Fabulous Operas, Rock ‘n’ Roll Shows: The Intoxication and Poetic Experimentation of Arthur Rimbaud and Jim Morrison

  • Alessandro Cabiati


Arthur Rimbaud and Jim Morrison have a distinctive place among authors who have apparently lived legendary lives, inasmuch as numerous biographies have been dedicated to them as well as biopics such as Agnieszka Holland’s Total Eclipse (1995), which focused on the relationship between Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine, and Oliver Stone’s The Doors (1991). In particular, biographies on both Rimbaud and Morrison generally include accounts of many experiences with intoxicants of different kinds. From Rimbaud’s first taste of Parisian life in the autumn-winter of 1871 that has been described as ‘five months of drunkenness and squalor’, to Morrison’s summer of 1965 in which he ‘began taking daily doses of LSD’, there have been countless tales of their excesses (Robb, 2000, p. 153; Davis, 2004, p. 72). Nonetheless, the effective function of mind-altering substances in the artistic process of either of them is still unknown. It is thus imperative to abandon the figure of the myth and approach that of the author when dealing with a topic such as intoxication in Rimbaud and Morrison or, more precisely, to follow Etiemble’s famous suggestion regarding Rimbaud’s poetry: ‘revenir au texte, à son sens’ (1952, p. 444).1


Artistic Process Unconscious Mind Automatic Writing Interpretation Paint Prose Poem 
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© Alessandro Cabiati 2015

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  • Alessandro Cabiati

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