Chapter Five




- chapter 5 index -
pg. 1 - Lizard | pg. 2 - Prince Rupert Awakes | pg. 3 - Tears of Glass | pg. 4 - Go Polonius or Kneel
pg. 5 - Rainbows' Ends and Gold | pg. 6 - Prophets Chained for Burning Masks
pg. 7 - Frederick II & The Cathars | pg. 8 - Bolero - The Peacock's Tale
pg. 9 - The Battle of Glass Tears | pg. 10 - Big Top



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Big Top

"Terrible as the debacle at Liegnitz was, it had ultimately been pointless--a Mongol effort to support a conquest that was suddenly abandoned, leaving nothing but a wide swath of destruction and death as the Mongol legacy in eastern and central Europe."

- Mongol Invasion of Europe by Erik Hildinger

When the Second Great Khan died in 1241, the Mongols owned everything east of the Danube and were poised to overrun all of Europe. Fortunately for Europe, the Khan's death caused the Mongols to halt their advance as the princes and khans returned east to elect the next Great Khan. After mounting the greatest military campaign in world history, the Mongol action seems futile and absurd to the western mind. And, of course, the medieval controversy over reason and intellect seems absurd to us today, as I'm sure it did to Frederick II in 1241.

With Big Top , the album comes full circle, returning to the circus and the theme of absurdity. The first three songs on the album, Cirkus , Indoor Games and Happy Family , all deal with absurd aspects of modern life, the latter two being specific "cirkus" acts in the cosmic carnival. All of side two deals with absurd aspects of medieval life. Thus, in Lizard , we see the same thematic division presented on the first album, side one takes place in the present material world, side two in the past or metaphysical realm.

Remember that…

"Hermes teaches us that the worst evils can be transformed to good."
"In particular, he governs the transformation of a bad situation into a good outcome."

- The Pythagorean Tarot by John Opsopaus

On the earthly level what good came out of the Battle of Liegnitz? Some historians believe the stand taken at Liegnitz discouraged further westward action by the Mongols, thereby allowing Western Europe to advance into the wonderland (carnival, circus) we call Western Civilization. One of those historians was Ernst Kantorowicz, the biographer of Frederick II.

"Germany lay exposed to the onrush of the foe, but the sacrifice had not been made in vain. In spite of their victory the Mongols were shaken, and could not face another encounter with the forces of the King of Bohemia. They turned sharply south, devastating the greater part of Moravia, and thrust forward as far as Vienna, but then withdrew to Hungary."

- Frederick II
by Ernst Kantorowicz
(p. 553)

This, of course, is a distinctly Western European interpretation as those in Eastern Europe who suffered and struggled for centuries under the Mongol yoke are largely responsible for dissuading the Tartars from further westward expansion.
Another common belief about the Mongol invasions is that it, more than any other factor, compelled the warring factions of Russia to work together against a common enemy, thereby creating a distinct Russian culture and nation.
And the Mongol advance did bring about, if only temporarily, a union of east and west.

"The Mongolsí disconcerting habit of building columns constructed of human skulls, and of annihilating entire population centers, did much to reinforce their Apocalyptic image in a fearful medieval Europe, as well as within an Islamic expansive empire already divided between Sunni and Shiite factions. Yet Christianity and Islam, at the time at each otherís throats in the Crusades, actually allied in Palestine for awhile to arrest the Mongol advance in Syria. Just as Jung had dreamt of an alliance with a brown-skinned companion, so Christianity and Islam had allied to arrest the advance of Apocalyptic Mongols who were driving a chariot constructed of human bones."

- The Myth of the Last Day
C.G. Jung's Apocalyptic Visions
by Steven Walker

Alchemically, the Battle of Liegnitz represents the union of opposites. The Mongol's coming from the farthest eastern reaches of the continent, were as different, as opposite, from the Europeans as was humanly possible. Within the context of the times, they may as well have landed in a space ship. As such, the terrifying and mysterious Mongols represent the unknown, the monsters that reside in the unconscious.

The Phoenix

This is the final stage of alchemical development. At its conclusion, Big Top seems to spiral off into outer space. This is the Phoenix taking flight:

"The Phoenix completes this process of soul development. The Phoenix bird builds its nest which at the same time is its funeral pyre, and then setting it alight cremates itself. But it arises anew from the ashes transformed. Here we have captured the alchemists experience of spiritualisation, He has integrated his being so much, that he is no longer dependent upon his physical body as a foundation for his being. He now stands upon the sureness of the spiritual - he has in this sense attained the Philosopher's Stone, the Spiritual core of his being."

- The Birds In Alchemy by Adam McLean

Lizard is as intricately designed as the arabesque patterns of Islamic architecture, and, individually, Fripp and Sinfield never again, that I know of, created anything nearly as elaborate. I am intrigued as to the nature of the creative process between the two. What, exactly, was Fripp's contribution? Did they both come up with the overall concept and Sinfield write the lyrics? The Eric Tamm book, Robert Fripp- From Crimson King to Crafty Master , gives us some indication of what transpired

"Furthermore, Sinfield had a significant musical role as well, at least in theory: he was quoted as saying, "It's got to the stage where nothing on Lizard was passed without my approval." Fripp described to me the making of Lizard as a "power struggle" between him and Sinfield."

- - Robert Fripp - From King Crimson to Crafty Master
by Eric Tamm


In any case, this is indeed their Magnum Opus and they have every right to be proud of what they have accomplished.



Lizard ~ The Battle of Glass Tears
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