An Unpleasant Surprise

Yesterday I was drifting in the state between asleep and awake when the sound of an arriving message on my phone ended the former and brought out the latter. My first thought was soaked in spite against myself for once, months ago, having willingly selected that particular message sound. I got up, scratched my face and reached for the phone. There was two messages both with the same message – Michael Jackson is dead. The first thing that struck me when reading the messages was that one of the senders never sent me an message during my stay in Istanbul, and now when Michael Jackson is dead he goes out on a limb doing so. I was not bitter with my friend or held him in contempt, not at all. It just made me realize how important Michael Jackson was to so many people. Similar to the flash shows summing up his life I later saw in the Swedish newspaper I saw fragments of his career in chronological order, being played behind my eyes on the cinema on the back of my forehead. What a shame, I thought to myself and without realizing it I slowly begun to feel sad about losing Michael Jackson.
During my stay here I have several times asked native Turks about certain Turkish artists, many of them among my favorites, and very often I get a negative reply describing the person rather than the music. I do not think this is something unique to the Turkish culture, especially not in the case of Michael Jackson, but it definitely got me thinking. Most of us have a personal relation to his music, many of us probably consider themselves to at some point in their lives have been saved by it, in on way or another, and without a doubt everyone of us know who he was.
On my way out I activated the MJ playlist on my Iphone and listened to his songs. I have always been a fan, but this time it was different, he was no longer alive and somehow that changed the experience in a slight but surreal manner. Admiring Michael Jackson does not take much from a man. With his professionalism and innovative mind for music he changed the business forever. You just have to watch MTV for 15 minutes to see how many of the artists today somehow and in someway are carrying on his legacy.
I kept on walking in the area of Cihangir, Beyoglu, Istanbul and the sensation of being sad was now imminent. Not really accepting this emotion, wondering how I could feel this bad for someone I never met, I kept questioning the mourning process and trying to understand its origin. Right after passing the German Consulate and turning right, the insight of my grieving came to me like a spontaneous visit from a familiar friend with an unfamiliar face. I appeared to be mourning the death of Michael Jackson, which was true, but in fact I was also mourning for reasons connected to myself. Growing up I would play his albums, belonging to my parents, I would become scared by Thriller and dance to Bad. I became older and begun reading his lyrics, I contemplated the message in Black & White and They Don’t Really Care About Us, put it in the context of a, at that time, right wing influenced Sweden with raging skinheads and violent racism, and I also put it in the context of my own ambiguous identity – was I black or white? Michael Jackson has always been there and I have always been a child. His death is an unpleasant reminder of the separation from my own youth and also of the inevitable departure from this world all together. That is why I am sad, I am mourning the death of my own immortality and the loss of a modern day Mozart, both who died on the 25th of June 2009.

Rest In Peace.

RSS 2.0