Lord Jim Mythos of a Rock Icon

Table of Contents Prologue: So What? pp. 4-6 1) Lord Jim: Prelude pp. 7-8 2) Some Preliminary Definitions pp. 9-10 3) Lord Jim/The Beginning of the Morrison Myth pp. 11-16 4) Morrison as Media Manipulator/Mythmaker pp. 17-21 5) The Morrison Story 6) The Morrison Mythos pp. 25-26 7) The Mythic Concert pp. 27-29 8) Jim Morrison’s Oedipal Complex pp. 30-36 9) The Rock Star as World Savior pp. 37-39 10) Morrison and Elvis: Rock ‘n’ Roll Mythology pp. 40-44 11) Trickster, Clown (Bozo), and Holy Fool pp. 45-50 12) The Lords of Rock and Euhemerism pp. 51-53 13) The Function of Myth in a Desacralized World: Eliade and Campbell 55 14) This is the End, Beautiful Friend pp. 56-60 15) Appendix A: The Gospel According to James D. Morrison 61-64 15) Appendix B: Remember When We Were in Africa?/ pp. 65-71 The L.A. Woman Phenomenon 16) Appendix C: Paper Proposal pp. 72-73 pp. pp. 54pp. 18-24

Prologue: So What? Unfortunately, though I knew this would happen, it seems to me necessary to begin with a few words on why you should take the following seriously at all. An academic paper on rock and roll mythology? Aren’t rock stars all young delinquents, little more evolved than cavemen, who damage many an ear drum as they get paid buckets of money, dying after a few years of this from drug overdoses? What could a serious scholar ever possibly find useful or interesting here? Well, to some extent the stereotype holds true, just as most if not all stereotypes have a grain of truth to them; yet it is my studied belief that usually the rock artists who make the big time are sincere, intelligent, talented, and have a social conscience. In fact, I would go so far as to say that they are some of society’s most fascinating and creative individuals, so much so that their apotheosis – during their life or after it – seems justified, or at the very least understandable. I believe that Jim Morrison is one such artist. And I am not alone. The wealth of books and articles alone on Morrison and the Doors in the last three decades – more than what has been written even about other dead rock stars – is indicative of a collective fascination (in Otto’s sense of fascinans). I hate to have to do this but here we go: Intellectually, Jim Morrison was a genius, with an IQ of 149 and apparently almost an obsession with the written word. As he was growing up, though he certainly had friends and did many of the things that kids do, he was very much a loner who would spend a great deal of time reading, writing, and thinking. He is perhaps one of the few rock superstars who earned a college degree (from the UCLA film school; Mick Jagger is another, from the London School of Business), and in addition to film, he was also somewhat of an accomplished painter and actor. Though it has been claimed he lived an overly self-indulgent, even hedonistic and nihilistic life after he became famous, the truth is that he had spent the first 22 years of his life preparing and disciplining himself to become who he became. Even during his wild rock star period, he was sober and self-disciplined enough to produce some brilliant music and poetry. And as you will see, there was method to his madness. As he wrote, playing a Clown Jesus, “Forgive me Father for I know what I do.” As far as a justification for this project from a mythological standpoint, Morrison was variously identified with Dionysus, Adonis, Alexander the Great, Shiva, Enyalios, Narcissus, Eros, kouros, Christ, a shaman, an avatar, a king, a trickster, a holy fool, etc. – not just by fans, but even by mainstream journalists (Albert Goldman called him “a surf-born Dionysus, a hippie Adonis”), not to mention some of his fellow musicians. And Morrison, at first at least, gave them every reason to make such identifications. He was a great mythographer of his own soul, singing his and the Doors personal mythology nightly on stage. As David Dalton wrote of the Doors’ original (and very understated and unoriginal) marquee heading “Doors – Band From Venice”: It might just as honestly have said: THE DOORS PERFORMING THE GOLDEN BOUGH NIGHTLY! LIVE! ON STAGE! See the Fisher King draw rain out of an industrial sky! Oedipus, Theseus and the Minotaur, Alexander the Great, the Unknown Soldier, the Ancient Snake, Endless Night, ladies and gentlemen, see them all right here. Cabellero

existencialista, Jeem! Morrison himself had intended as much. In his poem, “An American Prayer, he wrote”: Let’s reinvent the gods, all the myths of the ages Celebrate symbols from deep elder forests Nietzsche had put in the mouth of Zarathustra the proclamation: “Dead are all the gods.” Morrison resurrected them all and made them live once again in his onstaging conjuring and in his words, though they were different now -- old wine in a new skin. Jim Morrison was a legend in his own time, nay even a god for some, and his deification continues posthumously. Some don’t even think he ever really died, just as disciples of divine and semi-divine religious figures like Moses, Jesus, Apollonius of Tyana, etc., refuse to believe that such great souls could ever really die and must have ascended transfigured or in some chariot of fire. The abiding images and phantoms of Morrison continue to chide us with Twain’s famous quip: “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” In a word, then, Morrison’s life and legend is an excellent example of a modern myth in the making that not only warrants careful examination, but which indeed should be studied by all those who would get at what myth is, where it comes from, and what is its ultimate value.

Lord Jim:Prelude [Note: I present here the following quotes, however tongue-in-cheek they may be, because I think they will prepare you for the analysis that follows.] 1) Danny Sugerman, co-author of the first biography of Jim Morrison’s, No One Here Gets Out Alive, writes in the foreword: “I just wanted to say I think Jim Morrison was a modern-day god. Oh hell, at least a lord.” 2) Jerry Hopkins, co-author with Sugerman, later wrote: “We heard incredible stories about his catching dragon flies on the wing in his mouth and eating them, and sticking pins into the pupils of his eyes. ‘I am the Lizard King,’ he said. ‘I can do anything!’ We believed it and he came to believe it, too, for a while.” (Lizard King, 12) 3) Robby Krieger, the Doors guitarist speaking after Morrison’s death of why the rest of the band succeeded with Morrison at its helm, but not without: “[when we were together] it was like the band with the voice of God up front.” (Sundling, 17; in Oliver Stone’s movie, Krieger says it was like playing with Dionysus.) 4) Ray Manzarek, the Doors keyboardist and greatest promoter/mythmeister: “Jim was able to dive into himself and find the fauve, the wild beast, and actually become the free-spirited animal. That Dionysian wild man. He had the courage to embrace that ancient god and enter into a partnership with the bearer of the grapes, the passionate one. Jim had the courage, and very few do. And that embrace was not evil, was not harmful to others, and was certainly not the devil. It was joy!” (Manzarek, 130) 5) Someone has designed a t-shirt showing Morrison as the six-armed Shiva, who some consider the Hindu Dionysus. 6) Dalton (p. 92): “…Jim already knew what he wanted to be. It was an image he had meditated on since adolescence. Before his first photo sessions with Joel Brodsky for Vogue, Jim went to see Hollywood hair wizard Jay Sebring and told him to “make me look like Alexander the Great” (what a line) showing a page torn from a history book. Alexander, another usurper, also needed an image that would connect him with the occult power of the cosmos; and though it’s not known what he said to his hairdresser, all portrayals of him are based on images of Helios, the sun god…” 7) Yasue Kuwahara, analyzing Morrison’s “apocalyptic vision of America,” writes: “Wrapping himself in black leather suits, designing his hair after the statue of Alexander the Great and hanging a cross around his neck, Morrison looked like the reincarnation of an ancient demigod in the early days of his career…Later in his career, however, he stopped wearing the black suits, grew hair and a beard, and, using a lighting device, projected a cross on the back wall of the stage. Morrison thus began to assume the image of Christ, as the picture taken during a concert in Miami clearly shows. Holding a lamb, Morrison made clear in this picture his identification with Christ, while his black glasses indicated the sharp line Morrison drew between them. The change in his appearance also shows that Morrison had begun to see himself as a king who was to replace God in a new society.” (Rocco, 101) 8) Kuwahara again: “…Morrison raises himself to the equal of God with one phrase, “Mr. Mojo Rising” [sic], which refers to his resurrection…By singing about his own resurrection, Morrison identifies himself with Christ and thus assumes God’s power. In “Hyacinth House,” a song about his desire for a new life, Morrison

again implies his resurrection since Hyacinth is a young male deity in Greek mythology who was slain and resurrected as a flower.” (Rocco, 102) 9) “He stepped up to the microphone, grabbed the top with his right hand and the stem with his fingertips, and looked up so the light hit his face. The world began at that moment. There isn’t another face like that in the world so beautiful, not even handsome in the ordinary way. I think it’s because you can tell by looking at him that he is god when he offers to die on the cross for us, it’s okay because he is Christ.” (From one mainstream journalist’s review of a Door’s concert; in Dalton, p. 78.) 10) “And isn’t it just possible that now, in the Age of Aquarius, an avatar has been sent to us and concealed (how divinely appropriate) as a rock star from L.A.? (Dalton, p. 79) 11) This week (give or take) in Elektra history, July 3, 1971: It was thirty years ago today, in Paris, that Jim Morrison’s spirit, much too big to be confined to so insignificant a vessel as the human body, took leave of this earth. In a career that already would have earned him a place in the pantheon of rock and roll legends, Morrison’s death guaranteed that he would be forever young and dangerous, a star of mythical proportions…Morrison, of course, is still revered by millions of rock fans around the world. They showed up in droves at his Paris gravesite last week to mark the tragic passing of the superstar. (From an Elektra Records email letter, dated July 7, 2001.) 12) Morrison on himself: “Camera, as all-seeing god, satisfies our longing for omniscience. To spy on others from this height and angle: pedestrians pass in and out of our lens like rare aquatic insects.” (Rocco, 105; see also there for Yoga powers) ----- “I am the Lizard King/I can do anything.” (from “Celebration of the Lizard”/”Not to Touch the Earth”) ----- “I’m the Changeling, see me change….I’m the air you breathe/food you eat/friends you greet/on the swarming street.” (from the song, “The Changeling”) ----- “Mr. Mojo Risin’, Mr. Mojo Risin’ – Got to keep on risin’ – Risin’, Risin’!” (from the song, L.A. Woman)

Some Preliminary Definitions [The following are some terms that are used throughout the text below which I thought should be discussed briefly here.] 1) Mythos: “This is a Greek word meaning ‘fable,’ ‘tale,’ ‘talk,’ or simply ‘speech,’ but it came to be used in contrast with logos and historia, thus coming to denote ‘that which cannot really exist.’ Even the earliest Greek philosophers criticized and rejected the Homeric myths as fictions.” This view of the situation has recently been contested as overly simplistic by Bruce Lincoln: “[O]ur view of the lexemes ‘mythos’ and ‘logos’ must become more dynamic. These are not words with fixed meanings (indeed, no such words exist), nor did their meanings change glacially over time, as the result of impersonal processes. Rather, these words, along with many others, were the sites of pointed and highly consequential semantic skirmishes fought between rival regimes of truth.” Lincoln says that in Homer and Hesiod, mythos refers to “an assertive discourse of power and authority that represents itself as something to be believed and obeyed.” When I speak below of “the Doors mythos” or “The Morrison mythos,” I mean something like this latter definition of Lincoln’s. Although I will also argue that there is a great deal of irony in the Doors Mythos, it is also at least implicitly suggested that we take it seriously. 2) Myth -- This is a word that we all know has various meanings, some of which are more applicable than others here. It has become common, for instance, to speak especially of dead celebrities (most notably of the rock star variety) as “the man and the myth.” For example, “Elvis: The Man and the Myth.” The “man” refers to the private Elvis, the real Elvis that we all never knew or cared to know about; while “the myth” was the private persona who we all know and love (or hate as the case may be). Here myth actually is synonymous with all that is false, showy, and superficial, and that is in keeping with what we moderns and postmoderns think of when someone says “myth”; it’s basically a story or misconception that needs to be deconstructed or de-mythologized. We will also see another important usage of myth as it is used in such phrases as “the myth of the pilgrims/founding fathers” or “the myth of the American Dream.” Again it is usually a false conception or projection about what something is or is hoped to be, something that in retrospect can be deflated, though perhaps not wholly. And again, it is a collective or societal way of understanding reality. Finally, myth can also broadly refer to all versions or interpretations of a particular story, as opposed to “just the facts, Ma’am.” The late great rock critic Lester Bangs once wrote that “I have always believed that rock ‘n’ roll comes down to myth. There are no ‘facts.’” Fine, but Nietzsche had already said, “There are no facts, only interpretations.” Yet Bangs is correct in implying that rock ‘n’ roll is particularly unfriendly to any objective historical enterprise. My presentation below begins with but one example of this. 3) Personal Mythology -- This phrase “personal mythology” seems to be gaining currency, though I am not quite sure of its provenance. Interestingly, the first time I heard of it (literally) was in a song called “Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow” by another Sixties legend, Frank Zappa, though my sense from its use in the song was that Zappa hadn’t coined it. A personal mythology is the stories one tells oneself to explain one’s origin, purpose and destiny. Perhaps we all have a personal mythology, but my sense is that only someone like Jim Morrison can develop it and draw others into it. As I will discuss below other notable rock artists, such as Bob Dylan, have expressed a kind of personal mythology in song. 4) phrase, Living Legend – My somewhat idiosyncratic definition of this

one which we all know the standard meaning of, is that it refers to an artist referred to (usually in adulation) in the medium of another artist, while the former is still alive. An example is Phil Ochs’ 1968 praise of Elvis in his song “Ticket Home”: “Elvis Presley is the King, I was at his crowning…” While to the best of my knowledge, Morrison was never given such tribute by one of his contemporaries, he was a living legend due to the mythic proportions that his life took on. 5) came Cult of Personality – In the late 80s a band called Living Colour

out with a song called “The Cult of Personality” in which they attempt to define this somewhat elusive coinage. This may be a bit picayune, but really the phrase ought to be something more like “persona” than “personality” as it is around the public image of a star or celebrity or leader that the “cult” grows. As Living Colour sang, “The mirror speaks, the reflection lies.” It is the reflection, the image that is marketed, which is consumed, while the mirror itself remains ever unfathomed by the consumers of the reflection. The song ends, “You gave me fortune/you gave me fame/You gave me power in your God’s name.” Or, more accurately for the personality cults we will be talking about: You made me into a God.

"The mask[s] that you wore, my fingers would explore…" Lord Jim Indians scattered on dawn’s highway bleeding Ghosts crowd a young child’s fragile, eggshell mind The Beginning of the Morrison Myth Dawn’s Highway Me and my, uh, mother and father and my grandmother and grandfather, were driving through the desert at dawn, and a truckload of Indian workers had either hit another car -- or I don’t know what happened. But there were Indians scattered all over the highway, bleeding to death. So the car pulls up and stops. That was the first time I tasted fear. I must have been about four. Like a child is like a flower -- it’s head is just floating in the breeze, man. The reaction I get now, thinking about it, looking back, is that the souls of the ghosts of those dead Indians, maybe one or two of them, were just running around, freaking out, and just leaped into my soul…and they’re still there. This is where the Morrison (and the Doors) mythos begins. Oliver Stone correctly put this event (“Dawn’s Highway”), retold by Morrison above, at the beginning of his movie, the Doors. The movie was a less than stoned immaculate conception. Indeed, the general consensus seems to be that Stone’s movie tells more about Oliver Stone than it does about Jim Morrison, who was largely lost in the shuffle of artistic licentiousness. While Stone claimed that he was “telling small lies to reveal larger truths,” most who knew Morrison couldn’t identify the human being amidst the myth Stone constructed. Oliver Stone created one version

of the Morrison/Doors myth, but it was a skewed version, a Hollywood (Olliewood) version. It may be true as Nietzsche said that there are no facts, only interpretations, but not all interpretations are created equal, and Stone’s interpretation certainly can be equaled and bettered (as has been done and as I hope to do here). That said, I must admit that I was inspired by the flick when I saw it my senior year of college, but that was before I had begun my own personal and academic exploration of the Doors myth. (Watching it again as I prepared this essay, I was struck by how much Val Kilmer looked and acted the part of Jim Morrison while failing to convey the latter’s psyche and spirit, at least as I understand it.) Morrison’s grandmother, Caroline, gave a slightly but yet significantly different version of the “Dawn’s Highway” incident to Jerry Hopkins, Morrison’s first biographer: At the age of five, Jim was in a car traveling along a highway between Albuquerque and Santa Fe with his father and his grandmother Caroline. She told me, ‘We came upon an accident. Indians were wailing and crying. Later, we thought that was very unusual, because we thought Indians didn’t cry. We thought they were more stoic than that. Jimmy was very much affected. He wanted to do something. We stopped and then we went on to call the highway police and an ambulance. Jimmy wanted to do more. He was so upset, his father finally had to say, “Jimmy, you dreamed it. It didn’t happen. It’s not true, you just had a bad dream.” One difference between this and the printed version of Morrison’s words above is that here only Morrison’s father and grandmother were present at the scene, and not both parents and both grandparents as he remembered. But more significantly, Morrison’s reaction to the dead and wailing Indians was far greater than he let on, saying only “that was the first time I tasted fear.” Clearly this event had a great impact on him and at the very least, left a big imprint on his consciousness. Hopkins has elsewhere retold the story thus: There is a story that Morrison told: He was four, in a car on a highway in New Mexico with his parents, when they encountered an overturned truck. Indians were lying all over the road. As they passed, Morrison’s eyes opened wide at the chaotic scene, and the soul of one or two of the Indians leaped into the young boy’s soul. Again, the retelling contains small but not insignificant differences that require some explanation. How could Hopkins have forgotten grandmother Caroline’s presence in the Morrison car after he had earlier interviewed her? Why is Hopkins here so certain that this is what happened when Morrison’s own printed account above is far less precise about the details? And why no real emphasis placed on Jim’s apparently extreme reaction to the Indian’s plight? (I do think the implication that the Indian(s) leaped into the little boy’s soul via his eyes is a nice touch, perhaps based on a variant retelling by Morrison.) I think the main reason for the discrepancies between the accounts is simply human error, but it is also probable that the story has been told so many different ways (both by Morrison and others) that it is hard to keep the “facts” straight. Here is yet another version of the story given by the Doors producer, Paul Rothchild: Jim Morrison’s belief that he was a modern-day shaman extends back to the incident that happened to him when was only four years old. Morrison often recounted the accident story and many of his friends believed it. Producer Paul Rothchild was one: “As a child he was driving with his parents, and there was truck full of Indians that had crashed and overturned. There was a medicine man dying at the side of the road, and Jim, this four-or five-year-old child vividly remembered a mystical experience when, as the shaman died his spirit entered Jim’s body. That

was the pivotal event of his entire life. He always viewed himself as the shaman, having mystical powers and the ability to see through many facades to the truth. It was this power that drove him. This was the great force that pushed his life and took him out of the rigid, military environment of his youth and turned him into a seer.” This version is the most categorical and calcified of those we have seen as here Morrison “vividly remembered” that the soul of one of the dying Indians – not just any Indian, but a certified shaman/medicine man -- entered the young boy’s body and he was conscious of his influence for the rest of his life. My guess is that Rothchild probably heard this or something similar from Morrison, but it was a later, more worked out version. The first version above is no doubt closer to the truth of how Morrison really felt as it shows him less certain about what happened, and it is likely that this particular aspect of his personal mythology was only formulated after he had become a rock star. Here is one final version of the story, which David Dalton here refers to as “the cosmogonic instant” in Morrison’s life (a kind of temporal axis mundi in the Eliadean sense of that term), quoting the Shaman himself for support of this view(!) Dalton seriously suggests that both he and Morrison fully believe that this is no mere myth (in the sense of being a pious fiction of sorts), but an actual event, a fact. Dalton’s overwhelmingly mythic-sounding and perhaps even hagiographical interpretation (characteristic of his entire book), coming two decades after Morrison’s death, is but one example of the trend toward apotheosizing Morrison: Four years old, age of magic events. Jim has a mystical experience on the highway leading toward Santa Fe. Outside Albuquerque, the Morrisons come upon an overturned truck. Injured and dying Pueblo Indians are strewn in the middle of the road. Phantom massacre. Custer. As the family car pulls away from the scene of the accident, Jim feels the soul of a dead Indian enter his body and possess him. This is the cosmogonic instant, that point around which everything afterward would revolve. “The most important moment of my life,” says Morrison. Demon Jim is there too, you can bet on it. Morrison’s previous biographers, being reasonable men, are ill at ease with this incident. Believers in progress, science and secular humanism, they are people who, despite five millennia of human history, still believe in…accidents! Jim’s father, too, has a hard time with the incident at Albuquerque. Finally exasperated by his son’s tenacious vision, he declares that Jim has imagined the whole thing. We, however, can believe whatever we wish, including what Jim believed: that the soul of a dying Pueblo Indian did at that instant enter his body. Is it really any more unlikely than that figment of the imagination passed on to us by a Viennese neurologist on a coke binge (the Unconscious)? Again, you will note the factual discrepancies between Dalton’s account and the others mentioned above. Morrison’s relation to the “Viennese neurologist on a coke binge” is whole other story and will be duly considered in a later section of this essay.

Morrison as Media Manipulator, Mythmaker Whoever controls the media, controls the mind. One of the main questions I want to pose in this paper is to what extent did Morrison take the somewhat elaborate, self-styled myth of his life and death seriously, and how much was he being ironic, as he often later claimed? (And in a broader sense, to what extent, if at all, is there irony in myth? How seriously were myths to be taken by their original authors and/or audience?) Did Morrison, for instance, really believe that the ghosts of some dead Indians leapt into his soul, or did he just think it was a cool story which he knew would help to propagate a certain image of himself that he wanted to project (the Electric Blue Shaman)? Jerry Hopkins, Morrison’s first biographer, seems to think so: Years later, Jim would claim that the souls of those dying Indians leaped into his head when the Morrison car stopped. It was a good thing to say in the sixties. Hippies had made native Americans a part of their ‘thing’. After all, after breaking camp, didn’t Indians leave the earth as they’d found it? And, like so much Jim said to the press, it was so eminently quotable. Souls from dying Indians leaping into a future rock star’s head? What an image. But perhaps Morrison half-believed his story? He clearly had been very much affected by this event, as his grandmother attested. In an interview only several months before his death, Morrison provides some clue as to what he may have thought of the Dawn’s Highway story: I think the Doors were very timely. The music and ideas were very timely. They seem naïve now, but a couple of years ago people were into some very weird things. There was a high energy level and you could say things like we did and almost half-ass believe them. Whereas now it seems very naïve… Again the question: Did Morrison no longer “half-ass believe” the “weird things” (“weird scenes”) he had earlier been promoting, or was he here still trying to rehabilitate his image? One thing I think is clear: For some time prior to the formation of the Doors, Jim Morrison felt himself chosen for a higher calling, and perhaps as early as his teens he began to construct his own personal mythology of his origins and purpose; thus his life was worthy of a myth even if the myth itself was not true in the historical sense (Yogi Berra: “Just because it never happened doesn’t mean it ain’t true.) My own view on this is similar to Hopkins’: I believe that from an early age, at least from adolescence, Jim thought of himself in larger-than-life proportions. Most people in high school struggle to find their identity. Jim wanted something more; he wanted to create it. Morrison may not have truly believed that the ghosts of those dead Indians had jumped into his soul, but something had gotten in there, was possessing him to be the wild, apocalyptic poet he was. He could have said that the spirit of Rimbaud had somehow gotten into him or he was Rimbaud reincarnate, but as he had no historical event to hang it on it didn’t ring as true as the Indian ghost myth. That said, I have no illusions that we can really get to what Jim Morrison really thought about anything, and I’m not sure whether he could have or would have wanted to express what he really thought, even if he knew himself. Not only were his ideas apparently in constant revolution (“It just seems that you have to be in a constant state of revolution, or you’re dead,” he once said in an interview), or at least subject to change, he was apparently very adept at media manipulation (“Whoever controls the media controls the mind,” he said), at first to promote a certain image of himself, and later, to deflate that very image. He

was the mythographer of his own mythic persona, and when it failed or when he no longer had use for it, he was also its demolisher: He sought exposure and lived the horror of trying to assemble a myth before a billion dull dry ruthless eyes. One of the ways in which he assembled and then destroyed his own myth was by claiming that he had been ironic, that his passionate paeans to freedom and revolt were not to be taken so seriously. His drunken call to the youth to revolt in “Five to One” (see lyrics on following page) was to be taken firmly in cheek, as were other early songs that Morrison later described as “naive.” One such early song, and in fact the most epic and mythic of all the Doors songs, Morrison called “The Celebration of the Lizard” (see lyrics on following pages), which was really the celebration of his own myth. It is interesting to see how he later downplayed its seriousness, or at least the “dark” aspect of it: ‘That piece ‘Celebration of the Lizard’ was kind of an invitation to the dark forces. It’s all done tongue-in-cheek. I don’t think people realize that. It’s not to be taken seriously. It’s like if you play the villain in a western it doesn’t mean that that’s you. That’s just as aspect that you keep for show. I don’t really take that seriously. That’s supposed to be ironic. There is much to suggest that indeed, Morrison was always kind of kidding in the promulgation of his myth – after all, his sense of humor did not suddenly develop overnight (it could have, but in his case he was clearly a funny guy from an early age). Patricia Kenneally-Morrison, Morrison’s consort by a Celtic handfasting ceremony, feels that Morrison “became increasingly trapped by the iconic persona he had so ironically invented, and who was destroyed by it in the end.” Kenneally-Morrison thus implies that the iconic and ironic were firmly set in her husband’s mind from the start. Yet if you listen to the early Doors, there is an earnestness and sincerity about them and especially their intense lead singer that belies Morrison’s later claims (which was around the time when Keneally met him). “Myth” was not just another four-letter word for Morrison – he lived and breathed myth (his own myth, but his own myth was inextricably linked with “all the myths of the ages”). Partly the change was due to the critical response from the press to his mythological pretentiousness. Danny Sugerman, just fourteen when he first met Morrison, wrote in the foreword to the latter’s biography: Morrison was the first rock star I know of to speak of the mythic implications and archetypal powers of rock ‘n’ roll, about the ritualistic powers of the rock concert. For doing so, the press called him a pretentious asshole: “Don’t take yourself so seriously, Morrison, it’s just rock ‘n’ roll and you’re just a rock singer.” I do think that by the time “Five to One” was put on record, there was a deep irony in it, yet I think there was far less irony in the earlier Doors music. Later in his career, Morrison was clearly trying to erase, or at least rehabilitate the image that he helped to create of himself as the mad, bad, unrepentant Lizard King, oozing eroticism and contempt for societal norms. And he did succeed in changing his image to a certain extent because, as he himself said, he was good at manipulating the media (and it him – some say tragically), and thus his mythology: “I think that more than writing and music, my greatest talent is that I have an instinctive knack of self-image propagation…” Morrison wasn’t the only one adept at image propagation – the rest of the

Doors crew, particularly Ray Manzarek and Danny Sugerman, have continued to foster the Morrison mythos. Manzarek has perhaps done more than other to keep the memory of his friend and fellow bandmate alive, and one principal way he has done this is to suggest that Morrison may have faked his own death and be living in Africa – something that he himself doesn’t believe, as his memoir makes clear. No matter. On the most recent release from the Doors, Stoned Immaculate, which contains several songs which ingeniously patch together Morrison’s poems, words and lyrics, the idea that Morrison never died but is somewhere in Africa is heavily suggested. Of course, the continued release and demand for Doors music and information about their famous/infamous bandleader assures Morrison a certain kind of immortality. But aside from all of the hype and the promulgation of the mythos, there is what to be interested in here, even intrigued by. Why should this be?

The Morrison Story Here is how one writer, John Rocco, has rendered the Morrison story, which I include (with slight editing) mainly to provide the reader with the necessary background, but also because it is a fair retelling. You should note that everything below more or less is factual (though it is still another “take,” however accurate). This is the story of Morrison’s life – a myth in a sense, as Rocco rightly notes -- but the Morrison mythos, which I will discuss in the following section, is how Morrison himself explained that story. The story has become a myth. As with all myths, this story is retold over and over again. We hear the story in the books (there are at least two a year), on the screen, and in places like Manhattan’s Wetlands where the Doors tribute band The Soft Parade takes a clubful of kids back in time every other weekend. The myth gains its power and its influence with each retelling and each retelling tells us something else. Here it is again. A precocious high school student in Florida reads everything he can get his hands on – Kerouac, Blake, Rimbaud, Joyce, Nietzsche – and stuns his teachers with his grasp of literature and arcane subjects. Instead of excelling academically, he becomes rebellious and always seems to be looking for something else. His father is a high-ranking navy officer who will later become the navy’s youngest rear admiral. This turns out to be the greatest irony in rock and roll history: Jim Morrison, the first rock singer to be arrested on stage, the symbol of personal rebellion for an entire culture, was the son of a man who had a prominent role in the Tonkin Gulf incident that officially began U.S. military involvement in Vietnam. One of the things Morrison did when he was first faced with media attention was to declare himself an orphan. But before Morrison symbolically kills off his family, he attends Florida State and then quickly transfers to the film school at UCLA. He learns about film and drugs. He drinks. He keeps a notebook of poems on film aesthetics that will later turn into his first book, The Lords: Notes on Vision. He spends the summer after graduating on a rooftop overlooking the beach; he fasts and drops acid. He writes constantly (“I slept on a roof./At night the moon became/a woman’s face”). After this experience on the roof…he will form a band with three musicians and they will call themselves the Doors after Huxley’s investigations into transforming reality with mescaline in The Doors of Perception. But before he met what he called “the Spirit of Music” on the roof, Morrison met Ray Manzarek, a fellow film student and keyboard player for a band called Rick and the Ravens…Manzarek gave Morrison his first music job: he was paid $25 to stand with the band and pretend to play guitar. It was with Manzarek that Morrison would have the famous conversation on the beach. Morrison was down from the roof and he accidentally bumped into Manzarek. Morrison was supposed to have been in New York and Manzarek was surprised to see him on the beach. He asked Morrison what he had been up to and Morrison sang him “Moonlight Drive.” It was the first Doors performance and Manzarek was the first audience. Jerry Hopkins describes this as a “perfect rock and roll myth, a Horatio Alger cliché.” And so it goes: Manzarek was taking a meditation class at the time and in it were John Densmore and Robby Krieger. The drummer and the guitarist Manzarek meditated with were members of a band called the Psychedelic Rangers. They soon became the members of a different band [i.e., the Doors]. The myth rolls on through the London Fog and the Whiskey a Go-Go and into the night Morrison ate a giant quantity of acid and spontaneously composed the Oedipal section of “The End” in front of a stunned, mesmerized crowd. The Doors are promptly fired as the Whiskey’s house band [Check this!!!]. But they get signed by Elektra and after Morrison destroys a studio the first album [The Doors] is released. The Doors reflects the interests the band will pursue throughout their career: from the Brechtian “Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar)” to Willie Dixon’s Back Door Man” to the Oedipal nightmare of “The End” the first album is a concentrated attack upon conventional rock, at the same time, it roots them in a

tradition of radical art. In July of ’67, “Light My Fire” hits number one. Five years later Jim Morrison is found dead in Paris. His headstone in the PereLachaise Cemetery reads “Kata ton daimona eay toy” – Greek for “True to his own spirit.” The five years that Rocco here leaves out are of course the most interesting as they deal with Morrison’s public life, and they are the most heavily documented (and still not everyone can agree on “the facts”). In that time, Morrison metamorphosed from a sleek, lion of a youth with a thin, untrained voice, to a full-bearded, paunched-out and punch drunk aging rocker with the thick, raspy voice of a Blues singer. He was 27 and he looked and sounded 47, his hair showing signs of pre-mature graying. During those years he went through more drugs, women, booze, arrests, travel, and God knows what else than most do in several lifetimes, and he looked it. Here is an older and soberer (and more ironic) Morrison on his wild life: I’m not denying that I’ve had a good time these last three or four years. I’ve met a lot of interesting people and seen things in a short space of time that I probably would not have run into in twenty years of living. I can’t say that I regret it. If I had to do it over, I think I would have gone for the quiet, undemonstrative artist, plodding away in his own garden. He was the rock star’s rock star – he was the craziest of the lot and he set a dubious standard for generations of frontmen after him; it is in this sense that we can speak of his stardom achieving “mythic proportions.” He was a legend in his own time, and after he died he ceased to be a “living legend” and became a myth.

The Morrison Mythos Here I want to continue where Rocco’s “myth” left off, cataloguing some of the ways in which Morrison saw himself in his days with the Doors, the last five years of his life. Again, this is my interpretation, and it is selective and no doubt false or misleading in places. That said, it is based mainly on things Morrison told others about his mythic persona, and how others saw Morrison at that time when it meshed with that persona. As Rocco said, after Morrison’s meeting “The Spirit of Music” and then Ray Manzerek in the summer of 1965, the Doors were formed. From the start, Morrison saw the group as serving a mediating function to the youth of their generation; as Morrison was to say (in a quote often attributed to Blake but actually his own): “There are things known and things unknown, and in between are the Doors.” In their early days together, Morrison seemed shy and hesitant in his role as chief Door [Manzarek says that it wasn’t out of shyness – they practiced together in a circle], but as his voice and the music grew in power and the Doors art was perfected, their frontman seemed to grow in boldness. Sometimes he would dance wildly on the stage as the music played, as if driven by it; other times he would stand still and softly recite poetry or try the patience of the audience with long silences. Whatever he did, it seemed spontaneous and was always unpredictable. In the early days he was taking a lot of pyschedelic (or entheogenic, as they are referred to these days) drugs such as LSD and peyote, which may have helped to inspire some of the early poetry and music such as “The End.” Morrison consciously played (up) the part of the shaman, bringing his audience tidings from the “other side” behind the Door. It was at this time, too, that Morrison was described either as looking or seeming like one of Greek gods and heroes such as Alexander the Great, Adonis, and Dionysus, though particularly the latter. Morrison may have described himself as such and given people the idea that he was Dionysus, as Nietzsche (and particularly The Birth of Tragedy in which the Apollonian and Dionysian types are contrasted) was a big influence. As the Doors became more widely known, Morrison became recognized as a sex symbol, a role that he at first seemed to embrace and even milk for all it was worth, posing seductively for photographs for teen magazines, telling a journalist that the Doors were “erotic politicians,” calling himself “The Lizard King,” with its phallic implications, etc. Elvis may have been the King of Rock and Roll, but Morrison soon became dubbed “The King of Orgasmic Rock.” But it wasn’t long before Morrison began to tire of his rock star sex symbol image, which again, he had helped create. Apparently he saw himself as the Changeling, a protean figure who could never allow himself to be pinned down and put in a box for popular consumption (how can you make an icon out of an iconoclast?) He was “the freedom man,” but this entailed “setting people free,” however much he would have liked to play Jonah and run away from his calling. He thus increasingly saw himself as a savior figure – Jesus with shades (“Love your neighbor – ‘til it hurts!) – who had to do his time and suffer for others’ redemption, if not his own. Ultimately, however, when “the Man” was at “the Door” -- when he could no longer take the pressure and knew he would never be able to completely alter his image – he tried to get away, out to the perimeter where “there are no stars.” He may have gotten only as far as Paris, but his intention seemed to be to completely alter his identity. The “official” story of his manner of death was that he died of a heart attack in the bathtub. But the myth that he created was so strong, and his trickster personality so notorious, that to this day some believe that he may have really have faked his death and gone to Africa, as he said he would. And as in Elvisian mythology, Morrison has been sighted in various places from time to time.

The Mythic Concert In that year there was an intense visitation of energy. I left school & went down to the beach to live. I slept on a roof. at night the moon became a woman’s face I met the Spirit of Music.

(poem: In That Year)

I may have not made this clear enough in the earlier sections, but I don’t think it can be reasonably said that Morrison pulled his myth out of his gluteus maximus, so to speak. That is, he did not completely make up a myth about himself and then try to foist it on the credulous masses. Rather, it seems that he had certain experiences that he later recalled in mythic terms. In other words, the experiences on which he based his myth actually happened, though perhaps not in quite the way he mythologized it. So what is in question is what he made of those experiences, how true to those experiences was the myth that he constructed? To make this concrete, I have chosen to look into what Morrison referred to at one point as a “mythic concert” that he heard in his head while living on a friend’s rooftop in Venice beach the summer prior to the formation of the Doors. During those months, Morrison underwent a somewhat radical change in physical appearance from a somewhat chubby film school student to that of a sleek, leonine movie star. The “myth” (if you will) is that Morrison spent that summer up on the rooftop dropping acid, fasting, and doing a lot of writing – a story which I think there is every reason to believe (though we shouldn’t suppose that all he did was get high and write on that rooftop). I personally interpret his experience as being the equivalent of a spiritual preparation for his calling – the often trying work he was about to embark on with the Doors. It was maybe the equivalent of Moses’ forty days on the mount, or Jesus’ forty days in the desert, or any holy person’s hermetic retreat. The poem “In That Year” above is Morrison’s most mythic/poetic rendering of his experience on the rooftop that summer. Again, the experience was probably at least a little bit more mundane that the poem let’s on; on the other hand, I don’t doubt that this is the way it felt for Morrison. The experience was probably intense and it also probably transcended his ability to express what happened. For instance, not knowing how else to describe the music that he began to hear in his head, he used a phrase from the translation of Nietzsche’s Die Geburt der Tragodie (a book which apparently had a great influence on Morrison) – “The Spirit of Music.” Even though the phrase tells us very little about what Morrison actually experienced, in another sense it says everything. In a late interview, Morrison spoke more directly about what he meant when he wrote he had met “The Spirit of Music”: I heard in my head a whole concert situation, with a band singing and an audience – a large audience. Those first five or six songs I wrote, I was just taking notes at a fantastic rock concert that was going on inside my head…I just started hearing songs. I think I still have the notebook with those songs written in it. This kind of mythic concert that I heard…I’d like to try to reproduce it sometime, either in actuality or on record. I’d like to reproduce what I heard on the beach that day.” Not only does Morrison here make explicit what he meant by “The Spirit of Music,” but he even goes so far as to suggest that he could go even further and actually reproduce his experience for public consumption(!) What is also

interesting here is that he seems to be suggesting that, for whatever reason, those “first five or six songs” had never seen the light of day, and the question is why not if they were so great? The answer appears to be that while he still had the words, he had forgotten the music (and he didn’t know musical notation). Or maybe they were so great that Morrison didn’t feel he could do them justice on record, but later, having gained experience making songs and records he believed that he just might possibly be able to pull it off (if not sooner, then later)? As for the question as to how Morrison could remember the songs he heard during that mythic concert, apparently he had the idea that he could reconstruct them with the help of hypnosis or a drug. Whatever the case may be, I think this is a reasonable example of a scene from the movie of Morrison’s life – or his “cosmic movie” as he referred to it – that was certainly based on a personal experience of his. But I want to say that even the “myth” that he later made of that experience did not stray too far from the truth of that experience – unless you want to say that he was making this up, and I don’t think he was as it seems too right . How else could this kid who had no prior musical training whatsoever have been so inspired to write all of those early songs if he had not met his muse at that point? The Spirit of Music was also his Spiritual Muse, his spirit guide that was directing him toward perfecting the musical art. At least in this case, myth and reality seem less irreconcilable than other moments. But then we should ask: Why does Morrison refer to it as a “mythic” concert specifically? Why not just a “great concert”? Perhaps something from his reading inspired his choice of phrasing (Nietzsche? Wagner? Nietzsche contra Wagner?), or maybe it was that his own personal mythology always came to him thus, seeming a divine revelation or sorts. But whatever Morrison meant by “mythic” here, he surely didn’t mean one thing: that it was untrue, just a story he made up. Again, it really happened, though perhaps not exactly as Morrison remembered it. If I could presume to jump into Morrison’s head for a moment, I would suggest that he saw the creation of myths (his own and others like Oedipus) as visions that are perceived by the poet or seer/visionary or shaman, which he then attempts to impart to his tribe, however failingly. These visions can relate to tribal or cosmic origins or the source of a particular human emotion, etc.; or they can refer to the visionary himself.

Jim Morrison’s Oedipal Complex “They claim everyone was born, but I don’t recall it. my blackouts.” Maybe I was having one of

The Morrison “myth” got some great publicity and enhancement with the publication in 1980 of Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugerman’s bestselling biography of Morrison, No One Here Gets Out Alive. From the foreword on, the book paints its subject in larger-than-life, even mythic terms (Sugerman: “I just wanted to say I think Jim Morrison was a modern-day god. Oh hell, at least a lord.”) While no angels bring tidings of Morrison’s birth to his parents, nor is he floated down any rivers as a baby and raised by simple folk, incidents from his early years are adduced which suggest that Morrison was somehow special from the start. As Lester Bangs wrote of the book’s often not-so-subtle apotheosization of the man: “Jim Morrison was apparently a nigh compleat asshole from the instant he popped out of the womb until he died in that bathtub in Paris.” Some have suggested that at least some of the melodramatic antics Morrison was displaying were due to things that happened in his childhood. The “Dawn’s Highway” incident aside, the idea is that Jim was carrying a lot of pain and conflicts, mainly due to his upbringing, that was forcing him to act the way he did. Certainly Morrison had read Freud (“Death and my cock are the world,” Morrison wrote, suggesting Freud’s understanding of our most basic, primal urges, i.e. eros-thanatos) and Jung and Erich Neumann, though according to Hopkins and Sugerman, they were not his favorite psychoanalysts – Ferenczi was. Phil [one of Morrison’s friends at UCLA film school] had read nearly everything written by or about Carl Jung; on a shelf in his room at home were all the books, heavily underlined with a thick black pencil. Jung was not Jim’s favorite psychoanalyst, and he and Phil loved to argue after seeing movies how the filmmaker’s symbolism might be interpreted along Jungian or, in Jim’s case, Ferenczian lines. Like Jung, Sandor Ferenczi was an associate of Freud’s who cut himself loose, becoming a Freudian deviant in method more than theory. While Freud recommended sexual abstinence for his patients, arguing that this would concentrate the libido on past emotional experiences, Ferenczi took the denial much further, trying to persuade his patients to give up much of their eating, drinking, defecation, and urination as well. Then he swung the opposite way, toward love and permissiveness, believing that neurotics were people who had never been loved or accepted by their parents and what they really needed was affection, warmth, and coddling. As is generally true when talking about psychoanalysis, the conversations were filled with sexual references, often ranging over a wide assortment of neuroses, fetishes, and abnormalities – from hermaphroditism and necrophilia to masochism, sadism, and homosexuality. So when Jim and Phil made a film together, the subject was not surprising. Jim was a very intelligent and sensitive individual who had no doubt reflected on his own oedipal conflict. If I may digress here for a moment, I need to add that Morrison was extremely well-read, and not just Nietzsche, the Beats, and symbolist poetry, but literature both more conventional and more obscure, as well. Part of the Morrison mythos is that in high school he had his teachers checking the Library of Congress to see if books Morrison was writing book reports for really existed. An even more interesting story is that told by his friends and fellow students who knew him in film school at UCLA: Jim was capable of stunts of intellectual virtuosity. When friends visited his room, he challenged them, “Go ahead, pick a book any book.” His voice was boastful, but he toed the carpet of his bedroom: the shy magician. “Pick any

book, open it to the beginning of any chapter, and start reading. I’ll keep my eyes closed and I’ll tell you what book you’re reading and who the author is.” Jim swept one arm around the room at the hundreds and hundreds of books on top of the furniture and stacked everywhere against the walls. He never missed! One could dismiss this as more hyperbole for a man who the authors are trying to put on a pedestal (maybe it was only a hundred books; maybe he missed sometimes), but others have since confirmed that the story is more or less accurate. Now here is how Morrison rendered the Oedipus Rex story, which he first “unveiled” during a song called “The End” in an early performance at the Whiskeya-Go-Go on the Sunset Strip: The killer awoke before dawn, He put his boots on. He took a face from the ancient gallery, And he walked on down the hall. He went into the room Where his sister lived and, Then he Paid a visit to his brother, And then he, He walked on down the hall. And he came to a door, And he looked inside, “Father?” “Yes, son?” “I want to kill you. Mother, I want to…” As the story (myth?) goes, the night that Morrison sang this for the first time, he was very high on acid. Earlier two of the band members apparently had to find him and coax him to come to the show. Morrison had improvised poetry to “The End” in previous performances, but this one took everyone by surprise, particularly the end of it in which Morrison probably shouted something like “fuck you all night long, momma” (as he does on another live version). The myth is that the audience was speechless and The Doors were fired that night. But what is of most concern here is the question of to what extent was this pure improvisation? Did Morrison somehow have at least a general idea that he was going to add this section to the song before the show? Maybe he had been rehearsing it, as he sometimes did? If it was a purely spontaneous generation while under the influence of LSD, maybe it says more about his psyche than if he had been more sober. But either way, it was telling. Morrison did give some indication that his “improvisation” that night during “The End” was something less than purely “off the cuff.” In the summer of 1968, Los Angeles Free Press journalist John Carpenter asked Morrison in an interview whether the above story about “The End” was true. His answer is a psychoanalyst’s field day: I used to have this magic formula, like, to break into the subconscious. I would lay [lie] there and say over and over ‘Fuck the mother, kill the father. Fuck the mother, kill the father.’ You can really get into your head just repeating that slogan over and over. Just saying it can be the thing… That mantra can never become meaningless. It’s too basic and can never become just words ‘cause as long as you’re saying it, you can never be

unconscious.

That all came from up here.

So there was a method to Morrison’s madness. In addition to Rimbaud’s “prolonged rational disordering of all the senses,” and Blake’s “the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom” -- techniques of liberation that Morrison had early on adopted as his own – he had this somewhat unorthodox mantra. Why use a mantra that, once said enough times, can be repeated mechanically and thus devolve into lip service? Why not, rather, use a word or phrase that forces one to stay awake and go deep inside the brain (as he sings on “Go Insane”)? Morrison was no doubt also taking a subtle jab at others of his generation, most notably two of his fellow band members, who were practicing Transcendental Meditation or other aspects of the Hindu tradition (made possible by the lifting of the Asian Exclusion Act in 1965). My sense is that Morrison was too American and too much of an iconoclast (and maybe too undisciplined) for any kind of ritualized praxis like repetition of a Hindu mantra. And anyway, he was gradually, organically, developing his own religion based on his own myth and the Doors nightly ritual of “awakening the dead.” We could plan a murder Or start a religion Early on I think Morrison decided that he didn’t have the heart to be a killer, though it seems to be something that he considered often enough for it to show up in various songs and poems (and his movie HWY, in which he plays a hitchhiker who murders the driver who picks him up). Killing the father was just part of it. But he was more of a shaman than a Manson, the founder of a new religious movement which he called the Doors, the leader of his children/flock through the Straight Gate to the other side and home. Always a playground instructor Never a killer One way that Morrison helped to foster his own myth was to say that he was an orphan, that his parents were dead. Clearly he resented their interference in his life and being “the freedom man” as he sang, he didn’t want to have to deal with that. There was perhaps another part of him that wanted to promote a certain image of himself and it would not work as well if he had parents with whom he talked and received instructions (and most gods are not even born – at least in the conventional sense). How then could he ask others to rebel and be free if he himself had not done so himself? How could he honestly say: I’ve always been attracted to ideas that were about revolt against authority. When you make your peace with authority you become an authority. I like ideas about the breaking away or overthrowing of established order. I’m interested in anything about revolt, disorder, chaos, especially activity that appears to have no meaning. In the spring of 1969, Jerry Hopkins interviewed Morrison for Rolling Stone and asked why he had made up the story that his parents were dead. His answer, at least to my eyes, is a revisionist history, nay even a cover-up: I just didn’t want to involve them. It’s easy enough to find out personal details if you really want them. When we’re born we’re all footprinted and so on. I guess I said my parents were dead as some kind of joke. I have a brother [and a sister!!!], too, but I haven’t seen him in about a year. I don’t see any of them. This is the most I’ve ever said about this. A joke? I wonder what Freud would have made of such a joke. Again, I think this

is more media manipulation on Morrison’s part; at this point in his career I have the feeling that Morrison was saying that everything he had done with the Doors was a joke, a “myth” that he created that was not too be taken too seriously. But again, I also have the sense that there was far less humor in his original pronouncements than he later let on. Yet the Oedipal section of “The End” was not just about killing his father and having intercourse with his mother, it apparently went deeper than that, just as the Oedipus myth no doubt has more subtle implications. The Doors’ producer, Paul Rothchild, who seems to have understood Jim’s intentions better than most, also read Morrison more symbolically here: Jim kept saying over and over, kill the father, fuck the mother, and essentially it boils down to this, kill all those things in yourself which are instilled in you are not of yourself, they are alien concepts which are not yours, they must die. The psychedelic revolution. Fuck the mother is very basic, and it means gets back to the essence, what is reality, what is, fuck the mother is very basically mother, mother-birth, real, you can touch it, it’s nature, it can’t lie to you. So what Jim says at the end of the Oedipus section, which is essentially the same things as the classic says, kill the alien concepts, get back to reality, the end of alien concepts, the beginning of personal concepts. In The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche suggests that to kill mother and father, whether literally or figuratively, is to arrive at ubermensch-hood: “Oedipus, murderer of his father, husband of his mother, solver of the riddle of the Sphinx!” For Morrison – or at least the early Morrison, I think the Oedipus story was to be read symbolically, but somewhat literally also, as he was rebelling against his parents and all the “old fools” who were resistant to new ideas. Somehow the Blakean “road of excess” led to the “palace of wisdom” in Oedipus’ case, a notion that Morrison found appealing: Sophocles had a romantic notion about Oedipus, one that Nietzsche wrote about. He called Oedipus “the most sorrowful figure on the Greek stage…the type of noble man who despite his wisdom is fatal to error and misery, but who nevertheless, through his extraordinary sufferings, ultimately effects a magical, healing effect on all around him, which continues even after his death.” Jim liked that. The following section discusses this soteriological role that Morrison, qua Oedipus, saw himself as fulfilling.

The Rock Star as World Savior Morrison: Please, please listen to me children You are the ones who will rule the world Jesus: Suffer the little children to come to me… As I have already noted in various places, Morrison consciously (though perhaps not completely gladly) took on the role of cosmic gadfly to his largely teenybopper constituency. They were his flock and he was their shepherd. Jesus said “I am the Door of the sheep,” and nearly two thousand years later Morrison went around saying “I am the Door.” Morrison was a somewhat reluctant messiah, however, even from the start, if we may judge from one early song on which he ironically sang, “I’m the freedom man/that’s just how lucky I am.” Freedom is a word that comes up again and again in Morrison’s poetry and songs; in fact, one of the last letters he wrote ended with: “I am not mad, I am interested in freedom.” But he knew the cost of freedom. He knew that not only were his “followers” not following, just as the unwashed masses didn’t have ears to hear the Galilean master, but he also was painfully aware that he would have to suffer and ultimately die in order for his message to really break through people’s thick skulls. Like Jesus, Morrison went around predicting his early demise. And like Jesus, Morrison’s following only continues to grow as the years pass. That Mojo just keeps on risin’. In fact, there are many parallels between Morrison’s life and that first century Jewish sage; but then again, there are many parallels between Elvis and Jesus, too, and Apollonius of Tyana and Jesus, and perhaps many such types down through the ages and Jesus. These are all of the “world savior” type, messianic or salvific figures. They are archetypical, perhaps not in the Jungian sense of being wired into the “collective unconscious” of humanity, but they do share quite similar profiles. The following are some of the qualifications for such a type: 1) charisma (and thus some kind of following); 2) rebelliousness (against the status quo), though seldom do they incite revolt; 3) a “wake up” or otherwise spiritual message, which may take any number of forms; 4) physical or psychical suffering; 5) a mysterious manner of death, and alleged postmortem sightings. The savior type that I am describing also goes through some sort of trial or solitary askesis prior to their calling. For Morrison, it was the summer he spent fasting, writing, and ingesting psychedelic drugs on the roof of a friend’s apartment prior to the formation of the Doors. At the end of this period, I believe that he fully believed he had something to give and he was quite ready to do it. Again, he saw himself in grandiose terms, perhaps as an “Avatar of Chaos” (he at one point referred to the Doors as “Avatars of Chaos”), which was badly needed to counteract the conformity and unimaginativeness of society. Here is how one of Morrison’s early interviewers, Richard Goldstein, described his first meeting with Morrison: Jim wasn’t content to play the suffering artist. He wanted to be an avatar – and not just Elvis in love beads. He filled my tape with breathy hyperbole about the nature of myth. Twenty years later, such speculation would be fodder for Bill Moyers on PBS. Back then, Jim had to make do with a film student’s knowledge of the boho [bohemian] pantheon: Artaud, Nietzsche, Rimbaud. Playing the part of an avatar, Morrison penned and sang such lines as: And I can tell you the names of the kingdom/ I can tell you the things that you know -----

Please, please listen to me children You are the ones who will rule the world ----I’ll tell you this… No eternal reward will forgive us now For wasting the dawn _____________ I am a guide to the Labyrinth [where?] Again we can reasonably wonder, however: Was he serious? Was Morrison just “playing the part” as I suggested, or did he really believe he was a divine messenger of some sort, as he described “Texas Radio and the Big Beat” as being: Reaching your head w/the cold & sudden fury Of a divine messenger. Was Morrison referring to himself there? Let me tell you about heartache and the loss of God. My sense is that he was dead serious about his messianic role, yet at the same time he could stand outside of the role and see it for what it was – a role. Thus he made room for irony. Making like a crucified Jesus on the cross after one performance when he had been mocked and heckled by the audience was expression of that irony. Here is another expression, in poetic form: Thank you, O Lord For the white blind light A city rises from the sea I had a splitting headache From which the future’s made. And even though Morrison was consciously playing the part of gadfly messiah, there was a sense in which he was perhaps trying to save his own soul on stage more than the audience, “pursuing his own fantasy” as he understood the nature of the shaman, or beckoning his Muse (the Spirit of Music?). Early on Digby Diehl had written in Newsweek: “It’s hard to say whose soul he’s trying to save, his listeners’ or his own.” Morrison himself had said in an early? interview: See, there’s this theory about the nature of tragedy, that Aristotle didn’t mean catharsis for the audience, but a purgation of emotions for the actors themselves. The audience is just a witness to the events taking place on stage. In an interview for Life magazine, he expressed something similar: Today is the age of the heroes, who live for us and through whom we experience the heights and depths of emotion. The spectator is a dying animal and the purgation of emotion is left up to the actor, not the audience. Clearly Morrison was putting himself among those heroes whose spectacular catharsis the spectator can only experience vicariously, but which can be transformative and even liberating for them, as much as himself (though Morrison does not spell this out here). But there is also a sense in which Morrison was attempting to awaken the audience to become not mere spectators, but actors and heroes like him, like the Doors.

Morrison and Elvis: Rock ‘n’ Roll Pneumatic Mythology “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the Door of the sheep…I am the Door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:7) Had I known earlier of Elvis’ own spiritual leanings and perception of himself in mythological proportions, I might have been tempted to write about him instead of Morrison. After all, he is better known and would have no doubt been an easier case to follow. As it happened, though, I didn’t learn about Elvis’ dabbling in the “occult” until I began doing research for this project. I was aware, as I think we all are (it being an urban legend and cultural running joke) that Elvis has been “sighted” on numerous occasions since his death in 1977 and still has what could be called a “cult” of followers; but I had not known that Elvis “religiously” studied books which one wouldn’t think a “good Christian boy” (as Albert Goldman called him) would or should read. Books like those of Madame Blavatsky and Paramahamsa Yogananda which in an earlier age he would have been put on the rack for even possessing. Well, for that matter I might as well have done a study of Bob Dylan, or Mick Jagger, or any number of rock and roll “icons.” For it seems to me that they all have an bit of myth hanging about them, whether they be myths of their own making, or myths made for them, or both. For example, in his early days, Dylan (alias Robert Zimmerman) constructed an elaborate mythology/legend of his origins, claiming among other things that as a boy he had run away and joined the circus. Mick Jagger coined himself “Jumping Jack Flash” and even pretended he was Lucifer (many people believed him). Robert Plant declared himself a “golden god” and incorporated elements of Celtic mythology into his song lyrics. John Lennon compared himself to Jesus (however facetiously). And so on. But then we may rightly wonder: Did Frank Sinatra or Harry Belafonte ever make such grandiose claims? Did any rock and rollers prior to the Sixties so mythologize themselves? No, or at least not as blatantly. Indeed, it seems that this was largely a midSixties phenomenon, perhaps partly inspired by psychedelic drugs (see below) and the revived interest in the occult and mysticism. How about the song “I’m 10,000 years old”? But this is only part of it, because the truth is that blues masters such as Robert Johnson, Bo Diddley and John Lee Hooker had been singing of their inordinate sexual prowess in mythological terms for years prior to the birth of rock and roll (indeed, they were the ones that gave birth to the latter; even the phrase “rock and roll” came from sex-savvy Blues numbers). Consider, for example, the lyrics to the Bo Diddley song, “Who Do You Love,” a song that the Doors later did a version of: I walked 47 miles of barbed wire Cobra snake for a necktie Brand new house on the roadside Made from rattlesnake hide Great big chimney way on top made from human skull Come on Baby take a walk with me Tell me who do you love In other words, Morrison largely had his work cut out for him in some sense as blues artists had earlier put forth their own personal mythologies involving reptiles and sex and death (and lot us not forget all the poets – Blake, Rimbaud, Yeats, Joyce, etc. – who put forth their personal mythologies in verse). Later, young white artists borrowed the style and attitude and started shocking the

world, but of course, more people took notice because they were white. By singing Bo Diddley’s song, Morrison was in a way acknowledging this fact, as if to say to his audience that here is where “the Lizard King” came from, crawling out of the swamps of the Mississippi Delta. But the young white artists went farther in incorporating mythology and/or mythological elements into their repetoires than the blues greats had done. Or at least Jim Morrison did. To the best of my knowledge, no blues artist ever sang about his Oedipal complex (“The End”), or how he became a shaman (“Dawn’s Highway” and “Shaman’s Blues”), or the name he would use after he skipped town for Africa (“Mr. Mojo Risin’” on “L.A. Woman”). The pre-rock blues artists weren’t necessarily consciously constructing a mythology either, as Morrison was. They were inheritors of a blues tradition that required one to speak of oneself in grandiloquent, if not megalomaniacal terms, and what they were doing seems to me less deliberate and self-conscious than what the white, mainly middle class kids did with that tradition. Again, one has to look to the poets after whom Morrison modeled himself. Elvis is a slightly different though remarkably parallel case. He sang everything – anything that moved him, apparently, from Gospel numbers to Bob Dylan. But he didn’t write much of the music he sang, and he certainly didn’t create a personal mythology on vinyl. On the other hand, Elvis did see himself in mythic terms. In the mid-Sixties, after reading a great deal of metaphysical literature and having a profound vision in the desert, he apparently came to the conclusion that he was a divine messenger of sorts, on par with Jesus. Just as Jesus was “The King” (of the Jews – and the gentiles), Elvis was the King of Rock and Roll, who had incarnated in his particular generation to preach the Gospel of Rock. But his divine role didn’t only involve singing and dancing and making b-movies; it also including, giving many charitable gifts, using the healing powers he believed that he possessed, and in the end, battling the evil forces for the greater good of all. While Elvis never spelled all of this out for the public, it has been spelled out for him in various titles published since his death. Louie Ludwig’s book The Gospel of Elvis, for instance, is a humorous re-telling of the Elvis story in biblical (i.e., mythical) terms. Other books have discussed the quasi-cult that has grown up around Elvis since the latter’s death a quarter of a century ago; one such work, Elvis People, even goes so far as to suggest that two thousand years from now there will be an Elvis religion which rivals Christianity (hey, why wait two thousand years – it’s already happening!) In other words, Elvis, like Jim Morrison, is only growing in popularity as the time passes; but popularity is not really the right word – obsession bordering on hero worship more truly hits the mark. Neil Young greatly understated the case when he sang, “The King is dead but he’s not forgotten.” Hell, the King isn’t even dead! Before I end here I feel I must point out that Elvis was one of Morrison’s early musical influences. In fact, according to Hopkins and Sugerman, one of the reasons Morrison got kicked out of the apartment he was sharing with some college buddies was because of his fascination with Elvis: He had become obsessed about Elvis Presley and insisted upon silence whenever Presley’s records were played on the radio, turning the volume up full, and sitting in front of the radio mesmerized. Morrison’s desire to become a singer and a star like Elvis was probably further intensified when a gay bartender who befriended him told him essentially that he was made of the same stuff (superstardust) as Elvis. Another interesting fact is that as late as 1968 or ’69 Morrison had mentioned to the man who was to write his first biography, Jerry Hopkins, that he would be interested in reading a bio of Elvis and that maybe Hopkins should write one (which he did, though Morrison died before it was published). All this suggests that Morrison himself had the Elvis bug, and he probably wondered how Elvis dealt with the whole rock

star trip and why he of all people had been chosen. On a superficial level, Morrison and Elvis could not have been more different. Elvis was a poor boy that made good, and to many he proved that the myth of the American Dream was no myth. He was a proud American, he loved his mother, and he was a good Christian boy. Morrison, on the other hand, was a rich kid who claimed his parents were dead, spoke of the death of the “Western Dream,” and made fun of Christianity and organized religion. Looked at from this perspective, Elvis was as American as apple pie, and Morrison was an American reject. But again, this is a superficial reading – these are the “myths,” largely the public’s perception of these figures, whereas the truth is far more gray and ambivalent, as always. And I should add that our collective myths of what America is all about don’t always hold water. One final irony to point out here is that despite all of Morrison’s talk about myth and the world of the spirit, it is still not clear to what extent he really believed any of it -- apparently he only started to delve into metaphysical literature late in his life, and that without any great gusto. Elvis, on the other hand, who one would think must have been just a good Christian boy through and through, steeped himself in what some would call “the occult,” driving his wife and his entourage crazy with his obsession. Unlike Morrison, apparently Elvis believed much of what he read (though not without mulling it over and thrashing out its implications). Then again, Morrison may have believed more than he let on, for fear of being pinned down or just to keep people guessing. I want to consider that part of the Morrison that always kept people guessing next.

Addendum: Rap Music and Myth Charles Barkley: You know something’s up when the number one golfer is black and the number one rapper is white. Recently I borrowed Jay-Z’s 1999 effort “The Blueprint” from the local library. I wanted to listen to more of Rapper #2 – the man considered to be the second best rapper these days next to Eminem (interestingly, the two do a duo on the album, “Renegade.”) I didn’t really know what to expect, I just wanted to listen. The first track was interesting but I knew I would have to listen again. Then came the second track. I was not prepared for what I heard. Sure, I know that ever since Run DMC did a rap version of “Walk This Way” there has been a sometimes awkward meeting and mutual merger of rock and rap, and even more so today with rock rappers like Limp Bizkit and Kid Rock, but this was unexpected to say the least. Jay-Z sampling “Five to One”? Cool! The song is called “Takeover” and it mainly samples the driving beat of the Doors’ song, along with Morrison’s “We’re taking over, come on!” and parts of Krieger’s guitar work. But Morrison’s drunken call to youth rebellion has become, in Jay-Z’s trenchant rhyming, a very sober but self-satisfied (you can hear Jay-Z almost break into a little giggle at certain points) statement of who’s running the rap show. surprised to Jay-Z: “Takeover” lyrics takeover Jay-z (The Blueprint) [Jay-Z] R.O.C., we runnin this rap shit Memphis Bleek, we runnin this rap shit B. Mac, we runnin this rap shit Freeway, we run this rap shit O & Sparks, we runnin this rap shit Chris & Neef, we runnin this rap shit The takeover, the break's over nigga God MC, me, Jay-Hova Hey lil' soldier you ain't ready for war R.O.C. too strong for y'all It's like bringin a knife to a gunfight, pen to a test Your chest in the line of fire witcha thin-ass vest You bringin them Boyz II Men, HOW them boys gon' win? This is grown man B.I., get you rolled in the triage(?) Beatch - your reach ain't long enough, dunny Your peeps ain't strong enough, fucka Roc-A-Fella is the army, better yet the navy Niggaz'll kidnap your babies, spit at your lady We bring - knife to fistfight, kill your drama Uh, we kill you motherfuckin ants with a sledgehammer Don't let me do it to you dunny cause I overdo it So you won't confuse it with just rap music R.O.C., we runnin this rap shit M-Easy, we runnin this rap shit The Broad Street Bully, we runnin this rap shit Get zipped up in plastic when it happens that's it Freeway, we run this rap shit

O & Sparks, we runnin this rap shit Chris & Neef, we runnin this rap shit "Watch out!! We run New York" -> [KRS-One] I don't care if you Mobb Deep, I hold triggers to crews You little FUCK, I've got money stacks bigger than you When I was pushin weight, back in eighty-eight you was a ballerina I got your pictures I seen ya Then you dropped "Shook Ones," switch your demeanor Well - we don't believe you, you need more people Roc-A-Fella, students of the game, we passed the classes Nobody could read you dudes like we do Don't let 'em gas you like Jigga is ass and won't clap you Trust me on this one - I'll detach you Mind from spirit, body from soul They'll have to hold a mass, put your body in a hole No, you're not on my level get your brakes tweaked I sold what ya whole album sold in my first week You guys don't want it with Hov' Ask Nas, he don't want it with Hov', nooooo! R.O.C., we runnin this rap shit B. Sigel, we runnin this rap shit M-Easy, we runnin this rap shit Get zipped up in plastic when it happens that's it O & Sparks, we runnin this rap shit Freeway, we run this rap shit Chris & Neef, we runnin this rap shit "Watch out!! We run New York" -> [KRS-One] I know you missin all the - FAAAAAAAME! But along with celebrity comes bout seventy shots to your brain Nigga; you a - LAAAAAAAME! Youse the fag model for Karl Kani/Esco ads Went from, Nasty Nas to Esco's trash Had a spark when you started but now you're just garbage Fell from top ten to not mentioned at all to your bodyguard's "Oochie Wally" verse better than yours Matter fact you had the worst flow on the whole fuckin song but I know - the sun don't shine, then son don't shine That's why your - LAAAAAAAME! - career come to a end There's only so long fake thugs can pretend Nigga; you ain't live it you witnessed it from your folks pad You scribbled in your notepad and created your life I showed you your first tec on tour with Large Professor (Me, that's who!) Then I heard your album bout your tec on your dresser So yeah I sampled your voice, you was usin it wrong You made it a hot line, I made it a hot song And you ain't get a corn nigga you was gettin fucked and I know who I paid God, Serchlite Publishing Use your - BRAAAAAAAIN! You said you been in this ten I've been in it five - smarten up Nas Four albums in ten years nigga? I could divide That's one every let's say two, two of them shits was due One was - NAHHH, the other was "Illmatic" That's a one hot album every ten year average And that's so - LAAAAAAAME! Nigga switch up your flow Your shit is garbage, but you try and kick knowledge? (Get the fuck outta here) You niggaz gon' learn to respect the king

Don't be the next contestant on that Summer Jam screen Because you know who (who) did you know what (what) with you know who (yeah) but just keep that between me and you for now R.O.C., we runnin this rap shit M-Easy, we runnin this rap shit The Broad Street Bully, we runnin this rap shit Get zipped up in plastic when it happens that's it Freeway, we run this rap shit O & Sparks, we runnin this rap shit Chris & Neef, we runnin this rap shit "Watch out!! We run New York" -> [KRS-One] A wise man told me don't argue with fools Cause people from a distance can't tell who is who So stop with that childish shit, nigga I'm grown Please leave it alone - don't throw rocks at the throne Do not bark up that tree, that tree will fall on you I don't know why your advisors ain't forewarn you Please, not Jay, he's, not for play I don't slack a minute, all that thug rappin and gimmicks I will end it, all that yappin be finished You are not deep, you made your bed now sleep Don't make me expose to them folks that don't know you Nigga I know you well, all the stolen jew-els Twinkletoes you breakin my heart You can't fuck with me - go play somewhere, I'm busy And all you other cats throwin shots at Jigga You only get half a bar - fuck y'all niggaz Eminem has now frequently been compared to Elvis, even proclaimed “the new Elvis,” but the new Morrison would be more like it. Morrison was as dangerous and hellbent (or seemed to be) in the mid to late sixties than Elvis ever was. He was the Eminem of his generation, and many of the later bad boys of rock took their cues from him. He was, like Eminem/Slim Shady is, rather fearless, at least on stage or in “persona.” For instance, not too many people are aware that Morrison was the originator of the stage dive, recently mythically immortalized on celluloid by Jack Black in the “School of Rock.” Almost before the opening credits end, Black, playing rawker Dewey Finn, attempts to dive into a bar crowd and falls flat on his face – no one wants to catch his manic, fat, sweaty body. But by the end of the film he gets his rock ‘n’ roll redemption when he again jumps into the crowd and is passed around, then safely back to the stage. I assume that Morrison was always caught by his audience; nevertheless, to attempt such a fantastic flight, let alone be the one to test it on an unexpecting crowd, must have required either a lot of nerve, a lot of drugs, or both.

Morrison as Trickster, Clown (Bozo), and Holy Fool I think of myself as an intelligent, sensitive human with the soul of a clown, which always forces me to blow it at the most important moments. ************************* I sigh. “Have you ever in your life given anybody a straight answer?” “Christ,” he says, surprised, “I hope not.” ************************* Never listen, promise me, to the promises of this trickster. -- Rumi One of the first things that struck me as I began to look more deeply into the character of Morrison was his sense of humor. If one were to simply judge by the Doors songs played on the radio, and even from No One Here Gets Out Alive, one gets the impression of a brooding, darkly serious, generally unsmiling person. The situation is somewhat similar to the way in which we pale faces have viewed and stereotyped the American Indians (or Native Americans) as being stoic and largely humorless. In a chapter on “Indian Humor” from his Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto, a book that Morrison may have read: It has always been a great disappointment to Indian people that the humorous side of Indian life has not been mentioned by professed experts on Indian Affairs. Rather the image of the granite-faced grunting redskin has been perpetuated by American mythology… The Indian people are exactly opposite of the popular stereotype. I sometimes wonder how anything is accomplished by Indians because of the apparent overemphasis on humor within the Indian world. Indians have found a humorous side of nearly every problem and the experiences of life have generally been so well defined through jokes and stories that they have become a thing in themselves. So, too, with Morrison the truth was quite the opposite: he had a very highly developed sense of humor from the start of his career with the Doors (indeed, from an early age), but for whatever reason, in the early days of the group he did not let it show as much as later, at least publicly. Perhaps this was due to a certain image he was trying to project; if one is jocular, particularly in regard to oneself and one’s faults, it shows one’s vulnerability. Perhaps the Indians, too, chose to not show their humorous side as much to white folk for this very reason. Recall that Morrison’s grandmother had remarked that the morning the Morrison family witnessed the Indians dying on the highway, very visibly pained and upset, it surprised all of them as they had believed Indians to be more stoic. According to her report, little Jimmy also grew very upset and was almost inconsolable. Morrison and the Native Americans thus both suffered from the same image problem, and reflecting on this again I wonder: perhaps there is a connection? Lester Bangs, the late great rock critic, claims that from the beginning he never took Morrison seriously, even the most epic Doors songs like “The End” and “When the Music’s Over” from the first two albums. Bangs discussed the clown or “Bozo” aspect of Morrison in his retrospective piece, “Jim Morrison – Bozo Dionysus a Decade Later.” Here’s an excerpt: One thing that can never be denied Morrison is that at his best (as well as perhaps his worst, or some of it at any rate) he had style, and as he was at his best as a poet of dread, desire and psychic dislocation, so he was also at his best as a clown. So it’s no wonder our responses got, and remain, a little confused. Morrison increasingly saw himself as a clown of sorts, as this excerpt from a late interview with Salli Stevenson of Circus shows: For a while there was a cycle in pop stardom where people looked up to pop stars

for their answers, forgetting that pop stars are people too. Now they seem to have come from idols to heroes. Using this definition that a hero is someone you can reach out to and an idol is someone unreachable, do you consider yourself an idol or a hero? “A hero is someone who rebels or seems to rebel against seems to conquer them. Obviously that can only work at lasting thing. That’s not saying that people shouldn’t against the facts of existence. Someday, who knows, we disease and war.” What about you, though… I think of myself as an intelligent, sensitive human being with the soul of a clown, which always forces me to blow it at the most important moments. Here I think Morrison was either a little ambivalent, or more likely, was being purposefully elusive. On the one hand, he suggests that he himself has been a hero of sorts – certainly he had rebelled against the facts of existence and conquered them. Yet in his next statement about having the “soul of a clown,” he ostensibly means that even in those moments when he could have been a hero, he failed because he wasn’t cut out for it. Personally, though, reading deeper and between the lines, I think he saw himself as a little of both (again, partly in response to the popular press in which he was being described as “the Buffoon of rock and roll,” among other things). As he wrote in a late poem (blatantly autobiographical and reading almost like a journal entry): A natural leader, a poet, a Shaman, w/the soul of a clown. And elsewhere in his writings: The bitter Poet-Madman is a clown Treading the Boards Holy fool” is as apt a title as any for Morrison, one that makes room for both the heroic and the tragi-comic aspects of his persona. Fowlie connects the clown (child?) and the angel: “And poets have been reincarnated countless times in the clown who survives by some mysterious principle of angelism (Rimbaud, Max Jacob, Apollinaire, Jim Morrison). (124) Who is the angel for Fowlie? But then there is Morrison’s trickster side, or rather sides as duplicity requires a mate. And maybe one doesn’t need to take sides at all – maybe the trickster was not a side, but his true self? As Patricia Keneally asked him (quoted above), had he ever give anyone a straight answer in his life? And by “straight” I will include any unselfconscious word or gesture. But this is going too far, for even if Morrison was a god (whatever that means), he was also clearly “human-all-toohuman” (to borrow Nietzsche’s phrase), as well, as Keneally attests. He could show his vulnerability at times, and he could be sincere and honest when the situation called for it. Consider the following ostensibly painfully honest revelation, taken from a relatively early interview with Morrison: The only time I really open up is onstage. The mask of performing gives it to me, a place where I hide myself then I can reveal myself the facts of existence and moments. It can’t be a keep trying to rebel might conquer death,

Still, I don’t think it going too far to wonder whether even this was just another mask (as Oliver Stone wonders aloud in his movie). Then again, honesty and sincerity do seem more godlike than human traits. But perhaps Morrison was a trickster at heart, in which case he was being true to himself. To continue the Native American theme of this section: The best-known archetypal figure in American Indian mythology is the trickster…. This mysterious and often outrageous character is promiscuous and amoral and often takes animal form –Spider in Africa, Brer Rabbit in the American South, and Raven and Coyote among Native American peoples. Yet he is also inventive and sometimes serves as the primary assistant to the supreme creator. Sometimes he is a culture hero or god, as in the case of the Indian Krishna or the Great Hare of the American Indian plains and woodlands. Carl Jung saw the trickster as “an earlier rudimentary stage of consciousness,” possessing untamed appetites not yet tempered by a social conscience. Jung also saw in the creative aspect of the trickster a hint of later shamanic “medicine people” and savior culture heroes. Like the shaman, the trickster can change forms at will and transcend human limitations. Even his excessive eroticism suggests his creative power, his drive to create new things and ideas. This seems as apt a description of Morrison as any (indeed, it seems almost as if the authors had him in mind). Clearly Morrison had a social conscience, but his behavior was erratic and eccentric and often suggested contempt for established norms and patterns. Was he showing off (as showman), or showing the way (as shaman)? A little bit of both? Let’s consider a few examples of Morrison’s trickster-like behavior. We have already considered the way in which he manipulated the media, now let’s look at his legendary attempts at crowd manipulation: When asked why he decided to wear a gold crucifix at their Hollywood Bowl performance, he replied, “I like the symbol visually, plus it will confuse people.” That is, people will be confused as to why this man who was rebelled against conventional institutions like the Church and the traditional symbols connected with them would opt to be seen in public wearing a cross? Answer: just to keep ‘em guessing. At another concert in Florida, where Morrison had been a college student at Tallahassee: “Anyone here from Tallahassee?” Some of the fans cheer. “I used to live in Tallahassee, then I got smart and moved to California.” Another concert he talks to the fans about astrology: “I’m a Sagittarius, the most philosophic of the signs.” This is the Sixties, and the fans eat it up. One woman in particular screams, “I love you, Jim! I’m [a Sagittarius], too!” Then Morrison says, “But I don’t believe it [astrology] – I think it’s all a bunch of bullshit myself.” The woman obsequiously screams, “I do, too, Jim!” It’s hilarious. Again, this begs the question as to what exactly Jim Morrison believed about anything? Here he is (or isn’t!) in that same late interview with Salli Stevenson at his most playful and shape-shifting:

How do you think you’ll die? I hope at about age 120 with a sense of humor and a nice comfortable bed. I wouldn’t want anybody around. I’d just want to drift quietly off, but I’m still holding out. I think it’s very possible that science has a chance in our lifetime to conquer death.

There are many people who believe in reincarnation and spirits. If medical science were to do that, what would happen to their spirit world? They’d just have to fend for themselves. Leave us poor immortals alone.

I take it you don’t believe in Karma or reincarnation or the occult beliefs. No, not really, but since I don’t have anything else to replace it with, I listen to everything. I don’t say no. What do you believe in then? We evolved from snakes and I used to see the universe as a mammoth peristaltic snake. I used to see all the people and objects and landscapes as little pictures on the facets of their skins. I think the peristaltic motion is the basic life movement and even your basic unicellular structures have this same motion. It’s swallowing, digestion, the rhythms of sexual intercourse. [Salli Stevenson, Circus, October 14, 1970] This is so confusing and deceitful one doesn’t know where to begin. One can only wonder why Morrison went to such lengths to conceal his true identity (if there was one?) One obvious answer is that as he was “interested in freedom,” he refused any attempt to be pinned down. For how can a dyed-in-the-wool iconoclast ever consent to be made into an icon? Another possibility is that he realized after awhile that he would always be misquoted and/or misunderstood anyway, so why even try? And perhaps there was a part of him – the little Jimmy in him -- that just found the trickster life pure fun, and he delighted in shaking people up, making them think, seeing their reactions… “Let’s just say I was testing the bounds of reality. I was curious to see what would happen. That’s all it was: curiosity.” I don’t think that this playful, childlike aspect – the Krishna tricksterleela aspect of Morrison, if you will – can or should be downplayed. Krishnalike, too, were Morrison’s playful but not possessive relations with numerous women. There were so many in so little time that one wonders where the man found the time, or did he magically reduplicate himself so as to satisfy all of his paramours, as the boy cowherd had done with the gopis? Such a question can be somewhat seriously asked as, for instance, the factuality of Linda Ashcroft’s book Wild Child , which purportedly deals with Ashcroft’s relationship with Morrison based on letters and her diary accounts, has been challenged. Ashcroft claims to have spent a good deal of time with Morrison in the late sixties, while Salli Stevenson (formerly a journalist for Circus magazine) went to considerable lengths to show that Morrison could not possibly have spent all that time with her as his busy schedule and touring and so on just did not allow for it. Yet Ashcroft’s book comes across as too genuine to be a complete fiction. So was Morrison a master of the occult power of bi-location, did Ashcroft have her dates wrong, or what?

Wild Child: The Child Archetype Wild Child Full of grace Savior of the Human race… Remember when we were in Africa? Childhood is a recurring theme in Morrison’s poems and songs. Partly this is due to his depth and sensitivity as a person and artist. He no doubt reflected a great deal on his childhood, which shows some courage if it was an unhappy one, though it seems that his adolescence was more troubled than his early youth. The child and the poet spend their richest hours in the realm of the imagination. The imagination of a child is autonomous, without responsibility, whereas the imagination of the artist is charged with all the meaning of life. In the heart of this being we have been calling clown or vouyou or wanderer, his imagination exists thanks to an immense courage. The courage of his imagination is the temporal and spiritual measurement of every artist. (Fowlie, p123) See also pp. 36-48 on “The Myth of Childhood” Jung Adonis? Hyacinth? The Divine Child Dead Poet’s Society – young death Morrison, Rimbaud, and Professor Fowlie – Le Myth de Rimbaud and Le Myth de Morrison Oliver Stone – tell small lies in order to reveal larger truths/Eddie and the Cruisers St. John of the Cross – “”Knowledge of pure truth requires, for its proper explanation, that God should hold the hand and wield the pen of the writer. (Paulsen , 5)

The Lords of Rock and Euhemerism “Generations to come, it may be, will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.” (Einstein on Gandhi) “The King is gone but he’s not forgotten…” (Neil Young)

Today we use the term “cult of personality” for the following which a charismatic leader or artist attracts, particularly after their untimely death. It used to be that just the term cultus (a Latin word meaning “adoration”) was used, as before the dawn of the Enlightenment and our secular age, such great figures were more easily apotheosized and worshipped in an actual cult. Not so anymore. I suspect that not many people today worship Martin Luther King or even Elvis (though the latter does have something of a cult following – see above). Yet in parts of the world where secularism and/or Christianity has not widely spread, such as India, it is more likely that someone like Gandhi will be deified and actually revered and adored as a Mahatma, a great soul and incarnation of Vishnu, the Preserver. This is in accordance with Hindu tradition, of course, as any great master (political or spiritual) can and usually is accorded divine status, if not in their lifetimes, then afterwards (and as Einstein’s eulogy above suggests, the further we get from the actual human being, the more room for the “myth” to grow). Some have argued that Rama was a king during his lifetime, a political leader like Gandhi, and only after his death did he become Sri or Lord Rama, the avatar of Vishnu who today is paid obeisance in millions of Indian households; so too with Sri/Lord Krishna. Which brings me to the theory of myth known as Euhemerism. Euhemeris was a Greek historian who wrote a book around 400 B.C. in which he claimed that the gods were originally earthly kings who had been deified either during their lifetimes or afterward. The idea that a king would be considered a god is well known; in fact, it seems that most if not all of the kings of the ancient world were accorded divine attributes, if not divine status. The Egyptian Pharaohs are a typical example. Another more pertinent one is Alexander the Great, who was apparently considered to be an incarnation of Helios, the sun god (Morrison at first modeled his hair style after that of Alexander, thereby intimating that he was imitating more than that). And let’s not forget that Jesus was called King, too. So was Elvis…and Morrison. Elvis was the “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” a title that was bestowed upon him quite early in his career – 1957. Frank Sinatra may have wanted to be “King of the Hill, top of the heap,” but it was a pipe dream; Elvis was King. And a decade later, when the Beatles and the Stones were all the rave and Elvis’ career seemed in a settled slump, Elvis doggedly re-ascended the crest of the Mount in his famous 1968 “comeback concert” from Hawaii which was broadcast to millions. Not long after Phil Ochs recorded the song “Ticket Home” in which he paid obeisance to His Highness: “Elvis Presley is the King!/ I was at his crowning,” Ochs sang, leading one to wonder whether he meant his original crowning in ’57, or his “Return of the King” crowning in ’68? The timing of the Ochs’ recording strongly suggests the latter. In “Ticket Home,” Ochs also sings the line “Everywhere you look, there’s a billboard on a throne,” a reference to the recent record company advertising scheme of displaying pictures of rock stars on billboards. Interestingly enough, the Doors were the very first group in rock history to have their images looming larger-than-life over a booming metropolis (in this case, L.A.’s Sunset Strip). And what an image it was! As Dalton puts it, Morrison looks like an “Angelino Shiva” with the other Doors all looking at him as if that is exactly who he is. In other words, the Doors were the first rock gods, or hell, at least lords. Ochs was correctly suggesting that rock stars were suddenly being treated like royalty (which of course meant more royalties for them and their record companies), and the effect on the popular consciousness was most likely immense – they were seen as Lords. People were saying “Clapton is God”; John Lennon could

claim, with not a great deal of facetiousness, that the Beatles were “bigger than Jesus.” I should note that Ochs, an older and wiser veteran of the Greenwich Village scene of the early Sixties, personally thought that Morrison and the Doors were small potatoes – he for one did not worship or even celebrate their arrival on the scene, as he had Elvis’. Yet it wasn’t long before Morrison, like Elvis, was ironically dubbed “The King,” though his full title was “The King of Orgasmic Rock.” Partly this moniker originated from Morrison’s referring to himself as “The Lizard King,” and partly because of his purposefully taking the role of a sex symbol. Yet even earlier, as we have seen, Morrison saw himself as a Morrison Rex; relatively early he had become convinced that he was different, somehow special. An art professor once remarked that Morrison sang as if Edgar Allan Poe had blown back as a hippie. The image is not inapt. Poe had wrote of himself: From childhood’s hour I have not been as others were I have not seen as others saw I could not bring my passions from a common spring Now we can ask: If Elvis was King of Rock and Roll, and Morrison was the King of Orgasmic Rock , and Joan Baez was the Queen of Folk, and Michael Jackson is the King of Pop, and so on, we may reasonably wonder: So what? Why do people feel the need to dub or proclaim an artist as a King or Queen of anything? And why is there no King or Queen of, say, painting, or filmmaking, or poetry, or theater? Why should popular music icons be different than other artists? It seems to me that music can the most profoundly inspire a kind of religious fervor, offering as it does intimations of immortality (to use Wordsworth’s phrase); I think that Morrison was well-aware of the religio-mythopoeic implications of rock music, and its great potential for mass transformation. At the end of The Lords, you define the Lords as the people that are controlling art. Did I understand that right? Strangely enough, that’s what I meant. Not controlling art necessarily. What that book is a lot about is the feeling of powerlessness and helplessness that people have in the face of reality. They have no control over events or their own lives. Something is controlling them. The closest they ever get is the television set. In creating this idea of the Lords, it also came to reverse itself. Now to me the Lords mean something entirely different. I couldn’t really explain. It’s like the opposite. Somehow 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. Is there a particular person you could think of…? No, it’s not about any particular person. Oh no?

Euhemerism II: A Recent Case from India He must be a God, otherwise how could he touch so many lives? ******************************** Recently I attended a South Indian language conference held a the Philadelphia Convention Center where someone was giving out copies of an Englishlanguage newspaper printed in India called the “India Tribune” (dated July 30, 2001). Reading through the newspaper I came across an article entitled “Bachchan Puja on Guru Purnima,” and prepared myself for something on the annual Indian festival, Gurupurnima, which celebrates the guru (only a week away -- July 5th). I knew the Sanskrit work “puja” means “worship,” but I didn’t know who or what “Bachchan” was. Then I looked at the photo in the midst of the text and saw a youngish, clean-shaven man dressed in like a designer sweater of some sort with the caption “Amitabh Bachchan” underneath. Apparently, this was the man who was to be worshipped or puja-ed to. But he does not look like a guru, I thought – where is his long beard and saffron robe? And he’s kind of got a tough-guy look on his face. Then I began reading: A new celestial power to be worshipped this year: Kalyug’s Narayan Avtaar, better known as Amitabh Bachchan. Oh, this is saying that Amitabh Bachchan is an incarnation of Vishnu (Narayan), I thought. So he is a guru, after all; nay, even more than that – He is God Himself. Then the article began to discuss how this Avatar would be worshipped: “We will worship our devta [God] in the way of a traditional Satyanarayan Puja. In the evening, when Guru Purnima sets in, we will hold Aradhana,” says association secretary S; P. Kmata. Prasad The article goes on to say that the poor and under-priveleged would be fed, blood donated to sick children, etc., also in accordance with Hindu custom. But then I read the following: From September 28 to 30, the Calcutta Information Center will host the “Journey of a Legend” exhibition, with pictures and information for “crazed fans” who want to find out all they can about their guru. Essay, drawing and photography competitions will also be organized. Okay, I thought, religious people may oftentimes be “fanatics,” but seldom are they called “fans”; nor are gods or gurus ever referred to as a “legend” – this guy must be a famous Bollywood film star whom I’ve never heard of because I’m not a big Bollywood buff. The last paragraph of the article was the kicker: To top it all, the association is hunting for a plot in the Dum Dum area to erect a permanent temple-museum to their hero. “We will have a complete collection of all his films. But the main attraction will be a statue of guruji. Anyone entering has to either read or listen to his endearing film lines, like a prayer… He must be God, otherwise how could he touch so many lives?” [bold mine] The Bollywood film star as God. Why not? If one were to compare the adoration that the Indian movie stars and starlets versus that which are given to the traditional gods and gurus, I would bet it’s a pretty close contest. In a country of a billion people and one as tolerant of different paths as India, you are bound to see many different ways of approaching God. The question is: What is the difference between what we just saw in the article about Bachchan and the kind of adoration and glorification of movie and rock stars in the West? On the one hand, when we consider the case of Elvis and the quasireligious cult surrounding him, it is hard to make a hard and fast distinction.

The cases seem very similar. On the other hand, Jim Morrison is not worshipped in the same way (to the best of my knowledge) and I doubt we will see poor people fed and children cared for in his name any time soon. Nevertheless, we do have the case of Elvis, and there are groups who do charitable work in his name (in addition to worshipping him in a religious way). Elvis may be an anomaly, but I would suggest that were it not for the ingrained taboo against worshipping a human being as God (anyone except Jesus) in the Christian West, in addition to a relatively greater intolerance toward other paths than we see in India, our media superstars would be worshipped in a very similar way to how they are in India. And I would suggest the inner feeling of fascinans is probably very similar crossculturally, even though the outer expression of that feeling may take different forms. This, to me, is a modern form of Euhemerism where Media stars, not kings, are the new Gods. Only today, the mega-stars are already considered Gods before they pass on, whereas according to Euhemerism, it took some time before kings became divinized. Of course, the Egyptian Pharaohs were worshipped as divine manifestations during their rule, so it may be that the ancient and modern situation is somewhat parallel.

Euhemerism in the New Millennium – Superstar Paraphernalia and Using ‘God’ as a “Secular Superlative” As a kid growing up in America, if you have your own room or even if you don’t, it’s not uncommon to have some kind of superstar paraphernalia adorning your room, particularly its walls. I am referring here mainly to the posters of your favorite heroes, whether they be sport, music, film, or otherwise, but mainly those three. Very seldomly in a kid’s room will you find actions shots of the “old old school” heroes like Moses, Jesus, Charleton Heston, Guru Nanak; but rather the heroes of the day: Michael Jordan, David Beckham, John Lennon, etc. In Europe things seem to be not much different. The movie “Bend it Like Beckham” is a case in point. This heartwarming, feel-good flick tells the story of a young Sikh girl in England whose dream it is to play soccer. Her hero is David Beckham and she has a poster of him right above her bed. Meanwhile, downstairs in the family room is a painting of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, Using ‘God’ as Secular Superlative Doesn’t Sit Well With Everyone “Seen God lately? Look closer at the signs in the stands or the beer in your hand. According to some, he’s everywhere. Fans of European soccer star David Beckham show their appreciation by filling the Internet with “Becks is God” posts. Some replica jerseys have replaced the name “Beckham” on the back with “God.” St. Louis Cardinals phenom Albert Pujols has been praised with an “Albert is God” sign at the ballpark. A check of recent news stories finds similar references to Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong, with “Lance is God” signs held aloft along the race route; a connoisseur who described a particular Belgian beer as “God in a bottle;” and an article from South Africa in which Nelson Mandela is referred to by a supporter as “the second Jesus.” People are even talking about God’s TV habits. Recently, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell referred to the digital recorder TiVo as “God’s machine.” Even though it’s becoming more and more popular, using the word “God” as a superlative doesn’t sit well with everyone. “It’s not something to play around with,” said Dr. Russell Bush, academic vice president at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest. “I think the name ought to be recognized with reverence.” It’s not an entirely new phenomenon, as guitar hero Eric Clapton was treated to “Clapton is God” graffiti earlier in his career. But it’s one that seems to be growing. Bush doesn’t believe fans with signs are using them to make a literal point that Beckham is God. They’re only showing their support, as in “Beckham is No. 1,” but it could have been done in a different way. “I just think it’s a poor choice, but I don’t get emotionally offended by it. There are other ways they could have made the same point that would have been just as good,” he said. The increasing use of God in this way isn’t a sign that the culture as a whole is leaning away from God, said Kristin L. Fitch, an associate professor a the University of Iowa. Fitch works in the Department of Communication Studies, researching the way language helps to from culture. “If anything, U.S. culture is leaning more toward organized religion,” she said. “Fundamentalism is stronger than it has ever been.” Perhaps, Fitch theorizes, the increasing use of the word God like this on signs and in conversation is a form of subtle resistance to the increasing fundamentalism. “It’s intriguing,” she said. “The only kind of people who would say this are the ones who are not even partly religious. If you took God at all seriously, you wouldn’t put David Beckham or TiVo on that plane.”

Bush agreed. “Most church people probably don’t like the name of God being used in such a superficial way,” he said. While respecting someone else’s opinion to express their feelings, Bush wonders why people would risk offending believers with their signs and shirts. “Not everybody has to think the same way I do, but I think they should revere the name of God as a common courtesy for those of us who believe,” Bush said. “The Bible says we shouldn’t take God’s name in vain. People should be cautious about using the name of God for something that’s purely secular.” As for David Beckham, who has gained worldwide acclaim for his bendable penalty kicks and his marriage to a Spice girl, the image of him as God-like seems a bit unreasonable to some who know a little something about soccer. Carolina Courage defender Danielle Slaton doesn’t believe that “Becks is God.” He might not even be the best in the world right now and his image as God is a little baffling. “Is he a great player? Yes. Is he the best player? I don’t know,” said Slaton, an Olympic silver medallist. “I don’t know why he’s so popular. Maybe because he has a good agent.” God, perhaps?

The Function of Myth in a Desacralized World – Eliade and Campbell If God did not exist, man would feel the need to create him. -- Voltaire

People need myth. So claim students of mythology like Mircea Eliade and Joseph Campbell. In his The Sacred and The Profane, Eliade argued that [T]he majority of men “without religion” still hold to pseudo religions and degenerated mythologies. There is nothing surprising in this, for, as we saw, profane man is the descendant of homo religiosus and he cannot wipe out his own history – that is, the behavior of his religious ancestors which has made him what he is today. This is all the more true because a great part of his existence is fed by impulses that come to him from the depths of his being, from the zone that has been called the “unconscious.” A purely rational man is an abstraction; he is never found in real life… Eliade wrote the above in the mid-fifties, just as rock and roll was breaking through into the collective consciousness. I am not aware if Eliade said anything about the mythological aspects of rock music, but from the above he perhaps would have used the terms “pseudo religion” and “degenerated mythology” to refer to almost cult-like atmosphere surrounding rock stars. As I have shown elsewhere in this paper, there are no mean similarities between the cult of Jesus and the cult of Elvis (or the cult of Krishna). Watch the footage of the young girls (and boys) at the early Beatles concerts screaming hysterically and tearing their hair and the comparison with religious ecstasy seems unmistakable. Those girls may not have been religious in the conventional sense, but that they were acting religiously in that context, the stadium their church and the four mop tops the clergymen, is (to my mind at least) beyond question. Think of the other degenerated or “profane” myths that we seculars enjoy without thinking of them as myths: football games (which Morrison enjoyed), the Star Wars saga (Campbell mentions this in The Hero with a Thousand Faces), our nuclear capacity, and modern space exploration. As for the latter, we hardly think twice anymore when the latest shuttle mission to Mars or wherever is announced by the media. But is this any more or less remarkable than when we read in the Hindu epics that they had flying machines that could fly from world to world, or which they made and used weapons of mass destruction? On this point, the rock band R.E.M. have an interesting song called “Man on the Moon” which asks the musical question: Is putting a man on the moon any more or less incredible that Moses’ miracles, or the “myth” of Newton’s discovery of the law of gravity by getting beamed by an apple? Indeed, for years it was believed (and is still believed by some) that the whole moon expedition was a hoax put over on the American people (and the world) by the government. Which is harder to believe? But if all this is so, what function do these modern myths serve? What good does it do anyone to believe that Elvis or the Beatles or Jim Morrison are immortals (Lords?) walking the earth? Why the hysteria and often fanatical devotion? To say charisma would be to facilely answer a complex question. For just what is charisma, where does it come from, why does it exert such a powerful effect over people, particularly the young and impressionable? My own understanding of this is that most people need someone or something to inspire them to evolve into a higher level of awareness -- “to deliver people from the limited ways in which they see and feel,” as Morrison put it. Jim Morrison was definitely about waking people up, often by shaking them up. He was consciously playing the part of the gadfly, no less than Socrates or Jesus was. This was their mission, and their charisma helped them to get the attention of the populace in their respective generations. For purposes of brevity here, I feel constrained to leave the development of this idea (by no means new) for a later time. But before I close, I want to leave you with Morrison’s thoughts on the

function of the Woodstock festival on his generation, from an interview conducted in 1970. On the one hand he agrees with his interviewer that Woodstock and similar festivals of its kind are not all that they are hyped (read: mythologized) to be, but on the other hand “the Woodstock myth,” if you will, could have a salutary effect on the culture: I’m sure that these things get highly romanticized but I was kind of that opinion myself when I saw the film. It seemed like a bunch of young parasites, being kind of spoonfed this three or four days of…I think that even though they are a mess, and even though they are not what they pretend to be, some free celebration of a young culture, it’s still better than nothing. And I’m sure that some of the people take away a kind of myth back to the city with them, and it’ll affect them.

This is the End, Beautiful Friend I’m Me! Can you dig it. My meat is real. My hands – how they move Balanced like lithe demons My hair – so twined and writhing The skin of my face – pinch the cheeks My flaming sword tongue Spraying verbal fire-flys I’m real. I’m human But I’m not an ordinary man No No No When I presented some of these ideas in my class on mythology, one criticism that was thrown my way was so what, there are a lot of men with “messiah complexes” out there. Why should we spend so much time looking at some rebel rock stars that were arrogant enough to put themselves on the same footing as Jesus or Jehovah? Another criticism was that I should have stuck to less “ephemeral” examples, like John Lennon’s claiming that the Beatles were bigger than Jesus. But is Elvis an ephemeral example? And is Jim Morrison going to go away any time soon? Their legend is anything if not growing by the day. Sure they may have been a bit megalomaniacal, but they were at least partly responding to the excessive adulation – adulation that bordered on idolization (and often crossed that border) -- they received. People did not see them as ordinary men, and thus their self-image grew to epic proportions. They knew they were human beings, of course – they felt pain, cried, loved, laughed, passed wind and had bowel movements (to the best of my knowledge)…just like other human beings. But they also came to see themselves, if not fully divine as well, then at least divine messengers sent to help suffering humanity evolve to a higher level of consciousness. And even if their fan base had not been so large, or even if it had been non-existent, they would still make a fascinating study. As I responded to my critic in class, I think anyone with a messiah complex is an interesting subject, but rock superstars are even more interesting for the great influence they exert on society -- even among those who don’t take them very seriously. I should also add that not all of these rock stars had messiah complexes, and yet they were still considered divine incarnations of a sort. Though Dalton refers to Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin as a trinity of “Psychedelic Avatars,” as far as I am aware, only Morrison openly welcomed and even prompted such talk. Avatar or not, to me Jim Morrison was a prophet-poet, in the same lineage as the Vedic rishis and Biblical prophets, Muhammad, Moshe de Leon, William Blake, Walt Whitman, etc. That is, he like those others, had certain visions that he felt compelled to share with his fellow human beings. He may have failed to completely and convincingly relate his visionary experiences, but then what mystic ever has? William James noted that one characteristic of mystical experience is its ineffability (connected to its paradoxical nature). Robert Frost once said that “half the world is composed of people who have something to say and can’t, and the other half who have nothing to say and keep on saying it.” Morrison was one of those who had what to say, and though he certainly could and did express in verse his mystical revelations, it was perhaps not to the extent he would have wished: Regret for wasted nights & wasted years I pissed it all away American music

One’s deeper, more subtle epiphanies are hard to get across. Morrison’s “mythic concert” that I discussed earlier never made it out from the recesses of his memory; it seems he left us a pale imitation of that experience. It is almost as if he felt compelled to construct a myth of his own because he could not adequately express the one that was revealed to him. In any case, that is a long way of my suggesting that much of mythology stems from the poet-prophet’s visionary experience. Yet maybe Morrison was more than that, I don’t know. Maybe he was a divine descent – an incarnation of Shiva, or Dionysus. And just maybe he really was part of a trinity with Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. All three died within nine months of each other of a drug overdose (when Morrison heard the other two had died, he began telling his friends, “I’m number three), and the first name of all three began with a “J”(!) But there’s another mythic possibility which I want to raise before closing: Some are of the view that many of the rock and roll groups that achieved superstardom in the Sixties had made Faustian pacts with the devil in order to reach the peak they did, and this is itself is an old blues motif (listen to Robert Johnson, or see Brother, Where Art Thou?). And once Satan had fulfilled his side of the bargain, they in turn had to give the devil his due, usually in the form of a blood sacrifice – one of the band members had to die. Perhaps the classic example is Led Zeppelin, who were widely believed for a time to have been dabbling in Satanism, and who in the seventies lost their beloved drummer. But it seems that every “Supergroup” of that period lost one of their members: The Who (Keith Moon), Led Zeppelin (John Bonham), the Rolling Stones (Brian Jones), the Doors (Morrison), the Beatles (John Lennon), Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Freddie Mercury, etc. In other words, far from being gods and goddesses, these were just young kids who proverbially “sold their souls” to the devil to get rich and famous. Or so think those of more fundamentalist bent, but even some rock fans as well. Rock and roll as the agent of Satan? Not improbable. There may be something to it. Mick Jagger and his Rolling Stones were the Sixties band to play this the most to the hilt (AC DC were their heirs), but Morrison also explored the possibility: Me and the Devil – Gonna take you on a long and evil ride [Robert Johnson] It’s possible, of course. But in the final analysis it’s just another “reading.” And why is it any more probable than Morrison’s own mythic explanation of how he got where he did? It’s not, of course. Obviously there can be multiple explanatory myths for a given phenomenon. For example, the world exists, but every culture has its own cosmogonic myth or myths explaining the origins of the universe and our place in it. So too, Jim Morrison was a phenomenon; however one chooses to explain that phenomenon, he was still a phenomenon, and thus mythworthy. Whether a god, a devil (or the devil’s servant), an angel, a prophetpoet, or just very gifted individual who was skilled at media manipulation, Jim Morrison makes for a very fascinating study from the perspective of mythology.

Dead Poet’s Society The poet makes himself a visionary by a long derangement of all the senses. Rimbaud The ancient tradition that world will be consumed in fire at the end of six thousand years is true. As I have heard from Hell. For the cherub with his flaming sword is hereby commanded to leave his guard at the the of life, and when he does, the whole creation will be consumed, and appear infinite. And holy --

whereas it now appears finite & corrupt. 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; this I shall do, by printing in the infernal method, by corrosives, which in Hell are salutary and medicinal, 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, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern. - William Blake (1793) John Keats, 26. John Milton? Arthur Rimbaud, French symbolist poet, 37. Plath, Kurt Cobain, Phil Ochs, Richard Farina, Nick Drake Sylvia

Whitman – “An essay by a young playwright, Harvey Perr, appearing in the Los Angeles Free Press was a new appreciation of the Doors. Perr wrote of the simplicity of the songs. He was one of the first critics to speak of Jim as authentic poet in the Walt Whitman tradition in American poetry.” (88)

I dwell in Possibility – A fairer House than Prose – More numerous of Windows – Superior – for Doors – Emily Dickinson Not all poets have died young, of course, nor all rock stars. Why Jim Morrison and not Bob Dylan or Neil Young? Why Rimbaud and not Whitman or Ginsberg? On the whole, it seems the more rebellious ones died young. Too fast to live, too young to die. Jim Croce “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd gives his life for the sheep…I lay down my life for the sheep.” (John 10:11, 15) Hermes as the Good Shepherd Fowlie – “Art gives charm and beauty to terrible things. That is its power and its glory. It is hard for us to accept the truth that art is doom – a harsh doom for the artist who survives in his art but not as a living human being. The absoluteness of this destiny is apparent in John Keats and John Milton, as well as in the far more simple example of a rock singer who helped to compose the lyrics and the music of his songs.” (103) Morrison, Rimbaud, and Professor Fowlie “Their numbers do not at all equal those of the pilgrims who visit Jim Morrison’s grave in Paris. But the pilgrimage to Charleville may last longer than the pilgrimage to Paris.” (9) “Compared with the poetry of Villon and Rimbaud, Morrison’s work appears as a

reflection of great poetry.

But the reflection is obsessive and subtle…” (123)

some mistakes – Fowlie says that critics look on the last album as the weakest of the six original albums, though not sure where he got this

Professor Morrison’s Lollipop Shop

Appendix A The Gospel According to James D. Morrison 1) Indians scattered on dawn’s highway bleeding Ghosts crowd a young child’s fragile, eggshell mind Me and my, uh, mother and father and my grandmother and grandfather, were driving through the desert at dawn, and a truckload of Indian workers had either hit another car -- or I don’t know what happened. But there were Indians scattered all over the highway, bleeding to death. So the car pulls up and stops. That was the first time I tasted fear. I must have been about four. Like a child is like a flower -- it’s head is just floating in the breeze, man. The reaction I get now, thinking about it, looking back, is that the souls of the ghosts of those dead Indians, maybe one or two of them, were just running around, freaking out, and just leaped into my soul…a they’re still there. Peace Frog/Leap Frog ************* 2) In that year there was An intense visitation Of energy. I left school & went down To the beach to live. I slept on a roof. At night the moon became A woman’s face I met the Spirit of Music. (poem: In That Year) 3) “…I heard in my head a whole concert situation, with a band singing and an audience – a large audience. Those first five or six songs I wrote, I was just taking notes at a fantastic rock concert that was going on inside my head…I just started hearing songs. I think I still have the notebook with those songs written in it. This kind of mythic concert that I heard…I’d like to try to reproduce it sometime, either in actuality or on record. I’d like to reproduce what I heard on the beach that day.” (Lizard King, p. 219) *********************************************************** 4) “I’m interested in anything about revolt, disorder, chaos, especially activity that appears to have no meaning. It seems to me to be the road toward freedom.” (publicity statement for Doors first album) ************************************* 5) “Let’s just say I was testing the bounds of reality. I was curious to see what would happen. That’s all it was: curiosity.” *************************************** 6) “They claim everyone was born, but I don’t recall it. Maybe I was having one of my blackouts.” ************************************** 7) “Whoever controls the media controls the mind.” *************************************** 8) “Call us erotic politicians.” ***************************************** 9) “I think that more than writing and music, my greatest talent is that I have an instinctive knack of self-image propagation…” ********************************************************************* 10) “He sought exposure and lived the horror of trying to assemble a myth before a billion dull dry ruthless eyes.” (Morrison in Eye; in Riordan and Prochnicky, p. 273) ********************************* 11) I was doing time in the Universal Mind I was turning keys I was setting people free

I’m the Freedom Man That’s just how lucky I am ********************************************************************** 12) Do you know the warm progress under the stars? Do you know we exist? Have you forgotten the keys to the Kingdom? Have you been borne yet & are you alive? 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] ************ 13) Once I had, a little game I liked to crawl, back in my brain I think you know, the game I mean I mean the game, called ‘go insane’ Now you should try, this little game Just close your eyes, forget your name Forget the world, forget the people And we’ll erect a different steeple. This little game, is fun to do. Just close your eyes, no way to lose. And I’m right there, I’m going too Release control, we’re breaking Thru ************* 14) I am the Lizard King I can do anything I can make the earth stop in its tracks I made the blue cars go away. ************* 15) We need great golden copulations ************* 16) Oedipus Rex According to JDM The killer awoke before dawn, He put his boots on. He took a face from the ancient gallery, And he walked on down the hall. He went into the room Where his sister lived and, Then he Paid a visit to his brother, And then he, He walked on down the hall. And he came to a door, And he looked inside, “Father?” “Yes, son?” “I want to kill you.

Mother, I want to…” ************* 17) Did you know freedom exists in a school book ************* 18) We have assembled inside this ancient & insane theater To propagate our lust for life ************* 19) Always a playground instructor, never a killer ************* 20) The Negroes in the forest brightly feathered And they are saying, forget the night Come live with us in forests of azure Out here on the perimeter there are no stars Out here we is stoned, immaculate ************** 21) Mr. Mojo Risin’ Got to keep on risin’ Risin’ risin’! (Jim Morrison = Mr. Mojo Risin’) ************* 22) This is the End Beautiful friend This is the End My only friend, the End When the music’s over Turns out the lights For the music is your special friend Dance on fire as it intends Music is your only friend Until the end And I’ll say it again I need a brand new friend The End 23) Did you have a good world when you died – enough to base a movie on? ************************* 24) resident mockery give us an hour for magic ************** 25) O great creator of being Grant us one more hour to perform our art & perfect our lives

Appendix B Remember When We Were in Africa? The LA Woman Phenomenon (unfinished) Before I had read much about the Doors and the making of their records, etc., I was convinced that Morrison and the other Doors had planned LA Woman as their swansong. It almost seemed as if both Morrison and the band knew that this was Morrison and the band’s final fling together, and soon their beloved band/ring leader would be gone for good. There are just too many hints to Jim’s grand unraveling, and even a sense that he was on his way to Africa. Like I said, it almost seemed as if he and the band were conspiring together and leaving some clues here and there on the last record. The album is a blues record disguised as a rock and roll album. While only half of the ten songs are pure blues, almost all of the other songs are based on a blues progression of sorts. For instance, Riders on the Storm and Love Her Madly use a blues progression and incorporates jazz elements (it is not that Bo Diddley covers the latter song on Stoned Immaculate); Hyacinth House repeats the first line of each verse twice as per the blues; even LA Woman, for all its jazzinspired elements has Morrison sounding like an old blues master. All of this is not so strange as the Doors, like so many of the rock artists in the sixties, had been heavily influenced by African-American music. But even more than this, the Doors had been planning to do a blues album, and Morrison apparently didn’t want to do anything but blues at that point. Already on the Doors record prior to this one, Morrison Hotel, for which Morrison wrote most of the lyrics and the music, one can detect a movement toward the blues; the record ends with “Maggie M’gill,” a blues number which ends with Morrison singing: I’m an old blues man And I think that you understand I’ve been singing the blues Ever since the world began Now it hardly needs saying that the blues was brought to this country by the slaves who were inhumanly taken from their homes in Africa. Morrison knew this and probably thought of Africa as not only the birthplace of the blues, but of humanity. Some early indications of his thinking include the enigmatic line at the end of “Wild Child” (on the Soft Parade) in which Morrison says, “Remember When We Were in Africa?” This one sentence does as much for the Morrison mythology as that other famous spoken line, “I am the Lizard King, I can do anything” at the end of “Not to Touch the Earth” (part of “Celebration of the Lizard” on Absolutely Live). The line about Africa now only fuels the fire of those who want to believe that Morrison somehow escaped death and stardom and is now living somewhere on that continent. There are some who don’t make so much of the “Remember when we were in Africa?” line. Linda Ashcroft, who is the daughter of Morrocan immigrants, says that the song “Wild Child” was based on a poem that Jim had written for her and that when asked about the line at the end, Jim apparently told her that he was referring not to our collective human origins (the Leakeys), but much more narrowly to some pictures of Ashcroft’s North African family that she had shown Morrison. But if Morrison really said this, it seems to me that must have been up to his old trickster self. No doubt the line also referred to the time spent looking at the pictures with Ashcroft, but it seems highly unlikely that Morrison was not also referring to our “wild,” primitive origins. And for that matter, “Wild Child” is not just about Ashcroft -- it is far more archetypal than that, both of the sixties Flower Child and of the divine Dionysian ecstatic child of the forest, screaming wild.

Morrison revisits the Africa theme on the last album, both implicitly (by singing the blues like an old master) and explicitly on a fascinatingly beautiful partly spoken-word blues, The WASP (Texas Radio and the Big Beat). The song gives many indications that Morrison was deeply longing for an end to stardom and a final release into that pure land of light and bliss that Africa symbolized: The negroes in the forest, brightly feathered And they are saying, forget the night Come live with us in forests of azure Out here on the perimeter there are no stars Out here we is stoned, immaculate The song is also a fond and touching farewell to his friends, the other three Doors (as well as his other close friends, no doubt): I love the friends I have gathered together on this thin raft We have built pyramids in honor of our escaping. Pyramids, indeed. If you will bear with this exegesis, it is not only Morrison who is escaping, it is his friends, the other Doors, and whoever else cares to come along. But it is a thin raft – not too many people will follow: But you’ll never follow me From where are they escaping? America, which is Egypt -- the biblical House of Bondage: This is the land where the pharaohs died Whither are they headed? Down South, to Africa proper:

Wow, I’m sick of doubt Live in the light of certain South *** He went down south and crossed the border left the chaos and disorder back there over his shoulder If Egypt stands for America, Africa is thus also Latin America (L’America), a symbol of freedom (especially in the sixties, where hippies fled to escape the law – listen to “Hey Joe”). But Morrison isn’t only talking about escaping from the American Dream, he is talking about the death of what he calls the “Western Dream” of freedom and progress: I’ll tell you this… No eternal reward will forgive us now For wasting the dawn As I mentioned, “The WASP” is only the most explicit expression of Morrison’s longing to get “Back to Africa.” In fact, from the very first song, “The Changeling,” a hard-driving, blues-inspired rant which has Morrison grunting and screaming as good as James Brown, Morrison begins to reveal his personal “End Time” mythology, telling us he’s about to bust out and get loose (he used the blues format to tell us he had to “rock ‘n’ roll”): I live uptown I live downtown I live all around

I had money I had none I had money I had none But I never been so broke that I couldn’t leave town I’m a changeling See me change The song could mean a lot of things. One interpretation that I would suggest is that Morrison is saying he is free -- he is not bound by money or by conventional societal stratification or success -- and thus he can change at will. But money in particular seems to have been for him the epitome of all that was antithetical to freedom and change, and being free desire for money meant freeing the soul: I want to tell you people about something I know – Money beats soul every time, come on! He’d been “broken” to a certain degree by a system which values money (and stardom and power) over “soul,” but in “The Changeling” he is declaring that he’s not completely broke and can get out when the time comes. And the time had come. The song ends with Morrison somewhat eerily chanting: I’m leaving town On a midnight train Gonna see me change Change, Change, Chaaaange! According to conventional standards, Morrison’s contempt for wealth and power seem inane if not crazy, but again, there was a method to his madness: I am not mad I am interested in freedom In another song on the first side of the album, “Been Down So Long,” which is more of a pure blues, Morrison again sings that it’s time to get up and get away: I been down so goddamn long That it feels like up to me I been down so very damn long That it feels like up to me Why don’t one of you people Come here and set me free? One might say that Morrison wrote the last line with his audience in mind, still thinking that he and the other Doors would perform their new record live (and in fact they did, but only two shows). On the other hand, it could be argued that the fact that the song’s title is taken from that of Richard Farina’s first and only novel, he having died in a motorcycle crash two days after it was published at the age of 3??, is another hint that Morrison was also headed in the same direction. In any case, I think the song gives more indication that Morrison was longing for a change. Another song on the first side with much clearer intent is Hyacinth House. On the first album, The Doors, Morrison had sung: This is the End

Beautiful friend This is the End My only friend, the End On the second album: When the music’s over Turns out the lights… For the music is your special friend Dance on fire as it intends Music is your only friend Until the End On the fourth album, the Soft Parade: Coda Queen Now be my bride Now on the last album: And I’ll say it again I need a brand new friend The End As I noted, Morrison had mentioned to some of his friends that he was going to split L.A. and go live in Africa incognito. In order to pull it off he was going to change his name and he came up with Mr. Mojo Risin’ as a perfect anagram for “Jim Morrison.” In the middle of the title track of “L.A. Woman” Morrison reveals his new alias: Mr. Mojo Risin’ Mr. Mojo Risin’ Got to keep on Risin’ Risin’ Risin’ [also sounds like “ridin’” and “writin’] I think some people fail to see the irony in this, as with many of Jim’s poems and lyrics. If he really was serious about using “Mr. Mojo Risin’” as an alias, would he really be so foolish as to tell the world about it? It seems to me he was just having fun, adding yet another element to his personal mythology, laughing at the people who were eating it up, salt-less. On the other hand, how prophetic this all was! For the three decades since his passing on, Morrison has certainly kept on risin’, both literally (all of the Morrison sightings, etc.) and figuratively in the minds and hearts of those who attentively listen to the Doors music and read the vast and growing literature on the band. Morrison sang “Cancel my subscription to the Resurrection,” but there appear to be many out there (including myself) who haven’t cancelled their’s. Riders on the Storm – most likely from Hart Crane’s poem “Praise For An Urn” – “Delicate riders of the storm” (see Fowlie, p. 91) “Our life will never end” I’ve been singin’ the blues ever since the world began

I’m the freedom man That’s just how lucky I am I am not mad I am interested in freedom

He doesn’t have to be a rock star,

If they say I never loved you You know they are a liar “just another dark witness” Mr. Mojo Risin’

L’America Latin America = Africa America = Egypt, the place of bondage to the iron maiden, the Iron World

the cosmic movie – eternal recurrence cobra on my left, leopard on my right! The monk ate lunch (he ate lunch – yes he did) please, listen to me children – suffer the little children to come to me

Appendix C Legends of the Lizard King (unfinished) 1) Jerry Hopkins, co-author of No One Here Gets Out Alive with Danny Sugerman, later wrote: “We heard incredible stories about his catching dragon flies on the wing in his mouth and eating them, and sticking pins into the pupils of his eyes. ‘I am the Lizard King,’ he said. ‘I can do anything!’ We believed it and he came to believe it, too, for a while.” (Lizard King, 12) 2) Hopkins – “Everyone is entitled to his or her ‘take’ on Jim’s life. More than anyone else I’ve known or met, Jim was like the elephant described by a group of blind men; each blind man, grabbing a different piece of the elephant’s anatomy, inevitably described it differently. So if this is what Oliver Stone saw in his mind’s eye, if Oliver wants to fictionalize Jim’s life, and turn him into an Indian shaman, why not? Because Jim did the same thing. I just think that Oliver made a bigger deal of it than Jim ever did. (199) 3) Grace Slick: “...On the first day in Holland, the two groups [the Airplane and the Doors] had gone on a loose trip to a downtown area. We’d been told there were a lot of head shops and interesting things we couldn’t get in the States, and we all wanted to check it out. The kids on the streets of Amsterdam recognized us, so while we were walking around, going in and out of stores, they’d come up and talk, handing us various drugs as gifts of thanks for our music. Most of us just said “Thank you” and put whatever it was in our pockets for later. Jim, on the other hand, stopped, sat down on the curb, and did it right up. Pot, hash, coke, whatever. I thought he was ingesting an overly interesting combination of chemicals for that night’s concert...We all ingested heavily, but Jim was the champ. An all-day, all-night consumption had turned him into a running pinwheel...” (Somebody to Love? pp. 167-168)

Appendix D Lord Jim: A Modern Myth Examined\ [Paper Proposal for Mythos of a Rock Icon] James Douglas Morrison, the late lead singer of the popular sixties rock quartet the Doors, today even more than during his short life has been a favorite subject of mythologians and mythmeisters who have made him out to be no less than a god (like Shiva, Dionysus, Adonis) come down to earth to sport among men. But they can be forgiven, if only because Morrison himself, while he still walked the earth, continued to refine and put forth his personal mythos. In his poetry, music, and the art which was his wild life, he defined who he was (“I am the Lizard King, I can do anything”), and this was picked up by his followers

(particularly after his death) and blown into truly mythic proportions. For who is the Lizard King but Shiva, the Lord of Snakes (of the kundalini energy), and thus today someone is making money off of a t-shirt depicting Morrison as an eight-armed Shiva. The point on which the mythology is most is in regard to the death of the god (at 27): Did he really die? And if so, how? Or did he escape to Africa as he said he would? Etc.

questions: 1) How do myths come about; is there any historical truth to them? Even while he lived, Morrison was larger-than-life, which suggests there is (at least sometimes) a historical grain (or larger) of truth which the the foundation stone of the myth. 2) Do myths require rituals? “Doors’ mythos”? Were the Doors concerts ritual enactments of the

3) Can we apply the study of (post)modern myths to those of ancient times (and vice versa)? 4) To what extent can it be said that Jim Morrison embodied the Trickster, or was “a god” such as Adonis, Dionysus or Shiva (as some have claimed)? 5) What does the myth of “Lord Jim” do for people, and does the myth account for the continued (perhaps even growing) interest in this figure? 6) Does rock music particularly lend itself to mythos (or mythological interpretation), why? 7) To what extent does proximity to the “living legend” lead to a more mundane “reading”?

Bibliography Armstrong, Lance. It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life. Berkeley Books, 2000/2001. New York:

Artaud, Antonin. The Theater and Its Double. ???? Fowlie: “ In Antonin Artaud’s book The Theater and Its Double, Jim had read that each performance should be a risk.” (86) Bangs, Lester. 1987. Barth, Roland. Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung. Mythologies (Annette Lavers, ed.). New York: Vintage Books,

New York: Hill and Wang; 1968? Princeton University Press,

Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. 1949. A book Morrison read.

Cousineau, Phil. Once and Future Myths: The Power of Ancient Stories in Modern Times. Berkeley, California: Conari Press, 2001. A friend on Danny Sugerman. What is interesting is that the brief Borders advert for this book said that it dealt with Jim Morrison, but when I found it I discovered that it really only mentions him briefly. Apparently Borders thought that dropping this particular name would help to sell the book. Dalton, David. Mr. Mojo Risin’: Jim Morrison, The Last Holy Fool. Martin’s, 1991. Davis, Stephen. Hammer of the Gods: The Led Zeppelin Saga. Boulevard Books, 1985. Doe, Andrew and John Tobler. 1991. New York: St.

New York: Berkeley New York: Putnam,

The Doors in the Their Own Words.

Danielou, Alain. Gods of Love and Ecstacy: The Traditions of Shiva and Dionysus. Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions, 1982. Densmore, John. Riders on the Storm: My Life with Jim Morrison and the Doors. New York: Dell Publishing, 1990. Erika, Doss. Kansas, Elvis Culture: Fans, Faith, and Image. Kansas: University Press of New York:

Eliade, Mircea. The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1957.

******Fowlie, Wallace, trans. Rimbaud: Complete Works, Selected Letters. Bilingual edition. University of Chicago Press, 1966. Idem. Rimbaud and Jim Morrison: The Rebel as Poet, A Memoir. Carolina: Duke University Press, 1993. Geller, Larry, and Spector, Joel. Simon and Schuster, 1989. George-Warren, Holly, ed. Durham, North New York:

“If I Can Dream”: Elvis’ Own Story.

R.E.M., The Rolling Stone Files: The Ultimate

Compendium of Interviews, Articles, Facts, and Opinions, from the Files of Rolling Stone. New York: Hyperion, 1995. Guralnick, Peter. Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley. Brown, and Company; 1999. Boston: Little,

Hajdu, David. Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Farina, and Richard Farina. New York: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 2001. Harrison, Ted. Elvis People: The Cult of the King. London: Fount, 1992.

Hope, Jane. The Secret Language of the Soul: A Visual Guide to the Spiritual World. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1997. Use picture of Dionysus astride the leopard on p. 147. Hopkins, Jerry and Sugerman, Danny. Books, 1995. No One Here Gets Out Alive. New York: Warner

_________. The Lizard King: The Essential Jim Morrison. Schuster, 1992. Jones, Dylan. Dark Star.

New York: Simon &

New York: Viking Studio Books, 1990. New York: Penguin Books, 1982.

Kaufmann, Walter, ed. Kazin, Alfred, ed.

The Portable Nietzsche.

The Portable Blake.

New York: The Viking Press, 1968.

Kelly, Karen, and McDonnell, Evelyn. Stars Don’t Stand Still in the Sky: Music and Myth. New York: New York University Press, 1999. Kennealy, Patricia. Strange Days: My Life With and Without Jim Morrison. York: Dutton/Penguin, 1992. Leeming, David, and Page, Jake. Myths, Legends, & Folktales of America: An Anthology. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. Ludwig, Louie. The Gospel of Elvis: The Testament and Apocrypha of the Greater Themes of “The King.” Arlington, Texas: The Summit Publishing Group, 1994.. Manzarek, Ray. Light My Fire: My Life with the Doors. Boulevard Books, 1998. New York: Berkeley New

Moody, Raymond A., Jr., M.D. Elvis After Elvis: Unusual Psychic Experiences Surrounding the Death of a Superstar. New York: Bantam Books, 1987. Morrison, James Douglas. The American Night: The Writings of Jim Morrison, Volume II. New York: Vintage Books, 1990. ___________________. Wilderness: The Lost Writings of Jim Morrison, Volume I. New York: Vintage Books, 1988, Murray A. Henry, ed. Myth and Mythmaking. Boston: Beacon Press, 1960.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Birth of Tragedy and the Case of Wagner (Walter Kaufman, trans.) New York: Vintage Books, 1967. O’Flaherty, Wendy Doniger. Siva, the Erotic Ascetic. Oxford: Oxford University

Press, 1973. Palmer, Robert. Rock & Roll: An Unruly History. New York: Harmony Books, 1995.

Riordan, James, and Prochnicky, Jerry. Break on Through: The Life and Death of Jim Morrison. New York: William Morrow, 1991. Rocco, John, ed.. The Doors Companion: Four Decades of Commentary. Schirmer Books, 1997. *******Ruhlmann, William. Segal, Robert A. Press, 1999. Slick, Grace. Inc., 1998. The Doors. Smithmark Publishers, 1991. Amherst: University of Massachusetts New York: Warner Books New York:

Theorizing About Myth.

Somebody to Love?

A Rock-and-Roll Memoir.

Sugerman, Danny. The Doors: The Illustrated History. Morrow Co., 1983. ------------------. Wonderland Avenue.

New York: William and

Torrance, Robert M. The Spiritual Quest: Transcendence in Myth, Religion, and Science. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994. ********Wasson, H. Gordon. The Sacred Mushroom Seeker Persephone’s Quest. [I looked at NYU’s and Bobst Library and couldn’t get these volumes, which suggest that at least some myths originate from sacred drug trips.] Zahler, Kathy A. and Diane. 1989. Articles Leonard Felder, “Prayer as a Rebellion: What Happens When You Ask God For Help?” Tikkun, July/August, 2003, vol. 18, no. 4, pp. 59-62. ‘I remember listening to FM radio in 1969 when Jim Morrison and the Doors sang angrily and hypnotically, “You cannot petition the Lord with prayer.” In those days you needed to be quite your own person to possess the guts to sit down and converse with God. Time magazine has proclaimed that “God is dead.” Most of my college professors and intellectual mentors were devout atheists. And the state of the world didn’t look like the Creator was still responding to any personal requests for help.’ (p. 59) With all due respect to the author, here is my feeling about this. Two things: First, I don’t think Morrison was really angry, it was mock anger, even funny. You can hear it in his voice. Nor do I think this particular message, delivered by Morrison sans the other Doors, was meant to be hypnotic. But more importantly, the lyrics are not a wholesale rejection of religion per se, but only religion in its institutionalized form, as the next words, beginning with “Can you give me sanctuary” suggest. Morrison was very spiritual; it is reflected everywhere in his life, his poetry, his art (all intertwined). Morrison prayed in his own way. As Patti Smith said of her and Morrison, “we pray screaming,” and that was no doubt one part of it. Alex Ross, “Rock 101: Academia Tunes In,” The New Yorker, July 14 & 21, 2003, pp. 87-93. Test Your Countercultural Literacy. New York: Arco,

Books and websites relating to Jim Morrison and the Doors (which are legion), particularly the writings of Danny Sugerman which deal with the Doors’ and Morrison mythos Jung, “The Psychology of the Child Archetype” (and Kerenyi’s work) Jung and Kerenyi, Essays on a Science of Mythology Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces and Myths to Live By James George Frazer, “The Myth of Adonis,”; “The Ritual of Adonis”; Robert Ackerman, “Writing about Writing about Myth.” Sandra J. Peackock, Jane Ellen Harrison: The Mask and the Self; Claude Levi-Strauss, The Way of the Masks; Rank, Otto, The Myth of the Birth of the Hero and Other Writings; Books on Greek and Hindu mythology

RANDOM NOTES & QUOTES Let’s steal the eye that sees us all Morrison as Shiva/Dionysus “The knowledge of music become an effective means of attaining oness with Lord Shiva; for by the knowledge of music, one attains to a state of absorption and it is by attaining such a state that oneness with Shiva could be obtained…One ought not to indulge, out of delusion, in worldly songs…” (Skanda Purana, Suuta Samhitaa, 4.2.3.114-16) Madonna – Cyberraga Eminem – “God sent me to piss off the world” from “My Name Is” Sugerman starts: I am the Lizard King, I can do anything Chorus: -- You on the streets! -- You on the roads! -- Make way! -- Let every mouth be hushed. Let no ill-omened -- Words profane your tongues. -- Make way! Fall back! -- Hush. -- For now I raise the old, old humn to Dionysus. -- Blessed, blessed are those who know the mysteries of godl. -- Blessed is he who hallows his life in the worship of god, he whom the spirit of god possesseth, who is one with those who belong to the holy body of god. -- Blesed are the dancers and those who are purified, who dance on the hill in the holy dance of god. -- Blessed are they who keep the rite of Cybele the Mother. -- Blessed are the thyrsus-bearers, those who wield in their hands the holy wand of god. -- Blessed are those who wear the crown of the ivy of god. --Blessed, blessed are they: Dionysus is their God! -- Euripides, Bacchae, 68

not Blake: There are things known, and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors.” Blake: “The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.” (“Prudence is a rich ugly old maid courted by Incapacity.” I think of myself as an intelligent, sensitive human with the soul of a clown, which always forces me to blow it at the most important moments.

Los Angeles is a city looking for a ritual to join its fragments, and The Doors are looking for such a ritual also. A kind of electric wedding. We hid ourselves in themusic to reveal ourselves. The only time I really open up is on stage. I feel spiritual up there. Performing gives me a mask, a place to hide myself where I can reveal myself. I see it as more than performing, going on, doing songs, and leaving. I take everything personally, and don’t really feel I’ve done a complete job unless we’ve gotten everyone in the theatre on common ground. Being onstage, being one of the central figures, I can only see it from my own viewpoint, but then I suddenly saw things as they really are, that I am, to a degree, just a puppet, controlled by a lot of forces I understand only vaguely. Let’s just say I was testing the bounds of reality. would happen. That’s all it was: curiosity. They claim everyone was born, but I don’t recall it. blackouts. I was curious to see what Maybe I was having one of my

I think that more than writing and music, my greatest talent is that I have an instinctive knack of self-image propagation…” Shiva –

I am the Lizard King (leathered up) Celebration of the Lizard – “and we’ll erect a different steeple” Danny Sugerman, Wonderland Aghora – Robert Svoboda Poem for Tandy Martin But one/the most beautiful of all/Dances in a ring of fire/And throws off the challenge with a shrug. the sex symbol I like ideas about the breaking way or overthrowing of established order. I am interested in anything about revolt, disorder, chaos, especially activity that seems to have no meaning. It seems to me to be the road towards freedom – external freedom is a way to bring about internal freedom. I always liked reptiles. I used to see the universe as a mammoth snake, and I used to see all the people and objects, landscapes, as little pictures in the facets of their scales. I think peristaltic motion is the basic life movement. Swallowing, digestion, the rhythms of sexual intercourse. We must not forget that the lizard and the snake are identified with the unconscious, with the forces of evil. There’s something deep in the human memory that reacts very strongly with reptiles. Even if you’ve never seen one, the snake embodies everything we fear. Dionysus

Sometimes…I like to think of the history of rock & roll like the origin of Greek drama. That started out on the threshing floors during the crucial seasons, asn was orignally a band of acolytes dnaing and singing. Then, one day, a possessed person jumped out of the crowd and started imitating a god… The Death of the God Though the favorites of the gods die young, They also live eternally in the company of the gods. I wouldn’t mind dying in a plane crash. It’d be a good way to go. I don’t want to die in my sleep, or of old age, or OD… I want to feel what it’s like. I want to taste it, hear it, smell it. Death is only going to happen to you once; I don’t want to miss it.

If all else fails we can whip the horse’s eyes and make it sle The minister’s daughter’s in love with the snake And I can tell you the names of the kingdom/ I can tell you the things that you know I’ll tell you this… No eternal reward will forgive us now For wasting the dawn Let’s reinvent the gods All the myths of the ages, Celebrate symbols from deep, elder forests James Douglas and Walter Whitman Morrison: Devil or angel? Some call it heavenly in its brilliance Others mean and rueful of the Western dream Children The river contains specimens The voices of singing women call us on the far shore And they are saying: Forget the night Live with us in forests of azure

Jerry Hopkins – “Unlike the mythology, the music of the Doors remains a constant – a force which has not been so much an ‘influence in rock, but a monument.” (Lizard King, 218) I was stuck on you Now I’m stuck with you Though I fell in love

With a stick woman I drew Guess I’ll stick around And stick it to you Lionized Peace Frog – Leap Frog – Indians weeping, Indians leaping Rock is dead/cock is dead/God is dead

Alan Lowenschuss Levi-Strauss thoughts Last time I began with something about whether myths are the products of primitive minds (primitive relative to us); that is, minds that are irrational or non-rational (or pre-rational). Recall that I noted that my teacher from India maintains that, on the contrary, the so-called “primitives” (or at least the ancient rishis who composed the Vedas) were far more advanced than we are. LeviStrauss holds more of a middle position, though it is equally surprising. He holds that “the kind of logic which is used by mythical thought is as rigorous as that of modern scence, and that the difference lies not in the quality of the intellectual process, but in the nature of the things to which it is applied…we may be able to show that the same logical processes are put to use in myth as in

science, and that man has always been thinking equally well; the improvement lies not in an alleged progress of man’s conscience, but in the discovery of new things to which it may apply its unchangeable abilities.” (134/444) I would tend to agree with L-S here, though I wonder if he would be willing to go further. Perhaps the mythic mind is superior to the scientific mind? Perhaps the nonrational understanding supercedes that of the rational? The former gives rise to revelation (that of the prophet, the seer, the mythmaker), whereas the latter gives rise to theories which historically have short life-spans. The ancient myths of Greece can and still do speak to us today, whereas the idea that the sun and stars revolve around the earth is part of a defunct paradigJDM Yet a myth that tells why the heavenly bodies revolve around the earth could still be relevant. I’m not giving an answer here, I’m playing with the possibilities. I’m not sure I agree with L-S when he says “we define myth as consisting of all its versions…a myth remains the same as long as it is felt as such” and then goes on to include Freud’s interpretation of the myth as “on a par with earlier or seemingly more “authentic” versions.” (435) Would L-S include his own structural analysis of Oedipus as a legitimate version? Presumably so, but I fail to see how an interpretation of the myth (especially because it is the product of the rational mind, not the mythic consciousness) can be considered yet another version of the myth. Of course, it could be argued that what I will call (to reappropriate L-S’s term) “authentic” alternate versions of a myth are themselves only interepretations of a core story: Oedipus is destined to kill his father and marry his mother, he runs away to escape his fate, but he is unable to do so. So that could be the core story which later gets embellished based upon the time, clime, and personality/agenda of the re-teller of the story. It’s hard to see how Freud fits into this, though perhaps I am misunderstanding L-S. Contrary to what I just said, he maintains that “there is no one true version of which all the others are but copies or distortions. Every version belongs to the myth.” (436) But that begs the question: What is a version? (I should add that Wendy Doniger O’Flaherty adopts L-S’s stance on this issue, including even modern stories about Shiva in her Siva, the Erotic Ascetic; this seems similar to the movement in Judaism today which views contemporary midrash as on par with rabbinic midrash.) That said, I do think L-S’s structural analysis is interesting. I have been taking Talmud classes with Dr. Jeff Rubenstein at New York U. and he has done some very interesting structural analyses of talmudic stories (his book is titled just that – Talmudic Stories), essentially showing that by pinpointing a story’s structure, one can get at the mind of the author or author’s of the story. This is because whoever composed the talmudic stories (or some of them at least) seemed to have intentionally structured them so as to be amenable to structural analysis. Wendy Doniger O-Flaherty also views L-S’s method favorably as she says that “purely structural, Levi-Strauss-inspired analyses of Indian tribal mythology have yielded interesting results…” (Siva, the Erotic Ascetic, p. 15) But something tells me that all the structural analysis in the world will still leave one unsatisfied at the end of the day – there will be still be something missing. Maybe that is where the work of the scientist leaves off, and the work of the mythologian (who goes beyond pure reason alone) begins.

All the biographical material on Morrison quote this figure. I assume it comes from school records, which are easy enough to procure in doing research. I hate to think it is based only on what Morrison told everyone, in which case it would just be more employment for the likes of me. Morrison, Wilderness, p. 119. These latter three suggested primarily by the late Professor Wallace Fowlie (see below). See Dalton, Mr. Mojo Risin’: Jim Morrison, the Last Holy Fool, p. 54. Dalton’s book is the best example yet of a mythic depiction of Morrison, simultaneously ironic and dead serious, and I would not hesitate to suggest that this paper would best be read in conjunction with it (though I am not always in agreement with it). I should also note that it seems to have had some influence on Oliver Stone’s movie about the Doors. See The American Night: The Writings of Jim Morrison, Volume II, pp. 2-3. Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra, 1.22.3. As quoted in Campbell, The Hero With a Thousand Faces, p. 387. The latter was one of the books Jim “studied carefully,” according to Fowlie, Rimbaud and Morrison, p. 6, though I’m not sure what his source was. Mircea Eliade, in his introduction to Eliot, The Universal Myths, p. 14. Lincoln, Theorizing Myth: Narrative, Ideology, and Scholarship, p. 18. Ibid, p.17. Quoted in Rodman, Elvis After Elvis: The Posthumous Career of a Living Legend, chapter 2. From the Doors’ song, “Peace Frog,” on the album Morrison Hotel. Transcribed from the posthumous Doors album, “An American Prayer.” Bruce Lincoln discusses this term in his Theorizing Myth. it in the “Preliminary Definitions” section. See my discussion of

While I agree with Manzarek and others that the movie is flawed (see below), it at least got this part right. See Rocco, The Doors Companion, p. 61. I’ve read Hopkin’s biography three times already and think it’s wonderful, but I have begun to notice that sometimes he is a little unsteady on the “facts.” Others have notices this as well; see for instance comments in The Ultimate Doors Companion.

As quoted in Riordan and Prochnicky’s Break on Through; see Rocco, op. cit., pp. 35-36. Dalton, Mr. Mojo Risin’: Jim Morrison, the Last Holy Fool, pp. 15-16. This is a question that has been posed from the outset of the Doors’ breakthrough. Richard Goldstein, writer for the Village Voice, once wondered (for all of us) as he interviewed Morrison: “Does he really have the fantasies he sings about?” (Rocco, 140) In his piece “Jim Morrison – Bozo Dionysus a Decade Later,” Lester Bangs suggests that yes, Morrison had those fantasies, but maybe only for a very brief period, after which he became ironic: “…he took all the dread and fear and even explosions into the seeming freedom of the sixties and made them first seem even more bizarre, dangerous and apocalyptic than we already thought they were, then turned everything we were taking so seriously into a big joke midstream.” (Rocco, 133) I would suggest that Morrison’s sense of humor, which has been greatly underestimated, was already well developed before the Doors banded together. He was no doubt eager and earnest to a certain extent, but the human condition seems to me to require healthy doses of irony supplements – Morrison probably never took himself that seriously. Again, though, he seems to have always had at least a sense of his own greatness and unique calling, so he did take his mythology seriously to a certain degree.

This phrase “personal mythology” seems to be gaining currency, though I am not quite sure of its provenance. Interestingly, the first time I heard of it (literally) was in a song called “Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow” by another deceased Sixties legend, Frank Zappa, though my sense from its use in the song was that it wasn’t he that coined it. A personal mythology is the stories one tells oneself to explain one’s origin, purpose and destiny. Perhaps we all have a personal mythology, but my sense is that only someone like Morrison can develop it and draw others into it. As I will discuss below other notable rock artists, such as Bob Dylan, have expressed a kind of personal mythology in song. See also its use in Hopkins, The Lizard King, p. 271. Hopkins, The Lizard King, 200. And Jac Holzman, founder and chairman of Elektra Records, remembers: “Jim was different with everyone, as if he was somehow matching his psyche to yours.” (Rocco, 19) From a “rap” Morrison wrote for the October, 1968 edition of the magazine Eye. Reprinted in Riordan and Prochnicky, p. 273. Lester Bangs compared rock groups of the seventies and early eighties to sixties bands like the Doors as follows: “There is a half-heartedness, a tentativeness, and perhaps worst of all a tendency to hide behind irony that is after all perfectly reflective of the time, but doesn’t do much to endear these pretenders to the throne.” (Rocco, 129) The Doors, or at least the early Doors, did not hide behind irony. Hopkins, The Lizard King, p. 258. Keneally, Strange Days, p. 390. No One Here Gets Out Alive, xii-xiii. Sugerman was also to later alter his version of the myth (see footnote below).

See Manzarek, Light My Fire. John Densmore, the Doors drummer, also wrote a memoir, which like Manzarek, deals in large part with Morrison. Unlike Manzarek’s account, however, Densmore’s book goes out of its way to deflate the many myths surrounding his former bandmate. Still, Densmore’s own fascination (obsession?) with Morrison clearly belies his myth-deflating agenda. Huxley’s book was itself named after Blake’s line in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell: “If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite. Blake had a big influence on Morrison who made a statement often attributed to Blake but which was really his own: “There are things known and things unknown and in between are the Doors.” Hopkins, The Lizard King, p. 243. manipulation. This Rocco, op. cit., p. 4. Manzerek does say that it was forty days from the time he last saw Morrison to the time that they had their famous meeting on Venice Beach in July of ‘65; see Light My Fire, p. 90. Was it exactly forty days, or is Manzerek, certainly aware of the symbolism attaching to that number, attempting to build the perfect myth here? To be fair, it seems that for every myth Manzarek creates or adds fuel to, he deflates another one. Hopkins, The Lizard King, p. 219. Sugerman, in the foreword to No One Here Gets Out Alive, p. 1. Note that in his foreword to the 1995 edition, Sugerman takes this out (or rather, does a complete rewrite of the original), while lauding Morrison no less. He also begins with the following quote from Nietzsche: “Though the favorites of the gods die young, they also live eternally in the company of the gods.” Morrison indicates that he was aware of divine birth stories in the song “The Soft Parade,” where he sings “Winter women growing stones/(carrying babies to the river).” Rocco, op. cit., p. 130. No One Here Gets Out Alive, p. 47. Ibid, p. 29. See there for more tales of Morrison’s intellectual brilliance. That last sentence seems to be more media

One reason to doubt its genuineness is that Hopkins and Sugerman claim that Morrison did this in Junior College at Florida, while Manzerek recalls Morrison doing it at film school in UCLA. Of course, he could have done it at both schools; but if at only one, probably at UCLA as Manzarek seems a more reliable source. There is a story, probably true, that one night Morrison’s mother came to a concert and sat in the front row. When it came time to sing this line Morrison, who had early on said he never wanted to speak to his mother again, looked straight at his mother and shouted it. This reveals that he probably had a great deal of anger towards his parents (which I think diminished over time – see below), and/or that this was just more of his myth that he was trying to develop. And also he was probably somewhat high, though no doubt for the most part in

control of his faculties. Hopkins, The Lizard King, p. 205. See also the story of how Morrison went to see the Maharishi to see if he was happy, decided he was, and then wrote the song “Take It Easy” in honor of him in No One Here Gets Out Alive, pp. 92-93. This is taken from the Doors publicity statement for the first album (see Hopkins, The Lizard King, pp. 250-51). Bob Dylan (birth name: Robert Zimmerman), one of Morrison’s musical influences, had earlier claimed that he ran away from home as a child to join the circus; perhaps Morrison knew about this. Dylan was another rock star who manipulated the media and created his own persona, myth even. For more on Dylan, see below. Hopkins, The Lizard King, p.226. If one late performance of “The End” (at Madison Square on Essential Rarities) is any indication, Morrison was even unwilling to sing “Father, I want to kill you; Mother, I want to…,” using instead the words “old fool” (for father) and “woman” (for mother, with a play on the slang “momma” for a woman). Moreover, this version itself is clearly a parody of the earlier versions. It seems that Morrison was moving away from his rebellion stance against his parents and towards reconciliation (as has been attested elsewhere). Had he lived longer, he probably would have reunited with them. Dalton, Mr. Mojo Risin’, p. 59. Hopkins and Sugerman, No One Here Gets Out Alive, p. 98. From the Doors’ song “Do It.” Jesus in John, 10:7. The full quote from John 10:7ff is as follows: “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the Door of the sheep…I am the Door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture…” See Hopkins and Sugarman, p. In Rock music’s heyday in the late Sixties and early Seventies, rock stars were seen as Jesus-likie figures; but conversely and somewhat ironically, people began to depict Jesus as a great rock star, as in the popular films “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Godspell.” In Rocco, op. cit., p. 141. Goldstein seems to get Morrison’s trip right for the most part, but apparently he hadn’t looked too deeply into the Elvis phenomenon. As I will explain in the following section, at that time Elvis was consuming even more arcane reading matter than Morrison, and he too began to see himself more and more in Descended Master type terms. That said, I think Goldstein was right for the most part when he suggests that, “if Elvis was an unquestioning participant in his own hysteria, the Doors celebrate their myth as a creative accomplishment” (ibid, p. 9). By this, Goldstein means that Morrison much more consciously and intentionally constructed a myth; Elvis was basically just being himself. Morrison, The American Night: The Writings of Jim Morrison, p. 127. Ibid. Ibid, p. 191. You can hear irony in other savior-type songs, as well, such as

Blue Oyster Cult’s double-entendre’d classic “Burnin’ for You.” ????? Hopkins, Lizard King, p. 86. An excellent book on this subject is Larry Geller’s ‘If I can Dream’:Elvis in His Own Words. Geller, who was Elvis’ friend, hairstylist, and spiritual advisor honorably and ably resurrects Elvis’ image after a decade of “trash Elvis” books. It may be the truest glimpse into who Elvis was behind his public image and the lambasting of his critics and former friends. Here is but one quote from the book that deals with Elvis’ “cult,” if you will: “The almost religious atmosphere that has grown up around Elvis since his death amazes me, not only in its size but in its range of expression. On one hand, members of his fan clubs quietly demonstrate their love for Elvis by raising millions of dollars annually for charity. On the other, there are people whose love for him finds expression in public claims that their child is Elvis reincarnated or that Elvis has spoken to them from the beyond.” (Geller, p. 323) This has been re-mythologized in the Cameron Crowe’s recent film, “Almost Famous,” in which the acid-tripping lead guitarist of a fictional band called “Stillwater” screams “I am a Golden God!” before jumping off of a rooftop (and into a swimming pool). The film itself is a nice exercise in rock and roll mythologizing. The jazz artists also can’t be forgotten, and of course the line between jazz and blues is sometimes very fine (was Billie Holiday a jazz or blues singer?). John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie (1917-1993), the great jazz trumpeter, was called “The King of Bop” and though he didn’t mythologize himself lyrically, he did it via his wardrobe and physical appearance. (See Leeming and Page, 190) On that note, Michael Jackson today still apparently holds the title “King of Pop.” He has mythologized himself in numerous ways, as I discuss in an appendix below. Recall Whitman’s “Passage to India”: “After the seas are all cross’d…/Finally shall come the poet worthy that name,/The true son of God shall come singing his songs.” And from “Give Me the Splendid Silent Sun,” another sentiment Morrison seemed to have found appealing: “Give me to warble spontaneous songs recluse by myself, for my own ears only,/Give me solitude, give me Nature, give me again O Nature your primal sanities!” No One Here Gets Out Alive, p. 32. Dalton also notes of the Doors song “Light My Fire,” (their first and perhaps best known record) that “you can hear how Jim loved the way Elvis could tinge any ballad with sneering insolence, how he idolized Elvis as a subspecies of American religion” (p. 67). Ibid, p. 31. Even in a late poem, which reads more like a journal entry, Morrison was selfeffacingly comparing himself with the King: “Elvis had sex-wise mature voice at 19/Mine still retains the nasal whine of a repressed adolescent…” See Wilderness: The Lost Writings of Jim Morrison, Vol. I, p. 205. Even for Morrison, it seems, Elvis was the King. Keneally, Strange Days, p. 146. See p. 148. In Rocco, op. cit., pp. 128-133. Wilderness, p. 124.

See Dalton’s Mr. Mojo Risin: Jim Morrison, the Last Holy Fool, for more on this aspect of Morrison’s persona. I should also note that Morrison wrote in one of his last poems, “As I Look Back,” that he was “a fool & the smartest kid in the class.” See Wilderness, p. 202. See Hopkins and Sugarman, pp. 336-38, for a less subtle example of this – Morrison refuses to cooperate for a 60 second “Speed Kills” advertisement by giving everything but a straight line. Leeming and Page, Myths, Legends & Folktales of America, p. 20. One of the Doors or their biographers used this wordplay in one of the Doors documentaries. It seems to me that Morrison had the best of both worlds there. If he had only be a shaman, he would have had far fewer souls to whom to minister. Densmore, Riders on the Storm, p. 171. See also Riordan and Prochnicky, p. 48 for another explanation. The authors maintain that despite Morrison’s anti-Church views, “…he loved to discuss God and religion for endless hours with just about anyone who would listen to his countless theories on man’s relationship to the Creator.” (48) Louis Fischer, ed. 369. The Essential Gandhi (New York: Vintage Books, 1962), p.

After Muddy Waters left the south and moved to Chicago, he became known as the “King of Chicago Blues.” Alan Freed, the disc jockey who perhaps did the most to popularize early rock and roll was dubbed “The King of Rock and Roll.” Billie Holiday was called , etc. It is also interesting to note that today in India the title “Maharaja” – literally “Great King” – is used to address holy persons, great saints, and gurus, who are also referred to and thought of as God, as we have just seen in the example above. Matt Ehlers, Naples Daily News, “Neapolitan” section, Saturday, August 16, 2003, pp. 1-2; from Raleigh News and Observer; with contribution from news researcher Susan Ebbs. Eliade, The Sacred & the Profane: The Nature of Religion, p. 209. See Wilderness, p. 2. Hopkins, The Lizard King, pp. 232-233. Morrison, Wilderness, p. 10. Just as Christopher Isherwood speaks of Ramakrishna as a phenomenon. Isherwood, Ramakrishna and his Disciples. See

See also Manzerek, Light My Fire, p. 331. These were the last two lines of postcard Morrison sent from Paris.

Alfred Kazin, ed. p. 251.

The Portable Blake.

New York: The Viking Press, 1946, 1971,