Its been almost one year since the tragic death of Michael Jackson, who died on June 25 2009. A review of his life, his challenges, and his failure as an artist to come to grips, to gain traction on mortal threats is indicative of a larger arch within the dynamic movement of manhood, fatherhood in American culture. Michael Jackson reveals the tragic trend of the Feminization of American Men.
Michael Jackson revealed the future: a manufactured, mythical, androgynous type; effete in both his ability to confront himself or personal challenges.
We’ve seen this type before in the unhistorical poetic strivings of David Bowie, the feline embrace of Marxism in Russia as it pursued the new Marxist man under Stalinist Terror, and a host of other romantic movements the West has glimpsed since the 18th century. This is to say nothing of pan-gnostic pagan movements. All reveal an emasculated manhood, unfit for the challenges of contemporary life.
Yes, Michael Jackson pursued an ideological creativity that imprisoned his creative genius; an embraced manufactured identity as false freedom; a license to pursue archaic feline habits. Throughout his stardom, Jackson displayed a frenzied hedonism that demonstrated a mind, a person unhinged from reality. Futuristic in dress, archaic in gesture; an asiatic tyrannic type witnessed throughout oriental culture. Perhaps all were just staged effects; but the shadow arts of fleeting pantomime found a home in his psyche. They settled in and ravaged a creative genius. It wasn’t preordained.
For Joyce, Beckett, not to mention Yeats or McLuhan, the artist was the individual who crafted a creative response to the challenges of his time. For the modernists, the artist was the last living vestige of the integral. Where was Jackson in this heritage?
Throughout stardom, Jackson pursued, he embodied the contemporary inept non-integral specialist guise of worn magicians who cannot heal and therefore only display. If you look for an integral response from contemporary artists you look to poverty.
The ancients pursued their craft with healing qualities, yet contemporaries have severed the creative from the moral. The ‘disassociation of sensibility’; the specialist display of pantomime absent any moral bearings is dangerous, for it impresses those whose gaze is uninformed from the challenges of life itself. Jackson’s ecstatic dance lives in an archaic repose unsuited to match the irritating challenges that fortify others.
Yes, the child star was robbed of an ability to grow, to discover self determination, to define himself integrally. And their were challenges that he alone recognized. In that thwarted struggle, he still maintained a creative response worthy of great men. But the striving, the never ending need to acclaim higher transformation ended in the tragic embrace of a manufactured androgyny. Jackson could not realize the felt desire that his ecstatic dance proposed.
What do we learn in the failed embrace of fleeting pantomime? How does such a recognition speak to, inform a hierarchy of values that once infused the arts?
It speaks to the poverty of the modernists dream, in all its garb, whether in dance, painting or achitecture. It reveals the lost harmony that once informed the strivings of men. In a sentence: classical humanism exposes the vacuity of modernity.
Can we pursue an artistic repose in vanquishing the need for healing? Are the arts so autonomous that they sustain themselves absent any humanist perspective? I think Michael Jackson reveals much as we travail our exile here in the limitations of such a craft unhinged from grace.