Analyzing Michael Jackson: a heartbreaker?
I have often been asked if the fact of having analyzed Michael Jackson, or more exactly his work, has not killed in me the emotion and the magic felt when listening to him. This is probably a legitimate question, since I myself had asked it, at the beginning of my studies, to an academic who had worked on him in another field.
Does the analysis neutralize the emotion, does it fade the freshness and the innocence of a purely natural and instinctive listening or approach?
Zoom in on an ambiguity, or even an opposition that is often frightening.
When we think of analysis, we think of graphs, curves, statistics... sometimes even, for the most critical, scalpel, autopsy... We think of coldness, distance, neutrality, certainly discernment, but above all a critical sense in which the criticism would have more value than the sense... Sure, it is necessary. Otherwise, the results of the analysis can only be distorted by feelings, subjectivity, or worse, blindness.
It is one thing to analyze unemployment figures or the evolution of the GDP, because feelings do not come into play, a priori. But what about when you start to analyze music? Music that moves you, that speaks to you, that is created and emitted by an artist who touches you? It is indeed "something" that animates (that touches the soul) and that is alive!
Is it necessary to cut oneself off from feelings to make a good analysis?
The question is simple to formulate, but is it simple to implement? Do we put the same heart into our work, the same enthusiasm and the same concern for "truth" when we analyze a subject that affects us or a subject that is neutral? In my case, the question did not arise. I loved Michael Jackson and his work long before I analyzed him. Even better: it is because I loved him terribly, because he captivated me and intrigued me that I chose to analyze him. It is also for these same reasons that I chose a problematic that seemed "right" to me, i.e. well-founded, and did not launch into an analysis for the sake of an analysis, as one can sometimes see, in order to make Michael stick to ideologies to which he was alien.
The accuracy of an analysis does not seem to me to be necessarily guaranteed by the absence of emotional or affective involvement. Perhaps this complicates the approach a little because it is necessary to dissociate the reptilian from the Cartesian, the feelings from the facts, but it seems to me that it can be an ally of weight to provide a loyal and quality work, which does honor to its object.
Does analyzing Michael Jackson cut you off from your feelings?
I have often been asked this question and sometimes I have even heard it said: "some people analyze, I listen with my heart"... What are those who refuse to dig deeper afraid of?
Are they afraid to put words to it? Yet, the word is creative and vibratory. More than locking in boxes, it names and, in doing so, pays homage; it transmits an energy, that of the entity it designates, that which it transmits while traveling; it is alive, mobile, open, like a window that lets the light into the minds and hearts.
Are they afraid of being disappointed? Of discovering a deception, a farce, an abysmal void? No doubt the record industry as it has evolved is the breeding ground for more and more artistic and commercial scams and I can understand this fear. But we are never totally fooled. One senses, it seems to me, the texture of what challenges us. And here again, we must not be afraid to love simplicity. Fortunately for us, the simplest melodies, the easiest words of a song are also, often, carriers of power, of emotion and can legitimately accompany a life, fix memories and make us happy or nostalgic. Simplicity can be a powerful virtue, a quality that brings us back to the essential, to beauty, stripped of all sophistication or heaviness and that touches the heart and soul.
But in my case and in the case of Michael Jackson, there is one thing I can affirm and even confirm, since I was warned about it: analyzing it does not cut you off from your feelings. It doesn't neutralize the emotion nor does it turn his work into a cold object that you dissect scrupulously. On the contrary. Analyzing it is a gift. The promise of a new door that opens every day. Of a new treasure to discover, to hear, between the tracks, to read, between the lines.
To analyze Michael's work, whether it is musical, choreographic, scenic, videographic or cultural, is to take a ticket for a disconcerting and enriching journey, it is to visit the world, history, humanity in its craziest and most vulnerable aspects, it is to rise up and to emancipate oneself from its chains, from its fetters. It is, above all, to meet a man. Because the work is inseparable from the one who created it. Because Michael Jackson never leaves you alone with his work. He accompanies you, he guides you, he enlightens you and sometimes, gently chirps his little laugh in your ear.
To analyze Michael's music is to live a permanent Christmas and to find every day under the tree, new gifts that seem to reward you for the care you take in your quest. It is to have your heart beat a little faster and a little stronger with each step. It's going deeper and deeper into the light and understanding, acceptance, unconditional love. It is to leave what might have seemed the most sensitive at the beginning: the sound, the words, the physicality, even the glitter, the rhinestones and the applause to catch a glimpse of the Being, to taste a form of plenitude, a peaceful power that exceeds us but inhabits us as much as it does.
It is to receive as a reward, finally, the tenfold increase of the emotion, of the unspeakable, of the instinctive which pushed us towards his work. To come out grown up, strengthened and... never to be left alone again.