Ha!Good Humor
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This website presents a theory about the Beach Boys' SMiLE album. The website was started in 1998 and has gone through a few changes over the years.

Initially I was sure that Brian Wilson's and Van Dyke Parks' SMiLE album was essentially a Zen 'riddle' but ended up viewing it as a 'dream-escape' (Van Dyke's term) inspired by Brian Wilson's favorite book; Arthur Koestler's The Act Of Creation. Even though there have been several approaches---they have always come to the same conclusion: the album was aimed at bringing about spiritual enlightenment.

My current view is that Koestler's 'bisociative' priciples were used to create an album accessable using unconscious processes to re-create, discover, and relive the spiritual experience. This material may seem like foreign territory to most SMiLE fans, but if you give it a chance things might start to click!

The links below run roughly in chronological order so they show the website's changes and refinements in the order that they happened.

I think Brian Wilson, Van Dyke Parks, and artist Frank Holmes were onto something.

-Bill Tobelman

The Zen Interpretation Of Brian Wilson's And Van Dyke Parks' SMiLE

The Zen Interpretation - Introduction

The Zen Interpretation - Zen And Pet Sounds

The Zen Interpretation - The Elements

The Zen Interpretation - The Koan

The Zen Interpretation - Bio Based SMiLE

The Zen Interpretation - The Opposites

The Zen Interpretation - Zen And The Beatles' Revolver

The Zen Interpretation - East Or West Indies

The Zen Interpretation - Cool Links

The Zen Interpretation - Heroes And Villains

The Zen Interpretation - I Love To Say Dada

The Zen Interpretation - Ego

The Zen Interpretation - Sunrise Service SMiLE

The Zen Interpretation - The Trip

The Zen Interpretation - Mysteries Full Of Meaning

The Out-Of-Sight! SMiLE Site

SMiLE And The Act Of Creation

The Creative Consistency Of SMiLE
(This link leads to the website's most recent addition & finest piece!)


Bonus Page: Bill's Home-Made SMiLE

New thoughts and comments have been posted on the Arkhonia Beach Boys/SMiLE blog and I ecourage everyone to check this terrific page out and ponder the points presented!

Interview with Bill on Neal Umphred's well informed ratherrarerecords.com and Blog! Check out Neal's stuff on The Byrds & The Rolling Stones too!

"A friend introduced me to Subud, which I guess you would call a method of worshipping God, of acceptimg him. The ceremony is called latihan, and it takes about three months' probation before you're admitted. I've been going about eight times---there are meetings twice a week, and you just go and talk to the people who have been in the latihan. It's a process of being opened; you open yourself up to God, or whatever name you give it. Subud makes you aware that there is something much greater, you let yourself be a channel, another manifestation of God's will."
~Brian Wilson quoted in TEEN SET (1966)

"He felt that the moment somebody laughed, that while they're laughing,
that all control was gone. They cannot control themselves.
And at that moment they can have a spiritual experience."
~Michael Vosse on Brian Wilson

"Grasping firmly onto the carrot, Brian ate it quickly, and lo and belold! --- it gave him some very out-of-sight vision, of a very out-of- sight world."
~from Brian Wilson's fictional story for THE BEAT (1966)

"I want people to turn on to vegetables, good natural food, organic food.
Health is an important ingredient in spiritual enlightenment."
~Brian Wilson

"Now, Brian Gemini was a very quick-witted sort of soul, and he perceived instantly that he would need a great deal of out-of-sight energy to be able to cope with this brand new out-of-sight world which he had just seen with his new-found out-of-sight vision.
Shortly after this enlightening perception, a large glob of very green spinich quite fortuitously splatted down upon Brian's knee. What luck!"
~from Brian Wilson's fictional story for THE BEAT (1966)

"I think that for the first time maybe in uh, God I don't know, how many millions of years, or thousands or hundreds, everybody's got a personal path right to God, you know? And uh, it seems to be working out so great with everybody individually, you know? Everybody's going right to the source and having a ball."
~Brian Wilson, January 1968

"One day I will write songs that people will pray to."
~Brian Wilson to Andrew Loog Oldham

"I started to feel really conscious of the power of love, you know? And so many things started happening at one time I blew my mind, you know? Completely blew it. And ever since I blew my mind everything has just been so groovy, you know? That's what happened to me."
~Brian Wilson, January 1968

'"He (Brian Wilson) is dressed in a blue-and-white-striped T-shirt and white jeans --- and what with all this suburban ideal stuff completeting the environment, he doesn't look at all like the seeming leader of a potentially-revolutionary movement in pop music.
But that's exactly what he is, because if you ask him where he thinks the music is going, he will say one simple word.
"Spiritual," says Brian Wilson. "I think pop music is going to be spiritual."'
~Tom Nolan 1966

"Get on board, join up, join with the youth, everybody come together, go with it, get with the direction."
~Frank Holmes explaining his SMiLE art for "Heroes And Villains"

"Brian was a revolutionary; a participant of the '60s."
~Van Dyke Parks

"The dance-step diagram has a double meaning. It was my chance to employ some wordplay. One is the two-step (a dance) to lamp's light, and the other is a step (the infinitive) to lamps' light. The inference is leaving the darkness and stepping to the light or enlightenment. Or, dancing the two-step to the light or enlightenment; it doesn't matter how you do it, just get it done."
~Frank Holmes explaining his SMiLE art for "Surf's Up"

"I heard the word---of God; Wonderful thing---the joy of enlightenment, of seeing God."
~Brian Wilson explaning "Surf's Up"

"I'm writing a teen-age symphony to God and laughter."
~Brian Wilson

The listener must solve!

"Every good joke contains an element of the riddle---it may be childishly simple, or subtle and challenging---which the listener must solve. By doing so, he is lifted out of his passive roll and compelled to co-operate, to repeat to some extent the process of inventing the joke, to re-create it in his imagination."
~ Arthur Koestler from The Act of Creation

"Let me now turn from the creative person's emotional reactions to those of the audience, to the 'consumer's' point of view. Whether he listens to a joke, or reads a scientific work, or visits an art gallery, he is supposed to participate in the intellectual and emotional experiences of the 'producer'---to relive or re-create them."
~ Arthur Koestler from The Act of Creation

"Beauty is a function of truth, truth a function of beauty. They can be separated by analysis, but in the lived experience of the creative act---and of its re-creative echo in the beholder---they are inseparable as thought is inseparable from emotion. They signal, one in the language of the brain, the other of the bowels, the moment of the Eureka cry, when 'the infinite is made to blend itself with the finite'---when eternity is looking through the window of time."
~ Arthur Koestler from The Act of Creation

"All mythology is studded with symbols, veiled in allegory; the parables of Christ pose riddles which the audience must solve. The intention is not to obscure the message, but to make it more luminous by compelling the recipient to work it out by himself---to re-create it."
~ Arthur Koestler from The Act of Creation

"The humorist may stumble upon it (humour) by chance; or, more likely, guided by some intuition which he is unable to define. This gives us a first intimation of unconscious processes intervening in the creative act....the bisociative act, in humour as in other branches of creativity, depends in varying degrees on assistance from fringe-conscious or unconscious processes."
~ Arthur Koestler from The Act of Creation


"Altman also turned Carlin on to a new book by Arthur Koestler, author of the anti-Stalinist novel Darkness at Noon. Called The Act of Creation, the book explored the author's theory of human ingenuity, the ability to integrate previously unrelated ideas. Jokes, as Carlin was well aware, are rooted in incongruities. To Koestler, scientific discovery, mystical insight, and "The Logic of Laughter," as he named his opening chapter, can each be traced to the unique human ability to make cognitive connections. The author designed a triptych showing a continuum from jester to sage to artist. "Jester and savant must both 'live on their wits,'" he wrote, "and we shall see that the Jester's riddles provide a useful back-door entry . . . into the inner workshop of creative originality." By falling into dream-states or finding other ways to transcend our stagnation, Koestler argued, we can achieve a "spontaneous flash of insight which shows a familiar situation or event in a new light, and elicits a new response to it."
~ taken from the book 7 Dirty Words: The Life And Crimes Of George Carlin by James Sullivan

"That was another impact. I was doing nightclub comedy down in the Village. I was down there in '63, '64, and my friend told me about Arthur Koestler's book about the act of creation and it has a section on humor.

He was talking about the creative process. There was an illustration on the panel that showed a triptych. On the left panel, there were these names of artistic pursuits. There were poets, painter, composer. And one of them was jester. I was only interested in the jester. What he said about each of these, he said these individuals on the left hand side can transcend the panels of the triptych by creative growth.

The jester makes jokes, he's funny, he makes fun, he ridicules. But if his ridicules ase based on sound ideas and thinking, then he can proceed to the second panel, which is the thinker---he called it the philosopher. The jester becomes the philosopher, and if he does these things with dazzling language that we marvel at, then he becomes a poet, too. Then the jester can be a thinking jester who thinks poetically.

I didn't see that and say, "That's what I am going to do," but I guess it made an impression on me. I was never afraid to grow and change. I never was afraid of reversing my field of people, and I just think I've become a touch of each of those second and third descriptions and I definitely have a gift for language that is rhymic and attractive to the ear, and I have interesting imagery which I guess is a poetic touch. And I like the fact that most of my things are based on solid ideas, things I've thought about in a new way for me, things for which I have said, "Well, what about this? Suppose you look at it this way? How about that?" And then you heighten and exaggerate that, because comedy's all about heightening and exaggerating. And anyways I guess I was impressed that there was another thing from my early life that probably at least influenced me to some level."
~ Comedian George Carlin

"It explains that people attach their egos to their sense of humor before anything else."
~ Brian Wilson on The Act of Creation

The new name of the website, The Good Humor SMiLE Site!, was the result of two ways of thinking.

In one way, "Good" is taken from "Good Vibrations." "Humor" is taken from the title The Act Of Creation: A study of the conscious and unconscious process in humor, scientific discovery and art, and "SMiLE" is taken from the album.

In another way, the name is derived from the visual of Brian Wilson used inside the Sunflower LP. Atop Brian's head is a "Good Humor" ice cream cap and on his face is a smile.

Bill Tobelman
william.tobelman@snet.net

"Each song and each scene has a symbolic meaning, but it allows the audience to interpret it any way they want."
~ Murray The "K" from his tv special in 1967