Michael Jackson is dead
Oh what a circus! Oh what a show!
It was TS Eliot who said that the Lord who created must wish us to create, and employ our creation again in his service which is already his service in creating. The passing of an artist, any artist, leaves a void in creation. And the passing of one so globally significant becomes both political and religious at once. Like the deaths of Elvis Presley, John Lennon and Diana Princess of Wales, it is not so much their passing as the manner of it. To die is natural. To die at just 50, to pre-decease one’s parents, feels so profoundly unnatural that it becomes an offence against God.
In the political realm, this is indeed a day ‘to bury bad news’. In the religious realm, one observes again the cult of celebrity: another christ has been crucified, and the shrines to this god of the age will spring up everywhere spontaneously. Like all true greats – those whose creation is genius and grace – he will live on: the ‘King of Pop’ will live on in his music and video footage – a million daily resurrections to satisfy the spiritual longings of his disciples and those who came from the four corners of the earth to worship him. And they are legion.
It is believed he suffered a heart attack. If one tries to live like Peter Pan, there will come a time when the reality supplants the fantasy. He preferred the company of children; his best friend was a chimp; he reportedly slept in an oxygen chamber and endured numerous plastic surgeries. Since the accusations of child molestation, he has been a virtual recluse.
It is axiomatic that genius and madness are a hair’s breadth apart.
Notwithstanding his ever-lightening skin, Michael Jackson was the embodiment of the dream of Martin Luther King. His talent was such that he forced America to accept the inalterable equality of black people, and so paved the way for Oprah Winfrey, Tiger Woods and Barack Obama. Michael Jackson did for music and movement what they have done for television, sport and politics. In that sense, his achievement is historic and he is iconic. The word ‘legend’, rather like ‘great’, is much debased in this superficial world, but Michael Jackson was a legend in his lifetime who never really belonged in this world. His search for a face was a quest to discover his identity.
But now he sees face to face, and knows even as he is fully known.
animas omnium fidelium defunctorum
ab omni vinculo delictorum
et gratia tua illis
evadere iudicium ultionis,
et lucis æterne beatitudine perfrui.