Interesting how the death of Michael Jackson touches a nerve. I was in a grocery story yesterday when I found out and people were passing the news around. Such an incredible talent. Maybe, in retrospect, we all feel bad about all the things we once said. Did we have to be so nasty? I'm going to enjoy the tribute shows that are surely right now in the making. What a dancer...what a voice!
Michael Jackson's view of the Jews
Well, he was weird--had weird ideas about lots of things. Still, there's something mesmerizing about sheer talent. My husband doesn't understand it, but I am a fan--even have an album. I think his greatest talent was his dancing. His music is great mainly because it's so intensely danceable.
Yes, he sure could dance. He seems to exemplify the opposite of what philosophers generally consider to be a good life, to exemplify the tragedy of a life lived in worship of and in quest for false idols: beauty bought in plastic surgery, vanity and narcissism, the instant pleasure of drugs, fame without friendship or love, illicit and illegal sex again without love, a life surrounded by expensive toys, a failure to grow up (that is, to acquire or at least seek wisdom). It's very sad that our society magnifies and idolizes Michael Jacksons instead of those who seek wisdom or live good lives. It's equally sad that Michael Jackson let himself be trapped and destroyed by his own media image. R.I.P.
It must be intensely satisfying to be extremely talented--to experience incredible music and art coming out of you. So despite all the strangeness, maybe his life wasn't so bad. I'm not sure about wisdom as such a critical thing, despite how much philosophers like to go on about it. I actually think one of the dumbest thing ever said was "the unexamined life is not worth living."
Only the examined life gives you the option to decide whether the unexamined life is worth living or not. However, in the specific case of Michael Jackson, I doubt that anyone who abuses drugs as he did has a good life, not because I'm moralistic about drugs, but because the need to drug oneself is a sign of unhappiness or emptiness or not feeling good about oneself. Maybe Michael felt good about himself while performing, especially while receiving the feedback, the applause, of the crowd, but off stage, the self that nourished itself off of that applause, no longer existed and that emptiness overwhelmed him. At that moment perhaps a bit of self-examination would have done him good. In fact, all the natural winners who I know have faced moments in their lives when they felt lost and they either broke down completely, rethought their lives (the examined life) or sought help in therapists, who helped them to examine their lives. So it does seem that self-awareness almost inevitably plays a role in a good life.
I think when Socrates/Plato said the unexamined life is not worth living, he must have been thinking the examining itself was a crucial life ingredient. That's what I find dubious. Yes, it's often useful to be able to examine, but then you have to balance that against the sheer joy of being extremely talented...hearing great music coming out of your, dancing like that, etc. Maybe his highs were very high, even if his lows were low. It's possible, anyway. I hope so.
There's a line from an old song: "the going up was worth the coming down". Being one of those people who don't drink much because I fear the inevitable hangover, I haven't often experienced that, and of course the coming down comes after the going up, the hangover comes after the party, so one tends to remember the hangover, not the party or at least I do. However, it's certainly a valid life-option.
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