It's All In The Perspective

The major difference between the way an MJ fan and an MJ hater thinks: They both see a scan of this same message above, a note that Michael left for someone after taking an ink pen.  The fan says, “Wow, this shows what an honest person he was!” The hater says, “He misspelled pen.” You see, it’s all in the perspective. A person CHOOSES what they want to focus on-the positive or the negative. They make the conscious choice as to which has more value or merit. And by choosing which details they wish to focus on, they make the conscious choice in whether to build a person up, or tear them down. The fan sees this small note as a token of Michael’s character (and heck, I know where I work, we surreptiously swipe pens all the time, and trust me, NOBODY is going to bother leaving a note of apology!). The hater chooses only to snicker at his penmanship and spelling error, as if of any of those things should matter more than character! I know, having seen many such discussions of this note on various forums. But doesn’t that also say everything about the way Michael has been judged by the world? The good has always been ignored in favor of the bad or the negative-and sometimes, as in this case, even the good takes a backseat because those with cynical minds only want to point out what is flawed, not what is good.
As a teacher, I see these kinds of homophone spelling errors quite often. They really mean nothing. Certainly they should not be taken as a sign of a person’s intelligence, nor can they even be used as an adequate measure by which to gauge a person’s level of literacy-unless one sees enough of an individual’s writing to denote an obvious pattern. But what I have seen with Michael’s handwriting is the same kind of inconsistency that I see with many of my students who commit these same kind of errors (i.e, interchangeably confusing soundalike words such as their/there, or weather/whether). Most often, they are the result of careless proofreading, in which the person is simply writing too hurriedly or casually to really pay attention.  Would it shock you if I told you that some of my students who commit these errors are actually some of the brightest students in the class? In fact, spelling errors are actually more apt to be indicative of a creative mind, one that is too busily engaged with the act of creating to worry about the finer details of spelling. Throughout history, some of our brightest writers, musicisans, and artists have also been some of our most notoriously poor spellers-it’s an attention to detail that most creative minds simply are not focusing on.
But really, judging anyone by the quality of a note like this is akin to judging someone on the literary quality of a post-it note that is stuck on the fridge! Why would anyone do that? Only because it’s Michael Jackson!
I’ve also read a lot of snarky comments about Michael’s penmanship. Almost every single time a handwritten note from him is made public, I inevitably see the snarky comments all over the internet about his “messy” writing, or how it “looks like the writing of a ten year old” blah blah blah. Then, out of the woodwork will come all of the amateur psychoanalysts with their usual psychobabble. “It is clear that this is the handwriting of a mentally regressed individual.” For some reason, trying to tear down Michael’s intelligence and belittling his artistic genius seems to be a favorite past time of haters and even the general media, who prefer to portray him as someone “weird, “bizarre” and/or a “regressed” childlike man with “issues” rather than the intelligent and gifted person that he was.
Please. If you compare Michael’s handwriting to most of the musical geniuses of our time, you see a lot of the same qualities.
For example, Jim Morrison, who I will use here as an example because his reported IQ of 149 has been quite well documented, had handwriting quite similar to Michael’s. Note this sample here:
 Morrison, like Michael, had the same tendency to combine cursive with more childlike, printed letters (a trait of Michael’s writing that often comes under severe scrutiny).  In the last paragraph, especially, you can see that he shares many of the same penmanship traits as Michael, most notably in the tendency to combine blocky, childlike print with cursive and the tendency to isolate letters completely (notice, for example, how the “B” in “But” is not connected to the “u”). Now compare this to another note by Michael, which is actually far more typical of his writing than the hastily scrawled note above:
Even though Morrison was certainly a controversial figure and some may debate whether his lifestyle made him someone to admire, I don’t know anyone stupid enough to try to say the guy wasn’t intelligent. College educated, articulate, and well read (like Michael, he owned thousands of books at a time-in fact, books were said to be among the very few possessions Morrison ever actually owned!) no one would ever refer to him as a regressed child!  Yet his handwriting certainly bears many interesting similarities to Michael’s. Hmm. Wouldn’t it be interesting to switch those samples up and give them to one of those psychoanalysts without telling them whose was whose! It would be interesting to see if Michael’s writing  still got the same “diagnosis.”
Or let’s look at this handwritten lyric from John Lennon, another indisputable genius:
Again, you’ll notice he shares a lot of the same handwriting traits that Michael does. Same blocky, childlike print, and the same tendency to arbitrarily combine print with cursive.
And here was something amusing I found about the handwriting of Beethoven:
Horowitz rummaged among some books on a table and held up a black, oblong notebook. “But best of all,” he announced, “I have a facsimile of Beethoven’s own manuscript of the ‘Appassionata'” He turned to the last page and pointed to the tenth bar before the end. “Look at this,” he said. “Beethoven has A-flat in the bass, not the F that you find printed in every edition. And it is A flat, no mistake about it! For once Beethoven’s handwriting is clear.” The note was indeed unmistakably A-flat. Yet every editor, even Tovey, had seen fit to change it to F. “Now hear how it sounds,” and Horowitz went to the piano and played the last ten bars. I had to admit that the A-flat was the right, the inevitable note. The F now seemed to me obvious, amateurish, quite un-Beethovenish in fact. Why had I never suspected the validity of the printed note? But Horowitz had, and had gone to the source: the composer himself.
But, really, I could easily spend all day comparing Michael’s handwriting to that of other musical geniuses. However, that wasn’t really the intended point of this post. Going back to my first paragraph, I used this as an example to show how fans and haters can see the same thing, and yet choose to see it in two entirely different lights. Haters will often say that Michael’s fans see only what they want to see. But is this not equally true of them?
Those of us who admire Michael’s character will see someone so inherently honest that even the thought of taking a pen-which most likely someone had simply left lying about-as something he needed to apologize for.
Those who want to tear him down will laugh and point and say, This guy couldn’t even spell pen!
Frankly, it says a lot more about their own cyninism and short sightedness than it does anything about Michael’s intelligence OR character.

4 thoughts on “It's All In The Perspective”

  1. Michael made this slip of the pen years ago.(I was aware of it from a positive interview with a former recording studio colleague, who was making the point about how honest and decent he was).

    However Michael was never allowed to make even the most trivial of errors without it being documented for all time, and used by some to belittle him, until it grew into the most dreadful character assasination.

    Teenage behaviour aside, I just hope this doesn’t happen to Paris.

    (By the way.. I noticed in my last comment I wrote “to” when I meant “too”.I know the difference .. but sometimes brains go into automatic mode and the wrong words get written or spoken. Thank goodness nobody is going to judge my worth as a human being for the rest of my life because of it !! Thanks for this post Raven, and please forgive my sarcasm.. lol)

  2. Raven, you say:

    “You see, it’s all in the perspective. A person CHOOSES what they want to focus on-the positive or the negative. They make the conscious choice as to which has more value or merit. And by choosing which details they wish to focus on, they make the conscious choice in whether to build a person up, or tear them down.”

    I find myself in a conundrum here. Taken together with everything else we’ve learned about MIchael Jackson, this note seems like evidence of his courtesy. AND I also wish that he’d had better writing (and spelling). 😉

    I wonder if that would make me a fan or a “hater.” Hmmmm……

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