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Whatever else may be true about the life and times of Jim Morrison, formerly of the rock group known as “The Doors,” while he may have broken through and trampled on just about every boundary that was ever proposed in civil society, there can be no doubt that what he was able to accomplish in his short lifetime earned him a place in music history.
When he died forty years ago in Paris, France, there were a great many questions unanswered about the circumstances surrounding his demise, and any number of conspiracy theories and doubts voiced about whether or not he was actually dead, but one thing remained abundantly clear–we would never see his like again.
In the well-known biography of Morrison entitled, “No One Here Gets Out Alive,” authors Jerry Hopkins and Daniel Sugerman detail the astonishing breadth and depth of Jim’s thought process and much of the source material that fed his insatiable curiosity and his desperate desire to express his inner world, not primarily through his music, but rather as a poet and artist.
Reporting Jim’s interest in a concept from Nietzsche’s first book published in 1872, “The Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music,” the authors reported that:
Jim identified with the long-suffering Dionysus who was “without any images, himself pure primordial pain and its primordial echoing.” The resolution was not in transcendence of one’s individual consciousness, but rather in an ecstatic dissolution of personal consciousness in “the primal nature of the universe.”–what Jim, and others, came to call the Universal Mind…Remembering the line from William Blake, “If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it truly is, infinite.”
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Within these few references we can see that the story of Jim Morrison is not just that of the tragic rock legend dying young from excess and drugs, but someone who saw the temporal world as merely a brief stop along the way to the infinite. His recklessness and refusal to observe most limits in the temporal sense, gave his words a powerful push and his ideas a potent vehicle for holding up the mirror of the world to us all, to show us that what we see isn’t always what we get.
William Blake’s “Marriage of Heaven and Hell” can be found here:
Nietzsche’s “The Birth of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Music” here: