At the very end of the long meandering song ‘Soft Parade’, fourth studio album released on July 18, 1969 by The Doors, Jim Morrison says “When all else fails, we can whip the horse’s eyes And make them sleep, and cry.” Whip the horses eyes comes from the 1866 Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel Crime & Punishment. The term “whipping the horses eyes” means that you have tried every option without success, so why not do the only thing that is left. Possibly this will be the most violent thing. Even stranger still is that this image of a horse being beaten is also an important episode in the life of the 19th century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, which may have precipitated Nietzsche’s eventual spiral into madness. The legendary scholar experienced a nervous breakdown when he intervened to stop a carriage cabbie from mercilessly beating his horse. Morrison’s use of this incident at the very end of the song, stands as a metaphor depicting the only alternative mode of expression left to a race that continues to repress itself.
Excerpt from Crime & Punishment, Outside the tavern stands a very large cart to which a small, skinny mare is harnessed. A group of drunken peasants come boisterously out of the tavern, and one of them, is a young beefy man called Mikolka, shouting that he will take everyone for a ride in his cart. His invitation is greeted with derision and laughter, the general observation resting on the age and unfitness of the nag. Mikolka, however, swears he will make her gallop, and brandishes his whip with relish at the idea. Several men and one woman get in, and once everyone is in the cart, they are all laughing at the idea. Two fellows from the crowd get two more whips and run to whip the horse from the side. Each takes a side. “On the muzzle, on the eyes, lash her on the eyes!” shouts Mikolka, but the horse can barely move the cart. The crowd and passengers laugh, but Mikolka is angered and beats the horse savagely.
Written for Linda G. Hill Life in progress One-Liner Wednesday – December 5 prompt which is “#writerslife”.