Jim Morrison, June 27, 1970 (27 minutes)
Interview with Tony Thomas on CBC Radio (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)



1. Highlights (full transcript follows these excerpts)

At that time [when I was a teenager], to be a teenager, to be young was really nothing. It was kind of a limbo state, and I think it’s amazing that just in the last five years what’s happened is young people have become increasingly aware of the power and the influence that they have as a group…

There does seem to be a trend toward a return to a kind of primitive outlook on life, a more tribal attitude, and I think it’s a natural reaction to industrialization. But unfortunately, I think it’s kind of naive because I think the future is going to become increasingly mechanized, computerized, as you call it, and I don’t think there’s any turning back. It’s just figuring out a way to survive and thrive in that kind of society. I don’t think there’s any chance of going back. Look at it this way, too. The hippie lifestyle is really a middle-class phenomenon, and it could not exist in any other society except ours where there’s such an incredible surfeit of goods, products and leisure time…

I think what I was concerned with in that book was the fact that most people feel completely void and helpless in controlling their own destinies, controlling the destiny of human life, and I think it’s sad. More people should be involved. Rather than designating all these powers to a few individuals, I think the average person, whatever that is, should be a part of it somehow, and I think everyone feels that events are just going on without their knowledge or control. I think it’s one of the tragedies of our time. I suppose it has always been that way, but now it’s just become so obvious. Decisions are made for you which you have no part of at all. I just lament the fact that so many people are content with living a very quiet, well-mannered, orderly life when so many obvious injustices are going on, and they just seem to ignore it somehow or not care at all. They just let it happen without ever becoming involved…

To me, there’s something incredibly sad about a bunch of human beings sitting down watching something take place. Just think about it. I love movies as much as anyone else, but the spectacle of millions and millions of people sitting in movie theaters and in front of television sets every night watching a second or third-hand reproduction of reality going on when the real world is right there in their living room, or right outside in the street, or down the block somewhere. I think it’s a tool to somnambulize or hypnotize people into a kind of waking sleep…

… the people who are able to assemble masses, huge masses of people into one spot, as we’ve witnessed in pop festivals in the last two or three years, the kind of people that can assemble huge crowds in one spot I think will be the major influences on mass culture in the next decade…

Yeah, well, they’re being programmed by their radios. The major radio stations, rock stations, only play 30 songs over and over and over, 24 hours a day, and it’s been proven that what you hear the most is what you like the most, so there’s really no choice involved. Someone is programming it…

What everyone should say is “The medium is the message, and the message is me.” That’s the answer for everyone. You’re asking for an answer. The answer is for everyone to stand up and say “I’m me” and be fully aware of that fact and let everyone else know it, that you are yourself, and express it…

… life gets restricted to what can be seen rather than what can be touched or experienced physically. I don’t know whether it’s a natural civilized human fear of involvement because touch can lead to a lot of… Physical involvement leads to all the real basic, existential moments in life. Sex, death, love–they have really nothing to do with seeing, with experiencing secondhand. You have to get in there and actually do it, and there just seems to be some kind of natural civilized inclination to avoid contact with the nitty-gritty of life…

… sex will always be a mystery and will always have its hang-ups and strange things about it, but [young people now] they’re much more free. I mean, it’s just accepted as a fact of life, and not something to be snickered about in private behind closed doors and all that. I think there definitely is a new style. I think it was a necessary reaction to some kind of weird repression. I don’t know how it started or when, but it was totally unnatural, and I think that that is one aspect of the new thing that is happening, that is completely beneficial. The repression of sexual energy has always been the grandest tool of a totalitarian system. If everyone was free in their sexual activity, how many people would show up for work? That is the basic problem, whether progress, the progress of civilization, the evolution of a civilized culture, is really worth it. And there have been some amazing accomplishments, beautiful accomplishments, but the question is: Is it worth it? Is it worth the repression? And that’s something everyone has to answer, every second of their life…

I’m sure that the whole basis of the war going on now is economic and I think young people just got tired of being grist for the mill, but, you know, it’s a funny thing. From the comfortable position of your TV set in your living room, war is, no matter how horrible, very glamorous. It’s a great drama. Life and death right there, a struggle, and we’re all infected from youth…

Somewhere in you, you have to entertain these utopian concepts that life could work without all that struggle. Probably not, but I mean something in us always entertains the fantasy that the world could run without war…

Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy, London.
“I think the new heroes will probably be political activists… intellectual sorts, political activists and perhaps scientists and computer experts, people like that, people that have an understanding and intellectual awareness and a knowledge of how things run, how modern society runs, will probably be the new heroes.” 

I think the new heroes will probably be political activists. In the 20s, it was sports figures. In the 30s and 40s, it was movie stars, World War II aces, that kind of thing, and then the music figures became the heroes. I think the next heroes will probably be more intellectual sorts, political activists and perhaps scientists and computer experts, people like that, people that have an understanding and intellectual awareness and a knowledge of how things run, how modern society runs, will probably be the new heroes. I think each generation supersedes the last one in intelligence and awareness…


While [youth, teens to early twenties] they’re very young and naive in a lot of ways, I think they have an incredible intelligence and awareness of events that far surpasses the people I grew up with. I like to be pessimistic, but I think from what I’ve seen, they’re far better equipped to handle what’s coming. Well, they’ll have to be…

There have been many periods in history when women were the major controlling influence in life, matriarchal societies and all that kind of thing. I think women are becoming increasingly important…

I think women have it all over men really…

… in a highly complex and industrialized system which we’re engaged in, machines take the place of an earnest day-to-day tackling of survival, and when that disappears, then you get increased feminization…

I’m totally hung up in the art game, but women have less need to re-establish a connection with life [through art] because they are life.

Did you know freedom exists in a school book? Did you know madmen are running our prison within a jail, within a gaol, within a white free protestant maelstrom? We’re perched headlong on the edge of boredom. We’re reaching for death on the end of a candle. We’re trying for something that’s already found us.
– Jim Morrison, Freedom Exists

2. Full transcript
Jim Morrison, June 27, 1970 (27 minutes)
Interview with Tony Thomas on CBC Radio (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)

(Words spoken by interviewer Tony Thomas in italics)

Jim, what do young people worship today? What do they believe? What do they hang on to? What do they hope for?

I can’t speak for young people, but probably I guess it would be the same things they’ve always celebrated, just kind of a joy of existence, self-discovery, freedom, that kind of thing.

Well, there’s always been a generation gap in every age, but the gap now seems to be much more of a definite cleavage. The young people today seem to feel and think differently. What do you think has brought this about?

Well, possibly it could have a strictly sociological basis. It could be the so-called generation gap could be a result of just larger numbers of young people. I think it happened after World War II. I think something like over half the population of the United States now is under 18 years of age, or something like that.

Politically and philosophically, the young people now seem to feel very definite ideas about the establishment, old systems of governing people, and moral attitudes.

When I was in high school and college, the kind of protest that’s going on now was totally unheard of. At that time, to be a teenager, to be young was really nothing. It was kind of a limbo state, and I think it’s amazing that just in the last five years what’s happened is young people have become increasingly aware of the power and the influence that they have as a group. It’s really amazing.

Does it surprise you that there is so much revolt on the campuses of this country against Washington and its policies?

It really surprises me because, as I said before, when I was growing up, when I was in school, that was totally unheard of. Students really had no power, but if you look back in history it seems to bear out the fact that every revolution has started with students and spread to workers and I’m not predicting that there’s going to be a drastic turnover in this country, but all the indications are there.

Life does seem to have become more evolved and complex. We’re becoming computerized and dehumanized in that process, and that bugs me. I wonder how it bothers you and your generation.

There does seem to be a trend toward a return to a kind of primitive outlook on life, a more tribal attitude, and I think it’s a natural reaction to industrialization. But unfortunately, I think it’s kind of naive because I think the future is going to become increasingly mechanized, computerized, as you call it, and I don’t think there’s any turning back. It’s just figuring out a way to survive and thrive in that kind of society. I don’t think there’s any chance of going back. Look at it this way, too. The hippie lifestyle is really a middle-class phenomenon, and it could not exist in any other society except ours where there’s such an incredible surfeit of goods, products and leisure time. I think that’s the reason for it because the generations immediately preceding ours had world wars and depressions to contend with, and for the last 10 or 15 years in this country, there’s been time enough, and there’s been money enough to live a kind of a flagrant, outrageous lifestyle which was impossible before.

Jim, there’s a line in your book of poems which reads “the cleavage of men into actor and spectators is the central fact of our time.” I think that’s undeniable, but I wonder. Hasn’t it always been that way with society?

I suppose it has, but with mass media today, it becomes more immediately apparent. I think what I was concerned with in that book was the fact that most people feel completely void and helpless in controlling their own destinies, controlling the destiny of human life, and I think it’s sad. More people should be involved. Rather than designating all these powers to a few individuals, I think the average person, whatever that is, should be a part of it somehow, and I think everyone feels that events are just going on without their knowledge or control. I think it’s one of the tragedies of our time. I suppose it has always been that way, but now it’s just become so obvious. Decisions are made for you which you have no part of at all. I just lament the fact that so many people are content with living a very quiet, well-mannered, orderly life when so many obvious injustices are going on, and they just seem to ignore it somehow or not care at all. They just let it happen without ever becoming involved. I think that’s sad.

Jim, relevant to your theory that people should get more involved in life and thus enjoy it more, you have written a line of poetry which reads “the spectator is a dying animal.” Isn’t that a bit of a contradiction to what you’ve said previously?

No, it’s concerned with that same split between the actor and the audience. To me, there’s something incredibly sad about a bunch of human beings sitting down watching something take place. Just think about it. I love movies as much as anyone else, but the spectacle of millions and millions of people sitting in movie theatres and in front of television sets every night watching a second or third-hand reproduction of reality going on when the real world is right there in their living room, or right outside in the street, or down the block somewhere. I think it’s a tool to somnambulize or hypnotize people into a kind of waking sleep, but I think the major influence in the next decade or so is going to be the people… I don’t know what you’d call them except maybe the connectors… the people who are able to assemble masses, huge masses of people into one spot, as we’ve witnessed in pop festivals in the last two or three years, the kind of people that can assemble huge crowds in one spot I think will be the major influences on mass culture in the next decade. I think the rock music enthusiasts have created probably some of the most exciting music and theatrical events on the planet. I think they’re fantastic.

Part of the generation gap is the difference in what people like in terms of music. Now, rock and hard rock do seem to go hand in hand with the younger crowd, and some of us who are little older are confused and puzzled by that because we can’t quite cotton on to this sound. Can you understand that?

In adolescence and early youth, the fires are burning fastest, when your energy level is probably its highest, so it demands a kind of raucous, screaming type of music. And I’m 26 now, and I’m getting more interested in jazz to tell you the truth. I can’t even listen to radio anymore. I like old blues cats and early rock and roll and some other things, but frankly I find most of it really boring.

This is something that distresses me a little bit. It seems the young people like all the same kind of thing now. I want more out of young people than just that.

Yeah, well, they’re being programmed by their radios. The major radio stations, rock stations, only play 30 songs over and over and over, 24 hours a day, and it’s been proven that what you hear the most is what you like the most, so there’s really no choice involved. Someone is programming it.

So we are the victims of media?

What everyone should say is “The medium is the message, and the message is me.” That’s the answer for everyone. You’re asking for an answer. The answer is for everyone to stand up and say “I’m me” and be fully aware of that fact and let everyone else know it, that you are yourself, and express it.

Jim, we’re talking about communication, watching the box, etc., being victimized by the media. Well, there’s a sort of a voyeurism in the air today, and you have a line which says more or less “We’re all afflicted with the psychology of the voyeur.” That to me seems to be tragic.

What it is is that somehow life gets restricted to what can be seen rather than what can be touched or experienced physically. I don’t know whether it’s a natural civilized human fear of involvement because touch can lead to a lot of… Physical involvement leads to all the real basic, existential moments in life. Sex, death, love–they have really nothing to do with seeing, with experiencing secondhand. You have to get in there and actually do it, and there just seems to be some kind of natural civilized inclination to avoid contact with the nitty-gritty of life.

We can’t talk about life and not talk about sex. Now this confuses me because we have a so-called new morality, and I keep looking at it and trying to figure out what it is.

There is, though. I can remember when I was in high school and even college which wasn’t that many years ago, and sex was still in the Victorian age. It was very hush-hush. If you suspected a girl of being one of the ones who was doing it, it was like kind of a locker room conversation and all that, and I think that this new group of kids that have come along… I mean sex will always be a mystery and will always have its hang-ups and strange things about it, but they’re much more free. I mean, it’s just accepted as a fact of life, and not something to be snickered about in private behind closed doors and all that. I think there definitely is a new style. I think it was a necessary reaction to some kind of weird repression. I don’t know how it started or when, but it was totally unnatural, and I think that that is one aspect of the new thing that is happening, that is completely beneficial. The repression of sexual energy has always been the grandest tool of a totalitarian system. If everyone was free in their sexual activity, how many people would show up for work? That is the basic problem, whether progress, the progress of civilization, the evolution of a civilized culture, is really worth it. And there have been some amazing accomplishments, beautiful accomplishments, but the question is: Is it worth it? Is it worth the repression? And that’s something everyone has to answer, every second of their life.

When you talk to young people, when you get through to them… You see them all the time. Do you get the impression from them that they think that life is worthwhile, it’s worth living, that it’s a ball?

I’ll tell you the damn truth. I don’t know that many young people. I really don’t. I usually I hang out with my contemporaries, and I really don’t have that much contact with young people.

Well, you’re 26. You’re young to me.

Yeah, but I’m over the hill.

Do you wish you were 10 years younger?

Naaah. Generations now happen every year or maybe every month rather than… It used to be 10 years or something like that, but I think things are changing so fast there’s a new generation every year at least.

Jim, I don’t think there’s any topic that does sort of define the young revolution more than the topic of war. I don’t know anyone who’s really in favor of war, but today we seem to have an entire young generation absolutely opposed to the very idea of it.

And probably because they’re the ones that always fight the wars. They are the human fodder for the war machine, and there just seems to be no way around it. There’s just no cause. I’m sure that the whole basis of the war going on now is economic and I think young people just got tired of being grist for the mill, but, you know, it’s a funny thing. From the comfortable position of your TV set in your living room, war is, no matter how horrible, very glamorous. It’s a great drama. Life and death right there, a struggle, and we’re all infected from youth, with little kids running around playing war, and playing cowboys and Indians or whatever. It’s just ingrained in you from the beginning that there’s something heroic to proving yourself in battle and all that kind of thing.

The very hero concept seems to have changed in these past few years.

No heroes have come out of this present conflict. It’s very strange. Well, there’s no support for it hardly, even in the press.

And the young people no longer worship warriors the way we used to.

Right. Somewhere in you, you have to entertain these utopian concepts that life could work without all that struggle. Probably not, but I mean something in us always entertains the fantasy that the world could run without war.

Our society has always needed to worship heroes. Now where are young people today looking for heroes? What type of heroes?

I think the new heroes will probably be political activists. In the 20s, it was sports figures. In the 30s and 40s, it was movie stars, World War II aces, that kind of thing, and then the music figures became the heroes. I think the next heroes will probably be more intellectual sorts, political activists and perhaps scientists and computer experts, people like that, people that have an understanding and intellectual awareness and a knowledge of how things run, how modern society runs, will probably be the new heroes. I think each generation supersedes the last one in intelligence and awareness, and I think there’s been a giant step recently in the young people that I’ve seen as I travel around. While they’re very young and naive in a lot of ways, I think they have an incredible intelligence and awareness of events that far surpasses the people I grew up with. I like to be pessimistic, but I think from what I’ve seen, they’re far better equipped to handle what’s coming. Well, they’ll have to be.

Jim, in talking about life today we have the business of sexual relationships, the relationship between men and women, and we all wonder how much it has changed, the role of man in modern life and the role of woman in modern life. We even have a horrible thing called unisex which terrifies me. Do you think there’s that much of a difference in the style of life affecting the man-woman relationship today?

Well, when you look at history, it seems to be cyclical. There have been many periods in history when women were the major controlling influence in life, matriarchal societies and all that kind of thing. I think women are becoming increasingly important. It’s a ridiculous thing to try and talk about in such simple terms, but I think the influence of women is becoming more and more felt. I’m not sure I can expand on that, but I think you know what I mean. I think the unisex trip is really a cop-out. What’s happening is life is becoming more and more feminized…

… so that the male is now less masculine because he has no need to be very masculine.

Yeah, that’s true. Yeah, there’s no frontier to conquer or hunting and fishing and all that. It’s not a basic survival thing. I think life is becoming increasingly feminized.

And softer for men. Do you think that’s good?

Sure.

Why?

Well, I think women have it all over men really. I really think they had the right idea.

Which is what?

Less inclination toward intellectualizing things and the need for formalizing and idealizing life, and just simply accepting it and living it.

We tend to think of women as being starry-eyed and romantic, but if you think about it, most of the romanticizers and the idealists are men.

That’s very true.

Do you think that will change?

I think it’s cyclical, but I think in a highly complex and industrialized system which we’re engaged in, machines take the place of an earnest day-to-day tackling of survival, and when that disappears, then you get increased feminization.

Well, you’re a student of the cinema. You’ve studied cinema at UCLA, and one of the things that you’ve written about the cinema is this: “It is wrong to assume, as some have done, that cinema belongs to women. Cinema is created by men for the consolation of men.” Would you enlarge upon that?

Well, who makes all the films? Who runs the projection booth? It’s that somehow it’s a masculine desire to dominate life rather than just accepting it and flowing with it, and I think that is responsible for the creation of films, and a lot of other things.

Men are dominant in the arts, aren’t they, as writers, composers, actors–almost everything.

Yeah, there are very few female artists.

Do you think they’re wise to keep out of it?

Yeah, I do, although it’s a contradiction because I’m totally hung up in the art game, but women have less need to re-establish a connection with life because they are life.

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