James Baldwin on Michael Jackson

James Baldwin, writing in an essay in 1985 in his essay Here Be Dragons, where he says :
“The Michael Jackson cacophony is fascinating in that it is not about Jackson at all. I hope he has the good sense to know it and the good fortune to snatch his life out of the jaws of a carnivorous success. He will not swiftly be forgiven for having turned so many tables, for he damn sure grabbed the brass ring, and the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo has nothing on Michael.”And he goes on to say, “Freaks are called freaks and are treated as they are treated—in the main, abominably—because they are human beings who cause to echo, deep within us, our most profound terrors and desires.”

13 thoughts on “James Baldwin on Michael Jackson

  1. The one truth that resonates with me is – for sure he won the brass ring, which is why millions of us followed his music. Just for that delight he gave us, he desrves to be left alone to rest in peace now.

  2. “Consciousness expresses itself through creation. This world we live in is the dance of the creator. Dancers come and go in the twinkling of an eye but the dance lives on. On many an occasion, when I am dancing, I have felt touched by something sacred. In those moments, I felt my spirit soar and become one with everything that exists. I become the stars and the moon. I become the lover and the beloved. I become the victor and the vanquished. I become the master and the slave. I become the singer and the song. I become the knower and the known. I keep on dancing and then, it is the eternal dance of creation. The creator and the creation merge into one wholeness of joy. I keep on dancing…until there is only…the dance.”
    —Michael Jackson, in Dangerous

  3. I wish this statement was true…
    ‘I hope MJ has the good sense to know it and the good fortune to snatch his life out of the jaws of a carnivorous success.’
    one never knows the worth of water until the well goes dry….
    The positive response his death gathered is immense … may be, things would have been different if all this affection, compassion was showered on him when he was alive…. i am no exception… i feel guilty too about my mean mindedness, lack of appreciation for such a legend
    truth is immortal and so is his music n dance… RIP MJ

  4. Michael Jackson even after his death remains favorite for critics and fan alike. Such is the stature of the legendary singer.
    BTW i have tried to pay a small tribute to him on my own small ways at my blog, in a form of poem..which goes like-
    “It’s too late to change the time”, too late to “beat it”
    For time is a “smooth criminal”
    For it is “human nature” which slowly forgets the dead
    For “they really don’t care about us” even when we are alive
    songs will come; new names will emerge
    “Tabloid Junkie” will find new “Carousel”
    And new “butterflies”…
    For more-

  5. “because they are human beings who cause to echo, deep within us, our most profound terrors and desires.”
    Well, this sentence echoes the opinion of the author more than anything else.
    I for instance do not agree with that point of view.
    Our most profound terrors and desires are deliberately pushed upon us by other ways of indoctrination.
    They are not inherent to our original nature.

  6. While James Baldwin has a point when he says that freaks are treated abominably because we see what we could/would all become if we do not self police our baser instincts and desires. That much is true.
    However for anyone of us to extrapolate that that everything a “freak” does, feels or says being that it comes from a “purer” or non policed part of themselves and is therefore more authentic and genuine… and so must be forgiven… is balderdash.
    If this thought is placed in context of MJ’s life, being a freak does not absolve him of stupidity and irresponsible behavior.

  7. Hiya ‘Shekhar’
    Howz You?
    Me Parading in India at present…
    Jackson, wordss not enough to express his brilliance and passion of spirit…
    wrong allegations is a part of our demonic nature in the name of money…
    he was blamed for sleeping with kids and called it sweet not something lusty or whatever…whats the harm in lying with babies or kids? In india parents and children lie together till a very later stage even as an adult…does it mean thats sexual? Western world has made it too sardonic and each small human emotion is grilled to the extent where it looses it’s meaning it’s depth…
    in real, we really have not learnt to deal with passionate spirits, insecurity…jealousy, short sighted, calculative demons we are…
    We do not deserve characters like MJ.
    Have a lovely day Shekhar…have missed you…

  8. “Freaks are called freaks and are treated as they are treated—in the main, abominably—because they are human beings who cause to echo, deep within us, our most profound terrors and desires.” Truly profound

  9. Here is an interesting insight about Michael Jackson written on Karen Bishop’s website: http://www.emergingearthangels.com
    ‘When substantial shifts occur, it can create the departure of souls who have been carrying significant amounts of higher level energy. When Steve Irwin died, he left the energy of wildlife and wilderness conservancy behind. He had embodied this energy within himself to a massive degree, so by departing, he then allowed this energy to be dissipated to many others on the planet, thus creating a more widely spread purpose and higher energy for the planet as a whole.
    Dana Reeve created the same effect when she departed. She embodied angelic energy, and thus, when she departed, we were then given the opportunity as a whole to now embody this energy ourselves.
    At other times, souls carrying a significant amount of energy depart because we have evolved beyond the energy they are embodying, and the role of these souls is now over. Anna-Nicole Smith was one of these souls.
    When souls depart who carry significant amounts of energy, their sudden absence can be greatly felt, and what they leave behind creates a ripple effect as it migrates and dissipates out for the entire planet to embrace and now embody in a more evenly distributed way.
    Michael Jackson, perhaps the most talented performer of all time, embodied a massive amount of higher level energy. He was extremely connected to a higher level and to “the other side.” He was unmistakably a bridge; bringing this higher level energy into form and then giving it out to the masses. Remembering oh so well what the “other side” was like, he, like others, found it extremely difficult to exist within and understand the strange and many times darker energies that were on the planet while he was here.
    So then, he embodied massive amounts of energy relating to the other side and bringing it here. In this way, he suddenly departed precisely around the time we experienced the solstice of June 21, because it was now time to dissipate that energy to the planet. He has now given us this energy to embody ourselves. He no longer needed to hold so much of it himself, as the shift of the solstice created this new connection for the planet to now experience on its own.’

  10. Speculation will continue about the phenomenon called MJ – every theory will have some element of the truth-like the seven blind men’s description of the elephant. But the whole truth about the man/boy/child? will continue to tease us out of thought.
    guess i’m tempted to agree that’it is not about Jackson at all’, but it is also about us.
    Scary thought!

  11. MJ was a non-literal artist. And the world has responded to him playing an irrelevant soap opera. There are many levels, messages and expressions of inner search in this gentle soul’s work, this soul from Gary, Indiana. He asked us to look in the mirror and the world turned the mirror around so he would be the only one looking at it. They “rationalized” him but true artists are pure heart and trying to explain this alchemy of artists is also irrelevant – they just are to be felt. I am so glad people are FEELING him now. I came back from Europe and oh, they get Michael!!!! They associate him with Marcel Marceau, the mime!!! We need to grow up and appreciate our artists.

  12. Wow, I know I am getting in on this a little too late but why are we really trying to understand MJ now that he has passed. This man was walking the earth for 50 years and I have never come across such insight on him. I guess death really does immortalize you. There is no one correct way to analyze MJ without looking at his life in whole. Starting from his beginnings and taking his full journey. And we can also not be narrow-minded when we try and understand who he was, because to be quite honest I do not think he even understood sometimes. He was a kid who wanted to sing, dance, bring joy to other people and he also was a sensitive soul. None of these attributes make you weird, but I think in our society it made him weird. Not saying that MJ himself did not contribute to any of the weirdness. But I think that he was a mastermind, meaning he was manipulating his persona all the while, but that came back to bite him in the rear. He seemed to be always performing, even when not on stage. His personal life and his professional was no longer separate. How it came back to bite him is that the last 5-7 years of his life, MJ became a joke (I hate to say it, but if we would have googled him prior to 6/25/09, you would know what I am talking about). This takes nothing away from his musical abilities, but his ‘oddties’ overshadowed his accomplishments later in his life, and as we know his ‘oddities’ was mostly orchestrated by him, I rhink that he purposefully and knowingly wanted to wow us. With this said, because I know that I am rambling, to me he is the greatest entertainer whom ever lived at least in my lifetime and he left behind the music, videos, concerts to prove it. There really will never be another one of him, but don’t ever underestimate where our next genius/prodigy may come from, for after all with MJ, it was a little shy, black kid from Gary, Indiana.

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