When we last left off, The Psychopomp Jax
were singing The Tale of the Tiger to our
main protagonist, Lesley Jones, as he stood
on the shoreline of a river, waiting for…
Who, exactly? Or should I say What? Because
the body of Lesley Jones is dead on his
couch in his shitty apartment. So where, then,
is he in the story? Why does he see a
river? Why is he still in Kansas? Why is
the world seemingly coming to an abrupt
halt as society tears itself to shreds?
We know Lesley’s old friend Bart Quinn crashes through
the trees and scares the two-man band away, but
is that a good thing or a bad thing? Were the
Jax going to harm Lesley, or were they there
to try and guide him on his way once he found
The Sword of the Phoenix in the field of grass?
You tell me. You’re smart, right? What’s a Psychopomp?
Why are they important? What do they do? How
are they represented in literature?
What does their song have to do anything?
And where on earth is the Kollidam River?
Does the name Tanjan sound familiar? He was
a legendary demon from Hindu lore.
The myths tell us that Vishnu and Tanjan fought
a great battle and Vishnu emerged with a
hard-fought victory over the giant. As
it lay dying near a newly-constructred
temple, the asura asked the deity
to grant one request: that the village nearby
be named in its honor for posterity.
Today the Kollidum River runs through the
city of Thanjavur on its journey east
to the Bay of Bengal. Its wish was granted,
apparently. Weird, right? Name me one town in
America that’s named after a demon.
Anyway, that explains the river and the
tiger in the song the Jax sing, doesn’t it?
It’s also a lesson everyone needs to
learn. Life’s problems don’t just go away because
you climb a tree. The tiger is still down there,
pacing … eagerly awaiting its supper.
While we’re on the subject of tigers and strange
happenstance, let’s bring up the movie Life of
Pi, starring a Bengal tiger named Richard
Parker – now there’s a famous name. Ever hear
about The Nore Mutiny? In May of the
year 1797, an English
sailor with that moniker boarded a ship
called the HMS Sandwich. Just days later,
the crew rebelled, took control of the boat and
Parker was appointed “President of the
Delegates of the Fleet,” even though he played
no role in organizing the mutiny.
They made him their chief. Why? Because he was smart,
well-spoken and seemed to empathize with their
cause. Parker took on the role and wrote a letter
to The Earl of Northesk, aka William
Carnegie – a man who saw Napoleon
and George Washington lead successful revolts
during his time in Her Majesty’s Royal
Service. Or His Majesty, I suppose. One
of those is right. It doesn’t really matter.
The point is, Parker’s letter gave Parliament
and the English Navy fifty-four hours
to remedy their grievences or, and this
is a direct quote … ahem … “Such steps by the Fleet
will be taken as will astonish their dear
countrymen.” Sounds like Shock and Awe to me, eh?
Anyway, a bounty of 500 pounds
was placed on his head (about 50,000
in today’s world) and Richard Parker became
the most wanted man in all of Britain for
the rest of the month. They caught up with him in
June, and on the 13th he was arrested.
He was executed on board the Sandwich
the day before the first of July in the
year of our lord, 1797.
The charge? Treason. Leading an insurrection.
King George wanted him publicly gibbeted
meaning he wanted to hang Parker’s body
by the gallows as if he were a pirate
and not just an ordinary man in an
extraordinary situation. The
crown demonized him as a warning to all
other educated men in her service.
Today his body rests in Whitechapel. If
you want to see his death mask, head to London.
It’s on display at St. John Soane’s Museum
by the Egyptian sarcophagus. Oh man…