New Creatures, The

New Creatures, The
by Jim Morrison
   Michael McClure writes, “In the lucid mescalinelike light of a hangover, I found his manuscript of The New Creatures on the coffee table of his Belgravia apartment [in London] and was excited by what I read. . . . I suggested that Jim do a private edition for friends only and then give the book to a commercial publisher if he chose.” jim morrison privately published a limited edition of 100 copies of The New Creatures, finished July 24, 1968, dedicated to Pamela Courson, printed by Western Lithographers in summer 1970. Simon & Schuster published the book combined with The Lords (1969), Morrison’s Nietzschean poeticphilosophical musings on film, as The Lords & The New Creatures, in 1970. Stephen Davis writes: The New Creatures compiled more recent poetic interpretation of his adventures and persona as a rock star, charting the psychic territory of national legend and celebrity that no poet since Lord Byron had been able to investigate firsthand. Sometimes stabbingly acute, sometimes banal and derivative, these poems hung together as the inner workings of a rebel and outlaw self-exiled to a spiritual landscape of exaltation and despair. McClure calls The New Creatures a book of imagistic poetry with hints of seventeenth century, hints of Elizabethan drama, tastes of classical mythology. It’s a kind of romantic personal viewpoint in a nineteenth-century Shelleyan/Keatsian sense. . . . Very nineteenth-century, very personal. Yet the poetry itself is almost mainstream twentieth-century imagist poetry. It’s good poetry, real fine poetry, as good as anybody in his generation was writing. . . . Some of them could be Roman poems, except for their very Englishness—goddess hunters, bows and arrows, people with green hair walking by the side of the sea. It’s a little bit like science fiction. A little bit like some Roman poet writing in Latin had been reading nineteenth-century poetry.
   The “new creatures” of Morrison’s book are mutants that were spawned by the violence and the revolutionary changes occurring in the late 1960s. The opening image could be of Morrison himself:
   Snakeskin jacket
   Indian eyes
   Brilliant hair
   He moves in disturbed
   Nile Insect
   The military industrial complex is destroying itself and the world. The new creatures of the counterculture are being born. While the cold war spoils the planet, the spirits of ancient peoples are returning. The youth questions the destructiveness of the old. Morrison uses Hieronymous Bosch-like images of chaos. Disturbing hallucinations, like a Native-American shaman seeing the terrible future on peyote, make visible the spirit world damaged by capitalism, consumerism, colonialism, and soullessness. African Americans riot in the streets of America after “The assassin’s bullet / Marries the King,” an allusion to the assassination of Martin Luther King in April 1968. These are visions from a trance that was induced by the horrors of a civilization gone wrong.
   In these poems Morrison becomes the Beat poet that he wanted to be. According to Ray Manzarek, “Jim has that same kind of aura about him that the Beats had.” McClure states, “I know of no better poet of Jim’s generation.”
■ Davis, Stephen. Jim Morrison: Life, Death, Legend. New York: Gotham Books, 2004.
■ Manzarek, Ray. Light My Fire: My Life with The Doors. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1998.
■ McClure, Michael. Afterword. No One Here Gets Out Alive, by Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugerman. New York: Warner Books, 1981.
■ ———. “Nile Insect Eyes: Talking on Jim Morrison.” Interview with Frank Lisciandro. Lighting the Corners: On Art, Nature, and the VisionaryEssays and Interviews, by Michael McClure. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico College of Arts and Sciences, 1993.
   Kurt Hemmer

Encyclopedia of Beat Literature. . 2014.

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