Monday, January 13, 2020

The Sacrifice of Jim Morrison

Burning The May Tree: The Sacrifice of Jim Morrison (2019) by Chris M. Balz: The first edition of this thesis (under its original title: The Mass Sacrificial Spectacle: The Doors in Poetry and History), received Stanford University's Golden Award for Excellence in the Humanities. The prize was awarded upon the author's graduation from Stanford University with a B.A. in Humanities, Honors, Modern Thought and Literature. Published on Amazon: March 30th 2019. Credits: "Thanks to all of those who helped with this book. James Winchell and Barry Katz served to guide the development of the core thesis of the first edition of this book, and Frank Lisciandro provided invaluable perspectives on the real-world history, leading to its receipt of the Robert W. Golden Award for Excellence in Humanities from Stanford University in the year 1990. The Doors Collectors Magazine provided greatly appreciated business support and feedback. Frank Lisciandro continued over the years with the assistance described above. Independent cultural activists, speaking from their own experience, provided some key insights. And there are the numerous individuals who have dedicated themselves to the possible historical transformations alluded to in the book.

The School of Humanities and Sciences honors the Golden Medal to Christopher Balz for his thesis “The Mass Sacrificial Spectacle: The Doors in Poetry and History”: "Christopher Balz has produced a superb essay under the direction of Professor James Winchell. As a textually oriented researcher, Mr. Balz sets about an explication of the heretofore inexplicable sense-making systems in the poetry of Jim Morrison. He brilliantly ties together the Frankfurt School, the Situationism of Guy Debord, and the post-structuralist anthropology of Rene Girard in order to demonstrate, in light of the public reception and manipulating of the poet/shaman as commodity, the passage from labor to spectacle, from an industrial to a communication-oriented society. This essay is outstanding for its intellectually adventurous thrust, its commitment to l’imaginaire social, and its profound sense of responsibility." -Ewart Thomas, Dean of Humanities and Sciences, June 16, 1990, Stanford University 

"Congratulations on winning the Robert Golden Award for your wonderful thesis. I was delighted with the paper." -Frank Lisciandro, Editor of Wilderness and The American Night (Jim Morrison's posthumously published poetry), on the original academic thesis submitted for Stanford University, that forms the core of the present book. Source:

Burning The May Tree: The Sacrifice of Jim Morrison - Introduction: The rapid turn of events since the Global Financial Crisis inverts the relation presented in this book: the demographic of the protagonists and their descendants, across the "political spectrum," now finds itself on the defensive, since the ominous process that we saw kick into gear in 2008. Why does the project for a healthy republic meet with so little success when plain sanity, concern for humanity's and the Earth's very survival, demands that at least the project's concrete minimal demands be met? Aside from defeatist observations, the question is one of strategy. Jim Morrison makes an interesting case study for such strategic questions. His downfall as actor for radical change in mass culture may be related to the mission of "activist causes," specific political outfits taking on aspects of the power structure. The strategy pursued by activist causes is flawed fundamentally. Broadly put, they attempt to make use of "ad power" in order to spread their message, yet forget that this is precisely the ground upon which they may be defeated most easily.

Partially obscuring the essence of Jim Morrison’s role is “that movie” by Oliver Stone and the books published about The Doors, their flagship being No One Here Gets Out Alive - Frank Lisciandro warning: “There is an inaccurate and depressing biography published by Warner Books. I strongly suggest you avoid it. It is the National Enquirer version of Jim’s life, and will not tell you anything about the man’s true nature or his creative spirit.” Amidst all the backlog of trivia we now have about The Doors, Jim emerges to the persistent eye as a threat out in the open, flourishing. Call it a political, or social, or cultural threat - one would be counseled to save one’s categorizing breath and admit Jim’s legacy into its fullness. Jim was, simply put, and regardless of whether he thusly intended or not, something of a threat to the established public order at the time. But specifically, a threat to what or whom? Amidst the raging injustice of the nonsensical “evil war,” as Martin Luther King Jr. characterized the Vietnam War shortly before his assassination (a war memorialized by Coppola’s film “Apocalypse Now” to the sounds of The Doors); amidst the stifling conformity of a phenomenally rich and successful post-WWII North America; amidst all of this Jim lived his young life. Jim was not simply a threat, but an agent of cultural change because he expressed his oppositional standpoint and suggestions for transformation through his writings.

Even a cursory study of Jim Morrison’s literary influences reveals that this most overlooked aspect of Jim’s being, that of an agent of cultural change, is actually the central and salient one. This is not surprising, given our society’s mechanisms of co-optation which work with forces that would change it fundamentally in order to neutralize them. Sex appeal and glamorous trivia are universally salable, whereas defense of the gains in freedom won by humanity and the creation of healthy alternatives to practices that have become mainstream has not been widely popular in the past half century. Perhaps Michael McClure, the Pulitzer Prize winning Beat poet who spent a good deal of time with Jim and encouraged his writing, would be qualified to say exactly which writings in particular influenced Jim the most. Beginning our discussion at the outset of its historical concern, Nietzsche stood at the very threshold of unbridled modernity, as it was made possible in his day by the development of industrial processes. It has been well noted in the literature that Jim read quite a bit of Nietzsche.

Nietzsche’s primary concerns were twofold. The first was the “loss” of God, an evolution of consciousness made possible by the liberation of the populace from the direct control of political and financial elites that was exerted through the structure of the churches of the time. The second was the development of a new philosophy which would produce the most human response to this new condition in society. Nietzsche considered himself to be a psychologist, and focused on the psychology of the individual with respect to the new loss of God. Immediately we recall Jim’s concert scream in “The Soft Parade,” “You cannot petition the Lord with prayer!” Nietzsche’s approach to the crisis caused by the loss of God was to re-educate individuals to the Greek tradition of the pre-Christian, critically-thinking and independent individual, the cornerstone of Western culture. While the Greeks may seem distant in time to our contemporary culture, they are in the sense that the soil of a tree’s roots are distant from its branches. Preserved within the Roman Empire and the medieval Islamic world, Greek traditions and knowledge gradually filtered into tribal pagan Europe as it was civilized over time. Like Nietzsche, Jim believed that the problems of life were best resolved by the individual, not by arbitrary morality handed down in the form of laws by the larger society.

Jim’s appreciation of Nietzsche’s work, together with the news that was breaking in the 1960s of communism’s failings and travesties (starting with Herbert Marcuse’s Soviet Marxism in 1958), precluded any affinity on his part with communism, socialism, or any party line (except, perhaps, what could be termed the partying line of Norman Mailer’s political candidacy in New York City, which Jim spoke in support of in a Rolling Stone magazine interview.) But far more importantly, Jim shared with many of his own generation an abhorrence of alienation and a belief that revolution would be the only path to bring about meaningful change. Jim’s lyrics and writings are rife with images of riots, burning, assassination, and revulsion at the contemporary political establishment. This poem from Wilderness, a collection of Jim’s work that appeared posthumously in 1988, encapsulates Jim’s approach to his concerts, and gives a key to another dimension of his songs: What do you want? Is it music? We can play music. But you want more. You want something. Am I right? Of course I am. I know what you want. You want ecstasy. Desire and dreams. Things are not exactly what they seem. You don’t need to be told. You want to see things as they are. I lead you this way, he pulls that way. I’m not singing to an imaginary girl. I’m talking to you, myself. Let’s recreate the world. The palace of conception is burning. The world that his audience was literally born into, “the palace of conception,” “is burning.”

The tumult of the 1960s in the affluent Western society is raging like the flames of a palace set afire. Concurrently in the poem, Jim notes that “I’m not singing to an imaginary girl.” In the recorded songs that Jim sang with the band The Doors, the girl is a metaphor for what was then termed “the Movement.” Actually, the tone of all the songs involving a “girl” mirror the contemporaneous state of the movement in a fashion analogous to that of a floundering relationship. Chronologically, the tone of The Doors albums progresses from mid-60s brand new exuberance, to disappointment, confusion, and disillusionment by 1970. However, the technology spawned seems to have been used in the same mediating manner as the old social codes were. With such technologies as the offset-type printing press, TV, telephone, film, radio, and now the Internet, the society has found a substitute for the old social codes for the job of mediating and representing feeling, thought, and social interaction. The net effect is such that it makes the society appear to have an internal dynamic which militates against the possibility that such areas might become more human and directly person-to-person.

Similarly, The Doors song, “Not To Touch the Earth” (whose opening lines come from “The Golden Bough”) deals with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy (“dead President’s corpse in the driver’s car,” as Kennedy was killed while in a motorcade). The “czar” mentioned in the song lives in the east (Washington, in this interpretation): “going east, to meet the czar,” “the mansion is warm at the top of the hill/rich are the rooms and the comforts there/and you won’t know a thing until you get inside.” The song froths with Jim’s curiosity to know more of the social mechanism of the archetypal sacrificed king he had studied in George Frazer's work.

It is the thesis of The Road to Eleusis that Demeter’s potion, the kykeon, was entheogenic. According to the theory, ergot growing on the barley added to the kykeon accounted for the potion’s visionary properties. Hofmann [creator of LSD at Sandoz Laboratories in Switzerland] argued that, by making an aqueous extract of ergot-infested barley, the ancient Greeks could have separated the water-soluble entheogenic ergot alkaloids (ergine, ergonovine, etc.) from any non-water-soluble toxic alkaloids of the ergotamine/ergotoxine group. Hofmann pointed out that the psychotropic properties of ergot were known in antiquity, and that such folk knowledge of these properties lingers on in Europe, as evidenced by the names for ergot: Tolkorn (“mad grain”) and siegle ivre (“inebriating rye”). Eminent Greek scholar Ruck meticulously showed how the ergot theory fit the available evidence. One of the more telling pieces of evidence is the fact that Demeter was often called Erysibe, “ergot,” and that purple, the color of ergot, was her color.

Perhaps the greatest influence on Jim, even greater than Arthur Rimbaud’s, was the nineteenth century poet William Blake. Blake spanned the dimensions of human existence in his writing more thoroughly than Rimbaud could, who stopped writing after age 19. An Englishman during the American Revolution, he decried England’s “evil war” against its colony. Quite a parallel to Jim in the United States during the Korean war and Vietnam “police action”! An extremely historical poet, Blake taught Jim how to put his observations of worldly matters into poetical language. Blake witnessed the second of the great political revolutions to sweep the modern Western world, the prototypical French Revolution. His trenchant support of and then partial disillusionment with the Revolution, as reflected in his poetry, doubtless helped Jim find his own stance during the 1960’s. Perhaps inspired by Blake’s poem “The Crystal Cabinet,” Jim sang the song “The Crystal Ship.” In “The Crystal Cabinet,” Blake finds himself, or more generally the protagonist of the poem, pleasantly locked into a cabinet made of gold, pearl, and “Crystal shining bright”. His world in there is filled with moonlight, lighting up in its alternate world (alternate to the world of real sunlit daytime) the England he would dream that England could be (third stanza), instead of the evil land warring against the independent American colonists. In “The Crystal Ship,” a song from The Doors’ first album, Jim tells how the Crystal Ship is “being filled” with “a thousand thrills, a million ways to spend your time.” Filled with the exuberance of a brand-new counterculture, the ship’s passengers parallel Blake’s protagonist in their vision of a fundamentally better world. Jim’s song ends with “When we get back, I’ll drop a line.” Unlike events in Blake’s story of the cabinet, Jim leaves the tale of the ship unfinished, except to tell that it will return, sometime. Jim utilizes Blake’s image of a crystal enclosure to tell an allegory of his own generation’s journey.

James Douglas Morrison, the poet, applied literary influences from both the political-historical and dramatic-psychological realms to his poetry, lyric poetry, and songs in a successful, coherent synthesis. This is the mark of a great poet. As Western culture has become more vulgar, Jim’s work has been widely misunderstood because of sensationalism in a prurient climate, a sensationalism which grows wildly well on the fertile soil of a society which accommodates threats by co-opting them into sideshows of one brand or another through disinformation campaigns in the news media or the profit motive of the entertainment industry. In Morrison's poetic, once one crawls inside the repeated symbols, superficially "the same" on the outside like the variations of surf music, one finds a consistent, alternate universe. This method in literature has antecedents in the mantra or religious chant. In a Symbolist poem, one is invited to impress the word "wave" into one's mind. By an incantatory combination of several of these elements, an alternate sensory world is created. In this sense, Morrison combined the best of the surf tradition of his "native" L.A. with the tradition represented by the Symbolist and Beatnik poets.

The discussion of Morrison's poetry is only a conjuring of a "universe" which is "intolerable" to its present, the present reality which it critiques. The poetry's truth, its value as a “discontinuum,” seems like mere lexical folly given the entrenched untruth of everyday life. The real purpose of this work, as critical theory, is to show why this truth has been and still is such folly: to show where its historical mission of transformation has failed. Herbert Marcuse has aptly situated critical theory's responsibilities, in a way which still holds true after over a quarter of a century. He writes, "The critical theory of society possesses no concepts which could bridge the gap between the present and its future; holding no promise and showing no success, it remains negative. Thus it wants to remain loyal to those who, without hope, have given and give their life to the Great Refusal." Jim Morrison would let the life slip out of him, like his final rejection of this world.

I have a vision of America. Seen from the air 28,000 ft. & going fast. A one-armed man in a Texas parking labyrinth. A burnt tree like a giant primeval bird in an empty lot in Fresno. —The Hidden poem

Morrison's Poetry – Themes:

1) Wilderness, anomie, riot, endless corridors; alliteration and underlying meaning
2) L.A
2a. LA, and cities in general, as ant-hill-like breeding grounds for what are seen, overall, as unhealthy and morally degenerate elements
2b."LAMERICA," L.A. seen as a paradigm for the United States and its dominion over the Americas
3) Apocalypse
4) Spectacle, and external control in general
5) Rock 'n Roll, seen as a subterranean, incredibly powerful, perhaps even revolutionary force, a force reaching down into the reptilian under-section of the brain/psyche
6) Historical Change

The city is full of diseased specimens, hotel and motel corridors in which money, murder, and madness, the viral nucleic acid injected by the viri of "the LA / Plague" (lines 10-11), come together in line 21 as an alliterated package of disease for the "citizens" (line 20). The physical environment sheltering this, the virus packing its venomous alliterated nucleic acid, is the "Motel." The only natural element in the poem, a tree, is burnt and primeval, outdated by the searing new universe of parking structures and hotel corridors. And the citizens are as empty within as their barren environment without. As line 23 suggests, they are ghosts, not healthy, living beings, but mere frameworks of the same. The skeletal "burnt tree" stands leafless and empty in its outward environment of an "empty lot," a sad parody of a vibrant, full tree, together with the parking lot a literal "empty forest." Likewise, the ghost-citizens populate their impersonal hotel-motel environment. They "fill" it with "Motel Money Murder Madness," a giddy emptiness liable to change mood arbitrarily, as by a command out of thin air, such as "Change the mood from glad to sadness". Emotional motion in this world only collapses from relatively surface emotion, represented by "glad," into the deep sadness of emptiness, the crooned "ghost song". The motion is comparable to falling through thin ice on a frozen pond. The internal rhyme between "glad" and "sadness" only tightens and reinforces this depressed syndrome.

"Motel Money Murder Madness" synergistically suggesting degenerate sexuality, crass wealth, evil violence, and, finally, a deranged mental state. Similarly, the actual description of the LA Plague, the diseased cityscape of the second section, takes place wholly within the scope of a "vision of America". It conjures up the spectre of the grasping eye, external control, the "eye" of an Orwellian force, as in these two lines from Wilderness: "The girls return from summer balls / Let's steal the eye that sees us all". Like the evil eye, the "eye that sees us all" which almost beckons to be dethroned-stolen-plucked out, the symbol "L.A." or "LAmerica" in part represents an evil or doom-bearing force.

As Anthony Magistrale argues in Wild Child: Jim Morrison's Poetic Journeys (1992), "The 'sleeping city' is a general metaphor for passive acceptance of the status quo. Morrison uses the metaphors of disease and dying to describe the afflicted society he was living in, in much the same way T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land (1922) was an indictment of the societal death happening all around him." The image offered by vomition is one of total revulsion and simultaneous battle with this revulsion, the process of ejection of noxious material from deep within. We may view this revulsion-ejection as a hyperextension of the "downward slide" which we have traced thus far, from the grand highway to the lost Highland to the desperate struggle with the "atomic world," with the flipside of the transient world, to the vile but "real" "crowd life of our mound," and then finally to the petrified deathly stillness of the card-world. The struggle for meaning against the atomic world involved in addition struggle with one's inner self, how to "hate or love or judge," how to "put one foot before us". Here, however, the crisis is so unnamable and intense that we lose all distinction between foe and friend. At this point, all will toward externalization is overtaken by inner revulsion. The vomiting comes from within. No longer a battle with social-scientifically describable "anomie in social life," nor a wild Highland to be probed, here we cannot escape, cannot "return to/Mother of man" from "Drugs sex drunkenness battle". Rather, it engulfs us. There is no even meager, elusive or illusory hope in the outside "gentle swarming/ atomic world" to escape to. All, in the first and second stanzas, is egesta comprised of various elements which in concert form a map, an archeological landfill garbage-ology of our society. The engulfment, the vomition, is societal in its totality. Moving through the three stanzas, we have first a broad description of the vomiting, next an immersion in the egesta, and then a purgation.

Nauseated by the corpse of fandom, eight months after the Hollywood Bowl, Morrison would find himself forced to shout at the crowd of the Miami concert, "I'm not talking about revolution! Morrison's refusal to continue to gratify mindless fans (whom he likened to "an army of / vacuum cleaners") and subsequent hyper-marginalization make an interesting parallel to the Cassandra legend. After he had gained acceptance as a "rock god," Morrison became aware of the limits of the situation and rejected it for an Artaudian dissolution of the boundary between spectator and actor. Refusing to fulfill his role as one of "The Lords" he wrote about in The Lords, to set up spectacles only to be watched, to control his fans by pacifying them with "A mild possession, devoid of risk, at bottom sterile."

National disparagement and discrediting of him was forthcoming. He got busted for indecent exposure and public profanity at the infamous Miami concert on 1st March 1969 The Doors showcased at the Dinner Key Auditorium. So Jim was found guilty on two counts, facing a year and a half stint in Raiford penitentiary. The Doors had been in rehearsals trying to get a new album, what was to become the L.A. Woman album. At The Doors workshop on the corner of La Cienega and Santa Monica the producer questioned ”Anybody got any songs?" And sure enough, Jim and Robby came through with a bunch of great songs again. L.A. Woman, in some respects, is rock and roll film noir. In "The Anatomy of Rock", one of the first poems in Wilderness, Morrison himself realizes perhaps better than anyone the terrible limits placed by the commercial apparatus on the revolutionizing potential of rock and roll. "Noon schoolyard screamed / A record noise shot out / & stunned the earth." The poem explains: "The music / had been bolted w/new sound / Run, run the end of repose / the bad guys are winning." The mass, as a euphemism for lack of community, made the crowd's barings at Morrison's zenith concert in Miami as superficial as the alleged nudity that he was only mockingly proposing to them.

I have drunk the drug of forgetfulness/Leave the informed sense in our wake/You'll be Christ on this package tour/Money beats soul/Last words, last words, out" -Jim Morrison's last poem, Paris

The audience went to see the Lizard King, a persona that Morrison had created for himself but that not was fundamentally him. René Girard describes "the Dionysiac state of mind, a hallucinatory state that is not a synthesis of elements, but a formless and grotesque mixture of things that are normally separate," allows for the apparition of the monstrous double. The monstrous double, a perceived evil other that is yet simultaneously perceived as inextricably wedded to the self, is the cathartic crux of a group scapegoating dynamic. The delicate maneuver that is the crux of all art whereby the audience is moved to the zone of the stage had been forcibly substituted for an out-of-control, hallucinatory crowd, the artist ejected from the stage. A renversement of the actor-spectator boundary took place. It was the actual, social fear of this uncontrol, this renversement, which made possible punishing Jim Morrison. The very enforcement of the image of transgression made the crowd so hungry for transgression that, in the absence of sufficient performance by those on the stage, it took over. Unfortunately, this was to have dire consequences for the band.

After the confusion of the monstrous double, the hallucinatory Dionysiac state of the concert, had passed,  Jim became the monster. The effect of this hallucinatory "doubling," whereby the members of the audience perceive the other in themselves and themselves become the monsters, the transgressors faded. Blame shifted to the convenient other, the "freak" Jim Morrison. In an interview close in time to the Miami incident, Jim offered close-up detail on it: “I think I was just fed up with the image that had been created around me, which I sometimes consciously, most of the time unconsciously cooperated with.  It just got too much for me to really stomach and so I just put an end to it in one glorious evening.” Girard places the monstrous double at the foundation of sacrificial crisis, whereby social structures of meaning (the sacred) are eviscerated to the point of social chaos and then reinstituted through the scapegoating process. By blurring the boundary between self and monster, the monstrous double simultaneously enables transgression and blaming of the other. There has not yet been a "revolution" on the order of Horkheimer and Adorno's Enlightment project.

And so, superficially at least, Morrison's project failed. Yet we are left with a legacy which suggests to us that something very valuable was left behind. Robby Krieger, The Doors guitarist, commented on the relation between Morrison and his audience: "I think a big superstar who’s always in the public eye and is always sort of on the edge is really living for us all, you know, he’s not living for himself anymore, he’s living for us all, and we can all vicariously get off on that persona. But in the process he loses his own self." Those who step too far outside the "context," figures such as Morrison who themselves were attempting to change the social context, reveal its true nature in their downfall. Today, we may effectively characterize this context as a highly selective mental gas chamber reserved for those who are (or threaten to become) real threats, herding the wayward back into the mass, by using unjust guilt as a coercive measure. In place of imposing, unified structures of domination, such as the Church, the scapegoating dynamic serves admirably the guilt-generating function in these modern times of sacrificial crisis. This brings the spectacle society closer to its stated goal of perfection, the encrustation of Debord's "image of happy unification," to "make everybody happy."

And of course, it is out of this final happiness, the "phony Fascist mythology" which Adorno and Horkheimer expose, that final solutions, destruction on a massive scale, are made.  In his book Art, Messianism and Crime: A Study of Antinomianism in Modern Literature and Lives, Stoddard Martin "diagnoses" the principle of antinomianism in several (opposite) key figures of modernity: Hitler, Charles Manson, the Marquis de Sade on the one hand, and Herbert Marcuse, Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde on the other one. Ron Clooney defines Jim Morrison's splitting personality in a fragment of Mr. Mojo Risin' (2011): "Onstage Jim Morrison was a Dean Moriarty lookalike, Jimbo, Mr. Mojo Risin. He was hip and wild. At home with Pam, he wanted to be like Sal Paradise a.k.a. James Douglas Morrison-the poet. He wanted to write the next great American novel about the sixties; the novel which would define a generation. There was, however, the personality split–The outsider, estranged from society who couldn't experience himself as ‘real’. The disintegration of his real self kept pace with the growing unreality of his false self until, in the extremes of a schizophrenic breakdown, the whole personality disintegrated.

Maybe Morrison was an outsider who concocted a story in which to live his reality; spinning unreality like a classic storyteller, he lived a schizophrenic existence. His girlfriend Pamela was described once as 'an Alice in Wonderland character.' Another song dedicated to Pam, Orange County (1970): "She had orange ribbons in her hair/She was such a trip, she was hardly there/But I loved her just the same/All we did was break and freak it/We had all that lovers ever had/Now her world was bright orange/And the fire glowed." Jim loved Pam for her love of freedom. But he played with the rest of people's minds, reflecting back at them precisely what they wanted to see. Like Mary Shelley, Jim Morrison created his own monster, alone in the dark. Morrison had cut up the pieces of other people, philosophers, poets, subculture idealists, novelists, artists and dramatists, then stitched them together to create a new god. But suddenly he’s alone in the dark with all those demons."

Dedicated "To Pamela Susan," The Lords and The New Creatures resounds with imaginative verses centering mostly on romantic conflict and interwoven with images of pain and death. The appeal of cinema lies in the fear of death. The Lords appease us with images. Through art they confuse us and blind us to our enslavement. Art adorns our prison walls, keeps us silent and diverted and indifferent. Morrison recognizes "self-deception may be necessary to the poet‘s survival." 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.' Both Nietzsche and Morrison believed in the destructive condition of the creative process. As example, his obscure poem The Anatomy of Rock: "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 the Nietzschean tradition, Morrison develops a philosophy of willful absurdity and eventually madness. "If only I could feel, The sound of the sparrows and feel childhood pulling me back again, If only I could feel me pulling back again & feel embraced by reality again I would die, gladly die." If Only I poem (1967)

Humanity's current attempt to hold violence in check is a neo-myth, a denial of violence just as it is a denial of humanity, the ground of enforced ignorance of human nature. Violence on a scale never seen before by humankind looms and threatens under the righteous, even happy protection of neo-myth. Yet no one realizes this because violence remains hidden. The overwhelming authority built through overwhelming effort on the part of the human has already crushed this century and even now brandishes a new counterpart to world war: the collapse of the natural environment's life support systems showing, in Girard's rather generous academic terms, violence's sway has "increased in proportion to man's effort to master it". Today this denial stands as a spectacle of what was formerly world capitalism now evolved into a weird hybrid of socialism and fascism. Perhaps the most precariously imbalanced society ever to exist, it is nuclear tipped, alienated in nearly every possible aspect from within and without. It is common knowledge that this system threatens to kill the earth slowly in order only to fuel its own empty dynamic.

Thank you, oh lord, for the white blind light. A city rises from the sea. Let me tell you about heartache in the loss of god. Wandering, wandering in hopeless nights. Let me show you the maiden with rot iron soul. Out here in perimeter there are no stars. Out there we are stoned... Immaculate. —The White Blind Light (1969)

Thursday, January 09, 2020

John Densmore "forgives" Jim Morrison

It took the Doors’ drummer, John Densmore, three years to visit the grave of his bandmate Jim Morrison after he was found dead in a Paris bathtub in 1971. He didn’t even go to the funeral. “Did I hate Jim?” Densmore pauses, although he is not obviously alarmed by the question. “No. I hated his self-destruction. He was a kamikaze who went out at 27 – what can I say?” Densmore had lobbied to get Morrison off the road before his death, and even quit the band at one point. “Some people wanted to keep shovelling coal in the engine and I was like: ‘Wait a minute. So what if we have one less album? Maybe he’ll live?’” Why did he carry on? “Because I wasn’t mature enough to say that at the time. I wasn’t trying to enable him. It was another era. I used to answer the question: ‘If Jim was around today, would he be clean and sober?’ with a ‘no’. Kamikaze drunk. Now I’ve changed my mind. Of course he would be sober. Why wouldn’t he be? He was smart.” “It took me years to forgive Jim,” he says. “And now I miss him so much for his artistry.”

Next month, a documentary about another of his bandmates, the keyboardist Ray Manzarek, who died in 2013, will be released. Manzarek’s relationship with Densmore was not smooth either. “When we took LSD, it was legal. We were street scientists exploring the mind. I experimented with cocaine during the 70s and 80s. But it wasn’t my drug of choice. Ugh… drug. I hate that word. I was shocked when heroin became popular. Even Jim knew heroin was a serious drug. Heroin tried to make you forget everything. It scared me. So I stayed away.” Compared with his bandmates, Densmore was a square. He wasn’t the film-school/literary type. He couldn’t understand Morrison’s obsession with Nietzsche (“Why would anyone want to read a whole book of such double talk?” he wrote).

At times, Densmore was envious of the attention Morrison got – particularly from women. “Sure, I was jealous. I’d been a teenage drummer with acne. I remember thinking: ‘Why is Jim’s face so big?’ on the cover of our first album, The Doors. Probably because it wouldn’t have sold a lot of copies if it were my face!” Densmore’s family life became more unsteady. His brother had several stints in a psychiatric hospital. He describes going to visit him, finding him heavily sedated, and wondering how sleeping for 17 hours a day could possibly help his schizophrenia – a point that will be familiar even now to anyone who has had to endure acute mental illness. His brother killed himself in 1978. He was also called Jim; he also died at the age of 27. Densmore later wrote that he struggled handling sharp objects after his brother’s suicide. “I thought that if I did it, too, it would somehow make it better – atone for not saving him.”

There is also an anecdote in Densmore's memoir, one that makes it into the Stone film, too, in which Morrison’s partner Pamela Courson is brought into the vocal booth and asked to perform oral sex on the singer while he is recording the track Lost Little Girl. “Urgh,” he groans, when I bring it up. How does it make him feel? “Not so good. I mean, I don’t think Jim would have done that. I’m at a loss for words: SEXIST, what can I say?” How did it feel at the time, when the whole band was there, seeing it happen from afar? “Well, you know, it didn’t really happen. They were just sort of kissing, and then she left.” So it didn’t happen? “No.” That’s odd, I say, because Oliver Stone creates a scene out of it in his film. “Oh, my goodness. Well, you know, Hollywood movies are an impressionistic painting of the truth,” he says. Source:

"Yup, the least important member of the band has spoken. At least Densmore finally confessed that his tale of Pamela Courson going down on Jim during the recording of You're Lost Little Girl was a product of his own imagination. And, as other fans pointed out, part of a lucrative smear job. John never understood Jim and was critical of Jim's voice from the start, openly announcing many times. From what I understand, he is nothing more than a knobhead. An angry, hypercritical, whiny moderately talented drummer who should be grateful for any level of success he was lucky to be a part of and for every penny he has gotten out of The Doors. John, you could easily forgive that guy from the Allman Brothers who knocked up your wife but it took you years to forgive Jim. Jim was unforgivable but you accepted a check to appear in Oliver Stone's smear job on him and you used Jim's image to sell your personal smear job under the guise of writing a "memoir", calling Jim a "lunatic" and "psychopath". Hope all the owies Jim gave you have healed by now. If not, go cry on a big pile of money Jim made for you. I find Robby Krieger to be the most consistent/trustworthy when it comes to speaking about The Doors, but there seems to be instances with all of them where they contradict themselves." -by RidderontheStorm1969

Lynn Veres Krieger, the subject of Love Her Madly, was a go-go dancer from New Jersey who met The Doors in New York in 1967 at the Ondine discotheque – a place frequented by The Velvet Underground and Andy Warhol’s Factory crowd. She caught first Jim Morrison’s eye when her falsies slipped out of her bra, and they had a brief fling, before she gravitated to Robby Krieger. Lynn and Robby would marry in 1972. -Classic Rock magazine, issue 161.

Robert Christgau - Dean of American Rock Critics (Reviews of The Doors records for The Consumer Guide):

The Very Best of the Doors [Elektra, 2001]: Shaman, poet, lizard king, schlockmeister--that's where Jim Morrison's originality lies, and he's never been better represented. Right beneath the back-door macho resides a weak-willed whine, and the struggle between the two would have landed him in Vegas if he hadn't achieved oblivion in Paris first. Compelling in part because he's revolting, Jimbo reminds us that some assholes actually do live with demons. If kids today feel cheated by history because they never experienced the fabled Jimbo charisma first hand, that's one more reason to be glad there are no new rock heroes. His three sidemen rocked almost as good as the Stones. Without Jim Morrison they were nothing. -A

The Consumer Guide database has graded 17271 albums from 7553 artists on 3347 labels, with 15212 reviews.

Monday, December 02, 2019

Another Grand Theory on Mr Robot

UpOnTheMic'S Grand Theory on Mr Robot: I was watching S04EP9 Conflict tonight, which might be my favourite episode to date, and it made me think about the pilot. So I went back and re-watched. We will start with the most outrageous statement I will make this post: Elliot's journey is parallel to Quaid/Hauser in the movie Total Recall. And, to be clear, I don't support the theory that the show is sci-fi in any way. To this end, here is my theory with some observations I made while re-watching the pilot with all of this new information: Prime Elliot or (Elliot) to make it easier, the one who has been "sleeping" but "woke up" for Darlene, set this whole thing in motion. He may or may not already know about the abuse he suffered, my theory works either way on that point. Either he knows and this is the exact reason that he is "sleeping", not being able to deal with the knowledge, or he still doesn't know and Mr Robot is still keeping it from him. Either way, (Elliot) is the architect, as Vera so eloquently put, but he is the architect of 5/9, stage 2, and now "Deus DoxXmas".

(Elliot) already knows Mr Robot, his mother and his younger self exist, and knows them well, considering he created them in the first place. He is the one who goes on the "Fuck Society" speech in E1, he hates society as we see it now, corrupt, bloated, all about the rich's self interest before the rest of us, who are in the majority. He wants to take down the whole damn system and, to quote Chuck Palahniuk,  "to see tiny figures pounding corn, laying stripes of venison on the empty car pool lane of some abandoned superhighway." At some point, (Elliot) found out about Whiterose, her project, all of it. He comes up with a plan, knowing that he isn't that good of an actor, and knowing that WR would smell him out a mile away, he decides that the best way to get around the problem is to wipe his memory entirely, replacing certain memories with fabrications to fill in what would otherwise be gaps, sometimes giving new Elliot his own memories, but keeping back the things he deems dangerous knowledge, such as Deus group, Washington Township etc.

(Elliot) prepares for sleep, he tells Mr Robot the parts of the plan that he deems pertinent, and instructs him to shepherd this new Elliot, who knows nothing about the alters or his real past, through 5/9 and what they had planned as stage 2. And so we come to the start of the series, Elliot wakes up on the train after (Elliot) prepares for "sleep", Elliot recalls not going to Angela's party, that was (Elliot). His meeting at Ron's coffee? That might have been (Elliot) as Elliot was only born the day he started talking to us, hello friend. He acts very differently with Ron, looks him in the eye, is confident, speaks clearly and quickly. I firmly believe this was (Elliot) having one last hurrah before going away for a while. I will skip to Elliot and Mr Robot having their first real conversation, Mr Robot tells Elliot about his "father" who stole and went to prison etc. I think this will have some relevance. Whatever it is, it will make that speech play completely differently. Anyway, pay attention to Mr Robot in that scene, Elliot is asking who he is, why he has been following him, Mr Robot gets this look, like he is at the same time disgusted and impressed. To me, it's almost unmistakable, he knows exactly what (Elliot) has planned for Elliot, who by definition has no idea what is coming.

Mr Robot is impressed that (Elliot) actually pulled it off, as he had been probing up to that point and wasn't sure if it worked or not, this confirmed to him that everything was going to plan, and he doesn't like the plan, he likes the hack etc, but the plan involves hurting another Elliot, an innocent Elliot, and he is only on board with that because, as he said (Elliot) is his "god" (as in he created him) and his word is gospel. To continue, the plan more or less is trundling along nicely, despite jail, forced overdose and a whole host of setbacks, Elliot came through and figured out a way to win. The whole reason he was created, fulfilled. The one thing that (Elliot) had not counted on, was Vera forcing his creation to face the torture of his childhood memories, which he was never supposed to see, Mr Robot was there to make sure of that, but Vera forced the situation of reckoning his past.

"Now that his task against the Deus Group is completed, we can guess about the ending of the show: (Elliot) has been seduced by WR's project, and he did all of this so that he could gain control of his machine. The problem is, whether (Elliot) hasn't dealt with his past, we will see the final face off between these two vying for ultimate control, with Elliot coming off the victor, by simply not buying WR's bullshit and being strong enough to actually destroy the machine, which (Elliot) most certainly wants to control. And so, as Quaid ended up defeating Hauser and freeing Mars, so too will Elliot defeat (Elliot) and make the right choice when the time comes. I have a feeling that Mr Robot will become one of the all time great shows as people will hear the ending didn't suck like most shows, and I genuinely believe that this show is one for the ages, before its time and also long overdue."

"The one thing every person has is regret," Price tells Whiterose. "You weaponize that, and then you use that weapon against them, to destroy them. But here's the thing I realized as of late. With Angela, it didn't work. Angela lives on in the lives of the people who loved her, and that love — that love — fuels their unwavering resolve to turn the tables to destroy you." "Phillip Price lived his life with a kind of self-confidence that was epic, and then suddenly, after Angela, he's thrown into doubt," says Michael Cristofer. "That was the key to me: 'Is this right? Is this wrong? What have I done?' There were plenty of moments that reflected those questions. What's being proven to him is that he may have been wrong. The success of his life, thanks to his bargain with the devil in Whiterose, it all begins to crumble, and then he finds his way. It's funny: in his doubt, after four seasons without a scene with Rami, Price in his doubt goes and saves Elliot, and he goes in circles for a little while, but he ultimately joins forces with him to take down Whiterose. Number one, he was stalling, so the hack could happen. Number two, he knew he was dead. 

Number three, because in the previous scene Whiterose conjures Angela to pretend she's alive, it just triggered that recognition in him about all of those other people who surrounded her and loved her. That's pretty good writing, you know?" Cristofer paints the following picture of the final arc: "I said to Sam after we read through all of [the scripts], and then I finally heard [the finale], I think he's managed to do the journey of the hero, and not the Joseph Campbell one, but literally Homer. It's Ulysses in The Odyssey. It's the man separated from himself who has to journey to find his way back to himself. 

I think you'll know when you see these last few episodes, whether I'm right or not. There are so many parallels to The Odyssey…but it's all inadvertent; Sam had no idea what I was talking about! But you imitate it inadvertently, because it's so accurate in so many ways. A classic is something you keep going back to. Although the ending is satisfying, you never quite know how you got there. So you go back and you read it again. You go back to the movie and watch it again. You ask: 'How did I get there? How did I get to that place?' And of course, that's the journey. I hope it all goes well for the next three episodes — because on paper, I think it worked. It's a very, very complex and interesting ending to this story." Source:

Saturday, November 02, 2019

Mr Robot's 3rd personality theory

Is there actually a solid answer to that pressing question of identity of Elliot's 3rd personality? According to the theory of 1Individual_1ne: As some have already noted, this is possibly not a particular person or character that we have already encountered. The identity of the Third One might be a person in/behind the Fsociety Mask. I suppose that the exact face wearing that mask is not even relevant (it could be both Elliot/Mr. Robot, but it still does not matter, the mask is the key). The first time we see it is when Gideon shows Elliot the first video message of fsociety, which seems to be in line with Esmail's explanation that this has been planted "from the beginning". Whenever this or any other video is being shown to Elliot, he seems to be totally puzzled by it and also creeped, and he clearly has no memories of recording or directing. The narrative in fsociety videos is actually cold and terrorizing, which proves the point that the 3rd personality is more of a cold-blooded person. We also hear what sounds like Mr Robot in mask say "made in the orient, just for your head" as he hands a mask to Elliot. When Elliot shatters the mirror in the end of season 1, we see there a glimpse of several persons (Darlene, Angela, Tyrell, Mr. Robot, Sam Esmail, etc), including a Person in Mask. In Season 2, when we revisit Halloween with Elliot and Darlene, we see Elliot put both jacket and a mask before he turns into someone else and declares a plan on taking down E-Corp. We do know that the jacket stands for Mr. Robot, but Mr.Robot itself never wears that mask. The mask itself is worthy as a distinctive attribute of the separate third personality.

Sam Esmail On casting Rami Malek: When we were auditioning people, and we must have seen I would say close to 100 guys if not more ... we had great actors coming in. They would do these beautiful interpretations of the scene, but the character just came off very cold, very obnoxious, and I was almost going to tell USA [Network], "Let's not do this. This doesn't make sense," or, "I got to rewrite this. I think this guy is annoying and I don't think anybody is going to want to spend every week with this person." Then Rami came in, and when he did the scene, he added this vulnerability... where it doesn't come off as commanding or egotistical, even though the words are that — he added this subtext that it was coming from a place of real pain and real vulnerability and real wanting to connect. And that was the spark that really made that character come to life.

Sam Esmail On why Elliot wears a hoodie all the time: This is something directly lifted from my life. I wore a hoodie every day. And for me, that was easy to visualize. I'd visualized it just with myself walking down the street, knowing where to put the camera, and I loved that you could see that he was hiding. Even though I couldn't see his face at all times... we could see a piece of him. It's not about capturing someone's face. It's about capturing that person, that character, and always trying to tell a story with wherever you put the camera on that person. So it's not about getting both eyes and having it symmetrical. We wanted a frame and to always express what Elliot is doing, who he is, and so it was easy. That made it easier, because the limitations of where you can put the camera when Rami was in that hoodie made us closer to who Elliot was. Source:

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Will Mr. Robot Have a Happy Ending?

Sam Esmail: Mr Robot was never about “Capitalism: Is it good or bad?” or “How can we fix the world economy?” or “How can we fix the geopolitical nature of money?” This was about wanting to connect and not being able to connect. When you got to season three, I felt like Elliot was the thinker and Mr. Robot was the muscle. Now we’re in season four and Mr. Robot is doing things that Elliot might otherwise do and vice versa. We’re starting to see the two of them meld together into this one person because, in fact, they are. Season four kicks off with Angela’s violent murder, and Elliot has become unhinged in a way. He’s just out for vengeance. He’s gonna be like what Mr. Robot was like in the first season. Of course, Mr. Robot, throughout the last three seasons, has seen the consequences of that aggression, so now he’s taken a step back and has become more like Elliot.

Sam Esmail: The thing about Elliot is, he can be obnoxious. He’s very angry at the world. He names his hacker group “Fuck Society.” It’s a very delicate thing for an audience member to watch a character like that, week in and week out, and be able to root for them. The thing that Rami allowed me to do as a writer and director is that no matter how difficult Elliot became, no matter how inaccessible I wrote him, or no matter how closed off he needed to be, Rami found a way to add that vulnerability. Mr. Robot can get complicated, Rami has that gift of being able to ground it. I mean, we’re inside the guy’s head. We don’t even know what’s real or what’s fantasy, and Rami was able to always walk that tightrope and make us be with him, whether or not we understood what was going on around him.

-Matt Zoller Seitz: The paranoid thriller is one of your favorite genres. One point of disagreement between us is that I believe it can’t be a true paranoid thriller if it has a happy ending. But I’m looking at season four and it really seems like you want hope to come out of this. I can’t picture you leaving the viewer feeling completely shattered.

-Sam Esmail: I always think about the Three Days of the Condor ending, which is very haunting, right? To some people, it’s clear-cut: The system has won, it will always win. Or maybe not. Maybe you have that optimistic point of view that Robert Redford is gonna figure out a way and the press is gonna blow this thing wide open. I love endings where you can choose. But the thing about the paranoid thriller is it’s always man versus the system, and the system in our real lives continues on. Source:

To prepare for Mr. Robot, Rami Malek learned about cybersecurity and read textbooks on schizophrenia and took typing lessons for hacker verisimilitude and found a psychologist who assigned him homework. “There were times when I would go to Sam and say, ‘This doesn't quite match up for me,’ and I would have a reason why the psychology didn't feel accurate, and I would reference some book on dissociative disorder by Elyn Saks,” Malek says. Instead of being annoyed at Malek's conspicuous overachieving, Esmail hired the psychologist onto the show as a consultant.

Rami Malek Gets Lucy Boynton's Support at 'Mr. Robot' Final Season Premiere on Tuesday (October 1) in New York City. The pair turned the star-studded affair into a stylish date night, with Malek rocking a flawlessly tailored pinstripe suit with a black-and-white patterned button-down. Meanwhile, Boynton looked chic in a black dress, with ruffled collar, which she wore with a pair of strappy black shoes.

Their sweet red-carpet outing was perfectly memorialized in a beaming snapshot of the pair, standing below the theater marquee which read "Mr. Robot. The final season. Goodbye, friend." “People's perception might be altered,” Malek says, in the wake of his Bohemian Rhapsody Oscar win, “but when you sit down and talk to me, there's nothing that's mystifying. I'm not fucking covered in gold.”