WEIRDLAND: Elvis Presley: “The King”, Jim Morrison: Self-Destructiveness, Interminable desire

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Elvis Presley: “The King”, Jim Morrison: Self-Destructiveness, Interminable desire

Written and directed by Eugene Jarecki (“Why We Fight”), The King is a meditation on the current American crisis that’s built around a deep-dish portrait of Elvis Presley. The two elements—America and Elvis—come together in ticklish, surprising ways that expand and delight your perceptions.  If “The King” has a thesis is that America has entered its Fat Elvis period. We’re bloated, addicted, going through the motions, coasting on our legend, courting self-destruction. Yet the question the film asks is how, exactly, we got there, and Jarecki attempts to answer it by taking every aspect of Elvis’s life and career—not just the greatness but the betrayal of greatness. Elvis, by the end, didn’t just lose his majesty, he lost his faith, and so, in many ways, have we. In “The King,” which was entitled “Promised Land” when it premiered at Cannes in 2017, Jarecki takes a road tour of America in a 1963 Rolls Royce that was originally owned by Elvis. 

Greil Marcus, in his landmark 1975 book “Mystery Train,” had made the case that Elvis wasn’t just a legendary rock & roller but a quintessentially grand and timeless American artist. The scope of his music—its joy and its promise—was so epic that the more you played it and thought about it and lived in it, the more you realized how much it had changed you. Albert Goldman’s scandalous 1981 biography of the King, reveled in every last tawdry detail of Elvis’s addictions, his degraded descent. In “The King,” Eugene Jarecki puts together both sides of Elvis: the incandescent American artist and the overblown dysfunctional sellout. 40 years after Elvis left us (he died on August 16, 1977), Greil Marcus, who never lost the faith, makes the revelatory point that prior to the existence of the United States, there had never been a political document that devoted an entire nation to anything like “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Elvis Presley, when he came on the scene, was acting that out. Elvis shaking his hips on TV, sexualizing the entire culture with that ebullient fast-vibrato croon, was the pursuit of happiness. He seemed to open that door to everyone.

Now we’re in a drugged-out haze in a dopey white jumpsuit, fat and bloated and depressed. Donald Trump is our president and we’re about to drop dead in the bathroom. As former Secretary of Defense Richard Perle said: "people think that you can just elect a new man to office, and everything will change. It's already a different world. We have already changed." “The King” is a searching, impassioned, let’s-try-this-on-and-see-how-it-looks movie. It’s an essay in the form of an investigation. Elvis, after all, may have lost his faith, but the difference between Elvis and America is that we still have time to get ours back. Source:

The maintenance of dissociated alternating ego states is used to prevent a generalized feeling of anxiety throughout the self by protecting the libidinally derived all good ego core and by restricting anxiety to the all bad ego core, which is based on aggressively derived introjections. Therefore, the affected by borderline syndrome cannot integrate a stable identity. Denial, in its crudest form, reinforces splitting. Denial can interfere in a severe but focal way with reality testing, for example, in the denial of a reality at the service of a transference distortion. Borderline patients also can deny the significance of external events that were very significant to them. A more sophisticated form of denial is the intensified expression of an affect opposite to the one being denied, for example, the manic denial of depression. The depressive-masochistic personality disorder, the highest-level outcome of the pathology of depressive affect, presents an extremely punitive superego. This predisposes the patient to self-defeating behavior and reflects an unconscious need to suffer as expiation for guilt feelings or a precondition for sexual pleasure. The more realistic or understandable past object relations are replaced by highly unrealistic, sharply idealized, or persecutory self representations that cannot be traced immediately to actual or fantasied relations of the past. Sometimes they are replaced by a defensive disintegration of the representations of self into libidinally invested part-object relations. —"Narcissism, Self-Destructiveness and Borderline States" (2004) by Otto F. Kernberg

Who was Jim Morrison, and why did he fall apart? These seem to be the basic questions posed by Stone, but in the end the viewer is left wondering why he cared in the first place. With mere glimpses of twisted, half-baked memories from Jim’s early years, it’s hard to understand his evolution and decline. The Doors covers the period from 1965-1971, focusing on the band's lead singer, poet and songwriter. Morrison cannot handle the pressures of success and we see a slow train wreck as he turns to excesses in drugs, drink, women and exhibitionism. It hardly matters that when novelist Eve Babitz was a young Venice hipster, she pegged The Doors as nerds whose fans thought they were cool because "they had lyrics you could understand about stuff they learned in Psychology 101 and Art History." (That didn't stop Eve Babitz from sleeping with Morrison). Stone adores film deconstructing and has had great success with it previously, but this picture completely missed the mark. No wonder Ray Manzarek complained "Oliver Stone has assassinated Jim Morrison."

Oliver Stone's Jim Morrison is juvenile, destructive, obnoxious, and often, pointless. He hardly comes off as a genius, poetic or otherwise. Stone uses the docu-drama format as a license to condense times and events, while simultaneously inventing composite characters and situations that never existed. The downside, in addition to the lack of scope regarding Morrison, comes in the numerous episodes that never happened (Patricia Kennealy being present at the New Haven show Morrison got arrested at, Patricia Kennealy and Pam Courson having a catfight, Buick actually making a commercial using the song Light My Fire and Jim finding out about it by watching TV, Jim setting fire while Pam was smacked up in the closet... and on and on). Oliver Stone was actually kinder to Richard Nixon and Gordon Gekko than to Jim Morrison. Jim Morrison's personality doesn't unfold at all. Oliver Stone focuses on the wrong things. Sure, Jim Morrison was an alcoholic with a disregard for authority, but he was also a very intelligent, sensitive, friendly and funny person. This is far from the picture most people have of him after seeing the movie. Source:

Patricia Kennealy met Jim Morrison in January 1969 at the Plaza Hotel in New York City, the day after The Doors had appeared at Madison Square Garden. In June 1970, Jim and Patricia were supposedly married in a Celtic handfasting ceremony--an event that Oliver Stone later depicted in his 1991 film, The Doors. After the film release, Kennealy wrote a memoir, Strange Days, about their brief romance. According to Jerry Hopkins: "Except for Pamela, there was no one girl that he saw often for periods of more than a few days, and in the months since they'd met. Jim and Patricia had been in the same room only a few times. Nor had there been many phone calls. A sheaf of oddly personal letters, gifts of jewelry and rare books, but nothing that signaled a passionate courtship." Kennealy, however, tried very hard in Strange Days to model the character of herself after Pamela Courson. Patricia describes herself as a stylish redhead who kept Jim in check and didn’t take any guff from him, making herself out to be the muse who put Jim in his place, all the while inspiring his work… a lot like Pamela did. Patricia, however, was not a natural redhead. Color videos from that era show her with medium brown hair, without one red highlight. Patricia knew that no one could ever replace Pamela in Jim’s life,  and from the very beginning she was madly jealous of Pam. 

This photo is one of two that exist of them in the same proximity, and what you can tell is that she’s cut her co-workers out so that this photo looks more intimate. It was taken for promotional purposes for the magazine Kennealy wrote for, Jazz & Pop. Patricia Kennealy was just one of Jim Morrison’s many one night stands. Jim went along with it as a joke and didn’t take it all seriously, a fact attested to by Kennealy in a book called “Rock Wives,” written in 1987. When The Doors movie came out, Patricia changed her story totally to make herself out to be much more important in Morrison’s life that she really had been. Going by Morrison's schedule at the time, he could have spent maybe 10 days with her tops. A real womanizer, when he was sober, Jim Morrison was the epitome of the southern gentleman, considerate, extremely polite, generous, very romantic and higly respectful towards women. As John Densmore recalled: "Jim liked to treat women with great respect." Jim wrote passionate love letters and poems to these women, and many thought he really meant it, but Pam was the only one in his heart. 

Pamela was much desired even before meeting Jim, she inspired not only the music of The Doors but other bands of that era. Jim and Pam were madly in love with each other from the beginning. Although Pam often recriminated his infidelities and Jim reproached to Pam she could be 'meaner than a rattlesnake,' they were meant to be together. Kennealy deluded herself when she said: "Jim found it hard to accept love because he had never been given very much of it, and did not think himself worthy of love." Although it can be true Morrison didn't receive the love he needed as a kid, he never hesitated in receiving love from Pamela. Also, Morrison is alleged to have loved—in a much lower intensity—other women like Mary Werbelow, Nico, Judy Huddleston, or Peggy Green. But Jim never loved Patricia, he just saw her as an obsessive stalker and even was justifiably scared of her. Someone made a great Pin on Pinterest where it shows a sample of Kennealy's handwriting and what is supposed to be Jim Morrison's signature on a Pagan "marriage document". The document was handwritten by Kennealy herself and it is fairly obvious that she forged Jim Morrison's signature on it, the handwriting really is identical. It would not be any surprise that no ceremony took place at all, or if it did it took place while Morrison was completely passed out. —by RiderOntheStorm1969 & She Dances in A Ring of Fire Tumblr

Pamela Courson’s remains are in a crypt at Fairhaven Memorial Park, behind a plaque that says, “Morrison/Pamela Susan.” Cemetery workers have to clean the plaque regularly because so many people kiss it. Kim Fowley (The Runaways' manager) talking about meeting Jim and Pam in Canyon of Dreams by Harvey Kubernik: "I met Pamela Courson, Jim's wife, at the Renaissance Faire on Sunset Blvd. Morrison said to me 'When you fall in love, you'll be a better poet.' One of the most intelligent guys I ever met in rock and roll." Why did Jim Morrison feel that cosmic connection to Pam Courson? Was she "complicated, and a basket case" as Alan Ronay described her? Was she a sweet child or a wild child? Was she Morrison's bane of existence or his muse of immense inspiration? Pam Courson is probably the most mysterious wife of an acclaimed rock star ever. And until today she's been and continues to be a beautiful mystery. The truth is Jim Morrison caught her eye and pursued her at the campus of a college party. Pamela barely raised her sight from her coke. She was one of a kind! As Jim walked off the London Fog's stage, she was waiting for him holding a beer and a bag of mushrooms. They made love for over three hours in their first night together. Jim knew he had found his cosmic mate, and didn't want to lose her. She was not a groupie, she was not a floozy, she was a strange angel, and his girl forever. Jim became Pamela's protector, and even when he couldn't make her love, he could make know her of his interminable desire, of how special she was for him. As all the true love stories, Jim Morrison's unique relationship with Pam Courson was utterly misunderstood. Some insiders thought Morrison was lost, at the mercy of the unstable Pam, but they were dead wrong. Jim chose Pam, chose Love. Jim Morrison said that Love was the answer. Source:

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