Inner Michael » Soulspeak: Let it Simmer

Soulspeak: Let it Simmer

The soul arranges semiotic and sycnchronistic events to get our attention and draw into our consiousness, a constellation of energies and a mysterious convergence so that some aspect of our soul-in-potential can manifest and be embodied in our life at that moment. It is mysterious, and sacred and appears magical when the soul engages cosmic forces to make visible some invisible aspect of our soul. That moment can come in the form of an illustration by an event, a person, a conveyance of some kind, that seeks to stir the soul, only to awaken, to enlighten, or somehow make visible some form of soulspeak whisper that takes us somewhere else. We need only acknowledge it, attend to it, and act upon it in a conscious manner.

Soulspeak is a real language. While the soul has many voices, they are quiet, and it communicates mostly in metaphorical “whispers” heard and seen most clearly I think, in semiosis and synchronicity. Art is symbolic and by its very nature… must convey a message.

When you observe a painting or photograph, do you just look at it and form an opinion whether you like or dislike the piece? And then do you vocally give your opinion, thereby discharging the energy so that you can move on to the next exhibit and the next and the next?

Or do you engage with the artform? Some art slams its way into the space, into the psyche. It whams. Some worms its way in. When you engage with art, do you let it wash over you? Speak to you? Pull you in? Play with you? Tickle your fancy? Pique your curiosity? Slam into your solar plexus? Assault your sensibilities? Do you breathe it in? Let it become discordant inside you? Have it set your teeth on edge? Allow it to play your bones? Let it haunt you? Grab you by the back of the neck? Or even let it penetrate and have its way with you?

By way of example: As a wordsmith, my canvas is the blank page, my mind is the smudge pot and the medium to paint with is “words.” And hopefully something of interest is conveyed to you or perhaps something I think should be of interest. I have many voices at my disposal- the voice of reason, of dissent, of intrigue, of enthusiasm, of disdain, of satire, of alarm, of admiration, of incredulity, of inspiration…

For the artist a soulspeak is something like this…

Touching Words

Do you ever stop
and feel the caress of a word?
Let it shiver
across your cheek
and down the back of your neck?

Do you ever let it tap-dance
upon your spine
or play each vertebrae
as the ivory keys of a piano
climbing to crescendo?

Do you ever let it sink
beneath the fortress of your skin
and unfold its limbs
upon your aching muscles?

Do you tear into it like a present,
or let it tiptoe out of its chrysalis
and flutter around your ribcage?

Do you ever drink it like wine
and let it swim through your blood?

Or let it cry
through the porous shell of bone
into the uncultivated vitality
tucked away in our marrow
waiting for the moment
when we will actually start living?

Do you ever let it transform
your body from noun to verb?

(c) 2010 Jenna Wittaker,
Graduate Student and Voices/Inner Michael “Violence and Words” Curriculum Librarian

I love what Jenna did with words to say what words can say. What they can do. And that is how I want you to hear my words! That is how I want you to feel having engaged with me.

Now translate that to Michael’s art. What was Michael’s art? Oh, just everything about him. His art was: his song, his lyrics, his dance, his movement, his sense of timing, his message, his avant garde approaches, his use of fame to convey a message, his sensibilities about life, his fearless daring and bold execution, his sense of humor, his fashion sense, his style, his photo shoots, his sense of adventure, his ability to grab and hold attention, his body, and yes… his face.

An easier question might be: “What about Michael was not art?” The mistake the world made, regarding Michael Jackson, was that it saw him simply as an entertainer– a singer, songwriter, dancer, performer and recording artist. That’s like saying “Disney makes movies.” Disney is imagination and magic embodied in art. Michael had a flair for the dramatic and he always said: “Let it simmer.” Michael’s art was high art. Let me repeat that… High art.

So, the question for his audience became “Can you take the heat?” Can you simply be with a work of art—a work that you don’t understand? Can you allow it to play loudly or softly in your consciousness? Let it trickle into the dark and protected places? Can you live with the dissonance of it inside you? And can you let it simmer?

There were those who could and did. Some of them “got it.” And those who didn’t “get it” at least “got Michael.” But there were others who not only didn’t get it, but rid themselves of the dissonance by projecting their discomfort onto Michael. And it became important to find something to condemn him with or condemn him for and then quickly moving on to the next thing that came and the next, and the next… When the first questionable thing came along in his life, instead of asking the critical questions about who and what and motivation and means, they jumped on it seizing the opportunity to condemn this enigma whom they could not understand.

To vilify someone you don’t understand is an old game. Having contempt for someone and throwing to the lions, someone who makes you uncomfortable because you are roused from some kind of sleep that you can’t yet identify, is an ancient gladiator sport. To mock someone helps take the focus off of the discomfort within and is especially effective in relieving the tension when it is directed at that chafing source of discomfort. Making someone “different” or “bizarre” is a modern punishment that history called “banishment” or “excommunication.” Even if it’s for our own good and the dissonance makes us grow beyond complacency, we still don’t like that arousal. We still want to kill the messenger.

Good gurus shake the complacency with a teeth-rattling challenge. Pioneers startle those who would follow by their novel or even outrageous ideas. Unforgettable artists think out-of-the-box, to forbear and foursquare with results that are anything but cubical. The best teachers rouse their students’ ire and draw fire to douse a monotone complacency. Some really good writers and artists are consummate provocateurs. Michael Jackson was all of the above.

And it was all for soul: Individual, collective, planetary. This piece is one of his deepest soulspeak pieces. What he says quietly in the art and genius of this Arno Bani photograph is… well, forget the words for now; first let it simmer. Go back to Jenna’s poem and follow her advice.


  1. Jan said . . .

    My Lord, that photo is amazing – remarkable – extraordinarily revealing. Look at the articulation, the highlights and shadows, the underlying bone structure, the prominence of the veins in the neck and the hollow at the joining of the collarbones. It’s almost like he has discarded the need for skin – for flesh. It’s like his spirit is thinly-concealed beneath a fine layer of transparency. The pallor of the skin is outlined and accentuated by the black hair, eyebrows, eyelashes and satin/silk and silver mirror-like circles.

    Does is make me itch? Definitely! Does it make me uncomfortable? Somewhat, yes. Look at the way the light plays with his hair, his cheekbones, the bridge of his nose. The shiny blue circle around his eye! Blue is the color of the throat – of communication – of speech and conveying meaning and emotion symbolically, isn’t it? He is so incredibly beautiful – like finely-chiseled marble or alabaster – a da Vinci or Michelangelo polished and buffed to pristine perfection! It is tranquility in motion, manic movement at rest. Contradiction and dichotomy! Stunning! Soulspeak? Absolutely! As in everything he did.

    Posted July 11, 2010 at 2:09 am | Permalink
  2. Theresa said . . .

    Jan described the photo really well. Extraordinary artist and photographer to say so much with one photo. I still see the boy in the man when I look at Michael. I always think he did not do as much to his face as so much media sources like to claim. He was a beautiful boy who became a beautiful man. “Quicksilver in motion” captured in an instance. Thank you once again, Barbara, for capturing the essence of Michael’s effect on all people.

    Posted July 11, 2010 at 11:45 am | Permalink
  3. Jeanne said . . .

    I could not stop staring. This artwork is beautiful. Yes it does sizzle, quite comfortably. I felt this word Michael always used: Escapism. Thats what I felt. Or like an out of body experieance. No body weight , no weight at all. Out there where it is quieter, where you can think with no distractions, no not think at all– just feel. Bliss thats it, I’ve name it; Blissful escapism. This feels so good doesn’t it? I think it is quite hypnotic isnt it? I want to decorate. This is great inspiration. I want to create this atmosphere at my next event. I am going to do this on my birthday. In the past I have allways done something with flair, loud and exciting. This year I will go the opposite way around because of this beauty; I want to create more beauty. Wow I cannot thank you enough for this. Stunning.

    Posted July 11, 2010 at 5:53 pm | Permalink
  4. Charlene said . . .

    Right this minute I am simply……speechless. Yes, I must let it simmer. Thank you for touching my soul with your words! High art, indeed…

    Posted July 11, 2010 at 6:27 pm | Permalink
  5. lmt said . . .

    I just keep staring at Michael’s face. So beautiful. And I wonder what is percolating in his mind. He’s like a canvas, or maybe a mirror,silently offering himself as a target– Multiple little mirrors, like pairs of eyes, cover him just as they did throughout his life. This photo reminds me of Michael’s “Is it Scary”—what do you see? Monster? Truth and Honesty? He is who we are. Genius is humbling.

    Posted July 11, 2010 at 6:53 pm | Permalink
  6. gertrude said . . .

    I love this so so much and am feeling a kind of ecstacy mixed with the pain of having been beaten for so long in so many ways for that sparkling blue circle that always manages to sneak out of me and identify me for hearing the different drummer I always inevitably do. This is one reason Michael came here – to say to all of us kindred with him – this is who you really are and it is beautiful. Do not bow down. It is through people like Michael and you, Barbara, that the pain of those beatings is released into the ecstacy of acceptance and permission I find here, and with Michael.

    Posted July 11, 2010 at 7:43 pm | Permalink
  7. Anne Mette Jepsen said . . .

    Beautiful Rev. Kaufmann – MJ is High Art for all the senses. Experiencing him enlightens our souls. Let it simmer! Thank you. LOVE and GRATITUDE 🙂

    Posted July 11, 2010 at 9:25 pm | Permalink
  8. Heidi said . . .

    Jan, Theresa, Jeanne, Charlene, Imt, Gertrude, Anne, your comments were as soul-inspiring and majestic as the subject itself! Such enlightenment! I thank you all for uplifting me with YOUR soul-speak!!!

    Posted July 12, 2010 at 12:55 am | Permalink
  9. Kim said . . .

    All I can say is that it’s beautiful, stunning and mesmerizing. WOW Michael! I will be need to read your words again though, so I can really absorb this.Thank you for sharing.

    Posted July 12, 2010 at 2:55 am | Permalink
  10. Heidi said . . .

    I’m seeing an entire universe captured here. In studying his face you can see a God-force (don’t get mad anyone… you know what I mean) a central figure of KNOWING, wisdom, love. Clear, translucent, all colors mixed together in the purity that is referred to as the color white. Below and all around are circles, the symbol of eternity, looking like hundreds of planets moving about the central figure. [We all have and are God-Force. May that Force be with you. ~Rev. B]

    Posted July 12, 2010 at 10:49 pm | Permalink
  11. Heidi said . . .

    Reverend B: My point just got watered down. I was trying to express that in this portrait, I see an expression of what God, if we COULD capture what It appears as, might look like/represent, with It’s swirling creation all around Him/Her. Not the spark of divinity each of us holds within us. But thank you tho. [ No need to look “out there.” Just find a mirror. ]

    Posted July 12, 2010 at 11:38 pm | Permalink
  12. Cassie said . . .

    Michael’s man in the mirror is the image of aspiration. It portrays the face of one who has absorbed every hurt, every unjust act, every cruel deed inflicted upon those he has loved and has drum-majored laborously to protect. HE IS THE MIRROR. When you look at him, its the reflections of all their faces that you see.

    Posted August 4, 2010 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

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