Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Rebel, Entry 7, Jim Morrison

     Alright, I know what you're saying, Camus was killed in a car accident in 1960, he couldn't have mentioned Jim Morrison. Well, I read the little section on Rimbaud and the surrealists and decided to write about Jim Morrison instead. Morrison styled himself a poet and seems to have had an affinity for Rimbaud. He was obviously a rebel -- I recently read a good biography of Morrison -- and he took bits and pieces of poetry and Nietzsche to help define the counterculture.
     At first, while reading the biography I felt very sorry for Morrison, but as the book progressed I felt increasingly sorry for the people who came into contact with him. In some ways Morrison was the perfect embodiment of Camus' and Nietzsche's rebel, in other ways he was a silly caricature. Interesting though his life was, he does not really present in any way a heroic life I would want to emulate. I know what I'm saying is heresy to a great number of people. Sorry.
     I've enjoyed The Doors music thoroughly, Morrison was obviously a great vocalist and certainly a much better than average lyricist, but it is also true that without the obvious talent of the other members, The Doors wouldn't have been what they were. And he ended up dead at 27, likely long before his real poetic maturity.
     There is in some of the rebels Camus discusses, a certain tendency toward self-indulgence that deflates their tragic status. In contrast to Oedipus, who rebelled against fate and ending up plucking his eyes out, or Beethoven, who suffered a traumatic early life, an encroaching deafness(with attendant tinnitus), a painful intestinal disease, and the knowledge that he was the greatest musician of the Europe of his day, Sade and Morrison seem like they were spoiled or just ill. Morrison's early death was indeed tragic, but it was the result of youthful excess, substance addiction, and a tendency that would be fixable with a good SSRI.
     This leads to the question, when is rebellion serious, something of cultural moment, and when is it silly self-indulgence or a tragic, but unprofound, mental illness? Those of you offended by any of my Morrison comments please feel free to comment.
     
     

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