the way they were: 1/2 and half

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”- John Lennon

Can the liberation of consciousness be considered freedom? And, is the central act of liberation that of the imagination? Yoko Ono’s posting on-line of the documentary Bed Peace she made in 1969 again puts Lennon in the limelight as the unfathomable and seemingly ingenious Ono keeps the Lennon brand in the pubic eye. But, despite the follies and perhaps poor judgement at times, Lennon was always reaching for something noble, that “because” that resonates in-between the lyrics.

Like most great forms of art, Lennon’s drive was based on an attempt to flee the rigidity and restrictiveness of the passive self, or the ordinary self. And in Lennon this seemed to involve a way to display sensitivity, an ambiguous notion for Lennon because of its relationship to vulnerability. In watching the Yoko posted film, one can sense the turbulence in Lennon’s life and also the suffering and a certain degree of idiocy, which may have been a knee-jerk response to suffering. Clearly, the Lennon of his last recordings enjoyed a greater equilibrium and a more commanding understanding ; a rounding out of “imagine” in which we create our own present and future through a development of our imaginations. So, without being too judgmental, some of the vacuousness of Lennon’s lyrics are often dissipated by the music: again, the nobility  reaching for, and a kind of magic alchemy where positive emotions are conjured from the dark side of the psyche.

---John once said "If art were to redeem man, it could do so only by saving him from the seriousness of life, and restoring him to an unexpected boyishness."---Read More:

But, Lennon could play the idiot and bastard with ease and aplomb; from the most dogmatic and generic left wing rhetoric to being cruel was a contradiction to his depth, intelligence and overall genius. All the peace and love of humanity yet a rather callous and bad faith relation with his first family smacked of hypocrisy to an extent of being pathological. All this resulted in mainly justified criticisms of Lennon including being naive, which though not true was a conjecture made on him that he merited to be denied the status of a grown-up which must have been difficult for him to absorb, since it implied he was not to be taken seriously.

…In an attempt to “give encouragement and inspiration to the activists of today”, Yoko Ono has posted online a 70-minute documentary she made with John Lennon in 1969. Titled Bed Peace, the film – previously available on VHS – documents the couple’s second attempt to promote world peace through lying in bed for a week at the height of the Vietnam war.

The former Beatle and his wife spent their honeymoon in bed at the Amsterdam Hilton, talking to members of the press, before flying to Montreal, Canada to repeat their act of non-violent protest. Those visiting them there, as shown in the film, include the activist Dick Gregory, LSD-advocate Timothy Leary, DJ Murray The K and the Beatles’ publicist Derek Taylor….Read More:


---The hysterically funny Ninotchka (1939), one of Ernst Lubitsch's most delightful comedies. Greta Garbo plays a Red ideologue who discovers laughter, femininity, Parisian lights, and Melvyn Douglas while trying to retrieve a trio of ex-Commies lured by the joys of the Capitalist World.---Read More:

In any event, it appears Lennon tried to pretend not to be bothered by the ridicule label, but he likely was ,which probably signaled the end of  “bed-ins” as performance art/publicity/ ego-centric posturing/ etc. as well as the notoriety of appearing in a bag under the aegis of  “total communication”. There was an avant garde artistic basis for these events but outside of their specific context the message was diluted. You can also add to this Lennon  growing his hair for peace, and a dozen other gimmicks that died on the drawing board.  He  adopted all the cool socialist postures, but really to what end? …

Heath,Potter:The countercultural rebels took the observation that all cultural norms are enforced, and concluded, on this basis, that all of culture is a system of domination. A continuum was posited between Adolf Hitler and Emily Post—both were regarded as fascists, trying to impose their rules on people to deny them pleasure. Any rebellion against any sort of social norm was there

positively valued. Read More:

But then too, is the quality of Lennon’s work, his art, a function of his being?  If a being is low, so it is reflected in what is being created.  Not easy to  reconcile the contradictions of a Lennon. Ultimately, Lennon’s voyage was a long and winding road, often appearing to lose all he had achieved. Still, through pluck and perseverance he regained the loftiness he aspired to. The tragedy of his death  is that despite all the tribulations, errors, conflicts, and dumbness he had attained a place, a space, where his emotions, his music and his reasoning skills were becoming more profound and illuminated; a growing into the child within.


---Constellation also includes Perry’s previously unpublished photographs of Yoko Ono’s 1967 exhibition Half-a-Wind at the Lisson Gallery. John Lennon backed her exhibition and also discreetly participated with a series of empty glass bottles that were shown on a high shelf labelled ‘J. L.’. Ono’s main installation, titled Half-a-Room, was a simulated apartment in which everything had been painted white and then cut in half: half a painting, half a cabinet, half a chair, half a teapot, and so on – half-objects suggesting the ability of memory to complete the physical presence of the whole object. David Medalla recalls that Ono ‘went around Portobello Road with a group of people and collected lots of furniture and cut each piece in half – I remember she had half a cake, I always wondered what happened to the other half – I think it was her best show.’ Ono herself has said that ‘it was so innately connected with my private life... I realized that there was a half empty space in my life. I'm presenting that to John. John's filling the other half. That happened not only in the art dialogue, but it happened in my life. Isn't that amazing?’---Read More:

If there is a point to the Bed Peace video, you can see that Lennon and his songs aspires to ideals that are commonly associated with religion.His ambivalence to Chrsitianity and religion linked to its appropriation as a business concern, and the concept that after Jesus died they made a religion about Jesus, rather than following the religion of jesus….  A song like Imagine attains ideals normally associated exclusively with religion. Again, the paradox of Lennon. Apparently he told an interviewer not long before he died that he was a “religious person”, he had no issue with the teachings of jesus, except that most are captivated by Jesus as phenomenon,and not really the message. When Bed Peace was filmed Lennon was still undecided whether the real problems, the burning issues were of a psychological and spiritual nature or more mundanely in the political and social….


Writing online, Ono said:

“Dear Friends,

In 1969, John and I were so naive to think that doing the Bed-In would help change the world. Well, it might have. But at the time, we didn’t know.
It was good that we filmed it, though. The film is powerful now. What we said then could have been said now.

In fact, there are things that we said then in the film, which may give some encouragement and inspiration to the activists of today. Good luck to us all.
Let’s remember WAR IS OVER if we want it. It’s up to us, and nobody else. John would have wanted to say that.” Read More:

This entry was posted in Cinema/Visual/Audio, Feature Article, Ideas/Opinion, Music/Composition/Performance and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *