Dec 19 2010

Geniuses of the World: “What About Us?”

Category: Dreams,Justice,PhotosSeven @ 7:58 pm

Geniuses: What About 'Em?

Geniuses: What About 'Em?

My last post here was about Michael’s mentoring of Kobe Bryant, star player of the LA Lakers. Michael noticed that Bryant was catching hell for being “different“. Because he understood what Bryant was experiencing, Michael contacted Bryant and began to offer him friendship and encouragement, to teach him what it takes to stay focused, work hard, ignore the naysayers and detractors, and to go to the pinnacle of success and beyond – to achieve perfection.

Besides that article from Kobe Bryant, there have been others that have come to my attention recently that discuss how having a particular notable talent or skill while being “different” than the status quo can mean one is possessed with some level of genius in one area or another, be it music, sports, writing, painting, filmmaking, storytelling, dance or whatever ignites an unstoppable passion in a person while causing them to be looked askance at by society for being “different” than “everybody else” and for not “fitting in“. The impassioned “genius” may lack social skills, stutter, be painfully shy, seem aloof, even seem dumb in some ways, dress differently than others, having their own sense of style and what is important in life. They see the world in ways that most of us do not or can not.

This is another area where I have personally connected with Michael, having never been considered “normal” or having never “fit in” much of anywhere myself, and having always been considered “odd“, and an outcast. I never had many friends because I didn’t share the same interests as others my age or others of my sex. I have a creative talent or two and guess what my family and friends think of them? They don’t. They never have. They never will. As for family, I think they just hope that if they ignore it, it will go away. And in fact it did and I went with it. Oh I love my family and they love me. But in no way, shape, form or fashion do they begin to understand me. I was and still am to some extent painfully shy (my writing skills far exceed my social ones) and I still have a skin disease that I was teased for as a kid, and many times if I mentioned my dream to friends or family, I got laughed at or completely ignored. I’m the “crazy aunt” to my sister’s kids – the “weird” one in the family. My own father never wanted anything to do with me because I didn’t live my life in the way that he approved or understood. So, I understand being a weird outcast amongst the society and family in which I live, and being lambasted, negatively defined, attacked, ganged-up on, speculated about, and abused because of it. If I was really lucky, I was just ignored.

Now, I’m not saying I’m any genius, far from it! But I do know what it feels like to be “different” and to not fit in anywhere, to be painfully shy, to “look funny“, and to have a gift that is screaming to be developed and given to a world that doesn’t begin to understand the human being behind it, or even to care about that person unless it’s to negatively define them for fun and profit, or because they feel threatened by them. When society does not understand something (including a person), they fear and thus want to either control or destroy it, just like they did to Michael Jackson. The world doesn’t mind taking their gifts, but it too often seems to have no use for the human beings from which they emanate – denigrating, destroying, then tossing them overboard like so much trash. Sort of like the wrapper off of a candy bar. This is how and why it’s so easy for artists, musicians, sports stars, writers, etc. to be abused by those who are responsible for managing and marketing their talents, and further denigrated by a media hellbent on making profits by telling sensationalist lies about them. And the rest of society just eats it all up, the gifts and the lies, rarely ever considering the human being behind them – until well after they’re gone from this life.

There is an article that asserts Michael may have been the reincarnation of Mozart. Now, I don’t know that I subscribe to that but it speaks about similarities between the two musical geniuses and suggests that perhaps even Michael himself thought that possible. I’ve never heard of him mentioning such but according to this article, he did use “W.A. Mozart” as an alias when he wrote “Happy Birthday Lisa” for an episode of the Simpsons. Michael could be quite silly though, so this could have simply been some silliness on his part.

Other similarities in the article are listed as follows:

  • Both were born the seventh child in a very musical family.
  • Both were musically talented from a very early age. Mozart had mastered his first keyboard piece just before his fifth birthday; he was the toast of Viennese society by age 7 and soon became a child star all over Europe. By age 8 Jackson had already taken over singing lead vocals in the Jackson 5. He was deemed a prodigy with “overwhelming musical gifts”.
  • Both missed out on a normal childhood, spending the entire time immersed in a punishing regime of practicing, touring and performing, all imposed by a strict father. Mozart’s father believed that it was his God-given duty to exhibit his talented children throughout Europe, giving at least one performance a day, though this almost cost the boy his life on several occasions. Michael Jackson was physically, verbally and emotionally abused by his father from a young age, enduring beatings and even whippings. However, he also credited his father’s strict discipline as playing a large part in his success.
  • Both later fell out with their father and went their own way. Mozart’s ambivalent attitude towards his father continued to dominate his private and professional life as an adult.
  • Despite periods of great financial success, both were prone to extravagant over-spending and later struggled with debt.
  • Both maintained a child-like personality in adulthood.
  • Both enjoyed dressing flamboyantly and keeping a variety of pets.

The article also points out that “Mozart was described as small, thin and pale with large, intense eyes and a soft speaking voice which could be very powerful when required. All the same could easily be said of Michael Jackson. Bear in mind also Michael Jackson’s penchant for flamboyant 18th century European-style costumes.”

And then there’s this article written in 2009, which I was quite impressed with. It’s called: No One Who Was Normal Ever Made History: A Tribute to Michael Jackson.

The author says:

Very few people could understand Michael’s enigmatic life, and I’m not suggesting that I’m unique in that regard. However, as a student of history, what I do understand is that Michael’s life, when considered within the broader scope of highly creative people throughout history, was not really that unusual after all.

For instance, let’s consider Friedrich Nietzsche, the German existentialist born in 1844. Throughout his life, he was continually frail and plagued with illness, a consummate recluse, an alcoholic and considered very controversial for his day. His ideas on God made him a complete outcast to the conservative majority of his day. In college, I devoured Nietzsche mostly because he was provocative and deep. I also thought it was cool to be controversial. “That which does not kill us makes us stronger” became my mantra. Ultimately, Nietzsche suffered a psychotic breakdown, had two strokes which partially paralyzed him and died of pneumonia, still in his 50s.

Consider Walt Whitman, the nineteenth-century transcendentalist poet who continues to be one of the most influential poets in the world today. Yet in his time, many thought him to be a madman. His homosexuality or possible bisexuality just didn’t fly in the Civil War years. He refused to commit himself to any one religion, stating that all were equally valuable. He spent considerable time alone, and after suffering a stroke near the end of his life, he was too weak to even lift a fork and knife. He wrote, “I suffer all the time: I have no relief, no escape: it is monotony — monotony — monotony — in pain.” He died of pneumonia as well.

In the realm of religion, consider the Christian prophet, the man known as Jesus. He was born of Jewish descent, and yet he was constantly breaking Jewish laws and butting heads with the religious leaders of his own heritage. Jesus too is documented on several occasions as going off by himself and spending significant time in solitude. In one particular case, he spent 40 days and nights in the desert fasting. Pretty extreme. As you know, he was ultimately sentenced to death by crucifixion.

The point is that those who leave a major impact on the world are not marching to the same drum as the mass majority.

They often, as with Michael, live controversial and turbulent lives, and they’re often greatly misunderstood. Isn’t it unfortunate that if someone is 10 feet ahead, they’re considered a leader, but if someone is 10 miles ahead, a target? Michael certainly had his share of playing the target for the media. It’s easy to take shots at those at the top, particularly if they’re “different enough.”

Even though Michael was acquitted on all counts in his court cases, it didn’t matter. He would still be plagued with negative comments and jabs. The very creativity that brought the moonwalk, highly produced choreography and music that emotionally moved all ages and races was the same unique mind that drove him to live a very different life that defied societal norms.

In a nutshell, when you’re a unique thinker, you have a very hard time relating to mass consciousness. Small talk becomes painful, and your inner world more fulfilling than your outer world. This results in behavior that’s often misinterpreted as being aloof, arrogant or sometimes downright weird, which is too bad because people have no idea how very lonely it can be at the top. Furthermore, the contributions of many of these leaders are often never appreciated until long after they’re gone.

It’s a shame that our indifferent, narrow-minded, rigidly conformist society, infected by a mob mentality, and saddled with a ‘profit-at-any-cost‘ media manages to crucify anyone with a gift who is “different” than “the rest of us“. It would be a true evolutionary feat if we could learn to love our “odd” geniuses when they’re with us as much as we love the gifts they bestow upon us — instead of chewing them up and spitting them into their graves while some psychopathic corporate entity or other – before the body is even cold – proceeds to manipulate a steady profit stream off of their posthumous work for decades.

I’ll keep hoping and dreaming that some day, humans will evolve beyond this knuckle-dragging “be like us and fit in or we’ll destroy you!” mob mentality, as well as its insidious, incessant greed and jealousy. After all these years and after having witnessed the brutalized life and suspicious death of the gentlest genius I’ve ever known in my own lifetime – Michael Jackson – I’m cynically uncertain we’re capable of it.

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32 Responses to “Geniuses of the World: “What About Us?””

  1. carina for mjj says:

    Thank you David for the link to the delightful MJ-song&Mjversion of “Lisa it´s your birthday”.
    A ray of joy while in the midst of gloomy prospects re Mj in the near future.I am particularly distressed over Sony ,they have been busy removing MJJ`s music and videos from the Youtube here.
    So far “Lisa it´s ..” can still be found thanks to you.Now they OWN him 100% it seems.How come?

  2. fee says:

    Seven, this article is very insightful and true. It is a sad world that we live in when people of genius are beat down because of fear, jealousy, and are misunderstood. Thank you for these wonderful articles that you supply in your labor of love for our Michael.