Creation And Destruction

Picture 15Far from being unusual, Mr. Jackson was quite common for a talented creator who spent much of his life, self destructing.  Just as love and hate live side by side, creativity lives in disharmony with destruction.  Many creative people have terrible trouble dealing with impulses, money and fame.  Yet pursue these three things all the way to the bitter end.  Often, finding true fame in a sordid, early death. The truly tragic cases are those who have or buy children to haul along on this downward death spiral.

First, Mr. Armstrong, the cyclist with a very unsettled life, is driven to recreate his past over and over again, like Sisyphus doomed to roll his rock uphill over and over again, each time, it crushes him and he must begin again.  The Rolling Stones are an example of old, worn out men attempting to recreate their glory over and over even though they should have grown up long ago.

Discarding wives, ignoring the needs of children, this army of Peter Pans and White Bone Demon females who use the dark arts of  doctors and make up artists, the ones who survive their depravity get to age in all seriousness.  Eventually, they look mummified and dead, inside and out.  Like Marlene Dietrich, just for example, living in total isolation, afraid of being seen as old and ugly, they die alone.

The glories of youth must be transcended if one wishes to live a full and useful life where there is some sort of mental/philosophical advancement as time passes: the accumulation of events leading towards a greater understanding rather than a retreat to the retreads of the past.

The many faces of Lance Armstrong | Sport | The Observer

At 37 years and 10 months, he is 18 months older than the oldest previous winner, the 1922 champion, Firmin Lambot of Belgium. And Armstrong has not won a single race this year in his return to cycling that began at January’s Tour Down Under. Yet I am confident that he will be a leading contender at the 2009 Tour starting in Monaco on 4 July. I even think he could win.

My opinion is not based on speculation, but on the spirit and must-win attitude that I have observed ever since meeting him two decades ago. It is also based on my interviews with more than 50 people who know him, in writing a book about his life.

His stepfather, Terry Armstrong, told me about the time that a nine-year-old Lance crashed in a BMX race and started crying. His stepdad didn’t sympathise. He picked him up and told him, “We’re finished … If you’re gonna come out here and quit and cry, we’re done … I’m not gonna have a quitter.”

He won’t and can’t stop.  He will madly pedal away until his heart finally gives up.  Instead of happiness, he is filled with despair. He is trying to beat the Grim Reaper and we all know who will win this race against time.  No matter how hard he might try to appear young, his body knows time is passing and eventually, the truth will be obvious even to Armstrong, as his heart thunders in his chest and the grave yawns at his feet.   Time to exit.

Instead of trying to prove he is number one, he has to sit down and figure out who he really is.  Is he a heroic athlete?  Or is he getting old?  I remember being nearly 40 years old.  I didn’t feel old at all.  But the first signs of age were there.  Now, I can’t ignore the arthritis in my right shoulder due to a lifetime of hard work and even more active play.  I did sword fighting for many years, for example, and my arm feels it in spade.

Armstrong is doomed to chase younger and younger women just like all those many rock stars and other older men.  The illusion of being sexy is easy so long as there is lots of money.  But the  money gets harder and harder to get as the guys age.  Each divorce leads to a smaller and smaller estate as the Beatle, Paul, discovered.

Jackson made it to 50 years of age which is miraculous considering that most people like him die before that age.  The power of modern medicine is amazing, isn’t it?  The stories about how he abused the children he purchased is coming out in the news now that he is dead.  For example, none of them ever had any teachers at all and were dragged all over the earth, from place to place, literally camping out like gypsies.  It is all very sad but quite common.  The history of his type of creative genius/chaos loving personality is always terrible when it combines with helpless children.  It didn’t take me very long to think of dozens of similar people in the past, most of whom were immense cultural giants, far above Jackson:

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mozart’s physical appearance was described by tenor Michael Kelly, in his Reminiscences: “a remarkable small man, very thin and pale, with a profusion of fine, fair hair of which he was rather vain”. As his early biographer Niemetschek wrote, “there was nothing special about [his] physique. […] He was small and his countenance, except for his large intense eyes, gave no signs of his genius.” His facial complexion was pitted, a reminder of his childhood case of smallpox. He loved elegant clothing. Kelly remembered him at a rehearsal: “[He] was on the stage with his crimson pelisse and gold-laced cocked hat, giving the time of the music to the orchestra.” Of his voice Constanze later wrote that it “was a tenor, rather soft in speaking and delicate in singing, but when anything excited him, or it became necessary to exert it, it was both powerful and energetic”.[65]

Mozart usually worked long and hard, finishing compositions at a tremendous pace as deadlines approached. He often made sketches and drafts, though unlike Beethoven’s these are mostly not preserved, Constanze having sought to destroy them after his death.

Sounds like a Jackson clone, doesn’t he?  The same taste in clothes, the utterly out of control finances. The need to find money and that being a goad for more creativity.  In the case of Jackson, he was showered with obscene amounts of wealth which allowed him to completely goof off for a decade at a shot.  Which means, his legacy is actually much, much smaller and less significant that that dynamo, Mozart.

Unlike Jackson, who was trying to ride his own tattered coat tails in the end, Mozart even composed one of the world’s most amazing Requiems before dying.

YouTube – Mozart’s Requiem Mass in D Minor I – Introitus and Kyrie

Picture 16

YouTube – Mozart’s Requiem Mass in D Minor II – Dies Irae

When I was a child, we moved from Yerkes Observatory to McDonald Observatory.  On the way, all of my mother’s record collection got warped by the sun except for one: Mozart’s Requiem.  So, she played only this for six months.  It is pretty much part of my memory systems.  It was Bruno Walter conducting, which meant it was  utterly divine.

Although there is a lot of hysteria about how great Jackson was because he could dance in odd ways, his influence was mostly negative, I fear.  The imitators swarm all over the place.  But the dancing isn’t uplifting but rather, is the final outgrowth of the rock/street dance.  It is certainly a cultural artifact.  But it doesn’t lead one down the path to other things that are of a ‘higher’ nature.

Speaking of true revolutionary dancers, there is the amazing and utterly self destructive Isadora Duncan:

Isadora Duncan

By the end of her life, Duncan’s performing career had dwindled and she became as notorious for her financial woes, scandalous love life, and all-too-frequent public drunkenness as for her contributions to the arts. She spent her final years moving between Paris and the Mediterranean, running up debts at hotels or spending short periods in apartments rented on her behalf by an ever-decreasing number of friends and supporters, many of whom attempted to assist her in writing an autobiography, in the hope that it would be sufficiently successful to support her….

Duncan was a passenger in the Amilcar[5] automobile of a handsome French-Italian mechanic, Benoît Falchetto, whom she had nicknamed ‘Buggatti’ [sic]. Before getting into the car, she said to a friend, Mary Desti (mother of 1940s Hollywood writer-director Preston Sturges)…”Je vais à l’amour” (“I am off to love”)…

Whatever her actual last words, when Falchetto drove off, Duncan’s immense handpainted silk scarf, which was a gift from Desti and was large enough to be wrapped around her body and neck and flutter out of the car, became entangled around one of the vehicle’s open-spoked wheels and rear axle. As The New York Times noted in its obituary of the dancer on September 15, 1927, 

YouTube – Isadora Duncan Dance Group: The Art of isadora Duncan

Isadora Duncan came onstage, literally alone, just herself, barefoot and clad in a light, loose gown…when women didn’t dare show their ankles, and never went barefoot. Even the dancers wore shoes.  Ballet dancers did wear very provocative dresses and showed their well-formed legs in public.  But were considered ‘dirty’ and were not socially admired but were the love of the males who gathered in the lower seats to get a good look at the knickers while the ladies sat in the balconies and saw only the stiff, spreading dresses.

Then onstage came this strange American girl, defiant and aloof at the same time.  Blazing with intensity, she showed the ballet dancers that women could be choreographers.  All the top ballet dancers rushed off to see her and learn from her and she inspired a tsunami of changes not only in the dance world, but in the entire culture.  Women who wore corsets from 1500 to 1900 suddenly began to throw them away.

Fashion designers flocked to see this girl trip and skip about the stage and left with their heads filled with a heady wine.  Her personality was imprinted upon the entire Edwardian Age and when WWI came crashing down on everyone’s heads, she changed into a revolutionary and took dance to yet another, deeper stage of expression which again, the ballet choreographers rushed to catch up with her.

Tragedy dogged her dancing feet.  Unable to have stable relationships, she also suffered the loss of her beloved children and this pretty much broke her inner self and she was increasingly desperate to distract herself as her body declined.  She died an amazing death at the same age as Michael Jackson.  Jackson, by the way, did not invent an entirely new style of dancing.  He enlarged the MTV-style of dance but he didn’t burst into it from nowhere. That was done by others, many years earlier.  He was one of a number of similar dancer/singers and was very polished.

Isadora Duncan was very unpolished.  She was seriously interested in the soul and trying to express some sort of moral and metaphysical belief system.  She failed in this enterprise but at least, she tried to scale Mt. Olympus.  Whereas, Jackson was content to cavort with the fauns on the lower slopes of that lofty mountain, home to Pegasus.  Jackson’s biggest hits were all about urban street fighting or zombies.  It was not very elevating.  Here is another cultural giant who also died at 50 years of age:

Gustav Mahler :

The final impetus for Mahler’s departure from the Vienna Opera was a generous offer from the Metropolitan Opera in New York. He conducted a season there in 1908, only to be set aside in favor of Arturo Toscanini; while he had been enormously popular with public and critics alike, he had fallen out of favor with the trustees of the board of the Met. Back in Europe, with his marriage in crisis and Alma’s infidelity having been revealed, Mahler, in 1910, had a single (and apparently helpful) consultation with Sigmund Freud.

Having now signed a contract to conduct the long-established New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Mahler and his family travelled again to America. At this time, he completed his Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth), and his Symphony No. 9, which would be his last completed work. In February 1911, during a long and demanding concert season in New York, Mahler fell seriously ill with a streptococcal blood infection, and conducted his last concert in a fever (the programme included the world premiere ofFerruccio Busoni‘s Berceuse élégiaque). Returning to Europe, he was taken to Paris, where a new serum had recently been developed. He did not respond, however, and was taken back to Vienna at his request. He died there from his infection on 18 May 1911 at the age of 50, leaving his Symphony No. 10 unfinished…

Mahler’s widow reported that his last word was “Mozartl” (a diminutive, corresponding to ‘dear little Mozart’).

There are so many tragic aspects to Mahler’s short life!  It is heartbreaking.  For example, he wrote a series of intense and heartbreaking songs set to the poems by Rückert which he wrote upon the deaths of his own children.  After writing this divine music, Mahler’s lovely little 4 year old daughter, who was born the year he composed this music, died of a fever.  Like Isadora Duncan, he had to carry this burden that I think is unendurable.  I am amazed that both continued to create despite this terrible, impossible, pain!  It hurts to even think about what this did to such sensitive souls.

YouTube – Mahler- Kindertotenlieder 1

YouTube – Mahler- Kindertotenlieder 2

YouTube – Mahler- Kindertotenlieder 3

YouTube – Mahler- Kindertotenlieder 4

YouTube – Mahler- Kindertotenlieder 5

Hitler was a Mahler partisan in Vienna before WWI and after WWI, when Hitler came to power, he sought to eradicate Mahler, not only his music, but literally, kill his entire family.  I always was very devoted to Mahler’s works ever since I found his symphony #4 when I was about 8 years old.  Bruno Walter conducting, again.  He was a personal friend of Mahler and his recordings are probably the most accurate interpretations of Mahler’s music.  Certainly, his Symphony #9 is by far, the most exquisite.

Mahler, like Mozart, like Isadora, put out immense amounts of effort and produced much more than his own stuff.  He was a great conductor and musical researcher.  As well as a teacher and he was very engaged in the cultural debates of his day.  Let’s go on to another tragic member of this generation, the explosion of creativity of the 1880-1914: Oscar Wilde…

Oscar Wilde

Picture 11Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde (16 October 1854 – 30 November 1900) was an Irish playwrightpoet and author of numerous short stories and one novel. Known for his biting wit, he became one of the most successful playwrights of the lateVictorian era in London, and one of the greatest celebrities of his day….

Though Wilde’s sexual orientation has variously been considered bisexual and homosexual, Wilde himself felt he belonged to a culture of male love inspired by the Greek paederastic tradition.[15] In describing his own sexual identity, Wilde used the term Socratic.[16] He had significant sexual relationships with (in chronological order) Frank MilesConstance Lloyd (Wilde’s wife), Robbie Ross, and Lord Alfred Douglas (known as “Bosie”). Wilde also had numerous sexual encounters with working-class male youths, who were often male prostitutes.

Some biographers believe Wilde was made fully aware of his own and others’ homosexuality in 1885 (the year after his wedding) by the 17-year-old Robbie Ross. Neil McKenna’s biography The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde (2003) theorises that Wilde was aware of his homosexuality much earlier, from the moment of his first kiss with another boy at the age of 16. According to McKenna, after arriving at Oxford in 1874, Wilde tentatively explored his sexuality, discovering that he could feel passionate romantic love for “fair, slim” choirboys, but was more sexually drawn towards the swarthy young rough trade. By the late 1870s, Wilde was already preoccupied with the philosophy of same-sex love, and had befriended a group of Uranian (pederastic) poets and homosexual law reformers, becoming acquainted with the work of gay-rights pioneer Karl Heinrich Ulrichs. Wilde also met Walt Whitman in America in 1882, boasting to a friend that “I have the kiss of Walt Whitman still on my lips”. He even lived with the society painter Frank Miles, who was a few years his senior and may have been his lover. However, writes McKenna, Wilde was at one time unhappy with the direction of his sexual and romantic desires and, hoping that marriage would “cure” him, he married Constance in 1884. McKenna’s account has been criticised by some reviewers who find it too speculative, although not necessarily implausible.[17]….

Prison was unkind to Wilde’s health and after he was released on 19 May 1897, he spent his last three years penniless, in self-imposed exile from society and artistic circles. He went under the assumed name of Sebastian Melmoth, after the famously “penetrated” Saint Sebastian and the devilish central character of Wilde’s great-uncle Charles Robert Maturin‘s gothic novel Melmoth the Wanderer….

Wilde died of cerebral meningitis on 30 November 1900. Different opinions are given as to the cause of the meningitis; Richard Ellmann claimed it was syphiliticMerlin Holland, Wilde’s grandson, thought this to be a misconception, noting that Wilde’s meningitis followed a surgical intervention, perhaps a mastoidectomy; Wilde’s physicians, Dr. Paul Cleiss and A’Court Tucker, reported that the condition stemmed from an old suppuration of the right ear (une ancienne suppuration de l’oreille droite d’ailleurs en traitement depuis plusieurs années) and did not allude to syphilis. Most modern scholars and doctors agree that syphilis was unlikely to have been the cause of his death.[31]

He died younger than Jackson!  And he went to prison on far less serious charges, nay, what he did is quite natural and his imprisonment was a crime.  Unlike seduction of children, he had consensual adult sex.  He wasn’t a towering figure like Isadora Duncan or Mahler, but he was extremely important because his defense of his own love life was the first step in a long, long, long road for gays to get social protection and civil rights.  And he certainly inspired a firestorm of attractions.  He was a MEDIA giant and thus, much closer to Jackson than any of the others.

Aubrey Beardsley

Picture 14Beardsley illustrated Oscar Wilde‘s play Salomé – the play eventually premiered in Paris in 1896. He also produced extensive illustrations for books and magazines (e.g. for a deluxe edition of Sir Thomas Malory‘s Le Morte d’Arthur) and worked for magazines likeThe Savoy and The Studio. Beardsley also wrote Under the Hill, an unfinished erotic tale based loosely on the legend of Tannhäuser.

Beardsley was also a caricaturist and did some political cartoons, mirroring Wilde’s irreverent wit in art. Beardsley’s work reflected thedecadence of his era and his influence was enormous, clearly visible in the work of the French Symbolists, the Poster art Movement of the 1890s and the work of many later-period Art Nouveau artists like Pape and Clarke.

Beardsley was a public character as well as a private eccentric. He said, “I have one aim—the grotesque. If I am not grotesque I am nothing.” Wilde said he had “a face like a silver hatchet, and grass green hair.” Beardsley was meticulous about his attire: dove-grey suits, hats, ties; yellow gloves. He would appear at his publisher’s in a morning coat and patent leather pumps.

Although Beardsley was aligned with the homosexual clique that included Oscar Wilde and other English aesthetes, the details of his sexuality remain in question. He was generally regarded as asexual—which is hardly surprising, considering his chronic illness and his devotion to his work. Speculation about his sexuality include rumors of an incestuous relationship with his elder sister, Mabel, who may have become pregnant by her brother and miscarried.

Through his entire career, Beardsley had recurrent attacks of the disease that would end it. He suffered frequent lung hemorrhages and was often unable to work or leave his home.

Beardsley’s emphasis of the erotic element is present in many of his drawings, but nowhere as boldly as in his illustrations for Lysistratawhich were done for a privately printed edition at a time when he was totally out of favor with polite society. One of his last acts after converting to Catholicism was to plead with his publisher to “destroy all copies of Lysistrata and bad drawings…by all that is holy all obscene drawings.” His publisher, Leonard Smithers, not only ignored Beardsley wishes, but continued to sell reproductions and outright forgeries of Beardsley’s work.[5]

Beardsley was active till his death in MentonFrance, at the age of 25 on 16 March 1898 [6], of tuberculosis. He had been received into the Roman Catholic church in March of the previous year.

I loved Beardsely’s drawings and bought a book of his works when I was about 15 years old and copied some of his styles.  He died half of Jackson’s age.  He was certainly a fashion icon on many levels, personal as well as artistic.  Like his friend, Oscar Wilde.

Modern media systems creates lots of hysteria as well as magnifying the services of various people so they loom much bigger than they deserve.  Indeed, the ‘classical’ culture represented by Mahler and Duncan has shrunk down to nearly the vanishing point while glib, short, vapid fashionable fare is given the heft and weight.  Far from a lifetime of putting out more and more mature, more amazing work, we see our cultural icons resting on ancient laurels and struggling to pen even one more song.  This is nearly excruciatingly painful for them.  So they return to drinking, drugs and abusing sex partners of all sorts including, totally illegal ones.

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49 responses to “Creation And Destruction

  1. seraphim

    Mozart a Jackson’s clone?! Come on Elaine!

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  3. payAttention

    ‘Indeed, the ‘classical’ culture represented by Mahler and Duncan has shrunk down to nearly the vanishing point while glib, short, vapid fashionable fare is given the heft and weight.’

    Dear Author did not participate in the dismantling of dead white man’s culture when she was wearing the very long flowing and ruffled skirts while performing the anti Isadora twirling hand routines? The elevating (snicker snicker, not relevant) art that you bemoan was vital until your hippy dippy artistic pre-eminence. No, tie dye is not an art form. Bobby Darin, Benny Goodman, Gershwin and Caruso were. They did not speak to you however, since they were over thirty. It was easier to find the stamp of your own overarching intelligence in the ridiculous paint waste of Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol, or the prepubescent posturing of Jimmy Dean. Let’s pretend Le Corbusier is anything but design for the extremely lazy. It is not much sense in knowing the value of what you destroyed, after it is irretrievably gone.

  4. openly hidden

    you “did” sword fighting too….i have to say this elaine. we are total complete opposites. i have only done one thing for 60 years. i “woke up” and realized i was me and here at two years old and ever since, for 60 years i have done just the one thing. so no matter what, even if i came to in a jail house drunk tank all lumpy and beat up, no matter what anyone else could honestly say they had seen me doing with their own eyes, beneath all my observable fucked up behavior, at root i was always doing my same thing. all i have done for the past 60 years of my life was ask “what is truth”. heh. and to my utter complete amazement, truth is what it always has been elaine. this reality beneath our “reality” simply completely blows me away! no sophistry, no shit.

  5. openly hidden

    PayAttention. i am not sure about this of course, but i think my generations “contribution” will be to sort of serve as an example for those generations who follow…sort of like younger siblings watching their older sibling fuck up and throw everything away. and i bet this goes in cycles too. and besides, you know there was going to be quite a price that was due sometime for all of us too. but its all good.

  6. emsnews

    Um, Pay Attention, when I was still young and sort of attractive, I revived Isadora and Loie Fuller’s fantastic dances. And I played the cello with a small opera group. And did stage design.

    But it made little money so I had to literally roll up my sleeves and do hard labor.

    Why do you have to accuse everyone of everything? Eh? Indeed, in the ‘hippie’ years, I was well known for taking my cello to the park and playing Bach.

  7. payAttention

    I stand corrected in that case. Perhaps you did not set out to intentionally destroy our culture, although, I have my reservations.

    Hidden.. you understimate Gaga. She is a prodigy, started piano at 3, played by ear at five, perfect pitch and loaded with composing talent. Stands out from her peers without any comparison. Liza Minelli and Babs good as a vocalist.

  8. charlottemom

    I loved seeing a poster’s reference to Andy Warhol, who in death was artistically rehabilitated into an icon. In his late years, he was surrounded by degenerate losers and hanger-ons and viewed as a sell out. This rehabilitation of MJ is happening before our very eyes.

    MJ was a commercial success and sellout — the two go hand and hand. He, Warhol and, in the future Madonna, all fall under this banner. Madonna talked about crying upon hearing of MJ’s death; she was crying about herself — she will have the same date with destiny as MJ. A so-so entertainer, rich beyond all, lonely, notwithstanding the companionship of bought children, massive amounts of plastic surgery. She is traveling MJ’s road. She’s next on deck.

    I think Mozart was a completely different type of talent – a timeless, self-destructing musician, a genius. MJ, not so much.

  9. great post charlottemom!


  10. Trailin' Pete

    As Flembeau stated so eloquently, “it is not so much what we have not become, as what we did not realize from this not becoming”

  11. Timothy

    When did emsnews become an anti-MJ lovefest? Are those vacuous tributes to this admittedly overrated popstar really that insufferable?

    As for Lady Gaga, I might have been impressed by her if I were still 16. Listening to her music as a grown man just gives me the “seen it all before”(minus the latest gimmick) impression.

  12. ”vapid fashionable fare is given the heft and weight. Far from a lifetime of putting out more and more mature, more amazing work, we see our cultural icons resting on ancient laurels and struggling to pen even one more song. ”

    This is well recognized, what is less so is that Art and Music are built upon simple formal structures. Because they are simple they are rare and hard to discover. All the superficial elaborations of ”content” that are laid upon them eventually cannot disguise their overuse.

  13. openly hidden

    what i wondered about is there seems to be a human “limit”. a limit to what humans for example can write….can anyone show me an original story for example that wasn’t already developed waaay back in history… or a limit in how well humans can sculpt or draw or paint. and music. perhaps human perfection has already been reached in all forms of music and the rest is constant rearranging and looking for new technology to express the same old thing again. movies? is any of the forms of dance expression? the jitterbug of ww2? big band sound.

    in any event, it has been a source of wonder and pleasure for me to have been alive to see and watch and listen to some of what has happened in my lifetime. but it seems like what humans can do can only go so far in any one direction….except for evil it seems. howcome? and i am most happy about the development of old music groups from the 1950’s and 1960’s and 1970’s now come and perform for not much at the local casinos in iowa. i am amazed at how completely some of the performers give and how hard they try and how clearly they seem to understand their contributions. and the grandmas and grandpas sniffle and hug each other in the crowd as “ancient relics” like the platters and gary lewis and the playboys and even little richard basically turn themselves inside out one more time while they can. i really liked …. well whoever….neal sadekka that is who it was! anyway, these performers it seems to me seemed doubly grateful to get to do their thing one more time for us fellow oldsters. i am sure the money is a good thing for them, but i am also sure that they absolutely perform and do their very best to get to do it again for us while they can. only this time they get to do it sober! i like it all. even little richard who i always thougth was a novelty act turned out to be able to play anything and was classically trained, but they did what they had to do for the money. they were all artists and i am proud to have lived with them and to have heard them do their thing.

    pancho and lefty, the worlds greatest song ever? by the two greatest and last country singers in the world. or willie walin and the boys?

    (seriously the viet nam era music)

    hank williams sr. the archetype?

    the three stooges. heh.

    i always liked graceland but nobody else did. heh. where the guy was old elvis. speaking of which….

    and how about the blue people (mimes)

    and now females get their turn to go as far as they can go. and they as good if not better. but am i imagining things if i say at riverside casino near university of iowa last weekend where there was a $39 outdoor concert by “heart” and two free bands inside, one brought up from tennessee and one local band my age who by now really have it all down, anyway, was it my imagination or did i see 100 hot, stylish women drunks out of control for every 1 man? do women now get to do all the things men used to do now, including being drunk and out of control too?

    oh yes. i hope scientific “progress” has not reached its limits now too. i do wonder what happened to all the “promise” we all knew was on our horizon when the class if 1965 graduated.

  14. A REALLY different way of viewing Michael Jackson

    Whatever the final autopsy results reveal, it was greed that killed Michael Jackson. Had he not been driven – by a cabal of bankers, agents, doctors and advisers – to commit to the gruelling 50 concerts in London’s O2 Arena, I believe he would still be alive today.

    During the last weeks and months of his life, Jackson made desperate attempts to prepare for the concert series scheduled for next month – a series that would have earned millions for the singer and his entourage, but which he could never have completed, not mentally, and not physically.

  15. Timothy

    Openly hidden,

    the current “layer” of music development seems to be pre-emptive sampling of earlier written music. While a couple of decades ago, this would be limited to last-resort situations (when there is no other way the music could have been written) or paying homage to “greats”, today’s “hits” usually include one or more samples that are integral to the structure of the song.

    With the advent of computers, the number of people making music have increased (from firemen to lawyers to lunch ladies), the advantage of having $$$ becomes the differentiator between the big star and the small fry, since the ones with $$$ can buy pre-written music to liven up their pieces, and also acts to harken listeners back to a “golden age of music”.

    PS Recently I got kicked out of a cafe because I suddenly felt inspired and started playing my acoustic, BY THE OWNER. He used to be my bandmate in high school. I guess the uniting power of music really is overrated.

  16. Robert Paulson

    “He (Armstrong) is trying to beat the Grim Reaper and we all know who will win this race against time.”

    ‘On a long enough time line, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.’

    I love that one.

  17. See ,nobody gets it, if you just consume the arts you don’t get to see how they are constructed. Like those buildings in the next article , everything has a foundation ,that determines the outcome.

  18. emsnews

    The god in charge of the Muses of music, dance and the arts happens to be PEGASUS, a very ancient LIGHTNING god.

    The Muses all defer to the Three Furies and the Three Fates, Past, Present and Future. People who are not being whipped by these six dire entities never get to create great art.

  19. the fool on the hill

    Nowadays there’s no demand for ‘great art’.

    It’s a lot of work so if I can’t pay the bills, why bother?

    I can’t be a composer because the universities are the gatekeepers of that sort of thing and those people haven’t a clue how to compose in the style of Bach, Haydn, etc.

    It would take me longer but I can do it, and I can prove it. But I had to totally bust my ass to figure it out. I learned that one can’t figure out the ‘true art’ following the ‘rules’ known today as ‘music theory’. And them professors love their ‘rules’, let me tell ya’.

    Composing a sonata form movement in the style of Haydn is not that much different than composing a 2-part invention in the style of Bach. One is just larger.

    Of course, the few people that don’t skip this comment entirely won’t care in the slightest.

    It’s just as well, I was getting tired of being whipped by those Fates and Furies, lemme tell ya’.

  20. the fool on the hill

    Same old song

    As the waking fragrance of spring beckons
    Pain to be borne lightly as feather weights
    Promising that there is no grief so great
    Which endures the bliss of gentle morning

    But the fleeting dawn has others to chase
    And the feather weights—they accumulate
    Youth did not roll away like sunny clouds
    I woke up one morning and I was old

  21. holey moley, you folks sure is cultural-like. or should i say old negative and bitter instead. the world is a big place. i think there’s room for every body. there’s no need to trash and bash anyone just cuz it don’t measure up to your own super-superior idears…come on!

  22. the fool on the hill

    OK Christine, but let the record show, Western civilization is collapsing.

    I for one don’t think it will be a lot of fun.

    So I toast you with an old, bitter,

  23. emsnews

    Children love sweet chocolates. Adults love bittersweet chocolates and oldsters like their coffee straight and thick and very bitter.

  24. seraphim

    Why on earth would have been Mozart “a self-destructing musician”?

  25. flash

    A little more on Isadora Duncan

  26. openly hidden

    about art. i am under the impression that a true artist will do art, even if it kills him…. isn’t that so? and the rest is what, entertainment? then writing advertising? and playing at holiday inns if you are lucky? music must be the most competitive field to be in. i have always wondered at the small difference between those who play for free in the afternoon at casinos still trying in their 50’s and 60’s, and those lucky few who hit the home run. like miley cyrus. did i read she was the “billion dollar girl”? hahahahah!

    who was the world famous writer back in the 1800’s who only sold 7 copies of his lifes work, “the book”? his wife froze to death and starved and worked at horrible jobs so her great man could write. and he died actually old and bitter and insane i believe. but his work was discovered after he died and it changed our world…anyway, you could not stop him from doing his thing. and that is a real “artist” to me.

    and about college professors? i always beieved the expression those who can, do….those who can’t teach.

    what would a college professor have to teach say tanya tucker. shazam! remember “delta dawn”. and jerry lee lewis. gads could go on and on.

    but about tv. i think television programming peaked with the musical show “hee haw”. heeee haawww!

    “old, negative, and bitter.” great. to go along with my discovery today that the “old” guy my son works with is in his 40’s.

    and i had an uncle who lived to write songs. he had one top ten tune the first song that got picked up back in the 60’s and that was it. he ended up driving a city bus. but he never quit trying. zzzzzzzzssssszzzzzzzzzz…(this happened as i was trying to wipe up the pudding i dropped on the keyboard.

  27. nah

    michael jackson was like a cartoon my whole life… not rocky and bullwinkle funny, more like 20yr old hoochie mamas rewinding the moon walk funny
    grind more grind more

  28. openly hidden

    and fool on the hill. this is true. i spent a long, long time being a young man. until i realized one day i was NOT an older young man, but rather a young OLD Man. to this day i have no idea what happened to my middle age…

  29. emsnews

    Look at your belly. There it is. In the middle…

  30. larry, dfh

    Not necessarily striving for the contrary, let me state that I liked MJ and think he was very influential. Face it, this country is hard on artists. MJ would have been much happier in Europe, as were many previous artists. MJ could pack a stadium in any country but his own, and tahat’s shameful, imho.
    And why all the gripes about the hippies? I learned alot from the ’60’s. What, exactly, is wrong with pacifism, with not embracing a culture so maniacally bent of the killing of strangers? If this is unravelling your civilization, maybe it’s your civilization that needs examining. Make love, not war. Live it. There’s so much more to enjoy in love than in hate and intolerance. All the major schools of martial arts teach peace through avoiding conflict. This is hard-core hippie doctrine, and this is not wrong.

  31. emsnews

    I was a total freak in the sixties. Had freaky fun, too. Any male who tells me, he hates hippie chicks, is….HAHAHA…. I used to just love it when tourists would come to SF and the men driving their gawking wives would scream cusses at me and then drop the dame off at the motel and return, at night, looking for sex.

    “Don’t you believe in free love,’ they would ALL say.

    Being nasty, I would say, ‘Yes, love is free but sex costs a lot of money.’

  32. I was also a total freak in the sixties. I never woke up any given mourning to just decide “I think I’d like to be a freak.” In fact, there were many kinds of freaks. Some people were just trying to fit into the freak crowd. Many were just ordinary people pretending to be freaks. Then there were some like me, who were really freaks, and just accepted the blessing of the incredible opportunity to hide their innate freakdom by pretending to be like the ones who were pretending to be freaks.

    This led to very strange encounters when *ahem* mescaline was involved. I made a living in electronics whenever I could. That industry had booms and busts every two years, so I would take “odd jobs” during the busts.

    On the side, I was always creating strange new kinds of mathematics. Academic mathematics is mostly like poetry circle production. People work in “number theory,” “group theory,” endless varieties of calculus, etc, etc, etc. I always came up with stuff that was far from any of the established circles. When I would try to explain my stuff to academic mathematicians, they would routinely launch into a “that’s already been done” mode. On those occasions when I did convince them that what I was doing was not what they were trying to fit it into, they would become very disturbed. I still have fantastic stuff I did forty years ago that they don’t know about. Two years ago, I was reading some relatively routine mathematical article in some book at the university, and these people were struggling very painfully to do what the stuff I developed forty years ago could handle in a snap. Jesus!

    I have now put fifteen years into my current linguistics project. It’s been extremely successful by my very strict standards, but it’s been ridiculously difficult. Linguistics is strangely mathematical while being not like mathematics at all. I’m a bit sorry I got involved in it, even though it’s looking really good now. Just too much damn work!

    I am the only one who, to my knowledge, ever did what I do. There are people who challenge the theory of relativity, and do a lot of sort of goofy stuff, etc, but even those are quite rare. My best friends were always artists.

    Artists are people who do things for the sake of doing them. Art very nearly never pays! If you want to paint a picture, be prepared to spend a fortune if you want to work with decent media. Do not expect anything in return! Musicians too. I knew this nice woman who played a flute in big orchestras. It was nice having 300 people show up for performances, but her pay was absurdly minimal. And she had to practice half her life just to get that far. And she was a raving success! Dancers? forget it! I knew some that went to Julliard. There was absolutely zero money in it whatsoever. Or try making a living on poetry!
    Give it a shot!

    Well, maybe not!

  33. openly hidden

    my god blues but you must be freaky.

    i.e. “…On the side, I was always creating strange new kinds of mathematics…”

    so its been my experience that people either have what it takes to “do” calculus or they don’t. and most people don’t. i ended up with a C in calc 2 and realized no matter how much i studied math, i had limited potential. fortunately, in my grown-up real life, all i needed to know was addition to add up my profits or subtraction. i guess a general familiarity with beginning statistics has come in handy at times. i can’t imagine what your brains must look like blues. so you must be either a commodity trader or a card counter? congrats.

  34. the fool on the hill

    Artists are people who do things for the sake of doing them. Art very nearly never pays!

    Yeah well, why is that?

    Why did DaVinci paint the Mona Lisa?

    He had a commission!

    Shakespeare seemed to make a living at poetry. What would happen if Bach or Shakespeare reappeared today? You would tell them ‘Artists are people who do things for the sake of doing them. Art very nearly never pays’ and they would say, ‘screw that’ and go into investment banking.

    I’m 44.

  35. Shakespeare was the strangest creature in all of history. Absolutely nobody has any clue about who Shakespeare really was! Some scholars who should know suspect that maybe (s)he was a lot of different people. Many people think that the Shakespeare stuff was the greatest English literature ever (some complain that it wasn’t “literature”… oh well), and from what I seen, that could well be. Someone probably did have to eat to write all that stuff.

    There are exceptions, and some may get commissions. The zeitgeist of the “modern” world seems to show little interest in great art, unfortunately. But if you can do something, it’s likely you must do it. Just how it is.

  36. emsnews

    Shakespeare existed. He was real. Everyone who has tried to make him ‘unreal’ were people who believed no normal non-ruling class person could write so well.

  37. It was disconcerting to many that Shakespeare, whoever it was, did not seem to come from the top of the intellectual heap, and it may well be that (s)he was simply disappeared from history by the intellectual hot-shots of the period.

    Yet another thing; all of the Shakespeare plays (I’m pretty sure all) were available to, and loved, by the peasants of the time. This is yet another item that casts a cloud over the hubris of modernity. We do not have some Shakespeare that is loved by the unwashed. We have American Idol. Maybe people ignore history because they are inwardly aware that it’s been going backwards of late.

    About mathematics. The way it’s taught in formal settings is that it’s very logical and “it all makes perfect sense.” But if you really look into it, it’s totally mystical. Remember Pythagoras and Newton. The only way to deal with it is to just accept that you will never understand it all. To do otherwise would be like trying to learn baseball with the notion that you were learning to hit a home run every time.

    Beyond that, people should know that knowledge is hoarded more fiercely than gold. If you go to the doctor, you will be given information on a “need to know” basis only. Most people with any knowledge are most jealous of giving it up to others. I feel this behavior to be far less than respectable.

  38. isha

    Mike Jackson came, seen, conquered and he died… When Mike came to the scenes, the creative high cultures were still there, and he destoryed it and he died…RIP

  39. Simon

    Shakespeare did bawdy comedy and layered writing.
    In no way was his play “special” beyond middle school reading level

  40. emsnews

    Shakespeare did a hell of a lot more than that. And his plays do have subtlety.

  41. Simon

    This was only possible in a nascent language that had barely been born

  42. Simon

    In fact, most of the “great works of the world” are just high school reading 🙂 And cultural aggrandizement, of course

  43. emsnews

    Shakespeare created a great number of new words we use all the time…well, if we are educated and literate… 🙂

  44. Robert Sczech

    Michael Jackson died because he could not pay his debts amounting in total to hundreds of million of Dollars. The planned European concert tour was the last desperate attempt to satisfy the banks which were calling almost every day. The debt killed his health. There is no mystery to it.

  45. emsnews

    He spent money wildly due to lack of discipline. Many, many entertainers do this. Many athletes and entertainers die, bankrupt. Very few are like, say, Bob Hope.

  46. ”In fact, most of the “great works of the world” are just ”

    nothing we achieve is ‘just’ its all steps ,becomes part of our mental furniture, taken for granted . But each step was hard won ,cost a life.

  47. Simon

    “Easy come easy go”? 🙂
    They spent the money quick because it came to them with unnatural speed.

  48. Simon

    I had never read the Tess of the D’Ubervilles except in high school, and was feeling pretentious.

  49. creation and destruction….

    they are almost one in the same.

    Any wise country knows this.

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