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Jim Morrison

In: Film and Music

Submitted By henry0205
Words 1905
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How Jim Morrison’s Poetry Lead A Movement The United States of America found itself in a peculiar situation near the closing of 1959 and the beginning of 1960. There was a tremendous split between two very different generations. The older generation was a collection of people that witnessed the terrible acts of communism and the reign of Hitler, they fought bravely to expel Nazi Germany from the world and witnessed an attack on their own nation. They were a nation of go-getters that believed in the American Dream and worked to fulfill it. The children of this noble and brave generation found themselves questioning the world they lived in and the powers that held control over them. This new, counter-culture generation was later coined the Hippie Generation. Through the Celebration of the Lizard, Jim Morrison reinvents the idea of freedom, excess, and the search for individual identity at a time where the counter-culture movement was gaining massive popularity. This new culture, created out of America’s individuality, later went on to become the biggest and most widespread movement that preached the importance of the individual and expelled any belief in capitalism. “The road to excess leads to the palace of wisdom..” was a quote taken from William Blake, an English poet, that Jim Morrison held close to him. This quote is more than a line from a poem but a motto for a generation that strayed away from contemporary thought and forged a path that was their own in each and every way. The Hippie Generation grew out of an already established non-conformist movement known as the Beat Generation, or Beatniks. The Beatniks were a collection of authors living in New York city best known for writing against anything conformist. Many were openly homosexual, something absolutely absurd at that time, and experimented with drugs quite often. These Beatniks then migrated to San Francisco and became vital in the upbringing of the upcoming Hippie Generation. From

Greenwich Village, New York to San Francisco, California the basis for this new movement was found at the Red Dog Saloon in Virginia City, Nevada where drugs and music became pivotal to the 50 people that helped transform it from an old mining saloon to an underground bar for psychedelic, hippie rock groups. Although mainly apolitical, the Hippie Generation did not shy away from voicing their concerns about a plethora of political issues. Civil Rights, Freedom of Speech, LGBT Rights, and soon the Vietnam War were among the many issues they fought for. The Hippies were a collection of people that believed in true individuality. They were not stereotypical, racist, prejudice, or malicious. They were a group of peace and wanted nothing more than that. They often found themselves being ridiculed and laughed at, but they held that they were just misunderstood. Around this time a new drug was hitting the streets called LSD. LSD was a psychedelic hallucinogen that was used often by the members of this movement. People of this time believed that in order to reach enlightenment they needed to break through an altered state of reality in order to expand their consciousness. LSD became the means for this “journey” as they called it. The Hippie philosophy is quote complex because each person may hold their own belief. The collective and accepted philosophy that people of this movement agree on is the “live in the moment” ideology, where the future is irrelevant and the only thing of importance is the time they had at that moment. Because so much of the hippie ideology was that of an expansion of their consciousness much of the music, literature, and art focused on that altered state of reality. Psychedelic Rock grew vastly and popularity was gained easily among the southern California population. Around this time a new band came to the foreground of this type of experimental rock. A group named the Doors, led by their eccentric lead singer Jim Morrison, came onto the scene with strong poetic songs that addressed issues of self-identity, violence, and the expansion of the people’s consciousness. Morrison started off writing poetry in a journal but when a friend noticed these writings he urged Morrison to form a band.
Much later in their career, Morrison wrote a poem entitled The Celebration of the Lizard. The purpose of the poem is to take the audience on a journey where they find their flaws and themselves but soon became a journey that represented the amoral ways society works the poem breaks off, inviting the reader to take hallucinogens and prepare for the road ahead. Morrison writes in the poem “One morning he awoke in a green hotel with strange creatures groaning besides him Sweat oozed from its shiny skin Is everybody in? The Ceremony is about to begin” Morrison was very interested in, and knowledgeable in Native American Mythology. He spent much of his time as a child in the deserts of Arizona and found fascination in not only the mythology but the reptilian species. In some Southwest Native American cultures the image of the lizard represents enlightenment and awareness of fears. Morrison uses this image as a tool for the times. While the reader literally reads the passage as awakening near strange creatures, the true meaning holds that on this journey the reader is presented with their awakening and their fears. Morrison then asks if the reader is present because the ceremony will start soon. This is the kick-off to the poem and truly the lines that represent this culture best. The reader must use the hallucinogen for good and through enlightenment face and overcome their fears and when that process is done, the reader or listener will truly be ready to break on through to the other side. In the summer of 1967, there took place an unbelievable event that brought together nearly 100,000 Hippies to San Francisco. This summer came to be known as “The Summer of Love”. At this time in history, The United States was full swing into the Vietnam War with no intention of getting out. The War became the pivotal issue that many involved in this movement fought against. With a huge influx of all these Hippies their culture stuck within

the city. Everything within the Summer of Love event was free. From medical care to food and water, this became a large protest against capitalism and the government in general. This was the event that solidified the hippie movement in its beliefs and brought their cause to the attention of Americans across the country. The poem and the event both point to the peoples need to escape Government control and break away from the corruption and amoral beliefs of capitalism. Not To Touch The Earth is an excerpt from the poem, within it are the lines “Dead president’s corpse in the driver’s car The engine runs on glue and tar Come on along, not goin’ very far To the east to meet the Czar” The line is important because it discusses the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. JFK’s death impacted Morrison greatly and many clues show up within his written and recorded work. Morrison believed that JFK was the last good-hearted President with good intentions. Shortly after JFK’s death and Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s swearing into the Presidency the United States launched a full scale, fully confrontational offensive against the communist North Vietnam. Just before President Kennedy’s assassination there were nearly 16,000 military advisors in Vietnam with no intention to join in armed conflict. President Kennedy placed an order to withdraw 1,000 of these 16,000 but that order was put on hold following the tragic events. Now President, Lyndon Baines Johnson reversed the withdrawal order and put our military on track to join in and fight the North Vietnamese. Morrison felt that joining the conflict, especially after the death of one of our greatest president’s, humiliated our society and he wanted people to be aware of the evil acts our government committed during the war.

“Red are the arms of luxuriant chairs/and you wont know a thing till you get inside” Morrison believed, along with much of the Hippie movement, that the only way to totally understanding is through the excess of narcotics to reach that unattainable understanding. In Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy he addresses a theory involving the split between the Apollo and Dionysian form of thought. Dionysian’s take the pleasures and pains of life as their way of understanding the world, usually accompanied with the excess of some form of narcotic whether it be alcohol or drugs. Morrison, a Dionysian Nietzsche, believed that his artistic creativity was derived through the excess of mind altering drugs. The line at the beginning of this paragraph discusses this form of thought. The line can be interpreted as man’s inability to reach the luxuries of life unless that man uses the mind-altering narcotics to reach their full enlightenment following their “journey”. This form of thought that Morrison and the entire movement followed was the single reason as to why most of society never understood and accepted them. In a very conservative society these new ideas and ways of life came as a shock and may have caused them to react negatively because they were fearful of these “things” that lived a free and peaceful life. The last line of the poem captures the idea of the “journey” this poem takes us through. “Now night arrives with her purple legion, retire now to your tents and to your dreams, Tomorrow we enter the town of my birth, I want to be ready” Morrison confronts the reader for preparation. He wants the reader to know that with all the excess there is time to settle down and prepare yourself for the road ahead. in 1969, the largest gathering of hippies happened in New York. Woodstock is the poster child for the hippie movement. Woodstock was the farewell to the birthing generation and the opening to the continuation and inevitable death of the movement. This event is what exemplified the best of the hippie counterculture.


The poem, written in 1970, was the last stamp for the Hippie movement. 1970 started the decade of the death of the movement and this poem was vital in keeping the movements ideology relevant. the 1970s for the hippie movement was not a time of joy. The movements popularity began to fall. The date the poem was published is very important because this was not only the Doors last stamp on the movement because of Morrison’s death in ’71 but it was the last stamp on the ideology of the movement that Morrison impacted greatly.

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Davis, Stephen. Jim Morrison: Life, Death, Legend. New York: Gotham, 2004. Print. The Doors "The Doors." IMDb., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2014. Gill, Sam D., and Irene F. Sullivan. Dictionary of Native American Mythology. New York: Oxford UP, 1994. Print. "The Hedonization of America: The Hippie Movement (opinion)." NaturalNews. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2014. "The Hippie Counter Culture Movement (1960′s)." Mortal Journey. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2014. "Hippie." CounterCulture. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2014. "Hippie Roots & The Perennial Subculture - Hippyland." Hippie Roots & The Perennial Subculture - Hippyland. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2014. Lewis, Jon E. Jim Morrison. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 1998. Print.

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