WEIRDLAND

Friday, March 27, 2020

Jim Morrison and the Secret Gold Mine

Friedrich Nietzsche described in his notebooks (which were published posthumously in The Will to Power) a choice between ‘active ‘ and ‘passive’ nihilism. One of his many aphorisms on nihilism was that it is the result of the highest values devaluing themselves. Values such as truth and justice can come to feel like they are not merely ideas, but that they have some supernatural power, particularly when we say: ‘The truth will set you free’ or ‘Justice will be served.’ When these values turn out not to have the power attributed to them, when truth turns out not to be liberating, we become disillusioned. According to Nietzsche, we can then become active nihilists and reject the values given to us by others in order to erect values of our own. Or we can become passive nihilists and continue to believe in traditional values, despite having doubts about the true value of those values. The active nihilist destroys in order to find or create something worth believing in. In epistemology (the theory of knowledge), nihilism is often seen as the denial that knowledge is possible, the stance that our most cherished beliefs have no bedrock. There are, however, several problems with trying to base morality on reason. 

One such problem, as pointed out by Jacques Lacan in ‘Kant with Sade’ (1989), is that using universalisability as the criterion of right and wrong can let clever people (such as the Marquis de Sade) justify some seemingly horrific actions if they can manage to show that those actions can actually pass Kant’s logic test. Another problem, as pointed out by John Stuart Mill in Utilitarianism (1861), is that humans are rational, but rationality is not all that we have. Though we might say we want to be free and independent, such liberation can feel like a terrible burden. This was expressed for example by Søren Kierkegaard in The Concept of Anxiety (1844) when he described anxiety as the ‘dizziness of freedom’ that arises when we look down at what appears to us as the ‘abyss’ of endless possibility. Rather than letting ourselves feel powerless in a world that seems to have stopped caring, we should ask where nihilistic views of the world are coming from, and who benefits from our seeing the world that way. 

For example, as Thomas Kuhn argued in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), we can certainly develop very complicated and very successful models for describing reality, which we can use to discover a wealth of new ‘facts’, but we can never prove that these correspond to reality itself – they could simply derive from our particular model of reality.  This leads to another problem, the problem of infinite regress. Any claim to knowledge based on some foundation inevitably leads to questions about the foundation of that foundation. Nietzsche’s body of work is notoriously difficult to navigate. He wrote in multiple styles, including essays, aphorisms, poems, and fiction. He introduced idiosyncratic concepts such as the free spirit, the Übermensch, eternal recurrence, ressentiment, the ascetic ideal, the revaluation of values, and the affirmation of life. He shifted allegiances: writing books, for example, in support of the composer Richard Wagner and the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, but later delivering blistering critiques of both. Not surprisingly, scholars range widely in their interpretations of Nietzsche: was he a poet or a philosopher? A nihilist, moral relativist, or Nazi sympathiser? A critic or a system builder? Anti-Christian or Christian? In the face of this complexity, Nietzsche offers an interpretive key: his references to dance (Tanz). 

Taken together, these references light a path that begins in Nietzsche’s first book, The Birth of Tragedy (1872), and wends through every major work into his final book, the posthumous Ecce Homo (1908). Nietzsche’s dance references call attention to the sensory education that he insists is necessary for creating values that ‘remain faithful to the Earth’. Nietzsche calls the effect a ‘magic transformation’: spectators’ sensations of suffering and terror yield to feelings of ‘metaphysical comfort’ and the notion that ‘life is at the bottom of things, despite all the changes of appearances, indestructibly powerful’. In Human, All Too Human (1878), Nietzsche elaborates that all human symbolism – even music – is rooted in the ‘imitation of gesture’ at work in ancient tragedy. He writes that the human impulse to move with others ‘is older than language, and goes on involuntarily… even when the language of gesture is universally suppressed,’ as he observed among Christians of his day. When humans don’t learn how to move their bodily selves, Nietzsche insists, their senses grow dull. As Zarathustra exhorts: ‘You higher men, the worst about you is that you have not learned to dance as one must dance – dancing away over yourselves! What does it matter that you are failures?’ Source: https://aeon.co

"Everything is broken up and dances." —Jim Morrison

"Dance related metaphors are central to Nietzsche's philosophy; dance is a reminder about the work of overcoming oneself and to free oneself from anger, bitterness and despair." Jim Morrison was very influenced by Nietzsche. Although Morrison‘s work displays a strong Nietzschean influence, his early explorations with sensory perception relate more specifically to William Blake and Aldous Huxley.  The terror celebrated in Morrison‘s work goes beyond the Nietzschean acceptance of life‘s suffering. Morrison‘s familiarity with the poetry of Blake, as well as Rimbaud and Baudelaire, encouraged his attraction to darker themes. Although many of the nihilistic thoughts echo those of Nietzsche, Morrison‘s fondness for absurdist texts instills in him a preference for nonsense rather than rationality. Morrison suggests that the absurdity of the world enhances man‘s sensory perception and allows the world to be whatever can be created in the mind. Morrison confronts conflicting feelings of remaining in the role of the spectator or assuming the unpredictable role of the actor—a problem he will ponder often throughout his career. Morrison recognizes "self-deception may be necessary to the poet‘s survival." Jim Morrison‘s self-doubt extends beyond his abilities as a writer to his abilities as performer as well. 

Jim Morrison: “Nietzsche said once women are the loveliest swans in the world. He's wrong about women, though, they aren't fools.” He just laughed at some Philosophy Professors who wrote about Nietzsche. Like Walter Kaufman's chapter of his Nietzsche, Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist,  (1956) about “Nietzsche's admiration for Socrates.” “It's nothing but a lie,” Jim said. “It's not true.” I waited for his reaction. “That lousy Sophist,” Jim declared. “What an old ugly pederast. Socrates lurking in Greek law courts so he could pick up enough gift of gab to con innocent young men into the sack! They should have killed that fucker decades before the hemlock.” Jim wasn't going to be fooled by Kaufman. “He taught Plato a skeptical philosophy and utterly ruined him. Why? Because Socrates wanted to kill off the Greek religion – another Sophistry – a lawyer's rhetoric. And what happened? That poor bastard Plato takes a trip to Egypt. Ever read The Egyptian Book Of The Dead? It's nothing but a primitive form of the ‘allegory of the cave’, i.e. the love of the dead. Pure nihilism! These philosophy teachers – they can get rid of ‘God’, but they can’t get rid of Socrates? Why, it’s ridiculous.” Jim often favored the German culture over England's. Jim exempted the Irish, the Scotch, and the Welsh.“I never knew an Englishman I didn't despise," he said, "or an Englishwoman I didn't love.” Jim thought the class structure and behaviourism had ruined England: “It's a shopkeeper’s mentality. Survival at any price.” —"Summer with James Douglas Morrison, A Memoir" (2011) by Dennis C. Jakob


One of Jim Morrison’s most important lines is “weird scenes inside the gold mine,” a lyric from The End that metaphorically describes what he has found (weird scenes) and where he has made those findings (the gold mine). What T. S. Eliot called the artist's final destination “the still point” Morrison would eventually use other expressions including “the gold mine,” “universal mind,” “the perimeter,” and “the only solution.” Each symbolizes the same illumination and ecstasy. In her 1968 Saturday Evening Post essay Waiting for Morrison, Joan Didion distinguished The Doors from their peers, saying, "The Doors are different. They have nothing in common with the gentle Beatles. They lack the contemporary conviction that love is brotherhood. Their music insists that love is sex and sex is death and therein lies salvation." In any case, Didion is quite perceptive in using the word "salvation," for it's one of the most important themes of Morrison. On the other hand, her lasting and oft-quoted characterization of the group as “missionaries of apocalyptic sex” is cute but extremely trite. Ultimately, Jim Morrison wasn’t primarily interested in sex, as his lyrics show. He is interested in timeless pleasures and treasures that go beyond the physical. Didion is regarded as one of our sharpest cultural observers, but her understanding of The Doors is quite thin. Sex and death are useful as starting points for getting into The Doors (and they have been endlessly cited as Morrison’s obsessions), but it is unfortunate that many critics remain stuck there. Going to a Doors concert was about participating in a Neuro Linguistic Musical Programming experiment that could go in unpredictable directions. Doors music is about what Joseph Campbell called “the soul’s high adventure, the quest of mortals to grasp the reality of God.” The Doors combined poetry, mythology, psychoanalysis, philosophy, and tragedy.

Sex sells, and Morrison was certainly oozing sex in his persona. On the other hand, his lyrics took us far beyond sex to something timeless and ethereal. Yet his message was difficult to hear over the controversy and confusion. As the band attracted more attention, audiences hoped that Morrison would do something outrageous onstage. In the beginning, audiences came to the concerts to hear music. Later, audiences came looking for a freak show. Michael Cuscuna interviewed Morrison for DownBeat magazine and found a totally different person from the one he expected. Cuscuna writes that he was initially “dismayed at the prospect of encountering another rock ego.” However, he ends by saying, “in Jim Morrison, I found to my surprise a beautiful human being who, not unlike Charles Mingus, has been a victim of sensational publicity and harassment by silly journalists.” The crowds of rock and roll explorers became a mob of weekend voyeurs who came not for adventure but to see a freak show. The audience no longer saw Jim Morrison as the poet who used stage theatrics to communicate. They now wanted Morrison to “do his act.” Robin Richman said of The Doors that “their music has no meaning, only mood.” Such a comment is entirely ridiculous and condescending. Richman’s piece appeared in Life Magazine in 1968 and essentially told America that Morrison’s lyrics weren’t worth paying attention to. As another scathing example, Dave Marsh wrote in 1979 when he was an editor for Rolling Stone that The Doors were the most “overrated group in rock history.”

For one reason or another, dozens of critics who have been listening to The Doors from the very beginning haven’t the slightest knowledge of what Morrison was all about. Really. They are entirely keyless when it comes to grasping Morrison’s vision. In his review of the doc When You’re Strange, Stephen Holden called Morrison “faintly ludicrous” and “a charismatic male pin-up strutting about in leather pants. He started out with psychedelics and ended up a burnt-out drunk. As a case study of a self-destructive performer consumed by his own mystique, he remains in a class by himself.” Tom Robbins summed Morrison up in July 1967: "Sexual in an almost psychopathic way, Morrison's richly textured voice taunts and teases and throbs with incredible vocal control and the theatrical projection of a Shakespearean star." Bernard Wolfe, sent by The New York Times Magazine as a replacement for Robert Gover to do a hatchet job on Morrison, was eventually published in Esquire magazine. His 1972 essay was called Jim Morrison: Slamming the Door in the Woodstock Nation. Morrison had befriended Wolfe over the course of time, and despite Wolfe’s overall lack of insight, his article is full of witticisms. On the sex and death themes that have been endlessly worked over by critics, here is Wolfe’s question and Morrison’s response: "What transcendence did you have in mind, death through sex or sex through death?" Morrison replied in jest: "The first on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, the second on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays." 
  
Morrison never explicitly identifies just what "the other side" is, but he gives us a good idea of what it isn’t. The first stanza ("You know the day destroys the night, night divides the day / Tried to run. Tried to hide. / Break on through to the other side") puts it somehow outside the eternal cycle of day and night. Morrison’s “other side” is atemporal, outside of time. The second verse ("We chased our pleasures here, dug our treasures there / Can you still recall the time we cried? / Break on through to the other side") indicates that the other side is beyond ordinary pleasures or treasures. "Arms that chain, eyes that lie / Break on through to the other side" negate the physical as the ultimate treasure. He desires something other than sex. The gate symbolizes the passage. Many critics have assumed that the other side is simply death. Within the context of the album, however, and especially in view of End of the Night, which in a sense completes this song, it becomes clear that the other side refers to something positive rather than negative. Morrison’s notion of death is actually one of rebirth. Morrison's "death theme" is a "rebirth theme." Morrison once discussed Light My Fire with Bernard Wolfe, saying its theme was “liberation from the cycle of birth-orgasm-death.” End of the Night in a sense complements Break On Through. However, by comparison it is a very gentle and melancholy song. The message is stated at the outset, "Take the highway to the end of the night" and “take a journey to the bright midnight.” The highway and the journey are one and the same, both lead to "the end of the night." This destination of the "bright midnight" involves "bliss" and "light," unmistakable symbols of joy and euphoria. "Sweet delight" is somehow involved; this positive experience is then set against the contrasting "endless night." The darkness has come to an end. One critic contends that the song is about "irredeemable alienation," but the words support the opposite view. One of the themes of The End is internal travel. Morrison sings “there’s danger on the edge of town.” Danger here refers to one of the three core elements of the hero’s journey: overcoming the obstacles. Morrison tells the listener to "ride the king's highway" and to "ride the highway West." In between is the line "Weird scenes inside the gold mine."

The placement suggests that "the gold mine" is somehow associated with going West. This passage is an invitation to encounter what Morrison called the “dark forces,” symbolic of obstacles that must be defeated on the journey to liberation. We next encounter the image of "the blue bus," which is said to be "calling us." When he says “the West is the best,” he’s not talking about California, he’s talking about the mythological West, which is very much of a landmark within that whole hero’s journey, to reach his Shangrila. When he says “The killer awoke before dawn, he put his boots on,” Morrison has stopped singing and now he’s talking, and he’s also going into third person. So he’s transformed himself into a character, and he’s commenting on this third person, the killer, and he’s talking. And then later he says he took a face from the ancient gallery, so he’s putting on this mask. In concert, when Jim Morrison sang this song, he would sometimes put his hand over his eyes as if to symbolize a mask, so he’s speaking through a character, not in the first person. The End is an invitation to "ride the highway West," "ride the snake," "take a chance at the back of the blue bus." Somehow, these essentially identical commands tie in with the recurring apocalyptic motif of "the end", "the only solution." The End is also about liberation from the cycle of birth-orgasm-death. When the music subsides, Morrison sings “the end of nights we tried to die,” indicating a final ending. The song is a cogent, anti-Freudian prescription for salvation emanating from deep and authentic psychoanalitical knowledge. Freud misinterpreted and distorted the Oedipus myth to suit his own purposes. Morrison summons up the Oedipus Complex in order to challenge its very foundations, not to act it out.  That is Jim Morrison speaking in the role of a character. When critics say that Jim Morrison wanted to violate a taboo, that is completely misreading the lyrics. What is going on here is that the treasure that Morrison’s talking about in terms of the gold mine and go confront the danger in order to win the treasure, that treasure has to do with an anti-Freudian view of the world in terms of what’s possible for liberation. And it’s an anti-Oedipus Complex view. 

Bernard Wolfe wrote, "What an ingenious formula: Morrison did resurrect something in the paved-over human potential, something at least assumed to be there, fantasy freedom, fantasy sex, fantasy departure, through the trick of escaping from the human realm or going through the motions of escape.” Despite the occasional darkness, from the haunting eeriness of End of the Night to the chilling visions in The End, Morrison’s overriding images are beautiful and positive. He ultimately emphasized light over darkness, but light cannot be achieved without first conquering dark and dangerous obstacles. Morrison was ultimately a “light-bringer and emissary of the light.” And Morrison, when you look at a song like When the Music’s Over, right after he screams out, “We want the world and we want it now,” he says, “See the light. Save us, Jesus, Save us.” And the light, meaning love, the sun and the dawn, are the prevailing themes in The Doors, not the dark, the night, the chaos and the abyss.

Many critics focused on Jim Morrison's sex-appeal and 'bad boy' persona. Critics like George Will and Stephen Holden never got beyond their absurd impressions of Morrison as shallow sex symbol. Frank Lisciandro, Morrison's close friend, has written that a deliberate misinformation campaign about Morrison began while he was alive and is still operating today. Most of Morrison’s supposed exploits are, in Lisciandro’s view, a complete fabrication. "I asked him once how he dealt with all the trashtalk. Jim counseled me on the importance of growing a duck's back, so the vitriol rolled right off his back. Although Jim had many adventures, he was a gentleman. He called the groupies 'groovy ladies'." As Eva Gardonyi explained to Lisciandro, "Jim knew these girls who danced at The Phone Booth, the go-go dancers. He did know all the girls in there, he liked them and he respected them. He thought that these girls were honest. He had a real empathy for them." The list of vitriolic anti-Morrison critics is long: Dave Marsh, Nick Tosches, George Will, Timothy White, Stephen Holden, Caryn James, Stuart Maconie, Richard Williams, Dwight Garner, Steve Heilig, Leonard Cassuto, Alex von Tunzelmann, even Robert Christgau or Greil Marcus occasionally. Marcus dissects the performance of The End at The Singer Bowl in 1968 where Morrison is in front of a cacophony of screaming and abusive fans, as a “bizarre, ugly seventeen minutes.” —Jim Morrison and the Secret Gold Mine (2017) by David Shiang

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Jim Morrison, Borderline Personality

"Even the bitter Poet-Madman is a clown. Treading the boards" (Wilderness, Jim Morrison).  "The boards" are theatrical jargon for the stage; Morrison here again recognizes that he has become an actor.  In this poem Morrison calls himself a clown because he realizes that his message is being overshadowed by his image, as the audience expects entertainment from him, instead of guidance. As Dylan Jones pointed out, "Jim Morrison was unable to harness his own stardom, and because of this, he began lampooning himself."

Imagine a mind marred by an unimaginable dread, in which there is no sense of oneself, and no reference points—a self-threatening mental state, an indescribable sense of catastrophe. Unable to comprehend the reality of others, the mind thus cannot comprehend itself or a recognizable self-reality. In clinical practice, it is currently known as borderline syndrome or borderline personality disorder. That chaotic internal state of mind that characterized Jim Morrison's psyche was relentless, leading him in the process to experience profound and consuming identity conflicts at times. German-American philosopher Paul Tillich characterized existential anxiety as "the state in which a being is aware of its possible nonbeing", listing three categories for the resulting nonbeing anxiety: ontic (fate and death), moral (guilt and condemnation), and spiritual (emptiness and meaninglessness). Psychoanalyst William W. Meissner has conceptualized these “emotive vs detached” borderline types as constituting what he calls a “hysterical - schizoid spectrum”, placing Janis Joplin on the hysterical end and Jim Morrison on the schizoid end. On some level, Morrison realized that the danger of the times was also internal—that the "love generation" was hardly without its own dark impulses. In fact, Morrison seemed to understand that any generation so intent on giving itself permission to go as far as it could was also giving itself a license for (self) destruction. He also talked of pursuing sanity through insanity, and so he embraced the mysterious, the inscrutable, the extreme, the illogical, the disordered and the sensual. The purpose of his self-destructive substance abuse was not to discover the other side but to escape the other side. Sometimes he seemed to propose taking on the audience's evil urges or even becoming evil’s repository. 

James Riordan offers one of the best characterizations of his performances: “Watching him sing was like witnessing a man dangling in his own anguish. Seeing him scream, writhe, and whisper his way into a head-on clash with some ultimate truth could be truly frightening.” In Man Against Himself (1938) and Love Against Hate (1942), Karl Menninger described that inexplicable external behaviors are the result of struggles with untamed, internal forces present in all humans. In the case of Morrison, these self-destructive and aggressive forces could be avoided only by achieving some form of psychological mechanism such as sublimation or personality integration. Jim Morrison's charisma, and some of songs and poetry emerged from the most conflicted elements of his personality. —"Living in the Dead Zone: Jim Morrison—Borderline Personality" (2010) by Gerald Faris

Peggy Green spent considerable time with Jim Morrison in a romantic relationship. She has pleasant memories about Morrison and their special bond. She was a waitress at Thee Experience, and later worked at the Whisky and the Rainbow in the early seventies. She was Daryl DeLoach`s (Iron Butterfly) roommate at the townhouse on Bronson. Peggy remembers: “It was 1969, summer. Anyone who was a Sunset stripling remembers that we served a traditional English breakfast at Thee experience after hours. This particular night the Grateful Dead had been playing and with them was their pal Stanley Augustus Owsley (yes, that Owsley). As I recall it seemed that everytime I’d go in the kitchen to pick up orders from Chrissy, Owsley would pop a piece of ice cream into my mouth. I thought, how cute, and kept taking bites. Turns out he was doing the same to almost everyone in the club. Suddenly I found myself sitting on the steps that acted as bleachers in the back of the room with some customers burger which I was finding mesmerizing. I kept throwing it up and down and it was turning into the most beautiful colors I’d ever seen. The first time I met Jim, we didn't speak much, at least not out loud. It was at the Troubadour bar, probably on Monday when all the world seemed to gather there. I was with my friend Sally, who had recently moved to LA from England and was working at Thee Experience along with Joan Tripp who was married to Artie Tripp of Captain Beefheart. Jim was silent and sullen, all the things I found irresistible in a man, back then. I was a goner and from that point on we seemed to run into each other everywhere." 

Suddenly he'd turn up at Thee Experience and just as suddenly vanish. A few days later a group of the Whisky servers came down to Thee experience after hours for breakfast. Someone said there was a party in Bel Air and we were invited. My friend Jackie and some others that worked with us decided to go and sure as I walked the door, there was Jim. That night we talked for a long time, about both being from Florida and how we needed to stick together. Night after night he'd show up with his friend Frank Lisciandro. We'd talk a little, the truth is we were both really shy in a time when shyness was not prevalent. Our next encounter was at a party in one of those interminable Hollywood courtyards which look like bungalows. Again I was with Jackie and again Jim was with Frank. This was the night that we actually began whatever it was that we had. "A God needs a Goddess," Jim mumbled after drinking his fourth beer. I think Jim might have once been admitted to a mental hospital. One of his (prose) poems read: "I glanced at the red second-hand clock of the institution. The plastic dome covering the black numbered hours was no longer transparent but chipped, scarred, and grayed with age. I looked down at my wrists and a neatly typed plastic bracelet stating my new identity. I’d just become an inmate of Ward 4-A." He confessed me he had romantic feelings for Pam Courson, although they argued profusely. He pulled me down next to him without hesitation. I let myself roll aimlessly on the bed with him. It was sort of fun, actually, frolicking like clumsy puppies. When he kissed me, I feel him transfusing me with warmth. “Love me,” he said in a sensual drawl, causing an electric bolt of shock and excitement to shoot through me. I felt strangely alive. One Sunday afternoon I had seen The Doors performing at the Cheetah, in Venice Beach. I stood talking with friends at the lobby. We had moved inside the blackened room and sat on the floor while Jim walked inside the illumined circle; a soft light playing over his face; he wasn’t just cute, he was beautiful—and stoned on something I needed immediately.

I’d been listening to that voice for months, and now I was making love to him. After that concert, I remember seeing Jim walking behind a red-haired girl in a miniskirt. It looked as if they were on an invisible leash—the way a dog off leash remains attached, aware of the owner’s slightest shift. I could sense they belonged together, even though they deliberately walked far apart. In retrospect, that girl was probably Pam. I realized his feelings toward Pam overwhelmed him at times. But he seemed comfortable enough in my presence to reminisce about his early courtship. "Pam, she was a tough chick. I asked for her phone number twice. She didn't even look at me when I approached her the first time. I fell in love with her at first sight. A week later, Pam appeared at the London Fog, all dressed up and cheery. She offered me half a stick of her Doublemint gum," Jim laughed at this memory. Then I realized I was going to be only another adventure for Jim, but he was really worthy. “I really love Pam. But with her love is tough. She’s always giving me trouble,” he complained. “She’s always disturbing me on purpose. To make me react. So I won’t react!” He looked proud of this, but then his irritation turned to guilt. “I mean, she’s been everything to me. I love her. She’s been my friend, lover, wife. Every time we live together, I’m optimistic… Maybe she'll change, maybe I'll change.” He sighed. I didn’t ask for all the gory details and felt torn between jealousy and sympathy for Pam.

“I don’t feel I’ve ever seen the real you,” Jim blurted with a note of challenge. I wanted him to see the real me, whatever that was. “I’m really shy,” I said, thinking this was a clue. “You, shy?” He traced my breasts with his hands lightly, as if daring me to prove it. “Yes, I really am,” I insisted. Then he leaned on me, telling me what great sex we were going to have. “What you should do—is just be really luxurious in black lingerie.” He smiled naughtily. I started cackling at the tought. His eyes bored into mine, his magnetism hypnotizing me. He wrapped his arms around me, enfolding me, molding me to him. Tilting my head back, his fingers played over the contours of my face, pulling my body against his. He kissed my breasts with tenderness. His desire blew me away, I felt this moment was unrepeatable, unforgettable. Jim Morrison was an amazing, gentle lover. After we ended, I dressed and was brushing my hair, when he came up behind me. “You have such good taste, doll” he said, looking awestruck. I was wearing a strapless, flowing tunic. Maybe Pam wasn’t the only good dresser? Then he hugged me, a big teddy-bear hug. “You’re going to be my new girlfriend from now on. Huh?” ”Uhm-hm,” I agreed, taken over by his charm. “It’s not just the sex. I could just go on holding you like this forever.” He was saying dangerous things. I didn’t want to hear his words run through my head at night when I was trying to sleep. So I remained calm. There was longing in his voice now. “I wish I could mellow out. I keep thinking maybe someday I’ll have peace of mind.” I gave him a peck on the cheek. “I’ll call you,” Jim said, smiling at me. I smiled back at him. From a distance, watching the way Jim walked alone, the full impact of his aloneness hit me. 

Michael McClure (August 5, 1971): "I had read a piece by Jim that interested me. He was discussing the concept of evil in a way that made me feel we shared some insights. Mitchell Hamilburg, the literary agent, got us together while my play The Beard was playing in New York. Jim and I talked about poetry while The Beard was running in L.A. He was interested in writing a play himself, and he liked mine. My wife liked him, and we both liked Pam. Jim never said they weren't married. We all grew very close. The fact is, she and Jim were living together before Jim started working at the Whisky." Shortly before her death Pamela Courson was awarded Jim Morrison’s share of The Doors’ publishing rights. In November 1971, Pamela had declared: “I declare that from the 30th September 1967 onwards, I have considered myself as being married to James Douglas Morrison, to all effects I was his wife. All my bills for medical care, clothes, or entertainment were made out to Mrs Morrison or Pamela Morrison. In September 1967 I accompanied my husband on a tour and while we were in Colorado, we decided to be married by common-law. Jim and I had discussed marriage before, but according to his managers the publicity that would have accompanied our marriage would have had a negative effect on the public image they were trying to construct for him.”

Tone McGuire (manager of Pam Courson's boutique Themis) had a lot of candid conversations with Jim Morrison about Pamela, and Jim emphatically expressed to McGuire that Pamela was his one true half, they just struggled a lot with the 60s scene's lifestyle. Patricia Kennealy: "Certainly he loved her, and she loved him. They had known each other from the days before the Doors, they had a shared history, she was probably the first pretty girl who had ever paid him serious attention. I believe Jim loved Pamela as well as could love anyone. Jim needed Pam to need him, but I don't think they had a very active sex life.” Pat Kennealy stumbles again with her absurd remarks about what she imagines about the sexual habits of a couple she didn't really got to know. Morrison left behind Pamela des Barres and Nico (who ardently pursued him) to be with Pamela. Also, we have to take into account Jim Morrison's drinking was so pronounced that his sex life was often impeded. Nobody actually believes Kennealy's ridiculous claims that Morrison never failed to be excited and ready to sex action with her. Indeed, Jim hinted on several occasions he actually disliked Kennealy. He was only mildly intrigued by her writing ability. Also, Patricia Kennealy sounds like she is just a few degrees away from stealing Pam Courson’s panties and rooting through her trash.

Even in his worst physical shape while in Paris, there are friends who suggest Jim and Pam were actively sexual, although both were substance addicts (alcohol and heroin respectively). One of the funny notes found from Jim's Paris notebook (which Pam kept) reads "We’re two of a kind / You want yours, and I want mine / I hope you find my sexual affect stimulating / Glorious sexual cool." Also, Alan Ronay and Agnes Varda recall a tense argument when Pam confessed to Jim she had been living with a friend of Jean de Bretueil and possibly sleeping with him. According to Hervé Muller, Morrison didn't have the same wild impetus in Paris than in L.A. and he didn't seem receptive to other women's attentions. French women barely recognized him, and he registered as a celebrity only in the artistic underground circles like the Rock and Roll Circus. Source: www.doorscollectors.com

THE BOOK’S DEDICATION: “For Soon-Yi, the best. I had her eating out of my hand and then I noticed my arm was missing.” ON THE ORIGINS OF HIS DESPAIR: “There was no trauma in my life, no awful thing that occurred and turned me from a smiling, freckle-faced lad with a fishing pole into a chronically dissatisfied lout. My own speculation centers around the fact that at five or so, I became aware of mortality and figured, uh-oh, this is not what I signed on for. I had never agreed to be finite. If you don’t mind, I’d like my money back.” ON HIS PARENTS: “Two characters as mismatched as Hannah Arendt and Nathan Detroit, they disagreed on every single issue except Hitler and my report cards. And yet with all the verbal carnage, they stayed married for seventy years — out of spite, I suspect. Still, I’m sure they loved each other in their own way, a way known perhaps only to a few headhunting tribes in Borneo.” ON REPORTS THAT HE HAD BEEN DISCOVERED WITH HIS HEAD ON DYLAN FARROW’S LAP: “While Mia had gone shopping, all the kids and the babysitters were in the den watching TV, a room full of people. There were no seats for me, so I sat on the floor and might have leaned my head back on the sofa on Dylan’s lap for a moment. I certainly didn’t do anything improper to her.” ON HIS FEELINGS ABOUT DYLAN NOW: “One of the saddest things of my life was that I was deprived of the years of raising Dylan and could only dream about showing her Manhattan and the joys of Paris and Rome. To this day, Soon-Yi and I would welcome Dylan with open arms if she’d ever want to reach out to us as Moses (Farrow) did, but so far that’s still only a dream.” ON THE EROTIC PICTURES OF SOON-YI THAT MIA FARROW DISCOVERED: “At the very early stages of our new relationship, when lust reigns supreme and we couldn’t keep our hands off each other, the idea arose that we do some photographs if I could figure out how to work the goddamned camera. Turned out she could work it, and erotic photos they were, shots well calculated to boost one’s blood up to two twelve Fahrenheit.” ON HARVEY WEINSTEIN: “Despite what was printed in the newspapers, Harvey never produced any movies of mine. Never backed me. He only distributed a few already completed films. I would never have allowed Harvey to back or produce a film of mine because he was a hands-on producer who changed and recut a director’s movie. We never could have worked together.” ON HIS RESPONSE TO PUBLIC CRITICISM: “And how have I taken all of this? And why is it when attacked I rarely spoke out or seemed overly upset? Well, being a misanthropist has its saving grace — people can never disappoint you.” Source: apnews.com

Ordinary People (dir. Robert Redford, 1980): This winner of four Oscars, including Best Picture, is another example of a film that combines traumatic etiology and a schizophrenogenic parent. The trauma that prompts Conrad Jarrett (Timothy Hutton) to cut his wrists is his older brother's death in a boating accident, about which he feels survivor guilt. The parent who undermines Conrad's ego is not the sensitive patriarch (Donald Sutherland) but his composed-to-the-point-of-ungiving mother (Mary Tyler Moore) who didn't visit him once during his four months in a psychiatric hospital. Conrad's return home is so tense for him that, despite the electroshock therapy, he actually misses the hospital. "Because nobody hid anything there," he tells his psychiatrist.

Silver Linings Playbook (dir. David O. Russell, 2012): Eight months of treatment for bipolar disorder is enough for Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper), to insist his mother who signs him out against his doctor's judgment. Pat is still fixating on what caused him to snap: finding his wife with another man in the shower and beating the man severely. This single triggering event, however, is not the source of Pat's delusions and outbursts, his unfiltered verbalizing, his general "craziness", all of which go back much further in Pat's life. David O. Russell's Oscar-nominated screenplay implicates genetics as at least one source, specifically Pat's obsessive-compulsive father. Pat is teetering on the edge of recommitment to the hospital when he meets a young widow named Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence). He worries she is crazier than he is and, with that bit of turbulence, the romantic part of this comedy takes off. It grossed over $230 million worldwide and rivals Ordinary People and Rain Man for film honors. 

Narratively, cinema tends to oversimplify the onset of a character's mental illness by rooting it tidily in a single trauma. This is called the "presumption of traumatic etiology", a term used by Steven E. Hyler, MD, Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center, in his Comprehensive Psychiatry article, "DSM-III at the Cinema". The portrayal of mental anguish bends from realistic to ridiculous, provoking sympathy and fear in turn. Sensitivity and insightfulness continually fluctuate alongside stereotyping and psychobabble, revealing decade-to-decade shifts in perceptions and practices. Furthermore, the films cross several genres, or bridge them, while ranging from obscure to ubiquitous, from cult classics as Donnie Darko and drive-in fare to Oscar winners. There is an oddly pleasant poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay titled "A Visit to the Asylum". The speaker in the poem reminisces about visiting an asylum as a child, presumably with her parents, and how the patients doted on her. Source: www.popmatters.com

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Queen of the Magazines, A Clockwork Orange

"Snow nestled in Spring. When Sun makes wine & blood dance dangerous in the veins or vine. To have just been born for beauty & see sadness. What is this frail sickness?" - Jim Morrison, Untitled poem


Thom Yorke (Radiohead)Anyone Can Play Guitar is like a chant almost. The second verse is ‘I wanna be Jim Morrison’ and I’ve got this pathological disrespect for Jim Morrison and the whole myth that surrounds Jim Morrison, simply because it has affected the people in bands and in the rock business, in that they think they have to act like rock stars in order to live up to the legend.”

Louder Sound: “The mysticism that’s grown up around Morrison since his death is similar to that which guitarists seek to perpetuate around their instrument. That there is something more metaphysical to it than just a bit of practice: that it’s a gift that’s bestowed rather than a craft that anyone can accomplish with a bit of application.”

Thom Yorke: “Yeah, it’s really hard! And the better you are at the guitar the worse songs you write. I hope that maybe one day that song will appear on MTV in between a couple of rock tracks and you’ll get all these guys going widdly-widdly and then we come on going ‘Anyone can play the fucking guitar, it doesn’t mean anything!’ Jim Morrison’s a fat, talentless bastard and he’s dead. And none of that means anything. It’s more important just to have your own voice within the business than to live up to this thing that you’re supposed to live up to. There’s this brilliant thing Lester Bangs said about how on the one hand rock’n’roll should be taken very seriously, while on the other hand it should be completely taking the piss out of itself.”


Mass Writer (Steve Hoffman Forum Resident): I hear a lot of people questioning Jim Morrison's talent. You gotta realize that, besides being a great lyricist and poet (which alone takes philosophical intelligence), this guy basically heard all the music in his head and had to describe it to the band. That's like some Mozart level. He was naturally musical, he just got almost no training and did not know how to express it correctly. Queen of the Magazines is a song contained within Rock Is Dead which has a bridge that sounds pre-arranged, like the band had rehearsed it before. But has anyone ever noticed that Radiohead’s hit Creep (1992) bears some sonic similarities, to Queen of the Magazines? Creep makes you wonder if Morrison-hating Yorke had a copy of the Rock Is Dead bootleg. The chord progression is not exactly the same and the arpeggiated sequence could be dismissed as coincidental, but it makes you wonder... Thom Yorke is blasting trained guitarists in this same exact interview, saying that "the better a guitarist you are, the worse songs you write." Sounds to me like he was just trying to be shocking and bratty. Thom Yorke sounds like a victim of the media infused Jimbo projections, and like most Morrison haters, these people are ignorance-born lackeys due to a bad Oliver Stone film.


RidderontheStorm1969: Don't let this obviously miserable little bastard get under your skin or question yourself as a Doors fan. I'm glad Thom's Yorke's life has worked out better than Jim Morrison's but that is all the more reason for "Thom" to keep his toxic mouth shut and be a little kinder. Art is subjective, Jim Morrison was a very talented artist and Thom Yorke can go intercourse his little self (it might put him in a better mood). How he says ''AND HE'S DEAD'' as if that's supposed to be some sort of sick burn? Well, Thom Yorke is a nasty, miserable creep AND HE'S UGLY! May he get trapped in an elevator with David Crosby for days and days. Thom Yorke made it known that he suffered from depression. What exactly did he think Jim Morrison suffered from? Being too high on life? What a classy and compassionate person Thom Yorke is. If anyone would like to point out to Yorke that image he hates so much was created by Jim Morrison's "friend and admirer" Danny Sugerman. Among the many good aspects of Jim Morrison conveniently suppressed was Morrison's tendency to give people the "don't do drugs" lecture. Pamela Des Barres noted this in her memoir "I'm With The Band". Yorke can take his complaints to Sugerman, Hopkins, Manzarek, Densmore and others who helped create the "Morrison mystique". Jim Morrison had no control over how people would exploit his image after he died.

A Clockwork Orange (1971): As is the norm for Kubrick movies, the critics did not seem entirely comfortable with this avant garde movie. They claimed that it was just a crude and very dangerous display of sado-masochism dressed up as high art. The primary messages of this film were directed to his fellow Jewish tribesmen and would be largely invisible to the outer parties. We infer from Kubrick's earlier masterpiece, 2001 Space Odyssey, that Kubrick is an evolutionist and Darwinist, and we know that being a Darwinist is a sin among his Jewish kinsmen. The very aversion therapy that the inner party psychiatrist was administering to Alex late in the movie to curb his criminality, Kubrick was administering to his fellow tribesmen right from the opening scene, to curb their liberal universalist illusions. The setting is in a future time in which the people speak a language which is a mixture of English and Russian. The protagonist, Alex, is a high school dropout born and raised in a public housing project. 

Alex is what you would call a tabula rasa -a blank slate- from a cultural standpoint. Alex's parents are exactly what the inner party wishes us all to become. The talented and intelligent Alex transforms his acts of theft, rape and torture into artistic performances. High art and violence become intertwined and reinforce each other - doubtless a profoundly disturbing and disorienting revelation to the inner party and their liberal hangers on. Thus, Kubrick's message that high art is a differentiating mechanism - fraught with potential for conflict and competition - is broadly consistent with Professor Geoffrey Miller's thesis in The Mating Mind, that our brains evolved primarily as ornaments of fitness in the highly competitive sexual selection process. 

And finally, we get the conspicuous IP psychiatrist Brodsky, who has developed a new aversion therapy. He is going to remake Alex by showing him movies - which, of course, is exactly what the IP has been doing to all of us for the past 70 years. Only Brodsky has an advantage - a serum that allows him to get the job done in 2 weeks. Alex screams for Brodsky to stop the movie, pleading the gross unfairness of making him dislike Beethoven as, in Alex's words "all Beethoven ever did was write music!" Thus the scene is Kubrick's wicked stab at his fellow tribsmen - forcing them to see and hear the clear and dramatic answer to the question why a nation that had produced Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms could have produced the Third Reich, as they are forced to recoil in horror at the juxtaposition of Beethoven with the Nuremberg rally - a juxtaposition which Alex vehemently protests for different reasons. The evolutionist in Kubrick surfaces, as the newly pacified and denatured Alex is incapable of defending himself. The "true Christian" of Brodsky's creation cannot survive. And ironically, that is exactly the state that the IP has left us in after 70 years of effort invested addicting us to passive entertainment and then desensitizing us to vice, crudeness and ugliness while attacking Christian mores. In the final scene Kubrick informs his audience that the conditioning can be reversed in an instant, as soon as it is in the Interior Minister's political interest to reverse it. And, of course, the Interior Minister has Brodsky (and his ilk, by implication) to blame for all of the conditioning's ill effects. The implied message directed at the inner party is that any ambitious interior minister who so wishes could reverse the real world cultural conditioning (degradation) of the past 70 years very quickly as well, whenever the hold on power demands it. 

This movie appeared in 1971, and shortly thereafter, the 200 or so people in Hollywood who Ben Stein informs us decide what we are to see every night suddenly decided that - "popular culture was formed in the black community." Public school field trips to the symphony, so popular in the 1950s and 1960's ended for most school districts. The dumbing down of education and culture began in earnest. The coincident 180 degree turn was dramatic. The problem is that Hollywood feels compelled to sell us ugliness and vulgarity. Indeed their own group psychology prevents them from doing otherwise, for to produce and sell to us our own vision of beauty would only reinforce the one remaining boundary that separates our culture from the mud of oblivion. To sell us our own vision of beauty would only strengthen us and reinforce that one remaining isolating mechanism that keeps us what we are, and the IP cannot bring itself to do such a thing. Truth be told, they never will. Source: www.euvolution.com

COVID-19, while not as lethal as media coverage would suggest, is a reminder of our mortality and human fragility and will necessarily have a jarring effect on a Western liberalism that has become increasingly distant from the confrontation with death. Just as one has to confront death in order to truly live (or to become “authentic” in Heidegger’s philosophy), our society is in constant flight from death and thus inevitably collapses into decay. We do not “live towards” Death, with a sense of purpose and a feeling that we are part of a much grander civilizational trajectory. We do not understand that Death has shaped our historical path, and that it hangs over us in ways that should direct our actions in the present. The Age of Fantasy is confronted with the ultimate reality.  I also see the cracks already forming in the Western conceit. This society that is against “hate” and prides itself on “coming together” is already struggling to stop people rioting over toilet paper and bottled water. Source: www.theoccidentalobserver.net

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Jim Morrison: The Last Stage

“Nobody understands you better than yourself, but if someone tries to do it is because he loves you.” Jim Morrison

Jim Morrison couldn't handle the pressures of success and we see a slow train wreck as he turns to excesses in drugs, drink, women and insanity. Jim Cherry's main character Michael Gray thinks he wants fame and adulation, but he seems also to understand that what his quest gets down to is a search for Reality itself - Reality with a capital R. He's just crazy enough and desperate enough to believe that touring with a Doors cover band might actually make the discovery of "true meaning" happen. The Last Stage is written with such great detail you'll believe it's also the story of Jim Morrison's life, you'll think the lead character is Morrison onstage. Was Gray just a devoted Morrison fan? Or did he have a self identity problem? By the end of the story, this guy was in Los Angeles, getting ready to perform at Whisky a Go Go, carousing with aging rock stars and actors, interviewing agents and screenplay writers, reliving Jim Morrison's lifestyle, and exploring all his old haunts. He even bears an uncanny resemblance to Jim Morrison. He has a chance meeting with Ray Manzarek and eventually concocts a tribute to his hero. His idea is to form a Doors cover band with him filling Jim's leather pants, which he successfully pulls off when he convinces an amateur but talented band to back him up. This band puts their original material/career on the backburner as Michael and his vision takes precedence. Despite his machinations and complexity (Grey like Morrison) he never loses 100% of his likeability. 

My father was military even after he wasn’t. When I was a kid we had lived in a typical white picket fenced in house, several of them. Eventually settling in a suburb of Chicago, so I could identify with Morrison. His father too was military and the family had been Navy nomads moving around the country at every change of assignment. Looking around my former neighbourhood, I realized there are times of our lives when the answers to our problems is to bury our flesh in that of others. And what happens when you make compromises? You end up compromising yourself. “You saw Morrison up there on stage, and he was just singing those songs,” I thought aloud, holding up a cigarette, punctuating each statement by stabbing it in the air. “But somehow you knew just by looking at him he was singing about existence.” Morrison lived on the edge and pushed the others to those extremes. He was the artistic center of the band, the spark, that indefinable something that led The Doors beyond their boundaries of the rational into the irrational fires of creativity, a landscape never before seen; their new world, a sensuous wild west. While all three were talented musicians, after Morrison died they never again hit the creative or popular high Morrison had driven them to. 

Jim Morrison was the first rock and roll method actor. By behaving in an outrageous and provocative manner, Jim Morrison attempted to fill the void, to prevent panic from overwhelming him. “A lot of that was insinuated by Morrison and the music added the mysterious feel to it.” They looked at him skeptical, “Look, most of his lyrics are pretty simple. And Morrison liked it that people were reading all these deeper meanings into his lyrics. He thought art was a two way street and the audience brought something to the experience too. Why was he so hung up on serial killers? It’s your own death, that’s the killer on the road that we’re all going to pick up one day on the trip of life, death. What about Five to One?” Five to One has been the subject of speculation since the instant Morrison put together the combination of the ratio’s 5 to 1, and 1 in 5 into the song. Some people read that the numbers meant the number of baby boomers to those over thirty. It’s nothing that simple, you’ve got to remember Morrison was a genius, it’s nothing as mundane as statistics. Morrison liked the poems of William Blake. In the Songs of Experience or Songs of Innocence, I don’t know which one, I get them confused, but it talks about the five senses each person in that poem has, five senses to one person, five to one. What’s the 1 in 5? The reverse one person has five senses.” They all looked at me and as the thought exploded in their minds.

I tried to get into character, I was trying to think like an actor, trying to get Morrison’s character in my head and how he would act in these situations. It was not easy because I wasn't so smart as him. Morrison himself came from a theatre background, having studied at Florida State, he went on to UCLA to study film. Theatre was always one of his main intentions. Morrison created the "rock bad boy" archetype or more accurate, the "rock mad boy" act. He showed us (more moralistically than we can surmise) all of us have a dark, insane side, he amplified it on stage on a spectacular level, he even transformed intermitently in that dark creature in his personal life, and then he killed himself (because he had to kill the demon to save himself). More than dying for our sins, he had to die for his own sins (real or imagined). Although his death has been considered oficially an accidental overdose, he was perceptive enough to differentiate heroin from cocaine, so it's not strange to think his death was actually an outright suicide. James Douglas Morrison really didn't want to die, but on a moral level he thought he must kill Jim Morrison, the insane rock star. His poem ‘As I look back’ reads like a brief autobiography of his time at school and UCLA; the drugs, the songs, the money and the fame – his final goodbye to America: his suicide note. 

Let’s examine Pamela Courson. She was burning something in the fire grate of the apartment, that was reported; she was witnessed, letters or something. Could that have been a suicide note that she didn’t want anyone else but her to read? Was it the preface to ‘last words, last words, out’? Something she must have read. If she was such an advocate of Morrison’s work, why would she destroy this? Was it incriminating? “Give me songs to sing/and emerald dreams/to dream/and I'll give you love/unfolding.” (Written for his muse and common-law wife Pamela)—Jim Morrison. 'The mouse that caught the cat', that was what Jim called Pamela, a cat. I could see her in the Brownie pack, in her floral dress, refusing to conform. We all heard the stories of just how wild Pam had been as a child, and if you compare Jim’s childhood, she was the wilder of the two. After all, Pam did leave Orange High School in her junior year and transfer to Capistrano Union High School for her senior one. This was a school some eighteen or so miles from Orange; however, it's rumored she did not graduate – how then Pam was studying art at L.A. City College in 1965? Pamela Courson had become a beatnik who truanted frequently, caused her parents considerable turmoil and anguish. Capistrano was in another district and there Pam would have been less likely to embarrass the reputation of her father – the principal of a junior high school. But precisely what did happen in that last year 1964? Did Pamela make a mistake? She hung around the beatnik bars, she hitch-hiked and went to places which other girls of her age would not have been allowed to do. Did her parents simply let her go? Pam was ‘difficult’ as Jim was ‘difficult’; they were, as a result, allowed the freedom to roam. 

There was always this idea that Morrison was going to write the next great novel. Let’s take away the pages, think about the 1960s and the rising role of the famous rock star. Maybe he had not written the great American novel; maybe he had lived it instead. Only he doesn’t write him down like Kerouac did – he lives out the pages of the fiction for others to chronicle. Then he found that it consumed him, and like Victor Frankenstein before him, found that there was no end to the beast. A beast made up of parts; there was no father, no mother. Jim Morrison was just a creation, hungry for knowledge and understanding, ready to push the possibilities. Morrison turns in on himself and the personality splits for self-protection, just like R.D. Laing foretold, and bam, it’s like petrol and a match. The stage persona takes over and the real James Douglas Morrison is engulfed, swallowed whole by the music making machine. "The cost of freedom is the loss of innocence" said Jim Morrison once. Did Pam ever go back to Paris between 1971 and the fatal 25th April 1974? How about if this was the date she first met Jim. Where did they meet? Some say The London Fog on Sunset strip, others say at a party on the campus where Pam studied, the LACC. Wherever they met, I think that date 25th April is significant. Only Jim and Pam understood what made their relationship work, or not work a lot of the time. He often cheated, he would go off on a drunken adventure and she wouldn't see him for days and I guess he wasn't always the most considerate person to live with. She had an eating disorder, a drug problem and she was very temperamental. 

You'd think they would be both happier without each other. Yet, anytime she left him, Morrison would fall into a despair and make any effort to get her back. According to Vince Treanor, The Doors' road manager, Pam "was flighty, gushy and really unfocused. Her diet was usually strange chemicals. She was temperamental at best and her drug habit made her almost maniac depressive. I didn't think she was that pretty either. But she was his favorite X object, a bad influence and maybe his undoing." Paul Ferrara, who met Pam intimately, remembers: "Pam supplied some sense of normality to an otherwise hectic rock star existence. At times I was invited for dinner. Pam had been cooking all day. Stoned, and with jewels and flowers in her hair, she was the perfect hostess for Jim and his house. She had some authority issues as well; she was always stoned or in a state of bliss." Robby Krieger opined that Pamela was "mostly good for Jim. If it were possible for Jim to have a mate for life, we all felt that Pamela was that person. You could tell that Pam was really the one that Jim wanted to be with. He would always come back to her no matter what happened. She was just as crazy as he was so it kind of worked out perfectly.” The main characteristic of their relationship was clearly expressed in the words of the song “Queen of the Highway”. Pam was the princess and Jim was the monster dressed in black leather. She was the only one who was prepared to stand up to him, rather than pander to him. That, it would seem, was what he liked – that was what he needed, especially in a woman.


From the first lilting tones of the guitar, I was immersed in the song. I became part of the song. I didn’t need to remember when to come in, I didn’t need to remember the words, I didn’t need to react, just act. I just was the song, I was Jim Morrison! I screamed again as the band lashed out into a musical torrent of primal torment. I whipped myself into a fury, twirling, dancing with the music, no acting, no rehearsed moves, being on-stage was like having sex, you exist outside of time and space, you’re immortal. I fell to the floor hard and delivered the last lines from the floor. I laid on the floor for a second or two, one arm hanging off the stage, the shirt matted to my skin, my chest heaving, I was empty, devoid of everything, I stood on the precipice looking out into the darkness, as I pulled myself to a sitting position, then it happened… applause, real applause, people waving and cheering. It filled me with a warmth and became a power within me, it was birth, a metamorphosis, new worlds lay before me that hadn’t existed before, I felt as if I were becoming larger than the room, like the room couldn’t contain what I was becoming, I rose up out of my mind sound like a gambler looking for the big score and you’ll live happily ever after. But it never happens, the big score is always right around the next corner. That night I had a dream: I met the real Jim Morrison, lean in his leather clad glory wearing a white shirt that accentuated the shiny black leather of his pants. He was sitting at a table having a beer. He pushed out the empty chair across from him with a tap of his boot. We were isolated at a party, although the room was crowded with people. Morrison's face became blurry. A stranger appeared and asked me, “hey, want to go to a concert?” Then I was walking the familiar hallways of the school, the light coolly reflected off the waxed marble floors. I heard the sound of faraway music echoing in the halls. I was alone. I followed the sound through the hallways of the labyrinth school. It became louder and louder as I approached the auditorium, I recognized the music, it was The Doors at their peak playing a scorching rendition of an obscure song. It was loud and Morrison’s voice was a growl, then the music stopped. I was walking backstage, there were velvet curtains, backdrops from plays, tied off ropes running up to sandbags and wooden catwalks. Suddenly, there was Jim again, waiting for me. “Have a seat, man. Want a beer?” Before I could answer he pulled out an open beer from somewhere. He said. “So, I understand you’re going to be me... now. Make it look like a part of the act. I fell down a lot.” “You think I can do it?” “Sure, consider this my blessing and just remember, it’s all a dream.” I said bluntly, “I just want to get to the truth.” “What if you can’t handle the truth,” mumbled Morrison, avoiding my anxious eyes. I was taken aback, I hadn’t considered that option. “Listen,” I replied, “the truth has to be out there. We deserve the truth?” “But why?” he taunted me. “That’s a luxury we can’t afford. And they only tell us what they want us to believe. Truth is subjective. Oh, there are people out there who think they have been really successful, but have they? Have they really? It’s that glass ceiling and about never being quite good enough. I played a little game, I called it 'let’s crawl back inside my brain.' The game is called – let’s go insane.’ He smirked quizzically. Then the bearded poetic Jim Morrison was sitting back in the chair smiling benevolently at me.

America has become convinced that some existential truth about itself can be found on the road. Morrison himself bought into the theme. In his songs, poems, and HWY, the movie he made was about a serial killer as existential metaphor. The randomness of death on the highway of life, the killer on the road we’ll all eventually meet. Travel as catharsis and transcendence. We think there are no worlds to discover, we forget about the monsters that lie just under the surface. What would we find at the end of this road? I didn’t know, maybe visions, sex, madness, some great promised adventures in the American wilderness, and maybe we were going to find out some truth about ourselves. Morrison lived this dark role. Sometimes he forgot to differentiate between his rock act and the life offstage. To him Rock ‘n’ Roll was a stark theatre, a place where life and death are enacted, it wasn’t safe on the edges, it was dangerous and you could die and that’s what made life real. To Morrison, theater and life weren’t separate. Shakespeare said, “all the world’s a stage,” and Morrison wrote, “this ancient and insane theater,” so if I was going to be Morrison, I needed to live the role too. Everything I had worked for was to get me here, everything I wanted was in front of me one way or another. Nothing would be the same for me after this. It was either fame and fortune, or failure. What if I did fail? At least that was something I could understand. I’ve felt the cold hand of rejection before, I could understand rejection. But what really scared me was what if I succeeded? That I couldn’t imagine, I couldn’t even imagine the feeling? Joy? Exuberance lifting me to the heights? I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like, outside of anything more than an abstract, or a cliché that didn’t really seem to be a definition or even satisfy.

Is that why Morrison acted so confidently, he knew that joy? “Celebration of the Lizard.” I said to the band. I rattled a tambourine to give the snake slither to the piece, the feeling of a story being told around a campfire, a preface that Morrison usually invoked when priming his audience. The band hit the first discordant notes of the ‘song’ it was a poem, really more theater, a loose narrative of a post-apocalyptic world where the survivors gather to tell their stories. Morrison variously acted, screamed, or moaned through the piece. Since my parents lived nearby, I decided it was time to tell them what I was doing for a living, it was a chance Morrison also took and it was the last confirmed communication he had with his parents. He sent them a letter telling them he was in a band and, “what did they think of that?” They, especially his father, had disapproved citing failed childhood piano lessons.

I wasn’t going to be as confrontational as he had been, I hoped. My parents were quite a bit older than me. I was a late life baby for them. As a matter of fact, my older brother and sister were often mistaken for my parents. My father answered the door. He was a tall, lean man even in his seventies. An Annapolis graduate. After he left the military he had become a corporate lawyer who took stock in lieu of his full salary. Around the time I was in high school he owned so much of the stock he was given the chance to buy the company, which he did. Then he turned around and sold the company again within the year. The new owner breached their contract and my father took them to court and won. Winning several more millions of dollars. He had a cocktail in his hand when he answered the door. “Hello Mikey,” he said, as I breathed out a sigh of exasperation.“Come on in, your Mother and I were just having a cocktail.” My mother was in the den. She had helped my father’s career by being the charming, witty hostess, wife and mother, for both the military and corporate worlds. Her only real failing in life was wearing perfume that was much too rosy smelling. “Mike!” She said, as she got up from the couch to give me a hug, “its so nice of you to come down for a visit.” “I didn’t come down, for a visit. I’m actually in town on business.” “That’s good to hear,” my father said. “What business would that be?” “Here, take a look.” I said, handing him a scrapbook that I had put together with the few reviews there were. He handed it to my mother. After a couple of minutes of leafing through the pages and skimming the headlines my mother asked, “I don’t understand this, Mikey, what do you have to do with this band?” “I’m the lead singer and songwriter.” “Oh, Mikey!” My mother said, disappointment clearly in her voice. “You have so much potential, you could be doing so much with your life.” “I am doing something with my life.” “Mikey,” my father said as mildly as he could, “your mother and I gave you so much more than even your brother and sister. We had such great hopes for you,” he paused, “but then again as of late, not that much has been forthcoming from you.” My eyes started welling up from the usual litany of disappointments. I tried to think of anything else to staunch the tears. My parents looked at each other. My mother, tears streaming down her cheeks, nodded her head to my father almost imperceptibly. “I’ll loan you the money for graduate school. You’ll have to give up this band thing of course, get a job in the area of the graduate degree, and pay the loan off within five years. The same deal we gave your brother and sister.” I started gathering up my scrapbook and left their house.

I realized the extent of the hell Jim Morrison had suffered with his parents. His Admiral father yelled at him for wasting his time making drawings or poems. Steve Morrison’s absences were, by necessity, so frequent that they were seen as the norm rather than the exception. As is the case with many navy children, Jim had grown to think of his father as nothing but a visitor in his own home when he returned periodically, and of his mother as the primary head of the household and disciplinarian. It was during one of these absences, Jim said, that he wet his bed; it is unclear how old Jim was at this time. The boy went to his parents’ room and climbed into the big bed where his mother was sleeping alone. Clara, waking and taking in the situation, reportedly pushed her son out of the bed and, according to Jim, humiliated him for his lack of self-control, taking him back to his room and forcing him to sleep on the wet sheets. This incident, he said, left him afraid to sleep on the bed at all, and from then on he would curl himself up in a ball on the floor and pray for his mother’s death, counting the days until he could get even with her. “After that,” Morrison reportedly said, “I never had a childhood.” To kill childhood, innocence in an instant. While Morrison's grades were not specially high, his I.Q. was tested at 149 and his grasp of history, literature, and art stymied even his most learned teachers. One teacher reportedly even went so far as to check with the Library of Congress to make sure that some of the books Jim was reporting on actually existed, so obscure were their titles and subjects. 

Morrison became a storyteller, a myth maker with a vivid imagination. If we weren’t traveling, or at a gig, there was a lot of down time. It was downright boring. The days we played were filled with drama and excitement of the gig, the bustle of loading and unloading equipment was completely counter balanced by ripping boredom. No wonder Morrison found ways to amuse himself by hanging out windows, ledge walking, and later drinking. One night when I got on stage, in the front row was a table of four truly beautiful girls. All decked out in their finest wares, dripping with sequins and pearl necklaces. They looked uncomfortable and awkward in the clothes, like kids playing grown up, still tripping on their mother’s high heels. I knew the boys had girlfriends, which is how I came to think of their little troupe, as ‘the girlfriends’. These weren’t your average Rock ‘n’ Roll chicks, these were your exotic type, not the type of girl the boys were used to, nor would have been able to attract had they not been in a band.  Each show I tried to find someone in the audience to sing to, the seduction was easy, just sing a song and look into their eyes as if you were looking into their soul. Playing Morrison made me feel like I could move the world, picking up whatever girl at a gig was easy, sex became a liquid to me and unlike the boys I didn’t have a girlfriend, there were plenty of women who wanted to be with the new “Jim Morrison.” I went back into the living room where everyone was sitting in a circle on the floor very zoned out. The night diffused into a hazy golden color. That’s how I remember it, all of us sitting in a circle in that living room. Each of the boys smiling like he was in a golden halo, or maybe a spotlight in the surrounding darkness.

“If you tried to see Jim Morrison as a whole person instead of a hero... what you reflect of him probably reveals some aspect of you, more than of him.” She looked into my eyes one last time, “are you sure there’s still a you in there?” I was not sure, so I didn't give Deirdre any answer. “How do you know he was a hero? Maybe he was a loser.” She said, softly. “Because he’s not me.” “Sure of yourself, aren’t you?” “I am the Lizard King.” I said, grandiosely. “You take that seriously?” “It’s my job.” “Tell me something else about Jimmy.” “Jimmy was a tabula rasa. He could be an altar boy, or maybe a murderer. He was a mirror, get it!? You got what you looked for, he was amazing at reading people.” “What did you see?” I asked. “A lover.” She said, eyeing me lasciviously. “I knew Ray and Jim at UCLA. I was a theatre student and I wanted to be an actress. I was in Jim’s first UCLA movie. I may have been the first person to get Jimmy interested in witchcraft.” She looked at me with such a look of desire, “I could tell you a lot about Jimmy,” she repeated. She seemed pretty drunk, slurring every word she uttered, but I was morbidly interested. “What’d you talk to Jimmy about?” I asked. “We talked about a lot of things, like poetry and Artraud.” “Artraud?” I said, taunting her about her pronunciation. “Yeah, Antonin Artraud, the French theater guy.” She said, waving it off.

New Orleans was sort like Jim Morrison, swampy mystery and a controversial history, like the flowers slowly killing the trees. But New Orleans was a double-edged sword for Morrison. After one trip he said he enjoyed the city’s sights and sounds, and visions of Victorian spaceships. But it’s also where The Doors had their last concert, where Morrison pounded the microphone into the stage until it splintered and Ray Manzarek said he literally saw Jim’s spirit leave his body. The good thing about the French Quarter, if you walk six feet you’ll find a shop that has whatever you want, need, or desire, including Voodoo, luckily I saw a shop that had a hand lettered sign in the front window d-a-i-q-u-i-r-i. The lettering seemed deliberate, unsure of itself like whoever wrote it wasn’t quite sure how to spell daiquiri. Inside the shop there were about twenty soft serve ice cream machines. Each had a different flavored daiquiri stirring in it. We quickly replenished our twenty-ounce beers with daiquiris. The boys were walking down the street, a daiquiri in one hand, their girlfriends in the other. Everybody was happy. I saw a couple of lesbians walking down the street. In the next instant I saw a group of women, each wearing a solid pastel colored dress with a silk ribbon sash slashing across their bodies, they were beauty contestants! I ran up to them and bowed, over exaggeratingly courteous, stepping easily into Morrison’s persona. “Hello, ladies!” I said, “where you all from?” “All over!” They all shouted enthusiastically. There was literally a sea of people in front of me. It was then that I truly understood what was meant by the phrases ‘a sea of humanity’, and ‘an ocean of people.’ They ceased to be several thousand individuals they became one thing, a new creature to do with as I pleased. Suddenly, I knew what Morrison knew. You become part of a crowd, faceless, anonymous. The individual becomes lost, you lose your self in a crowd, free to live your dreams, free to enact your nightmares, all bets are off, there are no limits, no laws. It was the door to power, the power that despots and rock stars know. There’s always been something of the fascist about Rock ‘n’ Roll. “Could any Hell be more horrible than now?” -Jim Morrison

I used every trick Morrison knew to whip crowds into a frenzy. I screamed, writhed, fell to the stage, jumped, until the audience didn’t want to hear anything else. There were sullen looks and thrown equipment barely missing me. On stage, the band occasionally tried to sabotage my show, a song would end early, or they wouldn’t hit the vocal cue they would just keep soloing. I’d look over to see what was going on, to see one or all of them laughing. Traveling in the van was a dour experience, sullen and silent. My relationship with the band deteriorated from that point on. I fell into old habits. I drank more. The women I picked up tended to be the girls wearing leather pants and purple hair. I had left my life behind, my family, Deidre, I could leave them behind too. All that was left was the end. On the matter of that grave marker in Paris, are we really expected to believe that The Doors management and the band really didn’t do something to get a grave marker in place? That, even to this day, seems to me like a callous act, an almost indecent act. An act I can’t understand if, as the band members claimed, they missed and loved Morrison so much. Rock ‘n’ Roll really isn’t about sex, drugs, and Rock ‘n’ Roll. Maybe it’s not even about the music. It’s about changing the world. Rock ‘n’ Roll should be in a continuous state of revolution. Morrison got that one right.

A Cosmic Mating: As his cue came up, Jim Morrison caught her eye. Pamela raised her sight from her Vanilla Coke, sipping it intertmitently. As Jim walked off the stage at the end of the set, she was waiting for him with a beer at the club stairs. "I think I love you," I said. “Really?” She said smiling, “you can tell that from across the room?” Then she asked "what happened here?" touching the side of his face where he still had some cuts from the debacle of the biker bar. "Critics," he joked: "What's your name?" "Pam," she replied. “Paaaam.” I said, drawing the word out to the southern drawl Morrison affected when he wanted to impress someone with his charm, “Pam, the same as Jim’s wife’s name.” “You remind me of Morrison.” “I’m supposed to, that’s the whole idea.” I said. “No, there’s something about you that’s the same.” She enthused. I turned my head at an angle, another Morrison simulation, then smiled broadly. “Indeed.” She was aching for a way out and I invited her to my apartment. “You wanna do some ‘shrooms?”  Magic mushrooms, psilocybin, was a natural psychedelic. You eat a few and see visions, like blood everywhere. She came back a few minutes later with a very delicate looking porcelain teapot and teacup. We settled into having a joint while I sipped the tea, which for how bad the mushrooms tasted in their natural state, tasted like any other tea I’d had. Aside from the joint, we could’ve been maiden aunts gossiping. “Cool. You know what’s really fun to do now?” “No.” she said, watching silvery comets shooting past my eyes. “Going swinging! C’mon there’s a swing set right out back.” She jumped up and started pulling me towards the patio doors. The night seemed to have turned into a wild, wicked world. The wind whipped at my hair and clothing. I wondered if this dramatic world was real or because of the LSD tea. Some part of me didn’t understand why we had to come outside, while another part of me knew I wanted to go swinging. Out back was a rusting swing set with two well-worn ruts under the rubber and chain swings. We each grabbed one and started pumping our legs towards the stars. “Higher!” She yelled, “isn’t this fun!” We pumped our legs urging the swings higher. We were laughing as the stars drew close and fell away, we couldn’t stop laughing. I let go and was rolling around in the cold dewy grass. I was still laughing when I saw a silvery spider web. Suddenly I felt like I was in a box, silvery spikes splintered through the top. It was a coffin, the ghost of Jim Morrison was inside. I was cold, and I was crying. “I’m dying! I’m dying!” I grabbed my stomach and rolled over on my side. I felt empty. “I’m alone, I’m all alone.” I cried. We woke up the next morning feeling raw and vulnerable. I felt like every nerve had been exposed, like I had touched an open wire. I was still cold. I pulled what blankets I could around me tighter. Pam woke up and rolled over. “It’s all right. You shouldn’t be afraid to reveal yourself to me. But you pretty much do that on stage every night.” “Not really,” I said, “I expose Jim Morrison. I go out there night after night ‘being’ Morrison. Everyone thinks I am him. So much of this cover band thing falls on me. They laugh at me every chance they get. They just don’t understand everything I’m going through. So I try not to show any weakness. A king cannot appear to be as the common man.” “See, you are him!” She gushed and threw her arms around my neck. “I started this, the band, to accomplish certain things. In certain respects it was a search for love.” I heard myself saying. Did I mean her? “It’ll happen if you believe it will.” She looked shy for a second. “You know that’s all I’ve been looking for.” “I love you!” She blurted out. In her eyes I could see the light of true belief burning. “Come with me,” I said. “No one has ever believed in what I want to do like you do.” “What about my dreams?” “Forget it all. I left everything behind to be here.” She said she had to think it over and left. 

Calling Pam
I put about some dollars in change in the pay phone and dialed her number. It rang I tried to drown out the traffic going by on Santa Monica Boulevard. “Hello?” She said. “Hi, I’m sorry I haven’t called sooner.” “Oh, hi,” she cooed softly. “Where are you?” “I’m in L.A. me and the band, we’re going to play The Whisky this weekend.” “That’s great!” She said. “Can you come out here to see me?” I asked supplicant. “Our last argument hurt, especially after what we shared.” “You were hurt?” I protested, “you were living with a new boyfriend.” “I thought we had more than that together.” She whispered. I thought for a moment. “I miss you. Things haven’t been going as well as I had hoped and I’m just trying to get things together.” “Isn’t it a little late?” “No, the gig is still three days away, it came up suddenly, I didn’t have time to do anything except make the arrangements and get out here. I’ve been running around finding a motel for the band and sending out invitations to the show to movie producers, and every newspaper in L.A. And the morning after I have a meeting with an agent, I really want you to come.” There was silence on the other end. I could feel her wavering ambivalence. I felt her moving away from me. I didn’t want to lose her, “let me tell you the truth, I don’t really feel like I belong here. I feel like I’m a fraud.” “You belong there, I believe in your talent.” “Then come,” I said, plaintively. “I need someone who believes in me, and someone I believe believes in me, if that makes any sense. I see the parts of me in you that I miss. I wish I could be quiet again, that I didn’t have to howl to get noticed. I’m an oddity no matter where I go. In my family, at the college, in my own band! Even the bars where I feel the closest to comfortable, I talk about life and death, and they look at me suspiciously. Just come, I miss you.” I said, “or stay in that one small town, and when you marry Billy Carlson, the mechanic you’ve known since third grade, send me an invitation.” I paused, hoping to hear her laugh. She laughed. “Look, I have money. I can send plane fare, you can be here tomorrow, and we can rent a house on Norton avenue, just like Jim and Pam. Or up in the hills, anything you want.” To kill the time in between I spent it the same as Morrison had, drinking. Walking back to the motel room from Barney’s, I was thinking how I wouldn’t have to deal with the boys after tomorrow night. Pam was supposed to arrive sometime today. She hadn’t told me what time to expect her, but I gave her the hotel room number and address. As I walked up the steps to the room I noticed the door to the room was open. “Pam?” I walked in. “I’m not interrupting am I?” She asked. She was lying under the sheets, seemingly naked. “Hi honey, no, I don’t think you are.” We spent the next couple of hours making love.

Oddly, I could connect with the far away memories of what must have been the real Jim and Pam's first personal date. Jim and Pam lying on a gilded bed, enthralled with each other. Pamela laughing, amused at Jim's declaration 'I'll give you a fancy place, silk clothes and diamonds!'. Jim knowing he had found his cosmic mate, assuring Pam 'You are not my groupie' in a sudden serious tone, 'you are my girl.' Her fingers, so softly tactile, exploring his body, making his brain explode with an unknown, inviolable pleasure. He kissing her possesively. She tasted like Vanilla Coke and candy. 'I wanted to hold you in my arms since you laid your eyes on me at the London Fog,' Pam confessing, transfixed. Her eyes were glazing over and he made love to her like an eternal promise. Jim became Pamela's protector, drowning in a sea of interminable desire. As all the true love stories, Jim Morrison's unique relationship with Pam Courson was misunderstood. I chose Love and married Pam. Jim Morrison said that Love was the answer.

I walked that same edge that Morrison did, stared into his abyss. I wanted to learn about that existence to see what lay on the other side, to see what I could learn about myself. I did learn a lot about what was going on in Morrison’s head, and what was going on in my head. What had I been trying to accomplish? I was looking for transcendence. I was transformed into something greater than myself. Every Saturday I throw on the leather pants and do a show for my audience of one, the only audience I want, Pam. She is the bit of reality and unreality I need in the world to get through life. I’ve come to realize I did find my new world in Pam and the love she offered to me. My new world of thought and feeling was being able to acknowledge that love to myself. —"Jim Morrison: The Last Stage" (2005) by Jim Cherry