WEIRDLAND: May 2020

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Expression of Grief: Georg Simmel (The View of Life), Jim Morrison's Blasé Idealism

While Georg Simmel was a deep reader of Nietzsche and shared his romantic attraction to ‘an endless succession of contrasts’, he took an urbane distance from the latter’s aristocratic radicalism. Instead of seeking extremes in the mountains of Sils Maria, Simmel found them in the metropolitan crowd, where one can feel the uniquely modern loneliness of passing a thousand faces without recognising a friend. Nietzsche’s peaks and valleys produced noble heights and abject depths. Simmel’s metropolis instead cultivated blasé citizens who, afraid of being subsumed, distinguish themselves with externally cool indifference. His imagery hints at Germany’s romantically inflected nationalism. Worn-down spiritually, cynics have convinced themselves that only crude consumption and exchange are real. Every cynic is a spurned lover. On the other hand, the person with a blasé outlook knows it is better to have loved and lost. And the moment that love seems possible again, the blasé are one step away from leaving behind their indifference and becoming the cynic’s opposite: the sanguine enthusiast. As Simmel put it: ‘For man, who is always striving, never satisfied, always becoming, love is the true human condition.’ Simmel concluded that ‘truth is valid, not in spite of its relativity but precisely on account of it’. Simmel saw that the individual’s quest for truth would inevitably fail. Simmel fitted with common neo-Kantian sensibilities that, having been burned by the mid-19th-century collapse of Hegelian absolute idealism, focussed on the validity of limited, particular truths. Similarly, the Christian passion for ethical perfection was for Simmel an estranged expression of grief for a fallen world and a confession that goodness does exist – in this world. But there is also an element of tragedy here: to love truth is to love something we feel duty-bound to seek, even though it remains always out of reach. Like Herman Hesse’s protagonist in Steppenwolf (1927), Simmel chased an elusive absolute. In his final book, The View of Life (1918), Simmel abandoned his earlier relativism in favour of a philosophy of life. ‘By virtue of our highest, self-transcending consciousness at any given moment, we are the absolute above our relativity.’ Source: aeon.co


The Doors played the Hollywood Bowl on July 5, 1968, a concert that shows them at the height of their musical prowess and their career. Before the show Jim Morrison had met with Mick Jagger at the Alta Cienega motel. The Doors later had drinks with Jagger and Keith Richards, both of whom had attended the Hollywood Bowl with Pam reportedly sitting on Jagger’s lap during the show. That spring The Doors had started filming what would become the “Feast of Friends” documentary, so they decided to film the Hollywood Bowl show. Robby Krieger recalled their encounter: “We had some drinks with Mick Jagger, and he was chatting up Pam (Pamela Courson, Jim Morrison's girlfriend), you could see Jim didn't like that. So Jim decided to take acid—too much acid. Jim was usually so reserved, but the acid had made him real self-conscious.” 

So supposedly at The Hollywood Bowl concert, Pam Courson was seen sitting on Mick Jagger's lap, which actually bothered Jim. Now this picture is shot after The Doors play the song “When The Music Is Over” and right before “Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar)”.  Mick Jagger tried to be diplomatic when Melody Maker magazine asked him how he'd liked the Doors. Jagger reportedly said, ‘They were nice chaps, but they played a bit too long.' Source: pamelacourson.tumblr.com

Jim Cherry: I am both a Doors and Stones fan. Jim Morrison was way beyond Mick Jagger in terms of having a larger purpose. Mick Jagger was in it for the money from the beginning. Not that there is anything wrong with money, but Jagger was just a good blues-based rocker. Jim was truly on a personal quest. Their styles were totally different. Jagger was/is an exhibitionist, interested in everything money could buy. Jim instead never owned a house and hardly any possessions. I think it's also important to remember, considering these two singers, that comparing Morrison's voice to Jagger's is like comparing gold to tin. Also, in any category you care to name, except those of self-promotion, money-making and longevity, Jagger is a light-weight compared to Morrison. I understand that Mick Jagger and Jim Morrison didn't like each other too much and were rather competitive. Jim was compared to Mick early in his career, however, after seeing Jim perform at the Hollywood Bowl, Mick called Jim's performance "boring." Later, Jim had some negative comments about Mick Jagger ('that faggot').

High Spirits in the countercultural frat house: A secret history of Jim Morrison (2000) by Jim Cherry: "I didn't want strawberries. I wanted raspberries. Alright? Christ, the room service here is a bleedin' disgrace, ain't it Keef?" Mick Jagger lounged on a monumental couch in a penthouse suite atop a hotel in LA. On stage, a waif-like satyr, all lips and hip moves, off it, he often resembled a testy young housewife, having a moan about this, a gripe about the price of that, flouncing in and out of hotel rooms. In public Jagger made every effort to seem a bad dog, but in reality his hedonism was of a controlled nature: the odd spliff, the odd vodka, a fondness for coke, all done with a restraint and self control which was, in his chosen line of work, practically unheard off. Jim Morrison, whom he had seen playing the Hollywood Bowl, had not to worry about the androgynous Jagger flirting with Pamela, since most of American girls preferred the more sexy and masculine Morrison over Jagger anytime. Jagger's long term partner in crime Keith Richards was his polar opposite, with a taste for class A narcotics. Richards, lit another marlboro and stared with laconic indifference at Jagger. "Raspberries. Maybe we should do a song about Raspberries. Fats Domino's cornered that market with blueberries."  Richards ignored Jagger's suggestions. "Where are we playing tonight, Mick?" Jagger corrected him: "We're not playing. The tour's finished. Remember Altamont last week?" Then the telephone rang. Richards didn't move a muscle. Finally Jagger minced over to the phone. "Hello? Oh really?" Jagger put his hand over the phone. "Jim Morrison's in the lobby, he wants to come up and see us." Keith blew smoke, intrigued. In a few minutes there was a knock at the door. Jagger rushed out of the room adorned with eyeliner and wearing a skin-tight suit. Keith remained still where he was, reaching for another marlboro. Jagger opened the door and there stood Jim Morrison, with a bottle of Chateau Margaux wine under his arm, dressed in his trade mark black leathers. Morrison lolled his head on one side and his mouth curled into a lazy grin. "Hmnnm," he said in his famous elliptical fashion. Jagger smiled at him and elected to talk as if he came from Dartford, by way of Louisiana. "James. How y'all?" Morrison strode slowly into the Stones' hotel room. 

Keith followed Morrison across the room with his eyes. Several days earlier the Stones' Altamont concert had degenerated into violence and murder. The dark lyrics and awesome, percussive rhythms had proved an all too apt soundtrack to the chaos and paranoia of a mass drugs bacchanal gone horribly wrong. Morrison flung himself down on the huge couch opposite Keef. Their eyes remained locked. Morrison was feeling confident and was ready to joust. He leaned forward. "Can I have a cigarette?" Keith dropped the pack on the table. Jagger moved over to the drinks cabinet and found a corkscrew and some antique wine glasses. Morrison blew a plume of smoke, whilst Jagger examined the wine bottle. Morrison ran his fingers through his hair and grinned. "Maybe Chuck Berry should have dropped acid," Keith said. "Well" said Morrison, "If he had've, he might of found another chord to play with." "That's right" Jagger said in what had now become a sarcastic Mayfair drawl "and made some money, instead, while we're playing Madison Square garden he's in some sweaty promoter's office in the back end of Missouri arguing about giving a pick up band fifty dollars. Isn't that right Keef?" "Yeah." Morrison dragged on his cigarette. Keith sipped at his Margaux. Jagger looked at Morrison, who was getting a joint rolled out of a concealed pouch in his jacket. "What did you think of Altamont?" Morrison looked up at Jagger and said nothing. "I take it you heard about Altamont?" Morrison was burning hashish with an onyx and gold lighter. "Well... If you're gonna dance with the devil..." Jagger made his grammar-school-boy-affronted-by-being-told-he'd-failed-an-exam look. "James, what do you mean by that?" Keith waved his hands gently in the manner of Al Jolson singing 'Mammy'. "He means we asked for it by playing sympathy for the devil. The dark shit." Jagger looked at Keith, then back at Morrison. "James, It's only rock and roll." Morrison took a big hit on the spliff. He exhaled and spoke. "I'm afraid it's more than that. Some kids go along and see us guys playing. All they wanna do it horse around and maybe get laid, then they go home, read the sports illustrated, listen to the radio and watch TV. Others come because they know...." "Know what?" said Jagger, bewildered. "That this is something important in their lives. This ain't just entertainment." "Don't you think I know that?" said Keith dryly. Morrison glowered at him. "Yeah, but out here.... We are living on the edge of sanity itself. You found that out at the speedway." Jagger sipped his wine as prudently as a maiden aunt imbibing a cream sherry. "Edge of sanity itself? Bollocks. The Angels are a bunch of fucking arseholes." Morrison's redeyes moved round to Jagger, and watched him take a polite puff on the reefer. "They were players in a drama... the villains of the piece." "Well," said Jagger "at least you don't think we're the villains like every other bastard in this town." Morrison sat forward, warming to his theme. "They're just players man, like us, just players, all the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players..." Keith knocked his wine back. "They have their exits and their entrances." Morrison sat back, impressed." That's right." Jagger raised his eyebrows. Morrison refilled Keith's glass and continued to probe Jagger's patience. "Mick, man, you said it's only rock and roll right?" "Yes, James, and I happen to like it." "But you don't understand. To you it's a fucking business man. To those people out there-" Morrison waved an unsteady hand towards the view of LA. "- to those people out there, it's the thing that they've been waiting for all their lives.... We maybe could change the fucking world." Jagger adopted a sneering fifties matinee idol tone. "Don't get carried way James..." "I'm not. We're at a point in time... If it passes and the world remains the same, it'll be an opportunity wasted. What's gonna be left for those people out there?" "Don't get carried away James, it's rock and roll, if you get carried away you end up like John Lennon, pretending, or for all I know, believing he's Jesus Christ, giving press conferences from inside a fucking polythene bag from Amsterdam." Morrison's congealed eyes narrowed and looked anxiously at Keith. "There's gonna be some hard times coming down. The game is up....", said Keith. "Fucking motorbikers acting like apes... all in the name of peace, fucking forget it." Morrison stood up. "So what does that leave us with?" "Music" said Keith. "Yeah, but if the music just becomes some godamn fucking safe thing we might as well make elevator music. Don't you think?" Jagger stood up and started to comb his hair. "I thought that's what you did do James." "I make music that I fucking believe in." Morrison looked at Keith "do you?" Keith stared up at him over the end of the joint. "What a fuckin' stupid question, man." Morrison indicated Jagger. "Does he?" Jagger had had enough for one day, he was looking out of the window. Morrison threw the antique wine glass against the wall. "That's what we should be doing. Not talking about lawyers." Jagger turned from the window. "I think you better leave James, you're getting out of hand." The wine ran down the wall and Morrison walked over and ran his hand across it. "Do you realise what's going to happen Mick?" he murmured " That this whole thing is gonna pass and it's gonna end up pretty much like it was before..." Jagger struck a defiant pose. "Are you going to leave, or are we going to have to get you thrown out?" "You don't throw people out yourselves then? You rock and roll devils." Keith, his back to Morrison, lit a cigarette and spoke. "I'm a goddam musician. That's it...you know. You start taking it too seriously... Money's at the root of this business. It always will be. They're gonna make money off your ass from here on, dead or alive, same as us. That's how it works." Morrison leant against the wall. "Yeah but it doesn't have to be that way...." Keith blew another plume of smoke. "Well Jim, I don't know about you but I ain't no Mao. I write rock and roll records. And you are one of us." "No, I am not," Morrison replied defiantly. Jagger collected the other wine glasses and shuffled across the room. "Well, whatever, I want to have my afternoon nap." Morrison looked at them both and walked out, leaving the door open. Jagger shut it. 

Monday, May 25, 2020

Venus & Adonis, Jim & Pam Morrison

Desire is death, says Shakespeare. There's no physic, no cure, for it. And, for Shakespeare in the early 1590s, that death-in-desire is made manifest by the plot of "Venus & Adonis", as well as the couplet of Sonnet 147. My love is as a fever, longing still For that which longer nurseth the disease, Feeding on that which doth preserve the ill, uncertain sickly appetite to please. My reason, the physician to my love, Angry that his prescriptions are not kept, Hath left me, and I desperate now approve. Desire is death, which physic did except. Past cure I am, now reason is past care, And frantic-mad with evermore unrest; My thoughts and my discourse as madmen's are, At random from the truth vainly expressed: For I have sworn thee fair, and thought thee bright, Who art as black as hell, as dark as night.

"Venus & Adonis": For his two long narrative poems, Shakespeare went back to classical stories and characters. From Book 10 of Ovid's Metamorphoses, he took the brief tale of Venus and Adonis and transformed it into something more substantial, more erotic, and more strange. The set-up is right there in the title: The Goddess of Love Meets The Beautiful Young Man. There's plenty of aggressive, relentless, and desperate seduction, but no sex. What the reader is treated to is erotic rhetoric, and little else. But hold on, when did this seduction poem introduce desire and death? Early and often. When Venus coaxes a kiss out of Adonis, it's described in language that is clearly predatory: Now quick desire hath caught the yielding prey, And glutton-like she feeds, yet never filleth. Her lips are conquerors, his lips obey, Paying what ransom the insulter willeth, Whose vulture thought doth pitch the price so high That she will draw his lips' rich treasure dry, And, having felt the sweetness of the spoil, With blindfold fury she begins to forage. Her face doth reek and smoke, her blood doth boil. And careless lust stirs up a desperate courage, Planting oblivion, beating reason back. 

Shakespeare might have stopped there. Sex and violence aren't unknown companions. A little rough and tumble, the titillation of the woman performing the seduction. But the warning Venus announces ends with a vivid and, it will turn out, entirely accurate premonition of Adonis's fate: And, more than so, presenteth to mine eye The picture of an angry chafing boar, Under whose sharp fangs on his back doth lie An image like thyself, all stained with gore, Whose blood upon the fresh flowers being shed. Doth make them droop with grief, and hang the head. What happened? Was this a hunting accident? The poem leaves it to Venus to answer these questions. We stay with the goddess throughout, never leaving her point of view. She spends what's left of the night lovesick, singing tedious songs about her beloved. Morning dawns. She hears Adonis's hounds at bay, runs toward the sound, encounters a boar "Whose frothy mouth is bepainted all with red...." She "berates the boar for murder", discovers a wounded trail of hunting dogs, and she also chides Death.

But chiding death is not the same as discovering what happened. Venus's lack of curiosity about Adonis's death is at this point mildly provocative. It's easy to dismiss this as swept aside by grief. Hold that thought. Suddenly, in the distance, she hears "some huntsman hollo". Despite evidence to the contrary, her hope is renewed and off she goes in pursuit. Then, before we can prepare ourselves for it, she spies Adonis's body in the grass. The scene revealed to us is restricted to Venus's point of view. The narration offers no explanation of what happened. Venus's interpretation links up with earlier moments in the poem to provoke our suspicion that Adonis's death is more than a hunting accident. Here is the description when she views his dead body: And, being opened, threw unwilling light. Upon the wide wound that the boar had trenched In his soft flank, whose wonted lily-white. With purple tears that his wound wept was drenched. No flower was nigh, no grass, herb, leaf, or weed, But stole his blood, and seemed with him to bleed. There's a hint here, in the anatomical imprecision that locates the wound in his "soft flank", about the violent sexual crime that's been committed. Adonis, the Goddess of Love's object of desire, who possesses a potency she's desperate for, but won't deliver, is gored in the very place that has been in dispute for hundreds of lines of verse. The poetic conventions themselves call attention to this key moment of symbolic overdetermination: the contrast of white and purple, the empathy nature shows in bleeding with him.

Let's pause here and revisit the point I raised: isn't this just a hunting accident, romanticized by Venus due to her unrequited desire? I mean, look at the circumstantial evidence: a dangerous animal, probably cornered, fighting for its life, a boar with a bloody mouth, and a dead Adonis, gored at tusk height. This is enough to make a case. But is it conclusive? Is there more to it? Let's make a list.

• Classical versions of the story identify Mars (jealousy), Diana (revenge, envy), and Apollo (punishment) as responsible for Adonis's death.

• Venus repeatedly warns Adonis that his perfection puts him in danger, and that procreating will give back to nature ("Things growing to themselves are growth's abuse").

• When she warns him about the perils of the boar hunt, she adds that her love for him renders him vulnerable to a deadly jealousy, without specifying who she has in mind. As if the boar were the instrument of another's jealous rage.

• Venus's desire is predatory, and a real danger to Adonis, directly and indirectly. Indirectly through the involvement of others, as above, and directly due to the common fatal outcome when immortals and mortals come into conflict (the substance of Ovid's Metamorphoses).

These elements conspire to move the needle from "accident" to "murder". As detectives in crime dramas so often say, "Something just doesn't add up". We left Venus standing over the dead body of Adonis, offering her reaction to his wound. After this, she imagines what happened, and it's the only version of the killing of Adonis that we get. But this foul, grim, and urchin-snouted boar, Whose downward eye still looketh for a grave, Ne'er saw the beauteous livery that he wore: Witness the entertainment that he gave. If he did see his face, why then, I know He thought to kiss him, and hath killed him so. "Tis true, 'tis true; thus was Adonis slain; He ran upon the boar with his sharp spear, Who did not whet his teeth at him again, But by a kiss thought to persuade him there, And, nuzzling in his flank, the loving swine Sheathed unaware the tusk in his soft groin. "Had I been toothed like him, I must confess With kissing him I should have killed him first; But he is dead, and never did he bless My youth with his, the more am I accursed." With this she falleth in the place she stood. And stains her face with his congealed blood. This, pardon the pun, is the climax of the poem, its funereal, bloody orgasm. The goddess, narcissistic to the last, laments that she's the one who has missed out, accursed for not having enjoyed sex with this perfect young man. And at the same time, the equation of her desire and the boar's superimposes sex and violence, as she imagines herself as the boar, equipped with a tusk/phallus capable of dealing a penetrating death blow. It's difficult not to speculate about this poem's relationship to the conditions in which it was produced: the anxiety over the closure of the theatres at the precise moment Shakespeare's career as a playwright was taking hold. "Venus & Adonis" is a poem of frustration, of impotence, leading to death in the pursuit of desire. The worn trope—Time Devours All Things (tempus edax rerum)—is true for human beings, says Shakespeare: if you're a mortal, death lurks at the heart of the very thing you most want. Source: www.popmatters.com

Patricia Butler: Randall Johnson's original script was essentially a movie about Jim and Pam, with Pam being a very strong woman, far more true to life than the caricature Oliver Stone drew as Pam. Randy recognized that the real story was between Jim and Pam and slanted the script accordingly.  It was still about the Doors, but the real love story between Jim and Pam was much more prominent and realistic. Stone couldn't stand Pamela being given so much positive attention, and he ripped the script to shreds. What you saw on the screen unfortunately bears absolutely no resemblance to what Randy wrote. Stone's contact with Patricia Kennealy muddled the waters even more. I know that Meg Ryan had enough access to factual information that she had to know her character was falsely drawn. As a very big star and the biggest box office draw in that movie at that time, she had quite a lot of power to exert her influence to get the part strengthened. Instead she took the easy route and, as a result, a whole generation of fans came away with the impression that Pam was this weak airhead. Some of the people who knew Jim -- at least who would be the most likely to be interviewed -- had too much vested in their own personal agendas for them to ever speak honestly. One of the best things about writing my book was getting to find and talk to people that most Doors/Morrison fans have probably never heard of, or only heard of in a peripheral way. These are the folks who not only knew Jim and Pam best, but have nothing to lose by telling the truth about him and Pam. Thank god for those people, or else the Oliver Stone version of Jim and Pam would be what ended up taking over. The Coursons were quite unhappy with the movie because Stone told them quite a few lies in order to get their cooperation.  The production also "borrowed" quite a number of personal photos and documents from the Coursons that were never returned. On top of all that they got to see this movie that made their daughter look like a boneheaded loser.

I don't think Stone ever had any intention of making Pamela a real character in the story. Jim Morrison and Pamela Courson first met in August 1965 and they had a "common law marriage", which is recognized as full legal matrimony in accordance with certain qualifying conditions. In order of the chapters of my book I access to the following serie of interviews to: Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger, Jeff Morehouse, Stan Durkee, Richard Sparks, Frank Lisciandro, Margaret Fink, Paul Rothchild, Admiral George Morrison and Mrs. Clara Morrison, Bryan Gates, Thomas Bruce Reese, Randall Jahnson, January Jensen, Mirandi Babitz, Babe Hill, Julia Densmore Negron, Paul Ferrara, Jac Holzman, Bill Siddons, Cheri Siddons, Christopher Jones, Anne Moore, Rich Linnell, Dr. Paul Ackerman, Dr. Arnold Derwin, Raeanne Rubenstein, Cathy Weldy, Herve Mueller, Tere Tereba, Alain Ronay, Ellen Sander, Danny Sugerman, Randy Ralston, Barbara Marko, Bruce Ramm, Alan R. Graham, etc. I didn't interview Salli Stevenson because she didn't seem too receptive. Salli was not present any of the times when I interviewed Danny Sugerman. I went to Danny's house with Salli once, and that day I talked informally with Danny's wife Fawn, but I did no interview Danny until a week later. I interviewed Danny twice, each time accompanied by my friend Dan Salomon, not Salli Stevenson. I've also had numerous phone and email conversations with Danny, none of which Salli Stevenson was privy to. Furthermore, I interviewed Babe Hill at Salli Stevenson's apartment, and Babe told Salli to her face that day that her "romantic relationship" with Jim Morrison was purely a figment of her imagination. Salli only had a friendship bond with Jim Morrison. It was Janet Erwin (Salli's friend) who was a lover of Morrison. Erwin published her memoir "Tiffany Talks. Patricia Kennealy: Your Ballroom Days Are Over Baby!" published in The Doors Collection magazine (run by Kerry Humphreys) in 1999, where she unmasks Patricia Kennealy's psychotic pursuit of Morrison. Erwin is very reliable, since she had worked as a secretary for RCA record company and was divorced (she received substantial alimony from her ex-husband, and this provoked jealousy from Kennealy). One of her motives, Kennealy aduced for writing Strange Days was to procure her own "astral alimony" from the difunt Morrison. Janet Erwin, in whose apartment Patricia lived rent-free while planned to stalk Morrison, is called Tiffany in Strange Days, presumably for avoiding a libel suit. That same memoir where Patricia calls "cocksucker" three times! to Jim Morrison during her psychotic tirades while he's fighting for his artistic rights at the Miami trial. Kennealy's quote: "You cocksucker, I say unemphatically. No woman in her right mind would want to give her kid a cocksucker like you for a father." How gracious of Ms Kennealy.

No wonder Janet Erwin found it all most revolting and she wanted to restore her friend/lover dignity when she wrote Ballroom Days as a necessary corrective to the truculent Strange Days. Kennealy also called Jim and Pam "sluts" in both Strange Days and Blackmantle. Vicious beyond words. The only "slut" would in any case Patricia Kennealy. In Strange Days, Kennealy admits she dressed showing lots of skin and a generous cleavage in "a tight bodice corset cut down to my nipples." Pam Courson seems an innocent school girl opposite the wanton Kennealy. Indeed, it was Pam's sweetness and remnant innocence which invariably besotted Morrison. Jim and Pam had a powerful intimate, sexual and spiritual connection. "Jim paid for the abortion," Kennealy informed Pam in her disturbed stalker tone she adopts in Strange Days. What exactly Jim paid for we won't know, probably he tried to get her out of his life by any possible means.

Jim Morrison and Pamela Courson are going to go down in the history books as great lovers, and people are going to be writing plays about them. It’s Romeo and Juliet, it’s Heloise and Abelard. Jim Morrison carried a portable movie camera and he and Pam traded off filming each other doing things in Paris. At the end of Angels Dance and Angels Die there's a description of a movie Jim took of Pam in a graveyard not long before he died. The film, slightly shaky and out of focus, begins with a close-up of red flowers in a clear vase sitting next to two black-and-white photos in frames placed on a gravestone. The camera then pans to a crucifix, and zooms in on a bust of Christ. The scene cuts to Pamela, slowly walking between an aisle of gravestones. Her head is bowed, and her long red hair shields her face from view for a moment, before she slowly looks up to stare pensively into the camera. It is easy to make out the words she speaks as she tells him, “I don’t want to move.” So the camera pans away from the uncooperative subject, who changes her mind suddenly and runs back into the camera’s range, reclaiming the scene by dancing wildly among the gravestones, her hair flashing about her like a flaming banner. All at once, Pamela disappears behind a mausoleum, but Jim anticipates her moves, and the camera catches her reappearance, running from behind the marble monument and continuing her wild dance. Abruptly the film goes into slow motion, and Pamela seems to be swimming through a thick liquid as she comes around the front gate of the churchyard. Then, just as suddenly, she is in full motion again, laughing at Jim as she whirls about. He follows her every move; she anticipates his every need. At this moment they are a team, in perfect synchronization, vibrant young lovers playing among the gravestones.

My friend Dan Salomon came across this passage from the French poet Arthur Rimbaud (Illuminations, 1886) that immediately reminded him of Jim Morrison and Pamela. One fine morning, in a land of very gentle people, a superb man and woman shouted in the public square: “Friends, I want her to be queen!” She laughed and trembled. “I want to be queen!” He spoke to his friends of revelation, of ordeals terminated. They leaned on each other in ecstasy. They were indeed sovereigns for a whole morning, while all the houses were adorned with crimson hangings, and for an entire afternoon, while they made their way toward the palm gardens. They were sovereigns for a whole morning, and an entire afternoon, and maybe even longer. I hope they found the palm gardens. -Angels Dance and Angels Die (2010) by Patricia Butler

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Daydreaming Disorders, Researching Jim & Pam

Frederic Bartlett demonstrated in his book Remembering (1932), no two people will repeat a story they have heard the same way and why, over time, their recitations of the story will diverge more and more. No ‘copy’ of the story is ever made; rather, each individual, upon hearing the story, changes to some extent – enough so that when asked about the story later – they can re-experience hearing the story to some extent, although not very well. This means that each of us is truly unique, not just in our genetic makeup, but even in the way our brains change over time. It is also depressing, because it makes the task of the neuroscientist daunting almost beyond imagination. For any given experience, orderly change could involve a thousand neurons, a million neurons or even the entire brain, with the pattern of change different in every brain. Worse still, even if we had the ability to take a snapshot of all of the brain’s 86 billion neurons and then to simulate the state of those neurons in a computer, that vast pattern would mean nothing outside the body of the brain that produced it. This is perhaps the most egregious way in which the IP metaphor has distorted our thinking about human functioning. Whereas computers do store exact copies of data – copies that can persist unchanged for long periods of time, even if the power has been turned off – the brain maintains our intellect only as long as it remains alive. There is no on-off switch. Either the brain keeps functioning, or we disappear. What’s more, as the neurobiologist Steven Rose pointed out in The Future of the Brain (2005), a snapshot of the brain’s current state might also be meaningless unless we knew the entire life history of that brain’s owner – perhaps even about the social context in which he or she was raised. To understand even the basics of how the brain maintains the human intellect, we might need to know not just the current state of all 86 billion neurons and their 100 trillion interconnections, not just the varying strengths with which they are connected, and not just the states of more than 1,000 proteins that exist at each connection point, but how the moment-to-moment activity of the brain contributes to the integrity of the system. Add to this the uniqueness of each brain, brought about in part because of the uniqueness of each person’s life history, and Kandel’s prediction starts to sound overly optimistic. Recently, the neuroscientist Kenneth Miller suggested it will take ‘centuries’ just to figure out basic neuronal connectivity. Meanwhile, vast sums of money are being raised for brain research, based on faulty ideas and promises that cannot be kept. The most blatant instance of neuroscience gone awry, documented recently in a report in Scientific American, concerns the $1.3 billion Human Brain Project launched by the European Union in 2013. Convinced by the charismatic Henry Markram that he could create a simulation of the entire human brain on a supercomputer by the year 2023, and that such a model would revolutionise the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and other disorders, EU officials funded his project with virtually no restrictions. Less than two years into it, the project turned into a ‘brain wreck’, and Markram was asked to step down. We are organisms, not computers. The IP metaphor has had a half-century run, producing few, if any, insights along the way. The time has come to hit the DELETE key. Source: aeon.co

It has been suggested that Maladaptative Daydreaming may be a dissociative disorder, a disturbance of attention, a behavioral addiction, or an obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorder. Relating to the first possibility, although phenomenological descriptions of MD and the suggested diagnostic criteria of the condition include symptoms that are pathognomonic to MD and different than the characteristics of existing dissociative disorders, MD does indeed seem to contain several dissociative elements. Specifically: (a) detachment from external reality in favor of internal experience; (b) absorption—a state of total attention; and (c) via their daydreams, individuals may temporarily adopt alternative (non-self) identities (while acting out characters' behaviors or dialogues in their minds). Additionally, some individuals have described the initiation of excessive daydreaming during childhood to avoid an intimidating or traumatic social environment. In other words, individuals suffering from an abusive environment or those who suffer from social anxiety disorder may develop MD as a means for escaping from the harsh reality into their safe internal worlds. Indeed, one study found that social anxiety and childhood trauma were correlated with MD. Such findings may point to a stress-diathesis model for MD, whereby individuals who have an innate talent for immersive and fanciful imagery may develop MD if they are burdened with stressful life events. Source: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

"There is nothing more spectacular as a rainbow/and nothing more mysterious than the absence of color./This other world seems by far the best/till its other jaw reveals incest and obedience to a vegetable law/I prefer a feast of friends to the giant family." -Jim Morrison

Patricia Butler: The stress of the Miami trial, together with a viral infection, had triggered Jim Morrison’s childhood asthma, leaving him with a deep cough that he was making worse by chain smoking. John Densmore has never addressed ex-wife Julia Negron's claim that Jim Morrison didn't phone called him from Paris. Pam's sister Judy had been running the Themis store for quite some time before Pam moved to Paris. Letter to Bob Greene, The Doors' accountant (received on July 3, 1971): Hello Bob, how are you? Paris is beautiful in the sun, built for human beings. Speaking to Bill Siddons a while back I told him of our desire to stay here indefinitely. Will that be possible? Could you write and give me an idea of how long we can stay on living at our present rate, a sort of financial statement in general? Also, a copy of the partnership agreement, if it was ever completed. We have decided to turn the shop (Themis, Pamela's boutique) over to Judy and Tom (Pamela's sister and her husband). Eventually, we'd like to be completely clear of any involvement. Any luck on the credit cards? We could use them made out in both our names. Please send us $3,000 for the bills. Give our best to all, later, Jim. 

Like many of the rumors about Jim and Pam, when you trace them back to their source, they're invariably nonsense. Danny Sugerman did admit to me, shortly after his cancer prognosis, he had concocted part of his story with Pamela. In my knowledgeable opinion Danny and Pam were not friends. All of my sources made it clear that Pamela would no more hang out with some starstruck teenager than Jim would. Of her family, Pam seemed closest to her dad, she often liked to torment her mom, and was often tormented by her sister Judy. In fact she'd had such a major falling out with her sister that she wasn't planning to go home for what turned out to be the last Christmas of her life because she said she couldn't bear to be in the same room with Judy. Pam was declared Jim's legal wife by the State of California in 1973 and was awarded a stipend of 1500$ per month. There's tons of evidence to contradict Kennealy's contentions about Pamela, but she conveniently chose to overlook all of it. Instead Kennealy took the most obscure stories and pumped them up to suit her own purposes. Kennealy is a delusional egotist. Not to mention that her actions pretty much confirm that if Jim Morrison had been just as smart and handsome, but hadn’t been a rock star, she wouldn’t have given him the time of day. Pamela gave Jim attention, care and love when he was an unknown misfit. My agent for about 10 years Jonathan Dolger (Jim Morrison's editor at Simon & Schuster), is still laughing about the nonsense attributed to him. Mr Dolger said that he did receive a telegram from Jim about the cover of his poetry book The Lords & The New Creatures. But he said everything else written about Jim's uncontrollable moods is complete fabrication. No one ever called him asking for the telegram which, Dolger says, is still in the file in New Jersey. Both Dolger and McLure attest of Pam Courson's importance in boosting Jim's poetry talents. Modestly, I think my book is the most comprehensive published work on Jim's and Pam's lives to date. Jerry Hopkins said it was. Despite my exhaustive research, I'm afraid Pam Courson will remain an enigmatic and elusive figure, due to the scarce documentation about her whereabouts. For what I deduced from her psychiatrist, Pam was an unstable woman whose emotional wounds were caused by a dysfunctional home life. When she first met Jim, she felt suddenly connected to a very wounded artist who she could identify with. For Jim, it was fate, and they would only separate by death. And this was not your typical rock and roll publicized affair like Sid & Nancy or Kurt & Courtney. Theirs was a real love story, and for that reason Pam Courson is maybe the only case in the annals of rock and roll who could keep her anonymity and mystery intact alongside Jim Morrison. Diane Gardiner didn't discard the idea of a suicide pact between Jim and Pam in Paris. Nobody can demonstrate such thing, but it's possible Pam decided to wait to be 27 to reunite with her soulmate.

Pamela Courson's white dress she wore in 1968 for The Beard premiere at the Coconut Grove dinner party. -Patricia Butler: During my research I ended up being pretty shocked about how easily some people would lie, and for very little reason or return. There were people with different memories, who had differing impressions and different agendas for how they wanted their place in Jim Morrison's story to be written (or, in many cases, rewritten). About confusing memories, one example that comes to mind is Paul Rothchild, who told me that Pamela had ballooned up to nearly 200 pounds, and that he'd seen her in this condition within six months of her death. Now Pamela was 115 pounds when she died. That would've been one helluva big weight loss (not to mention the gain in the first place) in a short period of time. Then I talked to her friends. While Pamela was certainly heavier than she'd been pre-Paris, she was still at her ideal weight (she'd actually been 20 pounds underweight before Paris). There's a photo of her in my book that shows her in that six month period before her death, and she looks fantastic. I liked Paul Rothchild and trusted him; he had no reason to lie to me. So do I report that Pamela gained 75 pounds or so in the last year of her life, since I have a reliable witness to that fact? No, of course not. Was Paul lying to me? No, of course not. That's just how he remembered it. Somehow over the years that healthy gain multiplied in his head until Pamela was, in his memory, overweight. This example illustrates the main problem with relying on one person's memory of anything, even someone you know to be trustworthy. You cast the net as wide as you can, then try to find that "one true thing" in what you bring back. And it's helpful to find and talk to school teachers, classmates, roommates, neighbors -- all the folks whose names people don't recognize. They pretty much always have interesting things to say, just that no one's ever bothered to ask them. In the case of those things that remain murky, all you can do is present as many sides of the story as you can and let others draw their own conclusions. Try walking those myths backwards, painstakingly, step by step, and more often than not you'll find they'll disintegrate before you get very far.

In the spring of 1973, Pamela Courson was living in San Francisco with a man named Michael Verjaska. She had been friends with Michael for a few years but they became lovers after Jim died. She was also dating Randy Ralston. These images came from a personal home video from one of Pam’s friends in San Francisco. The submitter said “Pamela Courson and her boyfriend in the early 70’s” and asked to remain anonymous. Looks like she was growing out her bob at the time. My sources of information about Pamela not being a heavy heroin user before Jim Morrison's death are: the LAPD report; Pamela's autopsy report; an independent analysis of Pamela's autopsy; January Jensen and Ellen Sander's recollections; Ellen Sander hastened to refute Pamela's rumored heroin addiction while she was in Paris, and after. "When she stayed with me, I did not see her do anything like that. And if she was a heroin addict in Paris -- it's awfully hard to hide it. It's not like you can put it down for a week. I saw no evidence of any kind of hard drug usage while she was at my house, and I was with her almost constantly." January Jensen, who lived in nearby Sausalito and became Pamela's confidante, echoed Ellen's observations. 

"During the time that she was here in Sausalito, she wasn't doing anything but smoking pot every now and then." I know it's human nature to want to believe the worst of these characters, but in this case there just isn't any evidence to support it. It's also doubtful that Pamela would have bothered lying to her shrink, who she had been seeing for many years -- since the time Jim got famous. Due to the professional secret with his patient, to learn information about Pam's mental deterioration was like pulling teeth, but I gathered Pamela, like Jim Morrison, suffered from borderline disorder. Alcoholics, heroin users, and prescription pain killer addicts like to be down. They like to feel comfortable, warm, drowsy and unconscious. I doubt that any but the strictest sect of AA would classify Morrison as an "addict." People confuse his image with his reality. He experimented with a lot of drugs when he was younger. But by the time he went to Paris he was just your garden variety alcoholic. Now I'm not disagreeing that alcohol is a drug that people do get addicted to; but when someone says someone else is an "addict," that's not usually what they mean.

Diane Gardiner, The Doors' publicist and Pam's confidante, booked press interviews with Jim at the Phone Booth, the bar next to The Doors office. “Jim was interested in strip dancers and how they felt,” Diane said. “He had a real empathy for them. He would go to those places and he would applaud. He’d be a great audience.” Diane also remembered Jim's drunken advances towards her: “Jim had fallen across the bed drunk and he just looked up at me and he said, 'I want to fuck you.' There was that old part of me going, Gee whiz, 'I’d like to fuck you, too.' So I just said, 'Sure, Jim.' I found out he didn’t like women who weren’t feminine. He didn’t like it when women got kind of brash. Later I found he thought I was being too mechanized. Anyway, we didn’t fuck and he went back out into the front room.” Maybe that was the reason he appreciated Pam's femininity and not Patricia Kennealy's brashness. Source: satireknight.wordpress.com

Monday, May 18, 2020

Dreaming, Fiction, Simulation, Jim Morrison as metaphor of the 60s

Dreaming, Fiction, and Empathy: Aside from the considerable evidence that dream content is related to waking social life, a further component supporting a link between dreaming and empathy is that the dream acts as a piece of fiction, which is explored by the dreamer and others as part of the sharing process, and that, like literary fiction (Oatley and Veltkamp, 2013), can induce empathy about the life circumstances of the dreamer. Veltkamp showed that empathy was increased for people who read a fictional story, in comparison to a non-fictional piece, but that this effect only occurred if the reader was fully immersed into the story, “transported into this narrative world.” The emotional response is greater with fiction than with non-fiction, because of the freer involvement with the characters and story, and because “the focus of fiction is primarily on eliciting emotions, rather than presenting factual information.” Drawing a comparison between dreams and literary narrative does raise two questions, on the measurement of the narrative structure of dreams, and on the difficulties associated with deciding what is literary about literary narratives. Nielsen et al (2001) quantified narrative progression in REM and NREM dreams using a story grammar tool to parse dream reports into their constituent components (actions, scenes, and characters) and to identify the causal precursors and consequences of the constituent actions. The two types of sleep did not differ with respect to the mere presence of story components. Episodic progression, that is, the minimal story unit, was defined as the occurrence of at least one character action for which both an initiating event and a consequence were also identified. A greater proportion of REM than NREM stage 2 reports contained at least one episodic progression, proportions were, respectively, 0.66 and 0.43. This significant difference was accounted for by the proportion of dreams with episodic progression being much higher (0.79) for late REM dreams of frequent dream recallers. On the question of what is a literary narrative, Mar and Oatley (2008) include in this category novels, films, TV shows, and theater, and they state these narratives model the human social world, with the viewer or reader undergoing a simulation of events. Some of these characteristics of literary narrative obviously do not hold for dreams, but the crucial characteristics that they have in common are that literary narratives and dreams are simulations of the waking social world, and that both can elicit engagement and emotion when told. The main basis for story production in dreams is detailed in Dr. Edward Pace-Schott’s study Dreaming as a story-telling instinct (2013).

The similarity between dreams and fictional stories is explored by States (1993), with dreams doing “much the same thing as the fiction writer who makes models of the world that carry the imprint and structure of our deepest concerns. And it does this by using real people, or scraps of real people, as the instruments of hypothetical acts.” States proceeds to describe “such narratives contributing to our formulation and recognition of patterns of experience,” and including scriptural violations or scripts in conflict. He compares dreams to two types of narrative, life itself, from which the dream borrows its content, and fiction, which is “waking dreams designed for other people,” and he cites Calvin Hall’s conclusion that people incorporated into dreams are those to whom we have mixed feelings, or some tension. In their paper The function of fiction is the abstraction and simulation of social experience, Mar and Oatley (2008) state that “Engaging in the simulative experiences of fiction literature can facilitate the understanding of others who are different from ourselves and can augment our capacity for empathy and social inference.” They conclude that “In much of literature, the author challenges readers to empathize with individuals who differ drastically from the self,” and they propose that narrative fiction represents “learning through experience.”

We emphasize that the functional SST (Social Simulation Theory) and non-functional William Domhoff views of dreaming both see the dream as fiction. Dreams are fictional because they have events that only very rarely copy waking life episodes (Fosse et al., 2003). Furthermore, in Vallat et al. (2017), an unknown dream environment occurs in just over 40% of dreams, and is significantly more frequent than an environment that is wholly or partly taken from waking life. In contrast, other characters in the dream are more likely to be known than to be unknown or mixed. Oatley (2016) in Fiction: Simulation of social worlds, states that people who read fiction improve their understanding of others, because fiction has complex characters and circumstances that we might not encounter in daily life. He concludes: “While some everyday consciousness can remain inside the individual mind and be externalized in small pieces during conversations, fictional stories can be thought of as larger pieces of consciousness that can be externalized by authors in forms that can be passed to others so that these others can internalize them as wholes, and make them their own.” The present paper is proposing that dreams can, like fictional stories, be passed to others who internalize them as wholes. But what is being said of dreaming consciousness could also be said of the scenarios and narratives present in waking consciousness. Source: www.psychologytoday.com

"We cripple ourselves with lies. In times like these we need men who can see clearly and speak the truth." -Jim Morrison, Wilderness (1970)

Patricia Butler: Oliver Stone wanted to use Patricia Kennealy's real name in the film. The only way she would agree to that is if Stone let Kennealy rewrite her character the way she wanted it. According to Jerry Hopkins, Kennealy then took what was hardly a scene in the film and blew it up to something like 15 pages of script, making it seem like she was Jim's "other woman", which she never was. Pathetic doesn't begin to cover it. Kennealy did first meet Jim when she interviewed him at the Plaza Hotel in New York City in 1969 and the only motivation I think Morrison had to make this liaision with a rock journalist was to promote his self-published poetry book The Lords & The New Creatures. Randall Johnson (who was the original writer of The Doors' screenplay) was very helpful to me throughout my research and he endorsed my book. And the Doors film Stone directed wasn't like the film Randy wrote. Seeing the difficulty of translating the intrincacies of Morrison's life to the screen, Stone decided to reduce his story to "a metaphor of the 60s."

Stone basically took Randy's script -- which, by the way, was far more honest and did use Jim and Pam's relationship, their real relationship as a focal point, and he ripped it to shreds, creating his own little fantasy of Jim the bad boy of 60s' rock. Randy Johnson's original script was really quite good and would have made a far superior movie than Stone's eviscerated version. "There was never a question of my not meeting Jim. I knew it was going to happen the instant I laid eyes on him, long before I got the job at 'Jazz & Pop' magazine," Patricia Kennealy said in 2013. This suggests an obsession towards Jim Morrison before their "fateful" meeting. It almost sounds like a fan laying siege to their favorite rock star, rather than a self-described "intellectual" or an "accomplished author". It seems the great, self-professed trailblazing feminist's true motivation for taking the job with "Jazz & Pop" was to sleep with a rock sex-symbol, after all.

Kennealy started her bohemian lifestyle in SoCal dancing as a go-go in roadhouses while she studied journalism. She experienced with a lot of drugs, too, and she yet has the nerve to criticize Pam Courson's choices. Each chapter begins with a variation of "Jim and I we were having dinner with others..." She, very conveniently, never names "the others". This is pretty much the gist of this book. Claims made by Kennealy, claims that cannot be verified by anyone else but her alone. Who were "the others", Miss Kennealy? Why do I get the feeling there was no "dinner" and therefore no "others" involved? Her book contains claims by Kennealy that only be verified by Kennealy herself. Despite having 50 years to do so, Kennealy has never produced one iota of souvenirs she claims Jim Morrison "showered" her with, she has never identified the minister who, according only to her, performed the "ceremony" and only has a "marriage certificate" with a lot of redacted information on it with a signature that does not look like Jim Morrison's handwriting. Regarding that picture of Jim Morrison's childhood friend Tandy Martin? There appears to be something of a backstory concerning that picture, from "Tiffany Talks. Patricia Kenealy: Your Ballroom Days Are Over Baby!", by Janet M. Erwin: "She's at it again. She left Jim a valentine today, a big black and white picture of her with Tandy Martin, his high school girlfriend. Stuck it under the windshield wiper on his car. She says she's going to keep doing things like that 'to make him crazy'." Very creepy. It's the same with so many other sad cases I've encountered hovering around the Morrison periphery: they were looking for attention and a perverse sort of "respect" from people not bright enough to know better, or so desperate for someone to worship in lieu of Jim, they'll believe almost anyone who claims to have met him. Simply read "Your Ballroom Days Are Over" by Janet Erwin, and will get a much more accurate telling of Patricia's fake relationship with Jim Morrison. When confronted with Erwin's memoir, Kennealy acted like a blinded deer in headlights and never mentioned it. Something unusual, indeed. Janet Erwin corroborated about her relationship with Morrison: "I dated Jim Morrison around 10 days in two weeks. About what most of his girlfriends had. In other words, Jim really was true to Pam in his own way. All I know is that Jim loved her the best." Even all his other girlfriends will admit this, except Kennealy.

As Danny Sugerman recalled in 1993: "Pamela was a beautiful lady. Jim continually returned to her above all others. Pam was Jim's cosmic mate. Although I saw him with other women, I never heard him speak about any other woman except Pam. And I never considered he was with any women other than Pam. Pam was the one with the power as Jim's woman, no other woman ever possessed that power."  Sugerman fell in love with Pamela but he was not reciprocated. Pamela's last boyfriend was Randy Ralston. Pam called him and she asked him if he wanted to go with her to a concert at the Palladium. Randy Ralston went with Diane Gardiner to pick up Pam. Randy recalls: "She was all dressed up and looked unbelievably gorgeous. It was bizarre. Diane would be whispering in my ear as people came up to pay homage to Pamela, the rock and roll princess." At one point Randy and Pam went to Las Vegas and they talked about getting married: "We always were really very enamored of each other, but I don't think anybody could fill the boots of Jim Morrison. I don't think there was any guy who could do that in her life for her." In December 1973 Randy and Pam were preparing things to make a camping trip, they were very happy until Pam talked about her family. Pam felt so hurt about her sister Judy's remarks about her and Jim, she decided not to spend her last Christmas with her family. Randy tried to convince Pam to go with her family but she made the decision of staying with him. Source: groups.alt.music

Friday, May 15, 2020

Mulholland Drive, Wild at Heart, Permanent Midnight

Mulholland Drive (2001is filled with sex, violence, decadence, dark humor and an almost unintelligible plot. David Lynch's films are magnets for perforated misfits who think that his films are celebrating their own decadence and snickering along with them at wholesome, traditional White American values. However, Mulholland Drive, like all of Lynch’s movies, is a categorical indictment of the decadence of modern American society by a man who truly believes in traditional American values. David Lynch would love to live in Twin Peaks or Blue Velvet‘s Lumberton. In Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks, and The Straight Story, he celebrates the independence, resourcefulness, and Eagle-Scout virtues of ordinary, sincere, straight-arrow Americans. But he knows that their world is constantly threatened by evil forces. These evil forces work through the channels of culture and politics, but they are not merely cultural and political. They are spiritual.

The relationship between Sailor and Lula provides respite from the unpleasant life existing outside of it. It is harmonious, pure, and innocent, while the surrounding world is degraded, violent, and perverse. Wild at Heart breaks down the distinction between the merely private fantasy and the external world, allowing us to see how private fantasies work to shape the external world. Wild at Heart depicts a threat to this romance in the form of Bobby Ray Lemon and Marietta (who hired him to kill Sailor). Lynch concludes one of Wild at Heart’s sexual montages with a lyrical flourish that evokes the 1950s culture he adores: "It was a fantastic decade in a lot of ways... there was something in the air that is not there any more at all. It was such a great feeling, and not just because I was a kid. It was a really hopeful time, and things were going up instead of going down. You got the feeling you could do anything. The future was bright. Little did we know we were headed for a disastrous future."

In Mullholland Drive we see a beautiful blonde, blue-eyed woman, starry-eyed and grinning with joy as she arrives in Los Angeles. Her name is Betty, played by Naomi Watts. Betty has come to Hollywood to be an actress. She is a classic Lynch heroine: an earnest, wholesome, small-town girl from Deep River Ontario. She speaks in the G-rated cliches of old Hollywood. Later we discover that she became interested in acting after winning a jitterbug contest. She is next to an elderly, white-haired woman named Irene. They have met and struck up a friendship on the plane. Irene seems to be from the same wholesome mold. She and her elderly male travelling companion bid Betty goodbye and good luck. Then we see Irene and her friend in the back of a limousine, their faces insanely distorted with cynical, sniggering leers. The man has stereotypically Jewish features. (The actor’s name is Dan Birnbaum.) They are apparently enjoying a good laugh at the expense of this naive, corn-fed shiksa. Later they return as demonic apparitions.

David Lynch and Mark Frost’s first screenplay was based on 1950s icon Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn and Elvis were the Queen and King of Lynch’s fantasyland, and he would honor their spirits in his film version of Barry Gifford’s novel Wild at Heart. Lynch is said to own the rippling piece of red velvet on which Monroe posed for her career-launching nude calendar photo, the cloth emanating the ruddy glow that suffused millions of lustful dreams. The connection in the director’s mind between eroticism and velvet may have triggered the archetype of the crimson curtains draped throughout his work. Lynch and Frost wrote a script called Venus Descending (adapted from Anthony Summers’s biography Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe) which detailed the last months of Monroe’s life. Lynch and Frost consciously honored the spirit of this abandoned project in Twin Peaks, for in both works an outsider-investigator enters a community to delve into the mysterious final days of a beautiful dead blonde female icon (the sleuths of both scripts use miniature tape recorders in their quests). And Marilyn’s poignantly sad descent haunted Lynch for years: In 1990 he characterized her as “this movie actress who was falling down,” words that were like a blueprint for his protagonist Diane Selwyn in 2001’s Mulholland Drive.

I find Plato’s tripartite psychology to be helpful in understanding Wild at Heart. In Plato’s Republic, Socrates argues that the human soul has to be distinguished into three distinct and irreducible faculties: desire - such necessities as food, shelter, sex; reason, which seeks truth; and spirit (thumos), which seeks honor. Plato associates reason with the head, desire with the belly, and thumos with the chest, which is where we feel pride and anger. Thumos is wildness of heart. Thumos is often translated as “spirit,” which makes sense if we understand it as “fighting spirit.” Thumos is also associated with self-sacrifice, since fighting over honor risks death. This is how we know that thumos is different from desire. Desire aims at self-preservation. But thumos is willing to risk self-preservation for honor. Socrates suggests that we can differentiate types of men based on which part of the soul wins out when different parts come into conflict. A man ruled by honor follows it, not reason and desire, when they come into conflict. Whenever men fight when fear or calculation would tell them to retreat, they are ruled by thumos. The thumotic man prefers death to dishonor. Thumos may urge one to fight in hopeless odds, but reason can say no. Desire may urge one to excess, but reason can impose measure.

Sailor Ripley has strong appetites for sex, drink, and cigarettes. But he is primarily ruled by thumos, which becomes apparent in the first scene. He and Lula are leaving a dance when Sailor is approached by a black man named Bob Ray Lemon, who begins verbally picking a fight with the intent to stab Sailor. When Sailor realizes what is going on, he’s clearly not worried about his own safety. He’s signaling that Lemon is crossing a line. When Lemon pulls out his switchblade, Sailor goes into full berserker mode, repeatedly slamming Lemon’s head into a rail and then into the floor, finally hurling his corpse against the wall, its brains spilling onto the floor. Sailor’s reaction clearly set aside all considerations of self-preservation or likely consequences. Reason and desire are totally overwhelmed by thumos.

After spending 22 months in jail for manslaughter, Sailor is released and reunited with Lula. Fearing the interference of Lula’s mother, though, the couple decide to break Sailor’s parole and head to California by way of New Orleans. One night as the couple are passing through Texas, they encounter an accident scene. Two young men are dead. Suddenly a badly injured girl staggers out of the darkness. Sailor and Lula both rush to her aid. They have to take her to the hospital. It is simply the right thing to do. But doing so ensures an encounter with the police, who might learn that Sailor has broken parole. Sailor sees this immediately, but he does not hesitate to help the girl. At this point, Sailor and Lula have less than $100. Practically every other character in this movie is a sociopath whose first instinct would be to rob the dead, but it does not occur to Sailor or Lula.

Another characteristic of thumotic individuals is the value they place on personal loyalty. Sailor speaks fondly of his public defender, who stood by him, but of course the most striking loyalty in the film is between Sailor and Lula. Sailor says that Lula “stood by me after I planted Bob Ray Lemon. A man can’t ask for more than that.” And the loyalty is mutual, for it is quite risky to resume his affair with Marietta Fortune’s daughter. Sailor’s trademark is his snakeskin jacket, which he says is for him “a symbol of my individuality and my belief in personal freedom.” Lula says she has heard this line “about fifty-thousand times.” Sailor repeats the line in the very next scene, where he picks a fight with a guy who starts dancing with Lula and who challenges Sailor: “You look like a clown in that stupid jacket.” 

Neither Sailor nor Lula are particularly rational. Lula’s mind seems to move by association rather than reason. As Sailor puts it “the way your head works is God’s own private mystery.” When Lula refers to the world as “wild at heart and weird on top,” the words “on top” could just mean “in addition.” But they could also be in keeping with the physical association of wildness and the heart: wildness is to weirdness as the heart is to the head—“on top.” Thus Lula could be referring to her own proud and irrational character as well. Sailor himself is not too strong in the reasoning department, either, but he at least recognizes the necessity of making better decisions. At one point he declares, “Lula, I done a few things in my life I ain’t too proud of, but I’ll tell ya from now on I ain’t gonna do nothin’ for no good reason. All I know for sure is there’s more’n a few bad ideas runnin’ around loose out there.” 

At another point he promises Lula that he is not going to let things get any worse. Then he promptly lets himself get talked into an armed robbery, which costs him six years in prison and nearly got him killed. He is duly decked. But in the end, it is not reason that saves him but a vision of Glinda the Good from The Wizard of Oz, who tells him, “Lula loves you . . . If you are truly wild at heart, you’ll fight for your dreams . . . Don’t turn away from love, Sailor . . . Don’t turn away from love . . .” If the Sailor Ripleys of the world only had reason to guide them, they’d be pretty much doomed. They need their personal Guardian Angel.

One villain like Marietta is really enough for a film, but in Wild at Heart there is another villian. Half way through the film, Sailor and Lula bump into Willem Dafoe’s Bobby Peru in Big Tuna, Texas. Peru has been dispatched by Santos and Reindeer to kill Sailor. Bobby Peru is one of the most repellent characters ever brought to the screen. Beginning with the title sequence—an extreme closeup of a match flaring up, followed by a vast, swirling vortex of flames, to the sumptuous opening strains of Richard Strauss’ “Im Abendrot”—Wild at Heart is one of Lynch’s most sensuously beautiful movies: a screen as wide as America filled with strikingly composed images filmed in a way that imbues seedy bars, cheap hotels, and bleak land-and cityscapes with a voluptuous shell pink or sunset or neon luster.

Viewers draw the line in different spots, but virtually everyone who watches this movie thinks “This is too much”—too much weirdness, too much violence, too much blood—well before the final frames. Lynch described Wild at Heart as “a picture about finding love in hell,” but for most people there’s too much hell there to be redeemed by love. My answer, though, is that these are problems with our world, not with Wild at Heart. And because the movie dives so deep into darkness, the ending is all the more satisfying. I have watched Wild at Heart more than 20 times, but in my last viewing I realized that I had never before watched it without wincing or looking away in certain spots. So it took me decades to finally look at every frame of my favorite David Lynch film. I think of all Lynch’s works, Wild at Heart is still the closest to the paradigm of Lynchian perfection, and that should count for something.

Does Wild at Heart have a political message—or at least a political lesson it can teach us? Yes, and it is a conservative one. First, it is a very bleak portrayal of the desire-dominated world created by liberal individualist snakeskin salesmen: a world swarming with criminals and freaks and awash in substance abuse, sexual libertinism, and obnoxious music. It is a veritable Garden of Earthly Delights. We sympathize with Sailor and Lula because we see that they have decent sentiments, but they were so poorly nurtured and educated that they might have been better off raised by wolves. Sailor didn’t have parental guidance because both his parents died while he was a child of cigarette or alcohol related illness, and Lula was raised in the midst of a gang of criminals, one of whom raped her at the age of 13.

Furthermore, neither Sailor nor Lula is particularly good at reasoning, so their desires and their thumos keep getting them into trouble, and in the modern liberal democratic wasteland trouble abounds. Lynch clearly believes that there is a moral order to the world. Sailor and Lula are just too thick to know it by reason. But the moral order can capture their imaginations, shape their sentiments, and set them off in the right direction in the guise of a narrative, namely The Wizard of Oz. In the wasteland, the only myths we have are movies. When the moral order clothes itself in myths, we have religion. Only magic can redeem these characters, and only Christian or sentimentalists would want to. Wild at Heart is grotesque and obscene. But religious art has long employed the grotesque and obscene. Just look at Bosch. Thus Wild at Heart’s ultimate message is: Liberalism is the road to hell, not paradise—and only a Good Witch can save us now. Source: www.unz.com

A new meta-analysis study conducted by Syracuse University Professor Stephanie Ortigue reveals falling in love can elicit not only the same euphoric feeling as using cocaine, but also affects intellectual areas of the brain. Researchers also found falling in love only takes about a fifth of a second. Results from Ortigue's team revealed when a person falls in love, 12 areas of the brain work in tandem to release euphoria-inducing chemicals such as dopamine, oxytocin, and adrenaline. The love feeling also affects sophisticated cognitive functions, such as mental representation, metaphors and body image. Ortigue is an assistant professor of psychology and an adjunct assistant professor of neurology, both in The College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University. Other researchers also found blood levels of nerve growth factor, or NGF, also increased when falling in love. Those levels were significantly higher in couples who had just fallen in love. This molecule involved plays an important role in the social chemistry of humans, or the phenomenon 'love at first sight.' "These results confirm love has a scientific basis," says Ortigue. Ortigue and her team worked with a team from West Virginia University and a university hospital in Switzerland. The results of the study are published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. Source: www.sciencedaily.com

David Lynch thought of hiring screenwriter Jerry Stahl for the second season of Twin Peaks, and Stahl wrote the episode 4 (2nd season) where Donna is doing detective work along with Agent Cooper, and the secret diary from Laura Palmer she comes across reveals many dark details about Laura's other life. Jerry Stahl also appears in a cameo in Inland Empire (2006) playing Devon Berk's Agent. "I did drugs because there was another world, and I wanted to live in it. Because I preferred this Other World to the one I happened to inhabit. Because I could exist in imaginary circumstances with greater ease that I could in real ones", Jerry Stahl writes in his memoir Permanent Midnight (1995). Later, another reflection, "I have done everything, from slashing my wrists to shooting heroin, to stay the good little boy. Because, I see now, on some cringing level, that's all being a junkie was. Forget being cool, forget being underground. It was a way of staying ashamed." His book works as a Ebbinghaus cycle of learning & forgetting memory curve study. Living inside Hollywood's Falstaffian underbelly, the possibility of making a decent life evaporated for Stahl overnight. In Permanent Midnight (1998) directed by David Veloz (one of the screenwriters of Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers), Ben Stiller plays the emotionally exhausted Stahl, costarring Maria Bello as an ex-addict who becomes his lover and confidante.

In the novel, Stahl meets Kitty in a rehab centre in Arizona (Progress Valley), where he's bound to pass the 90 days clean program, although he's busy writing unreadable stories at the library stacks and he's expelled of the center when he stops following the rules after two months. In the movie, Jerry and Kitty meet in a more cinematic style while he's working at McDonalds and she asks him for some matches. In the motel, he'll recount his rise and fail story to Kitty as response to her incredulity. In the book, Kitty appears more like a saviour figure, and their relationship is more romantic and tormentous ("I was so in love that it made my heart hurt", "I didn't realize how much I wanted to die until the first time I made love to Kitty. Nor how much I wanted to live". Stahl describes his heroine Kitty as wearing a long white dress and a straw hat with pink ribbons, a renewed femme fatale type.

In David Veloz's film this romantic encounter is instead more of a post-modern love story in development, in which Maria Bello plays Kitty as Stahl's witty counterpart ("You're too darn sad-looking to just be another retard in a pink visor... I get it. You're the angsty, arty, Hemingway type who sold out to Hollywood, hit the needle and ended up in rehab”) to an emotionally distant yet highly ironic Stahl: "Trust me, on smack I was a real stud". Eventually, Jerry Stahl accepts a dark truth about his life: "What is heroin, really, but every junkie's teddy bear? Shooting dope is all about getting warm and fuzzy. Heroin may kill you, but it'll never break your heart, although you're just generating more pain, more penance for the one sin you couldn't help commit. The sin of being born". Source: blogcritics.org