Let the madness in the music get to you and… Heal the World.
Michael Jackson was a shaman who used art to heal the world. Yet it was the gravitational pull of the world that eventually took him under. The shaman/artist exists to serve his or her community and audience. Altered and visionary states are induced using methods that include dance, song, drumming, fasting, sexual abstinence, meditation and the use of psychoactive drugs. The subjective knowledge and transformational healing power gained from these intuitive journeys, is translated and transferred to a community via art, song and storytelling.
“Let the madness in the music get to you, life ain’t so bad at all.” Michael Jackson - Off the wall (lyrics)
“The cure would consist, therefore, in making explicit a situation originally existing on the emotional level and in rendering acceptable to the mind pains which the body refuses to tolerate. That the mythology of the shaman does not correspond to an objective reality does not matter.”
Claude Levi-Strauss - Shamans as Psychoanalysts.
In the end for Michael, the personal pressures of objective reality were all too powerful. His optimistic visions for humanity and sincere belief in the powers of compassion, manifested as song, performance and image in the minds of millions. But his energy to survive in the harsh climates of everyday life eventually diminished.
“The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing Mystic Truths.” Bruce Nauman (Title)
“The meaning of life is contained in every single expression of life. It is present in the infinity of forms and phenomena that exist in all of creation.” Michael Jackson.
Jackson’s expounded truths are unashamedly aspirational and universal manifestos for change. His peculiar perspective shaped by a life wholly unique, casts the impossibly naive as necessary idealism. Bold lyrics assert that “we are the world” and demand that we “make that change”.
“In order to change the external situation, first we must change within.” Dalai Lama
“My childhood has never lost its magic, it has never lost its mystery, and it has never lost its drama.” Louise Bourgeois
Optimism is the vital force that entangles itself with and then shapes the future. Ideologies often become dangerous when applied in totality, this does not remove the need to be idealistic.
“I think the new churches will be going to big rock concerts.” Andy Warhol (Interviewed by Louwrien Wijers in 1980)
Functioning as collectivist inter-faith gatherings that were as much spectacle as they were spiritual, Jackson’s stage shows become social sculptures. Perhaps Joseph Beuys, was as much a showman as he was a shaman and Michael as much of a shaman as he was a showman. Thanks to Jeff Koons, the duo Michael and Bubbles are as imprinted in art history as Beuys and his coyote.
“I wanted to show Michael as a contemporary Christ figure: I wanted to give the viewer a sense of a spiritual authority,” Jeff Koons
Michael Jackson’s enormous concerts were modern religious rituals. Jackson’s superhuman and ecstatic performance onstage enables a vicarious transformation of the audience.
“Every single person in the audience is important. I don’t have this kind of feeling in real life, but in performance I have this enormous love, this heart that literally hurts me with how much I love them.” Marina Abramovic
Jackson was an other-wordly songbird, captive-bred then left to fly alone in the hurricanes of a cynical world.