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Life is inherently mysterious. Ultimately, we know nothing. In J.B.S. Haldane's formulation "...the universe is not only stranger than we suppose, but stranger than we can suppose."

Mysteries abound. According to Proverbs 30:18:

There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not: The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.
Mind you, the way of a man with a maid is, strictly speaking, only a mystery to celibate God-botherers; you know, the ones who will insist on giving the rest of us advice on sexual matters.

But there are deeper mysteries: like the career of Steven Seagal. How this fat-faced, pony-tailed cluck--so wooden that he's one of the few actors to be consistently out-acted by the furniture--got into movies must forever remain an impenetrable conundrum, like the fate of Amelia Earhart, the meaning of the Pyramids...or the identity of Mitt Romney.

Continued beneath The Psychotic Orange Pretzel of Shecky Greene

Which brings us to B. Traven.

I first came across Traven when I was about 17 and found a tatty paperback copy of The Treasure of The Sierra Madre in a second-hand book-shop. I already loved the film (watch the wonderfully craptastic original trailer):

 It was news to me that it was based on a novel.

I loved the book and sought out other works by Traven. I also tried to find out something about him. In the first case, the only book I could find was The Death Ship, which was a revelation: dark, cynical, angry, minutely observed, stirring and unforgettable.

In the second case, I hit a brick wall (I can see younger readers looking baffled and wondering why I didn't just google it--bless their pointy, little heads). Traven was a mystery then...and he still is.

The many hypotheses regarding Traven's identity include:

Traven was German; however, he did not come from Schwiebus but from northern Germany, the region between Hamburg and Lübeck. It is possible to conclude this on the basis of a preserved cassette, recorded by his stepdaughter Malú Montes de Oca (Rosa Luján's daughter), on which he sings two songs in Low German, a dialect of the German language, with some language features which are typical of this region. Torsvan is a relatively common name in this area, through which also the River Trave runs. In the neighbourhood there are also such places as Traventhal, Travenhorst  and Travemünde (Lübeck's borough) – big ferry harbour on the Baltic Sea.
Traven was an illegitimate son the German Emperor Wilhelm II. Such a hypothesis was presented by Gerd Heidemann, a reporter from Stern magazine, who claimed that he had obtained this information from Rosa Luján, Hal Croves' wife. Later, however, the journalist distanced himself from this hypothesis. Heidemann himself compromised himself through his complicity in the falsification of Hitler's diaries in the 1980s.
Traven was, in fact, the American writer Jack London, who only faked his suicide and then moved to Mexico and continued writing his books (my personal favourite).
Traven was the pseudonym of the American writer Ambrose Bierce (author of the wonderful The Devil's Dictionary), who went to Mexico in 1913 to take part in the Mexican Revolution and disappeared there without a trace.
Traven was the pseudonym of Adolfo López Mateos, the President of Mexico in the years 1958-1964. The source of this rumour was probably the fact that Esperanza López Mateos, Adolfo's sister, was Traven's representative in his contacts with publishers and a translator of his books into Spanish. Some even claimed that the books published under the pen name B. Traven were written by Esperanza herself.
The pseudonym B. Traven was used by August Bibelje, a former customs officer from Hamburg, gold prospector and adventurer. This hypothesis was also presented – and rejected – by the journalist Gerd Heidemann. According to Heidemann, Ret Marut met Bibelje after his arrival in Mexico and used his experiences in such novels as The Cotton Pickers, The Death Ship and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. However, Bibelje himself returned to Europe later and died during the Spanish Civil War in 1937.
However, all that remains is the work...and the mystery (which is detailed in full HERE). One notes that every statement made about Traven is followed by a question mark.

In fact, rather like the man who calls himself 'Willard Mitt Romney'. Draw your own conclusions.

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Comment Preferences

  •  No way Willard is B. Traven. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Traven was smart where Willard is merely sly.  I think Treasure of the Sierra Madre is one of the best movies ever made.

    The GOP ... Government of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%

    by Azazello on Sun Sep 09, 2012 at 11:53:56 AM PDT

  •  This certainly deserves serious consideration. (0+ / 0-)

    Frankly Mitt has not seemed to be himself ever since the RNC when his big speech fell into a black hole.

    So, since Mitt is clearly not himself, the question must be asked, who is he?

    Some hypotheses:

    1. There is no such person. It's a case mass hysteria.

    2. He is Kit, the car in Knight Rider whom mad scientists working for the Koch Brothers have retooled as a more anthropomorphic android. This would explain Mitt's liking cars better than people.

    3. He is the illegitimate son of Steven Segal's father and a tree, maybe a Box Elder. This would explain why Mitt is even more wooden than Segal and is fixated on tree height.

  •  Willard is Pynchon. (0+ / 0-)

    after a failed course of electroshock therapy. No memory of Cornell.

    Thump! Bang. Whack-boing. It's dub!

    by dadadata on Sun Sep 09, 2012 at 12:13:16 PM PDT

  •  Having read just about everything B Traven (0+ / 0-)

    has ever written, including the entire series on the Mexican Revolution ("The Jungle Novels"), The Bridge in the Jungle, his short stories (including those written under the name 'Ret Marut') I don't know whether to call your assertion offensive or just stupid. It fails to be funny.

    Traven's novels are anti-capitalist and anti-authoritarian, and most show great compassion for those at the lowest levels of the social and economic orders. He is, if anything, the anti-Romney. For example, read March to the Monteria (one of the Jungle Novels), which is a gut-wrenching treatment of the conditions of near slavery under which workers cut mahogany in Mexican forests before the revolution. Or read Assembly Line (in the short story collection The Night Visitor and Other Stories) which uses a simple Mexican Indian basket maker to turn a devastating indictment of capitalism and the myth of economy of scale.

    You used to be able to find all of Traven's works in good used book stores - I haven't looked in quite a while, since I already own all of them. Comprehensive libraries, like a good university library, should carry many of them. Outside of Treasure of the Sierra Madre and Death Ship, most are usually out of print except for occasional reprints by small publishing houses.

    This diary is a mis-informed travesty.

    In Soviet Russia, you rob bank. In America, bank robs you.

    by badger on Sun Sep 09, 2012 at 12:27:08 PM PDT

  •  Uno de mis favoritos (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    es el cuento "canastitas en serie" que se puede encontrar en "Canasta de cuentos mexicanos".  Una vez hice una presentacion sobre El tesoro y este cuento en una clase de literatura hispanica. Me gusta todo el misterio de la vida de "Traven".

  •  I dunno.... (0+ / 0-)

    B Traven seems interesting, like someone I'd like to meet, if you could find him (when he was alive....or is he still alive????).
    W M Romney doesn't seem interesting, or interested, and is no one I have any desire to meet, but don't bother looking for him, he's an empty suit masquerading as a human.
    Guess I'm stuck.
    One was, and is no more, and one is, but not really.
    Hmmmm, in their nothingness, they could actually be the same person.

    I think, therefore I am........................... Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose....AKA Engine Nighthawk - don't even ask!

    by Lilyvt on Sun Sep 09, 2012 at 02:29:55 PM PDT

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