Post-Modernity Has Died

By Dmitri Prieto

Michael Jackson and fans, photo: Alan Light
I remember the debates about Michael Jackson and his art when we were younger. photo: Alan Light

Michael Jackson has died.

I remember the debates about him and his art when we were younger.  It was the talk of Havana schools as to whether he was a homosexual or not, if there was or wasn’t racism in his decision to radically give up his phenotype of a Black man, or if the type of pop music that he produced almost industrially at that time was or wasn’t art.

I remember the images from his video “Thriller” when it came out, and his unsurpassable “moonwalk” – a new type of movement on the scene.  I find it hard to remember the lyrics of his songs; the only one that comes to mind is the refrain from “Smooth Criminal”: “Annie, are you ok? Are you ok? Are you ok, Annie?”

Obviously Michael Jackson was not John Lennon. He was not a spirit in search of making sense of the world; he did not have that ethical-political commitment that engendered love and sometimes fanaticism from his admirers.

Although the figure of Lennon was and is not exempt from the stains of various scandals – as much in life as after his death – in Jackson’s biography it seems that these scandals ended up displacing his artistic creations as such.

However, there is in Michael Jackson spirituality and sense.  I’m not speaking of his musical innovations, which have now established that even a second-rate artist must first learn how to move on stage, to the point of becoming a professional dancer, without caring about what they sing (this applies to all of them, from Britney and Shakira to the Cuban reggaeton group Gente D´Zona).  I’m referring to the spirituality of consumerism as a goal, that sign of the era in which we live, that ideal of happiness based on acquiring material things.

Fifteen years ago I read a book saying that Michael Jackson, as a “self-made man,” represents a certain ideal of “United States post-modernism”: neither man, nor woman, neither black, nor white.  With irony, some contemporary ideologue of the establishment might say his was “queer.”  In no manner, would the queer ideologues respond…

Michael Jackson’s death is the disappearance of a cult figure representing a certain way of life, a mode of life based on the potential of technique to change human deeds; on the potential of money to invoke the magic powers of technique; on the potential of public success to serve as the basis for obtaining fame and money; on the potential of talent to be the point of departure for achieving public success, but not in any other sphere.

But is this the formula of spirituality?  When that spirituality was embodied, its name on planet Earth was Michael Jackson.  I will never forget “Thriller,” with one image after another guarded in my mind during my Soviet childhood; other people will probably remember different videos and songs by the great Michael Jackson.

There have already been several suicides among his fans.  Some people will surely take these as yardsticks in their own phenomenal ascent in the pop world.  There will appear scandalous revelations, official and tell-all biographies, photos, maybe one or another of his unpublished works, efforts at his resurrection, tons of web posts and millions of flowers.

But the solitariness of that artist at the time of his death will be more than the symbol for a legend.  We can imagine that, if we don’t allow our hearts to be overpowered by the trappings of an icon of consumerism.

It would be blasphemy to grant full power to the dominance and authority of post-modernity, which on closer inspection reveals itself as a klippot: an entity without essence.  We must remember that the power of these paradigms is not absolute, that they are creations – dehumanized products – of flesh and blood beings.

There – in the depth of a body undone by the hi-technology of the arrogance of a way of life that can potentially consume us all – had beaten a human heart.

May God have pity on his soul!

Dimitri Prieto-Samsonov

Dmitri Prieto-Samsonov: I define myself as being either Cuban-Russian or Russian-Cuban, indiscriminately. I was born in Moscow in 1972 of a Russian mother and a Cuban father. I lived in the USSR until I was 13, although I was already familiar with Cuba-- where we would take our vacation almost every year. I currently live on the fifth floor of an apartment building in Santa Cruz del Norte, near the sea. I’ve studied biochemistry and law in Havana and anthropology in London. I’ve written about molecular biology, philosophy and anarchism, although I enjoy reading more than writing. I am currently teaching in the Agrarian University of Havana. I believe in God and in the possibility of a free society. Together with other people, that’s what we’re into: breaking down walls and routines.



7 thoughts on “Post-Modernity Has Died

  • i was not surprised to read this, because we have known of White” jealousy and fears. Michael will never be surpassed by anyone Get over it

    My sister Milagros was not surprised to read this post nor was she surprised at your ending.May God have mercy on his soul? LMAO Sis is in Cuba, she has read this because i made sure that she as she is being caught up in trying to help the elderly that she is made abreast of all thing important. However, we must be true to ourselves, and since u live in Cuba, it is all probable that all you knew was the Michael the media placed in front of you..Sadly, as you make your attempt to murder his manhood, characte,r and and humanity with your sliced and diced words, it may comfort others to know that out of all artists in the world..MICHAEL” Moonwalkin, Bad, Dangerous, Crotch grabbing, in ya face Thrilln Thriller JACKSON” Gave more to charity that any other artist IN THE WORLD? So let me leave you with this….

    We had him and we are the…

    Reply
  • We had him , and we are the World! Time to move on
    Poem by Maya Angelou in tribute to a legend

    Message from Milagros
    THANK U CIRCLES, THANK U

    Reply
  • I WILL BE POSTING THIS IN ITS ENTIRETY TO MY SISTERS BLOG..
    THX

    Reply
  • We Had Him by Maya Angelou was read out at the memorial by Queen Latifah.

    We Had Him:

    Beloveds, now we know that we know nothing
    Now that our bright and shining star can slip away from our fingertips like a puff of summer wind

    Without notice, our dear love can escape our doting embrace
    Sing our songs among the stars and and walk our dances across the face of the moon

    In the instant we learn that Michael is gone we know nothing
    No clocks can tell our time and no oceans can rush our tides
    With the abrupt absence of our treasure

    Though we our many, each of us is achingly alone
    Piercingly alone
    Only when we confess our confusion can we remember that he was a gift to us and we did have him

    He came to us from the Creator, trailing creativity in abundance
    Despite the anguish of life he was sheathed in mother love and family love and survived and did not more than that

    He thrived with passion and compassion, humor and style
    We had him
    Whether we knew who he…

    Reply
  • He thrived with passion and compassion, humor and style
    We had him
    Whether we knew who he was or did not know, he was our’s and we were his
    We had him

    Beautiful, delighting our eyes
    He raked his hat slant over his brow and took a pose on his toes for all of us and we laughed and stomped our feet for him

    We were enchanted with his passion because he held nothing
    He gave us all he had been given

    Today in Tokyo, beneath the Eiffel Tower, in Ghana’s Blackstar Square, in Johannesburg, in Pittsburgh, in Birmingham, Alabama and Birmingham England, we are missing Michael Jackson

    But we do know that we had him
    And we are the world.

    Reply
  • WE HAD HIM DIMITRI, AND LIKE FIDEL. I WILL LAWYAS DEFEND HIS HUMANITY
    FROM SAVANNAH TO HAVANA..NUFF SAID

    Reply

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