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click opera - The King of Yet-Also
February 2010
 
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Sun, Mar. 13th, 2005 08:07 am
The King of Yet-Also

One of the reasons the Michael Jackson trial is so unfortunate is that the world of Either-Or will pass judgment on a creature of Yet-Also. The world of clear, unambiguous categories will pass judgment on someone who flies Peter-Pan-like over the binaries that confine and define the rest of us.



When we look at Michael Jackson, I believe we're looking at the future of our species. Michael is a creature from a future in which we've all become more feminine, more consumerist, more postmodern, more artificial, more self-constructed and self-mediating, more playful, caring and talented than we are today. But it's hard to use those adjectives, because they're Either-Or adjectives and he's from the world of Yet-Also, a world I believe we will all come to live in if we're lucky, a world where there is no more authenticity-by-default-through-brute-necessity and no more "human nature". A world of pure synthesis, pure self-creation.

Jackson is what all humans will become if we develop further in the direction of postmodernism and self-mediation. He is what we'll become if we get both more Wildean and more Nietzschean. He's what we'll become only if we're lucky and avoid a new brutality based on overpopulation and competition for dwindling resources. By attacking Jackson and what he stands for -- the effete, the artificial, the ambiguous -- we make a certain kind of relatively benign future mapped out for ourselves into a Neverland, something forbidden, discredited, derided. When we should be deriding what passes for our normalcy -- war, waste, and the things we do en masse are the things that threaten us -- we end up deriding dandyism and deviance. And Jackson is the ultimate dandy and the ultimate deviant. He can fly across our Either-Or binaries, and never land. It's debateable whether he's the king of pop, but he's undoubtedly the king of Yet-Also.

Consider all the extraordinary ways in which Michael Jackson is Yet-Also. He's black yet also white. He's adult yet also a child. He's male yet also female. He's gay yet also straight. He has children, yet he's also never fucked their mothers. He's wearing a mask, yet he's also showing his real self. He's walking yet also sliding. He's guilty yet also innocent. He's American yet also global. He's sexual yet also sexless. He's immensely rich yet also bankrupt. He's Judy Garland yet also Andy Warhol. He's real yet also synthetic. He's crazy yet also sane, human yet also robot, from the present yet also from the future. He declares his songs heavensent, and yet he also constructs them himself. He's the luckiest man in the world yet the unluckiest. His work is play. He's bad, yet also good. He's blessed yet also cursed. He's alive, but only in theory.

There's one way in which Michael Jackson is not Yet-Also though. He's not famous yet also ordinary. Almost all the other stars in the world, the stars of Either-Or world, anyway, make an exception to Either-Or's categorical thinking in this one instance: given the choice between being either famous or ordinary, they all insist they're both. It's the one instance in which hardline Either-Ors will accept a Yet-Also answer. It's an answer they like because it fills the positions of talent with the representatives of the untalented. It affirms them as they currently are rather than challenging them to become something else. They want affirmation, not aspiration. They don't want their artists and celebrities to embody the values of worlds they don't understand. Ambiguous worlds, future worlds. They want to walk, not moonwalk, and they want their stars to walk too.

And so our creature of Never-Land will be judged by the creatures of Never-Fly. They will almost certainly throw him into jail. Their desire to see him as grounded, categorised and unfree as they themselves are is overwhelming. The grounded, situated, unfree creatures of Either-Or are baying for the clipping of fairy wings. Knives, hatchets and scissors glint in Neverland. There's an assembly of torch-bearing witchfinders. Peter Pan must be ushered back from fiction to reality, from the air to the ground. Back into a race, back into a gender, back into a confined clarity. Assuming he doesn't commit suicide, as he threatens in Martin Bashir's documentary, by jumping from a balcony, Jackson will be ushered away from the fuzzy subtle flicker states of our future, back to the solid states of our past and present. Either-Or will have its triumph over Yet-Also. Yet it will also, unknowingly, "triumph" over its own better future.

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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sun, Mar. 13th, 2005 07:16 am (UTC)

Thanks. I owe it all to Teddy Adorno and Smash Hits.


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Mar. 13th, 2005 07:18 am (UTC)

Sorry, this is not about the post..

I got your album today. I love it! It feels nice, like warm classical electronic music. Lute Score is lovely, but Life of the Fields is like the end to a videogame! Good job, it's all dark, hellucinogenic chamber music.

Adam


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sun, Mar. 13th, 2005 07:24 am (UTC)

I love that word "hellucinogenic" -- Hieronymous Bosch on acid!


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(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand
lord_whimsy
lord_whimsy
whimsy
Sun, Mar. 13th, 2005 07:35 am (UTC)

This may be hopelessly 'binarian' of me, but I'd rather my nieces and nephews stay on Neverfuck Ranch for the time being.


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piratehead
piratehead
Good bye
Sun, Mar. 13th, 2005 04:31 pm (UTC)

Yeah. I see the cogency of the argument, but at the end of the day, I don't see giving 11-year-old boys vodka slushies and diddling them as conceptual art, or any kind of post-human destiny. "All too human" is this exploitation of the powerless, recalling for me the Michael Jackson, who revels in fascist imagery, colossal statues of himself, and crow-bar rages.

Can one be a gentle, nurturing, trust-worthy lover of children, Yet-Also violate their trust and use them for sexual gratification?


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paletree
j faithless
Sun, Mar. 13th, 2005 07:36 am (UTC)

this is up there with the john peel post.
you seem to write best when you write about other people. not that you don't write well at other times. do you know what i mean?


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flyonawndshield
flyonawndshield
John
Mon, Mar. 14th, 2005 08:07 am (UTC)

ahh good man. God bless him!


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sun, Mar. 13th, 2005 08:13 am (UTC)

In the bath just now I started thinking about Sartre's book about Genet, Saint Genet, Actor and Martyr. Sartre sees Genet's early ostracisation as a thief being the starting point for a virtuous self-construction:

"The biography ascribes Genet's career as a thief to a conscious decision made in childhood to be what others accused him of being. To Sartre, Genet is a splendid example of a man who made himself as he wanted to be by inverting other people's values."

Since a large part of Genet's oeuvre is dedicated to the eroticisation of young rough trade, Sartre could just as easily have called his book Genet, Pedophile and Martyr. How can a human being be both criminal and saintly? How can criminality lead to saintliness? Isn't criminality and saintliness an Either-Or state, not a Yet-Also state? Well, Sartre can hold these two "contradictory" ideas in his mind at the same time when thinking about Genet. And actually, one of the more positive legacies of the Christian tradition is the idea that we're all sinners, even the saints amongst us. Christianity, although it does propose a Final Judgement and a separation between heaven and hell, allows a certain ambiguity, at least while we're alive. It tolerates and even understands ambivalence... at least until the hammer falls and the trump sounds. Perhaps that's why so many mixed-up characters become priests.


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fuckfarm
fuckfarm
Pants
Sun, Mar. 13th, 2005 09:19 am (UTC)

interesting man
with interesting thoughts!


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insomnia
insomnia
Insomnia
Sun, Mar. 13th, 2005 09:31 am (UTC)

As I previously noted in a comment on the last post, there is no simple answer as to what to do with/for Jackson, I think.

How do you propose dealing with those who are criminally creative, especially when the charges appear to be valid? Do existing laws regarding sex with minors encourage a small evil, in order to protect society against a larger one... or visa versa?

Where and how do you rewrite the laws regarding consentual sex with minors? How can you reasonably judge the ability of a minor to give consent? Is any decision they make truely a consentual one, or are they victims, addicted to and overwhelmed by the attention or the stimulation... were they willing participants, or "sucked into it", as it were?

I say this based on having sex back in my early thirties with a few people who were the age of consent, plus a few months... and if I found out after the fact that they were a few months younger than I suspected, would I have stopped having sex with them entirely?! Questionable. They knew their own minds quite well.

While I believe that society should try to protect children from becoming victims of preying adults, why should society insist on protecting mature and worldly minors with years of sexual experience from consentual sexual relationships with mature individuals, set upon established ground rules? Why insist instead that they settle for young, immature, inexperienced lads who are, by and large, lousy lovers... with no ground rules, no sense of forming lasting relationships, and the occasional propensity for date rape? Aren't minors imminently qualified to victimize each other sexually, in the modern "Lord of the Flies" world, where adult supervision is often completely missing, a la "Kids"? Why shouldn't parents ever take any responsibility for the premature deflowering of their "sweet, innocent child"?

Personally, I doubt that Jackson will be legally convicted -- his lawyers are too good, and the witness' motives are too tainted -- which is to say that he'll only be convicted in the court of public opinion. That, however, is arguably a worse sentence for an artist like Jackson. Exile, however, might be good for Jackson. It was, arguably, the best thing that could've happened for you and many other artists.


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alisgray
alisgray
spoonful of sugar, pinch of salt
Sun, Mar. 13th, 2005 03:40 pm (UTC)

does being an artist give a person more moral right, or an immunity from legal consequence? this would appear to start some stupid and dangerous circular logic.

Mr. Jackson has been convicted of all kinds of things in the court of public opinion already for the last twenty years.


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qscrisp
qscrisp
Sun, Mar. 13th, 2005 09:32 am (UTC)

There seem to be a lot of weird ideological struggles and binarisation (if that's a word) going on in America at the moment (with Britain, of course, riding on the coat-tails). There's an interesting article in New Scientist about Michael Crichton's lastest book. The article begins:

When I visited America during my time working for Greenpeace International in the 1990s, time and again people would say to me "we really don't approve of the way your organisation blew up that French ship", or words to that effect. It happened once at the end of a meeting with a lawyer in Philadelphia. He was defending Lloyds of London against a suit filed by Exxon after the Valdez oil spill. He wanted to thank me kindly for all the excellent free technical information I had furnished him with in support of his defence, but he really hadn't enjoyed having to talk to me because my people had murdered somebody in New Zealand.

How could it be, I used to wonder, that Americans got the French secret service's sinking of the Greenpeace ship the Rainbow Warrior the wrong way round so consistently? I encountered the phenomenon in no other country. I never knew why for sure and still don't. Whatever the explanation, it happened so many times to me and my colleagues that I had to conclude it was something cultural.

Michael Crichton's new novel
State of Fear offers a window into that culture. It launches an assault on the scientific underpinnings of a problem many believe to be the single biggest threat to a liveable future on the planet. THe story is this: massively resourced and clinically efficient environmentalists-turned-terrorists generate a tsunami that is timed to boost their case that global warming exists. These ecomanicas are foiled by a "professor of risk analysis" with links to the US military. That's it. End of story. John Le Carre this is not.

It seems that one of the either/ors is becoming something like ecologist OR non-terrorist.

There's also an article on the abstinence movement, which is trying to descredit the use of condoms and so on. Interestingly, according to the data in the article, the US had the highest rate of teenage pregnancies in the world. Of course, the UK was close behind. Still can't quite catch up with the US.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sun, Mar. 13th, 2005 09:41 am (UTC)

That Crichton comment is very interesting. It almost makes me think that, to a certain kind of American mind, some propositions are unthinkable, even if true, in the manner of Orwell's "unthink". These propositions would be things like:

* You can be American and wrong.
* You can be a policeman and wrong.
* You can be powerful and wrong.
* You can be normal and wrong.

I'd include

* You can be rich and wrong.

if it weren't for the fact that The Bible tells us that you can be rich and wrong, and that Michael Jackson is rich. So clearly Americans can think it's possible to be rich and wrong. Or perhaps they do their best by stripping the wrong of their wealth through the court system, so that only the poor are wrong, and the wrong poor.


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mcgazz
mcgazz
McGazz
Sun, Mar. 13th, 2005 11:23 am (UTC)

> He's American yet also global.
Surely a false dichotomy? Pretty much all supposedly 'global' brands (and Jackson is a brand) start off as American. MacDonalds, Levis, Coca-Cola, Marlboro, Gap, Hollywood, rock 'n' roll, Nike, Ford, KFC, Tommy Hilfiger, Disney, IBM, Apple, Microsoft, Starbucks, Playboy, Maybelline, Cosmopolitan, Wal-Mart, NTL, the 3M Corporation, Glaxo-Smithkline, Sodexho, petrol companies...


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alandriscoll
alandriscoll
Alan Driscoll
Sun, Mar. 13th, 2005 11:40 am (UTC)

What exactly does the world of "Yet-Also" have to do with anything? What moral relevance does it have?

I usually like your writing but for some reason (which I admit I'm not fully able to explain) the above post annoyed me. I can imagine Jonattan Yeah? commissioning it. "Five hundred words on how Michael Jackson is the King of Yet-Also and everyone's a bit... miaow."

Now I'm laughing uncontrollably at Jonattan Yeah? again.


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ohnefuehlen
ohnefuehlen
Seán H
Sun, Mar. 13th, 2005 11:51 am (UTC)

And there you have your answer: "Stupid people think it's cool. Smart people think it's a joke - also cool."


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peripherus_max
peripherus_max
peripherus_max
Sun, Mar. 13th, 2005 01:28 pm (UTC)
Modernism, Matthew Barney, and MJ.

In 1999, I was visiting a friend of mine at an arts residency called Glassell in Houston, and there I had the brief priviledge of meeting Matthew Barney. Pre-Bjork. During a Q&A, I asked him if he was cloaking some sort of spiritual search inside an objectivist structure. He spoke eloquently about predestination and free will for about 10 minutes, but ended by saying that "Within the universe of the Cremaster series, Michael Jackson is the most fully realised human being possible."

I've always thought that MJ was the best conceptual artist ever to walk the face of the Earth.

I tend to view MJ's aesthetic sensibility as modernist, though. In terms of his plastic surgery, anyway. It seems he wants to chisel himself into a hermaphroditic nymph of the kind that you'd find in medieval painting. I think it's only the rest of the world that views what he's doing as "tearing down." He probably views it as "building."

He's a one man Tower of Babel. God, I love his hubris. I'll never be able to take my eyes off of it.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sun, Mar. 13th, 2005 01:44 pm (UTC)
Re: Modernism, Matthew Barney, and MJ.

MJ is also, of course, a huge influence on Jeff Koons.


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kineticfactory
kineticfactory
this is not your sawtooth wave
Sun, Mar. 13th, 2005 01:43 pm (UTC)

If Michael Jackson represents the future of humanity, I doubt that this trial will kill that off. If it does have the forces of inevitability behind it, some other manifestation of that future will come along and bring it about, preferably without buggering any children in the process. Much like, had Napoleon not been around, some other Corsican (or even non-Corsican) would have taken his place.

And, at the end of the day, the trial is not about Jackson's deviant polymorphism or refusal to fit into binary either-or categories but about whether he buggered some children. If he did, then surely that trumps whatever abstract symbolic significance he may have.


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polocrunch
polocrunch
Polocrunch
Sun, Mar. 13th, 2005 04:08 pm (UTC)

And what's so great about being Peter Pan anyway? A child forever? Sounds like an eternity of ignorance, naivete and exclusion from the lofty heights of adulthood. So many adults glorify their childhoods; why? Perhaps adults think that the world would be less cynical if we were as innocent and trusting as children - as Jackson apparently was - but children get abused, and children aren't always paragons of sweetness, and children aren't careful what they wish for; and nor was he.


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(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand


(Anonymous)
Sun, Mar. 13th, 2005 03:46 pm (UTC)

There's a great article on CTheory that touches on many of the same themes.
http://www.ctheory.net/text_file.asp?pick=370


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seanthesean
Mr. Sean
Sun, Mar. 13th, 2005 05:27 pm (UTC)
He needs his own country.

Nick, this was very nice & sums up many of my feelings for MJ. He is the Hitler of pop, & for that i love him ashamedly.


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verlaine
verlaine
Human Stravaiging
Sun, Mar. 13th, 2005 05:36 pm (UTC)

I'd like to reiterate the "wow, is this beautifully written" sentiment above. And, like all the most beautifully written things, it's controversial and dangerous as all hell.

As a longtime classicist, I can't really het up about the fact that Jackson prefers the company and attractions of young boys, myself. Do the known predilections of Socrates diminish his achievements? Our hatred of non-violent/cruel paedophilia is just a cultural thing, and cultures as good as our own have done very well without it.


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Mar. 13th, 2005 06:41 pm (UTC)

yah, umm evolution doesn't happen that fast, he's a mutant if anything and definetely not the future of anything, the future is a social regression into a more community based, natural style of living, this gap is only increasing until actually self conciousness is attained and maintained, stop being retarded.


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Mar. 13th, 2005 06:44 pm (UTC)

like cultural crap is just that. grow up and out, and that's actual not actually in the last post.

michael jackson is pathetic trash of the 21st century variety, not an artist, he does not and will never comprehend what he says or does.


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charleshatcher
charleshatcher
charleshatcher
Sun, Mar. 13th, 2005 07:47 pm (UTC)

In his weekly blog, James St. James has written about Michael Jackson with a decidedly either/or slant.


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stanleylieber
stanleylieber
Stanley Lieber
Sun, Mar. 13th, 2005 10:51 pm (UTC)

It would be most informative to read such defenses of this activity written by the young people (or 'children,' if you will) who are on the receiving end of such gentle artistic contemplation.

They're not this articulate, what?


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seanthesean
Mr. Sean
Mon, Mar. 14th, 2005 12:35 am (UTC)

I thought i would add... while i enjoyed reading this piece, it really sounds a bit Dr. Seussy//Baby-boomer psych "free to be you & me". Jackson is a tragedy, i agree with the above-poster that he is not conscious of himself, he does not understand that he is insane. Also, Michael Jackson hardly is Nietzschean, where's his moustache?


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Mar. 14th, 2005 01:05 am (UTC)

Where's his moustache?

Jackson's nose is his Nietzschean moustache.

"Where's his syphilis?" might be the question. And, just as a moustache can turn into a "pencil-tip" nose, syphilis can turn into... well, let's let the jury decide.


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w_e_quimby
w_e_quimby
hobbes
Mon, Mar. 14th, 2005 12:40 am (UTC)

You do have a point there, Momus. While most are busy waging war and being "adults" the superior creatures should fondle children fondly and treasure naivety. Isn't that what they already do?


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jennylampstand
jennylampstand
jen
Mon, Mar. 14th, 2005 01:19 am (UTC)

ACE!!!
nice one, momus.


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liamtheruiner
liamtheruiner
billy ray
Mon, Mar. 14th, 2005 03:01 am (UTC)

you really hit the nail on the head with this. i wanna thank you, but i'm not sure what for. it was good to read this, though. so thanks.


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flyonawndshield
flyonawndshield
John
Mon, Mar. 14th, 2005 08:22 am (UTC)

Ahh Jackson. There will be psychological studies on him for centuries to come I'm sure.
I pray that the human race doesn't end up looking like him, much less acting like him! He may be a prototype for humanity though, as scary as that may be.

Well written Momus.


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