July 05th, 2009

Like A Virgin: Touched for the Very Last Time

“Without obsession, life is nothing.” –John Waters

 

While Americans are doing what Americans do best with their grief — shopping — the French are analyzing and dissecting.

Americans purchased so many Michael Jackson albums last week that Billboard‘s top three spots are currently held by erstwhile Jackson classics. Bug-eyed and ga-ga with tabloid-fueled news shows, each of which continue to beam soundbites of the macabre into the atmosphere every fifteen minutes, we can’t seem to turn off the TV. Meanwhile the French are interpreting Michael Jackson’s existence through a fascinating semiotic lens.

The philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy wrote a Baudelaire-like analysis on Jackson’s life that was translated last week over on Huffington Post. It’s crazily titled The Three Stations of the Cross in Michael Jackson’s Calvary. And it’s a mesmerizing read; incantational with dramaturgical word play.

Too, there is a particularly fascinating quote related to Jackson that was lifted from Michel Houellebecq‘s book Platform that’s circulating the internet as well. I’ve garnered more insight about Jackson from these two gentleman’s short interpretations than a week’s worth of Nancy Grace and her yapping ilk.

Both men inadvertently address what happens when the sign Virgo has its fundamental impulse go awry. Thwarted or mutated, Virgo’s admirable call to purity becomes downright phantasmagoric.

Michael Jackson, as I’ve noted earlier, was a Sun conjunct Pluto Virgo. Unless given almost shamanic-like life training, Sun Pluto individuals approach existence from an impetus that most of us can barely fathom. And if we can’t understand it, imagine what it must be like for them to actually live it.

When Pluto’s aura veils any of the personal planets, especially by conjunction or opposition, the individual becomes an accessory to deviant dreams and obsessional compulsions. Phobic of death, covetous of power, and awed by the sort of concentrated mega-wealth that’s usually associated with organized crime (Plutocrats anyone?), society just doesn’t know what to do when Pluto rears his head and begins infecting what should be, in the Sun’s case, the direct expression of one’s being-ness, one’s existence and the search for his or her vocation. With Pluto riding the Sun’s beams we have — well — Michael Jackson was a larger than life example of a Virgo Sun gone Pluto-maniacal.

Levy, in his essay, calls this the “great contamination of things.” When Virgo short circuits — zap — the surrounding world, the very realm that Virgo tries to purify and then differentiate from, becomes a threat. Levy writes: “Not only, as has been said, was it viruses, germs, and bacteria. But life itself as a germ. The living as a bacterium. Matter, objects, and the very air he breathed as soon as he ventured beyond his dear Neverland became a source of infection, pestilence, a macabre obsession…”

Levy describes the hyperbaric chamber (remember when those photos of Jackson surfaced?) where Michael would ‘recharge’ as a kind of gizmo that ultimately became a “preparatory part of a funeral ritual.” A literal Pluto-Sun-Virgo-like sarcophagus.

‘Other’ ultimately becomes a problem for the hyper-hybrid Virgo. As the sign preceeding Libra, Virgo has an attraction-repulsion reaction to the notion of relationship. Within their bubble of self-monitored and categorized reactions to life, Virgo longs for human intervention. A metamorphosis arrives, fully complete, in Libra. But not without trepidation and hyper-anxiety for Virgo.

All of the mutable signs struggle with this magnetic but ambivalent pull towards the sign they proceed. But no sign seems to suffer as much turmoil as Virgo. This back and forth ambiguity can be taxing and often reaches a demarcating distancing, as in Greta Garbo‘s famous: “I want to be let alone.” Garbo radiated Virgo’s beguiling sphinx-like aura to the maximum. In fact, hermetic autonomy is the virgin’s idee fixe. A system utterly complete unto itself. Virgos don’t really need others but they’re infected by Libra’s notion of others as a life path. And so life, as other — as people, comes leaking in.

As the purest expression of the Virgo myth, take Jesus’s mother Mary. She accomplished the miracle of all miracles via the immaculate conception. She maintained her virgin state and yet bore a child. Michael Jackson attempted something similar. No one really knows who the father of his children are. Or for that matter the mother. Or rather, where the eggs came from that his ‘wife’ Debbie Rowe incubated.

As Levy puts it: “This reincarnation of Peter Pan sincerely thought, for example, that children were made without anyone touching. This incomplete adult feeds the mad dream — and, in a certain way, fulfilled it — of having his own sons without contact, and almost without a mother…Desire without concupiscence… Which, at the very least, shows the absurdity of the witch trials conducted against him the last ten years of his life which were like an endless persecution. Michael Jackson did not want to be a child; he wanted to be a saint. Or an angel. And angels, as we know, don’t have a sex. Or only have one in the imagination of the perverted who project onto them their own fantasies.”

In the quote from his book, Michel Houellebecq’s interpretaton of Jackson is bizarre and trenchant. It took me a spell to digest his meaning. But when I started to view Michael through his Pluto Sun conjunction, it clicked. Houellebecq’s wrote:

“All humanity instinctively tends toward miscegenation, a generalized, undifferentiated state, and it does so first and foremost through the elementary means of sexuality. The only person, however, to have pushed the process to its logical conclusion is Michael Jackson, who is neither black nor white anymore, neither young nor old, and, in a sense, neither man nor woman.”

This is Pluto married to the Sun. Pluto can inflate the Sun’s natural egoic expression to the point where entitlement and exemption enter the realm of the megalomaniacal. And the ultimate expression, or rather distortion, is a kind of human transmutation. In Jackson’s case the earthy, body-based Virgo part of the equation seemed obliterated — what was left was not man or woman, not black or white, not dead or alive.

When the Plutonic drive malfunctions, as it is liable to do when a human being attempts to actually live out a myth, there can be a Frankensteinian blow-back. When you consider Michael’s appearance towards the end of his life — insubstantial, otherworldly and cadaveir-like — coupled with his desire for the sort of drugs administered to mimic the death-like trance of anesthesia, you see the fallout of a malfunctioning Pluto Sun compulsion. One becomes a sort of mascot of death itself. And Michael started transmutating the limits of being human, years ago, when he began to rearrange his face.

Levy concludes: “The mad metamorphosis that he impressed on his face and the repeated plastic surgeries that he inflicted on himself over the course of his life are utterly misunderstood if reduced to a matter of pigmentology — race, anti-race, self-hate, malaise, unease in his own skin, this reason or that. Look at his photos. Look at this epidermis essentially becoming whiter and whiter, almost like living limestone. Notice this nose reduced to almost nothing, these lips eaten away from the inside, these narrowed cheekbones like those of a Jivaro mask or a Giacometti rendering. Look closely at these dwindled features, this shrinking skin, these eyes that only seem to sit in his skull like a ring on a skeleton’s finger…

Either you reinvent what is considered human, become truly trans-human, and create a genetically modified organism, a GMO. Or you die.”

Opening photograph of: Jeff Koon’s sculpture, Michael Jackson and Bubbles. (1988) Porcelain/ceramic blend. Broad Contemporary Art Museum at the LACMA


12 Responses to 'Like A Virgin: Touched for the Very Last Time'
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  • Gary Kent

    What a read. Thanks Frederick for helping fill in so many blanks. The world’s biggest star, the world’s biggest enigma: Jackson really did fly miles above the normal.

  • Lexi Levy

    Absolutely breathtaking! The best yet to date of an amazingly accurate and understandingly description of this world icon and universal legend. Tons of thanks.

  • kelly

    never, never land.

  • http://personalsaga.blogspot.com DavidMichaelSmith

    Human existence is enigmatically grotesque enough all on its own without adding all those Jacksonian embellishments. I’d love to see a holographic projection of his thoughts. If that’s what they were.

  • http://ca.youtube.com/cellibelle Cellibelle

    Thank you, Frederick, for the many insights. A great article. And for what it’s worth, the Sabian symbol for Michael’s Pluto at 3 degrees Virgo, is “Two guardian angels offering protection”. How ironic….and comforting. Rest in peace, Michael.

    Lynn

  • http://www.astro4business.com Ellen Longo

    Thank you, Frederick. Reading your article made me wonder about something I wrote on my blog, astro4business.com, the day after Michael’s death. I wrote:

    “The first [observation from his chart] is the incredible hard work and discipline it took to achieve what he did. His talents were so vast and by the time we saw him on stage they had been honed to a level that they looked absolutely natural, as if they poured from him fully perfected. Even in the early clips of him as a child he has such a natural stage presence that I somehow thought he was born with those moves. The sense I got from the chart was how much he worked behind the scenes, the hours and hours of writing, dancing, working out, rehearsal, costume designing, event planning, and everything else that came together to give the illusion of seamlessness by the time we saw him on stage.”

    Now, after reading you, I wonder if, behind the scenes, he was obsessively rehearsing and reaching for Virgoan perfection. Do you think Pluto/Sun conjunction played a behind-the-scenes role in the massive display of his talent?

  • http://none Nancy Lambert

    Frederick,
    I peresonally feel that Michael was so much like his father Joe, that Joe became jealous of him and beat him out of pure jealously. His father being a leo, and Michael only 8 days into virgo already passing through leo, was way ahead of his father. In my book, I believe Joe killed Michael when he was still a child.I almost feel joe might have payed the doctor to kill Michael so he couldn’t make a come back, knowing he would never see another dime again from his empire.
    I also feel like the leo side of Michael, needed no security on this planet, yet the virgo, being a materialistic sign, needed all the things he didn’t get as a child, such as animals and other children to play with on his ranch.
    I watched the funeral, and saw how no one would even acknowledge Joe. He finally sat down and din’t get up again to greet any of the stars that had something to say.
    Just like Howard Stern, in Anna Nichole’s death, I feel he killed the son that Nichole loved more thatn life, tried to claim the new born little girl for the money and now look, he’s left with nothing but court dates. It’s all about the little children who don’t know what’s going on. Paris was told what to say at the end to cover up as though her daddy was good. She hardly ever saw him and I think at 11 she’s glad it’s over.
    Sorry to have written so much, but youv’e got the whole thing wrapped up in a nut shell.
    Keep up the good work you’ve started.
    Sincerely,
    Nancy

  • MB

    Frederick, you offered a very interesting read on MJ and the Sun-Pluto person. I have a question. You wrote: “Unless given almost shamanic-like life training, Sun Pluto individuals approach existence from an impetus that most of us can barely fathom.” What does this mean? How does the Sun-Pluto person find such training or what steps could such a person take in order to rise above the “Pluto-maniacal” manifestations of such a combination?

    Thank you.

  • Frederick

    Hi MB

    In working with clients over the years I’ve noticed those with pronounced Pluto/Sun contacts do best when consciously confronting and integrating the classic Pluto impulses: the death process (people working in hospitals, hospice arrangements), emergency rooms, or depth psychology-oriented therapists. To name a few examples.

    There’s a ‘do or die’ orientation to Sun Pluto types, so this needs a constructive outlet. Of course none of the planetary types are ‘personal’ per se, though Pluto seems to feel particularly impersonal. Which is fitting, death, when ‘it’ arrives, doesn’t really tap you on the shoulder and ask you if you’re ready to ‘make the journey’ Death is a culmination point to a cycle; you can’t un-cook cooked meat, so to speak.

  • MB

    Frederick,

    Thank you for taking the time to respond.

  • kiwi

    I have sun conjunct pluto in libra 3 degrees and I feel fine.

  • http://www.astrologiaarquetipica.com Cristina

    Frederick, I just saw your post about Michael Jackson, tracking what I wrote about him.
    Well put and beautifully written. I particularly like the comparison with virgen Mary. That’s is exactly how it was. Him being a Virgo Sun -Pluto, with Moon in Pisces, he really enacted that archetype of Christ and his mother. Good one!
    I’ve also written about his Sun-Pluto side, since everyone seems to speak about Michael Jackson as if he was just a Pisces, forgetting his incredible Plutonian obsession and power of conviction.
    He seduced and manipulated that Dr. Murray to provide him with the medicines he wanted, playing to die, every night, to wake up following morning.
    Still, he has given us his last gift: the awareness of the abuse of doctor in medicine, of their prescription power.
    Am an Astrologer and a dancer, and I will never forget Michael Jackson.