Jim Morrison and Susan Sontag



Jim Morrison is the lead singer of the classic rock and roll band "The Doors". Jim
Morrison not only was the lead vocalist in the famous sixties band, he was also the writer of most
but not all of The Doors songs and the author of many poems. Susan Sontag is an
accomplished author. Some of Susan Sontag's works include essays, reviews, editing, novels
and short stories. Although at first Jim Morrison and Susan Sontag appear to have nothing or
very little in common, both because of Jim Morrison's main influence coming from author
Friedrich Nietzsche, who believed in existentialism (a body of ethical thought centering about the
uniqueness and isolation of individual experiences in a universe indifferent or even hostile to
man, regarding human existence as unexplainable, and emphasizing man's freedom of choice
and responsibility for the consequences of his acts), and Susan Sontag's writings following a
style of existentialism, both Jim Morrison and Susan Sontag's works focus constantly on relating
the message of placing blame on oneself in order to obtain a more perfect soul.


Born James Douglas Morrison on December 8 1843 in Melbourne Florida to parents
Steve and Clara Morrison(Hopkins, Sugerman 5). A few months after the birth of Jim Morrison,
Jim's father Steve and his mine layer were sent off to fight in World War Two. For the next three
years Jim's mother Clara, was forced to raise Jim with only the help of sympathizing relatives
who believed in ideas such as "Children should be seen and not heard ... Ignore something
unpleasant and it will go away... "(Hopkins, Sugerman 5). This constant barrage of negativity
may have been one of the first factors leading to Jim's beliefs in existentialism. The way in
which the negativity lead to Jim's belief is that through the constant attack, Jim began to feel as
if he were responsible for all of the mishaps occurring in the family. This feelings that Jim had,
showed his first signs of becoming an existentialist, because feelings of responsibility are one of
the common characteristics of many existentialist authors, musicians and artists.

A second event in Jim Morrison's life, that may have been a reason for Jim becoming a
existentialist occurred while Steve Morrison, Jim's father, was driving through New Mexico when
"They [The Morrison Family] came upon an overturned truck, and saw injured and dying Pueblo
Indians lying where they had been thrown on the asphalt" (Hopkins, Sugerman 6). After seeing
the Indians, Jim felt an urge to have Steve Morrison pull over and attempt to help the dying
Indians but, Steve did not share the same feelings with Jim and continued to drive by saying "It
was a dream Jimmy, it didn't really happen, it was a dream"(Hopkins, Sugerman 6). This scene
was considered to be one of the most influential in Jim Morrison's life as the story of the Pueblo
Indians is constantly referred to in many of the songs written by Jim. One of the songs, where
Jim uses the Indian reference, is Dawn's Highway where Jim says "Indians scattered on dawn's
highway bleeding / Ghosts crowd the young child's fragile eggshell mind./ Indian, Indian what did
you die for?/ Indian says, nothing at all." (Morrison 4). The dying Pueblo Indians helped to
create the existential side of Jim Morrison because in his mind he felt as if he were responsible
for the deaths of the Indians, once again placing blame on himself, a key role in existentialism.

Although events played a large role in Jim's journey towards existentialism, author
Friedrich Nietzsche who is often considered to be one of the few forefathers of existentialism
played an equally if not more important role in the journey. Nietzsche played a large role in Jim
becoming an existentialist because "Dennis and Jim would sit discussing Nietzsche for hours,
arguing occasionally but generally agreeing ardently, reading long passages from the
philosopher's works aloud to each other" (Hopkins, Sugerman 45). Through these readings Jim
learned about Nietzsche philosophies including the ideal of The Superman and how to become
an existentialist.

By the time Jim Morrison turned 23 he had become an existentialist and it was because
of his psychological views of the world that inspired Jim's lyrics in his poems and music. The
first of example of Jim involving existentialism in his lyrics comes from the song "An American
Prayer" where Jim says "Grant us one more hour to/ perform our art/ and perfect our lives".
When Jim mentions the previous lines, he is making a