In his brief career Jimi Hendrix transformed rock music, established himself as the greatest guitarist of all time, and left a rich legacy of original songs and dazzling recordings. In Jimi Hendrix and Philosophy, philosophers come to terms with the experience and the phenomenon of Hendrix, uncovering some surprising implications of Hendrix's life and work. Much of this book is concerned with the restless polarities and dualities that reveal themselves through Hendrix. His compositions display a preoccupation with the tragic nature of life, moving between the polarities of Schopenhauer's The World as Will and Idea and and Platonic philosophy. Jimi's "guitar-being" has surprising implications for the philosophical relation between mind and body. There is in Hendrix a duality between innovation and tradition--innovation in psychedelic sonic adventures and tradition in the form of the blues. Hendrix exemplifies the interaction of technology and art, as seen in his use of feedback, varieties of noise, and backwards reel-to-reel playing. How much of the Hendrix phenomenon can be explained by the technological situation and how much by his own unique genius? Everyone knows about Hendrix's use of feedback in the narrow sense, but feedback can also be viewed as a general phenomenon that arises in complex dynamical systems and emerges at the border of chaos and order. Although critics associate Hendrix's lifestyle and early death with self-destructive patterns of the Sixties, his actual thoughts as revealed in his songs and writings show a more positive and constructive concern with authentic freedom. What did Hendrix mean when he spoke of "the realities" of conflict conveyed in "Machine Gun"? What is a "Voodoo Chile"? When does noise become music? These and other questions are addressed in Jimi Hendrix and Philosophy. Hendrix's undying popularity following his death in 1970 has led to the release over the years of a large body of material which Hendrix would never have chosen to make public, raising serious questions about what we owe to the dead and how we view the construction of the artist's public persona.
Theodore G. Ammon is chair of the philosophy department at Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss. His work has appeared in such publications as Romance Notes, Arachne, College Mathematics, and the Journal of Aesthetic Education.