The Age of David Bowie


I woke up to a text telling me the news, a frantic 5:16 am text. When I learned David Bowie was dead, I felt swallowed by the most uncontrollable grief.

There’s confusion in not knowing what to do or how to grieve when someone you don’t know but feel so close to dies. It almost seems irrational to grieve for someone or something you were never truly or physically close to. At least, that response seems feasible; but knowing the intensity of feeling culminating in the death of Bowie I couldn’t possibly look at in the same light.

Look up here, I’m in heaven
I’ve got scars that can’t be seen
I’ve got drama, can’t be stolen
Everybody knows me now

Iman said that she fell in love with David Jones, not David Bowie. For us who love him, we love him for his creation, for his beauty and the ultimate enigmatic myth. We love him for his art, and nothing is a more intense representation of self than creation. We love him as David Bowie and unlike Iman, we fell in love with him as David Bowie. Perhaps something will always feel demystifying about his death, the disbelief in his mortality forever suspended in his mythical nature. Even as before, David Bowie will never exist as a physical presence in our lives, but the notion that he isn’t out there is suddenly overwhelming and desolate. His being has always held a folkloric glory, a timelessness that now almost seems like an illusion. But it wasn’t an illusion, nor is he really gone when so much of him still exists.

Bowie’s canon has always held a breadth of human passion, his works reflecting on the strange relationship between the most ubiquitous and somehow incredibly intimate emotions. His words have suddenly been entrusted to a legacy of those also from his planet, his pod siblings. Though perhaps, from the minute of Ziggy Stardust’s creation, inspiring teenagers to be different and non-straight sexualities to be normal, his entity had already been entrusted to those who loved him. Maybe, Bowie has always been ours and the only thing different in his passing is that we know his physical presence is fleeting; that in itself devastating the lore. Maybe that’s why the death of an icon is so surreal and why without David Bowie, something so twisted feels wrapped in each moment, a sorrowful void filled with the idea that he will never create again. Leaving us to search for who he really was.

Vita Sackville-West once said that she worshipped dead men for their strength, forgetting she was strong. I worship David Bowie in his strength because it has helped me to be strong. Bowie will forever be in my heart as I consider who I’ve grown to be and who I want to be. Listening to Life on Mars, picturing his light blue suit and shock of red hair, it’s as if there’s nothing that could possibly hold me back. I don't think there has ever been a musician to affect in such a lasting way; he isn't a phase, but a lifetime revolution. 

The story told in the photographs of Masayoshi Sukita or Mick Rock tell the anecdote of an androgynous Alien, unknown to this planet, yet David Bowie reflects a surreally human and ineffable quality unlike any other artist. His ever-changing artistic presence mirrored his character, his creation; the mod boy defending the rights of other long-haired boys, the paradoxically gendered, glitter drenched Ziggy Stardust, or the monochromed, Berlin-influenced Thin White Duke. When you consider that each module of David Bowie is curated and framed to tell a different story, a construction of the last vestiges of defiance in popular culture, the paradox of the personas disappears. Although his art may be conducted and controlled, it is no longer staggering that in everything he does he manages to communicate emotion and feeling in the purest form, revealing the acutely personal nature of his poetry. Somehow, even though he is the least human of us all, he is the most human of us all.

"I always had a repulsive need to be
something more than human
I felt very puny as a human. I thought,
'Fuck that. I want to be a superhuman.'"
- David Bowie, Rolling Stone #276 February 1976

The soundtrack of my love and desire has been narrated by Ziggy Stardust and Hunky Dory. That of my deepest depression expressed by The Bewlay Brothers and Low. And now, in this desperate search for the magical being, we’ve gone to revisiting his beautiful albums, and revisiting his death in the fervor that is Blackstar. In trying to find more of who Bowie was within the enigmatic mystery, I find myself finding more of who I am. David Bowie’s being speaks through his veiled and curated personas, and while his death leaves those who love him lost and changed, his music and memory will forever inspire.

David Jones may be gone, but David Bowie will live forever.

Oh I'll be free
Just like that bluebird
Oh I'll be free
Ain't that just like me
-David Bowie, Lazarus

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