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I never thought about David Bowie’s death. It never occurred to me. A lot of us have probably wondered about Keith Richards. I’ve thought about Joni Mitchell this year - preparing myself. Bowie? He was almost like a fictional character, or an idea. Santa Claus died? Are you sure? What do you mean Venus has cancer?
If I’d been forced to speculate, I would’ve thought… nanobots in the bloodstream maybe? or his consciousness uploading into a white hole. Fucking cancer. “My entire career, I’ve only really worked with the same subject matter. The trousers may change, but the actual words and subjects I’ve always chosen to write with are things to do with isolation, abandonment, fear and anxiety, all of the high points of one’s life.” I hope he found some answers. As well, for all the adulation, we should remember that there’s a 16 year old girl who now has to finish growing up without her father.
When I was 13 Bowie shifted my consciousness a few degrees. A Rock Star, to be sure, but in a (perfect) suit and tie. He sang a song about Chris Burden. He sang a song written by Bertolt Brecht. He hung out with Julian Schnabel. He studied with Lindsay Kemp. He interviewed Balthus for Modern Painters Magazine. He played Andy Warhol in a movie. He played John Merrick on broadway. He wrote songs using William Burroughs cut-up method. His work was, for me, always a source of entertainment, inspiration, and education. I’m glad I was able to shake his hand once and thank him for that.
Joseph Campbell said ”There is something magical about films. The person you are looking at is also somewhere else at the same time. That is the condition of a god." In that sense, Bowie was already immortal. You’re reading this on a computer screen. In 10 seconds you can hear him sing. Hear his voice. See him act. Watch an interview with an older, charming, funny, debonair man, or an interview with a young, coked-up paranoid with no eyebrows.
Can I paraphrase Batman? “People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy… as a man I'm flesh and blood - I can be ignored; I can be destroyed; but as a symbol, I can be incorruptible, I can be everlasting.” Bowie left us with a brand new album, a show that opened in New York a few weeks earlier, and a couple of cool portraits in a (perfect) suit and tie. I would say that it’s almost as if he planned it, except that he did, of course - like everything else he did. It was classic magician misdirection. There he was, the whole time - redshifting into Myth.
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