Thursday, July 1, 2010

michael, may you now be at peace: a reflection (no. 56)

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my sister told me last night that she sensed that what i felt for you was obsession... she said she viewed it as such due to her lack of understanding.

we fear what we do not know. we admonish those we do not understand and question the unfamiliar.

with that it's very hard for me to explain my connection to you in a context without appearing 'obsessed'. in many ways, yes, my feelings for you lie beyond the teachings, as you know; but the teachings are the very things guiding our relationship. even describing a teacher/student relationship is difficult, as we've socially become accustomed to the idea of that sort of relationship confirming control and submission. the most important thing you can do, in order to truly learn anything, is to question your teacher. it obviously is not an equal or, even autonomous relationship- the teacher's role is one of guidance- however, any good teacher will acknowledge that lessons can also be learned from students.

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i felt compelled to read a recent issue of vibe magazine in the store today, with an article regarding your work with various producers and songwriters in the last couple of years. the word 'redemption' was a part of the title of the article. consciously or unconsciously the author used this to frame the piece, utilizing the operative word in two ways, simultaneously taking on the role of a jury member in the so-called 'court of public opinion'.

on one end you have someone saying that you were in control of every situation on the creative end; on another you're being called "a robot", along with another statement in the article that alludes to your being under control for much of your life.

one of the portions which stuck out to me was a recollection of a conversation you had with ne-yo. "i'm not trying to follow any trends," he recalled of your statement. "i'm not trying to go back in time. i'm just trying to do quality music with a melody that's infectious and has a message." it struck me specifically because i personally realized this sentiment being your goal the whole time- to make art which was memorable and yet, maintain an overarching message of love (framed by the universal laws). in another recollection by akon, you said, "i want these songs to be happy... when people hear it, i want their hearts to be warmed up... i want people to get up and dance. i want them to be full of love."

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despite this, as i read the article i could not help but think that the producers and songwriters, as well as the author of the article, continued to relegate you to their vision of what they best saw you doing, and that WAS something in the past. as i told you before, it's difficult to truly see your message and your teachings if you don't bother to look within. you can tell them that you want the outcome of what you do to be consumed by the energy of love, but from what i read in their interviews they were more concerned with their association with 'greatness' and being a part of this process of working on a hit record by a cultural icon. i did not see your teachings passed on to them at all. and they actually got to be in the PHYSICAL presence of a teacher...

again, we revert back to that control/submit relationship. those interviewed were surprised that you'd even open yourself up to hearing their criticisms, when again, that is what an effective teacher does.

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the framing of 'redemption' in the article is certainly intriguing here... it obviously states nothing new. at the same time it's directed by a facade of humility. the love of those 'elementary things' you once lamented that people were not able to grasp were lost within all the sentiments of you making attempts to retain your cultural greatness. the article even had you lamenting that you didn't receive as much credit as you deserved for your songwriting skills, in comparison to prince. "i have so much love for prince. but why don't they look at me in the same way?"

again, if we look at living souls as icons and continue to relegate them into a perception of superficial greatness, the whole comparisons between yourself and prince will continue. "we've always been compared to each other, but we are so different." in many ways you are similar to prince, in terms of work ethic, doing your best to maintain a sense of loyalty from those around you; as well as the search for a higher purpose. this is why, ultimately, both you and prince are respected, whether or not people acknowledge this. "he was always viewed as the songwriter and i was always an entertainer."

again, this is the difficulty i have with you... as much of a survivor you are/were, i don't believe you ever truly had faith in your own abilities to heal. i suppose i become upset because i see so much of that quality in myself. i find myself always doing comparisons when they're not necessary.

i find prince to have an immense gift to give to the world; his sense of curiosity and willingness to be a student are phenomenal. i just happen to find you to be an extraordinary instructor, with gifts which have reached me more than i think prince ever will. this is difficult for me to explain in few words.

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it makes me sad to think that, with all of your gifts you felt that way about yourself... so beaten down and insecure about your ability to reach the world. you stated openly of your being sent forth to present these things... your faith in that, with statements like the one above, appear to be diminished over time.

the "very open, trusting relationships" you encountered with these producers does not necessarily mean that you trusted them. to be friendly with someone does not guarantee a friendship. when you make statements comparing your talents to prince's, it appears as if you, through that one statement, did not trust your own instincts, at the time.

the thing is, i totally get it. again, i have seen this in myself. i cannot say whether or not you fully trusted your instincts (i cannot be the judge of this). i do know that, having experienced abuse in those 'developmental ages' in my own life it's difficult to know who or what to trust. and opening up to people is misinterpreted as trust.

i am very keen on reading how sentences are framed, so when i see that a relationship is "trusting" i must look at the context in which that relationship occurs. what if it's as simple as trying to find a simple connection, in a world where it's difficult to find?

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looking at the word "message" being put in quotations by the author of the article, in relation to your statement about "quality music"... "naive as it may have come off to some jaded music critics, (it) was one of love." it's as if the author either doubts their own writings, or is not sincere in the sentence at all. i have difficulty gathering if this is referring to love of creating 'great music'; in simply wanting to feel good and dance... or is it referring to a truer sense of the teachings- to be able to reach people through that which is vibrational energy...?

how this was all framed... to 'redeem' yourself creatively was the goal of what you were trying to do, in your work with these producers. that was one way. the second mode of 'redemption' relied on the need to be lauded in the same fashion as you were (particularly in this country) during 'thriller'. or before the 1993 and 2005 accusations, respectively. the thing which troubles me about this article was that it consistently contradicted itself, when the one statement- i will repeat it again- represented itself to be the ultimate goal/mission of your creative output:

"...i'm just trying to do quality music with a melody that's infectious and has a message... when people hear it, i want their hearts to be warmed up... i want people to get up and dance. i want them to be full of love."

because all that there is, is the dance.

we fear what we do not know. we admonish those we do not understand and question the unfamiliar. therein lies the context of the article.

i am not even saying that i am a master student of your teachings. there is no way i'd even boast about that. in fact, i feel as if i've just begun in an intermediate period. my 'obsession', if you will, lies in my role as a student. i must remain focused.

thank you for your time in teaching me.

love,
jamilah

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