Patricia Kennealy-Morrison - FAQ 14

 Okay, but we do hear interminably about Jim and Rimbaud: what's up with that? What other poets did Jim admire?

Probably people only remember Rimbaud 'cause they're thinking Rambo--

Because if you're not an intellectual snob who constantly mentions how much smarter you are than everyone else, you can't remember anything that is higher art than Rambo. Because stooooooopid.

Wanna know something? I've only seen the first Rambo movie, but it was way better than her last two books, because it's NOT a stupid movie. It's a politically and socially charged film about the horrors of war and the torment that is suffered by those who fought for their country in the Vietnam War, only to be hated and shunned by the people whom they were trying to defend, and finding themselves unable to simply rejoin regular life. It's about the terrible tendency that people had to direct their hate for the war towards those who fought it. And some parts of it will just break your heart.

By comparison...

This book is about how Jim Morrison only loved PKM, and everything PKM does is good and right. Because she's so much smarter than everyone else, and she'll kill you if you don't adore her. Ooo, so intellectual.

And you know what? Rimbaud was probably a natural connection to make because he was a talented young poet who abused booze and drugs, wrote very vivid poetry, and died abnormally young. People like to make connections. Just look at the 27 Club.

maybe some of them even spell it that way--or he's the only poet they've ever heard of because they keep reading his name in all the Morrisonographies, and only because the usual suspects (the regurgitators) keep blithering on about how Jim was soooo into Rimbauuuud...

I get the feeling that Kennealy is dismissive of this because she doesn't like Rimbaud, so of course only STOOPID Pamhead fanboys would ever read him.

As for the idea that the only people who talk about Rimbaud and Morrison are no-life-having fanboys and/or illiterates who have never heard of any other poems, allow me to introduce you to Wallace Fowlie.

Wallace Fowlie wrote an entire book about Rimbaud and Jim Morrison, which compares their lives and work. Morrison actually KNEW about Fowlie, because he actually wrote the man about his 1966 translation of Rimbaud's works. Clearly he didn't care much about Rimbaud, or he wouldn't have written the guy.

Was Fowlie a barely-literate fanboy? Well, here's the thing... he was the professor of French lit at Duke, and he also taught at places like Yale, Bennington, Holy Cross, etc. He continued teaching until he was in his mid-eighties and dying, he was fluent in seven Romance languages, got his doctorate from Harvard, personally knew T.S. Eliot, was well-known as a seminal translator of Rimbaud's works, and influenced many other musicians besides Morrison, like Bob Dylan, Patti Smith and the Beatles. Among the people he corresponded with were Anaïs Nin, Jean Cocteau and Marianne Moore.

Why do I mention this? Two reasons:

  1. To show that no, the Rimbaud thing is NOT just spread by illiterate fanboys.
  2. Kennealy spends a good deal of this screed shitting on Fowlie.

Alors, Rimbaud et Baudelaire, bien s[ring]r, mais beaucoup d'autres aussi... Like Yeats, f'rinstance: in fact, one of the first things Jim ever gave me is a gorgeous 1912 edition of Willie's early (obviously!) poems, beautiful Art Nouveau decorated boards...

  1. Ah, Yeats. An Irish poet who wrote about Irish mythology and history. 
  2. I wonder why PKM, who trumpets everything Irish except the things she doesn't like, such as their religion considers Yeats so significant to Morrison.
  3. And even if I did blindly believe that she was telling the unvarnished truth, this wouldn't really indicate that HE was a fan, since he was giving HER a book.
  4. The way presents work is, you're supposed to give the other person something THEY will like.

Also the Romantics, in which his poetic tastes exactly paralleled my own: 

How wonderfully convenient. Clearly I should take this as yet another sign that they were perfectly suited and meant-to-be and soulmates joined at the brain, and definitely not that she's posthumously sculpting all his interests so they are EXACTLY like hers. 

Shelley--primo; Byron--okay; Keats--not so much; Wordsworth--cool; Coleridge--any friend of tripping is a friend of mine; and of course Blake, who wasn't really a Romantic...
Wallace Stevens--a favorite with both of us. 

I think you guys can figure out by now why I say she isn't a fan of Rimbaud. Any poet he's known to have enjoyed that SHE doesn't enjoy, she dismisses in the most insulting way she can. Nobody gets to say he was a serious fan of that guy, because SHE does not like him and only the Doors fans she so loathes think so. Any poet she adores? Well, naturally he adored them too, and exactly the same way and with the same intensity.

Yeah, that does NOT happen, especially when one of the people involved is a poet and the other is not. Any kind of expertise in a field automatically gives you different perceptions from someone else, even if that someone else is one of the exalted special snowflake "artistes."

Plus, there's just the creepy undercurrent of Kennealy crafting an "ideal man" who has the exact same tastes as her in everything or was developing them (jewelry, poetry, living quarters, etc) and agrees with her in everything. And of course, anyone who suggests that maybe he liked things she DIDN'T is an evil sexist neckbeard who probably has a shrine to Pamela.

Oh, and I can easily believe that Morrison read and enjoyed those poets. He was, after all, a very intelligent and literate man, so why wouldn't he? I can totally buy that. But I don't buy for a second that all his tastes were crafted in near-perfect parallel to Kennealy's, especially since we've seen that his writing style - not to mention WHAT he wrote - is WILDLY different from hers. 

I had a volume of Stevens with me in Miami, and even in the middle of our personal emotional upheaval Jim noted it, and was impressed; 

  1. Because when you're there to have a pitched battle over whether or not to have an abortion, who wouldn't be thinking mainly about your boyfriend noticing your books?
  2. Yes, she randomly mentions the books she had in Strange Days. However, she never mentions him being impressed, just sort of flipping through them.
  3. Why did she mention this? Because she's a massive showoff, and she wanted us to know what counted as "just pleasure reading, nothing heavy" for her: Stevens, a book on the making of 2001: A Space Odyssey, and some neopagan SF book by Robert Graves.
  4. Has she mentioned that she reads, and she's way smarter than you? Or me? Or anyone else she encounters except darling Jim?

I have a vivid memory of reading aloud to him, in one of our calmer moments, from "The Idea of Order at Key West", which somehow seemed appropriate for the time and place...

Not sure why. It's about a woman singing, and her resemblance to the ocean, or alternately about the creative process. Not sure what it or its philosophical themes have to do with you fighting with your paramour about an unwanted pregnancy.

I'm a big Kipling and Tennyson fan, so I turned Jim on to them--he liked some stuff, but he wasn't as into them as I was--though for a 25th-birthday present he gave me one of the most incredibly beautiful books I have ever seen and one of my most cherished possessions: a first edition of the Idylls of the King, suitably and tenderly inscribed.

I'm honestly shocked that this woman doesn't need to rent a second apartment for all the things she says that Morrison gave her.

Also, this kind of supports my previous remark: just because you give an item to a loved one doesn't mean you yourself are hugely into it. It means you know THEY are into it. That's what makes a good gift.

But his poetic taste was all over the lot, sonnets here, blank verse there...everybody from Edna St. Vincent Millay to Petrarch to obscure Jacobeans, and he was not shy about lifting bits he liked.

So? I'm not surprised that he liked lots of things. He was a smart guy, and many smart people tend to like a wide array of things.

But what does it matter that he likes these things? I have shocking news for Ms. Kennealy: you can like lots of things BESIDES Rimbaud and still like Rimbaud. It feels like she's trying to throw up distractions so we'll focus on anything she likes rather than any liking Morrison had for Rimbaud.

He was absolutely thrilled that I had busted him on these; he loved it when someone actually GOT what he was doing, grateful that someone else was not only on the same page but in the same poem as he was

Let me guess: you were the absolutely only person who caught those references, because nobody else in his life was as brilliant and lit'rate as you. And of course, you caught ALL of them because you've read every single poem that he would ever have been interested in.

A while back I read the recent Wallace Fowlie book on Jim and Rimbaud that the knuckledraggers never fail to cite, oooh wow!, as proof positive of Jim's poetic credentials

Yup, she sees it as only a thing that dumb people like or think he had any interest in.

And one thing you'll quickly notice is that she can't actually refute anything said in that book, or the idea that it's actually useful or interesting. Like most other books she doesn't like on the subject of Morrison, she wants you to not actually pay attention to the validity of its content, but rather how it relates to HER and/or the people she despises. Case in point:

--oh, and by the way, Professor Fowlie, you discourteous clod, you never even bothered to send me a thank-you note for the very nice letter and books and words about Jim I sent you (at your home address, even!) a few years back. Miss Manners would be very cross with you...

  1. It's not very courteous to send shit to a complete stranger's home address.
  2. Especially when it's apparently just to validate yourself.
  3. If he's so unimportant and so wrong, why did you send those things anyway?
  4. If you wanted to get in contact with him, you should have contacted him through his official WORK ADDRESS. Like a professional with a measure of respect, instead of disrespectfully horning in on his personal life.
  5. And considering how Kennealy typically talks about herself and Morrison, I can only imagine what her "nice" letter and words were like. 
  6. Probably letting him know that as the premiere expert on all things Morrison, he should instead base his book on what SHE said he liked, because they were totally married, doncha know, so listen up and pay attention. So forget all about Rimbaud, and focus instead on these things SHE liked and so naturally he did too.
  7. I mean, she tells US to ignore every single person he knew except for her, that they're all part of some strange Pam-centric conspiracy to discredit her, and that this is WAY more plausible than the obvious alternative interpretation of "Patricia wasn't his one and only." Why would she expect an academic to do any less?
  8. Of course, any academic who did any research would probably discover quickly why he shouldn't.

But since in his book Fowlie spends soooo much time impressing us (or himself) with his various Doors connections--the anti-Patricia contingent, needless to say, including Gopher Boy--

  1. By that, she actually means that his connections...  are with people who actually knew the Doors and spent time around them, rather than a woman who claims to be the one and only expert on Morrison and that everyone else is a bunch of evil conspirators. 
  2. And in case you're wondering, Fowlie never mentions her.
  3. Which would be one way of getting on her bad side.
  4. Another: listening to anyone else who ever knew Jim Morrison, especially if they ever suggested that he had any serious feelings for Pamela.
  5. And by implying that Jim EVER enjoyed reading a poet that PKM does NOT, he is denying that Morrison ever loved her, and thus is a part of the Evil Pam Conspiracy.
  6. Behold: PKM logic.
  7. And O smart and lit'rate Member of Mensa whose brain is infinitely bigger than the subhuman apes who ever dare question her, it is "Gofer." 
  8. A "gofer" is a person who gets stuff for people (they "go-fer" things, geddit?). 
  9. A "gopher" is a small subterranean rodent.

and activities, and with how hip he himself is even though he actually DIDN'T EVEN KNOW WHO JIM WAS at first, perhaps I'm not so surprised at his appalling rudeness after all...

Ugh, does it get any RUDER than not knowing who someone is?! I don't know how the rich and famous can STAND the insolence of the merely educated and intelligent!

As for trying to depict oneself as "hip," Kennealy name-drops every single famous or semi-famous person she has ever shared oxygen molecules with. After David Bowie died, she spent several days rambling about how she met him and worked on an ad campaign for one of his albums, as if they were best buds. She is no one to accuse others of trying to be cool.

Now. I myself am utterly UNimpressed with Fowlie's literary treatment. 

Of course she is. He didn't mention, credit or communicate with her. 

As a quondam Lit. major (I was trained in Joyce by the great Zack Bowen himself, and by Boyd Litzinger in Browning and Tennyson, and by Paul Matthiessen in the Romantics! Now there's collegial litcred for you!), 

Interesting word choice, "trained." She makes it sound like all these people gave her one-on-one coaching on The Classics, and this gives her all of their amazing literary street cred by extension. 

Hey, Kennealy? You have a bachelor's degree in English lit. 

Fowlie was a professor, which alone demonstrates his far more extensive knowledge and education, even if you don't get into his six decades of teaching in multiple types of literature. He published translations of foreign-language poetry. He wrote MANY more books than you did, including memoirs, and books on surrealism, French literature, theatre, Dante Alighieri, and assorted biographical works of people like Rimbaud, Jean Cocteau and André Gide. 

Unlike you, he had the "collegial litcred" (why does this woman use so many made-up words?) to TEACH classes for many decades, at some very highly-respected institutions. That requires many years of learning and experience than someone who merely was one of many to ATTEND classes by intellectuals and scholars, and probably wrote a few papers on how In Memoriam is actually all about string theory or something like that. As for translating books, they don't just let any schmuck do that, you know. Graduating college is hard, but teaching it for many decades as an expert in your fields? Much harder. Get back to me when you're a professor of ANYTHING.

I don't care who taught you for a semester in college. Alexander the Great was personally tutored by Aristotle, but that didn't make him the intellectual superior of other Greek intellectuals. It merely made him smarter and better-educated that he otherwise might have been. 

So really, Kennealy's condescending sneers about Fowlie being on a lesser intellectual plane is just ridiculous, especially since HER best-known book is this one:

Doesn't that just scream intellectual superiority AND collegial "litcred"?

Also, she doesn't know the difference between "gofer" and "gopher."

I had been hoping for some nice, preposterously academic parsing of Jim's stuff--always good for a laugh--

"I was taught by people smarter and more educated than me! That means I'm SO smart I can sneer at other people's academic pretensions!"

and maybe even some real insights.

Imagine how disappointed she must have been that Fowlie instead wrote a more casual, reflective book with a fair amount of his personal experience in it. He probably figured that the people likely to pick up a Jim Morrison book weren't into hardcore academic analysis, so he wrote a book that would be easier for them to read and understand.

Besides, he didn't have anything to prove, did he? He'd been publishing respected works for several decades when the book on Morrison and Rimbaud came out.

And of course, Kennealy left out one little fact: the book came out in 1994. He died in 1998, at the age of ninety. How dare he not dedicate his waning years, when he was plagued by constant pain from cancer and diabetes, and was nearly blind, to writing a super-scholarly book for PKM to make fun of! The nerve of the man!

Fowlie's parvissimum opus is more about Wallace Fowlie than about Rimbaud, and it's way more about Rimbaud than about Jim.

It's always mind-blowing when Kennealy accuses someone else of writing more about themselves than Jim.

I mean, this woman wrote a book whose only appeal is that it involves Jim Morrison, and yet she still tries to make it all about her. I mean, at least Fowlie's book doesn't feature him jaunting off to music festivals so he can show how he knew all the cool rockers of the day because ME SUCH GREAT JOURNALIST.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, I have not read the whole book. I read part of it, and honestly it was pretty enjoyable. It's certainly far less egotistical and manically vindictive than PKM's book, and it has some interesting analysis.

In fact, it's hardly about Jim's poetry at all, really--it seems that Jim's actual work, as opposed to his life and his legend, is the least of Fowlie's interests and, indeed, understanding. 

  1. Wrong. Wrong. Wrongolicious.
  2. There is quite a bit in the book about Morrison's artistic connections, including non-Rimbaudian poetry he liked. 
  3. It's also worth noting that in the biblliography, all the volumes of Morrison's poetry are listed.
  4. Yes, it would be natural for a man who translated Rimbaud and wrote books on Rimbaud to slant slightly in the direction of Rimbaud. 
  5. But he clearly had immense artistic respect for Morrison, and there's nothing scandalous or mean-spirited about the things he ever said.

The book certainly isn't the scholarly exegesis complete with allusional annotations I had been hoping for, 

"I wanted to make fun of how stuffy and stupid it was! This sucks!"

and I certainly would not recommend that anyone buy it, or even read it.

Of course you wouldn't. It's a book about Morrison's thematic connection to a poet you clearly don't like, completely ignoring anything YOU said on the matter. It also cites several books by people you hate (such as James Riordan, Danny Sugerman, Jerry Hopkins and John Densmore), AND refers to Pam as his girlfriend.

And/or she was disappointed that her darling Jim didn't get a super-scholarly work with all these literary references that only someone as brilliant as she would catch without being condescended to, and she got pissed off that Fowlie simply wrote a short book about what HE thought about these two young men.

Oh, and as with most of the books she thinks you shouldn't read, I WOULD recommend it. It's an interesting read, and it's pleasant to see an actual intellectual and scholar address the subject of Jim Morrison, especially since he clearly has no ego invested in Morrison. 

The whole thing started not with rock `n roll but with a letter from Jim to Fowlie in 1968, in which Jim thanks the Prof for his newly published English translation of Rimbaud's poetry, "since I don't read French very well".

... who cares if it didn't start with rock'n'roll? Fowlie WASN'T primarily involved in rock'n'roll, although he seems to have cultivated a decent knowledge of the bigger rock stars. 

Was his correspondence somehow less valid than other people's BECAUSE he wasn't a fan of Morrison, but Morrison was a fan of hi?

One of the very few instances of Jim being disingenuous: HE COULDN'T READ A WORD OF FRENCH! 

But I'm sure PKM does. Just a hunch.

Pas un petit mot...well, maybe in Paris he learned `bonjour' and `merci' and `croque monsieur'--if that--but c'est tout...and that was much later anyway.

"And besides, Pamela's stupidity probably infected him and made him forget THOSE words. Good thing I gave him a hand-embroidered robe with 'Pamela est une flaque de vomi de chien' on the back!"

He studied Spanish in college (maybe high school too?), and got average grades for it, but that appears to have been the extent of his linguistic education and flair. [Whereas I am not only fluent in French and Latin--straight A's through high school and college--

Yeah, that doesn't shock me at all. Considering how much she wants us to think he was a god among men, she spends an awful lot of time informing us that Morrison was nowhere near as accomplished and smart as she is. But I guess when your whole self-image revolves around being the smartest person around, you HAVE to be smarter than everyone else.

And since Morrison was a handsome, charismatic and wildly talented rock star, she has to let us know that she was smarter than him. Because if she isn't, what exactly does she bring to the table?

capable of quoting Catullus and, yeah, okay, Rimbaud too, in the original from memory (Jim was, like, you know, impressed),

Snarky Internet reader was, like, you know, not impressed.

Also, if he didn't speak a word of French, would he even have understood that it WAS Rimbaud? Oh dearie me, we have a logical inconsistency. Again. But what do I know? I don't 

but accomplished enough in German to check the translations of my books auf Deutsch for style and error, 

Yes, because glancing over someone ELSE'S translation is much more impressive than actually PRODUCING translations. You know, with all the word choices and struggle to maintain style and meaning and cultural references... not a big deal. Now reading and criticizing someone else's work, THAT is impressive.

and can manage enough Irish and Welsh to tamper with both for my novels. Brag, brag, brag... ]

  1. Yet she can't manage the word "gofer" in her native tongue.
  2. Also, fucking around with Welsh and Irish Gaelic is nothing impressive.
  3. Glance around any fantasy section and you'll likely come across a lot of bastardized Celtic languages.
  4. And even with all this, she STILL doesn't even come close to the SEVEN LANGUAGES Fowlie spoke.
  5. Nor is she apparently fluent enough to match him actually translating poetry and letters into English, since she can "quote" and "tamper" with other languages. 
  6. Nor is getting straight As in other languages THAT impressive. Guess who got As in Spanish. 

And I don't happen to think Fowlie's translations are so great, either...

  1. "His book is stupid and he's stupid and he's rude, and he wasn't part of the rock'n'roll world like I was, and his translations suck anyway!"
  2. Apparently Jim didn't think so.
  3. So is she saying he was too dumb to realize what a good translation was, or just informing us that naturally, she was WAY smarter than him?
  4. Maybe she's simply jealous that she wasn't the only person Morrison wrote to.
  5. And I'm sure Professor Fowlie would be devastated that someone as academically impressive and prominent as PKM doesn't like his translations. Fuck his peers! The self-proclaimed Lizard Queen DOES NOT THINK THEY'RE THAT GOOD!
  6. Hmm, who should I trust as far as French poetry is concerned?

The woman who has turned a single not-terribly-serious affair into an epic love for the ages and bawls about any book that doesn't promote this Twoo Wuv...
... or the guy who was just writing a casual compare-and-contrast on two brilliant young artists, with no apparent motivation?

The woman who got As in French several decades ago...
... or the guy who spent most of his adult life TEACHING French literature at a variety of respected colleges and universities?

The woman with the bachelor's in English lit from Binghamton...
... or the guy who got his doctorate from Harvard?

The woman who was a journalist for a small rock magazine before becoming a midlist sci-fi author...
... or the guy who wrote and translated over forty books on a variety of topics?

The woman who boasts she can "tamper" and "quote" from five languages max...
... or the guy who was a polyglot in SEVEN languages?

The woman who attended some classes taught by scholars, authors and experts...
... or the guy who WAS a scholar, an author and an expert, and spent several decades as a professor teaching OTHERS when he wasn't corresponding with a variety of great minds and writers?

Hmm, clearly I'm going to trust the former. Because you know, she MET experts in English lit and she learned French many many years ago, so that totally makes her smarter than a professor in French lit who spent several decades respected as an expert on the topic. 

Anyway, the bottom line is that yeah, Jim liked Rimbaud just fine. But he liked other poets just as much, if not more. 

I don't think anyone claimed he didn't. 

Maybe we'll start seeing that reflected in the ravings of the subliterate Jimolatrous hordes; maybe not.

"Why can't they just accept that he liked the stuff I like?!"