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Sudhir Kakar on the large number of reported suicides following two recent deaths Michael Jackson in June from an overdose of drugs and Andhra Pradesh chief minister YSR Reddy this month in a helicopter crash:
Suicide, on the death of a leader, has been sanctioned in many cultures. In Japan, for instance, hara-kiri, with its 1,000-year-old history, though now officially forbidden, has been an honourable way of expressing grief over the loss of a superior. In some Brazilian tribes, it was customary upon the death of a chief for his retainers to kill themselves so that their souls might serve him in the spirit world. Nearer to YSR's home state, the Avippoli form of suicide in Tamil culture, in which warriors killed themselves on learning that their commander or king had died, is said to be deeply embedded in the Tamil psyche. Suicides after the death of a leader, especially one who had become a folk hero, are thus not only a pathological form of mourning as psychoanalysis would have it, but also need a social and cultural gloss for their fuller understanding.
Read the full piece at the Times of India: Following The Leader, In This World And After
Wonder what took it so long -- three separate e-mail links in 10 minutes.
He was not yet 14 when he covered the above Bill Withers hit, but then he had already been a part of The Jackson 5 since the age of 11.
Growing up in Calcutta, it was fashionable for some of us musical snobs to be dismissive about him, but there was no getting away from the sound of Beat it, even in those pre-MTV schooldays, when pop music came in pirated IMD cassettes. But all that was in the innocent days, much before the weird stories and the face and colour changes:
And, then, of course came the MTV, and it was he who broke the white monopoly, it was he who was clearly the most popular black man before Barack Obama, even before his Black&White, the controversies, the Thackerays and the freak-show his life had become: "Yeah, Wacko Jacko, where did that come from? Some English tabloid. I have a heart and I have feelings. I feel that when you do that to me. It's not nice"
Many of us, may not have rated him as our favourite pop-singer, but we knew that he mattered in the scheme of things. Rolling Stone rated him at #35 Greatest Artists of all time
This not yet 50-year-old had been a star for close to 40 years.