"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it" - Aristotle

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Magic Mirrors Part 2 : The Muse(ic)


In Magic Mirrors Part 1 I explored the themes of magic mirrors, disassociation (and/or dance), and dimensional traveling through Madonna's "Hung Up" music video. In Part 2 I will expand on those themes using Madonna's follow up music videos and performances for the songs "Sorry" and "Future Lovers". I will also include another music queen to show how different icons represent the same thing to different audiences.

The follow up single to "Hung Up" was "Sorry". In an interview the songs producer, Stuart Price, revealed that the production of the song was inspired by "Can You Feel It?" by the Jackson 5. He also revealed that "Can You Feel It?" is one of Madonna's favorite songs. A little known fact is that "Can You Feel It?" is sampled in Madonna's iconic song "Material Girl". Let's take a look at the lyrics to "Can You Feel It?".

Can you feel it, can you feel it, can you feel it?

If you look around
The whole world is coming together now
Can you feel it, can you feel it, can you feel it
Feel it in the air, the wind is taking it everywhere
Can you feel it, can you feel it, can you feel it

All the colors of the world should be
Lovin' each other wholeheartedly
Yes, it's all right
Take my message to your brother and tell him twice
Spread the word and try to teach the man
Who's hating his brother, when hate won't do
When we're all the same, 'cause the
Blood inside me is inside you

Can you feel it, can you feel it, can you feel it
Can you feel it, can you feel it, can you feel it

Sing out loud
Because we want to make a crowd
Touch a hand and sing a sound so pure, salvation rings

Can you feel it, can you feel it, can you feel it
Can you feel it, can you feel it, can you feel it

All the children of the world
Should be
Loving each other wholeheartedly
Yes, it's all right
Take my message to your brother and tell him twice
Take the news to the marching men
Who are killing their brothers, when death won't do
'Cause we're all the same
Yes, the blood inside me is inside of you

Can you feel it, can you feel it, can you feel it
Can you feel it, can you feel it, can you feel it

Every breath you take
Is someone's death in another place
Every healthy smile
Is hunger and strife to another child
But the stars do shine
In promising salvation, is near this time
Can you feel it now
So brothers and sisters
Show we know how
Now tell me

Can you feel it, can you feel it, can you feel it
Can you feel it, can you feel it, can you feel it

All the children of the world
Should be
Loving each other wholeheartedly
Yes, it's all right
Take my message to your brother and tell him twice
Take the news to the marching men
Who are killing their brothers, when death won't do
'Cause we're all the same
Yes, the blood inside me is inside of you

Can you feel it, can you feel it, can you feel it
Can you feel it, can you feel it, can you feel it


The lyrics seem to be about Michael's usual message of coming together and making the world a better place.

A short film was made for the song but it was never shown on air. A shorter version was shown in it's place.

Can You Feel It Short Film:


Pretty much throughout the video the Jackson's are spreading glitter on the world below to inspire people.
This scene is interesting because it reminds me of the Egyptian death pose. Could this scene symbolize rebirth?

In this scene a bridge is lit up with rainbow colors which reminds me of this. Bridges represent transition; they take you from one side to the next. Bridges fit in perfectly with the rebirth theme.
Here is a shot of the ecliptic sun.
The ring of fire which is symbolic of the ring of knowledge. Many rituals are performed inside of a ring of fire.
An older Indian man approaches (look at his necklace) and he seems to be pleased with what is going on. Could he possibly be a Shaman? If he is, that adds an interesting element to the video. Shamanism is often associated with sa which means "to know". So there are a lot of references to gnosis (knowledge) and rebirth in this video. Death gives birth to life.

From Wikipedia:

There are many variations of shamanism throughout the world; and several common beliefs are shared by all forms of shamanism. Common beliefs identified by Eliade (1964)[3] are the following:

  • Spirits exist and they play important roles both in individual lives and in human society.
  • The shaman can communicate with the spirit world.
  • Spirits can be good or evil.
  • The shaman can treat sickness caused by evil spirits.
  • The shaman can employ trance inducing techniques to incite visionary ecstasy and go on "vision quests."
  • The shaman's spirit can leave the body to enter the supernatural world to search for answers.
  • The shaman evokes animal images as spirit guides, omens, and message-bearers.
  • The shaman can tell the future, scry, throw bones/runes, and perform other varied forms of divination
Shamanism is based on the premise that the visible world is pervaded by invisible forces or spirits which affect the lives of the living.[7] Shamanism requires individualized knowledge and special abilities and operate outside established religions. Many shamans operate alone, although some take on an apprentice. Shamans can gather into associations, as Indian tantric practitioners have done.

Now isn't that right on target with the themes I've been exploring for the past month?
This young boy caught my attention. Is it me or does he look like a young Michael Jackson?

The young boy and the Shaman give each other a look as if they both know a secret and then join hands.
The community of people then look into the sky and see a Peacock. The peacock is yet another symbol of spiritual knowledge.

As most of you probably know, most logos have symbolic Occult and/or spiritual implications such as CBS with their eye logo. NBC was no different with their Peacock logo.
http://www.adornmentsfortarts.com/uploads/BookAlbumPictures/Goldfrapp_Supernature.jpg
Here's Goldfrapp using the Peacock symbolism for the cover of their third album Supernature (interesting title).
Now that we've looked at the themes associated with the song that inspired Madonna's "Sorry", let's look at the film that inspired the music video.

The music video for the song "Sorry" was inspired by the 1970's rollerdisco musical Xanadu starring Olivia Newton-John. The title of the film Xanadu was inspired by the poem "Kubla Khan, or A Vision in a Dream. A Fragment". Keep in mind that the ending of the "Hung Up" video revealed that Madonna was dreaming and/or disassociated or astral traveling the entire video. Also remember that Shamans have the ability to go on "vision quests" (it's interesting that Madonna's first film was titled Vision Quest).

To add more weight onto this the poems author, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, claimed that the poem was inspired by an opium-induced dream. Many have speculated that the imagery of the poem stems from a waking hallucination, a lucid dream.
http://i.stream.cz/video_flash/7227/147227.jpg
Madonna explored lucid dreams in the music video for "Bedtime Story" and of course I started the magic mirrors series with the "Bedtime Story" remix video.

Xanadu's Plot

Sonny Malone (Michael Beck) is a talented artist who dreams of fame beyond his job, which is the uncreative task of painting larger versions of album covers for record-store window advertisements. As the film opens, Sonny is broke and on the verge of giving up his dream. Having quit his day job to try to make a living as a freelance artist, but having failed to make any money at it, Sonny returns to his old job at AirFlo Records. After some humorous run-ins with his imperious boss and nemesis Simpson, he resumes painting record covers.

At work, Sonny is told to paint an album cover for a group called The Nine Sisters. The cover features a beautiful woman passing in front of an art deco auditorium (the Pan-Pacific Auditorium). This same woman collided with him earlier that day, kissed him, then roller-skated away, and Malone becomes obsessed with finding her. He finds her at the same (but now abandoned) auditorium as shown on the album cover. She identifies herself as Kira (Olivia Newton-John), but will tell him nothing else about herself. Unbeknownst to Sonny, Kira is one of nine mysterious and beautiful women who literally sprang to life from a local mural near the beach in town.

Sonny befriends a has-been big band orchestra leader-turned-construction mogul named Danny McGuire (Gene Kelly). Danny lost his muse in the 1940s; Sonny has not yet found his muse. Kira encourages the two men to form a partnership and open a nightclub at the old auditorium from the album cover. She falls in love with Sonny, and this presents a problem because she is actually an Olympian Muse (she is Terpsichore, the muse of dance). The other eight women from the beginning of the movie are her sisters and fellow goddesses, the Muses, and the mural is actually a portal of sorts and their point of entry to Earth.

Danny and Sonny envision converting the abandoned Auditorium into a vibrant new club.

As it turns out, the Muses visit Earth often to help inspire others to pursue their dreams and desires. But in Kira's case, she had broken the rules, as she was only meant to inspire Sonny, but ended up falling in love with him as well. Her parents (presumably the Greek gods Zeus and Mnemosyne) recall her to the timeless realm of the gods. Sonny follows through the mural and professes his love for her.

A short debate between Sonny and Zeus occurs with Mnemosyne interceding on Kira and Sonny's behalf. Kira then enters the discussion, saying that the emotions toward Sonny that she has experienced are new to her and asks if they could only have one more night together to let Sonny's dream of Xanadu becoming a success come true. But Zeus ultimately sends Sonny back to Earth. After Kira expresses her own feelings for Sonny in the song Suspended In Time, Zeus and Mnemosyne decide to let Kira go to him for a "moment, or maybe forever" (mortal time confuses them) and the audience is left to wonder her fate.

In the finale of the movie, Kira and the Muses perform for a packed house for Xanadu's grand opening, and after Kira's final song they return to the realm of the gods in spectacular fashion. Sonny is understandably depressed thereafter, but that quickly changes when Danny has one of the waitresses bring Sonny a drink. The waitress is an exact lookalike of Kira. Sonny approaches this enigmatic doppelgänger and says he would just like to talk to her. The film ends with the two of them talking, in silhouette, as the credits begin to roll.

A couple of things caught my attention with the plot of this film. First of all, Olivia Newton-John's character acts as a muse. As we established in Part 1, Madonna was a muse in the video for "Hung Up". Also there's mention of a "timeless realm of the Gods" which fits in with the repetive time references in a lot of Madonna's recent work.

Finally, let's look at the music video for "Sorry".


Throughout this video there seems to be a "battle of the sexes". Both the men and the women try to have dominence over each other leading up to the battle in the cage towards the end of the video. At the end of the video they finally get into the van together and leave the radio behind.


During the Confessions tour Madonna premiered the music video above which was a video interlude of a remix for the song "Sorry". The video features a lot of images of destruction going on in the world. Could Madonna have subliminally been commenting on how the world is unbalanced all along with the Confessions album? Let me explain. Everything in this world is energy. Clearly, for most of this decade our world has been unbalanced. There has been an abundance of male energy (power, authority) and an intential supression of female energy (mothering, caring).

While this video interlude is playing, two dancers, one male and one female, perform on stage. They battle each other and the male dancer eventually over powers the female dancer and knocks her to the ground. Could Madonna's video be a visual representation of how spritually the energy of this world has been off balance this decade? Is art imitating life?

To be continued...

4 comments:

  1. Xanadu have to see that film again.
    Upon researching spokes, directed me to some stating..." Can you feel it video/Jackson 5 opening up a Stargate", which makes me want to revisit Earth Wind & Fire. @1:50 and 3:50 MJ is controling the energy/harvesting it?

    Keep it up with Madonna's focus , the imagery is so convoluted.

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  2. You should definitely do something on Earth, Wind, and Fire. I grew up listening to them because my mom is a huge fan. I'd be interested in reading your take of their work.

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  3. "...our world has been unbalanced. There has been an abundance of male energy (power, authority) and an intential supression of female energy (mothering, caring)..."

    I think this concept is the key to the syncs we're finding involving Madonna and MJ, and even my recently closed chapter on Beyonce. We are at a tipping point; Madonna, the masculinized feminist, and Mike, the feminized uber-man (crotch-grabbing, screaming, etc) symbolize that very tipping point. what happens next is anybody's guess...

    Muse-ic. Muse I C. Hm.

    I agree about Earth, Wind & Fire; I always thought there was more to them under the surface.

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  4. Very good observation, Toure.

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