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October 27, 2016 – November 28, 2016

Previously (in The Dangerous Diaries – Part 1, October 7 – 21, 2016), we discussed the concept of promiscuity in Michael Jackson’s femmes fatale songs, including “Billie Jean,” “Dirty Diana,” “Dangerous,” and “Blood on the Dancefloor.” However, I think this topic fully rewards a little more scrutiny than we afforded it in that discussion. In order to delve a little more deeply into this subject, we need to define the term as it is being used.

Miriam-Webster defines promiscuous as: 1. Having or involving many sexual partners; 2. Including or involving too many people or things: not limited in a careful or proper way. One of the synonyms listed for the word is indiscriminate; another is profligate, which has the definition: 1. Recklessly extravagant or wasteful in the use of resources, 2. Licentious, dissolute … and which lists promiscuous as a synonym.

Bingo!

If one searched for decades for a word to describe the early 21st Century, I suggest it would be difficult to find a more apt description than indiscriminate. As a matter of fact, I would like to propose that the term “Generation X” as a moniker for our cultural and societal afflictions be changed to “Generation I” with “I” being derived from the word indiscriminate while also describing our ego-based culture … or “Generation P” for promiscuous.

Let’s be totally honest and take a good, realistic look “in the mirror” for a moment: Ours is a promiscuous society. Many of our world’s problems, which are reaching (if they have not already surpassed) the critical stage, stem from our indiscriminate, profligate behavior. Many of Michael Jackson’s songs point to this definition of promiscuous.

We are promiscuous exploiters of the earth’s natural resources, rather than being careful, responsible stewards, which has led us to the brink of disaster he warns us about in “Earth Song” and “Heal the World” and “Planet Earth,” his beautiful love sonnet to the planet from which we all spring. “The planet is sick … like a fever,” he warned us in his last rehearsal for his O2 residence, This Is It. Instead of finding ways to feed our hungry, we waste billions of dollars transporting and sending millions of tons of unused food to the bottom of the ocean, thereby harming those we could feed as well as polluting the ocean with our unwanted surplus. Portion sizes in the United States are enough to feed two or three and what is not eaten is thrown away.

We are promiscuous, indiscriminate consumers of all manner of things from violence to food to drugs to sex to mind-numbing videogames, to media propaganda, all of which Michael Jackson warns us against in “Beat It,” “Billie Jean,” through “Blood on the Dancefloor;” (the femmes fatale songs already treated in Part 1) from “Tabloid Junkie,” “Privacy,” “Scream,” “Why You Wanna Trip on Me” to  “Is It Scary;”from “Morphine” to “Superfly Sister,” from “Money” to “They Don’t Care About Us.”

When we do use our powers of discrimination, we use them irresponsibly against fellow members of our human family who aren’t like “us” for whatever reason – race, phenomenal talent or ability, creed, otherness, geographical location, economic viability, sexual orientation or difference. Michael Jackson does not back away from asking us to look at these issues with depth and sincerity while encouraging us to “make that change” in “Man in the Mirror,” “Black or White,” “Will You Be There” and “Keep the Faith.”

As a matter of fact, this promiscuous, indiscriminate, profligate consumption forms the basis and motivation of much of Jackson’s later work and he does not shy away from calling it what it is in his creative repertoire – promiscuity – although that fact seems to have escaped much of the world’s attention by an almost universal over-simplification of his work as displaying “paranoia,” “fear of women,” “childish rants and tantrums,” “sappy sentimentality,” “naïve idealism,” or “megalomaniacal tirades.” In my opinion, those ill-considered readings are interpretations which have long outworn their usefulness, if they ever had any relevance in the first place. When viewed from a slightly different perspective all of the songs listed in the above paragraphs (and possibly many others) have a foundation in warning us about our society’s indiscriminate waste and consumption … its promiscuity.

Context

One of the most fascinating and socially relevant ways to understand the complexity of Michael Jackson’s creative process, music, and short films is by analyzing it in the atmosphere in which each of his releases was composed and compiled and it is this concept that many of the most recent academic authors have done such a wonderful job of exploring in considerable depth and with the clear 20/20 vision of hindsight.

This trend began with Armond White upon the release of the short film for Black or White. I must confess that I was somewhat surprised to see Mr. White quoted so frequently by all of the more recent authors in the field of Michael Jackson Academic Studies. When I first read his collection of articles entitled Keep Moving: The Michael Jackson Chronicles, I was unimpressed.

As a matter of fact, I must ashamedly confess to having fallen prey to the fault of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.  His first article in the collection was entitled Janet, the Last Black Jackson and it and the next article focused almost entirely on Michael Jackson’s appearance and not in a favorable light. Mr. White attributed the changes in Michael’s physiological appearance as conscious efforts to satisfy the needs of a white-dominated industry … his tacit requirement to accommodate and assimilate into the white, patriarchal and hierarchical music industry as part of the “Black performers’ understood contract with the white-controlled world of show business.”

While I do not discount the fact that black entertainers certainly had to jump through many more hoops to achieve success in these industries than their white counterparts (and the publishing world often appropriated Black innovative expressions as originated by white artists and still does, i.e. Elvis Presley), I also have to remind myself that this article was written prior to the 1993 Oprah Winfrey interview (Ninety Prime Time Minutes with the King of Pop) during which Michael admitted to suffering from a “skin disorder that destroys the pigmentation of my skin. It’s something that I cannot help.”

In all fairness, I must confess that Mr. White does, later, mitigate his earlier opinion somewhat with the words, “After viewing this [morphing] sequence [in the Black or White short film], it’s impossible to think of Jackson’s own facial changes as anything other than an attempt at transcendent humanity.”

In any event, I believe I may have just put Mr. White’s collection aside after reading the first two articles, failing to even read the remaining eighteen, in the belief that his offerings (like so many journalistic essays on Michael Jackson) bore very little in the way of factual information or any claim to actually deciphering his musical intentions with any degree of objectivity. I misjudged Keep Moving based on the first two offerings and put it aside as irrelevant.

So, I thought it would be fitting to begin this self-directed curriculum of study with an in-depth re-reading of the articles included in Mr. White’s booklet entitled Keep Moving: The Michael Jackson Chronicles from a more objective, unprejudiced perspective. I am very glad to say that my re-reading has been fully justified and rewarded. In an academic study, it is not necessary to agree with every word an author writes; it is much more important to come to the study with an open-minded and unbiased willingness to give the author’s meaning the chance to be heard, sink in, and become part of the discussion between author and reader. Mea Culpa!

Mr. White admits that his perception of Michael Jackson changed over the years of his coverage of his career (approximately 1991 to 2009); addressing the change in the timbre of the articles included in his collection within the Introduction called “Moving Forward.” Unlike so many in the field of musical critique, Mr. White was little impressed with Thriller and BAD.  With the release of Dangerous, however, he describes his relationship with Michael Jackson as “changing from critical skepticism to sincere awe” and this transformation is manifest as a prominent feature in the articles included in the latter part of this compilation. The tone of “sincere awe” develops over the span of his coverage of Jackson’s releases throughout the 1990s.

Beginning in 1991 with his critique of the Black or White musical release and globally-broadcast short film, White’s critiques were, indeed, much more focused on Michael Jackson’s art, his delivery, his performance, his conviction, and his genius; calling the short film and the “panther coda” which accompanied its debut “the most significant gesture any American artist has made in years,” and “the best cinema of 1991 … easily superior to any short or feature length film released to the public that year.” He refers to Michael’s much-publicized apology and removal of the coda from subsequent broadcasts following the media-generated furor to the worldwide broadcast of the film as a capitulation to the “forces of repression” and calls the coda “Michael’s truth.”  White ends his critique of the short film with the words, “He’s already charmed the world; Black or White shows he has the courage to shake it up.”

In that last statement, Mr. White effectively, albeit obliquely,  refers to the change to which I pointed in the introduction to this study, which, in my opinion, was not so much a “coming of age” as an “expansion of consciousness.” He does not offer to what he attributes this change in the direction of Jackson’s art, but notes the more socially conscious “courage” required to “shake up” the world in passing, almost as an afterthought.

By the time of the release of Dangerous, Michael Jackson had discovered a supremacy and celebrity few have ever known with his early solo releases. Through the development of his God-given talents, his unwavering faith in those gifts, his punishing work ethic, his predatory curiosity, and his unstinting devotion to perfect execution, he had achieved a hitherto unparalleled success. However, with the release of the Dangerous album, Jackson looks around him at the world he inhabits and makes a conscious decision to address the many challenges he observes in his art … to use that celebrity in such a manner as to call attention to what he observes in the hopes of improving the condition of the human family.

In other words, there is a new commitment implied in Jackson’s later body of work. It’s no longer just about the sexy, young man with the golden voice dressed from head to toe in sequins. He has assumed the rasp of the voice of the voiceless, the primal scream of the marginalized, the cries of the systematically oppressed. Through keen and astute observation, he has bonded with the human family in a much more telling way, calling to each listener to transcend the system from within the system.

I find in this observation/influence trait, as displayed in Michael Jackson’s art, an enormously fascinating correlation to what our best scientific minds are telling us in the field of quantum physics: that through our act of observation we influence sub-atomic behavior, thereby bending the hitherto sacred laws of Newtonian physics, which demand that sub-atomic behaviors are predestined and unable to change.

The very act of observation changes a particle to a wave as demonstrated in double-blind tests. Michael Jackson’s observations of the world, therefore, bear the possibility of influencing and changing it. That possibility is magnified enormously through his artistic attempts to paint the world he observes with his vision, offering the world a chance to view its reflection in rhythm and song, bodily movement and theatrics and be entertained at the same time. It is, often, a subliminal message he imparts just under the backbeat … a subliminal message of peace, hope, faith, and love. Is it just a “coincidence,” then, that this new commitment comes to the fore in an album entitled Dangerous? I don’t think so.

White is similarly open-minded in his commentary on some of the other short films derived from the Dangerous album (“Remember the Time,” “In the Closet” and “Jam”), but some of his most scathing criticism is not directed at Michael Jackson at all. Rather, it centers on what he considers to be the racially-motivated media manipulation to which Michael Jackson was subjected in the latter half of his life. Like many of the more recent authors, Mr. White perceives race as a significant factor in the Michael Jackson story, prompting much of the critical commentary and persecution to which Jackson was a victim post-Thriller. In other words, he plays the “race card” (which the American establishment, as represented by its media, claims doesn’t exist and unanimously dismisses) unashamedly and without apology.

The release of the HIStory trailer as a nationally-broadcast television ad opens one of the most anticipated and castigated periods of Michael’s life. Everything he did was criticized on a monumental, global scale from the statues advertising his imminent arrival at tour stops … to the trailer (described as the “most vainglorious attempt at self-deification a pop star ever made with a straight face”) … to much of the new music on the album. Michael was the media’s favorite “whipping boy.” For those of us caught in the vitriolic backlash aimed at diminishing Michael’s relevance, it was an emotional rollercoaster ranging from excitement to rage as each single and/or short film in the campaign was released. Ironically enough, the universal, monumental scale of the critical commentary seemed to match (and possibly even drive) the monumental, global, nearly ubiquitous reach of Michael’s music, which seemed to be growing exponentially throughout the 1990s.

White may have been one of the … if not the … only voice alerting the public to the fact that there was much more here than an overly-simplistic narrative of megalomaniacal paranoia (as was the gist of almost every other critic and journalist, including Diane Sawyer as exhibited in her interview with Jackson and then wife, Lisa Marie Presley in 1995.) He comments, “All the media’s suspicion over Jackson’s “egomania” disregards its own” and “To nag about ‘self-pity’ in Jackson’s movingly tender “Childhood” is just a chance for reviewers to show off snideness instead of thoughtfulness.” He goes on to state, “That’s the way white journalists deny the complexity of Black artistry.”

White claims of the accusations of anti-Semitism over the “They Don’t Care About Us” release: “Black-Jewish relations are distorted by the arrogance of editorialists who aim to control (or else condemn) Black expression” and “censorship-by-editorial.” Of “They Don’t Care About Us,” itself, Mr. White views it as an “extremely conscientious composition. Jackson shows intelligence and courage by obliquely characterizing anti-Jewish language exactly for what it most often is, the expression of corrupted power.”

In Earth Song, White comments: “The eloquent layers of feeling put Black and human history in this chorus’s thunder.” Indeed! When speaking of “censorship-by-editorial,” this is yet another case in point. Earth Song, hugely popular in much of the world and referred to by Joe Vogel as Michael’s “Magnum Opus,” was not even released within the borders of the United States. Quoting Bill Bottrell, Vogel attributes this omission to the song being “anti-corporate, anti-nature-raping … so it was prone to censorship.” So much for freedom of speech, one of the basic freedoms upon which this country was founded and guaranteed to all its citizens (not just newspaper and tabloid publishers), unless, of course, you just happen to be Michael Jackson.

Overall, White’s comments on the HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book 1 album are some of the most erudite and thought-provoking I have read. His reading of some of the short films made to accompany the music from the album and make it a multi-media, visceral experience is also eye-opening and thoughtful. He sees in it Michael’s “personal expression of social awareness” and attributes a personal message of “noblesse oblige – a class-based beneficence that many would deny to African Americans” in the final track on the album, “Smile:” “Michael indicates the gentle touch that ought to come with power …”

Subsequent authors in the field of Michael Jackson Academic Studies have, rightfully, followed the trend begun by Mr. White in 1991. Most notably, Joe Vogel, Elizabeth Amisu, Susan Fast and Isabel Petitjean have further focused on the historical, social, and cultural situations to which Michael Jackson was responding in his artistic life.

In his Man in the Music: The Creative Life and Work of Michael Jackson, Mr. Vogel precedes each chapter (each of which focuses on one of Michael’s solo album releases) with a lengthy introduction  examining some of the contemporaneous social, political , cultural events and musical trends to which Jackson was responding in his musical compositions and short film releases.

Further, in an article entitled I Ain’t Scared of No Sheets: Re-screening Black Masculinity in Michael Jackson’s Black or White. [Journal of Popular Music Studies, March 2015], Mr. Vogel places the release of the Black or White song and short film firmly within a framework of historical racial segregation marked by mutilations, beatings, hangings and cross burnings and bookended by the nationally televised beating of Rodney King, the acquittal of the police officers who perpetrated it, and the riots in Los Angeles that resulted from that verdict. This makes Jackson’s angry retort in the “panther coda” much more understandable; without these ties to historical and contemporary current events, the film could very easily be misinterpreted as “gratuitous sexual and violent behavior,” which is the overall simplistic narrative applied to his work by many in the fields of journalism and music critique at the time.

By decontextualizing Jackson’s work, Vogel argues, media effectively emasculates it (metaphorically referring to the actual physical mutilation of Black men in the not-too-distant past in retaliation for perceived violations of white/Black boundaries), removing its creative power, and sways public opinion against the voice of one crying out against the inequities he observes within the system he occupies. Within this contextual framework, however, Michael Jackson’s song and short film (including the “panther coda”) indicates a justifiable response to the events and circumstances he saw in the world around him.

That is the artist’s entire purpose and one can surely understand Michael Jackson’s angst at being so roundly misjudged. However, as Mr. White claims:  “Crusading journalists aren’t merely on the side of power – after all, Jackson’s got power – they’re on the side of white.” and “ …[They] come down to white, middle-class spokespeople saying: ‘Shut up and entertain us.’” In other words, they prefer Black performers docile and frivolous, neither of which adjectives could be applied to Michael Jackson in the Dangerous and subsequent campaigns.

Chapter 10: “Recontextualizing Michael Jackson’s Blackness” in The Dangerous Philosophies of Michael Jackson: His Music, His Persona and His Artistic Afterlife by Elizabeth Amisu is devoted to placing Michael Jackson’s musical and cultural contributions within the significantly checkered history of slavery in the United States of America, particularly in the southern states where the white supremacist movement gave birth to the Ku Klux Klan and its vehemently anti-black, racially-motivated violence. Unfortunately, such history is not limited to history, as recent shootings of unarmed Black youths in several cities in America clearly exhibit. She quotes Ania Loomba that this system of “assigning different values to human beings” is complex and “twisted” in the American psyche and states: “The very notion that English, Dutch, and Spanish people came to the conclusion that the dark-skinned people of the African continent were, by virtue of their complexion, uncivilized, beastly, and oversexed, making them inherently less human than their white counterparts, remains at the heart of any debate …”

The very fact of the almost universally popular performative of “black face minstrelsy” in the 19th Century, which fed upon that notion and the stereotypical view of African masculinity which proceeded from it, was even further complicated, in Jackson’s case, by his anomalous skin disorder, which changed the color of his skin from brown to white, thereby defying touted European (read white) racial superiority.  The fact that this transformation resulted from a pathology (a disease) in Michael Jackson’s case just added further insult to injury and showed how truly irrelevant such inferiority/superiority concepts in the American psyche really are. Yet, they persist; they exist; and ignoring them or denying them is not helping to eradicate such antiquated notions.

It is this notion that Michael Jackson addressed with his customary incisiveness in the short film for “Remember the Time,” a film in which Michael reminded his viewers of the historically-proven, accurate fact that the African continent is, indeed, the “cradle of civilization;” that Egypt (and, therefore, its remarkable mathematical, architectural, scientific, and governmental achievements) is a part of that continent; and that those achievements were, as a result, much more likely to have been realized by Black people than by white, blue-eyed actors, as is so often depicted in films.  With an all-Black cast (as a matter of fact, Michael’s was the “whitest” presence on the screen), mesmerizing special effects, and historically authentic sets and costumes, Michael sang and danced his way through Ancient Egypt in a non-confrontational, Ghandi-esque depiction of Black pride and “peaceful resistance.” God bless him!

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It Don’t Matter if You’re Black or White

Similarly, Elizabeth Amisu has entitled Chapter 15 in her wonderful book The Dangerous Philosophies of Michaael Jackson: His Music, His Persona and His Artistic Afterlife “Horcruxes: Michael (Split Seven Ways) Jackson.” Prior to the popular series of books and films in the Harry Potter saga, the word horcrux would have been little understood by the academic community or general public. However, placed in the context of this saga, it becomes very descriptive and commonly understood, which further underscores the importance of context as it relates to many of Michael Jackson’s artistic offerings.

While I love Ms. Amisu’s allusion to J. K. Rowling’s epic Harry Potter wizarding world (having often perceived Michael Jackson as the ultimate wizard, who, in my opinion, would have been right at home within the confines of the narrative), I believe that the chapter, which goes on to examine Michael Jackson’s life in light of the lives of seven other well-known artists, including Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Charlie Chaplin, Walt Disney, James Brown, David Bowie, and Stevie Wonder, would have been better called “Lenses” or “Filters.” Her second choice, “prisms,” would also work. A lens is an instrument through which we view a subject in order to bring that subject into clearer focus or more perfect understanding and a prism splits a single beam of light into the full visible spectrum.

In contrast, a horcrux (as used in the Harry Potter saga) is an object or animal into which a wizard places a part of himself (a fraction of his consciousness … his soul, if you will). In this way, even if one part of his consciousness does not survive, the wizard can, indeed, still claim immortality and, in the saga, can be resurrected from the portions that still survive.  Wizard though he might be, it would be extremely difficult for Michael to have placed a portion of his soul into Bach and Mozart as they both lived centuries before Michael was born. Therefore, in the context of its usage in the story in which the word was introduced and understood, it would be much more appropriate to use the word “horcruxes” to describe Michael Jackson’s songs, books, and films … and in his afterlife, his fans and followers, including those who have been attracted to delving more deeply into his creative process in the field of Michael Jackson Academic Studies.

Michael Jackson often referred to Michelangelo’s quote: “I know the creator will go, but his work survives. That is why, to escape death, I bind my soul to my work.” This is a perfect description, from the artist’s own mouth, of a horcrux as understood in the original narrative of Hogwart’s School of Wizardry.  Therefore, by his own admission, Michael Jackson’s music, performances, literary works and visionary short films are his horcruxes, his claim to immortality, from which many of us resurrect him on a daily basis.

Further, his death and its aftermath were seminal moments in many lives across the world. Tales abound within the on-line fan community of life-altering experiences (including unexplainable, uncontrollable grief) in the wake of Jackson’s death and/or upon viewing the filmed rehearsals of his last creative endeavor, the This Is It documentary, released just a few short months following his death. That moment has been described by some of those affected as an “explosion” of energy during which a small spark of Jackson’s unique energetic footprint (for lack of a better or more descriptive term) entered their awareness and awakened them to his artistic genius and his loving presence, which would make all those so affected his horcruxes, myself included. Personally, I kind of like being one of his horcruxes.

Androgyny/Masculinity/Gender Ambiguity

One of the most commented upon facets of Michael Jackson’s life is his so-called androgyny and some of the most vitriolic commentary proposed that Michael Jackson was “confused” about his gender. I find such commentaries ludicrous. Anyone who has ever viewed one of Michael Jackson’s performances can be left in very little doubt of his gender. I, myself, was never in any doubt that Michael Jackson was decidedly and gloriously masculine in every way; I’m sure he wasn’t either. As a matter of fact, I wish more men would subscribe to his sensitive and nurturing performance of gender identification instead of the preposterous, aggressive machismo that currently defines masculinity in our culture. In my opinion, such commentary could only be suggested by authors with extremely limited definitions of gender and who are, themselves, therefore, gender confused. There are as many definitions of gender as there are people walking this earth (approximately 7 billion, I believe … that’s billion with a “b”.)

One of the best treatments of this facet of Michael’s presentation I have found appears in Dangerous by Susan Fast. She examines the androgynous quality of Michael’s voice, his appearance, his dance, and his performance with a wonderful lack of judgment which I have found refreshing. She refers to his vocal characteristics, particularly in “Remember the Time” as a “relaxed tenor … the smoothest Jackson has sounded so far on this record [Dangerous] …” and notes, “But the emotional landscape Jackson paints … is more intense and extreme than most soul man singers and this can quite easily be gendered as ‘feminine.’” Further, she states:

“I’ve wanted to dwell on how Jackson’s performances line up with conventional masculinity because this issue is mostly overlooked or denied in commentary on his gender. Even in his visual appearance and performance, there’s plenty that fits within the realm of the masculine – including his tough-guy gangster persona – but in order to understand that, it’s important to focus on the details at specific times in his career (you can’t talk about it all in one fell swoop. )”

I applaud Susan Fast’s comment here as being very perceptive. Forty-plus years is a long career and Michael’s performance of gender was in flux and, therefore, loosely defined and subject to change, particularly in the earlier parts of that span (as is all young teens and twenty-somethings’). Through familiarity, we have a tendency to forget that an 11-year-old boy’s performance of gender will, inherently, be different than that same young man at the age of 19 … or at the age of 40-plus. Change, in this regard, is inevitable.

In addition, societal “norms” have a tendency to fluctuate over such a span and that, too, must be taken into account. The decades encompassed within Michael Jackson’s career (late 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s) were periods of tumultuous fluctuation by anyone’s standards, during which many societal “norms” were re-examined (i.e. the Civil Rights Movement, Women’s Liberation movement, the Woodstock generation, the war in Vietnam and the riots that ensued on many university campuses as a result, etc.)

Fast refers to Meredith Jones as making “the compelling argument that Jackson’s facial features marked him as ‘intergender’ because he incorporated – side by side – signifiers of both conventional masculinity and femininity. His wide, made-up eyes and small, thin nose read as conventionally feminine,” she claims, “while his relatively wide, cleft chin reads as masculine.” She goes on to state that he always wore prominent sideburns while, for the most part, being clean-shaven.  “Markers of masculinity do not disappear. In fact, these characteristics, particularly the square jaw line and cleft chin, became more pronounced as he aged…” and she does not devote a whole lot of time speculating on how or why they became more pronounced “… perhaps through procedures, perhaps through fluctuating weight, or perhaps, again, simply through the natural process of aging. “

I would suggest that, perhaps, the toll of constant, unrelenting criticism might be another factor to consider. Having to constantly respond to inane comments would tend to “haggardize” anyone.

“His body was slight, without developed muscles, but straight, angular and strong – not a feminine thing about it, including the way he moved, right down to his walk … In his costume for the Dangerous tour, however, the gold fencing shirt drew attention to his bulging groin … left very little to the imagination.” [I can’t help but wonder if Ms. Fast saw the Gold Pants of the HIStory tour. OUCH!]

Regarding Michael’s oft-criticized “crotch grabs,” Ms. Fast states:

“But they weren’t ever really ‘grabs’ so much as stylized and often downright elegant gesturings towards … Those moves are controlled, deliberate, flirtatious, daring. It’s provocation.”

I don’t think I have ever seen another author notice that most of these graceful gestures, performed as part of Michael Jackson’s dances, only conformed to the word “grab” on fairly rare occasions (such as the BAD short film and the “panther coda” of the short film for Black or White) and only after he had been roundly and unanimously castigated for them for years. There are few gestures that so accurately represent defiance.

She, then, quotes Joe Vogel that he is “protesting the cruel history of mutilations by flaunting the symbol of his creative power and identity as a black man,” thereby bringing the history of racially-motivated violence right back into the discussion. I see all of the above factors as relevant in any discussion of Michael Jackson’s alleged androgyny.

Ms. Fast also brings the concept of “balance” into the equation, attributing it to the writings of the influential Enlightenment historian Johann Winckelmann. According to him, she states, “beauty was nothing other than the middle between two extremes.” Regardless of gender, all humans have feminine and masculine qualities, in varying degrees; balancing these seemingly disparate traits in our personalities forms much of our maturation process as we age.

Ms. Fast just barely skirts the issue here of “unification” which, in my opinion, so predominates in Michael Jackson’s creative output from his mid-teens to his last breath. He embodied the polarities of white/black, feminine/masculine, child/adult as well as the genre-bending of pop/rock/soul/R & B/hip hop/ heavy metal/classical … and jazz/pop lock/Broadway/ballet/urban contemporary within his own frame, bringing them all into closer alignment within his creative body of work. He blurred the hard lines between them, showing, in the process, that those lines are mobile, depending on our perceptions of them … not carved in granite. He balanced them; he reconciled them; he mediated them for us; he gifted all of us with his vision of altering our narrow definitions of all of them. In doing so, he de-polarized them.

This concept of de-polarization is something we navigate every day without even being conscious of doing so. We de-polarize hot/cold by turning on both to produce warm water for bathing or by centrally heating and cooling our homes. We de-polarize dark/light by flipping a switch and turning on a lamp as dusk turns to night. We reconcile these seemingly irreconcilable polarities on a daily basis.

Within his creative output, Michael Jackson shows concretely that Beethoven can coexist with R&B and Gospel, peacefully, harmonically, creating a new definition by eradicating the space between them, not just on one album but within one song. If they can coexist in harmony, Jackson implies, why can’t we? “Music is music and it’s all beautiful.” He demonstrated with his own body that even a movement as simple as a hand gesture can be stunningly beautiful and graceful regardless of genre; that dance does not have to conform to any preconceived definition.

It is just such a mediation that Michael Jackson’s artistic work indicates is possible for the many limiting and restrictive definitions we apply to people, conditions, and events in the world we see around us. And it is this de-polarization that he demonstrated within his creative output.

“I’m wary of trying to label Jackson’s performance of gender and sexuality because his idea, as I see it, was to get us to question – especially to question the parameters of masculinity and heterosexuality.”

I think Ms. Fast has captured in that sentence the whole of Michael Jackson’s body of work. He wanted us to question our labels, our standards, our societal ‘norms,’ our perceptions, our illusions, our ideas of beauty, and our definitions of ourselves. As Michael Bush stated quite clearly in his wonderful book King of Style: Dressing Michael Jackson, “Michael loves people asking, ‘Why?’ … Michael loved the idea that he could make people question, notice, and search for meaning.” And it is in this search for meaning where the parameters of such definitions, labels, and stereotypes reside; therefore, it is only here that they can be changed.

As Michael Jackson states himself in “Innocence,” Dancing the Dream: Poems and Reflections:

“If you are locked into a pattern of thinking and responding, your creativity gets blocked. You miss the magic of the moment. Learn to be innocent again and that freshness never fades.”

 

 

 

 

Installment 106

November 9 – November 15, 2016

Most Dearly Beloved,

I am afraid the world as we know it has come to an end.

Why? What has happened? This sounds serious.

It is serious. After a bitter, long campaign during which more mud has been slung than I can ever recall happening before, Donald Trump has been elected to the office of the President of the United States of America.

After unapologetically boasting rhetoric with blatant overtones of racism, bigotry, xenophobia, misogyny, environmental disrespect, division and hatred; after refusing to release his tax records for the past several years (which I thought was a requirement for any public office); after revelations of alleged sexual misconduct which were leveled against him; after all of our living former Presidents and the heads of several other countries warned us against the dangers should he be elected; and after bombastic and podium-pounding displays of anger and malice reminiscent of Adolph Hitler against several sovereign nations in our global community, the American voters have nonetheless seen fit to elect Donald Trump to the highest office in the land.

My understanding is that the popular vote was decided in Hillary Clinton’s favor, but as in several elections in the past decades, it is not the popular vote that counts. It is the Electoral College which elects the President. It seems like a total waste of time for us all to cast our votes at all. I never will understand the necessity of the Electoral College. Our votes are not fairly represented by them.

Quite frankly, I am gutted. Until the very last moment, I held out faith that my fellow country persons would have more common sense and intelligence, but my faith feels a bit trodden upon this morning.

And how does that feel to you? What does that look like for you?

It feels like the world as we know it has come to an end. It looks like Armageddon of the brain. I feel ashamed of my country … and of myself as a citizen of my country. For some strange reason, I feel guilty. I feel even more of a stranger in a strange land than I ever have before. And, quite honestly, I feel like giving up and moving to a small, deserted island where government is not an issue.

Unfortunately, there are no more small, deserted islands. Believe me, I’ve looked. We are ONE; we sink or swim together.

Yes, I understand. That’s the way I felt when I was touring with the Dangerous Tour in Moscow. It seemed like the whole world had changed overnight from a welcoming place to a forbidding place, gray and colorless, featureless and foreboding.

How does it feel?
How does it feel?
How does it feel?
When you’re alone
And you’re cold inside?
Like a Stranger in Moscow

But let me ask you something. Did the sun come up this morning? Did you wake up? Were you able to get up and move around?

Yes, it’s a beautiful, sunny day, unseasonably warm for this time of year, in fact. Yes, I woke up. Yes, I am able to get up and move around.

Excellent! Then you have found three things to be grateful for before you have even begun your day. There are many for whom those three things are not part of their experience.

In this moment, everything is fine. Stay here in this moment, with the sun shining in your windows and your body able to sit up, walk around and take nourishment.

What you are doing is allowing what may or may not happen in the future to ruin this moment. You are resisting what is and worrying about what will be. What purpose does that serve? Does it change what has happened?

No, not really.

He has won the election, but he has not actually assumed the office. It hasn’t happened yet, but you are dreading what is only a thought in this moment. It’s not real yet. Anything can happen between this moment and when he actually takes office. This is not the best example, but Saul became an entirely different person on his way to Damascus one day about 2,000 years ago. A funny thing happened on the way to the White House. [Michael chuckles.]

You can choose to wrap yourself in that gray and hopeless outlook and, believe me, I understand that the temptation to go down that road is very seductive. However, you can also choose to wrap the gratitude blanket around you, to be grateful for the sun rising, for waking up and for being able to get up and move around while you look for ways to move forward with faith.

But how should I feel? Is there anything I can do?

No one can tell you how you should feel. Only you control that. But, contrary to what most people understand, it is a choice. You can resist what is … or you can accept it, let go of your resistance, and move forward.

Accepting it is not the same as approving it; it is just an acknowledgment that it has happened. Resisting it doesn’t change it; it just causes you stress and discomfort.

As we have talked about so frequently, stress changes your inner environment to one of fear and contaminates each moment with the chemicals that fear and stress create in your inner ecosystem. Acceptance removes the stress and allows you a platform from which you can make clearer decisions. From that point, you get to choose what you create.

When I was in Moscow, I had come face-to-face with my worst fear.

Yes! That’s what this morning’s news feels like. I have come face-to-face with my worst fear. What did you do?

I did what it was given me to do. I made a decision to move forward despite my anger, disappointment and disillusionment. Giving up was not an option although it was a sore temptation.

I did what I had always done. I took those feelings and created a song through which I was able to form a connection with all of you. Later, I created a short film that very closely illustrated  those same feelings to make them a more visual and, therefore, visceral connection with all of you, so that you would know that I had, as you so often say, “been there, done that and had the t-shirt.”

It was what I had done all my life with my fear and anger and guilt; it was what I had been taught to do; it was what I had been given to do.

I was wandering in the rain
Mask of life, feeling insane
Swift and sudden fall from grace
Sunny days seem far away
Kremlin’s shadow belittling me
Stalin’s tomb won’t let me be

We are all members of the human family; we have all felt that utter hopelessness, that fear of the future, that despair over what has occurred. We are more alike than we are different. We can choose to perceive our sameness rather than our differences.

We can choose to connect with that feeling in others … to lift them up and provide them an outlet … a catharsis … through whatever means we have at our disposal …or we can choose to disconnect ourselves entirely from the human family and wallow in our fear and disappointment.

I was blest to have the music and to be able to share my feelings with all of you, to work it and mold it and shape it into the best that it could be. And, then, to send it out into the world to forge a link between us that could, with nurturance, be unbroken.

But not all of us have been given those blessings, my beautiful one.

That is true, but all of us have been given something with which we can share our pain and our joys. Some have music, others have visual art, others have dance and still others have financial resources. Whatever we have been given, we can share it freely to connect with others who may be feeling the same fears and disappointments.

In your specific case, you have been given the gift of these Conversations. You can talk with me about it and we can work out a way to move forward with faith together.

I know and I am so grateful for that, Michael. Thank you.

No … thank YOU!

In this way, we can let others know that they are not alone in their feelings. Shared anger is anger halved; shared disappointment loses much of its sting; shared disillusionment feels a little less hopeless.

Creation trumps reaction (pun intended) every time, in every situation and circumstance … no exceptions. Never doubt it. 

Every day create your history
Every path you take, you’re leaving your legacy

The word create infers an awareness … a consciousness … that you are the Creator of your inner environment, at least. That is where those feelings of utter fear and hopelessness live … in your inner environment.

You are not a victim of the winds that blow first one way and then the other. You may not be able to control what happens all around you, but you can create your response to it. Don’t allow the circumstances and situations you face create you. You create you! Consciously.

James Twyman, who has spearheaded a movement called the World Peace Pulse and who is doing monthly on-line meditations from trouble spots around the world sent out an email to subscribers on the morning after the elections. The subject line of his email read: Why am I so happy about the US presidential election?

In his email he states that this is not the outcome he was hoping for, but he says “that’s not the point.” He confirms that our happiness does not depend on outside occurrences measuring up to our expectations. It’s not about what happens out there; it’s about what happens within our own hearts. He also states that he spent the morning after the election results were broadcast praying for Donald Trump instead of cursing him. He goes on to explain:

“I asked thousands of people to pray for the “highest good” to be done in this election. Part of that involves me letting go of what I think needs to happen and trusting what actually is happening. It’s impossible for me to know what humanity needs to evolve into love, but I am willing to play my role no matter what. That’s the key – to commit to love regardless of the direction we seem to be heading.”

Yes! Exactly

And I think it’s important to realize that nothing is ever as bad as it may seem. We tend to magnify the negative aspects of people and situations because we worry so much about them, which just makes them grow in our imaginations to the point where they become monsters, eating up all the positive aspects of our lives.

In the past few months, you have made Donald Trump into the devil incarnate in your mind. You have railed against his platform, his speeches, his appearance, and everything else about him.

He is not the devil incarnate; he’s just a man who makes mistakes just like everyone else. He just does it BIG.

When I knew Donald Trump, he was one of the very few people who supported me during a very dark period of my life. He was very kind to both myself and Lisa Marie, even allowing us to stay at Trump Towers and providing us some privacy during a time when many of my friends couldn’t be reached and were distancing themselves from me in the fear that the infamy of the allegations would rub off and sully their careers. He stood by me. So, he has good qualities like loyalty and friendship.

There are no wholly negative people; we all have the capacity for good, noble actions and decisions; we all have tendencies that are selfish and lacking in compassion.

Our mission is to see and encourage the good and noble aspects of each other and to overlook the mistakes and judgments that are lacking in sensitivity or wisdom as just that … mistakes and errors in judgment. Errors can be corrected with patience and compassion.

As you discovered in our Neverland therapy sessions, when we understand some of the societal and cultural pressures those who have hurt us were laboring under, it is much easier to see their actions as errors and to view them with compassion and forgiveness. The same is true here.

We’ve all made mistakes; none of us is perfect. We’ve all spoken ill-considered words, been the author of ill-considered actions. That’s just human nature.

In addition, we, aided and abetted by our media whose allegiance to profit and sensationalism is unquestioned, see things and judge them from the perspectives they offer us (which, as we have seen in the past are seldom without prejudice), never questioning what they present to us as fact.

It is neither unheard of nor unusual for media reports to magnify the smallest thing into a fear that becomes unmanageable, is it? It is neither unheard of nor unusual for media reports to take words out of context or bend them to suit their own agendas. It is neither unheard of nor unusual for editors to alter photographs or film clips to more closely align with their biases. And it is neither unheard of nor unusual for media editors to fabricate lies and print them as truth. We have definitely seen all of these in my physical life and I have no doubt that some of that has been practiced in this Presidential campaign.

I am certain that media reports have played up many of the negative aspects of all of the candidates in this election campaign; they always do.

Here abandoned in my fame
Armageddon of the brain
KGB was doggin’ me
Take my name but just let me be
Then a beggar boy called my name
Happy days will drown the pain

So, it’s important to realize that we don’t have all the facts. As a matter of fact, we probably know very little of the truth.

how-does-it-feel

Okay, Baby, I grant you that. So, what are my options?

Well, I think that the most important thing is to realize that here, in this moment, everything is fine. The future hasn’t happened, yet. Don’t trade this moment for the fear and anxiety of what may or may not occur in the future. The present moment is too precious; it is where we live.

Then, I think that resisting what is just generates more of what is. Viewing the situation without resistance allows us a clearer view of the circumstance that is causing our distress. It relieves our own anxiety and tension, releasing healing chemicals into our ecosystem instead of harmful ones.

Please understand, I understand your hurt and disappointment. I was not very good at releasing my resistance to the circumstances I faced. I resisted with a vengeance and caused myself immeasurable harm in the process which manifested in many of the physical problems that plagued my life, like my admitted addiction to pain medication and the sleep deprivation which always played a major role in my physical well- being. That’s why I’m here to discuss this with you and keep you from making the same mistake. Resistance helps nothing; it just makes everything seem bigger, scarier and the hurt more intense.

You started this dialog with the statement that and I quote: “I’m afraid that the world as we know it has come to an end.” We have talked in great detail in several of these dialogs about the world “as we know it” and its many failings and injustices. Perhaps, the world as we know it needs to come to an end to make way for the world as we must create it if we are to save the planet from total extinction.

I know that seems like a harsh thing to say, but in the example we used before from our earlier dialogs, the trial of Conrad Murray, we needed to sweep away all the negative emotions and deceit in the physical space of the courthouse to make room for the Spirit of Truth to enter. Those visualizations of sweeping out the courthouse were a metaphor to help you visualize what we were doing; by cleaning out the courthouse we were really helping you to clean out the fear and anxiety you had built up over the trial; but the same concept applies here. Perhaps, the new President-elect is the broom we need to clean up the dormant racist and anti-feminist feelings that apparently remain in the hearts of many of our citizens.

We have been warned by our greatest scientific minds that we are headed for disaster on a magnitude that we have never seen before. That means we need to be shaken out of our complacency and wake up to what is happening in the world in order to evolve.

We have seen that we do not live in an ideal world … or in an ideal country. Many of our high-sounding ideals have been seriously compromised in favor of economic predominance, military might and expediency. Many of our citizens are homeless; many have no health care; many are victims of human rights violations and police brutality.

Like a volcano, we are sitting on a powder keg that we have crusted over with our unwillingness to look at our guilty little secrets and heal them. The pressure is building and the toxic gases need to rise to the surface. Much that we have refused to face has to bubble to the surface to be released and healed. It will, undoubtedly, be uncomfortable.

I think it’s also important to note that the man has not been elected dictator; he has been elected President of a country which is governed by three separate branches and a system of checks and balances which are meant to protect its citizens from tyranny. In other words, the President does not rule alone; his power is actually somewhat limited. He is a cog in a very large machine full of well-meaning, intelligent people  – a very visible and vocal cog, but a cog, nonetheless.

And I think that the methods we have used in the past to relieve some of our anxiety over what may happen in the future have particular applicability here.

When we began visualizing for the trial of Conrad Murray, you were facing a very similar situation. You had built him up to be the devil incarnate as you had Tom Sneddon, if you recall. We replaced all of our negative fears and anxieties with our faith that the truth would be revealed. The results were spectacular, not only in the observable outcome of the trial but, even more importantly, in the way you viewed things; your perspective changed. Your visualizations calmed your fears, relieved your stresses and anxiety and allowed you a broader view.

In many cases, people are ennobled by the office they hold. They realize that their role is a responsible one and they rise to the occasion, so to speak. We can support that kind of ennoblement in this situation with patience and compassion by visualizations that activate the President-elect’s sensitivity and empower his compassion.

I love water balloon fights and always have. Instead of water balloons, we can have LOVE balloons … COMPASSION balloons … TOLERANCE balloons and drop Love Bombs on the White House and Capitol Building. This sounds like a lot more fun than sitting around and worrying about what may or may not happen!

Yes, it does because the last few days have not been fun at all. There has been this heavy feeling of dread which has been very difficult to lift.

Your words have reminded me of the article I quoted before in these Conversation [Reference: Installment 103, June 2016], written by Danielle Agnew entitled Why Donald Trump Is The Best Thing to Ever Happen to the USA, dated March 15, 2016.

Ms. Agnew proposed in her blog post that Mr. Trump would end up unifying (although probably unconsciously) this country as no one else could by bringing all the issues that the United States doesn’t like to talk about … all those nasty little secrets like our clandestine racism and bigotry, homophobia and police brutality that we sweep under the carpet so that we don’t have to face them … out into the open, making us as a country take a good look at ourselves in the mirror and decide if we like what we see.

We like to think of ourselves as so progressive, forward-thinking and tolerant, but we are still beating our African-American brothers, broadcasting video of the brutality on national television and acquitting the police officers who perpetrated it. We are still shooting young, unarmed black men for no reason other than their skin color. And we still fear a black man who gets more powerful than we are comfortable with.

Yes, that is true. The United States is a great country, but it is not perfect. It doesn’t want to look at itself realistically. It prefers the whitewashed version.  That version says: there’s nothing wrong; there’s no need to fix what isn’t broke. Just cover it up, ignore it and it will go away. Unfortunately, it’s not going away.

While many African-Americans are upwardly mobile, responsible taxpayers, according to prevailing racist attitudes all black people live in ghettos, as Mr. Trump stated in his campaign speeches. He also recommended that the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States (women’s suffrage) be repealed because most of his supporters were men.

Yes, we are making progress, but there are huge enclaves that cling to old racist and chauvinistic attitudes.

Ms. Agnew posits that Donald Trump has forged a link with those factions bent on holding on to those antiquated ideas and will end up uniting a country that is currently far from united.  She states that his popularity stems not so much from his willingness to broadcast his opinions at the top of his lungs, but to broadcast theirs – the ones they have not admitted having because of their fear of rejection by loved ones and their own prickling consciences.

“I’m behind Donald because he speaks his mind,” say millions of followers, crunching on their chips and watching ringside as the circus continues.

“Yet it’s not the fact that Donald Trump is speaking his mind in an outside-the-box way that inspires the deep dedication and screeching discipleship from coast to coast … The fact remains that Donald Trump receives the unfaltering dedication and hero worship from his followers not because he speaks his mind — but the fact that Donald Trump is indeed, speaking their mind.

“Trump gives a name, a face, a resume and a strangely-fitting suit to the ugly stepchild of American Consciousness: Bigotry, fear of change — and the hatred that is born from resentfully stewing these ingredients in repressed silence.

“Finally, the Movement of Secret Seething Resentment has a leader.”

And I do think that Ms. Agnew has a point. There is a huge segment of America that doesn’t adjust well to change, wants to remain insulated against the rest of the world, wants to keep America for Americans (preferably white Americans), and resents anyone who doesn’t agree with those ideals. We are not united and it’s long past time for us to admit our failings, discuss our skeletons in the closet and commit to changing our standing in the world.

“Well, in order for the United States to remain united in this fragile world climate, it’s time we kick our secrets to the curb. It’s time we find out what we really have under our hood, America — who we really are — and stop hiding who we wish we had the courage to be, in the shadows.

“Until we come to grips with some serious tears in the seams of our national fabric — no switching of Presidents and Congress will heal the gridlock and the rip in consciousness of the Corporatocracy that though horrifying — now defines our country.”

She proposes that Donald Trump is going to turn out to be the point at which the rubber meets the road. After all, we can’t fix what we don’t acknowledge. And there are precious few ways to ignore Donald Trump.

In other words, if we want to play with the big boys, we are going to have to stop kidding ourselves and face up to who and what we have become.  It may not be fun and it probably will not be pretty.

The fact that we used to be the big boys notwithstanding, we have lost our grip on that status through turning away from the ideals for which our country was founded. Human rights have fallen to corporate rights and the almighty dollar.

“Donald Trump is fearless in his commitment to his opinions, and moreover — to himself. He embodies Capitalism, sensationalism, unapologetic stereotypical male sexuality all with the swagger of a movie-star-meets-professional-wrestler.

“He has chosen to present himself as a finely-sketched, perfectly sculpted caricature of American ego, idiocy and ignorance.”

Unfortunately, I’m afraid that this is, indeed, how much of the world views America – as a bully in the global playground, as hypocritical in upholding human rights, pointing the finger at violations in other countries while at the same time sweeping our own violations under the rug. It’s our way or the highway. Before we can change it, we have to acknowledge it.

We have no one to blame but ourselves for Donald Trump.

It’s not a question of blame; blaming ourselves is just another way of resisting acknowledging that we are all brothers and sisters in a large human family. It’s a question of learning to accept our brothers and sisters in our own country with all their diverse opinions, ethnic and gender differences and learning how to get along. That does not mean we have to agree with them; we don’t have to convert them to our way of thinking nor do we have to accept being converted to theirs; we just agree to disagree. Then, perhaps, we will have evolved enough to accept all our human brothers and sisters in our extended global family without judging them,

Donald Trump is a human being and he, too, is a member of our human family who deserves our prayerful and mindful support as he prepares to assume a very responsible position in the world. Instead of judging and fearing him, let’s admit that he is all too human and invite him out to play in the LOVE balloon fort.

I’ll prepare the balloons! We got this!

The Dangerous Diaries –

October 7 through October 21, 2016

When I first became enamored with Michael Jackson (my muse), one of the remarkable facts that I discovered was that for an artist of his caliber, popularity, unprecedented achievements and fame, there was very little reliable, factual information to be found, regardless of where one looked, that dealt with his life, his art or his humanitarian efforts. His was the most recognized face and silhouette in the world, while at the same time being the least known of men. While seemingly contradictory, both statements are true.

I love Michelangelo. If I had the chance to talk to him or read about him, I would want to know what inspired him to become who he is, the anatomy of his craftsmanship … not about who he went out with last night or why he decided to sit out in the sun so long. That’s what’s important to me.

Michael Jackson, Ninety Prime Time Minutes with the King of Pop, 1993

While reams and reams of words circulated endlessly about his eccentricities, endless speculations abounded about the number and extent of his plastic surgeries. His appearance was covered from every possible angle ever cooked up and diagnosed by the ever-popular “expert testimony” of plastic surgeons who had never met the man; his ever-lightening complexion was the talk of every yellow journalist of note and his allegedly strange lifestyle had become fodder for late night comedian monologues. But to really learn anything valuable or instructive about the man, his music, his uncanny ability to use his body to communicate his artistic vision in film and performance, one was entirely lost in a maze of speculation, innuendo and character assassination.

Michael Jackson in 1991 and 1992, was the media’s favorite scapegoat for many of the world’s ills while, at the same time, he was one of the most popular figures in recent history. Any public appearance was attended by throngs of admirers, his recordings sold in unbelievable numbers not just in his homeland but on a global basis and rumors of his attendance at Presidential Inaugural Galas peaked more public interest than the newly-elected President, himself. Television ratings soared into the stratosphere when he was scheduled to appear at award shows, personal interviews or Super Bowl Halftime extravaganzas. But much more was made of his personal life in the press of the time, and in the most sensational way possible, while little to no attention was paid to his ART … to the manner in which he bared his soul to his public through his music, passionate performances and state-of-the-art short films. Few music or film critics were covering his musical releases with anything that resembled objectivity; it was far easier to dismiss his contributions than it was to buck the system and actually produce intelligent, meticulously-vetted or researched prose related to his body of work. Investigative research and verification were almost unheard of in the coverage of Michael Jackson.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, I was not alone in my confusion over these discrepancies. The Dangerous Diaries is my attempt to examine some of the reliable, serious, academic work that has been published since my muse’s transition seven years ago (88 months to be precise.)  Since his untimely death in 2009, there has been a delayed knee-jerk reaction … an avalanche of renewed interest in what Michael Jackson was trying to tell us in that music and those performances. This trend is long overdue, but better late than never. Armond White may be the only voice raised with the statement: “Wait a minute! Take another look!” God bless him for it. That took courage, particularly being printed contemporaneously to the release of the albums Dangerous, HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book 1, Blood on the Dancefloor: HIStory in the Mix and Invincible.

I have just finished my first reading of a newly-published book entitled The Dangerous Philosophies of Michael Jackson (in eBook format since my print copy of the book has not yet been delivered from Amazon.com despite my having pre-ordered it over a week prior to its release date of September 30, 2016) by Elizabeth Amisu, a lecturer at Kings College London. Past experience has taught me that I need to read these books at least twice, if not many, many more times, to fully extract all the richness they offer. However, my first reading has inspired a curiosity to study Michael Jackson’s later musical contributions from the numerous angles represented by my growing library of serious, reliable Michael Jackson Academic Studies.

I will be proud to add her print version when received to my growing collection of serious academic materials which deal fairly with Michael Jackson’s contributions to our cultural heritage. That collection currently includes:

Joe Vogel’s

Earth Song: Inside Michael Jackson’s Magnum Opus,
Man in the Music: The Creative Life and Work of Michael Jackson and
Featuring Michael Jackson,

Dr. Willa Stillwater’s M Poetica: Michael Jackson’s Art of Connection and Defiance,

Susan Fast’s Dangerous,

Isabelle Petitjean’s  Dangerous: From Mark Ryden to Michael Jackson: Pop Culture in the Pantheon of Fine Arts (at this writing unpublished),

Armond White’s Keep Moving: The Michael Jackson Chronicles, 

as well as my muse’s own works: Moonwalk, Dancing the Dream: Poems and Reflections, and HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book 1(which Elizabeth Amisu has included as one of her primary sources in The Dangerous Philosophies of Michael Jackson, page 34 calling it “a musical autobiography, which gives his account of the events that transpired between 1989 and 1995.”)

Let me state unequivocally for my readers: I AM NOT A SCHOLAR. However, as many know, I am a rabid, voracious reader. Having no academic credentials, I have never done anything like this before, and, therefore, I am not exactly sure how I should begin this self-directed study – how it should be structured or formatted. Perhaps, the best way to begin would be to discuss Elizabeth Amisu’s inclusion of HIStory: Past, Present, and Future, Book 1 in her listing of primary sources and what an unusual, and possibly controversial, decision that is.

HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book 1(released 1995)

Ms. Amisu lists HIStory as Michael Jackson’s most autobiographical work, addressing much of the public vilification to which he had been subjected in the wake of the media backlash which had followed the Thriller and BAD releases as well as his public stoning at the hands of a seethingly vengeful and persecutory District Attorney in Santa Barbara County reminiscent of “running that [insert derogatory here] out of his county” which resulted in Michael Jackson being unjustly pilloried for criminal trespass against a child not once but twice (in 1993 and 2003) and in Jackson’s self-imposed exile from his fabulous home, Neverland Valley Ranch. In both cases, the resulting media frenzy to convict in the court of public opinion resulted in what Charles Thomson called The Most Shameful Episode in Journalistic History in an article of the same name in the on-line journal The Huffington Post.

The first set of allegations in 1993 hit very early in my ongoing love affair with Michael Jackson (ten months to be exact) and was largely responsible for my learning how to use a computer to aide me in writing my first book, taking to the internet as well as my one-woman-letter-writing-campaign, voicing my consternation over the thirteen months of rampantly vitriolic “schoolyard” bullying tactics Jackson endured during the almost daily media onslaught against his artistic output, his person, his appearance, his ethnicity, his facial characteristics, his sexuality, and every other facet of his life that could be squeezed into a four inch headline and cover story and made available to all on a global basis at every grocery checkout stand in the United States of America and around the world. Of course, news of his lifelong contributions to 39 charities, which resulted in him being listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most charitable celebrity was conspicuously absent from all reports.

In the track listing for the HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book 1, Ms. Amisu sees Michael Jackson’s response to the unrelenting and increasingly pervasive critical commentary that had accompanied his every move for roughly a dozen years (by that time) and as largely contributing to the “reductionist” framework from which each release after Thriller suffered (and continues to suffer) a monumentally dismissive overall reading in nearly all music critique forums.

Yet, from the primal scream of “Scream” to the determination of “Smile,” Jackson shows that he is still very much a force to be reckoned with, that he refuses to “go quietly” into the oblivion being foisted upon him by his detractors. His voice still hits highs and lows full on with no hesitation, still emotes all over the grooves, its purity, versatility, strength and virtuosity undeniable, and his “staying power” still laudable. He is “standing though you’re kicking me” on this record, exhibiting an endurance and sense of purpose that was little understood at the time, but is becoming a bit more recognized in the field of posthumous Michael Jackson Academic Studies.

Ms. Amisu’s use of an audio production and the short films that accompanied it as primary source material, equal in every way to his autobiography, Moonwalk, and his second print publication, Dancing the Dream: Poems and Reflections, is a bold departure from traditional biographical reference material, but eminently appropriate, … one which I applaud.

20161017_131730.jpg

Dangerous 11 X 14 colored pencil painting

Coming of Age

In the first paragraph, first sentence of her marvelous analyses of Dangerous, Susan Fast refers to it as Michael Jackson’s “coming of age album.” While I see her point to a certain extent, I disagree. I feel that the promise of the little boy in the fringed vest and pink hat that we all saw on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1970 was fully and spectacularly realized in his first three adult solo albums, Off the Wall, Thriller, and BAD. That little boy no longer had anything to prove to the world or to himself, He had matured into a staggeringly talented and beautiful young man whose sexually-charged music and dance had catapulted him into a level of fame seldom witnessed on this planet.

As Quincy Jones once stated in an interview, recorded sometime around the recording session for We Are The World (1985?) and referring to the filming of the feature film The Wiz (1979), “He isn’t baby dumpling, anymore.” The child prodigy had matured into a virtuoso, whose vocal versatility was undeniable, whose physical appearance had been sharpened by his strict adherence to a vegetarian lifestyle, and whose ability to effectively and believably emote through a variety of genres was unquestioned. In addition, his composing skills had kept pace with his performance skills, proven by penning nine of the eleven tracks on the BAD album. His confidence in his innate, God-given abilities had reached far beyond the “natural gifts” stage through constant practice and coaching; he commonly fasted on Sundays and danced until his legs wouldn’t or couldn’t hold him up any longer. His dedication to his art throughout his early adulthood is clear in the grooves of Off the Wall, Thriller, and BAD.

Dangerous did, admittedly, mark a departure in his music and in his presentation, however. In the Dangerous album, I believe Michael Jackson, in essence, threw down a gauntlet to the rest of us. He achieved a level of consciousness that showed more self-awareness and world engagement than had previously been a prevalent feature of his artistry. He asks us point blank to look at the world we inhabit and explain to him “Why You Wanna Trip on Me?”

He challenges us; he provokes us; he dares us. He makes us gasp in surprise, bristle in consternation, and cry out in empathy. He makes us think; he makes us dance; he makes us sing along; but under it all there is a new tone of social and spiritual consciousness that takes no prisoners. He makes us uncomfortable in our apathy (but not as uncomfortable as he will make us before he’s finished with us), encourages us to find and engage with our passions and share those passions with our neighbors in a way he never had before. He recognizes that his American Dream has betrayed him, as has the media and almost everyone else around him … yet he dares to continue to dream it, moving forward no-holds-barred, unabashedly and at full throttle. He pleads for our understanding, but whether we understand him or not, he isn’t going anywhere.

“No longer does Jackson encourage his listeners to ‘make a change;’ he becomes the change, maturing into a voice crying out in a literal wilderness in the short film for “Earth Song” five years later.” (The Dangerous Philosophies of Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Amisu, p. 56 of Nook edition.)

Fear of Women

Almost all of the authors I have read so far have failed, in my opinion, to delve deeply enough into what are fast becoming known as Michael Jackson’s “femmes fatale” songs, which include “Billie Jean,” “Dirty Diana,” “Dangerous,” and “Blood on the Dancefloor.” Noting that he returns to the subject matter of the dangerous, manipulative woman who is willing to lie about the paternity of her child, make herself available for sexual favors, and even kill to entrap the narrator of the story into her “web of sin,” almost all of them stop short of what I feel Michael was aiming towards.

Dr. Willa Stillwater, in M Poetica: Michael Jackson’s Art of Connection and Defiance, does note that Michael struggles over the ethical response to the situation in which the narrator of the story finds himself embroiled through no fault of his own. Hers is a psychological reading. He recognizes and acknowledges some of the motivations that may be propelling Billie Jean forward in her determination to secure financial or societal support for her out-of-wedlock conception. Similarly, he recognizes some of the reasons he is pursued by Diana as reflected glory and a “life that’s so carefree” as well as his ability to make her a star.  Yet through both songs, he still asks, “Why would a woman disrespect herself to that extent?”

I think much of the response to his overarching question lies in the patriarchal culture that may not have begun with Paul’s Epistles to his followers, but was certainly given religious sanction by this man, who knew the historical Jesus not at all and, therefore, could not be presumed to be speaking for him, which resulted in millions of free-thinking women being burned at the stake, hung, and drowned as witches during the church’s reign of terror known as The Inquisition in the Middle Ages. The latest incarnation of this patriarchal view of reality is one of our Presidential candidates spouting rhetoric in support of repealing the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United State of America (women’s suffrage) because most of his supporters are men. Yes, indeed, this happened during the week of October 10, 2016! If that’s not a warning of what is to come should this man be elected, I don’t know what is.

However, the accepted, repeated ad nauseum, tired narrative of Michael Jackson’s “fear of women” still seeps through in most overall sympathetic analyses and I think that this reading probably stands on the surface, but requires further examination from a more in depth, mindful perspective because of its over-simplicity. While his music may seem simple, almost all of his collaborators have spoken about the hard work they all went through to achieve that appearance. Michael Jackson did not fear women; he revered them and his reverence is clearly evidenced in the way he treated them … with respect.

There are many levels on which Michael Jackson’s body of work can be understood; there is the surface layer and infinite further layers to explore when one has decoded the musical, sonic, technical and lyrical levels, which Susan Fast admits in Dangerous with the words: “Jackson’s femmes fatales songs all have different narratives and are worthy of a good and thorough study, which is more than I can do here.”

In my opinion these songs are parables – philosophical tales that use common, everyday words, situations and people to illustrate a moral point. They are about seduction – the attraction that forbidden or socially unacceptable situations and people hold for us. While they can be interpreted as sexual seduction, and from that perspective there is much that is cautionary in these songs, there is also a bigger picture here.

So, let’s take a very brief look at the four songs listed and see if we can find some common factor they all share.

“Billie Jean” talks about a woman who claims that the narrator has fathered her child and the moral dilemma this puts the narrator in. Viewed from both protagonist and antagonist perspectives (a phenomenal feat all by itself), the lyrics acknowledge that the narrator “has dreamed of being the one,” … “but the kid is not his son.” In other words, he acknowledges the seductive power represented by the woman, but he has not succumbed to it; “Billie Jean is not my lover.” He has not capitulated.

“Dirty Diana” is the story of a woman “who waits backstage for those who have prestige.” In other words, for the performance to be over. “Every musician’s fan,” she is ready to give herself to the “boys in the band” for any number of what could be considered by our current societal benchmarks as good reasons, including “a life that’s so carefree” and “I’ll be your everything if you make me a star.” While the narrator of the story is attracted strongly to her, he has a “baby” at home to whom he is trying to remain faithful; the seductive power in his attraction is prominent, but it is Diana who tells his “baby” that he is “sleeping with her.” He’s still on the fence until that moment and we are not told how the struggle is resolved.

In “Dangerous,” the narrator of the story is strongly attracted to a dangerous woman just because she is dangerous. This is seduction at its most basic level. He can’t trust her and he knows it; he speaks the words of the lead in to the song in a hypnotic, seductive, sexy voice:  “her lips are as sweet as a honeycomb, but her spirit is as sharp as a two-edged sword.” All relationships are based on trust from friendships to romantic relationships and everything in between. So, this relationship is strictly taboo, but he is strongly attracted to it, seduced by it. Once again, we are not privy to the resolution of his dilemma.

In “Blood on the Dancefloor,” the narrator tells the story of a “one night stand” and its results. “It’s not about love and romance” and “every hot man’s out takin’ a chance and now you do regret it.” Susie is a retaliatory presence in “Blood on the Dancefloor;” perhaps she just wants vengeance for being used as an object to satisfy the narrator’s desire, perhaps she has become more possessive than the narrator is comfortable with, wanting to hold on to the narrator. Whatever the situation is, the story turns ugly and she wields a knife, ending up with “blood on the dancefloor.”  “Seven inches in” could refer to a dagger or to a certain part of a man’s anatomy!

Now, call me a crazy, lapsed Roman Catholic girl who was well and truly indoctrinated into the Catholic perception of sexuality during her more than twelve years of good Catholic education, but I see every one of these songs as cautionary tales whose morals deal with the prevalent and all-pervasive promiscuity of the early 21st Century, anything-goes morality. From the relative innocence of “Billie Jean” and “Dirty Diana,” the caution progresses through “Dangerous” and ends up with “Blood on the Dancefloor.”

Michael Jackson’s upbringing in the Jehovah Witness faith, particularly on the discussion of irresponsible sexual encounters, would have been even less permissive than my own at the hands of the nuns who taught me albeit not terribly different from mine and his reverence of his mother, who was extremely devout, is a well-known and documented fact. One can imagine young Michael being taught the benefits of abstinence (a word not commonly used in our society) at his mother’s knee, especially with her knowledge of her husband’s and older sons’ very obvious rejection of the concept.

It’s not a fear of women, nor is it a fear of sex Michael Jackson points to with these songs; it is a warning about the seduction and inherent dangers of the promiscuity that has developed in our culture over the past approximately 50 years! He is crying out that our moral compass has become askew. It is the moral epidemic our society suffers from which has resulted in increased teenage pregnancy, overcrowding prisons, increased social service requirements and homelessness. It is our lack of respect for ourselves and the planet that have resulted in global warming, burning “forests despite our pleas” and the imminent disaster that may make the human family extinct not long after our tenure here is over. I know that this, too, is an over-simplification, but I believe the tentacles do reach further than most of us think and I think Michael Jackson was alerting us to that fact in these songs..

Our cavalier attitude toward sexual union has become the prevailing meme to the point at which a “gentleman” is castigated on public television for not revealing every detail of his sexual encounters and his virginity, or lack thereof. [See the Oprah Winfred interview entitled Ninety Prime Time Minutes With The King of Pop, 1993] As a result of the prevalence of that meme, such a man is considered almost universally as “unnatural” and public outcry against this particular brand of “unnaturalness” is given worldwide press. Gentlemen have become an endangered species in our technologically-advanced society. What has happened to the concept of “common decency?” I have asked this question before, but have not yet received a viable response.

On yet another level, all of these songs are about seduction. There are myriads of things, situations and people that are seductive in our culture. Enticements abound. We can be seduced by sex (which is the application by which the word is most often understood), by drugs, by videogames, by drama, by alcohol, by sensationalism, by cigarettes, by acquisition, by power, by upward mobility, by money, by fame, by following every move made by our favorite celebrities, by habit, by propaganda, by media, by fear, by adrenalin rushes. The list is endless.

Seduction infers that there are possible negative effects to these attractions, which overwhelm us, keeping us docile and mindless and preventing us from thinking deeply about the situations in our world that scream for our ingenuity in the hopes of satisfying our attractions. Like the drug addict, we can’t help ourselves; we are seduced.

Now, I am admittedly in thrall, having been totally seduced by Michael Jackson almost twenty-five years ago. I haven’t yet found the negative effect in that seduction, if there is one. When I do, I will inform my readers as quickly and efficiently as possible. At present, I have only gained by this seduction and am entirely grateful for it.

We are seduced by the world that surrounds us or our perceptions of it. Our senses tell us that the physical, material, scientifically-provable world is the only reality; sight, sound, touch, smell and taste are the arbiters of our lives based in the logical, the provable, the measurable, the weighable. Yet, we are also endowed with other senses: intuition, imagination, intention, inspiration, and creativity. These more spiritually attuned senses we are taught to ignore as we are seduced away from our childhood certainty in the truth of fairy tales by our teenage years. These more spiritually-attuned senses can only be developed through introspection and self-reflection, which are the artist’s purview and to which Dancing the Dream: Poems and Reflections by Michael Jackson provides more than sufficient testimony that he was no stranger.

As the penultimate artist in several genres (including musical composition, innovative film production, massive public spectacle and all the smaller fields that combined to create them), Michael Jackson sings to us about seduction – the seduction of the senses. He warns us that these are magnetic attractions with powers over us we find difficult to resist because of the prevalent view of the physical world as the only reality. Yes, he couches these warnings in the form of woman, but it is the hypnotic effect of seduction he sings about in each of these songs.

Yet, within each one of us beats a heart that knows that this cannot be all there is, that this world of greed and consumerism, of power plays and braggadocio, of political upheaval and war and of orphaned and starving children is not the only reality. We search for something to “fill that place in our hearts” that we all know is love and compassion in the many seductions offered to us for our pacification as a baby seeks its mother’s breast.

Michael Jackson demonstrated that place in his heart in every way humanly possible – in visiting sick and dying children, in contributing huge sums of money to alleviate suffering on a massive scale, in offering a place of refuge and safety to children from inner city schools, in airlifting medical supplies and toys into war torn regions, in gathering resources to cut the number of people starving in the world in half (literally), and in musical compositions to accompany his actions – and he is not shy about asking us to help him in his cause.

In his pleas, he is joined by all of our spiritual scriptures from Hindu to Buddhist – Muslim to Christian, which promote love and compassion and tell us that we can be inhabitants of both the world of physical, provable reality and eternal, spiritual reality at the same time. He demonstrated that fact … and at the very highest level imaginable … with every breath he breathed on this planet and continues to do so throughout the ensuing years.  He navigated both realities with grace, humor, ingenuity and dignity, holding to principles long antiquated against nearly insurmountable odds despite unprecedented fame, wealth, and adversity. In doing so, he showed us that we can do it, too!

These are the kinds of thoughts I want to explore further in this admittedly inept self-directed curriculum, The Dangerous Diaries. The research by objective, credentialed academics in the fields of musicology, film and music criticism, and cultural commentary now exists. And it is long overdue. It is thought-provoking and it is important. It reverberates with echoes of a higher calling that we can all put into practice to discover and create lives as resonant, if not as globally acclaimed, as Michael Jackson’s. God bless him! And God bless the scholars and authors who are revisiting his body of work from a variety of perspectives to enrich us and inform us of Michael Jackson’s continuing relevance.

While I am no scholar, I want to immerse myself in it, provide my own commentary and thoughts, and follow the trail of breadcrumbs left by my muse into the heart of his artistry and person. To a limited extent, I have already done this in “Troubadour of a Generation,” an online 13-week course offered by a wonderful friend which closely followed the targeted discussion topics of a syllabus designed for a class in African-American Studies at Duke University. [Please refer to Conversations, Installment 98 for further discussion of this course.] I must, once again, thank my wonderful friend for making the topics discussed available to me. It was an eye-opening experience and one that I will always cherish. However, there is so much more depth to study in Michael Jackson’s art that the course left me feeling rewarded but that it had barely scratched the surface.

So, with the materials previously listed, I am going to design my own course with the attitude that we shall see what develops.

Installment 105

September 13 through September 21, 2016

Beloved,

I am happy to announce that I celebrated your birthday this year in the city of your birth, Gary, Indiana, with many of my friends. It has been many years … twenty plus years, in fact … since I visited your childhood home on Jackson Street. Back then, there wasn’t much to see. It was just a little, four-room house on the corner of a street in a somewhat run-down neighborhood, bordered by a school at the rear and a lot of non-descript little, four-room houses identical to it. The city, itself, has been a victim of the closing of the steel mill, which was its main claim to fame and prosperity when you were growing up. There are a lot of fairly dilapidated neighborhoods with empty, boarded-up houses and storefronts.

However, there are forward-thinking people with plans to rehabilitate the neighborhood. I had heard of one of those people for several years, who has made his home across the street a refuge for fans and a welcome center where food and community are celebrated with considerable gusto. My thanks to him for his unconditional welcome.

Now, 2300 Jackson Street and the house next to it are bright spots on the block, sporting lovely renovations, a monument proclaiming your accomplishments, landscaping improvements, large posters bearing your face in the windows and a wrought iron fence.

In the intervening years, the house has become something of a Mecca for your children who gather to honor you (Michael Pilgrims), drawing crowds from countries spanning the globe. I was offered the opportunity to join them this year due to a Fan Art Exhibition which had been long delayed due to the serious illness of the organizer of the event.

Upon recovering from her illness, Dr. Catherine Gross began preparations almost immediately to make this Fan Art Exhibition happen during the weekend of your birthday, when so many of your children would be able to be present in person. She acquired a beautiful venue called The Aquatorium in Miller Beach, Indiana, located a short drive from Jackson Street in the sand dunes right on the shores of Lake Michigan, gathered the art she had collected from fans all over the world (several of my own humble little drawings and paintings included), and staged a spectacular Art Exhibition to showcase the fact that you continue to inspire long after your Ascension. Countries represented by Art included Canada, Russia, United States, Hong Kong, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Sweden and France. It was really quite a large exhibition. My thanks to Dr. Gross for keeping the dream of this Art Show alive during her extended illness and to her remarkable team who made it happen on August 28 and 29, 2016.

Of course, there were other events scheduled during the weekend, some of them sponsored by your mother and held at Roosevelt High School, including talent shows throughout the day on Friday and Saturday and a “White Party” at Que’s Lounge. However, my personal favorite was the Fan Art Exhibit at the Aquatorium.

I wondered if you were present, walking among the fans and community members who attended, of course.

Now, you know better than to ask that question. Would I pass up a chance to live the dream I held for so long in my physical life?

Yeah, I figured that was kind of a stupid question to ask. Evidence of your presence was everywhere, including outside my hotel every morning when I awoke and left the room to speak with you. There on the ground each morning, a feather awaited my awakening and welcomed my thoughts of you. On the morning of your birthday, I woke before the dawning and went outside to hold a private little sunrise meditation as the dawn painted the cloudy sky with pink and peach colored edges.

Of course, it could be argued by the uninitiated that I see you everywhere and in everything, but I cherish those little reminders that you are with me.

Ooo, ooo
I love to be with you
Ole’ man sun, he don’t have to come
I keep warm with your smile
And when my troubles get bad and I should be sad
I’m happy all the while
I forget the world outside
Having your love, enjoying life
Just me and you
What a lovely way to spend my time

Oh, Baby, I love that song! The purity of your voice is just stunning in that song from your youth.

On the morning of your birthday, we arrived at the Aquatorium early and had the chance to walk down the footpath through the sand to stand at the water’s edge and get our feet wet. It was a wonderful way to mark the day and something I had always wanted to do. The water was clear and cool and the sun was approaching its zenith; the city of Chicago could be seen through the haze in the distance. Naturally, there on the beach waiting for me was a beautiful little white feather, of course. It was exhilarating, a treasure hunt, and you were everywhere.

I definitely felt your presence on several occasions during the trip, but never so much as when I arrived back home and started thinking about all the things I didn’t do during the weekend.

What do you mean?

Well, I was kinda regretting not going into Chicago, where the bust of an ancient Egyptian at the Field Museum so closely resembles you or hanging around more at the football field. As these thoughts were passing through my mind, I realized that my traveling companion and I were in the perfect place at the perfect time throughout the entire weekend. Of course, you know that I attributed that to you. It seemed like everything just clicked into place ideally for us to be where we needed to be to offer our gifts where they were most needed.

For example, I was a bit impatient with my friend while she was creating flyers announcing the Art Exhibit at the computer station in the lobby of the hotel, but as it turned out, those flyers brought quite a few guests to the exhibit to view the fantastic art that was on display.

After she got the flyers completed to her exacting standards (this is her gift) we printed up about 200 of them at a local Staples and handed them out to all the people re-entering the football field at Roosevelt High School and posted them at 2300 Jackson Street. They were highly effective in drawing people to the Art Show. She called it “gorilla marketing.” Once again, I am learning patience and the art of letting go (lessons still badly needed for a self-confessed control freak.)

On Saturday morning, while eating breakfast in the lobby of the hotel, we ran into three lovely German friends who had traveled to Gary, Indiana to celebrate your birthday. They were staying pretty much to themselves, so I decided to go over and introduce myself and play the role of the friendly American. Of course, their t-shirts were a dead giveaway. As it turned out, we had more fun with these German ladies. We even got asked to quiet down out in the parking lot at around midnight one evening because we were getting too rowdy, laughing and sharing stories over the language barrier! That hasn’t happened to me in a lot of years!

Oh, I can’t believe that … you are such a rowdy person! [Michael laughs out loud.]

Yeah, right! This was just another example of how you are still bringing complete strangers together and fostering a sense of community among them – people from different cultures who don’t even speak the same language – even seven years after you left the stadium.

I have never left the stadium. And you’re all just another part of me.

That is so true. It is at times like these that I feel the truth of that statement so strongly.

On another occasion, as stated earlier, we arrived at the Aquatorium a little early on the anniversary of your birthday – early enough to walk down the footpath through the dunes to the beach and stick our feet in Lake Michigan. It was a beautiful morning and the water was so clear that you could see the drop off about two feet into the water and the rocks at the bottom. I had always wanted to do that. My parents always said the lake was too polluted and unhealthy. So, in keeping with my philosophy of jettisoning the past and living in the moment, I got the chance to be a “wild-child” on the morning of your birthday and stuck my toes in Lake Michigan. It was a heavenly experience to let the waves wash over my feet while listening to the gentle sound of the surf. For me, it was just a beautiful moment, communing with nature on the shore of Lake Michigan with you on my mind.

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Miller Beach, August 29, 2016

Then, as we were the first to arrive at the Art Show, we went inside and opened up the Art Exhibit. Several pieces had fallen overnight from their mountings, so we picked them up and turned on the lights to welcome early guests. As it happened, we were in just the right place at just the right time to greet a woman from France, who was scheduled to give a lecture that evening at the Gary Public Library close to your childhood home on her academic treatise on the Dangerous album and its cover art. We found a piece of cardboard for her to write out all the particulars of her lecture so that we could attend it later that evening.

It turns out this wonderful lady has made a serious study of Michael Jackson throughout her academic career at the Sorbonne in Paris. Her specialized field is Musicology and she has created a doctorate in the study of Michael Jackson!

Well, I am sure you know how much I support any serious effort to examine your body of work with an unjaundiced eye.

[Michael laughs.]

In talking with her, we discovered that she had written a book in French and had it translated into English, but she was uncomfortable about the translation. She had been told it was awful. I was moved to offer to proof-read the English translation of her book for her and make suggestions to improve or clarify it for a more general audience than those well-versed in Musicology. If we hadn’t arrived early that day, we would not have had those few quiet moments down by the lake or met her and been moved to offer her my services.

It just seemed that we arrived right where we needed to be right when we needed to be there throughout the entire weekend and, as a result, these synchronicities abounded. Of course, not knowing this ahead of time, I was a little impatient because things were not in my control, but I am learning to “let go and let Michael handle it.”

[Michael laughs.]  Many would call all of that coincidence, but not you. You see my hand in everything.

Indeed, I do … and I so enjoy ‘seeing your hand in everything.’ I have learned from my experiences in the past almost twenty-five years that there are no coincidences.

That is true. There are no random occurrences or accidents. Everything that happens … happens for a reason. Each is an opportunity. In your case, many are opportunities for you to practice patience. Will you choose to remain in the impatience and the anxiety it causes you or will you surrender your need to be in control? In someone else’s case, it might be a different valuable lesson. But in each, it is an opportunity to surrender to love.

Well, I didn’t realize that at the time it was happening.

No, but you are willing to learn. That is your great strength. You are very ready to reveal your weaknesses, but reluctant to talk about your strengths. And as the saying goes, ‘hindsight is always clearer vision.’

Your daily spiritual practices have left you more open to experience the moment and less ready to fear the unknown over which you exert no control. You experienced a moment of impatience at the time in place of the hours or even days you would have endured and allowed to fester in the past. That’s called progress.

As we’ve said before, it’s a step-by-step, incremental process. One step forward followed by a step or three backwards. It doesn’t happen overnight. And just when you think you have this thing in the bag, something shows up in your experience that makes you realize that you still have a long way to go. Each step leads to the next organically and without strain or pain, unless you choose to experience the strain or pain. It is always your choice.

However, it’s not me making these things happen. It’s you!

I prefer to think of it as you, my dear one. My readings tell me that it is spirit or my higher self, but as far as I’m concerned, YOU are my higher self. The Persian poet, Rumi, speaks to this so beautifully:

“This is how I would die
Into my love for you
As pieces of cloud
Dissolve in sunlight.”

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Awww! God bless you! I love you MORE, you know. That, too, is your choice. It is LOVE … We are LOVE.

Exactly. I am so glad you see things my way.

[Michael giggles.] But the point is not to die into LOVE … it is to LIVE into it every minute of every day … to breathe into it with every breath you take … to bathe in it like you did for those few moments of bathing your feet in the lake … to dance into it by making each step so full of joy that it becomes a dance … to be so immersed in it that you recognize nothing else exists … because nothing else does exist.

That is such a perfect description of how you lived your physical life, my dear one. You were the embodiment of those words throughout all the moments of your life and you continue to personify them even now.

Okay, now you’re just embarrassing me! But … thank you.

Even those things you observe that don’t look like love are indicating a lack of love and, as such, are love crying out for love. LOVE is the only truth, the only reality. It’s what we all seek through our addictions, but it can’t be found through them.

Wherever you go, in every country, or in every continent, people yearn and hunger for only one thing … to love and to be loved. Love transcends international boundaries and heals the wounds of hatred, racial prejudice, bigotry and ignorance. It is the ultimate truth at the heart of creation.

 And … well, you ARE just another part of me! We are ONE!

We are not seeking your dissolution, here. We are remembering, realizing and recognizing your completion … your expansion … into LOVE.

That is so beautifully stated, my heart. Thank you!

When I returned home and settled in, I began proof-reading Isabelle’s book. Surprisingly enough, I was able to understand the majority of it, I think. The translators had gotten the gist of what she was trying to say, although it was a little rough in the mechanics and usage areas of the English language and there were a lot of colloquialisms and inconsistencies within the translation.

It took me a couple of weeks to go over it twice, compile my suggestions for changes to the text and go over it one more time to make sure that I had caught everything. I wanted to be extremely thorough (as anything pertaining to your body of work deserves.) It was a challenge, but I think I was able to help her in cleaning up the translation so that it would be intelligible to the English-speaking community.

During the time I was working on this challenging project, the synchronous occurrences just kept piling up.

Really?

Oh, absolutely, my Sweet King. It was as if I was being led. I felt I was on the right track, doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing throughout this process. I interpreted these little signs as encouragement to continue on the path I was traveling.

Can you be more specific?

Indeed, I can. I made notes of all the “little miracles” that occurred during the weeks I was involved in working on this book in my daily journal, as I always do.

One day was particularly noteworthy. It was Saturday, September 10, exactly fifteen years after the second taping of your 30th Anniversary Special at Madison Square Garden in New York for later broadcast. I had the opportunity to attend those tapings; several of my friends were in the audience. It was also exactly one day before the fifteenth anniversary of September 11, 2001. My journal entry begins at 3:45 AM.

The first occurrence that I noted was: I had a dream that was vaguely Michael-related. I was traveling to Europe to meet three of my friends whom I have never met, but who followed you around during your tours. We were going to follow you from country to country for months and I was so excited that I would meet them and accompany them on their adventures. You did not appear in this dream, but you were everywhere and the emotions were very real. I was setting off on a “great adventure.” My friends and I would be in the audience of many of your concerts and I would be visiting countries I had only heard of or read about. We would be gone for months. The freedom, the anticipation, the excitement and the sense of impending discovery were palpable presences in this dream.

You know how infrequently I remember dreams, so, of course, I had to contact my friends and let them know that I had dreamt of them the following day after a few more hours of sleep.

But the frequency and clarity of your dreams are improving enormously, aren’t they?

Yes, they are and I am so grateful. As I sat quietly writing about the dream in my journal, I began to write the sentence, “I haven’t gotten to do our reading and meditation yet today because I am waiting for a claims adjuster to come and look at the car.” In the middle of the word waiting, I heard a knock on the door and it was the claims adjuster coming to look at BIG Red, in which we had hit a deer a couple of days earlier. The timing was impeccable, perfect and spoke to me so clearly of your presence! It was as if you were impatient for me to get to the reading. I had to laugh at that!

See? Even I can feel impatient. [Michael laughs.]

After the adjuster left, I began our reading and meditation. In the middle of the meditation, the scent of your cologne permeated our little sanctuary so strongly (and your face floated by behind my closed eyelids just as the scent appeared.) That scent lingered for hours, literally! It was heaven-scent (pun intended.)

(Michael chuckles.) I love it when a plan comes together, don’t you?

Yes! And I need a fifty-five gallon drum of that stuff next time you’re in the neighborhood.

Then, later in the day, I went into the bedroom and noticed that the Wii game console had been turned on. As I usually do, I said, “Hi, Baby! Thank you for being here,” and turned it off. The next time I walked through the bedroom it was turned on again! I had to laugh at your persistence!

I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if he played She Was Lovin’ Me (I use your original title to differentiate the demo from the remix) during my nightly fix of your voice? I love the demo of that song! While the lyrics are about a two-timing woman, the sonic resonance of the demo is so atmospheric and intimate and sensual! It’s a sexy, slow dance in audio format. They changed the entire character of it in the remix. (They did the same thing with A Place Without No Name, and, in my opinion, lost the original Michael-ness and intent of the song in the remix.)

Anyway, that evening, I turned on the MJ3 player (which is always set to random play so that you can choose my playlist) for my customary half hour of listening to your beautiful voice before drifting off into sleep. After We Are the World finished, She Was Lovin’ Me began! It was a “Mikegasm” to round out a day of “little Mikegasms” during which I noticed and acknowledged your presence.

[Michael giggles and I get a visual of him covering his mouth.] Mikegasms! That’s funny!

I wish I could claim authorship of that one, my dear, but I can’t. I don’t know who thought that one up, but it fits. I love days like that. They make the dry spells seem more tolerable.

A couple of days later (the 13th, to be precise,) I was visited by the lines of a poem while I was sitting with my journal in my lap and wrote them down so that I wouldn’t lose them. The lines just poured through me, into the pen and onto the journal page fast and furious. When they stopped flowing, I asked, “Okay, Baby, where did that come from?” I got a few more lines in response:

From me
Through you
In US
Art is not limited
It is not words
Brushes
Talent
Notes
It is what breathes inside
All of life
Available to all
Restricted to none

Later, that evening I saw a fabulous new painting by my beautiful friend called “Within” that so unerringly illustrated the lines of the poem it was uncanny. The next day, I requested her permission to use her painting in a video with our poem and spent a wonderfully absorbing afternoon creating the video posted below on With a Child’s Heart.

All of these little miracles seemed clustered around and during my work on Isabelle’s fabulous book.

Did you like the book? Tell me more about it.

Yes, I loved it. It is an examination of the cover art by Mark Ryden for the album Dangerous and presents her scholarly research into your collaboration with him to produce an attention-getting, symbolically-significant work of art to illustrate your musical offerings in the tracks on the album. As such, it underscores your knowledge and love of the visual arts and how they can be used to attract and hold the public’s attention.

However, it also offers a Musicologist’s perspective on the musical contents of the album, drawing from the historical and cultural lexicon. As such, it presents a much clearer focus on your knowledge and use of music and lyric to bring awareness to global and societal problems.

The title is: Dangerous: From Mark Ryden to Michael Jackson: Pop Culture in the Pantheon of Fine Arts and I do so hope she decides to move forward with the publication of the English translation of her book, even though the corrections I suggested were extensive. It so illuminates your collaboration with Mr. Ryden, your knowledge of the fine arts and the fields of music and physical movement and the intelligence, deep thought, originality and hard work that went into the recording of the tracks as well as your attention to detail in the production of the artwork accompanying the album.

It is a fascinating read and would make a significant addition to any collection of scholarly, serious Michael Jackson material.

The fact that you used Mark Ryden’s painting as a model for much of the material in Dreams (the Pepsi commercial you created around the Dangerous album and in which you brought significant sections of Mr. Ryden’s painting to life) just highlights the cover art further. Because it was broadcast on a global basis, particularly during your Dangerous World Tour, much of the world has been exposed to Mr. Ryden’s painting.

The publication of the English translation would make her scholarly research for her doctorate accessible to a much wider audience, taking it from the ‘hallowed halls of academe’ and making it available to the general English-speaking world.

It sounds interesting. Will you keep me posted?

I will indeed, my love.

 

 

I Wait

My thanks to my beautiful friend, Siren, for allowing me to use her beautiful new painting which so illustrates the point that WE ARE ONE. The poem, itself, came to me in a torrent during the early afternoon yesterday, September 13, 2016. I saw her new painting, “Within,” late that evening. They so beautifully illustrate each other that I had to share the moment. Enjoy!

July 20 through July 28, 2016

 

Beloved,

It’s July again and the 7th Anniversary of your Ascension has come and gone in celebrations around the globe. Hundreds of your children gathered at Forest Lawn and Neverland Valley Ranch to honor you and bear witness to your continuing impact in their lives. Floral displays representing countries around the world decorated your final resting place; the One Rose for Michael group lined Holly Terrace with over 10,000 beautiful, long-stemmed, red Freedom roses. They gathered in Munich and Russia, China and Japan in small and large groups to honor your life among us.

For myself, I had a little quieter personal celebration with my customary month-long prayer/meditation vigil, culminating in Major Love Prayer on the 25th.  I spent the month first drawing a rough draft of the vision I was granted during my visit to Los Angeles in January 2012 on an 11 x 14 sheet of paper; then redrawing it on a larger sheet to get the composition balanced; and then painting that vision on a 24” X 30” canvas. I worked on it a little bit every day for the first two-thirds of the month of June until it was finished.

The night of July 7 (the 7th Anniversary of the night we took our spiritual relationship out of “standby mode,” as you so aptly put it in one of our earlier Conversations) was a particularly difficult and emotionally draining evening. Reliving that heartbreaking night seven years ago is not an easy thing to do, yet at the same time, I am so very grateful that it was not the end of the story.

Nevertheless, I made it through and I am still here. Are you?

Now, what kind of question is that? You know the answer to that question before you even ask it. Of course, I’m still here. Where else would I be?

Well, you feel a little more distant.

That doesn’t mean that I am further away; it just means that you are resisting my presence more because of your ‘heartbreak’ over what is and what cannot be changed. It means you just need to stretch a little further to reach me by removing your resistance so that you can recognize my touch upon your heart … and you have been doing that.

You have begun a new practice on a regular basis; you have consistently practiced it for the last couple of months; and I am impressed. Will you tell me about it?

Yes, my love, of course … and consistent is the operative word in that statement. I have always had the best of intentions regarding resolutions to practice new things; it is always sticking with it that has been a problem.

That’s why I’m impressed. [Michael giggles.]

To be totally honest here, I have actually begun to take your advice, which I probably should have taken when I first retired. I have begun to start every day with a brief inspirational reading and meditation accompanied by gentle, meditative music designed to enhance the meditation experience.

Previously, I had awoken in the morning and just jumped into a project without any real preparation and often felt a little scattered.

Yes, preparation is a key element in whatever you do. If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail. It is also one you try to bypass regularly. I’m not criticizing you; it’s a mere statement of fact. You want to ‘jump in,’ cold.

However, you are finding that preparing in your art is absolutely necessary. You prepared to paint your painting mentioned at the beginning of this Conversation. You drew it, you redrew it, and you redrew it again. That included three different sizes of drawing, composing, and preparing the canvas before beginning the finished painting.

It’s the same with life. Preparing to start your day is just as important. It sets the tone; it tunes the instrument through which you hear the Symphony.

It’s that patience thing again. You have this idea in your mind that a true artist just slaps paint or whatever medium he works in onto a piece of paper and an incredibly insightful image just seems to appear by magic.

[Michael snorts loudly.] That is not how art happens. A true artist prepares, and prepares, and prepares until it looks like magic, which is not the same thing at all. It requires thought, patience, preparation, practice, perseverance. It is 90 percent perspiration and 10 percent inspiration, as Thomas Edison so rightly said.

I know, Michael. I think that patience is my life lesson for this lifetime. In addition, if I become absorbed in whatever project I am attempting, I end up missing my meditation because the time just seems to slip away; and when I’m drawing or painting you, total absorption is a given.

As a result of consistently awaking and structuring my day with an inspirational reading and meditation before I dive into the day’s activity, I find that I am much more calm and at peace and more able to remain unflustered by little annoyances that may crop up. I’m able to remain unattached and less invested in distressing external situations and circumstances happening out there in the world, and I am able to stay a bit more positive regardless of the day’s events.

Good! That’s what we’re after. It’s all about staying in the Love Dimension on a full-time basis because that is the ultimate reality at the heart of all creation. We aren’t there, yet; but we are moving in the right direction.

We are stretching your belief structure a little more every day. Taking the time to breathe calmly in this eternal moment of NOW; to be grateful for all your blessings and to appreciate all the beauty that surrounds you; to enter the sacred space bordered by love and to stretch those boundaries by projecting that love into your surroundings and into the events and circumstances that you find distressing is so important. It gives you a solid foundation from which to re-imagine your world.

Well, all I can say is that it certainly needs it. This world appears to be headed to hell in a hand basket, Michael. The last couple of months have been quite challenging out there in the real world.

Okay, my first thought in response to that statement is:

THIS IS THE REAL WORLD!

Everything else is only an illusion … make believe that you have been made to believe. It’s not real! It’s not TRUTH!

You have been made to believe that you are separate from God. It is not true. How can you be separate from that which you are?

You have been made to believe that you are separate from each other. It is not true. How can you be separate from that which you are? We are all one in the body of the Ultimate Source.

You have been made to believe that you are separate from the beautiful planet from which you were born, upon which you depend for your survival, and which sustains your life as it sustains its own. It is not true. How can you be separate from that which you are? We are all cells in the body of Planet Earth, which is a cell in the body of the Ultimate Source of all creation.

Like the physical manifestation of the one lonely, little note on the page, which cannot be separated from the tone or vibration of which it is an expression, you cannot be separated from that part of you which dwells in the LOVE DIMENSION with me always. [Reference: Volume 1, Installment 40 – August 28 through September 3, 2011]

When one cell in your body goes rogue and starts attacking other cells in your body, it is called disease … it is called insanity. You are living in a diseased, insane world that thinks that one individual cell can attack other individual cells without harming itself. You have been made to believe this; but it is not true.

Just like in a human body when the disease has taken over and has reached a point of imbalance, the entire organism must suffer dissolution … or death. It is rapidly approaching that point in the body of this planet of which each of you is a cell and which includes all of the life on the planet.

To avert disaster, you must awaken to the REAL TRUTH that underlies what you have been made to believe. That is: LOVE IS THE ONLY REALITY. Anything that does not reflect LOVE is not real. It is not TRUTH. It is just something that you have been made to believe.

So what’s up?

Well, my dear, there have been more killings of young men of color and very recently five police officers in Dallas have been killed in retaliation. The one bright spot is that your music has been used very publicly after several of these shootings as a healing and unifying agent, as it was in Baltimore.

However, I can’t help but believe that these killings are being fueled by the bombastic, separatist, divisive rhetoric being given 24/7 air time because of the Presidential campaign, which is hotting up as we approach Election Day. One of the candidates is just pumping fear into the “us and them” mentality with every word that explodes from his mouth. Now, in addition to Latinos, Muslims, African-Americans, and women, he has added anyone who hails from a country which has been the site of a terrorist attack to the list of people he would ban from immigration into the United States.  Somehow, being the victim of a terrorist attack makes that country and its inhabitants suspect.

Currently, that would include British, French, German, Israeli and the list is growing. Shoot, we would have to include Americans since we were victims of terrorist attack in 2001! Sometimes I wonder if the man even listens to his own speeches.

What’s worse, some people are just eating his words up because, according to them, he is “speaking his mind,” which they respect. What mind? That is self-righteous, arrogant, ignorance!

Many are responding with violence at his rallies and speeches … and out in the country by extension. He is using the “divide and conquer” bait and switch very effectively and few seem to be noticing and calling it what it is: Nazism in 21st Century America. We fought a war over this a few decades ago. Doesn’t anyone remember? Now, it’s  right here … right now … on our own shores … dressed up in a bad suit and interesting hair piece.

It is the same kind of separatist rhetoric that was used against you for half of your life and it just makes my blood boil. It’s the bully-in-the-schoolyard mentality played out in the national political arena which attacks anything not like “us,” makes it other, and dehumanizes it … so that we don’t have to feel guilty for killing it.

Yes, in our comparison earlier, it’s like one blue cell in our body attacking a red cell in our body just because it’s red and not blue. And, to take the comparison a step further, bullying the red cell to join it and both red and blue attack the white cell because there is strength in numbers. What kind of sense does that make?

Man of war
Don’t go to war no more
Why don’t you
Why don’t you study peace
Man of war
Don’t go to war no more
Study peace
Cuz peace is what we need

So, how has your morning practice affected your feeling about these incidents?

Well, I am a little more able to stay … uh detached … not apathetic … more like I fail to own them, I think. With the help of my morning readings and meditations, I have been able to stay in the Love Dimension, at least so far; but it has been a challenge. I have been able to include the victims of the violence and their families as well as those who have committed the violence in my prayers and meditations for a more peaceful, less violent world.

Then, last week there was another terrorist attack in Nice, France, and hundreds gathered to sing ‘Heal the World,’ once again bringing your healing messages to bear against the violence. I added those victims, their families, and the terrorists to my prayers and meditations, appealing to their higher Selves to open all of us to more wisdom and compassion.

20160716_132208.jpg

Good! It’s important to remember to extend love and compassion even to those who commit such atrocities because all hatred is just love that has been wounded or feels abandoned. It’s so obvious from the perspective of spirit although it may not be easy to see from the human perspective, particularly when you are bombarded relentlessly with the ego and fear-based perspective in the media.

Fear, violence, sarcasm which degrades others, the constant pressure to believe that you are incomplete and inferior creations who need this or that product to be beautiful, healthy, and happy … that is the ego’s diet. It’s drama, endless drama; the ego thrives on drama; it feeds on it and gets stronger.

It’s constant and never-ending, all-pervasive … and totally untrue. You don’t need the latest pill to alleviate toe-nail fungus or the latest formula to control wrinkles to be beautiful.

You are already beautiful and your body is a miracle of repair and renewal. Yet, the constant exposure to advertising designed specifically to make you feel bad about yourself and the violence and bad news in the media designed specifically to make you feel helpless and hopeless about your world and fearful  of your neighbor keeps you in a constant state of fear and turmoil.

Well, as clearly stated in earlier Conversations, I am not a subscriber to the 24 hour news cycle and I don’t really pay much attention to television offerings on any kind of regular basis. If I watch television for an hour a day, it’s an unusual day. I would rather read, draw, write, and lately I’ve been making little video clips from some of your poems and reflections in Dancing the Dream. I do enjoy that.

It is a good thing to avoid some of the blandishments provided by the media, but you can’t avoid it all. Your society is saturated with it. It’s important to remember that fear and love cannot occupy the same space at the same time; they are antithetical. And you can’t project peace and unity into your world if it doesn’t already reside in your heart. If your heart is in a state of conflict and turmoil, anger and vengeance, you are not coming from a firm grounding in love.

You cannot control what others do; you can only control your response to what others do. That is your choice … and your power.  Resistance to what has already happened is an exercise in futility and causes more anxiety, stress, and turmoil.

By choosing to stay immersed in the Love Dimension with me, instead of embroiled in all the anxiety and stress-inducing conflict that vies for your attention, there is no room for fear. Your new practice of re-structuring your day by beginning it with inspirational readings and meditations sets your intention for the day and helps you sustain your presence in peace. Besides, I love it when you read to me. Thank you.

We’ve talked a lot about intention. Adding this early morning practice to your afternoon power naps strengthens our connection and makes it easier for us to inspire each other. Remember, I want you to read that word as “in-spirit.”

Yes, Beloved, I remember. Wait a minute! “Inspire each other?” I know you inspire me; that goes without saying. How could I ever … in a million years … hope to inspire you?

[Michael laughs.] Of course, you inspire me every day. When you struggle with a wording that just doesn’t want to express what you are feeling, your determination to get it right inspires me.

When you draw a drawing and it doesn’t come out the way you want it to, what do you usually do?

Sometimes, I let it sit for a while and come back to it later; sometimes I just start over from scratch. Sometimes, I think about yelling at you for being elusive, but I never really do that.

[Michael laughs.] Elusive, huh? How can I be elusive?

Exactly, you are practicing learning patience and that inspires me; you are persevering in your attempt to get the image you want to recreate and that inspires me.

The drawing you are working on now, how any times did you redraw it before you were satisfied with it?

Three or four, I think, but it is a challenging drawing … and I’m still not totally, over-the-top satisfied with it; the upward tilt to the face is giving me fits! It is now in its fifth incarnation, but it’s getting closer to what I want. And I did get pretty frustrated with the first two. They were both drawn on one sheet of paper (why waste paper, right?) and I tore that sheet up. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before.

You are allowed a little frustration occasionally. Just don’t make a habit of it.

And what do you think is the difference from its first incarnation to its fifth incarnation?

Well, in this latest attempt I drew guidelines to help me get the edge of the face at the right tilt and all of the features spaced and properly aligned.

In other words, preparation, right? We’re getting there!

Contrary to what you apparently believe, this is not a one-way street, here, woman! Every time you attempt something new, you inspire me; every time you try doing things in a way that you haven’t tried before, you inspire me. When you prepare the drawing, compose it, align it before beginning, you inspire me because I know that you are practicing patience and I find that inspiring.

We are all meant to inspire each other. We are all teachers and pupils. We learn from each other and we push each other toward greater and greater achievement. That is our purpose. That is our joy.

But back to our discussion; I sense that there is something that you want to discuss.

Yes, my dear one, my new morning practice has been very effective in helping me stay on an even keel. I feel much more peaceful and able to maintain a more tranquil, prayerful mindset, at least until some new situation comes along and drags me out of that balanced equilibrium.

I assume that means that some new situation has come along which has dragged you out of that equilibrium?

It does, indeed, Michael.

Would you feel better if you talked to me about it?

Yes, please, Baby … I think I would, if you don’t mind.

Of course, I don’t mind.

I don’t know how new the situation is; I suppose I should have expected something like this to happen, but I was shocked to discover this past week that Conrad Murray has written and is about to release a book. The book is entitled “This Is It: The Secret Life of Conrad Murray and Michael Jackson.” [Notice he put HIS name first! What arrogance!]

Now, for this man to write a book of any kind, exploiting the name of the man whose life he took and was convicted of taking, is just preposterous; but to use the title of your stillborn concert tour just adds insult to injury. I would think there would be intellectual property violations galore just in the title alone.

There is no “secret life of Conrad Murray and Michael Jackson.” The man only came into your life during the last four to six months of it, for heaven’s sake, and I can’t help but think that if he hadn’t, you would still be here.

I AM still here.

Thank God … and you, Beloved.

I understand, however, that he is “telling all” about all the tabloid trash that has been circulating for twenty-five years of your life as if he was there and a member of your “inner circle,” your “confidante” for the entire time. I assume he is saying that he was told all of this stuff by you, which I cannot fathom at all. I know that didn’t happen.

Needless to say, I will not be buying his book. Furthermore, I am trying very hard not to read any discussion of it because it makes me sick to my stomach just to contemplate him profiting from his self-protecting and promoting actions that resulted in your Ascension seven years ago.

He was proven during his trial to be a pathological liar. He lied to everyone: police, emergency medical technicians, emergency room physicians, your own security personnel, and his lawyers.

It was proven that he was more concerned with his own welfare than his patient’s. He delayed calling 911 for over 45 minutes, a thing that any third-grader knows enough to do immediately in an emergency situation. He attempted to hide vials of medication and had your security people picking them up off the floor and putting them in bags before calling emergency services. He performed CPR haphazardly and ineffectively. How is it that a cardiologist doesn’t know how to properly resuscitate a patient who is allegedly in cardiac arrest?

He deliberately abandoned his patient to make phone calls while that patient was being intravenously injected with a drug that is patently inappropriate for use outside a hospital setting, without proper and intensive monitoring equipment, and which requires constant eyes and hands-on monitoring by attending medical personnel. To top it all off, he recorded his patient while in a state of altered consciousness. The judge hearing the case was appalled at 17 egregious violations of standard of care.

He was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and it should have been murder. His medical licenses have been suspended in this country. He served two years of the maximum four year sentence for his crimes against you; it was not nearly long enough for taking an irreplaceable life. And now he is writing a book about his self-proclaimed “secret life” with you?  I just don’t understand how it is possible for him to profit from his crime. It makes me ill. I cannot imagine any publishing company publishing a book by this man.

I am having a very strong sense of déjà vu, here. Is it just me or have we been here before? And have you included this publication in your daily prayers and meditations?

Beloved, I have tried … I really have. The problem is: I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO PRAY FOR!

I want to pray for the publication of this book to be stopped, for a cease and desist order to be slapped on its publication, perhaps due to intellectual properly violations or something; but that seems like a negative thing to pray for.

I want to pray that the media which is allowing him prime time in Australia to peddle his pack of lies will cancel their scheduled interviews with him.

I want to pray that the reality show that has invited him to appear as a “celebrity” will cancel his appearance in the UK. It is very indicative of the insanity we are living in when a convicted murderer suddenly becomes a “celebrity” and that only by exploiting the name of the man he murdered.

Yet, all of these things are only temporary solutions to a permanent problem and seem filled with anger and vengeance, which you have warned us against. So, I am at a total loss about what I should pray for.

Yes, I see. Yes, anger and vengeance are not the answer. Do you remember when we began our visualization practice in preparation for the trial of Conrad Murray?

Of course, I remember, Michael. I haven’t completely lost my memory, yet.

You described your feelings very similarly back then. Would you mind putting the relevant part of our discussion back then here? [Reference: Volume 1, Installment 20 – March 19 through 26, 2011]

There, did you feel that … did you feel your body tense and your mind kind of shut down for a second or two? Did you hear the word, “A**hole!” go floating past before you caught yourself?

Yes, of course, I felt it. I try to control those judgments and follow them up with a little prayer, but it is usually too late.

I know … that’s what we’re going to be talking about and why we’re going to be talking about it … that’s why I said you were going to rebel and would need some patience.

You harbor a lot of conflicting feelings regarding this issue … and I don’t blame you for that. I am not judging you … please understand that. It doesn’t matter if it’s right or wrong for you to react that way … what matters is that it is there … and it is hurting you by blocking your achievement of the ‘expanded consciousness’ that you have chosen to experience … and we need to fix it. Right or wrong is a judgment that doesn’t enter into the equation, at all.

What you just felt is the release of stress chemicals that just the mention of the subject evoked … just the words … just the thought … caused a very real physical reaction in your body. And that physical reaction … those stress chemicals … feed more thoughts of anger and resentment and a desire for vengeance … which feeds that release of stress chemicals … which feeds the anger and resentment … and on … and on … and on. It’s a vicious circle that has no breaking point … except at the source … where it all began. In your thought!

That’s why we are going to be talking about the thought process which is creating the conflict and investigating if it helps or hinders you in attaining the higher consciousness we’ve been examining in these conversations.

It seems that you still harbor a lot of conflicting feelings about this issue. From your little rant above, would you agree that is a fair statement?

Yes, I would definitely agree, my beautiful Avatar, that is a fair statement.

It feels to me that there is still a lot of ‘emotional charge’ for you in the issue of Conrad Murray. The same statements apply now as applied then. ‘It doesn’t matter if it’s right or wrong for you to react that way … what matters is that it is there … and it is hurting you by blocking your achievement of the ‘expanded consciousness’ that you have chosen to experience … and we need to fix it. Right or wrong is a judgment that doesn’t enter into the equation, at all.’

Do you remember how we dealt with this issue when we first discussed it?

Yes, my dear one, I remember. [Reference: Volume 1: Installment 25 – April 23 through 30, 2011] We swept out all the negative energies and deceitfulness in the courthouse to prepare the way for truth to enter the proceedings. We visualized all the anger, lies, violence, and resentments swept out of all the nooks and crannies and sucked out of the courthouse so that we could allow “God to enter the room.” And we left the outcome of our visualizations undefined; we prayed for the highest and greatest good of all concerned to result from the proceedings.

Exactly! The same principle applies here. You have used this technique to deal with a lot of issues that have arisen in the intervening years. It has become almost an automatic reaction to conflict in your life.

But, Michael, there is no courthouse to clean up now.

Huh?

We don’t have a courthouse out of which to sweep all the negative emotions, the lies and deception and anger and resentment.

[Michael laughs.] That doesn’t matter. It’s the same principle. It’s not a physical space we are preparing for LOVE and TRUTH to enter; it is an emotional and spiritual space.

However, if you need a physical space to focus on, build one in your imagination. Give it the dimensions you choose, the location that will be the most inspiring for you.

Beloved, can I do that?

You are so funny! [Michael chuckles again.] Of course, you can do that. Whose visualization is this? Who is writing this script and directing this scene? Why wouldn’t you be able to do that?

Well, I thought I had to keep it real … kind of base it in reality like we did with the courthouse.

No, you don’t have to keep it real. There doesn’t have to be a physical space. Or, if it helps you, you can make one that you label Conrad Murray. There are no hard and fast rules.

What matters is that you surround this situation that is causing you conflict with LOVE and COMPASSION, remove your resistance to what IS so that you can allow the truth and the light to emerge from the situation. By doing this consistently, you will eventually be able to resolve your conflict and your anxiety and find forgiveness for him and for yourself.

Oh! Well, color me dense!

I lost that crayon years ago and I don’t want you feeling guilty about your confusion. It doesn’t help; it just sets you up for more confusion.

All you need to do is surround the situation with love and compassion for yourself and for him so you can release your resistance; open the channel for the removal of deceitfulness and judgment so that truth can be manifest through the situation; and open the door for “God to walk in the room.” Be the peace you want to see in the situation whatever that takes.

If you need to picture a physical space; build it. If you need to visualize a particular location or circumstance, BE there! You are writing the script and directing the action.

God, I love you, Michael.

And I love you, MOST!

 

 

 

 

This is a reading from Conversations, Volume 1, Installment 37. I have been playing around with making videos. This is my latest experiment. Enjoy!