Friedrich Nietzsche’s influence on Jim Morrison



Robby Krieger has been quoted as saying “Nietzsche killed Jim (Morrison).” Jim Morrison was interested in the life and philosophy of German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, for his high school graduation present he asked his parents for the complete works of Nietzsche, at UCLA film school one of his ideas for a student film was an incident from Nietzsche’s life when Nietzsche stopped a man from whipping his horse to death, (Nietzsche was soon institutionalized after that as being mad). Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy reads like a blueprint for The Doors, and Morrison did occasionally reference Nietzsche in a warm up room before a concert in Saratoga Springs, New York. Morrison improvised an ode to Nietzsche, and in the song The Soft Parade included the line “we’ll whip the horse’s eyes and make them cry.”

Friederich Nietzsche was born October 15, 1844, he showed an early interest in music a and languages and was accepted at the prestigious Schulpforta school. Nietzsche soon learned Latin, Greek, Hebrew and French while also composing his own poems and musical compositions. It’s while at school that Nietzsche first discovered poetry and ideas that others thought eccentric, blasphemous and considered at the time to be “unbecoming.” It’s at this time Nietzsche may have discovered the music and writings of Richard Wagner. Nietzsche went to the University of Bonn as a theology student but soon suffered a crisis of faith and soon started studying philology (the study of Greek and Roman textual criticism). Nietzsche in later writings would proclaim “God is dead,” started writing and publishing essays arguing that historical research had discredited the central teachings of Christianity, as well as essays praising the philosopher Arthur Schopenhaer. Still somewhat the prodigy Nietzsche was named, at age 24, as a professor of classical philology at the University of Basel in Switzerland. Nietzsche still holds the distinction of being among the youngest tenured professors of Classical studies. Nietzsche also met and befriended Richard Wagner and his wife. Nietzsche also started publishing some of the works he would be remembered for including The Birth of Tragedy, which attempted to define the tragic roots of music in the ideas of the Apollonian versus the Dionysian. Human, All Too Human, a book of aphorisms tackling such diverse subjects as metaphysics, morality, religion and even gender studies. It was around this time Nietzsche’s health failed, it has usually thought syphilis was the culprit but Nietzsche had suffered ill health since childhood. Some theories also hypothesize that Nietzsche’s turning to philosophy incurred the disordering of his mental health, bi-polar disease has also been mentioned as a factor. Due to these disruptions of his physical and psychological health Nietzsche started traveling to other European cities seeking remedies and treatments for his various conditions. Despite his ill health Nietzsche continued to publish, The Gay ScienceThus Spoke Zarathustra, andBeyond Good and Evil date from this period. It was in Turin, Italy that incident of Nietzsche saving a horse pulling a cart from the wrath of his owner, after which he was arrested and he seemed to suffer a break with reality signing letters to friends ‘Dionysos.’ A friend, Franz Overbeck brought Nietzsche back to Switzerland where Nietzsche continued to write. As his health failed he came under the influence of those around him including an unscrupulous doctor, his mother, and finally his sister Elisabeth, who didn’t understand her brothers writings and after his death on August 25, 1900 used them to her own ends.

Nietzsche’s writings have been pointed to as being anti-Semitic and advocating German nationalism. But the facts of Friedrich Nietzsche’s life dispute this, he severed ties with a publisher because the publisher was anti-Semitic. The anti-Semitism is the work of his sister Elisabeth, who held those beliefs and after the death of Friedrich took it upon herself to compiled The Will to Power from her brothers unpublished notebooks and her misunderstanding of earlier outlines and the imposition of her own beliefs have lead to at least one Nietzsche scholar to classify The Will to Power as a forgery.

Nietzsche’s writing were neither big sellers or well received during his lifetime, it was later generations that discovered him. H.L. Mencken published English translations of his work Jack London discovered a philosophy in Nietzsche, as did Eugene O’Neill, the Nazi’s perverted Nietzsche for their own purposes (as they perverted just about everything else they needed to advance their ideology), and via the beats of the 1950’s, influenced Jim Morrison.

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