June 27, 2009
Posted: 08:50 PM ET
By Sridhar Pappu via Forbes online
They aren't mourning the man. Not really. How could they? Mourners are gathering in Los Angeles and New York and elsewhere, weeping over the death of a man they never met, never spoke with, never had any intimate connection to. Yet in the end we knew very little about Jackson, and what we knew was dark and troubling. Hell, what we knew of him is damn right horrifying. You couldn't love Michael Jackson–not the man. But you could love what he once meant to you, what he brought to you, what the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins meant when he wrote:
Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?....
It was the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.
No, they are mourning a moment. It's a moment now more than 25 years old when a man-child, born from Motown Soul, finally shed the image of his brothers, the afro, Gary, Ind., and the cartoon show, and came onto the screen to reinfuse pop with a kind of energy the world had never seen, and may not have since. Particularly for those of us in our 30s for whom "Thriller" was the first record or tape we ever owned, Michael Jackson was our introduction to real music, to that particular electricity one feels when something you've never heard before wraps around your whole body, with you on the other end never wanting it to let go.
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