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Oprah: That's what I believe.

Madonna: You're a closet Kabbalist! Another principle is that there is an all- giving, all-loving force. You could call it God. Kabbalists call it the Light. But essentially, it is God. When we disconnect from this force, we have chaos. We invite pain and suffering into our lives.

Oprah: How has this spiritual change affected your creativity?

Madonna: I've never felt more creative. One thing I've learned is that I'm not the owner of my talent, I'm the manager of it. And if I learn how to manage my talent correctly—and if I accept that I'm just channeling things that come from God—the talent will keep flowing through me.

Oprah: Does the new Madonna still get a rise out of causing controversy?

Madonna: I used to thrive on that energy. Now it's just, "Oh, please."

Oprah: So was that kiss with Britney at the MTV Video Music Awards planned?

Madonna: In rehearsal, it was planned that I would kiss Britney and Christina. A short, simple kiss—the whole idea was that the groom kisses the brides. But it was only meant to be playful, not anything erotic.

Oprah: You honestly didn't think kissing another woman on national TV would stir up controversy?

Madonna: When Britney went to kiss me, she just went for it. I tried to go with it so it wouldn't be weird. I'm a showgirl. After 20 years in show business, I've learned to roll with the punches. Also, you remember when Michael Jackson kissed Lisa Marie Presley on the MTV awards? Our kiss was a play on that, too. We were playing with lots of postmodern iconography. Does that sound good?

Oprah: You're the queen of reinventing yourself. Have your transformations always been calculated?

Madonna: My physical transformations—like changing my hair—are usually a reflection of what's inspiring me at the moment. The change starts inward and moves outward. For instance, I went through a whole period when I was obsessed with geishas, because I'd read that amazing book Memoirs of a Geisha. I dyed my hair black and had a geisha outfit made for myself for a video.

Oprah: You see yourself as limitless and constantly in transformation.

Madonna: One of the things that helps me tell a story through music is to create a character. I have to have a muse, whether it's Frida Kahlo, Martha Graham, Marlene Dietrich, or Pippi Longstocking. My muse for my newest album [American Life] was Che Guevara. I never think, "Oh, I can't do that." I think of myself as a blank canvas, and I can paint anything on myself.

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