David Bowie and Blackstar
The good news is David Bowie is no longer a corpse. In other words, he is now everywhere — more alive than he has been in years. Not that his physical death of isn’t heartbreaking, but didn’t he go out with style? You can’t help feeling a bit jealous when he sings: I’ll be free. Just like that bluebird.
Of course, we get lost in the mythos and forget the man, who thought he was an extra terrestrial. Wasn’t he always singing about the isolation of the human condition, about living in a in a tin can high above the moon. Don’t we all feel this separation from the mothership? Planet earth is blue and there’s nothing we can do. Like Major Tom we are a long way from home.
Didn’t Bowie seem to exude an earthly sadness especially in later years ? Aren't we are blessed that he remained terrestrial for so long, that he didn’t just explode his spacecraft? In his last year he was obviously very focused (as cancer might make one) and worked hard for our liberation and edification. Before passing he left a final gift: some gorgeous and occult sonic visions of death and rebirth, the black star, the solitary candle, ‘the villa of Ormen’ — whatever that is.
When asked what his spiritual beliefs were, he replied: ‘Change’. Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes. Turn and face the strange or the strangeness of humanity. And all the fat-skinny people, and all the tall-short people. And all the nobody people, and all the somebody people.
David Bowie was a great poet, and great poet is always, to a greater or lesser extent, androgynous. Entering into and embodying the other sex — becoming a woman in Bowie’s case — is a way to embody the totality of existence, rather than remaining caught in polarity. Bowie, though sympathetic resonance, didn't just love women, he became them. And by becoming that double sexed creature, he moved into the beyond, becoming a transcendental being.
The ‘Thin White Duke’ showed us that our masks and identities are not that solid and real, that we can move between them. The persona is always a mask, and life is always a performance. Becoming transparent to that fact provides great freedom.
We can morn his passing but we can also dance — there is no contradiction really. When someone is dear to us, his or her spirit can be very bright — more alive than it ever was in life. Isn’t this a time for negotiating with that spirit, embracing it, letting it go on its way? When the shell is broken open, many seeds are spread to the wind.
In his last video the old man Bowie wears the blindfold of mystic inner vision, not of death. Death is just a trope he used, don’t believe it. Anyway, in terms of full artistic vitality — not that he hasn’t done good work in recent years—Bowie has been dead since the 1980’s. But in the last work he is back in his mask, which means, paradoxically, he is fully present and alive again, with nothing left to lose. Lazareth is the last mask, the final artifice.