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The Nietzschean Jim Morrison


Saturday, 22 January 2011

The Doors to Dionysos: The Nietzschean Jim Morrison

At the beginning always stands the god
(W.F. Otto, Dionysos p. 29)



Chapter One: Insider/Outsider

Chapter Two: The Poet Possessed

Chapter Three: The Unrepressed Man

Chapter Four: Artist Tyrant

Chapter Five: Erotic Politician

Chapter Six: Meta-Orpheus

Chapter Seven: Poet-Politician


copyright Bill Osborn 2009
Revised 2011


Nietzsche's influence has crossed many boundaries, sometimes even inhabiting that no-man's land between high culture and popular culture. Appropriate then that Nietzsche's work should influence singer Jim Morrison of the rock group the Doors, as he was very much the embodiment of the cultured and the primitive combined, and testified to their tension as he straddled the hedge between them.
Nietzsche's Apollo/Dionysos symbolic antinomy is given a strange echo in Morrison's assertion that "we appeal to the same human needs as classical tragedy and early Southern blues."[1]
And does not Morrison himself become a sym-bol, with his various personae: - that of the mythic hero, the primal bluesman, and the erudite poet - all being generated by this rift?

This essay will explore this, and related issues, by focusing on key books that Morrison studied and chose to live by. These include Friedrich Nietzsche's 'The Birth of Tragedy', Wilhelm Reich's 'The Function of the Orgasm', Colin Wilson's 'The Outsider', James Campbell’s ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces’, and Norman O. Brown's 'Life Against Death.' I shall try to keep to the editions and translations that Morrison would have used and note how they influenced his complex artistry and thought.
The underlying thrust though is to achieve a comprehension of the (Nietzschean) Dionysian; and Morrison is a worthy, if dangerous, guide for this part of the quest.
While writing, I began to see the increasing importance of Colin Wilson's ideas, his 'New Existentialism' being a powerful development of a Nietzscheanism that Morrison well understood.
Strange then that in her otherwise admirable 'Historical Dictionary of Nietzscheanism' (The Scarecrow Press, London, 1999), Carol Diethe does not mention Wilson’s treatment of Nietzsche at all ... but then she doesn't mention the Doors either.
As the two main subjects of the essay will be quoted frequently, the quotations will be attributed to the abbreviations 'JDM' (James Douglas Morrison), and 'FWN' (Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche).

Note to Introduction
1. Lisciandro p. 16 See also Davis p. 229 - he dates the quote to 1969.

Chapter One: Insider/Outsider

1) Dualities

"There is an old illusion - it is called good and evil."
FWN [2]

"You favour Life, he sides with Death: I straddle the fence, and my balls hurt."
JDM [3]

"Mankind will not put aside its sickness and its discontent until it is able to abolish every dualism."
N. O. Brown [4]

"... there is a sharp conflict between natural demands and certain social institutions. Caught as he is on this conflict, man gives in more or less to one side or the other; he makes compromises which are bound to fail; he escapes into illness or death; or he rebels - senselessly and fruitlessly - against the existing order. In this struggle, human structure is molded ..."
Wilhelm Reich [5]

The first three quotes imply that dualities are in some way illusory. Morrison suggests that he inhabits the place in between duality – “the fence”, or that the poet is the place in between, and that this ‘fence’ is the reality, rather than the duality. Or that the (false) belief in dualities is a cause of ‘sickness’ as Brown has it.
But the Reich quote suggests rather that dualities, real or otherwise, (as the necessary components of ‘conflicts’) create the struggle which ‘molds’ “human structure.”
So dualities - real or imagined - seem to be indispensable to this discourse.

Dualities invite us to choose what side we might be on; ultimately the law of non-contradiction tells us we must either be or not be. Those who seek to surmount such dualities and even dissolve them can themselves be torn apart and even destroyed in the attempt. Jim Morrison [1943-1971] was such a one, dead at the age of 27 after attempting to overcome the antinomy of Apollo and Dionysos.

"Nietzsche killed Jim Morrison."
John Densmore [6]

And here we arrive at our first philosophical problem. We often express ourselves in terms of dualities; and yet life is a totality. Ultimately then, are all dualities illusory? This will be picked up again in section 15 in relation to the main Nietzschean duality of Apollo/Dionysos.

2) Jim Morrison as a Nietzschean

"Jim Morrison was probably the most effective populariser of Nietzsche in the twentieth century." [7]

"The first and greatest satyr alive today."
FWN [8]

In the first book-length biography of Morrison, published 1980 in the USA - i.e. some nine years after his death - its co-authors presented him very much as a Nietzschean. Not only was he said to be well-read in Nietzsche, but he too was a 'philosopher'. The authors assert that: "like Nietzsche, Jim identified with the long-suffering Dionysos, who was without images, himself pure primordial pain and its primordial echoing." [9]
One of the co-authors, Danny Sugarman, went on to publish a (semi-fictionalised?) autobiography nine years later which included an account of his supposed relationship with Morrison - Sugarman had a junior administrative role in the Doors LA office.
He claims that Morrison gave him books which exemplified his Nietzschean devotion to Dionysos. In a somewhat garbled account Sugarman describes the Doors' singer enthusiastically giving him a copy of Nietzsche's 'The Birth of Tragedy', but then goes on to quote from W. F. Otto's 'Dionysos,' while seeming to describe another book by Karl Kerenyi : "I was digging through the books Jim had given me. I set down the one I was reading and picked up 'Dionysus: Archetypal Image of Indestructible Life.' [10]

In a later, thorough, and less hagiographical biography of Morrison, author Stephen Davis confirms that "nothing he read left a more lasting impression on Jimmy Morrison than his encounter with Nietzsche." [11]

While the posthumous 'legend' of Morrison has emphasised the Dionysian Nietzscheanism, the same image was being cultivated in his lifetime during the 1960's when writers on the popular music scene obviously longed to put a more intellectual spin on a hitherto lowbrow culture. Among those writers was Richard Goldstein, who in 1967 called the emerging 24 year-old singer and song-writer with the Doors a 'Shaman Superstar', going on to say that Morrison "suggests you read Nietzsche on the nature of tragedy to understand where he is really at. His eyes glow as he launches into a discussion of the Apollonian-Dionysian struggle for control of the life force."

3) The Hiway

“Kerouac! I salute your
wordy beard, Sad Prophet!”
Ginsberg [13]

We can be certain then that Morrison was imbued with the Nietzschean theories of the Dionysiac found in 'The Birth of Tragedy' and had looked further into the work of other scholars regarding the nature of the god Dionysos. Patricia Kennealy, the music critic/writer who was said to have 'married' Morrison in a Wicca ceremony on Midsummer's Night in 1970, [14] says that in his last years Morrison was studying Jane Harrison's tomes 'Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion' (1903) and 'Themis: A Study of the Social Origins of Greek Religion' (1911). This is confirmed independently by an interviewer noting in 1970 the book 'Themis' on a table in Morrison's house, [15] as well as 'Themis' being the name of the boutique that he had bought for his long term girlfriend Pamela Courson. [16]

But in what intellectual/cultural context did he imbibe his Dionysian Nietzscheanism?
The son of a military careerist, frequently moving from State to State as a boy, he is immediately attracted to the 'Beat Movement'. The seminal 'Beat' text, 'On the Road', by Jack Kerouac is published in 1957 when Morrison is 14 and he quickly becomes an adherent. [11]
The first paragraph of 'On the Road', referring to the correspondence between the book's hero Dean Moriarty and "Chad the Nietzschean anthropologist," [17] has Kerouac saying: "I was tremendously interested in the letters because they so naively and sweetly asked Chad to teach him about Nietzsche and all the wonderful intellectual things that Chad knew." [18]

Morrison identified with Moriarty - "a wandering cowboy and rebellious spirit of the fifties" [19] - and might have taken Kerouac's effusion as his personal credo:

"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centrelight pop and everybody goes 'Awww!'" [20]

Like Kerouac, Morrison saw direct connection between the 1950s Beat Movement and the Hippies of the 1960s. In a televised interview made shortly before he died, Kerouac said that they were of the "same movement, which is apparently some kind of Dionysian movement in late civilisation." [21]
Two years later, in a radio interview, Morrison echoes Kerouac by describing the Hippie movement as a "kind of Dionysiac reaction, but very naive and fruitless." [22]
Here we note Morrison's realistic outlook that always helped him to maintain a certain distance from the Hippie movement. His Nietzscheanism then extended beyond any beatific interpretation, and had more in common with an 'existentialist' outlook.

4) Wilson's Nietzsche

Morrison read Colin Wilson's 'The Outsider' - published the year before 'On the Road' - when he was about fifteen [23]. Wilson is an English writer who created a stir by producing a philosophically mature work at the age of twenty-four. [24] Wilson later noted with a sardonic irony that he "was at least as important as Sartre and Camus, a real British home-grown existentialist." [25]
Wilson also had something of an affinity with the American 'Beat Movement.' [26] The leading Beat poet Allen Ginsberg - who therefore had a profound influence on Morrison's own poetry - met Wilson in 1978. Recollecting the meeting, Ginsberg wrote: "we'd not encountered before, though 'Outsider' and 'Beat' ethos had theoretically some sense of spiritual expansiveness and hermetic insight in common." And yet remained mystified as to how Wilson could have got that "open mind". [27]
The main interest for us though is Wilson’s treatment of Nietzsche in 'The Outsider' and how this influenced Morrison's own Nietzscheanism. [28] It is a view of Nietzsche which probably has its root in those passages in his first book, 'The Birth of Tragedy' (section 7), where it is said that the character of Shakespeare's Hamlet "resembles the Dionysian man," [29] who seeks to conquer the "nausea of the absurd." [ib.]

Poor Ophelia
All those ghosts he never saw
floating to doom
on an iron candle.
JDM [30]

But the Existentialist despairs of ever being able to conquer, whereas the Nietzschean-Dionysian man is very much a conqueror. The Existentialist interpretation of Nietzsche is therefore somewhat nihilistic - although Wilson will later insist that his own Existentialism is a positive philosophy (see his 'New Existentialism' e.g., Wilson 1980 passim). In 'The Outsider', Wilson says that, while Nietzsche saw the potential of genius in man, he felt that it was "only inertia" that "keeps him mediocre" [31]
This may be the seed of Morrison's idea for 'The Lords', who prey on this tendency to "inertia" - an idea we shall look into in more detail later [32]

In relation to this nihilistic notion of Nietzscheanism is the view that the profound thinker must necessarily experience pain - a masochistic tendency in the 'outsider' hero/genius. [33] Wilson takes a biographical approach to Nietzsche's work in keeping with a philosophy which says that one must live ones ideas. [34]
As a young man of 21 Nietzsche is said to have experienced a kind of pagan epiphany during a storm on a hill while witnessing a man killing two lambs as the man's son looked on. The mixture of thunder, death, sacrifice, and blood and childhood innocence conspired to evoke a world of "Pure Will," - that is a world that is "free", and "without morality." [35]

Wilson quickly compares this with the "drunken" "Dionysian emotions" [36] that Nietzsche will describe in his 'The Birth of Tragedy'.

We may also relate this to Morrison's own epiphany, when he "experienced death for the first time." [37] As a four-year-old, he and his family chanced upon the immediate aftermath of a truck accident which had left a group of American Indians strewn across the road, bleeding to death. He later said, "At that moment, the souls of those dead Indians ... landed in my soul". [ib.]

Similar to Nietzsche's experience, we have the ingredients of blood, death, a sudden inexplicable catastrophe, blended with childhood innocence:

Like our ancestors
The Indians
we share a fear of sex
excessive lamentation for the dead
& an abiding interest in dreams and visions.
JDM [38]

5) The Clap

"He would go to prostitutes and expose himself to venereal disease."
Reich [39]

The most crucial aspect of Wilson’s portrayal of Nietzsche for our study though, is that of the manner of Nietzsche's collapse into insanity.
While contemporary opinion differs, [40] Wilson was of the general view held at the time that Nietzsche's insanity was due to "venereal disease contracted in his student days from a prostitute." [41] Sugarman claims that "Morrison said that's how he wanted to go. First you go crazy, then you go blind, get visions, get dead." [42]
This leads Morrison to speculate that Nietzsche deliberately had himself infected with syphilis in order to experience a progressive disintegrating insanity - a kind of masochistic, calculated, break-down:

"One line of Rimbaud in particular was a favourite [of Morrison's] ... 'The poet makes himself into a visionary by a long derangement of all the senses,' Un long dereglement de tous le sens, describes and explains Jim's activity." [43]

Wilson quotes a letter of Nietzsche's where he says that "I must live a few years longer. I feel a presentiment that the life I lead is a life of supreme peril. I am one of those machines that sometimes explode," [44] adding that Nietzsche "died insane, like a big gun with some trifling mechanical fault that explodes." [45]
This all directly inspires the language Morrison will use when he writes of the moment of Nietzsche's collapse into madness:

"On the third of January, near the door of his lodgings, Nietzsche saw a cabman whipping a horse. He threw his arms around the animal's neck and burst into tears, marking first hour of his madness.
He had purposely contracted syphilis as a student - playing Wagner on an upright for the whores - and carried the germs of chaos all his years. When he at last despaired of embodying in words his entire world of thought, he let those forces sweep 'through him and explode chambers in his brain.
But not before capping his philosophy with that last symbolic act - the final chapter in his philosophy - and wed himself with the act and the animal for all time." [46]

Fitting that the philosopher who wrote that one should "die at the right time" [47] would eke out a protracted creative suicide, inaugurated by a seemingly bizarre mockery of Celtic pagan 'horse marriage.' [48]
And the first animal is jettisoned
Legs furiously pumping
Their stiff green gallop.
JDM [49]

Morrison seemed somewhat obsessed with this dramatic scene. As a film student at UCLA (1964-5) he had planned to make a film of the incident. The soundtrack "would be applause" [50] - no doubt meant to be a pun on 'clap' - i.e., syphilis.

We got our final vision
by clap
JDM [51]

Morrison's relentless program of drugs and alcohol abuse coupled with a self-harming could be seen as an emulation of a Nietzschean 'salvation' through 'the body' as envisioned by Wilson. [52] Morrison would say that "to transcend the limitations of the body, you have to immerse yourself in it." [53]

Was this the "new religion" that Wilson claimed Nietzsche wanted to start?

We could plan a murder, or
Start a religion.
JDM [55]

To Wilson, 'the outsider' is "a prophet in disguise - disguised even from himself ... If we tried to express the prophet's purpose in the simplest graspable form, we could say that it was a desire to shout 'Wake up!' in everybody's ear." [56]

Wake Up!
You can't remember where it was
Had this dream stopped?
JDM [57]

Colin Wilson, in the 50s

Notes to Chapter One: Insider/Outsider
2. Nietzsche 1999B p. 140 (TSZ III, 56:9)
3. From poem 'Adolf Hitler', by Jim Morrison, 1969 (cf. Davis p. 310)
Also on live recording of the Boston concerts 1970
Harrison thought that the duality was religiously prior to the "trinity" which "grew out of the duality." (Harrison p. 286) Dionysos himself expresses the dualism of mortal/immortal (Otto p. 73). The American Western operates on the dichotomy of White (good) and Black (bad) with its racial undertones. "Bad whites in westerns are often associated with darkness." (Dyer p. 35) Morrison himself can be seen to fusing the 'Good White/Bad White' in his personae.
4. Brown introduction p. ix
5. Reich p. 247 (Chapter VII 'Break-through into the Biological Realm') Note the term ‘break-through’ used extensively by Morrison.
6. Densmore p.3
7. ed. Rocco ed's intro. p. xviii
8. Nietzsche 2001 p.21 (DD; Nietzsche's dedication to the poet Catulle Mendes, January 1st 1889)
9. Hopkins & Sugarman 1980 p. 45 ‘Without images’, therefore anti-Apollonian. The first edition paperback has a blurb on the back which begins; "Jim Morrison, singer, philosopher, poet, delinquent ..." The book's title is a line from one of Morrison's songs ('Five To One') - see note 246 below
10. Kerenyi's book, 'Dionysos: 'Archetypal Image of Indestructible Life' was not published until 1976, although Part One was completed in 1967. Otto's book [Otto 1965] was translated in 1965, and it is this that is quoted ('A god who is mad!' etc.) Presumably the book that Sugarman first "sets down" was Nietzsche's 'The Birth of Tragedy'; "I hadn't been reading long when I came across: 'A god who is mad!' “(Sugarman 1991 p. 131) It seems we must take Sugarman’s claims with a pinch of salt, at least in their detail.
11. Davis p. 21
12. ed. Rocco p. 6
13. Ginsberg (from 'Aether', 1960) p. 251
14. Hopkins & Sugarman 1980 pp. 293-6. See also Davis pp. 366-7
15. Jim Morrison: Ten Years Gone, L. James - Creem Magazine 1981, available at (accessed 25/02/2005)
16. Davis pp. 301-2 - Themis was opened in 1968 and "became a hip fashion spot in late-sixties L.A. "
17. Kerouac p. 10
18. ib. p. 4
19. Fowlie p. 82
20. Kerouac p. 8
21. Firing Line with William Buckley Jr. The Hippies, taped on Sept. 3 1968. Available at (accessed 9/4/09)
22. Interview with James Douglas Morrison, Canadian Broadcasting Co. May 27th 1970, track#1 The Lost Interview Tapes, Featuring Jim Morrison Vol. 1, Bright Midnight 2004
23.Hopkins & Sugarman 1980 p. 18
24. Wilson 1990 (Postscript 1967) p. 290 "I was nearly twenty-five".
25. ib. (Introduction, The Outsider Twenty Years On') p. 6
26. ed. Stanley p. 292 Wilson lectured in the USA in 1961 and 1966
27. ib. ('A Literary incident') p. 60. The connections between the Beats and Wilson was noted early on. In a collection called 'Protest' of 1958 (USA), the editors included a section of excerpts from Beat writers such as Ginsberg and Kerouac, and another section of the English 'Angry Young Men', which included an excerpt from Wilson's Outsider. (cf. ed. Feldman & Gartenberg 1960 p. 10) However, in 1959, Wilson distanced himself from the Beats, writing that they may "represent a kind of revolt, but it is difficult to discover a great deal more." (Wilson 2001) Of Kerouac, Ginsberg, McClure, Ferlinghetti et al he says that their work "achieves vigour at the expense of content." (ib. 93) By the 1960s, Wilson's attitude may have softened slightly as he writes in his book 'Poetry and Mysticism'; "In March 1968, I sat in a San Francisco bar with Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and we discussed the death of a girl who had taken an overdose of a new psychedelic drug, and failed to return from her 'trip'. Ferlinghetti admitted to having many reservations about the use of psychedelics, and I tried to explain briefly my own view that mystical experience is a normal potentiality of everyday consciousness, and not something that has to be snatched by inducing states over which we have no control." (Wilson 1970 p. 13) . Wilson dedicated that book to the Beat poet Ferlinghetti who was one of Morrison's heroes. As a young teenager, Jim is said to have visited Ferlinghetti's 'City Lights Book Shop' in San Francisco , once plucking up the courage to say 'hello' to the poet. (Henke 2007 p. 24)
28. cf. Chapter 5 of Wilson 1990 called 'The Pain Threshold'.
29. Nietzsche 1995 p. 23 (I use the Fadiman translation as I assume this was the one that Morrison was most familiar with). Here are some of the basic concepts of Existentialism: "The discomfort in the face of man's own inhumanity, this incalculable tumble before the image of what we are, this 'nausea', as a writer of today calls it, is also the absurd. Likewise the stranger who at certain seconds comes to meet us in a mirror, the familiar and yet alarming brother we encounter in our own photographs is also the absurd." Camus 1975 p. 21. The writer referred to is of course, J.P. Sartre. Camus' first novel was called 'the stranger' (L 'Etranger). Morrison had studied Camus and Sartre. (Hopkins & Sugarman 1980 p. 18)
30. Morrison 1989 p. 129 ('Ode to LA while thinking of Brian Jones, deceased', 1968)
31. Nietzsche 1995 p. 123. cf. "Dionysus entered the world as a conqueror." (Otto p. 77)
32. Morrison 1971 p. 112
33. Wilson 1990 p. 124
34. "And if it is true, as Nietzsche claims, that a philosopher, to deserve our respect, must preach by example." (Camus 1975 p. 11)
35. Wilson 1990 p. 126 Harrison says of Dionysus: "his Epiphany is marked by a manifest thunderstorm." (Harrison p. 408)
36. Wilson 1990 p. 127
37. ed. Doe & Tobler p. 10
38. Morrison 1989 p. 71
39. Reich p. 185
40."Nietzsche 'died of brain cancer' May 6 2003, Friedrich Nietzsche, the philosopher thought to have died of syphilis, was the victim of a posthumous smear campaign by anti-Nazis, new research shows. A study of medical records has found that, far from suffering a sexually transmitted disease that drove him mad, Nietzsche almost certainly died of brain cancer." full article available at: (accessed 4/6/2009)
41. Wilson Outsider p. 130
42. Sugarman 1991, p. 134
43. Fowlie p. 4 : Fowlie published (Chicago University Press) his translation of Rimbaud's 'Complete Works' in 1966. In 1968 he received a brief note from Morrison:
" 'Dear Wallace Fowlie, Just wanted to say thanks for doing the Rimbaud translation. I needed it because I don't read French that easily ... I am a rock singer and your book travels around with me’ ... " (Fowlie p. 16) Fowlie hadn't heard of Morrison at the time, and as a university teacher had to ask his students who Morrison was. He put the note with other letters he had received about the book in the University archive.
44. Wilson 1990 p. 131
45. ib. p. 145
46.Nietzsche Prose available at (accessed 5/6/09)
Link is now dead [2013]:

47. Nietzsche 1999B p. 46 (TSZ 1:XXI 'Voluntary Death')
48. "In Celtic Britain and Gaul the horse goddess Epona was associated with water, fertility and death. There was widespread sacrifice of horses in Celtic Europe in the belief that they would become soul-mounts for their masters' symbolic ride of death." (Saunders p. 82) Note that Morrison regularly symbolically associates the horse with water, most notably in his poem 'Horse Latitudes'. In Greek mythology, Poseidon the sea god was also said to have created the first horse - "he gave the first horse to man." (Hamilton p. 27)
A radio play Nietzsche's Horse (1997) by Lavinia Murray concentrates on and dramatises the moment of Nietzsche's collapse over the beaten horse (BBC Radio 4 broadcast 28/4/1997) in a series of somewhat absurd and surreal vignettes.
49. Morrison 1991 p. 156 (Horse Latitudes) track #5 on Strange Days, the Doors, Elektra Records EKS-74014 October 1967
50. Hopkins/Sugarman 1980 p. 47 - cf. Davis p. 64 & ed. Rocco, ('Cameras Inside the Coffin', J. Rocco) pp. 71-2
51. Morrison 1991 p. 4. In the Doors self-made documentary film 'A Feast of Friends' there is a scene backstage (New York, September 1968) where Morrison improvises an absurdist 'Ode to Friedrich Nietzsche' at the piano, recounting Nietzsche's collapse and subsequent sectioning. (cf. ed. Rocco pp. 71-72)
52. Wilson 1990 p. 144
53. ed. Sugarman 1988 (Lizzie James interview with Jim Morrison 1970) page p. 124
54. Wilson 1990 p. 145
55. Morrison 1991 p. 124
56. Wilson 1990 p. 146
57. Morrison 1991 p. 40

Chapter Two: The Poet Possessed

6) A Poet's Manual

Morrison evidently read Nietzsche's 'The Birth of Tragedy' very closely, taking it almost as a manual of poetic method. When Nietzsche says that dreams are the inspiration for the "glorious divine figures" of which the poets write, [58] Morrison will adopt this as his mode of poetic creation.
The singer Nico [59] had a brief relationship with Morrison in 1967. She wanted to write her own songs but couldn't get started. Morrison "told her to write down her dreams ... This would provide her raw material." [60]

Nietzsche would assert: "The beautiful appearance of the dream-worlds, in creating which everyman is a perfect artist, is the prerequisite of all plastic art, ... and an important part of poetry also." [61]

For Nietzsche, dreams themselves 'interpret' life, and provide ‘training’ for life, [ib.] because "our innermost beings, our common subconscious experiences, express themselves in dreams." [ib.]

Enter again the sweet forest
Enter the hot dream
JDM [62]

Brown writes that "dreams are certainly an activity of the mind struggling to circumvent the formal-logical law of contradiction."[63]
Morrison develops this thought in an interesting compressed poetic aphorism:

Dreams are
at once fruit & outcry
against an atrophy of the senses.
JDM [64]

Whereas Brown sees the dream as a rebellion against the logical tendency, Morrison has the dream as a protest against the supposed degradation of sense perception. Man has ‘fallen’; his perceptions have been ‘narrowed’ – no doubt to allow the development of logic. But the usurped senses will not go quietly; they are the conscience pangs of the defeated irrational. The poet takes up these remnants and restores perception to its former glory via his disordered senses.

In his book on Rimbaud and Morrison, Fowlie confirms that Rimbaud used this method:

"By use of the dream, Rimbaud adds his testimonial to the belief of Nerval, Baudelaire and Mallarme that the purest disinterestedness of poets manifests itself in the dream." [65]

Morrison was searching for the ability to write poetry automatically [66] , for, as Nietzsche said, the Dionysiac poet creates "unconsciously." [67]

Even when awake, the poet's world must have a dreamlike quality:
"The poet is a poet only in so far as he sees himself surrounded by forms which live and act before him, and into whose innermost being he penetrates." [68]
For "at bottom the aesthetic phenomenon is simple: if a man merely has the faculty of seeing perpetual vitality around him, of living continually surrounded by hosts of spirits, he will be a poet." [ib.]

And here we can see the connection with music too, it being used to enable and to enhance this 'faculty'.

Music inflames temperament
JDM [69]

Of Schiller, Nietzsche says that "before the act of creation he did not perhaps have before him or within him any series of images accompanied by an ordered thought-relationship; but his condition was rather that of a musical mood ... A certain musical mood of mind precedes, and only after this ensues the poetical idea." [70]

Morrison would then be drawn to working with musicians hoping to unlock the free flow of his poetic dream worlds, saying that "poetry is very close to music", and that music's "hypnotic quality" puts the poet in the right "state of mind" leaving him "free" to allow his "subconscious" to "play itself out wherever it goes." [71]
Not only that, but musical accompaniment gave Morrison the feeling of "a kind of security" [ib.] to recite his poetry.

In other words, music re-creates that lost world of perception which is inhabited by the dream. However, a poem is not the dream itself. The poem is – in this case – an attempt to put the dream into words. A dream itself is never words but always images.

7) Words & Music

"Words can lie. The mode of expression never lies."
Reich [72]

"Lyric poetry is dependent on the spirit of music."
FWN [73]

"When one talks about music its power is lessened, it loses its effectiveness, the smallest loss due to verbalisation occurs in tragedy, says Nietzsche."
Meltzer [74]

Nietzsche claimed there to be a gulf and an antagonism between words and music. In a posthumously published fragment from the time of 'The Birth of Tragedy' he wrote that "there cannot ... be any question as to a necessary relation between poem and music; for the two worlds brought here into connection are too strange to one another to enter into more than a superficial alliance." [75]

For Nietzsche, "the origin of music lies beyond all individuation," [ib.] i.e. it is primal, non-Apolline.
"The Will is the object of music but not the origin of it." As Schopenhauer - Nietzsche's mentor during the period of 'The Birth of Tragedy' - says, music is a 'copy' of the will, [76] and it certainly shouldn't concern itself with the emotions - in the way that lyric poetry does: "The lyric poet interprets music to himself through the symbolic world of emotions." [75]

Words then are parasitic and inferior to musical tones, while poetry itself is generated by "melody." [77]

Once again, we see Morrison following Nietzsche; his song writing consists in his quickly putting words to an initial melody. [78]

"A song comes with the music, a sound or rhythm first, then I make up words as fast as I can just to hold on to the feel." JDM [79]

It is the music that comes first - and last.

Nietzsche will say that "language can never adequately render the cosmic symbolism of music, because music stands in symbolic relation to the primordial contradiction - primordial pain in the heart of Primal Unity, and therefore symbolises a sphere which is beyond and before all phenomena." [80]

Morrison accordingly would feel that "lyrics aren't that necessary in music." [81]

However, Nietzsche's views on 'folk song' were no doubt interpreted by Morrison as a positive endorsement of the blues:

"What is the folk-song ... but the perpetuum vestigium of a union of the Apollonian and the Dionysian? Its enormous diffusion among all peoples, further re-enforced by ever-new births, is testimony to the power of this artistic dual impulse of Nature: which leaves its vestiges in the folk-song just as the orgiastic movements of a people perpetuate themselves in its music. Indeed, it might also be historically demonstrable that every period rich in folk-songs has been most violently stirred by Dionysian currents, which we must always consider the substratum and prerequisite of the folk-song." [82]

Nietzsche waxed poetic on the awesome transfiguring power of music: "we find our hope of a renovation and purification of the German spirit through the fire-magic of music." [83]

Similarly, Morrison saw his musical performance as a striving "to break through to a cleaner, freer, realm." [84]

Poetry then, as expression of the dream, can lead back into the wordless, irrational and antilogical realm of Dionysian music.

8) Shamanism

It might be well here to mention the oft discussed figure of the shaman, particularly as it is associated with Morrison's stage performances with the Doors. The 1980 biography says that as a student Morrison was "into the shaman: the poet inspired," [85] as if the shaman and the poet were synonymous.
Eliade's influential book on shamanism was published in 1964, and Norman O. Brown's 'Life Against Death' - which, as we shall see, had an important influence on Morrison in the same period - also mentions shamanism. The "primitive shaman" is described by Brown as "the historical ancestor of philosopher and prophet and poet ... with his techniques for ecstatic departure from the body, soul-levitation, soul-transmigration, celestial navigation." [86]

When around eighteen years old, Morrison wrote "a paper called 'The Sexual Neuroses of Crowds'. It is the germ of Jim's conception of the performer as healer, the shaman who can draw out evil spirits and banish them. Crowds, like people, have diseases that can be diagnosed and treated."

In his published poetry Morrison has a section in 'The Lords' describing; "A sensuous panic, deliberately evoked through drugs, chants, dancing" which 'hurls the shaman into a trance." [88]

Music critics also talked of Morrison's shamanistic performances, [89] and he certainly played up to that during 1966-9. However, by 1970 he is playing it down, telling an interviewer that "the shaman is a healer - like a witch-doctor. I don't see people turning to me for that."

Note that Morrison is recoiling from the over-wide and loose use of the term 'shaman'.
As the classical scholar Fritz Graf points out, "'shaman' is a term that originally belonged to a very small and clearly defined area among the Tungus in Northern Siberia : those societies believed that a specialist could communicate with the powers that govern the world and distribute or withhold health or a successful hunt. He did so in an ecstatic journey to these powers with the help of spirits that he had acquired during his initiation. Mainly through the work of the historian of religion Mircea Eliade, this narrow definition of a shaman has been broadened to encompass all religious specialists that combine ecstasy and healing; the underlying notion is that shamanism is a phenomenon that was shared at one time by most human societies. This assumption and its underlying evolutionary concept are highly problematic; it works only at the price of emptying the term of much of its specificity."

Naturally, Graf had little time for the notion that Dionysos was a 'shaman': "Early Greece had no shamans," [92] although Dionysos is undoubtedly connected with "the ecstasy of dance and drugs." [93]

Morrison rejects the ‘healing’ aspect of shamanism in relation to his own work. It might be proper to say that Morrison wanted his work to wound, rather than heal.

9) Drink & Drugs

Zarathustra stood there like one drunken: his glance dulled, his tongue faltered and his feet staggered.
FWN [94]

"Drug addiction is the dead end where only youth exists, and from which you pass not to adulthood, but to death and transfiguration." [95]

In 1970 Morrison would tell an interviewer, "Three years ago there was a wave of hallucinogenics. I don't think anyone really has the strength to sustain those kicks forever. Then you get into narcotics, of which alcohol is one. Instead of trying to think more, you try to kill thought." [96]

No doubt reflecting his own transition from experimenting with lysergic acid - in order to open the 'doors of perception' - to an alcohol habit, a "pain killer." [ib.]

He describes an attraction to alcohol due to its being "like gambling", because "it could work out good or it could be disastrous. It’s like the throw of the dice." [ib.]

This is reminiscent of the passages about Dionysos in Hamilton 's 'Mythology' - a book he is said to have carried around with him : [97] "wine is bad as well as good ... The reason that Dionysus was so different at one time from another was because of this double nature of wine and so of the god of wine. He was man's benefactor and he was man's destroyer."

Nietzsche implies that drunkenness is the origin of music and song. [99] Those who might call this Dionysian 'rush' [100] a "folk disease" [101] are "bloodless weaklings", incapable of experiencing the "glowing life" of the Dionysian. [ib.]

But at what cost is this drunkenness? Drinking for Morrison was 'like the difference between suicide and a slow capitulation." [102] He had read Reich's warnings but heeded them not, for had not the latter written that narcotics "ruin the organism", and that narcotic addition was caused by "the denial of sexual happiness" and the "lack of genital satisfaction."? [103]

In his book 'Beyond The Outsider' (1965), Wilson discusses Huxley's 'The Doors of Perception' [104] and the use of hallucinogenics. After taking mescaline himself, Wilson thought that it "seems to inhibit evolutionary consciousness." [105] By 'evolutionary consciousness' he means; "all pleasures associated with the intellect and intellectual sensibility (which includes music, painting ...)" [ib.]
Neither kykeon [106] nor "the wine, dying on the vine" [107] is the answer.

Am I soothsayer?
Or a dreamer?
Or a drunkard?
Or a dream-reader?
Or a midnight-bell?
FWN [108]

Running, I saw a Satan
or Satyr, moving beside
me, a fleshly shadow
of my secret mind ...
A hairy Satyr running
JDM [109]

"The Greek fearlessly embraced the figure of the satyr; the man of the primitive, the natural, the man of the woods." FWN [110]

God, you are a satyr in disguise.
JDM [111]

"The Dionysian reveller sees himself as a satyr, and as satyr he in turn beholds the god."
FWN [112]

"... the essence of the Oedipal complex is the project of becoming God."

Notes to Chapter Two: The Poet Possessed
58. Nietzsche 1995 pp. 1-2
59. German born Christa Pfaffgen - "the world's first supermodel" (The Times, 26/9/2008, 'The Perfect Sturm', J. Cale, pp. 13-15) appeared in Fellini's 'La Dolce Vita' before joining Andy Warhol's 'Factory' in 1967. She made solo recordings as well as recording with the avant-garde rock group 'The Velvet Underground'. Cale, of the Velvets and her producer remarked that Morrison "drew her into his poetic circle."(ib.)
60. ed. Rocco 1997 ('Nico: The Life of an Icon', R. Witts) p. 137
61. Nietzsche 1995 p. 2
62. Morrison 1989 p. 136
63. Brown p. 319. The 'law of contradiction', also called 'the law of non-contradiction': "In modern logic, the principle that no statement of the form (p and not-p) can be true. The classical defense of the law is in Aristotle's 'Metaphysics' Book IV, 4f." (Dictionary of Philosophy, ed. T. Mautner, Penguin 1997 p. 390)
64. Morrison 1991 p. 131
65. Fowlie p. 72
66. Morrison 1989 (Prologue, 'self-interview', p. 1)
67. Nietzsche 1995 (BT 12) p. 45
68. ib. (BT 8) p. 26
69. Morrison 1991 p. 5
70. Nietzsche 1995 (BT 5) p. 14
71. Hopkins 2006 p. 214
72. Reich p. 176
73. Nietzsche 1995 (BT 6) p. 19
74. Meltzer p. 245
75. On Music and Words, F. Nietzsche, A Fragment from 1871. Available at
(accessed 7/5/09)
76. Nietzsche 1995 (BT 16) p. 56
77. ib. (BT 6) p. 17
78. ed. Sugarman, 1988 p. 95
79. Rolling Stone p. 16
80. Nietzsche 1995 (BT 6) p. 19
81. Circus Magazine (1970) Interview by Stevenson available at: (accessed 25/07/2005) . Excerpts from the original tapes of this interview are also available in Henke on an enclosed CD called 'Jim Speaks'.
82. Nietzsche 1995 (BT 6) p. 17
83. ib. (BT 20) p. 75
84. Doe & Tobler p. 48
85. Hopkins & Sugarman 1980 p. 45
86. Brown pp. 157-8
87. Dalton p. 28
88. Morrison 1971 p. 71 This was written before Morrison’s involvement in music.
89. ed. Rocco p. 6
90. ed. Sugarman 1988 p. 123
91. Graf 2009 pp. 48-9
92. ib. p. 49
93. ib. p. 170
94. Nietzsche 1999B (TSZ IV 'The Drunken Song') p. 229
95. Roger Scruton 1998 p. 99
96, ed. Sugarman 1988 p. 189. Hallucinogenics did indeed wreak some havoc in the 1960s, early 1970s. There were many 'acid casualties', such as Peter Green, the talented guitarist, singer and composer who played with John Mayall and Fleetwood Mac. He left the latter band suddenly in 1970; "I had to go to hospital 'cos I took too many LSD trips. I wanted the wisdom of LSD but I couldn't quite get back again. I took one trip too many ..." (Interview with Peter Green by Cliff Jones, Mojo Magazine September 1996 #34, London, Emap p. 75). He goes on to say; "You come back from your first few trips and it’s OK, but when you do six or seven and you have a few under your belt it gets more intense. Something happens to you so you're not in control anymore. Some one else is."(ib. p. 76) This last quote reminds us of Morrison's 'Lords', as explored in this essay - see chapter four, 'The Artist Tyrant'.
97. Davis p. 73. Hamilton 's book 'Mythology' had a deep effect on Morrison. For example, its account of the death of Hyacinth describes Apollo's discus unintentionally striking Hyacinth - "a beautiful youth" - in the head, killing him. He dies in Apollo's arms: "while he held him the boy's head fell back as a flower does when its stem is broken. He was dead. Apollo kneeling beside him wept for him, dying so young, so beautiful." (Hamilton pp. 115-6.) Compare this to Morrison's expression: "A child is like a flower, his head is just floating in the breeze." (quoted by Patti Smith in a review of the album 'An American Prayer', Creem Magazine (1979) available at  (accessed 17/10/2003)
98. Hamilton p. 72
99. Nietzsche 1995 p. 4
100. German 'Rausch - cf. Nietzsche 1999A p. 15
101. Nietzsche 1995 p. 4
102. Rolling Stone p. 21
103. Reich p. 220
104. Huxley, also available at (accessed 2/7/09)
105. Wilson p. 221 1966. However, some argue the opposite and suggest that the ingestion of hallucinogenics brought about a 'leap' in human consciousness in pre-history (cf. McKenna's 'Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution' 1992, and Hancock's 'Supernatural: Meetings with the Ancient Teachers of Mankind' 2005.
Hancock [Kindred Spirit Magazine #77 2005] contends also that the supernatural beings encountered in drug induced shamanic visions actually exist(ed) and were the teachers of early mankind, enabling the Nietzschean leap ‘from ape to man’. Such beings can relate to Morrison’s Lords and Connectors, of course.
106. Hallucinogen used in the Eleusinian Mysteries in ancient Greece, "made from ergot, a toxic fungus that grows in grain containing substances related to LSD" (ed. Badiner & Grey p. 91) The Eleusinian Mysteries "became affiliated to the mysteries of Dionysos." [Harrison p. 150]
107. Morrison 1991 p. 5
108. Nietzsche 1999B (TSZ 'The Drunken Song') p. 233
109. Morrison 1989 pp. 37-9
110. Nietzsche 1995 (BT 8) p. 24
111. Morrison 1991 p. 174
112. Nietzsche 1995 (BT 8) p. 27
113. Brown p. 118

Chapter Three: The Unrepressed Man

10) Freedom

You call yourself free? I would hear of your master thought, not of your escape from the yoke.
Are you a man that should escape from the yoke? Many have cast off all their values when they cast off their servitude.
Free from what? How does that concern Zarathustra?
Let your eye answer me frankly: Free for what?
FWN [114]

"People claim they want to be free ... (But) people are terrified to be set free - they hold onto their chains. They fight anyone who tries to break those chains."
JDM [115]

Norman O. Brown's 'Life Against Death' was published in 1959 when Morrison would have been about 16. He read it then alongside Wilson's 'The Outsider' and Nietzsche's 'The Birth of Tragedy' [116] when it became a "deep influence." [117] There are indications that he studied the book closely, using its extensive bibliography to make further inroads into Brown's meaning. [118]

If Wilson gave Morrison the persona of Nietzsche, then Brown gave him a conceptual orientation for a Nietzschean philosophy. The main Brownite theme was 'freedom' (in Nietzsche, 'the will to power') [119] , personified as 'the unrepressed man' (or in Nietzsche the 'Uebermensch'). [120]

For Brown, mankind as a species is sick, neurotic, diseased. He cites Nietzsche as his authority for this view. [121]

To quote in full the passage in Nietzsche to which Brown alludes:

"But thereby he [i.e. man] introduced that most grave and sinister illness, from which mankind has not yet recovered, the suffering of man from the disease called man, as the result of a violent breaking with his animal past." [122]

‘The animal past’ – i.e., the Dionysian; man is a disease in as far as he has evolved away from his healthy animality. As he had to ‘narrow perception’ to become man, so too did he have to repress his instincts, and became sick thereby.
The same idea also occurs in Nietzsche's 'Thus Spake Zarathustra’: " 'The earth', he [i.e., Zarathustra] said, 'has a skin, and this skin has diseases. One of these diseases, for example, is called "man'. " [123]
For Brown, this disease is a "general" [124] neurosis [125] which afflicts all mankind. Following Nietzsche, this neurosis is caused when "instincts which do not find a vent without turn inwards." [126]

Morrison would say that "if natural energy and impulses are too severely suppressed for too long, they become violent." [127]

11) Eros & Thanatos

The duality of life (Eros) and death (Thanatos) dominates Brown's thinking, as the book's title makes clear. They are "the energies which create human culture." [128]

death & my cock
are the world
JDM [129]

The repression of both life and death instincts has made man sick; he needs to return to a state of childlike innocence [130] to get healthy. Nietzsche advocated the same:

Innocence is the child, a forgetfulness, a new beginning, a game, a self-rolling wheel, a first movement, a holy Yea.
FWN [131]

For Brown, the concept of play typifies this childlikeness. This was also central to Morrison's view. He differentiated between 'play' - which is 'open' and 'free' - and 'the game', which involves rules and so isn't free. [132]

When play dies it becomes the Game.
JDM [133]

A real man wants two things: danger and play.
FWN [134]

Note that danger and death are always close to this affirmation of life in play.
To Brown, "death is the reality with which human beings ... cannot come to terms." [135]

In his quest to become Brown's 'the unrepressed man', Morrison will obsess over and court death [136] :
"Jim Morrison's life and art entailed a continuous dialogue with death." [137]

They are waiting to take us into
the severed garden ...
Death makes angels of us all
gives us wings
where we had shoulders
smooth as raven's
claws ...
JDM [138]

Gently they stir
Gently rise
The dead are new-born
with ravaged limbs
& wet souls
JDM [139]

In an interview of 1969 he would say:

"I want to feel what death's like. I want to taste it, hear it, smell it." [140]
Indeed, he found it strange that death is feared more than pain, because "life hurts more than death. At the point of death, the pain is over."

And to the dead there is no time.

12) Time

Time does not exist ... JDM [142]

"Unrepressed life has no sense of time." [143]

Just as to Nietzsche the healthy man does not have an historical sense, [144] to Brown, "activity without any sense of time is play." [145]

Art, philosophy and psychoanalysis, then, must work towards the unification of an acceptance of death with that of life; this can only happen when all repression is swept aside. [146]
A major stumbling block to this project, according to Brown, is the "human family." [147] Morrison's cutting himself off from his own family and claiming that they were all dead, [148] no doubt demonstrated yet another attempt at lifting 'repression'.
This leads us to the so-called oedipal complex - the desire to kill the father (death) and to copulate with the mother (life), which is actually unsatisfactory to Brown, as we shall see.

Morrison would say: "I used to have this magic formula ... to break into the subconscious. I would lay there and say over and over, 'Fuck the mother, kill the father, fuck the mother, kill the father...' That mantra can never become meaningless. It's too basic." [149]

To Brown the Oedipal desire to have a child with the mother is to become the father of oneself. [150]
This is the continual re-invention of oneself, an 'eternal recurrence of the same,' [151] and so is a 'flight from death' - a "perverted world" to Nietzsche, "like that of a son wanting to create his father." [75]
Incestuousness is the negative aspect of the eternal return – it is the inhuman repetition of a closed circuit [e.g. Oedipus, Myrrha – the latter tricked her father into having sex with her – see Ovid’s Met. X].

Morrison's Nietzschean Dionysianism, as refracted by Brown, is an attempt to remove repression by embracing death in the form of joy in destruction and the refusal to flee from death.

Morrison's 'slow capitulation' is a form of suicide which incidentally projects art-forms as it spirals out of control. It kills the past as it goes forward to copulate with its future demise.

I haven't fucked much with the past
But I've fucked plenty with the future
Over the skin of silk are scars
From the splinters of stations and walls I've caressed
[Patti Smith, Babelogue,]

Those who Race toward Death
Those who wait
Those who worry.
JDM [152]

It is "art" that "seduces into the struggle against repression," [153] says Brown.
And if life is justified through art, "then man's sickness may be, again Nietzsche's phrase, a sickness in the sense that pregnancy is a sickness, and it may end in a birth and a rebirth." [154]

Notes to Chapter Three: The Unrepressed Man

114. Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra (Tille’s translation) quoted in Wilson 1990 p. 142
115. ed. Sugarman 1988 p. 64
116. Hopkins & Sugarman 1980 pp. 13-18
117. ib. p. 45 - cf. Davis p. 36
118. Clear evidence of Brown's influence on Morrison: "the incest taboo in effect says that you may enjoy your mother only by looking at her from a distance" (Brown. p. 173). In 'The Lords', Morrison has: "You may enjoy life from afar. You may look at things but not taste them. You may caress the mother only with the eyes. You cannot touch these phantoms." (Morrison 1971 p. 45) Brown's bibliography to his book is extensive, and one can imagine Morrison working through it; Blake, Coleridge, Eliade, Frazer, Freud, Hegel, Huxley, Kaufmann, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Otto, Reich, Rilke, Ruskin, Russell, Sartre, Schiller, Schopenhauer, Sombart, Sorel, Spengler, Tillich, Veblen, Weber, Whitehead, Wittgenstein; all have works listed, as well as many rather more obscure authorities.
119. cf. Nietzsche 1999B (TSZ I:15 'The Thousand and One Goals') p. 36
120. cf. ib. (TSZ Prologue: 3) p. 3
121. Brown p. 6
122. Nietzsche 2003A p. 57 (GM II 'Guilt Bad Conscience and the like') Brown used Samuel's translation.
123. Nietzsche 1976 p. 242 (TSZ II On Great Events)
124. Brown p. xi
125. 'Neurosis: Mental disturbance characterised by a state of unconscious conflict, usually accompanied by anxiety, obsessional fear' (Chambers Dictionary)
126. Nietzsche 2003A ib. p.56
127. ed. Sugarman 1988 p. 123 But Morrison's use of 'suppressed', rather than Brown's 'repressed', suggests an influence from Wilhelm Reich. However, one assumes that he was introduced to Reich via Brown's book which comments on him.
128. Brown p. 21
129. Morrison 1991 p. 60 ('Lament for the Death of my Cock')
130. Brown p. 32
131. Nietzsche 1999B p. 14 (TSZ I 'The Three Metamorphoses')
132. ed. Rocco p. 9
133 Morrison 1971 p. 13
134. Nietzsche 1976 p. 178 (TSZ I)
135. Brown p. 38
136. ed. Rocco p. 82
137. ib. p. 146
138. Morrison 1991 p. 10
139. ib. p. 57
140. ed. Doe & Tobler p. 92
141. ed. Sugarman 1988 p. 124
142. Morrison 1989 p. 120
143. Brown p. 93
144. Nietzsche 1980 pp. 8-9 (section 1) "He cannot learn to forget but always remains attached to the past ..."
145. Brown p. 96
146. ib. p. 109
147. ib. p. 113
148. Press release of 1967: under 'Family Info.', Morrison put one word - "dead." (ed. Sugarman 1988 p. 9)
149. Davis p. 131
150. Brown p. 118
151. cf. Nietzsche 1999B p. 108 (TSZ III: 46, 2, 'The Vision and the Enigma')
152. Morrison 1989 p. 194
153. Brown p. 64
154. ib. p. 84

Heroic depiction of Nietzsche

Chapter Four: Artist Tyrants

13) Tour of the Labyrinth

" ... art is the highest task and the proper metaphysical activity of this life."
FWN [155]

"It is only as an aesthetic phenomenon that existence and the world are eternally justified."
FWN [156]

"In the vision, this chorus beholds its lord and master Dionysus, and so it is forever a chorus that serves."
FWN [157]

"The eye symbolises Apollo as 'viewer of the heavens', the sun, which is also the eye of Zeus."

It was the Beat poet Michael McClure who encouraged Morrison to publish his poetry. Two volumes, 'The Lords' and 'The New Creatures' respectively, being eventually published together in one book . [159]

'The Lords', subtitled 'Notes on Vision', can be seen as an Apollonian work due to its content and its oracular form. While 'The New Creatures' - in its evocation of a primal world - can be called Dionysian. [160]

Philosophically, the concept of 'the Lords' - which actually appears in both volumes - is worthy of discussion. In his online study of Morrison's poetry, Grant Cook relates 'the Lords' to Nietzsche's 'The Lords of the Earth' [161] named in his posthumous collection 'The Will to Power'. [162]
True, they certainly bear some relation to Nietzsche's "ruling race," [163] but they have a more ambiguous character all their own.

Given Morrison's deep interest in Greek mythology, we might bring in the fact that the term 'Titans' means 'Lords' in Greek. [164] The successors to the Titans - the Olympians - were also known, in relation to the Titans who they had conquered, as 'the New Gods'. [165] So we can draw a parallel here with 'the New Creatures': 'the Lords and the New Creatures' reflect the Titans and the Olympians. Furthermore, Dionysos inaugurated a "new worship." [166] The name of Dionysos most probably derives from the Phrygian dio- (god), and -neos (new); - so 'new god' [167] - i.e., Dionysos, was not at first accepted as one of the twelve Olympians. [168]

All in all, we have a Nietzschean process of upward evolution, a process of continual self-overcoming. As Cook acknowledges, this is a hierarchical philosophy. [162]
In Morrison's world - as in the world of Nietzsche and the ancient Greeks - there are Lords or Masters, and there are Slaves.

"You are all a bunch of slaves!" JDM [169]

"Rimbaud resembles Nietzsche in denouncing what both interpreted in Christianity as the morality of enslavement." [170]

"There is nothing more terrible than a barbaric slave class, who have learned to regard their existence as an injustice, and now prepare to avenge, not only themselves, but all future generations." FWN [171]

There is one consolation for the aristocrat faced with the terrifying "revolt of the slaves," [172] and that is the fact that "the slave is somehow in love with his own chains." [173]

It is this psychological insight that induces the idea of 'the Lords' to Morrison. Whereas force, or 'the will to power,' suggests the Nietzschean 'Lords of the Earth', it is Brown's question - "How can there be an animal which represses itself?" [174] that evinces Morrison's own 'Lords'. Due to the very slavish nature of the average man, 'the Lords' are able to insinuate themselves covertly and control by acquiescence.

They have given us into the hand of new unhappy lords,
Lords without anger and honour, who dare not carry their swords.
['The Secret People', G.K. Chesterton] [175]

Fear the Lords who are secret among us
The Lords are within us
Born of sloth and cowardice.
JDM [176]

It was while he was at UCLA (1965) that Morrison "wrote concentrated poems that described a superhuman elite of elevated beings - 'the Lords' - who operated on a higher psychic plane than the rest of humanity, who 'saw things as they were' ..." [177] " ... the hyperreal controllers of human culture and behaviour, the invisible high lamas who intercede on humanity's behalf with destiny and the gods." [178]

"The Lords. Events take place beyond our knowledge or control.
Our lives are lived for us." JDM [179]

This describes an inauthentic existence: it is "the feeling of powerlessness and helplessness that people have in the face of reality. They have no real control over events or their own lives. Something is controlling them." JDM [180]

And this is the antithesis not only of the unrepressed existence, but of authenticity too. As Colin Wilson says; "Inauthenticity is to feel futile, contingent, without purpose. Authenticity is to be driven by a deep sense of purpose." [181]

"How can man escape inauthenticity? There are two ways [according to Heidegger]. First of all, one must live constantly in the face of death, recognising it as the ultimate necessity ... There is another way ... Poetry and myth can bring man closer to the realm of pure Being." Wilson [182]

To Morrison, as well as the above two ways there is a third - to assert ones will and to master and control others.

"We can only try to enslave others."
JDM [179]

"Freedom only exists in a world where what is possible is defined at the same time as what is not possible. Without law there is no freedom ... At the conclusion of the most complete liberation, Nietzsche therefore chooses the most complete subordination." [183]

He who controls others is free in himself; intentional – not passive - perception is the means to control:

"But gradually, special perceptions are being developed."
JDM [179]

Where Blake wanted to widen perceptions [Blake p. xxii] and where Rimbaud wanted to derange them, Morrison advocates the evolution of unique perceptual powers which will allow the new masters to enslave others.

"It became clear to me that what we are dealing with here is a problem of evolution." [184]

"The idea of the 'Lords' is beginning to form in some minds."
JDM [179]

These new masters - the Lords - are the product of the 'mind', i.e. the higher minds of a few. They are more evolved beings by token of their heightened perceptual powers. Seeming to inhabit other planes of existence, like the gods, they are able to intersect with our own.

"we should enlist them into bands of perceivers to tour the labyrinth during their mysterious nocturnal appearances."
JDM [179]

I am thy labyrinth.
FWN [185]
"We must now avail ourselves of all the principles of art hitherto considered in order to find our way through the labyrinth, as we must call it, of the origin of Greek tragedy." FWN [186]

I am a guide to the labyrinth.
JDM [187]

With the emphasis on perception, and the mention of nocturnal mystery, 'the Lords' have a decidedly Apollonian cast.

The night like a vast
conspiracy to dream.
JDM [188]

"This deep consciousness of nature, healing and helping in sleep and dreams, is at the same time the symbolical analogue of the soothsaying faculty and the arts generally which make life possible and worth living."
FWN [189]

"The Lords have secret entrances, and they know disguises. But they give themselves away in minor ways. Too much glint of light in the eye. A wrong gesture. Too long and curious a glance."
JDM [179]

Just as the ancient Norse believed that their god Odin went among them in a broad brimmed hat, so too the Lords are amongst us. To Morrison "the Lords are a romantic race of people who have found a way to control their environment and their own lives. They're somehow different from other people." [190]

What else is this but resurgence in the belief in an Aryan race? [191] Driven underground by the Judeo/Christian 'repression,' [192] Morrison's "hidden gods of the blood" [288], linger on, ready to reappear, recognised by those who know the sight - blood calls to blood.

"He simply disappeared when the times turned against him, and remained invisible for more than a thousand years, working anonymously and indirectly. Archetypes are like riverbeds which dry up when the water deserts them, but which it can find again at any time."

The Lords have been busy these past two millennia developing 'special perceptions'. They are a master-race - and who are their slaves today? It seems the slaves are those consumers of modern culture which the Lords have manipulated in preparation for their return one day in the future.

As befits the hierarchical concept, there are another layer of people in between the Lords and the slave masses [thereby adhering to the basic Indo-European tripartite division of functions]. These are 'the connectors', who serve to facilitate the Lords in their enslavement of the masses.

People need
Writers, heroes, stars
To give life form ...
Ceremonies, theatre, dances
To reassert Tribal needs & memories
a call to worship, uniting.
JDM [194]

The connectors "are able to assemble masses," [22] and no doubt prepare the ground for the Lords, who concentrate on higher culture.

"The Lords give us books, concerts, galleries, shows, cinemas. Especially the cinemas. Through art they confuse us and blind us to our enslavement. Art adorns our prison walls, keeps us silent and diverted and indifferent." JDM [195]

The emphasis on cinema once again announces the Apolline nature of 'The Lords: Notes on Vision', with its dreamlike image-making. It points too to Morrison's counterpointed longing for the Dionysian:

"There are no longer 'dancers', the possessed. The cleavage of men into actor and spectators is the central fact of our time ... we are content with the 'given' in sensation's quest. We have been metamorphosised from a mad body dancing on hillsides to a pair of eyes staring in the dark."
JDM [196]

And yet there is a recognition - as in Nietzsche - that the Apolline is necessary to temper the Dionysian. What Nietzsche called "gradations of rank." [197]

"Cinema is the most totalitarian of the arts."
JDM [198]

"Vision is a form of prophecy. When Rimbaud says in 'Parade', 'I alone have the key to the barbarous procession ... He sees the invisible spectacle (parade) going on behind the real one."

The soft parade has now begun.
JDM [200]

Morrison sees not a 'barbarous parade', but a decadent one - a 'soft parade'.

The Apollonian eye is itself erotic perception:

"exhibition was thought to be due to an especially strong erogenicity of the eye."
Reich [201]

"Too much glint of light in the eye."
JDM [179]

There is a pronounced obsession with the eye, with vision, in all of Morrison's writing. Rocco says that Nietzsche's "Dionysian force" challenged Apollonian ocularcentrism. And yet it seems that Morrison, that supposed disciple of Dionysos, is rather praying at the temple of Apollo - in his writings at least. But this can be deceptive. Even here, Morrison is not an adherent of the single-point vision, but rather of the multiple-vision - those 'special perceptions'. Just as Brown extols the polysexuality of the 'polymorphously perverse,' [202] so Morrison extols a polymorphous perception.

"Seeing all perspectives at once."
JDM [203]

More than that, Morrison exhibits a veritable aversion to the 'evil eye' in his longing for touch in a remarkable piece he wrote for 'Eye' magazine in 1968. Here he complains: "Ask anyone what sense he would preserve above all others. Most would say sight, forfeiting a million eyes in a body for two in the skull."
The piece begins with a prophetically autobiographical vignette:
"He sought exposure, and lived the horror of trying to assemble a myth before a billion dull, dry eyes. Leaving his plane, he strode to the wire fence, against the advice of his agents, to touch hands."
He says further that "Blind, we could live and possibly discover wisdom", and that the "blind copulate, eyes in their skin."
The eye is like a parasite:
"The eye is a hungry mouth
"That feeds on the world."

There is a sense that 'the world' seen by the eye is not real, as well as being dangerous and damaging;
"'Seeing' always implies the possibility of damaged privacy, for as eyes reveal the huge external world, our own infinite internal spaces are opened for others."

He laments that a desired woman is "chosen first by visual appeal", but her "image is never real in the eye, it is engraved on the ends of the fingers."
But the eyes have established a tyranny. They have usurped the authority of the other senses."

Morrison's fear of the eye also contains a sense of awe, because the eye is godly:
"Ptah gave birth to man from his mouth, the gods from his eyes."
After referring to Oedipus, Tiresias, St. Paul and others, he asks with some anguish:
"Why is blindness holy?"
The answer emerges that 'Light' is Promethean and salvific;
"The eye is a creature of fire."

The idea of vision escapes
the animal worm whose earth
is an ocean, whose eye is its body.
JDM [205]

Herein lays Morrison's fascination with the Apollonian art-form of the cinema.

Jim Morrison

14) Cinema

"Camera, as all-seeing god." JDM [206]

"True art is the ability to create images." FWN [207]

"I offer images." JDM [208]

"The eye symbolises the solar door giving access to celestial regions."

"The Apollonian frenzy excites the eye above all, so that it gains the power of vision."
FWN [210]

"That sunlike eye [of Apollo] which perceives but does not taste, which always keeps a distance." [211]

Morrison saw cinema as having its roots in magic and sorcery, "a summoning of phantoms," [212] and in alchemy too, "an erotic science, involved in buried aspects of reality, aimed at purifying and transforming all being and matter." [213]
He echoes Brown here, who described alchemy as "the last effort of Western man to produce a science based on an erotic sense of reality." [214]
Morrison thought that film was "the closest approximation in art that we have to the actual flow of consciousness, in both dreamlife and in everyday perception of the world." [215]

He noted though that "film compresses everything", because when "you put a form on reality, it's going to look more intense." [216]

And as befits an Apollonian art-form, film is also ephemeral because it is "perishable" in contrast to poetry which is "eternal." [217]

And yet cinema touches on something most profound;

"Cinema returns us to anima, religion of matter, which gives each thing its special divinity and sees gods in all things and beings." JDM [218]

Morrison hoped that film would be able to create "an intermittent other-world, a powerful, infinite mythology." [219]

"The Apollinian power to give form is further associated with the creation of illusions, while the Dionysian frenzy carries with it a suggestion of blind will."

15) Apollo & Dionysos

"The continual development of art is bound up with the Apollonian and Dionysian duality."
FWN [221]

"Though I love the bull's neck on him; I also want to see the eyes of the angel."
FWN [222]

From his throat, dreams
sing to ships and sailors
nightmares of our time:
island universe
dark with narcotic
over quicksilver
waters ...
[from 'Some Deaths', W. Lowenfels (1964)]

How do the antinomies of life/death instincts play against Nietzsche's Apollonian/Dionysian antinomy in 'The Birth of Tragedy'?
Brown devotes a whole chapter to the latter in 'Life Against death.' [223] Brown understands Apollo and Dionysus as a process of sublimation. [224] The 'Greek Dionysian' [225] of Nietzsche is an example of the Apollonian sublimation of the primitive Dionysian. The latter, unsublimated, is the Dionysian "witch's brew" Nietzsche talks of, [ib.] which can be found, according to Brown, in de Sade and Hitler, for example.

"The mass death in the war for the glory of the German race is the apotheosis of this witches' dance." Reich [226]

The sublimated Greek Dionysian consciousness, on the other hand, can be discerned in the Romantics, like Blake, and in their 'heirs', Nietzsche and Freud. [227] These have taken the first steps towards the immense task of "constructing a Dionysian ego" [ib.] according to Brown - but is this not a willful paradox?
The ego, after all, is a construction of the Apollonian and its principle of individuation, [228] and is therefore alien to the Dionysian which eschews all individualism. [229] Camille Paglia, looking back at the "sixties vision" of Morrison, calling him "brilliant and learned", says that "no one can control Dionysus", and that "we can never totally harmonise Apollo and Dionysus, but we have to try." [230]

Why do we have to try? In order to survive? Is the Dionysian in its raw unformed aspect literally too destructive to behold?

And here we must look towards Reich who's influence has been bubbling under. He advocates a complete Dionysianism which some might fear as being too unrestrained, too 'unsublimated'. It is said that Morrison read Reich's book 'On the Function of the Orgasm' carefully, making his own marginalia. [231]

Notes to Chapter Four: The Artist-Tyrant
155. Nietzsche 1995 (Foreword) p. iv
156. ib. 1995 (BT 5) p. 17
157. ib. 1995 (BT 8) p. 27
158. Cooper 1978 p. 62
159. Both volumes were completed in manuscript form in 1968. At McClure's urging they were published privately and separately in 1969 (Davis p. 268, p. 331). They were subsequently published together by Simon and Schuster ( New York ) in 1970 ( Davis p. 331)
160. Fowlie says Rimbaud's Une Saison is "largely Dionysian and Les Illuminations largely Apolloninan." (Fowlie p. 74)
161. Nietzsche 1924 p. 365 (WP 958) Kaufmann's later translation of 'The Will to Power' [1967] has "masters of the earth", rather than "lords of the earth".
162. Jim Morrison's Poetry: A Critical Analysis, G. Cook 2001 (available at)  (accessed 1/7/2009)
163. Nietzsche 1924 (WP 960) p. 365
164. McLeish 1996 p. 612
165. Evans & Millard s.l. p. 59
166. Hamilton p. 66
167. Room 1983 p. 116
168. Hamilton p. 64; "Homer did not admit him." Harrison agrees: "In Homer, Dionysos is not yet an Olympian" calling him an "immigrant Thracian." (Harrison pp. 364-5) Otto was a lone voice insisting rather that Dionysos was "indigenous to Greek civilisation." (Otto p. 58) It seems that subsequent discoveries have now shifted towards Otto's view (Otto p xx translator's introduction 1965)
169. Fong-Torres 2002 p. 165 ( Miami 1969)
170. Fowlie p. 70
171. Nietzsche 1995 (BT18) p. 65
172. Nietzsche 2003A p. 17 (GM I:7)
173. Brown p. 242
174. ib. p. 242
175. Quoted in Chesterton 1975 p. 5 This conspiracy classic by A.K. Chesterton and the lines quoted from G.K. Chesterton - they were cousins - certainly reflects the sinister aspect of Morrison's secret Lords. Nietzsche himself construed Christianity itself as a conspiracy engendered by the priests so that the slaves could overthrow the masters. (cf. Nietzsche 2003 pp. 31-2 - GMI:16). Morrison sees 'the Lords' both negatively and positively. In the former perspective we might compare them with Colin Wilson's 'mind vampires' in his book 'The Mind Parasites' (1967). Wilson too sees that the 'mind vampires' might also have a positive function: "The vampires might serve, therefore, to inoculate man against his own indifference and laziness." (Wilson 1985 p. 207)
176. Morrison 1971 p. 112
177. Davis p. 64
178. ib. p. 269
179. Morrison 1971 p. 89
180. ed. Sugarman 1988 p. 188
181. Wilson 1980 p. 153
182. Wilson 1966 p. 108
183. Camus 1971 p. 62
184. Wilson 1990 pp. 293-6 (Postscript 1967)
185. Nietzsche 2001 p. 65 (last words of 'Ariadne's Complaint' - said by Dionysos to Ariadne)
186. Nietzsche 1995 p. 70 (BT 7) Nietzsche wants to get back to the point before the worship of Dionysos becomes theatre, before Dionysos transforms from being god to a mere actor. cf. Bertram, Chapter 8, ‘Masks’.
187. Morrison 1989 p. 12 (also p. 84)
188. Morrison 1991 p. 139
189. Nietzsche 1989 p. 3
190. ed. Sugarman 1988 p. 188
191. cf. Nietzsche 2003A p. 14 (GMI:5) Densmore says that Jim and Ray Manzarek [Doors keyboard player] had "constant arguments ... about man's evolution. Ray wanted the golden race to come out of blending" and Jim "argued against the loss of individual characteristics." (Densmore p. 28) Ray married a Chinese girl, while Jim always sought out red-haired girls, so much so that the very Aryan Nico dyed her hair red to please him (Davis p. 191). The following could even sum up Morrison's Lizard King persona: "Classicism, Californianism, barbarism and crucifixionism are specific and strongly White representational traditions." (Dyer p. 150)
192. cf. Brown p. 15, Nietzsche 2003 (GMI:7 pp. 16-17)
193. Jung 1988 p. 20, chapter 2, 'Wotan' [1936]; here Jung refers to the Germanic god Wotan, but says, "No doubt it sounds better to academic ears to interpret these things as Dionysus, but Wotan might be a more correct interpretation." (ib. p. 12)
194. Morrison 1989 p. 14
195. Morrison 1971 p.89
196. ib. p. 29
197. Nietzsche 1997 p. 89 (BGE 219)
198. Morrison 1971 p. 52
199. Fowlie p. 71
200. Morrison 1991 p. 50
201. Reich p. 95
202. Brown p. 30
203. Morrison 1999 p. 168
204. All quotes here from Morrison 1978 pp. 218-226. Herve Muller, the editor and translator of this bilingual edition, says of the piece 'Eye': "Enfin, le texte qui termine ce recueil fut publie en 1968 dans le revue americaine Eye, pour qui Jim offrit de l'ecrire plutot que de se preter a une traditionnelle interview. Il est particulierement interessant dans la mesure ou il se situe dans le prolongement direct de Seigneurs ('The Lords'), sous-titre, rappelons-le, Notes sur le vision ('Notes on Vision')." [ib. p. 6]
205. Morrison 1971 p. 105
206. ib. p. 17
207. Nietzsche 1999A ('The Dionysiac World View' 1870) p. 128
208. ed. Sugarman 1988 p. 67
209. Cooper p. 62
210. Nietzsche 1976 (TI Skirmishes 10) p. 519
211. Brown p. 174 cf. Morrison, "You may look at things but not taste them." (Morrison 1971 p. 45)
212. Morrison 1971 p. 67. Compare: "Western society is characterised by the albeit troubled centrality of vision to knowledge and power." (Dyer p. 106) Dyer sees a link between photography/light and the privileging of racial 'Whiteness'. (ib. p. 122) Compare to the iconic 'Young Lion' picture of Morrison: "photographer Joel Brodsky took the famous black and white pictures that presented Jim Morrison as the bare-chested incarnation of classical Aryan manhood: a hypnotically gazing Adonis." (Davis p. 153)
213. ib. p. 84
214. Brown p. 316
215. Rolling Stone p. 16
216. ib. p. 18
217. ib. p. 15
218. Morrison 1971 p. 87
219. ib. p. 54
220. Kaufmann 1956 p. 108
221. Nietzsche 1995 p. 1
222. Nietzsche 1976 (TSZ II 'On Those Whose Are Sublime') p. 230
223. Chapter XII 'Apollo & Dionysus'
224. Brown p. 174
225. Nietzsche 1995 (BT 2) p. 6
226. Reich p. 241
227. Brown p. 176
228. cf. Nietzsche 1995 (BT 1)
229. Kaufmann 1956 p. 108
230. Camille Paglia available at (accessed 9/1/11)
231. Davis p. 39

Chapter Five: Erotic Politician

16) Wilhelm Reich

"There is but one road leading from orgasm."
FWN [232]

The influence of Reich on Morrison is obvious. For example, in an interview Morrison says - playfully - that he once conceived of "the universe as a mammoth peristaltic snake." [233]
We find Reich describing his 'Orgasm Formula', which has cosmic significance for him, [234] as having the "serpentine motion" of "peristalsis." [235]
Frequently, Reich speaks of natural sexuality "breaking through," [236] a favourite phrase of Morrison's too, with his song 'Break on Through'. [237] Reich also adumbrates Wilson , declaring himself to be an "outsider". [238]
Reich's notion of a "sex-economy" - i.e., a society governed by "orgastic potency" rather than by "compulsive morality" [239] suggests Morrison's "erotic politicians". [240] Reich saw the repressive nature of "patriarchal society" [241] as all-pervasive, covering at least six-thousand years of history [ib.]. Its root lay in the family itself which seeks to "suppress" the "sexuality" of children. [242] Here again we are reminded of Morrison's rejection of his own family. [243] To Reich, "sexual repression, biological rigidity, moralism and puritanism are not confined to certain classes or groups of the population; they are ubiquitous." [244] Obviously, this is a far more radical message than Brown's, and chimes with the Beat Movement and the subsequent 1960s 'counter-culture', which it pre-figured by some 25 years.

"The development into the future is consistent and uninterrupted only if that which is old and senescent, after having fulfilled its function in an earlier phase of the democratic development, is now wise enough to make room for what is young and new, wise enough not to stifle it by reason of its dignity and formal authority." Reich [245]

The old get older and the young get stronger
JDM [246]

Because, to Reich, "the sexual orgasm" is "the supreme experience of happiness", [247] then "every release of sexual tension through genital satisfaction immediately reduced the breaking through of pathological drives." [248]

17) Theatre

Then I grew wings to soar off into distant futures. Into more distant futures, into more southern souths than any artist ever dreamed of - where gods are ashamed of all clothes. FWN [249]

I am not allowed to take my clothes off.
I am outside the gates of paradise.
The Living Theatre [250]

It was ‘The Living Theatre’ who exemplified the Reichian message in the 1960s. Formed in 1947, this radical New York based theatre troupe was "dedicated to transforming the organisation of power within society from a competitive hierarchical structure to cooperative and communal expression." [251]
In the 1950s the troupe "shared aspects of style and content with 'Beat generation' writers", [ib.] their play about drug addiction, 'The Connection', (1959) being noted for its "harsh language." The troupe's leaders were "briefly imprisoned" in the early 1960s in the USA, leading the Living to spend the most of that decade touring Europe producing work that was "even more politically and formally radical, carrying an anarchist and pacifist message." [ib.]
Their most famous piece of this period, 'Paradise Now!', "challenged every given in Western civilisation - borders, morals, laws, behaviour, received wisdom - in a loud argumentative presentation that deployed semi-naked actors moving among the audience." [252]
The work "led to multiple arrests for indecent exposure." [251] The Living toured 'Paradise Now!' in the USA from 1968 to 1969, before breaking up in the latter year. They performed four nights in early 1969 in Los Angeles - Jim Morrison, accompanied by his friend the Beat poet Michael McClure attended each performance.

"McClure called the troupe 'eagle angels of the anarchist spirit'," [253] and had known the founders of the troupe for some years hoping that they would perform his own play 'The Beard'. (1965) He said that "we were involved in activity against the war, in protesting censorship ... We were deliberately living a gypsy revolutionary lifestyle. Drugs were a part of it ... taking them to deepen our consciousness, which we felt was a liberational act." [254]

This is very much what Morrison wanted to be doing. McClure recounts attending those Living shows with Morrison, with the latter outrageously drunk, joining in the production by among other things, screaming "Nigger!" [255]

After attending the Living's show on Friday 28th February 1969, when Morrison had "a madder look than usual" according to a friend, [256] he went on to perform a concert with his band the Doors in Miami (March 1st 1969). Determined to break every taboo in language and nudity, he made it clear that it was the Living Theatre who had inspired him. Saying from the stage that he used to think that stage performing was "a joke", he had "met some people" - i.e. the Living Theatre - who were doing something of real importance; he wanted to "get on that trip too." The message at Miami was simple: "there are 'No limits! No laws!'" [257]
Taunting his audience, he jeered at them: "'You want to see my cock don't you? That's what you came here for isn't it?'" [258] Of course, Morrison would be arrested for that performance, charged, tried and found guilty. [259]

He was still appealing the verdict when he died in Paris in 1971.

He later rationalised his performance at Miami , saying that he had "tried to reduce the myth to absurdity, thereby wiping it out. It just got too much for me to stomach, so I put an end to in one glorious evening." [260]

Notes to Chapter Five: The Erotic Politician
232. Nietzsche 1995 (BT 21) p. 76
233. Stevenson (interview with Jim Morrison Circus Magazine 1970)
234. Reich p. 360-1 "Orgone Energy; Cosmic Energy; universally present and demonstrable visually. Hermetically and electroscopically and by means of Geiger-Mueller counters. In the living organism: Bio-energy, Life Energy." (ib., Glossary p. 370) - And in Nietzscheanism, the 'Dionysian'?
235. Ib. pp. 270-1
236. Reich passim. see e.g., p. 60, p, 68 etc., and Chapter VII heading. It seems to be a 'Beat' cliché too: "For the man who is hip, there is nothing more cool than breaking through and swinging." (ed. Feldman & Gartenberg 1960 p. 16)
237. Track #1 'The Doors', Elektra Records EKS-74007, January 1967
238. Reich ib. p. 59
239. Reich ib. pp. 28-9
240. Doe & Tobler p. 75
241. Reich. p. 29
242. Ib. p. 30
243. ed. Sugarman 1988 p. 9
244. Reich p. 33
245. ib. p. 36
246. Morrison 'Five to One' lyric, track #11 Waiting for the Sun, the Doors, Elektra EKS-74024 1968
247. Reich p. 214
248. Ib. p. 94
249. Nietzsche 1976 (TSZII,'On Human Prudence') p. 256
250. From Paradise Now!, The Living Theatre, available at  (accessed 13/6/09)
251. The Living Theatre (available at) &  (accessed 14/6/09)
252. Davis pp. 313-4
253. ib. p. 314
254. Beat Scene #40 March/April 2002 ed. K. Ring , England s.l. (interview with Michael McClure) pp. 17-18. "Dionysus is, after all, given the highly significant name of the 'liberator'." (Otto p. 97)
255. "Big Rufus, the Living's only black actor, was standing by the door. Jim looked at him and immediately started yelling 'NIGGER' as loud as he could. McClure was shocked that Jim's racism was so open and violent sounding." Davis p. 315
256. Clarke 1993 pp. 134-8
257. Davis pp. 319-320. To the ancient Dionysian, "all tradition, all order, must be shattered." (Otto p. 78)
258. Clarke p. 143 Actually, Morrison denied saying this; “Prosecutor: ‘Do you deny saying “do want to see my cock”? Morrison: ‘Yes’.”  [Accessed 5/1/11]
259. On September 20th 1970, a jury found Morrison guilty of 'indecent exposure' and 'open profanity' (Davis p. 387). The sentence was handed down on October 30th 1970: eight month’s hard labour in the tough Dade County jail, a $500 fine, plus an additional two years and four months of probation (Hopkins & Sugarman 1980 p. 317). "Within a fortnight of the sentencing" Morrison's lawyer had "filed an appeal of the convictions with the US District Court." (ib. p. 318)
260. Doe & Tobler p. 62

Chapter Six: Meta-Orpheus

18) The Myth

And what "myth" exactly?
Colin Wilson published the book ‘On Music’ [261] in 1964, and while his biographers don't mention Morrison having read this book, [262] internal evidence seems to suggest he might have. [263]
In a chapter entitled 'The Nature and Spirit of Jazz' (chapter 6), Wilson describes what he calls 'the jazz myth'. [264] What Wilson calls 'jazz' tends to include 'blues' too. He claims that there are two strands of 'jazz', "the personal and the extraverted." The latter includes what we might call 'Trad Jazz', and 'Big Band' jazz, while the former is the classic blues singers. Wilson mentions Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Leadbelly, Blind Lemon Jefferson, for example. [265] Jazz which departs from these roots, such as the 'semi-intellectual developments" of the Modern Jazz Quartet, "represent a kind of a dead end. Good jazz has always been the intense expression of personalities." [266] And that personality has always been a purveyor of the 'jazz myth'. Writing in 1964 he says that "in our own time it can be found in the singing of Howlin' Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Lightnin' Hopkins." [267]
Morrison was deeply influenced by those named blues singers, even covering some of their songs, such as John Lee Hooker's 'Crawling King Snake'. [268]

So what exactly is this 'jazz/blues myth'? Wilson says that "violence and tragedy" is at "the heart" of the myth. [269] It is "involved with self-destruction" [270] and "bound up with early death, like the myth of romantic poetry." [271]
He gives an example in the person of Buddy Bolden who "rises from the unknown mass" to become an "idol". His instrument has a phallic power and he is proclaimed the "King of the Zulus", and women flock to him. He lives a fast and roistering life and "then collapses into madness." [272] Not only that, after his death there is the lingering mystery of a lost recording that his fans hope will be discovered one day. This is essentially the myth of the rock-star Jim Morrison too, who simply continued the tradition. His 'lost writings', [273] the mystery of his death, his self-proclaimed 'Lizard King' [274] persona, his phallocentric performances and self-induced madnesses.

the hollow idol's eyes.
JDM [275]

Wilson also brings in what he calls the 'success myth': "The success myth itself is one of the great romantic myths of the 20th century. It accounts for much of the hysteria that has surrounded popular entertainers, from Frank Sinatra to Elvis Presley ..." [276]

We might note that Morrison named Presley and Sinatra as his two favourite singers in 1967. [277] Exemplified by the film-star James Dean, the success myth blends with the 'jazz myth' - living fast and dying young. "Death gives" the myth "a new dimension of morbid nostalgia." [278]

Wilson then sees a clear connection between jazz, blues and rock 'n' roll, with the latter incorporating the jazz/blues myth with the success myth. A perfect example in rock 'n' roll would be the tortured singer Gene Vincent, who, according to the counter-culture writer and activist Mick Farren, actually became a friend of Morrison's. [279]
Both faced "the problem of the rock star being simultaneously an artist and a cartoon character, a creative force and a marketable product." [280]

Both were doomed, like Oedipus, to fulfil the fate of their myths: "both men also drank to excess to dull the noise in their heads." Drinking together, Vincent "exhibited bouts of behaviour that even Jim Morrison - the man who would dangle by one hand from 20th floor hotel balconies - declared crazy." [281]

Morrison and Vincent died the same year - 1971. Morrison was 27 and Vincent 36.

Morrison may have wanted to reduce the 'success myth' to absurdity at Miami, but he wanted to return to the blues myth as a way to get back to the Rimbaudian poet he had always wanted to be. But even here there was an absurdity. As David Dalton points out in his book on Morrison, unlike his equally tragic 'blues myth' peers - Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin - Morrison was no "freak." [282]

As for the romantic poet myth; "Jim identified with Rimbaud, but Rimbaud was a goofy-looking, pimply tormented 19th century homosexual", whereas Morrison "was exceptionally handsome, charming and intelligent. He had few money problems ... He had no demonstrable reason for being embittered ... He was famous ... rich, women flung themselves at him. Intellectuals and rock literati made fools of themselves coining epithets for him ... He had everything." [ib.]

How then, could such a one personify the 'blues myth'? Was he not rather an actor, a hero, on the stage?

19) The Hero

"Jim was a metamorphic hero who thrilled us with his energy and daring."
McClure [283]

"The hero, the highest manifestation of the will."
FWN [284]

"It holds true in all things that those whom the gods love die young."
FWN [285]

"I know from talking to him that he never expected to live very long."
McClure on Morrison [286]

"A hero is someone who rebels, or seems to rebel, against the facts of existence and seems to conquer them, but obviously that can work at moments. It can't be a lasting thing."
JDM [81]

"The measurement of a hero, his definition, is in his confrontation with an antagonist."

“He took to heart the archetypal hero figure so characterized in Joseph Campbell’s works.”
[Sundling p.16]

Miami was the natural catastrophe of Morrison’s role as the hero.

Hitchhiker drinks:
'I call again on the dark
hidden gods of the blood.'
JDM [288]

The hero is destined to test, break and re-write the boundaries of life. He is above 'the laws of this world' [289] - a 'law breaker' and a 'law maker'. [290] The hero flourishes in 'frontier situations': "the 18th and 19th century frontiers of America produced such heroes", who were "on the borders of law, order and civilisation which abutted on chaos, anarchy and howling savages." [291]

" America was conceived in violence. All Americans are outlaws."
JDM [292]
The boundary-breaking hero is a necessary myth because "without myth ... every culture loses its healthy creative natural power: it is only a horizon encompassed with myths that rounds off to unity a social movement. It is only myth that frees all the powers of the imagination and of the Apollonian dream from their aimless wanderings." FWN [293]

Let's reinvent the gods, all the myths of the ages
celebrate symbols from deep elder forests
(Have you forgotten the lessons of the ancient war)
We need great golden copulations.
JDM [294]

20) The Anatomy of Rock

"The singer is projected as the incarnation of a force beyond music, which visit the world in human form, recruiting its followers something like the way religious leaders recruit their sects ... Like the totem animal of the tribe, the pop star is an icon of membership, set apart from the everyday world in a sacred space of his own. His appearance on stage ... is a 'real presence', an incarnation of an other-worldly being, greeted by a release of collective emotion comparable to the Dionysiac orgies depicted by Euripides.
Tribal totems are species - and therefore immortal. By identifying with the totem you partake of its immortality, and take your place in the tribe. The pop star is an individual, but in his own way sempiternal, immortalised on disk, set against a background noise which dramatises his eternal recurrence ..." Scruton [295]

In one of his last interviews Morrison seems to admit that the Doors had reached their 'limits': " Miami was the culmination in a way of our mass performing career."

Clearly, he was not to find the kind of personal and artistic freedom he craved playing in a rock band, certainly not in the 'mass field' of popular music. Had he said and done the same things he did at Miami in a tiny avant-garde theatre he would not be facing over six months of hard labour in a tough prison. Not only that, but the counter-culture 'bible', 'The Rolling Stone', had ridiculed his Miami performance. [297] What he hoped would be a controversy around the principles of freedom of speech was turned into a media circus with himself as the clown. [298] Evoking his early reading of Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy he stated that "the origin of freedom of speech ... goes side by side with the origin of drama." [299]

Trouble is, no one in the 'mass field' cared. Even those wanting to put him on trial and punish him only really cared about their own political advancement. Suddenly, he was left high and dry - had he wasted the past five years?
I've done nothing with time
A little tot prancing the boards playing with revolution.
JDM [300]

"The pop star is displayed ... high up on electric wires, the currents of modern life zinging through him ..."
Scruton [301]

The whole thing started with rock 'n' roll, and now it's out of control." JDM [302]

"Nietzsche's Dionysiac revelry has been utterly surpassed by the rock 'n' roll frenzy."
Meltzer [303]

Morrison began his foray into rock music by making a clear analogy between the birth of rock and Nietzsche's account of the birth of tragedy. As the latter was a synthesis of the Apollonian and the Dionysian, so rock was the off-spring of European and African folk musics. [304]

"I like to think of the history of rock 'n' roll like the origin of Greek drama. That started out on the threshing floor during the crucial seasons, and was originally a band of acolytes dancing and singing. Then, one day, a possessed person jumped out of the crowd and started imitating a god." JDM [305]

The 'possessed person' had now become a clown.

"I think of myself as an intelligent, sensitive human being with the soul of a clown."
JDM [306]

As Fowlie wrote, with Morrison in mind:

"The youth rebel ... has a brother ... called clown, acrobat or fool ... he has even been called ... poet." [307]

And the danger, "that of the acrobat, of falling into the public looking at them" had befallen him.

It was the danger Nietzsche warned of at the beginning of his 'Zarathustra' with the character of the "rope-dancer", [308] one that Morrison deliberately invoked with his own high-wire antics. [309] Had he been betrayed by his own youthful enthusiasm for rock?

In that year
We had an intense visitation of energy.
JDM [310]

The wild storm
where savages fell out
in late afternoon
monsters of rhythm.
JDM [311]

The 1st electric wilderness came
over the people
on sweet Friday
Sweat was in the air.
The channel beamed,
token of power
Incense brewed darkly.
Who could tell then that here
It would end?
JDM [312]

"The birth of rock 'n' roll coincided with my adolescence, my coming into awareness."
JDM [313]

Always analytical, Morrison described the evolution of rock as cyclical, and it was now - in the late 1960s - returning to its roots, ready to embark on new evolutionary syntheses, which would combine roots in a new, unheard of way in the coming decades:

"Ten years ago [i.e., 1959] ... what they called rock 'n' roll was a kind of blending of these two forms [i.e., of Negro Blues and White Country musics] ... "Now rock is dying out and everyone's going back to their roots again."

And yet Morrison felt his own 'roots' not to be those of White Country but of Negro Blues.

21) The Blues

Well I'm an old blues man
And I think that you understand
I've been singing the blues
Ever since the world began.
JDM [315]

The Negroes in the forest
brightly feathered
they're saying
'Forget the Night! Live with us in forests of azure
Out here in the perimeter, there are no stars
Out here we is stoned - immaculate.'
JDM [316]

“Guitar blues during a chant
Chanting, chanting, through the Delta
Leadbelly prison songs
pounding a tattoo on hard rocks
Urban blues-singers with sweat oozing
from their black faces singing gutter
music for niggers with ?heads
Howling wolf screaming like a mad animal
while James Brown does his Thing.
Chanting, chanting,
chanting to soul
and the Blues continue
a driving force
to remember Otis Redding.”
(Eugene Perkins, 1968) [317]

Poor Otis dead and gone,
Left me here to sing his song,
Pretty little girl with the red dress on,
Poor Otis dead and gone.
JDM [318]

"Within 'Beat' culture the poet is a visionary and 'the sign of his authentic vision is the quality of unchecked outpouring of rhapsodic, jazz-inspired improvisation in his utterance."

Translations of the divine
in all languages. The blues,
The records get you high,
in armies
on swift channels.
The new dreamer will sing
to the mind with thoughts
unclutched by speech.
JDM [320]

Nietzsche had written that the Negro represents the pre-historic in man, and unlike the European - who had become effete and over-sensitive - the Negro had a much higher pain threshold. [321]

The poet Lorca (1898-1936) became influenced by Negro Blues, and in a letter written while he lived in New York , he said " 'The Negro is living close to pure human nature and other forces of Nature.' " [322]
The Blues, then, as an expression of the primitive Negro, was a perfect Dionysian vehicle for Morrison: "my thing is more in a Blues vein; long, rambling, basic and primitive." [323] "I like singing Blues - these free, long Blues trips where there's no specific beginning or end." [324]

Morrison even invents a new persona for his embodying the Negro blues myth; it is the anagramic 'Mr Mojo Risin'. [325] At the same time, growing a full beard, he hopes to ultimately become the anonymous poet 'James Douglas Morrison', leaving the corpse of rock behind to bury itself.

As long as I got breath,
the death of rock
is the death of me
and rock is dead.
JDM [326]

“he died in a bathtub. slumped
over like Marat. the only clue was the red
rash over his heart.
someone said there were last words. water
poured from his eyes. he was truly immaculate
yet surprised. outside it was raining. storm
clouds. danger waters. the tub was overflowing.
he looked up”
(Patti Smith, 'death by water', 1971-2) [327]

That porky satyr's
has leaped upward
into the loam.
JDM [328]

Notes to Chapter Six: Meta-Orpheus
261. Wilson 1967 (first published as 'Brandy of the Damned', 1964)
262. Morrison made a will in 1969 leaving everything to his girlfriend Pamela Courson [will reproduced in Clarke p. 208]. When she died in 1974 of a drugs overdose, all his literary remains went to her family. They have published some of the poetry (Wilderness/American Night – Morrison 1989/1991) but the notebooks remain largely in private hands as far as I know. And it is in the so far unpublished notebooks that the evidence of his reading will be found. However, Morrison also said [in 1968] that he discarded most of his notebooks; “I threw away all my notebooks that I’d been keeping since high school.” [ed. Sugarman p. 95]
263. Some lines from 'On Music' [Wilson 1967] that might have influenced Morrison, e.g., "But Blake was right when he said that if the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear infinite." (p. 14)
"If we could hear with the 'doors of perception cleansed' ..." (p. 64)
"Art has the power, possessed by alcohol and certain drugs, to remove some of the mind's filters." (p. 108)
Frequent reference to Morrison's favourite Blake quote from 'The Marriage of Heaven and Hell' (Blake pp. xxi-xxii), of course.
"Rilke said that the poet's problem is to keep himself as wide open as he can, even if, like a flower in the sunlight, he may find it impossible to close up again." (p. 19)
Similar to the Blake but also reminiscent of Morrison's line about a child (cf. Hamilton pp. 115-6), note 97. above
"Yet as Dostoevsky pointed out in 'The Grand Inquisitor', men do not want freedom; it is too heavy a burden." (p. 30)
Same point made by Morrison (ed. Sugarman 1988 p. 64 - cf. Brown p. 242)
"It was fitting that the ultimate expression of romanticism should be 'Also Sprach Zarathustra' [Strauss], with its implicit declaration that man was on the threshold of a new evolutionary leap." (p. 51)
Compare to the Lords.
"No jazzman so far has displayed any development analogous to the development of many 'serious' composers." (p. 135)
Compare Morrison's point that "in the mass music today ... I don't think there are any minds as heavy as Bach's, for example." (Rolling Stone p. 15)
"... wearing a false moustache ..." (p. 76)
In his absurdist poem 'Adolf Hitler', Morrison says "come out from behind that false moustache" (Davis p. 310)
264. Wilson 1967 p. 124
265. ib. p. 129
266. ib. p. 133
267. ib.
268. Track #8, L.A. Woman, the Doors, Elektra EKS-75011, 1971,
269. Wilson 1967 ib. p. 128
270. ib. p. 124
271. ib. p. 125
272. ib.
273. cf. 'Wilderness' subtitle -'The Lost Writings' - Morrison 1989
274. cf. 'The Celebration of the Lizard', tracks 13-19 on Absolutely Live, the Doors, Elektra Records EKS-9002, July 1970
275. 'Wild Child', track #6, The Soft Parade, the Doors, Elektra Records EKS-75005, 1969
276. Wilson 1967 p. 125
277. ed. Sugarman 1988 p. 9
278. Wilson 1967 p. 125
279. Farren p. 120
280. ib. p. 83
281. ib. p. 135
282. Dalton p. 31-2 Despite doing drama at college, and ‘starring’ in his own unfinished film ‘HWY’ [although this was an anti-acting performance], Morrison said that he had no interest in acting ‘Hollywood’ was apparently interested in him, but nothing transpired]. This can be related to Nietzsche who always had contempt for actors: “What? A great man? I always see only the actor of his own ideal.” [BGE 97]
283. Hopkins & Sugarman 1980 (McClure Afterword) p. 377
284. Nietzsche 1995 (sec. 16) p. 59
285. ib. (sec. 21) p. 76
286. Michael McClure Recalls an Old Friend (Rockmine Archives) The Doors (available at) (accessed 2/7/09)
287. Butler p. 18
288. Morrison 1989 p. 46
289. Butler p. 6
290. ib. pp. 8-9
291. ib. pp. 7-8
292. Doe & Tobler p. 85
293. Nietzsche 1995 (BT 22) p. 85
294. Morrison 1991 p.3
295. Scruton 1998 p. 92
296. Hopkins 2006 p. 265
297. ed. Sugarman 1988 p. 127 (faked 'wanted' poster)
298. Ib. p. 184
299. Hopkins 2006 p. 266 cf. Harrison p. 148
300. Morrison 1989 p. 66
301. Scruton 1998 p. 93 See the image on the inside cover of the album LA Woman of a Christ figure crucified high up on a telegraph pole.
302. ed. Sugarman 1988 p. 169
303. Meltzer p. 24
304. Hopkins 2006 p. 214
305. ed. Doe & Tobler p. 84 cf. Otto p. 21 : "later it was said that man was imitating the god."
306. ed. Sugarman 1988 p. 158
307. Fowlie p. 135
308. Nietzsche 1999B (TSZI Prologue: 6) p. 8
309. Farren p. 135
310. Morrison 1989 p. 135
311. Morrison 1989 p. 129
312. Ib. 1989 p. 27
313. Rolling Stone p. 15
314. Hopkins 2006 p. 214
315. 'Maggie M'Gill', track #11, Morrison Hotel, the Doors, Elektra Records EKS-75007, 1970
316. 'The WASP', track #9, L.A. Woman, the Doors, Elektra Records EKS-75011, 1971
317. Ellison p. 128 ('Blues', Eugene Perkins 1968)
318. ‘Runnin’ Blue', track #7, The Soft Parade, the Doors, Elektra Records EKS-75005, 1969
319. Ellison p. 157
320. Morrison 1991 p. 32
321. Nietzsche 2003A p. 43
322. Ellison p. 156
323. Doe & Tobler p. 75
324. Rolling Stone p. 15
325. Cf. L.A. Woman title track - track # 5
326. The Doors, Rock is Dead, (available at)  (accessed 26/06/09)
327. Smith p. 27 "The press reported that Jim had died in his Paris apartment in the early hours of the morning of July 3 1971 from a heart attack while taking a bath." (Seymore p. 10)
328. Morrison 1989 p. 132

Chapter Seven: Poet-Philosopher

22) Apolline Dionysos or White Negro?

Did Norman Mailer, in his complex satire on the Beat movement, [329 ] touch upon the real philosophical background to Morrison's Nietzscheanism?

Truth is often revealed in jest, and the cruelest truths are revealed in satire:

"To be 'with it' is to have grace, to be closer to the secrets of that inner unconscious life which will nourish you if you can hear it, for you are then nearer to that God which every hipster believes is located in the senses of his body, that trapped, mutilated and nonetheless megalomaniacal God who is It, who is energy, life, sex, force, the Yoga's prana, the Reichian orgone, Lawrence's 'blood', Hemingway's 'good', the Shavian life-force; 'It'; God; not the God of the churches but the unachievable whisper of mystery within the sex, the paradise of limitless energy and perception just beyond the next orgasm." Mailer [330 ]

The obsession with death and rootlessness sounds familiar:

"The American existentialist - the hipster, the man who knows that if our collective condition is to live with instant death by atomic war, relatively quick death by the State as l'univers concentrationaire, or with a slow death by conformity with every creative and rebellious instinct stifled ... if the fate of 20th century man is to live with death from adolescence to premature senescence, why then the only life-giving answer is to accept the terms of death, to live with death as immediate danger, to divorce oneself from society, to exist without roots, to set out on that uncharted journey into the rebellious imperatives of the self." Mailer [331]

As does the emphasis on perception:

"The unstated essence of Hip, its psychopathic brilliance, quivers with the knowledge that new kinds of victories increase one's power for new kinds of perception." [ib.]

Is Mailer right to suggest that the down-going of the Dionysian is not a transcendent glimpse of the 'Primal Unity', but a regression into the squalid criminality of the 'Negro-world'?

"Psychopathy is most prevalent with the Negro ... in the worst of perversion, promiscuity, pimpery, drug addiction, rape, razor-slash, bottle-break, what-have-you, the Negro discovered and elaborated a morality of the bottom." [332]

Is Mailer right to suggest that the Brownite 'unrepressed man' merely exchanges 'neurosis' for 'psychopathy'? [333]

"It might be fruitful to consider the hipster, philosophical psychopath, a man interested not only in the dangerous imperatives of his psychopathy but in codifying, at least for himself, the suppositions on which his inner universe is constructed. By this premise the hipster is a psychopath, and yet not a psychopath but the negation of the psychopath for he possesses the narcissistic detachment of the philosopher, that absorption in the recessive nuances of ones own motive which is so alien to the unreasoning drive of the psychopath." Mailer [334]

Or the Reichian erotic economist becomes only a solipsistic orgasm addict:

"At bottom, the drama of the psychopath is that he seeks love. Not love as the search for a mate, but love as the search for an orgasm more apocalyptic than the one which preceded it. Orgasm is his therapy." [335]

Or the Nietzschean metamorphosis into the Child as a mere infantilism:

"The fundamental decision of his [i.e. the psychopath] nature is to try to live the infantile fantasy." [336]

And does violence and hatred lurk at the root of the Hipster's 'love'?

"It takes literal faith in the creative possibilities of the human being to envisage acts of violence as the catharsis which prepared growth ... since the hipster lives with his hatred ... many of them are the material for an elite of stormtroopers ready to follow the first truly magnetic leader whose view of mass murder is phrased in a language which reaches their emotions." [337]

And would the ultimate rule of the Hipster not be the victory of the Negro revolt and the subsequent dominance of nihilistic negroid values?

"The organic growth of Hip depends on whether the Negro emerges as a dominating force in American life ... for the Negro's equality would tear a profound shift into the psychology, the sexuality, and the moral imagination of every White alive." [338]

But Morrison always resisted negritude, as Davis says with some understatement, that he "was never really comfortable around black people." [339 ]

As we have seen above, he had no illusions about the Hippie movement, and had rejected the infantilism of the 'rock scene'. I would even aver that he had read Mailer's piece on the 'White Negro', [340] and had noted its critique of some of the superficialities of the Beat philosophy, and sought to avoid them by adhering to a more profound Nietzschean, a more Olympian - nay, Titanic - approach.

Young Nietzsche

23) Doktor Dionysos

"I am a disciple of the philosopher Dionysus, and I would prefer to be even a satyr than a saint."
FWN [341]

"The primeval world has stepped into the foreground, the depths of reality have been opened, the elemental forms of everything that is creative, everything that is destructive, have arisen, bringing with them infinite rapture and infinite terror ... Age-old laws have suddenly lost their power, and even the dimensions of time and space are no longer valid."

"The worshippers of Dionysus cast off their worldly concerns and join in a dance. This dance is an innovation of the god and he is present in it. All music derives from this desire to dance together, in a community that embraces each of us, and cancels our separation. The chorus that we form tells us the story of the god, and also the story of those who separate themselves, as we all must separate ourselves, from the pure communion, so as to embark on some fatal project of our own.
Out of the dance there steps the tragic hero, whose fate appalls and fascinates his fellow dancers. He acts apart, affirms himself, and is destroyed, sinking back into the unity from which he briefly emerged."
Scruton [343]

Ultimately, what kind of philosophical positions does Morrison's Nietzscheanism lead us?
Firstly, it presents us with the problem of a 'pure' Dionysianism; of the difficulty we have in even being able to conceptualise such a thing - the abyss it offers tempts us to oblivion. Perhaps this is a problem of perception, as Morrison's Lords suggests.
As Nietzsche acknowledges: "If, however, we felt as purely Dionysian beings, myth as a symbol would stand by us absolutely ineffective and unnoticed." [344]

A solution to this is the positing of a duality: i.e. the anti-Dionysian has those qualities which the Dionysian negate: both are defined in turn against the other - opposition gives them Being. We think we know what the Dionysian is because we know what the anti-Dionysian is and vice versa.
The anti-Dionysian is called the Apollonian, of course: -
"And lo! Apollo could not live without Dionysus!"
FWN [345]

The Dionysian - "the eternal life beyond all phenomena". FWN [346]

But another problem arises - whence the 'phenomena'?
Whence the Apollonian?
If the Dionysian is 'life' in its totality, then what is the Apollonian?
Is not the Apollonian [i.e., phenomena] therefore 'beyond' all life just as the Dionysian [i.e., life] is 'beyond' all phenomena?
If this duality is maintained, then the Apollonian must be a metaphysical force beyond life itself, and yet able to give form to life.

The Apollonian therefore is the eternal realm of the gods, the realm of myth and the supernatural.
The Dionysian is - in its pure sense - the godless, primal world of Becoming: life in the raw.
The Apollonian is the world of phenomena created by the gods, or rather by the Lords and facilitated by the connectors.

Morrison's philosophy is then an invitation for us to live as gods, creating art, elaborating myths, and most of all, expanding our perceptions, in order - as he put it - to "deepen a strange hue in the clan tartan." [348]

This will involve the dangerous business of plunging periodically back to the roots, into the unfathomable abyss of the Dionysian, before heroically emerging from that underworld, ready to create once more in the searing sunlight of the Apollonian.

For Morrison, poetry had superseded philosophy. His interest in philosophy being less about ideas, but about how philosophers "have used words, have used language ... I appreciate philosophy these days from the standpoint of poetry, the use of one word next to another word, next to another word, next to another word. So, philosophy is semantics."

'The philosophers of the future' then, will be poet-philosophers or philosopher-poets - like Blake, like Nietzsche ... and like Morrison.

The flowering
of godlike people.
JDM [349]

"Human prehistory and mythology are - in the strict sense of the word - reproductions of the sexual economy of humanity."
Reich [350]

Now I ask of my wisdom
that it grow not mean in this aridity:
yourself overflow, yourself drop dew,
yourself be rain to this yellowed wilderness!
FWN [351]

O Great creator of being
grant us one more hour to
perform our art
& perfect our lives.
JDM [352]

The central passage to our Nietschean-Morrisonianism is arguably this one of Blake's:

"The ancient tradition that the world will be consumed in fire at the end of six thousand years is true ...
... the whole creation will be consumed and appear infinite and holy ...
... This will come to pass by an improvement of sensual enjoyment.
But first the notion that man has a body distinct from his soul is to be expunged ...
... melting apparent surfaces away and displaying the infinite which was hid.
If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite.
For man has closed himself up, til he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern."
Blake [353]

"According to one astrologer, Jim's birth at 5:45 am on December 8, 1943, put him in the right place at the right time for cosmic knowledge and a universal consciousness. Curiously, his Mercury and Saturn are placed in the nearly identical positions as the chart of Nostradamus, the 16th century astrologer renowned for his prophetic writings."
'Fate' [354]

James James
Morrison Morrison
(Commonly known as Jim)
Told his
Other relations
Not to go blaming him.
James James
Said to his Mother,
"Mother," he said, said he,
"You must never go down to the end of the town with-
out consulting me."

Peyote, coyotes, acid-rock hops,
Morrison legendises West Coast myth
the singer as delirious apotheosis
drunk on Rimbaud's venomous delirium,
the snotty Charleville punk, whose words were jewels
ripped off his lacerated soles.
A leather-jeaned Dionysian,
personifying self-destruct, Jim burnt
like nails popping in a scorched log.

Each moment discontinuous
to anything but his own myth,
his twitchy body draped the microphone
like a black swan.
(from 'The Lizard King', Jeremy Reed) [356]

Make Greek Dionysian pride once more
Possible on Earth.
Out of which, men will,
Grappling with the never-lessening force
Of the flesh-fired furnace of affliction,
Dramatise the wisdom of tragedy ...
(from 'The Dream of Intelligence', Sebastian Barker) [357]

As the body is ravaged
the spirit grows stronger.
JDM [358]

Osiris assassinated
by a swampy black-pig,
I was the one boated
in a coffin
through the Paris sewers
a graffiti-tag on the lid
proclaiming sacrifice
on the way to Pere Lachaise
to be retrieved by Isis
reassembled as a myth
of bar-room excess;
a snake on the road
eating its own skin.
(from 'Litany of the Dead- Morrison', Jeremy Reed) [359]

The ape of his God - will you
Only be an ape of your God?
FWN [360]

Notes to Chapter Seven: The Poet-Philosopher
329. 'The White Negro: Superficial Reflections on the Hipster' (1957) in ed. Feldman & Gartenberg, pp. 288-306. The essay first appeared in the 'Dissent' magazine (summer 1957) and was reprinted in Mailer's 'Advertisements for Myself' (1957)
330. ed. Feldman & Gartenberg p. 300
331. ib. p. 289 cf., "Xenophanes, writing in the 6th century BC, knew that God is 'without body, parts or passions', but he knew also that, till man becomes wholly philosopher, his gods are doomed perennially to take and retake human shape" with "the loss of the element of formless, monstrous mystery." (Harrison p. 258)
332. ib. p. 297
333. ib. p. 295
334. ib. p. 293
335. ib. p. 296
336. ib. p. 295
337. ib. p. 303
338. ib. p. 304
339. Davis p. 321
340. The following from Mailer's piece sounds very Morrisonian too: "one is a rebel or one conforms, one is a frontiersman in the Wild West of American night life, or else a Square cell, trapped in the totalitarian tissues of American society." (ib. p. 290) And in the Rolling Stone interview he expressed his admiration for Mailer generally (Rolling Stone p. 22).
341. Nietzsche 2004 p. 2 (Preface:2)
342. Otto pp. 95-6
343. Scruton 1996 p. 454
344. Nietzsche 1995 (BT 21) p. 78
345. ib. (BT 4) p. 12
346. ib. (BT 16) p. 59
347. cf. Nietzsche 2001 (translator's introduction) pp. 17-18
348. Sundling p. 14 (JDM interview March 1970)
349. Morrison 1991 p. 66
350. Reich p. 222
351. Nietzsche 2001 ('Of the Poverty of the Richest Man') p. 75
352. Morrison 1991 p. 4
353. Blake pp. xxi-xxii
354. 'The Afterlife of Jim Morrison', C. De Winter, Fate Magazine, # 699, July-August 2008, Lakeville MN USA p. 11
355. (available at) (accessed 27/7/09)
356. Reed p. 194
357. ed. Caygill p. 39
358. Morrison 1989 p. 119
359. Reed p. 203
360. Nietzsche 2003B p. 111 (from 'Through the circle of Dionysos Dithyrambs')


Note on abbreviations:Dates in round brackets after a book's title refer to the original date of the publication, and the same after the translators’ name, the original date of the translation. This is indicated when these dates might be relevant to the subject.
Nietzsche's works have standard abbreviations of the titles followed by a section number. This allows his works to accessed in any edition. In some cases - i.e., Genealogy of Morals, The Twilight of the Idols, Thus Spake Zarathustra and Ecce Homo, chapters and 'books' are referred to also. The abbreviations are BT (The Birth of Tragedy), TSZ (Thus Spake Zarathustra), BGE (Beyond Good and Evil), GM (The Genealogy of Morality), TI (The Twilight of the Idols), EH (Ecce Homo), WP, (The Will to Power), DD (The Dithyrambs of Dionysos).

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Brown, N. O., Life Against Death: The Psychoanalytical Meaning of History, Wesleyan University Press, 1959
Butler, B. The Myth of the Hero, London, Rider & Co. 1979
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Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra (1883-5), trans. T. Common, New York, Dover 1999B
Nietzsche, The Dithyrambs of Dionysus (1884-89) trans. R.J. Hollingdale, London, Anvil 2001
Nietzsche, The Genealogy of Morals, (1887) trans. Samuel, Dover 2003A
Nietzsche, The Peacock and The Buffalo, The Poetry of Nietzsche, (1858-88) trans. Luchte, J. & Leadon, E., Wales, Fire & Ice 2003B
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ed. Rocco, J.M., The Doors Companion: Four Decades of Commentary, New York, Schirmer 1997
Rolling Stone magazine (July 26 1969) Interview with Jim Morrison by J. Hopkins UK #38, Trans Oceanic Comic Co. Ltd. [Interview also in Hopkins 2006 and in Henke 2007, where it is a reduced facsimile of the original]
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The Death of Marat


  1. Your footnote [46] quotes a prose piece written by Jim Morrison on Nietzsche - where did you get this? The link you provided is broken!

    1. Hi - thanks for pointing out the dead link. I believe that this important note on Nietzsche by Jim is in private hands, and it was being auctioned when I chanced upon it. It is certainly genuine as I have shown the internal correspondence with Wilson's Outsider - and we know Jim read that.
      There is a discussion on John Densmore's Official Forum [under the Paris Journal] which includes it. Also here:

  2. I can see that Jim idolized Nietzsche, and he talked about him when he was 17. He was enamored of the artist as natural nobleman, Dionysos vs Apollo, etc. Nietzsche can be a very attractive writer sometimes (I have read very little of him). But I gotta say, Nietzsche was a dead cat in a top hat and straightjacket, who thinks (thought) he's (was) an aristocrat. Jim was a lower-case-d democrat, and confronted with people like that, who lived Nietzsche's code, including his dictum about will to power, he could see that it was crap.

    But Nietzsche said that inconsistency is a sign of genius. I'd say it was a sign of decency and moral sanity

    1. Thanks for your interesting reply. I'm sure that Jim was a democrat too - and culturally, as I attempt to show, he was one with the Beats. However, he also had the concept of the Lords, which was very Nietzschean as I demonstrate. Also, his harangue at the infamous Miami gig - "you're all a bunch of slaves!" - shows that he wasn't an egalitarian - in vino veritas?
      Perhaps the paradox can be answered by suggesting that Jim was a natural aristocrat born into the democratic age. When he rails against the cats in the top hats, he is really thinking of the 'secret people' - those base creatures who have taken on the mantle of aristocracy.
      Of course, Jim's aristocracy is an aristocracy of artists - of which he was one of the Lords - a Lizard King within that noble bloodline going back to the Azetc Kings he mentions in the New Creatures.

    2. I agree but would add that Jim was more than a dabbler in the occult. His title of the Lizard King was a reference to the King of Wands in the Rider Tarot deck which pictured a lizard swallowing its tail along with a lizard at his side. I have read your article multiple times over the last few years and have gotten a lot out of it. Believe it or not it contributed to the following realization:

  3. Having spent 16 years amid "the squalid criminality of the Negro", longer than I've lived anywhere else, I know that lots of blacks are jerks. But there are lots of nice people, too, so that I feel safer in this neighborhood than in most of the white ones, now. Jim had black friends: Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding, John Lee Hooker, Tony Funches. If Jim felt uncomfortable around blacks sometimes, it was probably a Southern thing, where you feel love & loyalty to some people who are racist, who say horrible things in your presence you are ashamed of, then you feel either guilt around kindly blacks, or a resentment of false guilt around hostile, condemning blacks or fastidiously self-righteous white non-racists who were trading off their "tolerance". I suspect that any discomfort Jim felt around blacks was along those lines, but as a young teenager through his twenties, he identified with blacks and loved black music. He definitely wasn't a segregationist. Another reason some of us felt uncomfortable around blacks sometimes in the late 60s was that so many of them hated us and were open and loud about it! It is no fun to take pains and risks to be on someone's side, then be hated and told you are the problem and ought to die! So I suspect that Jim was expressing natural feelings rather than pretending a precious and hypocritical anti-racism that got you where you wanted to go in those days. Jim wasn't a racist, but none of that would make a person comfortable, so I think Jim was just being honest about it. Lots of decent black folks appreciate such honesty, far more than they do the hypocritical, virtuous pose. After all, they don't like it when angry black people want to kill them, either

    1. Thanks man - that was an incredible comment. A whole library could be written on this race issue.
      In terms of the narrower scope of the essay, I suppose I want to look at how someone attuned to the aristocratic White tradition of European/American poetry could be an Blues man at the same time.
      That is a tremendous conflict.
      And it is the Blues which smashes the racial conception of Europe.
      Black America/Africa produces poets to equal those of Europe in the Blues.
      But the racism endemic in all human beings fights against this realisation - and Jim personifies that conflict. And my essay starts there - that very fence that Jim straddles, hurting his balls.
      I think of my own countryman, Eric Clapton, popularising the Blues, paying tribute to the originals like Muddy, BB, Albert and Robert Johnson. And then, under the influence, making anti-black comments.
      So many White blues players in the 1960's had something of the cuckold about them.
      But not Jim - in his Mr Mojo phase he was a Black Snake - nothing White about him.
      True, in the [brief] Greek God phase he was the epitome of Whiteness; this is subverted and challenged from LA Woman onwards.
      There is also the aspect of shock - Jim's reported racist rants were often done to shock and excite others. It was his "what are you gonna do about it?" stance.
      I think that the reports of Jim's alleged racist discourse actually help us further an understanding of what it means to have the Blues - and the very universality of the Blues.

  4. Oh, yeah, and I think Jim knew better than to think the locus of psychopathology was in the black community, as reverent toward Mailer as he could be. I think he would have realized that was crap, too, since evidence speaks for itself.

    1. You're right.
      However, there is also the [Nietzschean] notion that criminality, for example, is an important aspect of the will to power.
      Those communities with excessive drive will produce extreme criminals. Wasn't ancient Rome criminal in many of its doings - and the Renaissance [Cesare Borgia?]
      The criminality of the black community is an expression of its excessive will to power, just as the Blues is too.

  5. how would you feel about publishing this, that is if its not published already?

  6. if you rewrote this so it was more than a collection of quotes and wasn't so incoherent it would be published in a hurry.