Tuesday, July 14, 2009

An Aesthetic Singularity

As he always does, Pinocchio Blog goes deeper than most into the tragic life and death of Michael Jackson:
The point of a successful aesthetic singularity is that it crosses over directly into the form of the universal, without all those mediations that usually come between. Something is so absolutely unique (even when we can trace all the sources from which it arose) and so absolutely, achingly, joyously or heart-wrenchingly right, or just itself, that it becomes a kind of universal value. (In philosophical terms, this is what Kant was getting at with his insistence upon the universal communicability of an aesthetic judgment devoid of cognitive principles and rules; or what Badiou is getting at when he speaks of an event; or what Deleuze was getting in his account of what he called “counter-actualization”). There was a kind of crack or a rupture, something absolutely inimitable in the way it was inscribed in Michael Jackson’s own body, and proliferated throughout that body’s performance. But balanced on the edge in this way, always just short of collapse, it was something that resonated with “everybody” (and in Michael Jackson’s case, the empirical extent of this "everybody" was larger than it had ever been before, and larger, probably, than it will ever be again, at least in any future continuous with our present).
It was good to read this a couple of weeks after the fact, now that the post-death media spectacle itself has died down. When the death came into public view, I was living in a place with no Internet or cable TV which was a kind of Godsend.

One thing about Michael that Pinocchio Blog also points out is that the kind of aesthetic singularity that he represented and the way he located a global "everybody" as his audience (in the same way that, say, The Beatles, did) can never really happen again in Internet culture with its niche marketing and fragmented yet still semi-linkable communities of interest. No matter what you may have thought of his talent or monstrously physical transformation over the latter years of his life, there will never again be a superstar like Michael Jackson in any of our lifetimes.

Where were you in 82?

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