Posts Tagged ‘psychedelics’

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Did psychedelic mushrooms and group sex play a role in human evolution?

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Medical potential of psychedelic drugs, explained in 50+ studies

 

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New Study Is The First Ever To Map The Human Brain On LSD

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The beautiful and tenacious Amber Lyon investigates the healing power and history of MDMA, psilocybin, LSD and others.

 

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The Doors is one story of rock icon Jim Morrison, directed and written by Oliver Stone with Randall Jahnson.  The film combines historical recreation with shamanistic mysticism weaving in and out like threads of a dream.  This is, in my opinion, one of Stone’s best films alongside JFK.

The Doors movie is a pack of lies.”
-Ray Manzarek

Ray Manzarek, The Doors’ late keyboardist, greatly disliked the film, and he called it a “powder movie,” implying that cocaine was more of an inspiration than were psychedelics.  He also disliked Val Kilmer’s portrayal of fallen rocker Morrison.

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The band’s initial formation was linked to psychedelic experiences in the mid 60s, and that is a plot point in the movie.  The band’s name is itself an allusion to a psychedelic awakening and is taken from a William Blake quote about the “doors of perception.”

“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.”

Obviously a reference to Plato’s Cave in there.  We are the blind, deaf, dumb slaves and only through opening these doors of perception can we realize our full lives, our potentials, our true places in the universe.  These were the kinds of ideas that drove Jim Morrison.  These themes reappear in his songs and in his personal journey.

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With such a controversial story, the principal character long dead, the survivors fighting with the director for their own visions it’s amazing the film got made in the first place.  Robbie Krieger, John Densmore and Patricia Kennealy all served as advisers on the Stone film, however they did complain that Stone went his own way much of the time.  The historical accuracy of the film is challenged, but this is a fictional portrayal of a very mystical character.  “The Lizard King” was not your typical subject, and I’m not seeing that the inaccuracies greatly changed the public’s perception of Morrison.  He did, in the end, kill himself with heroin.  He was known for excess and bouts of outrageous behavior.  If the specifics changed somewhat for dramatic effect and through the fog of memory and time, the main thrust does not seem to have been significantly altered — to me anyway, but then again Manzarek was there.  The most formidable detractor of the film has been the Doors’ keyboardist.  His main beef is the concept of “sensationalism.”

“What are the poems about? And man, they’re about much further out stuff than the sensationalism going around now, the sensationalism of the Oliver Stone movie.”

Is this a valid critique?  Did the film gloss over the more esoteric and provocative ideas of Morrison in favor of sex, drugs and rock and roll?  Perhaps so, but a two hour poetry reading just doesn’t work either.  Balance is key, and Morrison’s verses without the edgy sound of the band would have gone nowhere.  This marriage of intellectual and visceral is part of the terrain.  What is sensationalism?  Is it a real thing?  Does it actually exist?  Or is it more of an opinion that someone was expecting one thing, and got something else instead?

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Ray Manzarek also complained loudly about Oliver Stone’s presentation of Jim Morrison:

“Jim with a bottle all the time. It was ridiculous . . . It was not about Jim Morrison. It was about Jimbo Morrison, the drunk. God, where was the sensitive poet and the funny guy? The guy I knew was not on that screen.”

Excess and wild behavior are more cinematic, but the idea that Morrison wasn’t presented sober and with emphasis on his words and ideas is false.  Much screen time is devoted to the early period, Morrison’s poetry, acclimation to stardom and interviews.  Manzarek was biased before production even began and refused to talk to Kilmer or anyone involved on the project after talks with director Stone broke down.

As a first-person eyewitness, however, Ray Manzarek is not shy about Morrison’s legendary excesses:

“Jesus Christ, at the fucking University of Michigan homecoming with the football players, Jimbo took over and Jim was simply not able to perform. It was so bad that John and Robbie left the stage. I picked up a guitar and played some John Lee Hooker kind of stuff hoping we could get through at least something and Jim was just drunk as a skunk berating tuxedoed guys and gowned, coiffured girls who had come to hear the band with that hit song Light My Fire and instead they get The Dirty Doors. It was like a tragedy, man. (laughs)  We got banned from the Big 10.  The letter went out.  Never hire this filthy, dirty, disgusting band ever again.”

Robbie Krieger:

“When the Doors broke up Ray had his idea of how the band should be portrayed and John and I had ours”.

Stone’s talent for combining various film formats and looks that signify different time periods and subplots works fantastically to deepen our understanding, or at least our appreciation for, Morrison.  This is, however, not a happy tale, and everyone already knows how it ends.  That kind of hurdle can kill a lot of films, as suspense is somewhat diminished.  But The Doors lived on, and Morrison lived on past his own demise and to this day.  The movie attempts to show why.  The band arguably changed rock and roll forever, and they did so in the most turbulent period, the late 1960s, dragging music from corporate plastic prefabricated product into the realms of mystery and psychological aggression.

Stone makes movies for grownups, and the material is blunt, sexual, edge of the law and beyond.  He isn’t restrained by the usual Hollywood sensibilities, pandering to 13 year olds and the producers who think like them.  He presents the facts, and he presents the interpretation of the visions taken from Morrison’s works and interviews.  Stone attempted to expand the consciousness of the film beyond what is in front of the camera and to tie it to the age, the shifting culture – all very difficult to do.  Some were unconvinced, or perhaps they misunderstood the intent, but Stone out on a ledge is far more interesting than most directors’ straight bio-pic.  Keeping with Morrison’s own intent, to cleanse the doors of perception, Oliver Stone approached the material from every conceivable angle, to subvert preconceptions.  That’s a very Morrison thing to do, and it should be appreciated as such.

The surviving band members have since put together a documentary, When You’re Strange (2010) from old documentary footage.  Manzarek is highly pleased with this portrayal.

When You’re Strange: The End

 

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