- Handwritten notebook, Paris, circa 1971
On March 11th, 1971, in the midst of the mixing of L.A. Woman, Jim Morrison left the United States for a period of respite in Paris. The recording process had been somewhat fraught, with Morrison's drinking frequently impeding progress. Band mate Ray Manzarek later said of the L.A. Woman cover shoot: “In that photo you can see the impending demise of Jim Morrison... He was sitting down because he was drunk. A psychic would have known that guy is on the way out. There was a great weight on him. He wasn’t the youthful poet I met on the beach at Venice.”
This notebook dates from Morrison's time in Paris with longtime companion Pamela Courson from March 11th up until his death from heart failure on July 3rd. From their large nineteenth-century apartment in the Fourth Arrondissement, Morrison wrote on a wide ranging number of topics including art, photography, poetry, perception, philosophy, cinema, alchemy; and figures such as Vermeer, Eadweard Muybridge, Marcel Proust, Lee Harvey Oswald, and more. Extensive notes, doodles, and revisions in the musician's hand offer an unparalleled glimpse into the troubled musician's mind.
One entry dates the notebook to June 30th, a mere four days before Morrison's death. In this light, certain observations in the notebook become increasingly poignant ("Man's body is sick. His headlong flight from death leaves no time for joy.") Morrison was buried at the famous Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris, where his grave — covered with graffiti and other tokens of his fans' appreciation — has become the cemetery's most visited site.
On Marcel Proust: “Proust is called perfect observer, because perfect amoralist. Thru amorality, detachment, he sought all reality. The virgin eye. ‘He planned detachment, not violence.’ His mistake, but welcomed any attempt at liberation, regardless of motive…”
On Cinema: “Cinema is the most totalitarian of the arts. All send & energy is sucked up into the skull, a cerebral erection, skull bloated w/ blood. Caligula wished all his subjects had one neck & he could behead a kingdom w/ a blow. Cinema is this transforming agent. The body exists for the sake of the eyes, becomes a dry stalk to support those 2 soft insatiable jewels. Film spectators are quiet vampires. It gives the impression of living. People who are somehow implicated in the process of living have no real need for films. Cinema caters mainly to a dreary, ignoble psychology, one that accepts copies in place of the real. It is an attitude of dull cowardice…”
Morrison’s final entry: “Art is a compromise, a vast midland, it attempts to rejoin subject & obj[ect] by revealing w/pure eye. Art can suspend the separation [sic] of perceived & perceiver. Beauty is therefore an absolute, rooted in disinterested perception – objects devoid of all purpose & meaning.”