Jim Morrison was one of the first musical artists in American history to use rhetoric to induce social action. Having scored in the genius range on his IQ tests, Jim studied many different ways to manipulate the general population. He was intrigued about learning how to start riots and indulged heavily in the readings of Fredrick Nietzsche and Allen Ginsberg. Jim Morrison also was a spectacular poet and lyricist. He had a way with describing feelings of sadness, loneliness, and he also could also use his amazing voice to describe a subject in very dissonant detail and still get his point clearly across. Jim could make is voice very calm and collected, but he could also change, in the flash of a second, making his voice loud, frightful, and boisterous.
Jim Morrison used everything within his ability to shock the audience. He would run and jump around on stage like a possessed demon and he would also attempt to antagonize the audience. Jim felt that by doing this the audience would either love or hate him, and it didn't matter to Jim because he wanted to see how far he could take everything. "Adolph Hitler is alive and well. I slept with her last night. Come out from behind that fake mustache Adolph, we know you " re in there." Jim Morrison's main goal in being up on stage was to induce the audience into some type of social action.
He would say things about classical beliefs and studies that would make some scholars and teenagers shake in their boots. "When I was back there in seminary school, a preacher put forth the proposition that you can petition the Lord with prayer. Petition the Lord with prayer. Petition the Lord with prayer. You cannot petition the Lord with prayer." What is a rhetorical situation? Gerard D. Hauser describes a rhetorical situation as a situation that presents a problem that can be resolved meaningfully through speech and writing.
In the mid to late sixties there were many exigencies present that needed to be resolved. The Vietnam War was the most important of these. Americans were confused as to why a government would draft and send thousands of its innocent citizens across seas to die. Many people on the west coast of the United States would look out across the ocean and imagine all of the death, chaos, and destruction that was happening on the other side of the world, and this would make them wonder what life was all about. Does being an American mean you have to throw your childhood away and possibly die to fight somebody else's war? Many of these Americans fathers did just this in World War I and II.
Jim Morrison's father was an admiral in the Navy and fought hard on the Mediterranean Sea during World War II, so Jim understood what it was like to have to move from naval base to naval base and be looked at as a number throughout his entire childhood. "Can we resolve the past, lurking jaws, joints of time? The base. To come of age in a dry place, Holes and cares. My friend drove an hour each day from the mountains. The bus gives you a hard on with books in your lap. Sunrise shot the bird in the afternoon dance show.
They gave out free records to the best couple. Spades dance best, from the hip." It is amazing to see all the connections in this last piece of literature. Morrison, who was not a racist, was able to articulate his words into understanding that black people do dance best from the hip. A different interpretation could be that the actual suits of spades are best played from the hip. A cheater would say that their card is best played from the hip or under the table. Jim attempted to place all of his thoughts on paper during his early years, but as a college student at UCLA, he indulged in the art of filmmaking.
He also was interested in classes such as the Philosophies of Protest and Psychology of Crowds. He later dropped out of school, but did not lose his many ideas for making controversial films. Jim Morrison used his experience in film to create a short film set against "The Unknown Soldier." The song is loaded with imagery representing the futility of war. The central theme of the song involves a mock firing squad, drums crashing to represent the rifle shots. Morrison talks about bullets striking the helmet's head, but while this is happening, families are eating breakfast on the opposite side of the world.
In the film, Morrison is led to a pier and then tied to it. In the background you can hear an officer shouting "hut ho he up." When the "shots" are fired, blood graphically pours from Jim's mouth. This is an effort to show that people were dying this way everyday and because Americans were turning a blind eye, the killings would continue until somebody brought forward enough evidence or caused enough of a stir to stop it. Another ingenious song written by Jim Morrison would be "Five to One." Jim Morrison had a theory that for every one adult over the age of 30, there were five young adults under the age of 30.
He felt that the majority of people under the age of 30 were unhappy with the direction their life was taking and they were all looking for meaning in humanity. If they would all band together and start a revolution, then they could take over the America. "The old get old and the young get stronger. May take a week and it may take longer.
They got the guns but we got the numbers. Gonna win, yeah, we " re takin' over. Come on!" It is very easy to see the type of social action that Morrison is trying to induce in this song. He is attempting to draw thousands of young adults together to fight the same cause, which is not necessarily stopping the war, but giving them different reasons for questioning authority. Jim believed that by showing the hypocritical system that our government had become, it would draw a vast following and cause the downfall of the American Government. "Creativity is an act of symbolic expression...
which reflects the historical past and anticipated future" (Hauser 103). In the last years of Jim Morrison's life, he authored a book of poetry entitled "An American Prayer." Morrison felt his main purpose on the Earth was to be a writer. He wanted to be remembered for his poetry, rather than his music. Morrison felt that selling "top ten" music wasn't very meaningful to the world. He did not want to be remembered as the sexy lead singer of some rock & roll band.
Morrison wanted to go down in history as a self-made author. "Awake, shake dreams from your hair my pretty child, my sweet one. Choose the day and choose the sign of your day. The day's divinity, first thing you see" (Morrison 1). This excerpt from the poem entitled "Ghost Song" shows that Morrison understood how people wanted to find meaning within their own lives. Morrison's keen ability to do this is awe-inspiring.
Jim Morrison's ethos was very mysterious to the general public. Morrison was very shy and self-absorbed on camera, but he always knew how to keep the reporters captivated with him. He used an incredibly diverse vocabulary to show his intelligence and then he would attempt to intrigue them with some of his ideas. Ethos is developed through the way humans interact with each other. Jim Morrison told the reporters that his parents had died in a horrible automobile accident when he was very young. The pathos he used here made the reporters sympathize with him.
It seems that Morrison had the ability to connect with his audience on a different level. Each person that went to a concert would feel that they really knew Jim and they would watch him explode around the stage. This is the pathos that Jim learned to create in his earlier day's taking classes on the Psychology of Crowds. He would find a way to connect with the audience whether it was in a good way or a bad way. One concert night in Miami when Jim was heavily under the influence of alcohol, he supposedly revealed himself on stage.
A few minutes later he began to throw a great amount of curses at the audience. "You " re all a bunch of fucking slaves. Letting everybody push you around... what are you going to do about it?" This is how Morrison would try to get underneath the skin of his audience. He would make them feel like they had been following lost causes their entire lives. He would ask them why they were complying with everything.
He tried to get people to not accept everything that had been spoon fed to them since they were children. He would ask the audience to stand up and quit taking crap from everybody. This is just one of the many ways that Jim attempted to incite riots at different cities across the United States. One should believe from a rhetorical standpoint that Jim Morrison was an incredibly important figure up until his death in the early 70 s.
He had an amazing ability to understand what the audience wanted to hear at any particular time. He realized early on and took advantage of the fact that the counter-culture revolution needed a voice and was looking for some type of meaning with everything in the world. "For our purposes, let us define meaning as the significance of an utterance as it emerges from a context of usage and the perceptions that it invites" (Hauser 224). Morrison greatly used this to his advantage. The significance of an utterance shows the importance of the subject as it emerges from the conversation.
The perceptions that the subject invites are whatever ones mind decides to conclude about the current situation. In conclusion, Jim Morrison is one of the most influential artists from the counter-culture era. He was an incredibly intelligent individual who understood how to put into music and writing the feelings of so many youths of his day and age. He was well versed in the writings of Nietzsche and Ginsberg. Morrison changed the lives of many different people. His simple yet outlandish ideas struck chords in citizens all over America.
His lyrics and poems are timeless and Jim Morrison himself is timeless. Jim Morrison used art in many different ways to induce social action. His untimely death at the age of 27 was felt around the world and Jim will live on forever as "The Lizard King.".