The Metaphysics of Mike Nesmith
In 2017, I reviewed Michael Nesmith’s (1942–2021) memoir Infinite Tuesday for the Washington Post. I was pleased to recently discover that Nez wrote this on Facebook, April 15, 2018: “Here is a review from Mitch Horowitz of the Washington Post of Infinite Tuesday when it came out in hardcover last year at this time. I post it here because I was very happy with the review and Mitch’s apparent understanding of what I was swinging at.” I am reposting the piece.
Okay, for anyone who didn’t grow up with the on-screen high jinks and infectious pop-rock of the Monkees, let me clarify: Davy was the “cute” one; Micky was the “funny” one; Peter was the “weird” one; and Mike — well, Mike was the “smart” one.
Although the Monkees’ stars dimmed as their musical output shifted from packaged pop and their show got canceled in 1968, critics slowly acknowledged that what began as a made-for-TV band grew into an ensemble of surprisingly capable musicians and songwriters. The Monkees became bigger artists than their mold.
Behind this gestation — and much else in the pop culture world — was guitarist, songwriter, producer and video artist Michael Nesmith, author of this penetrating memoir, “Infinite Tuesday.” And, yes, his mother did invent Liquid Paper, the fact most often recited about Nesmith after his career in the Monkees.
But his single mother’s backstory is more significant than her incredibly useful — and personally enriching — office product. “She attributed all the success of her business and her great good fortune to her study and practice of Christian Science,” Nesmith writes, referencing the spiritual healing faith founded in the late 19th-century by Mary Baker Eddy.
While growing up in Dallas, Nesmith was touched by strands of American mysticism or, put differently, of life viewed from a shifted perspective. After venturing to Southern California, he grew to admire a different kind of intellect than the studious Mrs. Eddy. Nesmith’s new heroes were Timothy Leary and sci-fi satirist Douglas Adams. He recalls Leary publicly criticizing him for using a cliche, which may reveal more than is intended about the psychedelic guru.