Sunday, March 19, 2006

"A hero is someone who rebels, or seems to rebel, against the facts of existence and seems to conquer them."

- James Douglas Morrison (1969)

Today marks an important landmark for me: I have now officially outlived Jim Morrison. While most people probably don’t know or don't care, Morrison died in Paris when he was 27. And although it may not be significant to anyone else, it is to me and this is why...

My parents gave me a copy of this album from The Doors when I was 13 or 14, most likely to try and divert my attention away from the rap music I was obsessed with at the time, which they absolutely loathed: N.W.A., Too Short, Ice T, 2 Live Crew, etc. At first, I didn’t like The Doors at all. They just seemed like something old and square that my Dad liked when he was my age. Nothing cool about some hippy band from the 60s.

But then around the age of 16, when I began experimenting with drugs, I decided to pop the disc in and give it a listen. Something instantly sunk its teeth into my neck, something grabbed hold of me, arrested my attention: the oddity of the lyrics and the theatrical quality of Morrison’s performance. I began to identify with him and admire him as I listened to that double disc set constantly, especially because the more I listened to it the more layers I found in his words.

Perhaps because of my obsessive, addictive personality, I sought out and read as many biographies about Jim Morrison as I could find in order to get a better understanding of this strange, fascinating person - and at that point in my life I was certainly not someone inclined to read a book for fun, in fact I barely read the books I was assigned to read for school. But book after book I became engrossed in Morrison’s life, his persona. I started to conceive that he was the epitome and incarnation of cool. And one constant thing that I noticed from every given account was that he read books like most people watch television.

So I started making a list of all the books that were mentioned in these biographies: books of philosophy, poetry, and fiction that Morrison talked about a lot or quoted or had around his home at the time of an interview. Being 16 years old in Cheyenne, Wyoming, I’d never heard of Aldous Huxley, Charles Baudelaire, Arthur Rimbaud, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, or Dante, but if Morrison was reading them then they had to be cool. Thus, at the age of 16, I started reading literature - not for school, but because I wanted to be like Jim Morrison.

Flash forward 12 years and here I am on my 28th birthday, pursuing a career in writing and literature, which, for better or worse, I probably wouldn’t be doing if it weren’t for the influence of The Lizard King.