08 December 2009

This is how we walk on the moon

MJ as classic child star -- identity fixed at moment of first success, unable to achieve a viable adult identity because unable to ever leave this persona as a) wunderkind and b) object of desire behind. Frozen in this pre-pubescent mindframe. This compounded by father's violence and philandering: horror of adult sexuality. Career produced then torn apart by the tension created by this as he ages. Androgyny and surgery as attempt to evade post-pubescence, to remain like a child: asexual and, as a universally worshipped image-vessel of pure potentiality, deracinated too. Surgery as refacialization, denial of his father's paternity and the genetic reiterations of repro-futurism. Billie Jean as apex of this -- rejection of paternity, of sex and its reproductive logic -- (see also Dirty Diana). Then the decline as age renders these contortions impossible to sustain. Atonement for the blasphemy against holy ideology of the child in Billie Jean etc... has children w/out sex, has sexless intercourse w/ children...

The moonwalk as attempt to reverse flow of time/space back towards 1969, year of the real moon walk and moonlanding, the year he debuted w/ J5 and was date-stamped, ID-stamped, Id-stamped irrevocably. A survey of the Jackson 5's records could work here too -- as a sort of lost future, an image of the child MJ could not continue to be.
An outline for a piece on Michael Jackson that remained unwritten. I'm glad I never fleshed it out, it was more a ground-clearing exercise in working out what I actually thought MJ was, before then writing something a little less obvious (and I do think a lot of it is obvious), or at least less pop-psychological. I still like the moonwalk idea though: the choreography of nostalgia, a literalization of a will-to-return, the longing to go backwards though time to a prelapsarian safety. Is the 1969 moon landing / J5 debut connection overstated? Maybe, but then why is it called the 'moonwalk'? It's not as if there's any similarity between Jackson's slip-slide reverse (both feet stuck like glue to the floor) and the big, slow-motion forward bounces which everyone knows low gravity imposes on the normal human gait. [The move, as is well-documented, was not invented by Jackson, but Jackson does seem to be responsible for the name by which it's now universally recognised.]

One (and not the only) way that this sketch is superfluous/redundant is that there already is a survey of the Jackson 5's discography by Barney Hoskyns in the latest volume from Zer0:

It also features Mark Fisher, Steven Shaviro, Dominic Fox, Owen Hatherley, Alex Williams, Reid Kane, Geeta Dayal, Charles Holland, Tom Ewing, Joshua Clover, Marcello Carlin, Ian Penman, David Stubbs, Mark Sinker and more. I shouldn't big it up personally as I'm in it, but in the Times Bob Stanley says it's 'one of the year’s best books' and has 'fresh, allegation-free perspectives on Jackson’s life.' Available to order here.

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