A collection of essays by Ashram Necropolis, Jr.

Published in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis, To Wriggle, to Writhe was Necropolis's attempt to justify to the world his embracement (embrasure?) and advocacy of a spiritual path called "Wrthawrthmlml" ("Those Who Writhe" in the Ojibway tongue).

Wrthawrthmlml worship (or "contemplation", as Necropolis preferred to call it) involved a good deal of wriggling and writhing: An adept would put on old and sturdy clothes, retire to a secluded location in the forest, and writhe on the ground for hours. This practice would ultimately bring the adept into "spiritual alignment" with moles, groundhogs, snakes, and other "citizens of the soil".

The four essays in the volume follow Necropolis's path from skepticism, through the novitiate and then a period of doubt, and finally into a mature and nuanced appreciation of this ancient practice.

The book was greeted with indifference and hostility. Sales were poor. It was banned in Boston. The Bishop of Memphis derided it as "woolly-minded gibberish suitable only for long-haired men and short-haired women," and most reviewers concurred. Nevertheless, it became a minor classic in the youth counterculture of the 1960s, and still finds its way back into print from time to time.

Contents:

  1. "What a Crock!"
  2. "Leaves Down My Back: An Ojibway Blessing"
  3. "What the Hell Was I Thinking?"
  4. "What I've Learned from Snails, Mud, Bugs, and that Terrible Rash (or, "This Water Sucks, but What the Hell")


Necropolis is known to have continued his Wrthawrthmlml practice until he vanished in the late 1960s, and it is to that practice that he attributed the depth of insight in his last, seminal work, Quatsch! (1967).


It's a sad fact that since Mr. Necropolis faded from public view thirty-odd years ago, there have been sporadic efforts to hijack his legacy and hitch various and sundry political wagons to his rumpled and gin-sodden star. The (questionable, to be frank) honesty of the Ojibway casinos is irrelevant, as is the rudeness of their staff, the cobblestones in the mattresses, and the TOTAL, COMPLETE REFUSAL TO LEAVE A MINT ON THE PILLOW OF A CERTAIN GUEST, EVEN THOUGH HE REPEATEDLY ASKED FOR ONE. That's all beside the point, as was the insolence of the maid when asked for a few very minor favors, the precise nature of which is not presently germane. I certainly bear those thieves no ill-will of any description, and am saddened to see an allegedly "responsible" scholar insinuate otherwise.

I can't speak for the Native American community at-large, or even the small minority of us here on E2, but for myself, I am getting pretty tired of these incessant attacks on the Ojibwa people, Mr dockdigit.

Your repeated belittling of anything you don't understand is laughable. Make fun of Ashram all you want -- he at least tried to live in harmony with the Great Spirit.

It's difficult enough in this country growing up poor and Indian. Most of my relatives were either drunk or dressed in bird feathers -- we don't need people like you trashing our most fundamental beliefs.

Besides, Ashram admits in the Preface to Quatsch! that 7 year-old girls could wriggle better than he could and that only by total immersion in the Ojibwa culture could one expect to writhe like a shaman. So he spends a long weekend in Ashwaubenon and you deride a whole culture based on his recollection of the experience. My great-uncle Henry, when he was sober, could make a better argument than that.

I'm beginning to suspect that your blatant prejudice stems from a bad experience at one of our casinos. If this is the case, please try to settle your dispute amicably with the management. We cannot refund the money you lost at the slot machines, but there is no need to make this a personal vendetta against an entire people.

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