Jim Morrison, The Doors Essay, Research Paper
” The Doors. There’s the known, and there’s the unknown. And what separates the two is the door, and that’s what I want to be. Ahh I wanna be th’door . . .” – Jim Morrison
Jim Morrison is often thought of as a drunken musician and, an addict and, to many, another ‘doped up’ rock star. These negative opinions project a large shadow on the many positive aspects of this great poet. Jim’s music was influenced heavily by many famous authors. One must cast aside their ignorance, look behind the loud electric haze of the sixties music, and wipe their eyes and look through the psychedelic world of LSD. Standing behind these minor flaws, you will see a young and very intelligent poet named Jim Morrison.
Jim Morrison’s distraught childhood was a contributing factor to Jim’s fortune and his fate. As a young child, Jim experienced the many pains of living in a military family. Having to move every so often, Jim, his brother, and his sister never spent more than a couple of years at a particular school. Jim attended eight different schools, grammar and High, throughout his schooling career. This amount of traveling made it hard for a young child to make many friends. In high school, Jim had an especially hard time; “The only real friend he made was a tall but overweight classmate with a sleepy voice named Fud Ford ” (Sugerman 9). Although there seems to be many negative aspects of Jim’s child hood, positivism did arise.
The traveling done by the Morrison family brought Jim through many different experiences and situations. For instance, while driving on a highway from Santa Fe with his family, he said he experienced, “the most important moment of my life” (qtd. in Russel 6 ). The Morrisons came upon an overturned truck of dying Pueblo Indians. This moment influenced Jim and later became the basis of many of his songs, poetry, stories, and thoughts. Jim Morrison’s estranged childhood was the root underneath his bizarre and eccentric personality. The negative effects of his upbringing helped to mold Jim into the person he would later become.
Jim Morrison’s strange sense of humor and sickness were just fractions of his very intellectual mind. Jim and his family moved to Alemeda, California. This is where he would start freshman year and a half of his high school journey. Morrison’s creativeness and infatuation with Mad Magazines led to the horrification of many. When he would arrive late to class, he would tell elaborate stories to the teachers about being kidnapped by gypsies. Jim’s subtle and bizarre personality was now starting to form. Jim’s wild imagination began to produce hundreds of scatological and sexually explicit ideas in the form of pictures and make believe radio commercials. The deranged pictures that Jim created, were ones with quite an abnormality. For instance, the picture Jerry Hopkins describes, “a man with a Coca-Cola bottle for a penis, a mean looking can opener for testicles, one hand held out and dripping with slime, more of that slime dripping from his anus.”
All of Jim and Fud’s focuses again were sexual, or scatological, but they were imbued with sophistication and subtle humor unusual for someone only fourteen. No doubt, Jim’s sexually demented mind was now partially formed. The once young and innocent Jim Morrison was now older and more harmful. Late in his sophomore year, Jim moved to Alexandria, Virginia. There he met Tandy, his first girlfriend. Jim, now ill mannered, constantly horrified others, especially Tandy. He would make public scenes by kissing her feet or asking her to do ridiculous acts out loud. Tandy though, was not the only one subjected to Jim’s “Tests”, his teachers suffered as well. ” I asked him why he played games all the time, ” Tandy says today. ” He said, ‘ you’d never stay interested in me if I didn’t.” Indeed that was the case not only with Tandy, but also at school. His peers now looked upon Jim as the ringleader. Everybody wanted to be like Jim, they all competed for his attention, “Jim’s magnetism was becoming obvious” (Surgeman 16). Right down to his expressions, his peers mimicked all of his actions. However, Jim never led them like they wanted to be led. Jim once again started taking death-defying risks that he would also subject his brother to. He forced his brother, Andy, to walk along an edge that hovered fifty feet above the ground. All of the risks that he subjected others to were ones that he was never afraid to complete. “Throughout his senior year his parents pressured Jim to apply to colleges, just as they badgered him into having his photograph taken for the high school yearbook” (Hopkins 25). When graduation came around, Jim decided not to attend. Later, his parents succeeded in enrolling Jim at St. Petersburg Junior College in Florida.
The instability and ruthlessness of Jim Morrison’s child hood, helped build a character that later became the emptiness of this great poet. It was also in high school that the intellectual side of Jim’s unique mind started to emerge. The same year that he moved to Alameda, Jim stumbled across a new novel by Jack Kerouac, “On the Road”. This novel held Jim captive for hours upon hours. He also started to copy down paragraphs he liked into a spiral notebook that he would carry around with him from that day on. The more Jim read, the more he started to drift away into the infinite world of poetry. He also read Lawrence Ferlinghetti, along with other favorites Kenneth Rexroth and Allen Ginsberg. “Ginsberg made one of the greatest impacts, for he was the real-life Carlo Marx ” (Hopkins 12). It was an image that stuck with Jim like glue, “the sorrowful poetic con-man with the dark mind”. Young Morrison was greatly fascinated by Dean Moriarty, “the side burned hero of the snowy west.” Jim began to copy Moriarty word for word, right down to his “hee-hee-hee-hee” laugh. Throughout the rest of his years at in high school, Jim maintained a consistent 88.32 grade average with only minimal effort, twice being named to the honor roll, his IQ was 149. In the college boards, he scored above average. “But Statistics tell so little. The books Jim read reveal more,” comments editor of the Rolling Stone, Jerry Hopkins.
Jim was greatly inspired by the writings of great philosophers and poets. “He devoured Friedrich Nietzsche, the poetic German philosopher, whose views on aesthetics, morality, and the Apollonian-Dionysian duality would appear again and again in Jim’s conversation, poetry, songs, and life.” He read “Plutarch’s Lives of the Noble Greeks”, became captivated with Alexander the Great, admiring his intellectual and physical accomplishments. Jim adopted some of the look of Alexander, the leaning of his head a little on one side towards his left shoulder. He read the great French Symbolist poet Arthur Rimbaud, whose style would later influence the form of Jim’s short prose poems. “He read everything Kerouac, Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti, Kenneth Patchen, Michael McClure, Gregory Corso, and all the other beat writers published.” Jim’s English teacher comments, “I felt that Jim was the only one in the class who read Ulysses, and understood it.” Balzac, Cocteau, and Moliere were also familiars, along with most of the French existentialist philosophers. Jim’s senior-year English teacher still talks about his reading habits: “Jim read as much and probably more than any student in class, but everything he read was so offbeat I had another teacher, who was going to the Library of Congress, check to see if the books Jim was reporting on actually existed. I suspected he was making them up, as they were English books on sixteenth- and seventeenth-century demonology. I’d never heard of them, but they existed, and I’m convinced from the paper he wrote that he read them, and the Library of Congress would’ve been the only source.”
No doubt, Jim was becoming a writer. He had begun to keep journals, spiral notebooks that he would fill with his daily observations and thoughts. Jim’s studies brought him across many of the dilemmas of these great writers. Through the alcoholism of Dylan Thomas, the homosexuality of Ginsberg, and the madness and addiction of so many more, Jim saw their pages become a mirror in which he saw his own reflection. The notion of poetry had now taken hold on the still young Jim Morrison. The greatly controversial lyrics and actions of the newly forming “Doors” were created by Jim’s now corrupted mind. At the age of twenty, Jim was writing regularly. He quit film school at UCLA, and moved to the Venice Beach area. Through his alcoholic and psychedelic hazed mind ran the songs and lyrics of an unknown concert. As one song finished, the next one started. These songs became songs of The Doors. “Break on through,” was his way of expressing the opening of the doors. His songs and poems were the historical collection of writings from great philosophers and poets alike. His notebooks and intellect are now the basis of The Doors and the foreshadow of his death. All of the pasts are now part of the present and the songs all come from the same root. Jim’s adoption of Aldous Huxley’s “Doors of Perception” was now his number one motto. The drugs taken were only to help open these many doors in his mind.
Although his mind seems lost in the infinite drug world of the unknown, Jim Morrison was an “American Poet.” His crave for knowledge was driven by his wondrous mind and only used drugs, not as an exit, but rather as an entrance. The world of Jim Morrison is not known well by anyone. Most see an alcoholic, others see an addict, and yet more see a deranged waste of a person, but for those who take the time to care, those who take the time to learn and understand will find out that behind the “American Poet”, was a young genius.
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