Abstract: July 2016 is all about the movement of ideas in Michael Jackson Studies, as we move nearer to the publication of The Dangerous Philosophies of Michael Jackson: His Music, His Persona, and His Artistic Afterlife.
Column by Elizabeth Amisu, MA, PGCE, editor of The Journal of Michael Jackson Academic Studies and author of The Dangerous Philosophies of Michael Jackson: His Music, His Persona, and His Artistic Afterlife.
Amisu, Elizabeth. “MJ Studies Today VII (14-7-16).” The Journal of Michael Jackson Academic Studies3, no. 1 (2016). Published electronically 14/7/16. https://michaeljacksonstudies.org/mj-studies-today-vii-14-7-16/.
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MJ Studies Today VII (14-7-16): Infinity Quests
By Elizabeth Amisu
July ‘s ‘MJ Studies Today’ is about the fact that nothing really ever ends. Not really.
This past week, as I gave the finishing touches to the index of The Dangerous Philosophies of Michael Jackson: His Music, His Persona, and His Artistic Afterlife, I was really struck by the fact that, although the book was completely out of my hands, it isn’t finished. It never will be. No book is finished, no painting and no sculpture. The artists simply decide to stop.
I have been thinking this month, the seventh month, about the number seven, and about the resonance it had for Michael Jackson. The number is all about the search for meaning, about a never ending quest for truth. It is a divine number, because only in divinity can such a quest be contained. Divinity was a spectacular theme in Jackson’s work, and so was spirituality. He never shied away from what he believed and why he believed it. This authenticity remains of great impact to all of us. We discuss this quite a lot in two of my favourite episodes of Michael Jackson’s Dream Lives On: An Academic Conversation, the episode, What is Michael Jackson Studies? and the episode, Seven Years, Seven Albums, Seven Songs (with special guest, Dr. Joseph Vogel).
It can be a little difficult to get our heads around the idea of infinity, the endless cycling and re-cycling of thoughts. In some ways the “re-cycle” process has connotations (hidden meanings) of a reduction in quality. When it comes to thought, it always goes the other way: new concepts, new thinking and new perspectives always contribute to a powerful, world-changing idea.
No idea is the beginning, so why should any idea be the end?
As I send the book on its way to you, I have been very fortunate to host a series of interviews on The Dangerous Philosophies on Michael Jackson’s Dream Lives On: An Academic Conversation. In every one of these four episodes I reveal the ‘secrets’ behind my process, my personal quest for truth. I discuss my inspiration, my profound sense of grief, and then the astonishment and enthrallment which fueled two years working on the ideas that would form the book.
I guess the answer is that nothing really ever ends. All of what we are, and all of what we are doing is process or maybe, the act of becoming. I like to think that Michael Jackson, the artist, the recognition of his work, and the understanding of it trucks along in the same ongoing process. It is quite possible that the meaning of Michael and his work will never reach any kind of definite conclusion. And I really like that.
I really like the fact that as our understanding grows more complex, so too does the source material. What used to feel like a catch-22 has really become, for all of us, a playground. There is always another game to play, and there is always another question to answer.
Article of the Week
This month has brought a host of wonderful articles on The Journal of Michael Jackson Studies, including a wonderful piece by contributor, Ivana Recmanova called, ‘Thoughts on Michael Jackson’s Lyrics and Gender‘. In this article, Ivana provokes an incisive academic debate, which I hope will spur on further thought. It can be found here. We will always encourage authors and journalists from throughout the world to bring their ideas and opinions to the journal in the form of op-ed pieces that we publish periodically. If you would like to submit an article for possibly publication, find out how here.
Have a jubilant July,
Elizabeth Amisu, author of The Dangerous Philosophies of Michael Jackson: His Music, His Persona, and His Artistic Afterlife, holds an MA in Early Modern English Literature from King’s College London. She is co-founder and editor of The Journal of Michael Jackson Academic Studiesonline. For The Journal of Michael Jackson Academic Studiesshe has edited two publications, An Academic Companion to Michael Jackson Studies and Michael Jackson’s Dream Lives On: An Academic Conversation – Michael Jackson & Prince;written several articles and book reviews, most notably ”Throwing Stones To Hide Your Hands’: The Mortal Persona Of Michael Jackson‘, which has been translated into Spanish and Italian; ”The Isle is Full of Noises’: Revisiting the Peter Pan of Pop‘, available in German; ”Crack Music’: Michael Jackson’s Invincible‘, also in Italian; and ”Heard it Through the Grapevine’: Are We Losing Michael Jackson All Over Again?‘, also available in Spanish.