracy. Speaking for his colleagues dedicated like himself to the “Know Thyself” Delphic mandate, Aristotle said that the “great-souled” man was aware of his own superiority. The first Greek Superman, Pythagoras, had declared himself the son of Apollo, the god of wisdom; and Empedocles, also claiming divine birth, jumped into Mount Etna to prove his immorality.

Many later metaphysicians asserted, explicitly or implicitly, the importance of ego-loss for spiritual development, or at least for avoiding execution by the Church. Ironically, Buddhist sympathisers Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, evangelists for ego-loss, were both, as we have seen, self-deifiers. Before them, in pursuit of truth and self-knowledge, philosophers had tried to erase their reason-clouding passions. But the anger and alienation of the Übermensches was so irrepressible that their passions drove their thoughts. Nietzsche, who called himself “dynamite” was dedicated to “living dangerously” as a “warrior” rather than a “saint of knowledge.” So, he wrote in “blood” and, when first reading Schopenhauer, recognised a blood brother.

Indeed, Schopenhauer, who argued that “truth is best observed in the nude,” had mocked most philosophies as the emperor’s new clothes. He denounced the Church Scholastics through Leibniz and Hegel as “cloud castle” builders and cerebral automata, utterly out of touch with real men and the real world. It was a matter pride, if not hubris, that both he and his successor sought solitude, “so as not to drink out of everybody’s cistern,” as Nietzsche put it. So, it was no wonder that that they aroused their colleagues’ contempt and alarm. Said the original dynamiter, the father of Cynicism, Diogenes, who had plagued Plato, “Of what use is a philosopher who doesn't hurt anybody's feelings?”

Again, the primary target of the Übermensches’ polemics was Christianity. God’s A-team – Saints Augustine, Anselm, and Aquinas – usurped Greek philosophy and turned it into evangelist theology by cherry-picking Plato and Aristotle and postulating flatulent ontological proofs. One of the few theists to risk heresy by criticising the Aquinas Mensa group was Erasmus. “They smother me with me dogmas,” complained the Renaissance humanist. “They are surrounded with a bodyguard of definitions, conclusions, corollaries, propositions explicit and propositions implicit; they are looking in utter darkness for that which has no existence whatsoever!” Later, Carl Jung, put it even more bluntly in his memoir, calling the Scholastics “more lifeless than a desert… who knew only by hearsay that elephants existed.”  

The two human, all-too-human new humanists more than agreed. Since the pre-Socratics most thinkers had struggled to identify the essence of life and humanity with lofty concepts while completely ignoring the inner experience and consciousness of the individual man independent from God.

It was no mistake that Schopenhauer called Christianity “a masterpiece of animal training” while Nietzsche, the self-described Anti-Christ, called it “dishonorable,” “cowardly” and “an incredibly cunning form of hypocrisy.” What maddened both most was the papist party line that “God is a necessary being,” parroted even by Kant, whom they otherwise admired. But, for them, this necessity was not based on truth, but only on an overriding human need for three necessities. First, for an absolute, eternal Creator, the uncaused cause of and explanation for everything. Second, for an all-knowing, all-good moral ruler. Third, and most importantly, for a deliverer from death and guarantor of immortality.

Ordinary meek mortals may have needed such things, but not the Übermensches! Even the supposedly ‘dogma free’ thinker, Descartes, whose philosophy was based on doubt, in the end confirmed the existence of an omniscient, benevolent God. In trying to identify man’s essence, wasn’t the Frenchman’s famous conclusion -- I think therefore I am—really just rationalist window-dressing for a fideist I believe therefore I am?

Unafraid of the Vatican and academic thought police, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche threw both the propositions out the window, declaring I Will therefore I am. For most men, except the most extraordinary, insisted Schopenhauer, “Reason is the slave of [willful] passion,” not the other way around. Outside the ivory tower of metaphysicians, among real humanity, the argument is hard to challenge. As for thinking, if it is indeed man’s essence, why do so few do it? And, even for the few who do, why do so many wind up espousing self-serving absurdities?

But in asserting the primacy of Will, the Übermensches created a problem for themselves, since neither really believed in Free Will. Both were Determinists. Like most Greeks, Nietzsche believed in the Fates, thus his Amor Fati idea. Schopenhauer sophistically argued for Free Will/Determinist Compatibilism, saying: “Man can do what he wills but he cannot will what he wills.” But the assertion begs the question: If man doesn’t will what he wills, then who or what does?

The answer is obvious for the monotheist. This who is the all-powerful, all-knowing eternal God who had creation all worked out from the beginning. Thus, one would expect all Christians to be Determinists. But, dispensing with consistency in favor of necessity once again, most (save Lutherans and Calvinists) were devout Free-Willers. The reason is simple: in a Determinist creation, man– lacking intent and, hence, true selfhood – is relieved of responsibility for his actions and is no longer a moral agent. Prayer also becomes an exercise in futility. Furthermore, strict Determinism renders the very concepts of human good and evil absurd, effectively invalidating all moral-mandate religions. Worse of all, freedom denial can, in effect, become a slippery slope to fatalism, if not nihilism.

The Übermensches were on that very slope even while denying they were on it. Schopenhauer called salvation the denial of selfish Will-to-Power in favor of Will-to-Truth. But how can truth or self-knowledge be gained if it hasn’t already been predetermined? Nietzsche said happiness – salvation – would continue to elude him until he freely chose to love his fate, no matter how purgatorial. But how could he freely choose anything in a God or Dharma dominated life?

In lieu of addressing these issues, both philosophers reasserted the necessity of man filling the void of a dead or imaginary God of convenience. In their case, this led to self-deification, if not megalomaniacal self-idolatry. In the ancient world this was called fatal pride, or hubris, the flaw which became the gravest of the medieval Seven Deadly Sins. The first of the legendary proud was Prometheus, cursed by Zeus for bringing mankind knowledge. Similarly, God had cursed the snake in Eden for peddling the deadly fruit, then driving Adam and Eve from paradise lest they ate of the Tree of Life and become gods “like one of us.” (Genesis 3:22).

In a real sense, the Übermensches – especially Nietzsche – were sons of Prometheus, chained to the mountain rock, their livers eaten daily by Zeus, in his eagle disguise. Their Christian predecessors had avoided the same fate only by surrendering to the Almighty, each crying to the heavens like Job, “Have mercy, forgive me, I am only a man and your servant!”

But the Supermen, waiting for no rescue by Hercules or a deus ex machina, instead clung defiantly to their Philosopher’s Stone. Steeling themselves, the classical scholars remembered the words of Prometheus which Hermes, the mediator between gods and men, called “the ravings of a Madman:” 
“Let Zeus hurl his blazing bolts with thunder and with earthquake… None of all this will bend My Will!”


About the author 

David Comfort’s essays appear in Free Inquiry, The Montreal Review, Pleiades, Stanford Arts Review, and he is the author of books including:  The Rock And Roll Book Of The Dead, The Fatal Journeys of Rock’s Seven Immortals — a study of the tempestuous lives and tragic ends of Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jerry Garcia, and Kurt Cobain."

Address for correpondence: David Comfort <dbeco@comcast.net>

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