When the Lyrical Muse Sings the Creative Pen Dances – Bright Skylark Literary Productions

If you’re a regular reader of my national African-American cultural arts column, you may have noticed that I have not been posting articles as frequently as I once did. The reason is simple enough. Having reached a certain point in the research for my current book-in-progress (at least one of them anyway) I had to reduce as many additional writing obligations as possible to fully concentrate on completion of the work.

For me, this is the part of authorship when the lyrical muse sings and the creative pen dances. The greater bulk of the more rigid tasks of verification and documentation have been satisfied, and imagination may be allowed to take over the processes of narrative construction. The resulting musical flow of image and language stamp the work with its own unique identity. And its own self-defined meanings destined to merge with different readers’ interpretations of the same.

The Writer and the Times

I started the national African-American cultural arts column on July 13, 2009, with a story about the debut of Johnny and Me, Savannah author Miriam K. Center’s play based on her friendship with the late 4-time Academy Award-winning composer Johnny Mercer. That was followed by a profile of acclaimed artist Jerome Meadows.

The next month, August, saw the launch of the controversial series on the trial (and eventual execution) of Troy Anthony Davis, convicted for the murder of Savannah policeman Mark Allen MacPhail.  Not writing about Davis’s trial, to my mind, would have been a case of gross negligence. Doing so was one early indication of what readers would discover over the next few years: basically, I found it impossible to restrict myself (as asked to do) to the subject of “the arts” as pertaining to African Americans.

Please check out the full post by clicking here: When the Lyrical Muse Sings the Creative Pen Dances – Bright Skylark Literary Productions

The Abbreviated Mind Faces ‘The King of Music’ Dilemma (part 1 of 2) – National African-American Art Examiner

Michael Jackson in the studio.

Michael Jackson in the studio. (Postered Poetics enhancement of pr release photo)

For those members of a given demographic made uneasy by the idea of eventually becoming just one more minority in America, an abbreviated mind taking note of the evolving dynamics could react with overwhelming fear. The carnage inflicted by Dylann Roof in Charleston, SC, just last month may be considered one such case. That demonstrated by the Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik in 2011 illustrates how analogous scenarios are playing out across the globe.

The idea and reality of losing previously-held political power and privileged authority based on racial domination could (some would say apparently does) encourage violence against those perceived of as a threat. Certainly the ongoing violence inflicted upon unarmed African-Americans by armed White-American policemen ––the latest most visible cases being that of Sandra Bland in Waller County, Texas, and Sam Dubose in Cincinnati, Ohio, does very little to suggest otherwise.

From the opposite end of the undulating spectrum, populations growing increasingly more powerful and reacting with abbreviated minds may, conceivably, develop a penchant for vindictive behavior. It is in fact wholly possible that the 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the choking death of Eric Garner in New York City, later followed by shootings of policemen described as “retaliatory,” are precise examples of the dynamics in question. Such scenarios, however, represent only a fraction of the kind of personal, local community, national, and global chaos that an abbreviated mind, especially when linked to intentional guerrilla decontextualization, can cause.

Periods of shifting demographics, along with the often overwhelming giant crashing waves of sudden historical events themselves, often create odd partnerships and dangerously extreme polarization. Fear of getting lost in the shuffle prompts many to abandon personal ethics for some semblance of security motivated by a heightened sense of raging and yet repressed anxiety.

To read the complete post by Aberjhani please click here
The abbreviated mind faces “The King of Music” dilemma (part 1 of 2) – National African-American Art | Examiner.com
.

Michael Jackson One Theater production. Video interview with director Jamie King.

Text and Meaning in Michael Jackson’s Xscape (part 5 of 5)

Art graphic for

“In more ways than one, his status as a ‘superstar’ served largely as a vehicle that allowed him to render as much service to humanity on as many levels as he could.”––Article Excerpt (Aberjhani) 


The lucky number seventh track on Xscape, “Blue Gangsta,” is the perfect musical metaphor for the would-be thug of steel who discovers he is as vulnerable to the anguish of a broken heart as anyone else. The L-O-V-E giveth and the L-O-V-E taketh away. 

The menacing progression of chords and scheming vocals that made “Smooth Criminal” so irresistibly sinister is brought to its knees in “Blue Gangsta.” With atmospheric rhythmic tension generated by snare percussions, violins, and anxious horns, Jackson’s voice with impeccable delivery creates a brooding drama of the heart:

“No where to run, no where to hide
All the things you said
And the things you’ve done to me
You can no longer make me cry…”

The song extends the album’s theme of love as a multifaceted adventure through great joy and sometimes equally great pain. In “Blue Gangsta” we view it from the painted perspective of a realist, as Jackson has done before in compositions that explore love’s less euphoric side. The title also gives a nod of respect to the musical genre most famous for lamenting shattered hearts: the classic Blues themselves.  


Xscape and Guerrilla Decontextualization

Tempo-wise, the title track of Michael Jackson’s second posthumous release holds its own with such fever-driven classics as “Don’t Stop ‘til You Get Enough, “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’,” and “Tabloid Junkie.”  That Rodney Jerkins worked extensively with Jackson on the original recording from 1999-2001 and was able to revisit it more than a decade later makes it easier to accept the contemporized version as something the megastar himself might have done.

Lyric-wise, the song “Xscape” documents the King of Pop’s nonstop battles with the forces of guerrilla decontextualization. As a black man who defined and redefined pop culture with virtually every album released during his solo career, Jackson was a prime target for those who used guerrilla decontextualization

to portray him in the media as a “whacko” or “pervert” rather than as the brilliant creative artist and exemplary humanitarian that he was.

For the full post by Aberjhani please click this link:

Text and Meaning in Michael Jackson’s Xscape part 5 of 5 – National African-American Art | Examiner.com.

 

Text and Meaning in Michael Jackson’s Xscape (part 1)

 

Graphic for article

“He talked always about giving love. It was never about how much love he got back.”––Antonio “L.A.” Reid discussing Michael Jackson, Xscape Documentary DVD

Any announcements of “new music” from Michael Jackson must necessarily and rightly be met with a healthy amount of skepticism.

Important questions have to be answered: Is this new music going to be something dug out of once-private vaults simply because of its guaranteed ability to stimulate cash-flow for all those who manage to attach their names to it?  Or will it emerge and stand as a true representation of Jackson’s certified brilliance and successfully extend the incandescent legacy of soul-nourishing rhythms and altruistic service he spent a lifetime creating?

The now much-discussed 17 tracks on the “deluxe edition” of the Xscape album allow listeners to consider such questions in depth. Eight “contemporized” versions of songs first recorded in the 1980s and 1990s are followed by original versions and a bonus track featuring Justin Timberlake. Critics have been close to unanimous in proclaiming the album’s musical excellence. How well does it serve the greater purposes established by Jackson himself in regard to his vision of his music and his life?

Visual Metaphors for the King of Pop

One thing was made very clear by early looks at the album’s cover image, by Mat Maitland of Big Active, and the poster, by Mr. Brainwash, that comes with some editions of the album. Both recognize Jackson in a way he often said he wished most to be remembered–– as a great artist. The poster by Mr. Brainwash (a.k.a. Thierry Guetta) gives us MJ rendered in a neo-expressionistic pop style reminiscent of works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, and Banksy all rolled into one. Surrounded by the titles of songs in different fonts against a seemingly shredded and splattered background, Jackson emerges as both a creator of enduring art and an indestructible force of it.

The ultra-modern image created by Mat Maitland for the cover drew boos and cheers when first revealed but it may in fact represent one of the better metaphors for the King of Pop ever offered. The upper portion of Jackson’s head extends out a slanted golden ellipse that could be a satellite dish, part of a speaker, a halo, or a portal.  To enjoy the complete post by Aberjhani please click this link: Text and Meaning in Michael Jackson’s Xscape (part 1) – National African-American Art | Examiner.com.

King of Pop Michael Jackson and the World Community – The Journey and the Rainbow

          Michael Jackson with Spanish translation of quote from article by Aberjhani.
(graphic art poster courtesy of Facebook Group Blues Away)

The book Journey through the Power of the Rainbow, Quotations from a Life Made Out of Poetry, contains a full chapter of quotes on Michael Jackson as well as the short essay which follows. Anyone interested in winning a free copy of the book is encouraged to check out the Goodreads widget at the end of the essay.

At least part of worldwide reading audiences’ growing familiarity with my work has to be attributed to the late “King of Pop” Michael Jackson. Although I started writing about Mr. Jackson’s life and legacy after in his death in 2009, I did not understand just how many people around the world had been taking note of those writings. Then it was brought to my attention that several full articles had turned up on multiple websites in the form of unauthorized translations into German, Italian, French, Spanish, Greek, Portuguese, and other languages. Given the ease with which Internet technology makes it possible to accomplish such linguistic feats––precision of the translation notwithstanding––I told myself it had been inevitable.

Technological ease was only part of the reason. Another very significant part was what I had sensed myself and what author and Minister Barbara Kaufmann had identified as the “spiritual emergency” into which Jackson’s fans around the globe had found themselves plunged upon his death. They had discovered little to no consolation within a mainstream media and sideline tabloid press that continued to employ guerrilla decontextualization to sensationalize and capitalize off distortions of the megastar’s image even as the worldwide community he left behind flailed about in a tsunami of unrelenting grief. 

Please enjoy the full post by Aberjhani at this link:

King of Pop Michael Jackson and the World Community – The Journey and the Rainbow.

Putting Text and Meaning to the Guerrilla Decontextualization test (pt. 1 of 2)

Dancers light up the stage in Cirque du Soleil's staging of

              The dancers of Cirque Du Soleil’s production of “Immortal,” based on the
music of Michael Jackson, light up the stage in Dubai. (photo courtesy of
GulfNews TV)

“He got kicked in the back
He say he needed that
He hot willed in the face
Keep daring to motivate…”
–– from the song History by Michael Jackson

 Upon the launch of the Guerrilla Decontextualization website in August 2012, the concept that inspired it was defined primarily in ultra-modern technological terms. Examples of the practice included the following: short clips from longer videos presented as definitive statements of an individual’s beliefs, photographs of private moments marketed for public entertainment, and statements made decades ago reported on the evening news as though they were made just a few hours earlier.

All were instances of events removed from their original context for the purpose of fulfilling an undisclosed agenda. The result often went beyond simple defamation of character, which is generally defined as any knowingly erroneous communication that damages an individual’s or organization’s reputation. By insidious contrast, guerrilla decontextualization usually involves partial truths made to look complete. It goes beyond simple defamation of character or slander because it sustains an entire culture devoted to manipulating public perception for the sake of financial, political, or social gain.

When Knowledge Becomes a Victim

What happens when history itself––as one lives, breathes, and knows it––is guerrilla decontextualized? How can history then provide authentic life-enhancing legacies if the person presenting it chooses to slant reality toward one angle or another because he or she prefers a version that makes his or her preferred demographic look more heroic? More humane? Or more worthy?

How could a guerrilla decontextualized history reveal that all individuals hold the potential––just as Nelson Mandela and ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Mother Theresa did––to bless the world with uncommon gifts of transformative vision, sacrifice based on a seemingly endless capacity for love, and leadership based on a titanic will to serve humanity to the best of one’s ability? The answer is it likely could not. Such an intentional misrepresentation would lay a foundation for perpetual chaos rather than one for enlightened responses to tragic circumstances. It would serve to create assumptions that too many would accept as valid “facts” until those “facts” crash head-on into what might be experienced as–– a revelation. Or as––a violent conflict of interests.

Please enjoy the full article by Aberjhani by clicking here:
Putting Text and Meaning to the Guerrilla Decontextualization test (pt. 1 of 2) – National African-American Art | Examiner.com.

Poetry Plus Journalism Equals What?  A Reconciliation of Sorts – by Aberjhani

Cover of first edition of I MADE MY BOY OUT OF POETRY featuring original art by celebrated New Orleans and New York artist Gustave Blache III.

Recently I found myself on the verge of crossing over from ambivalence into guilt due to the amount of time and creative energy devoted this year to online journalism and other forms of prose-writing as opposed to a more luxurious immersion into the rich flow of poem-making. There were actually at least two instances in 2012 when I managed to combine the genres: the first came in February when writing about the death of Whitney Houston and the second came, ironically enough, in August when writing about the life of one Michael Joseph Jackson.

Although the poems included with the stories can stand well enough on their own, the fact that they were generated by journalistic concerns instead of employed as an initial means to a necessary end in themselves made me feel somewhat negligent. After all, where journalism was concerned I had written stories on a variety of topics ranging from the creative arts to political battles. And I had even launched two major series projects–– Paradigm Dancing and Guerrilla Decontextualization.

Maybe remorse had crept up on me because in the beginning of my breath-taking literary adventures poetry had been my first great love and journalism a secondary acquired passion. An early reading of essays by Albert Camus, Ralph Ellison, and James Baldwin had hinted at the possibility of a sustainable marriage between the two.

This being the year America decides whether or not its first black president has earned enough love, trust, and respect to grant him a second term, failing to address the political dynamics of the hour journalistically has not proven a viable historical option. Therefore, I eventually arrived at that precipice of doubt and anxiety where I could hear poetry weeping that I had abandoned it while journalism proudly gloated over its ostensible dominance.  Had I been writing political poems––such as Claude McKay’s commanding “If We Must Die” or W.H. Auden’s “Spain 1937”–– I likely would not have experienced this crisis of literary conscience.  

For the full  post by Aberjhani please click the link:

Poetry Plus Journalism Equals What?                                      A Reconciliation of Sorts – Bright Skylark Literary Productions.