King of Pop

Like many I felt a wave of sadness at the death of Michael Jackson. It's amazing how certain iconic entertainers have come to fix themselves in our hearts, their music creating great big looping paths of emotional memory through the different stages of our lives, their passing leaving great big holes.

With Michael Jackson, I think it was more than just his music and dancing (which was pretty spectacular) that drew him so close to us. He had an amazing innocence and vulnerability (see the video of Will You be There on Youtube: In an industry which breeds on fantasy and artifice, he lived the biggest fantasy of all as a modern day Peter Pan, but I don't think he ever showed any artifice. In these days of fake celebrity it's a remarkable achievement and may have been his biggest attraction.

As Keith Olberman, showing a more philosophical side than his normal acerbic persona, commented on MSNB last night, his sudden death was also a humbling experience. Seeing his body transported off by helicopter wrapped in a plain white sheet was a reminder of the fragility of our time on this planet. Even the most larger than life figures leave in the simplest of fashions. It's a something to remember on those days when we get so caught up in the importance of our own lives.

After being hooked on the cable news coverage of his death for several hours, I flicked open a copy of the Bhagavad Gita and came across these words:

[Lord Krishna speaks] For, as the vast air, wandering world-wide,
Remains within the ether always
So these, my wandering creatures,
Are always within me.

These, when the round of ages is accomplished,
I gather back to the seed of their becoming:
These I send forth again
At the hour of creation.

Helpless all, for Maya (illusion) is their master,
And I, their Lord, the master of this Maya:
Ever and again, I send these multitudes
Forth from my being.

I somehow think Michael would like that.