WEIRDLAND: The Nietzschean Influence of Jim Morrison

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Nietzschean Influence of Jim Morrison

'Those who envy or culminate great men hate God, for there is no other God.‘ ―"The Marriage of Heaven and Hell"  (1793) by William Blake 

Although Jim Morrison‘s work displays a strong Nietzschean influence, his early explorations with sensory perception relate more specifically to William Blake and Aldous Huxley. Jim Morrison eagerly joined the pursuit for personal freedom in the Nietzschean fashion accepting both the rewards and the sacrifices. Through the process of misprision, Morrison accepts the role of poet which allows him to reinvent Nietzsche. In his poem 'The Opening of the Trunk,' Morrison reflects this idea: "Moment of inner freedom/ when the mind is opened and the infinite universe revealed/ the soul is left to wander." In order to set himself apart from his precursors, Morrison‘s work often contains an aspect of fear and revulsion. Morrison was no stranger to experimenting with mind-altering drugs like marijuana and LSD and found himself drawn to Aldous Huxley‘s essay 'The Doors of Perception.' In Morrison‘s view, everyone designs an alternate life for themselves in their mind which sometimes conflicts with their life in the real world. In "The Lords and the New Creatures" (1971) he states: "Drugs are a bet with your mind/ Where I can construct a universe/ within the skull, to rival the real." 

Jim Morrison writes: "I drink so I can talk to assholes/This includes me." Morrison‘s experimentation left him with an expanded consciousness yet increased his anxiety about life. In keeping with his darker thoughts, Morrison writes: "Films are collections of dead pictures which are/ given artificial insemination." Morrison describes the moment he accepted the task of creating: "Those first six songs I wrote, I was just taking notes at a fantastic rock concert that was going on inside my head. I just got out of college and I went down to the beach…I was free for the first time… It was a beautiful hot summer, and I just started hearing songs… This kind of mythic concert… I‘d like to reproduce what I heard on the beach that day." In 'The American Night" he remembers: "One summer night, going/ To the pier, I ran into/ two young girls. The blonde was called Freedom,/ the dark one, Enterprise./ We talked and they told me this story." Another version of that poem alludes to Nietzsche as he concludes with the lines  "At night the moon became/ a woman‘s face./ I met the Spirit of Music." 

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, telling a generation starved for love that 'music is your only friend.‘ Morrison sees no point in trying to combat nihilism. His work 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 comfortable role of the spectator or assuming the unpredictable role of the actor—a problem he will ponder often during his career. Morrison recognizes "self-deception may be/ necessary to the poet‘s survival." Morrison‘s self-doubt extends beyond his abilities as a writer to his abilities as performer as well. 'The Discourse of the Sublime and the Inadequacy of Presentation' essay contends that an interest in the alliance between the mind and imagination challenged traditional views on aesthetics and in turn redefined the boundaries of disproportion, obscurity and monster-like appearances.  Morrison‘s poem 'Crossroads' depicts his perception of this process while showing his proclivity for darker images: "Meeting you at your parent‘s gate/ We will tell you what to do/ What you have to do to survive/ Leave the rotten towns/ of your father/ Leave the poisoned wells and bloodstained streets/ Enter now the sweet forest."

Jim Morrison summarizes his philosophy as he writes in 'The American Night': "We have assembled inside this ancient/ & insane theater/ To propagate our lust for life/ and flee the swarming wisdom of the streets." Both Nietzsche and Morrison believe in the destructive condition of the creative process. Morrison uses elements of Dionysian myth in his poetry to describe his own creative experiences: "Running, I saw a Satan/ or Satyr, moving beside/ me, a fleshy shadow/ of my secret mind. Running, Knowing. As the body is ravaged/ The spirit grows stronger./ Forgive me Father for I know/ I want to hear the last Poem/ of the last Poet." Morrison‘s lonely trip takes him to places that even he cannot endure: "I had a splitting headache/ from which the future‘s made." Following a long tradition of strong poets, Morrison uses Nietzschean themes to rewrite/reinvent Nietzsche and develop a philosophy of willful absurdity. ―"The Nietzschean Influence of Jim Morrison" (2008) thesis by Megan Michelle Stypinski 

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