Joseph Rene’s new “docufiction” book, Elvis, The Numbers, cleverly blends Elvis’ life story, the occult and a stimulating dose of “what if’!” Joseph recently took time out to discuss with EIN’s (The Elvis Information Network) Nigel Patterson his book and how the occult offers insight to the inner Elvis. What he has to say is both challenging and provocative………
EIN: Joseph, many thanks for talking with us today. Firstly, who is Joseph Rene?
JR: Hi Nigel! First things first, I’d like to thank you and the EIN team for taking the time for this interview, and also for posting on your website such a positive review of my book Elvis the Numbers. I have been a huge Elvis fan for over 40 years now, and I live in England, in London. I am semi-retired which leaves me enough time to write and enjoy life. I grew up listening to the King’s records, and started gathering books, magazines, photographs-and records of course!-from an early age. The first album I ever listened to was Elvis golden records volume 2, 50 million fans can’t be wrong. I would listen to it over and over again-it was a cassette I’d play on a small Phillips cassette player until tape and batteries total exhaustion!
EIN: What motivated you to write Elvis, The Numbers?
JR: Well, it was that sort of Eureka moment, when I realized that Aaron was Moses’ brother in the Bible. Moses demised his brother Aaron, who died sometimes later, at a date somehow pretty relevant to Elvis’ own demise, if you adjust the date stated in the Bible to year 1977… I have always been fascinated by the fact that Aaron was Elvis’ middle name-with or without one “A” or two “A’s”. Knowing Elvis’ appetency for the Bible and religions in general, I started to construe a few theories about Elvis’ life and to my own amazement, these theories would systematically be verified using numerology, religious references and neuroscience. Also, the fact that Elvis still interacts with everyone at different levels, in the manner of an intercessor between what they want and what he may represent to them always intrigued me. The way to merge those various aspects of the same man into one-that of Elvis-is to understand what the mystique and genius of the man was all about: his roots, religion, using numerology and psychology. So to make a long story short, someone said that everybody has a book in themselves… and in most case this is where it should stay! But in this instance, I thought I’d go one step beyond and share with my fellow Elvis Fans what I have discovered! Researching and writing Elvis the Numbers was literally a labour of love.
EIN: You describe Elvis, The Numbers as being a work of “docufiction”. Many people may not be familiar with that term. What does the term mean in the context of your book?
JR: I wanted to draw a comparison between Elvis the man and Elvis the myth. The myth, the legend became a fictional tale in its own right, and rightly so. From rags to riches literally, and this is commendable in every way; but knowing, like any Elvis fan would, the legend and all the stories more or less true related to it, I became really interested into the man himself-the inner Elvis. The image is one thing, the man is another said the man himself. This is where I spotted differences between the tale and the life of Elvis. So docufiction meant to me the documented and somehow peddled legend of Elvis Presley in one hand, blended with a fictional element to explain the King’s life with its highs and lows in the other hand; such fictional element becoming more and more “real”, deeply embedded in the life of the man; such fictional element readers will discover in my book-hopefully!
EIN: Could you briefly explain to our readers what they can expect in Elvis, The Numbers (main themes, etc).
JR: Certainly Nigel, with pleasure; to start with, Elvis the Numbers is not another biography, but clearly an original essay, far from either gutter press or any umpteenth publication on the King. The book differs from other publication in the way that it brings a fresh and innovative view of the man Elvis Presley who became during his lifetime a proper legend, a real iconic myth. To explain the legend, the idea is to focus on the man, his intelligence-and man he was clever and witty-and his inner world along with his own perception of the phenomenon he was. Elvis Presley was and still is certainly the biggest entertainment star ever. This being said, before being such a star, he was a man. A little boy who grew up, who had parents, and led a life-and without doubt not an easy one to start with, until a certain day of 1954, when “That’s Alright Mama” aired for the first time. Being a man means dealing with issues, questions we all ask ourselves at least to some extent. Elvis was brought up in a very religious environment, and religion, God, the Bible remained strongly anchored in his mind his whole life through-on this point at least, all testimonies, interviews from people who knew him tend to converge. So I decided to explore the inner life of The King through this prism, and made amazing discoveries. I also tried to imagine what was the dichotomy of being a man and the biggest star ever: how could a man cope with such a dual situation? In my last sentence, the important word is “dual”: let me explain-like many fans I guess, I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that Elvis was both Evil to his detractors and the sweetest person in his private life, a family man, a Southern Gentleman, and such a generous and giving man. How on earth could he be both at the same time? Well, that led me to think that the King’s personality was certainly more rich and complex than it seemed. One thing leading to another, I have made fascinating discoveries about Elvis Presley inner personality-always backed up by serious documentation and evidences- that I share in my book. So Elvis fairy tale or Elvis the man? Both are in the book, and the two facets of the man certainly interweave to culminate at an incredible climax…when explained through numerology, which was, and again this is documented, a huge centre of interest to the man. And to be honest, my findings never ceased to fascinate me as I went along with my search, always pushing further and always finding some verification between my hypothesis and the numbers… Numerology is simply intriguing or fascinating, and readers may get their own opinion and make up their minds on my website, which, for example, briefly explains the relevance of number 8 to Elvis. Hence the title of my book: “Elvis, the Numbers”.
EIN: An important element in the story are the five stages of Elvis’ spiritual life. Please tell us about these.
JR: Of course. Simply, I applied to Elvis Presley patterns of everyone’s life: from childhood to grown up. In his case, Elvis was born a twin-sadly, Jessie his twin was stillborn. That would be the foundation of the story, and stage number one: the seminal trauma. In order to compensate for the loss of his twin, Elvis and his Mother Gladys created a fusional bond, an incredibly strong link between the two of them-stage number two. In 1958, Gladys passes away, when Elvis is at the pinnacle of fame, but only 21 of age; this immense gap between the sorrow over the loss of his beloved Mom and the euphoria induced by his tremendous success leads him, again, in order to compensate for the loss of his mother this time, to try to get “closer” to his brother-at least in thoughts or in mind; the twin flame; stage number three. At some point-as explained in the book-Elvis and Jessie have to part from each other, and that’s stage four. Which leads to the final and fifth stage, when Elvis the icon, now all alone and on his own, has no other choice than becoming Elvis Presley, both the man and the legend at the same time, therefore assuming the duality of his own being…such ultimate stage leading to an incredible denouement…
EIN: Joseph, there is a fascinating blend of fact, fiction(?), occult analysis and psychological interpretation Elvis, The Numbers . How difficult was it to construct such an involved and involving story mosaic?
JR: (Smile) Ah! That’s where things get really, really fascinating, as you put it. Actually, we are all made of different “layers”, if you allow me the comparison. There’s what we think we are, what people think we are, what we are, what we are not, and so on and so forth. Maturity helps answering these questions-or at least some of them. But answers may well lie somewhere in our consciousness, under the form of religion, God, esoteric sciences or psychology as a whole. Answers you’d find may satisfy you, or leave you in a void with an unquenchable thirst to know. Esoteric means: not commonly accepted or accessible. But anyone may learn, it is just a question of open mindedness. If one is ready to cross the bridge so to speak, between what they are and what they’re not, they’d find a real relevance between their own life and how to explain it. Not to say necessary that everything is written, but as the King said himself, there a meaning in everything. It is just a personal approach to try and explain. This is what I did with Elvis Presley, and yes, I have to admit that what I found left me-and a few others!-breathless…of course in the context of the man being extremely keen on various sources of knowledge and being a very curious man when it comes to seminal questions…and more importantly, answers. So to answer your question Nigel, things developed pretty nicely and as questions flowed in my mind, answers would naturally unwind just like a ball of twine, and one after the other, that gigantic jigsaw took the form of Elvis Presley, the man. A man made of flesh, knowing he had such a huge influence not only in the music field but also on the world; a man rooted in religion, beliefs, introspection, but also a man questioning himself and finding inspiration and answers in occult sciences-numerology, palmistry, astrology-and medicine. The latter being an essential, crucial point to comprehend Presley’s personality. So many times it has been said the King over indulged on prescribed drugs. After very careful consideration, and advices gleaned with some specialists in their fields, I can without doubt claim the fact the Elvis needed heavy medication, especially during the Seventies for reasons that you will find in my book. And no, we’re not talking of the man’s rumoured marrow cancer or any other “classic” ailment the man was said to suffer from. And no again, his usage of strong medication was not recreational either, definitely not. So with a bit of common sense and serious research, the mosaic took the beautiful form of the enigmatic curled lip we all know, which concealed many, many secrets…
EIN: One of the themes in Elvis, The Numbers is ‘survivor guilt ’ . Coincidentally, the early Nic Cave album, The Firstborn is Dead, was recently reissued on vinyl. Cave’s seminal album is a tribute to southern (American) blues, particularly Elvis (the album title alluding to Elvis’ twin brother, Jesse Garon). What is your view on how survivor guilt affected Elvis?
JR: Great album by the way Nigel-I really like Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds! It has been proved scientifically that twinless twins do feel at least the loss of a part of themselves or at worst bear the grief and the guilt of surviving their sibling. This is explained in my book, and it has been documented that Elvis would often refer to his own twin, Jessie Garon. This has been a major element in Elvis’ psychological path throughout his whole life. To this extent, and given Elvis’ mystique, my understanding of the King’s famous acronym TCB-Taking Care of Business, which Elvis never really took care of, leaving this aspect to the Colonel, unfortunately- may well have bore a hidden meaning likely to be “Taking Care of my Brother”, or “Thy Christian Brother”… This may sound a bit strange, but that would match Elvis’ fascination for hidden meanings and numerology-that’s only a hypothesis among others of course. But given the interpretation of numbers in Elvis the Numbers, readers would find out this is definitely something to bear in mind, in my opinion.
EIN: Another issue underlying your narrative is ‘schizoaffective disorder’. What can you tell us about that and its relationship to how his life has been interpreted?
JR: Okay. This is a very important point Nigel, thank you for asking. I mentioned earlier on that Elvis needed strong medication. Again, after in depth research and having asked a number of specialists, there is much to suggest that pathologies the King was suffering from were linked to some mental condition, pretty much the same one that affected luminaries such as Isaac Newton or Emily Dickson, to name but a few. The thing is that back in the Seventies, such condition was pretty much unknown to science, and neuroscience was still in its infancy. Nevertheless, it seems obvious Elvis needed some heavy therapy in those days, and tried many different curative attempts. What were the reasons of such condition, readers will find in my book obviously. This point is a cornerstone when it comes to understand who Elvis the Genius really was…
EIN: The narrative of Elvis, The Numbers includes several Elvis conspiracy themes including Elvis having faked his death and the “switching” of Lisa Marie Presley at a young age. What was the significance in including these?
JR: That’s another very important aspect of Elvis the legend. Like many fans, I have an impressive collection of biographies, magazines, books and documentation about Elvis Presley. What strikes me is that among all the people who knew him and wrote or spoke about him, you can’t find two persons saying the same thing. How come? It seems that all these people either have a distorted view on Elvis, or they must have a very “personal” way of dealing with facts, let alone truth… things just don’t add up. So there’s me thinking: so what? Where’s the truth? And as I would dig deeper, I’d find inconsistencies all along the way, and again, by people who allegedly where very close to the man. At the end of the day, one cannot but think that either all these people lost it, or they are trying to wag the dog, so to speak. But then again, why would they? Unless of course, there are things that we don’t know, such as Elvis’ mental condition, or other fascinating facts that I have included in my book along many theories…
EIN: Your website is called Alias Jon Burrows. Many fans will be aware that Jon Burrows was the name Elvis often used when he wanted to travel incognito. It also became a key part of the “Elvis is alive” conspiracy. What was your thinking in choosing it as your website name?
JR: Well basically, I wanted to pinpoint the dual personality of Elvis Presley. As you said, Jon Burrows was an alias for the King, and particularly when he met former US President Nixon: that was the name he told the President he’d used while staying at his hotel in Washington, waiting for his presidential meeting. So which Elvis did Nixon meet? Elvis the man or Elvis the legend? That’s a part of Elvis’ duality the way I see it, and part of the plot in the fictional section of my book.
EIN: How did your interest in the occult sciences come about?
JR: (Smile) Ah! Well, I guess I have always been a curious man, and it is not because you can’t explain something that there is no explanation, if you know what I’m saying. For most people, truth is only where they want it to be. That’s possibly what is called rationality. But sometimes, feelings and imagination take over and you reach other planes. I suppose that’s what occult sciences and meditation are all about…
EIN: The occult sciences are viewed by some people as being pseudoscience. What is your response to this?
JR: Well, I cannot disagree on that, because as I just said, these disciplines go beyond rationality and therefore cannot be really explained, at least with today’s tools. But remember, when Newton set up the basis of what is called today quantum physics, he was viewed by a vast majority of mathematicians as totally insane… I think in that sense, Elvis was a precursor, well ahead of his time. And this time, we’re not talking about his impact on popular music and culture as a whole, but well about his own perception of himself and the world surrounding him, his success, fame, wealth. These pseudo-sciences were his way to mark the difference between Elvis the man-Himself-and Elvis the legend-the star, a way to assume his duality and identity.
EIN: Taking the issue further, how do the occult sciences help in predicting or identifying Elvis’ inner conflicts and key psychological drivers?
JR: It has been widely documented that the man was an adept of numerology, that he studied many religions. Now the key point is, as you put it, would these sciences help you predict what lies ahead of you, or are they just an explanation of what has already happened? In my opinion, they can be both, it is just a personal conviction. And according to the findings in my book, there is very much to suggest that our man kept a close look at occultism, and particularly towards the end of his days. He would rely on them, and simultaneously, they’d push him forward, beyond his own limits.
EIN: What is the interplay between different occult sciences, for example, between astrology and numerology in how they complemented each other in allowing you to develop your ‘portrait’ of Elvis?
JR: What is amazing Nigel is that in all civilizations through the ages and all over the globe, each had its own astrological theory, its own system of numbers, its own religion… As explained in Elvis the Numbers, I have studied several astrological themes, several symbolic references for Elvis and each of them do bring an extra piece to the jigsaw. More prosaically, just have a look at Elvis’ impressive collection of jumpsuits we all know: they are with no exception related to very serious themes, either astrology, Eastern religion or meditation, or symbolic animals in various traditions. This is certainly not by chance, and clearly is the result of the reflexion of the man’s own thinking and quest to different planes…Again, in each discipline the man would find a new layer of his inner self.
EIN: There is a strong element of Elvis’ psychological drivers in Elvis, The Numbers. Without giving away too much please tell us about these and how you established them.
JR: Okay Nigel, that is a crucial point again. Elvis once said: “Don’t criticize what you don’t understand son, you never walked in that man’s shoes.” So I put my blue suede shoes on and tried to understand. The context first: segregated America, the Bible belt, a dirt-poor childhood, a father jailed in 1938, a move to Memphis in 1948, the loss of his mother in 1958 during his Army time, and all the traumas induced by the chapters of his life, from day one, with the loss of his twin brother. All these episodes did create inner conflicts within Elvis personality, and it is the same for all of us. Then the facts: so I tried to construct Elvis’ inner personality in the manner of a brick wall, from foundation to ceiling. This is the first part of my book, called Elvis the diffracted portrait of a man. In these chapters, I was fascinated by what I discovered, what were Elvis psychological drivers, and most importantly how they mingled and achieved what Elvis Presley was, a true genius, and how the man managed all his different facets within himself, solving his own personal conflict, in the context of his stardom, in the second part of my book.
EIN: You raise a number of questions around ‘coincidence or not’. Why is this important when considering Elvis’ life?
JR: Well Nigel, yes. Coincidences…Ha! There are too many of those in Elvis’ life to speak of coincidences. And knowing the fact that the King was extremely keen on esotericism and occultism, you can help thinking they were no coincidence at all. Just take one example: readers will find in my book that in fact, Elvis died on the anniversary day of his mother Gladys’ demise. Given the nature of their relationship and many others aspects I explained throughout the book, this cannot be a coincidence, and supportive evidence is at hand. Then again, had Elvis not been so fascinated by numerology and occult sciences, I would have just said: well, how strange! Without going any further. But in his case, it just can’t be “just” a coincidence-and I prove it in my book… Readers will find many more facts and “strange” coincidence in Elvis’ life and no doubt they’ll be as surprised as I was when I made all these fascinating discoveries! All these so-called coincidences in the King’s life have an explanation, if you adopt a fresh point of view and get rid of what we’ve been told before.
EIN: What were the most surprising things you found out about Elvis in researching and writing the book?
JR: It is quite simple: I finally got rid of all the bits that made up a legend and tried to get closer to the man. And God knows Elvis was a great man, sadly misunderstood by the people surrounding him. Hard to get along with people when you’re not on the same plane… Elvis the man was the most fascinating thing I found out while writing my book, and this is this fresh view of the man I wanted to share with my readers.
EIN: The book cover. Was there a deliberate design intention?
JR: It was indeed Nigel. The young and somewhat cocky Elvis and the pink Caddy on the front cover stand for the revolution he started and the legend that followed-Elvis the legend. The back cover showing him and Gladys stands for the inner Elvis-Elvis the man. Once again, the covers are an allusion to the duality of the man, what he really was- in my eyes of course. The choice of low res black and white pictures on both front and back covers symbolizes the hidden aspects of the life of the man.
EIN: How has Elvis, The Numbers been received by fans?
JR: Amazingly well! Those who kindly posted their thoughts or opinion were all flabbergasted by the angle, the research and views; I guess none of them had ever seen our man like this before! I posted some comments that I am very proud of on my website! Notably one twitted by Chris Hutchins, who authored two books on Elvis and is a best-selling writer here in the UK, and who happened to have known Elvis Presley personally: “ Who else but the ultra-clever Joseph Rene could pack a book (Elvis The Numbers) with such fascinating facts about the King? Get it.” Words speak for themselves don’t they?
EIN: What are your plans for the future?
JR: Well, that’s a good one Nigel. Maybe some more research on the same subject, because you know, using the TCB acronym again, but this time anti-clockwise, you get TBC: To Be Continued… And I am convinced there’s still more to Elvis than we know…
EIN: Joseph, is there anything else you would like to say to our readers?
JR: Yes-I would like to thank all of them who read my book, and wish them well! And to all Elvis fans, long live Elvis Presley! Thank you very much Nigel for your time-sorry I kept you for so long, but I am inexhaustible on the subject!- and keep up the good work along with Piers and Sanja-your website EIN is awesome!
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