An Obituary for David Bowie

The award-winning documentary about Robert Crumb, Crumb, intended to illustrate how bizarre and eccentric the famous counter-cultural cartoonist was. I left with the opposite impression, recognizing that Crumb was raised around authentically mentally ill siblings and was exposed to degeneracy and madness. But he wasn’t actually all that degenerate or mentally imbalanced himself. Crumb was essentially a tour guide, a storyteller who offered guided tours into the defective and derelict underworld.

He was in it and not of it.

David Bowie, legal name “David Jones,” was an especially intelligent, well-bred, temperate, and talented man of essentially bourgeoisie instincts. He made a larger-than-life living of simulating a stylized and romanticized parody of the impulsive, indulgent, delusional, and delirious world of a self-destructive, drug-addled, and clinically insane gender-bending, sex-addicted glam rocker. He passed away yesterday of natural causes–liver disease–with his wife of 25 years at his side, his fan service obligations relating to his death carefully accounted for, his diversified investment portfolio and estate in immaculate order, and his outsized legacy locked in place.

Bowie was plenty talented, of course, but his real gift lied in presentation. His professional collaborations with Tony Visconti, Brian Eno, and several other men with musical gifts who lacked the capacity to effectively market their gifts was an artistic talent in itself. One of the greatest problems in modern media is that the creative genius typically arrives in the form of a boring and chubby middle-aged White guy, while the masses demand youth, danger, diversity, and sexiness.

In today’s industry, most creative artists just settle for becoming supporting artists for minority performers, cashing their checks in relative anonymity while Beyonce and Rihanna enjoy the fame and acclaim. Damon Albarn has solved this problem with the development of an elaborate alternative universe of racially diverse cartoon characters, The Gorillaz, to work around the grave challenge of being an agreeable and banal forty-something White guy. David Bowie, however, actually became the cartoon character in a profoundly comprehensive and consistent manner.

Who besides perhaps Lady Gaga bothers to be a truly consistent performer nowadays? Alice Cooper is all too eager to take us golfing. Marilyn Manson fetches every opportunity to rinse off the makeup and remind everybody that he’s indeed a boring and conventional dudebro. Ozzy invites you to join him as he awkwardly bumbles and mumbles about in his mansion. David Bowie’s alienated, mysterious, and mythic realm was all largely a performance, but what a commanding and consistent performance it was until the final act. Even as he was racked with advanced cancer, he kept up the act, relying on that most existentially provocative event, one’s own impending death, to engage and entertain his fans one last time.

Had Bowie actually been what he presented himself to be, he would’ve died of AIDS decades ago, would’ve squandered his wealth, would’ve destroyed the relationships with talented artists and producers with whom he enjoyed a series of symbiotic relationships, and would’ve left nothing of the influence and impact he left on popular culture. Those seeking authenticity in the artistic presentation of degeneracy and madness would do well to give up, as the real thing isn’t the least bit sexy, fun, compelling, or creative.

Many are searching for a political or philosophical context for Bowie’s life, but they’re searching in vain. There is none. He eagerly dug into every corner of politics and philosophy to construct his stage personae and thematic experiences, but that’s all they were. As a teenager, I immersed myself in his Man Who Sold the World album because that particular soundscape was constructed around Friedrich Nietzsche’s existentialism. Of course, Bowie had no real interest in Nietzsche’s ideas, but in his otherworldly presentation, most markedly in Thus Spoke Zarathustra.

I can’t help feel that the Low album, Moonage Daydream, and Life On Mars all played a critical role in nudging me from my secular humanist stage into the nihilistic phase in my philosophical exploration. There’s nothing in the lyrics and little in Bowie’s life or words implying any of the depth I projected onto his work. I believe, despite an utter lack of evidence, that there’s an implied nihilism in Bowie’s discography and associated symbolism.

Peering into the abyss is a necessary step in the conversion from the secular humanist fedora-tipping normie into a rigorous Radical Traditionalist and an authentically Traditionalist Christian. And David Bowie delivered the perfect soundtrack for that experience. Bowie stole Nietzsche’s existentialist experience and the glamorous energy and symbolism of varied fascist movements as readily as he stole from the contemporary homosexual subculture, masterfully remixing and repackaging all of these experiences which would be otherwise inaccessible or disagreeable to the common man into a shrink-wrapped and marketable multimedia experience.

There never was a David Bowie. The man was a simulacrum of experiences and sensations from throughout history, across the political spectrum, and within numerous subcultures and scenes. David Bowie was a gifted storyteller pretending to be a degenerate rock star pretending to be an androgynous space alien.

Creativity creates while degeneracy degenerates. David Bowie marketed the big lie of the Modern Age better than perhaps any other man, selling the dissolution of gender roles, sanity, sobriety, faith, and tradition as a romantic experience of creative destruction rather than the miserable and depressing farce that’s instinctively revolting. Those seeking authenticity in degeneracy would do well to look to Jim Morrison’s bathtub, Elvis Presley’s toilet, or Kurt Cobain’s cabin.

The only thing authentic about David Bowie’s public life was his authentic desire to perform. The world’s most talented and effective salesman for degeneracy has passed away, and there’s no sign of an heir. I doubt there will be, as there are vanishingly few idols left to topple, norms to defy, and symbols to smash. Alienation and disorientation are no longer captivating escapes from the familiarity and sobriety of ordinary life, but have become ordinary life itself. Despite myself, this irrelevant celebrity news about this perfect stranger’s demise has sickened me. Even in his very last performance, David Bowie has managed to trick me into finding depth and profundity where there is none.

17 Comments

Nathan Wyatt

I perceived a nihilism in Bowie’s work as well, and welcomed its influence. Nihilism is a necessary phase through which to move, it is true, and also an element to reorient in favor of our cause and against our enemies.

ps mike

Great piece. It was good enough for Rolling Stone, imo. They would have to edit out your anti degeneracy stance at the end. Gosh, you should submit it anyway.

aodh macraynall

Well the way ya describe him; the ultimate post-modern man, whose life is nothing but narrative. There ain’t no there, tthere. Compare him ta Hunter S. Thompson in a essay why don’t ya. i know little about either and have not th time or inclination ta study them but i would love ta hear yer take on this.

machiaevil

“David Bowie marketed the big lie of the Modern Age better than perhaps any other man, selling the dissolution of gender roles, sanity, sobriety, faith”

He was from that perspective too decades ahead of his time since he was playing with the dissolution of cultural norms way before this dissolution became the norm.

As for the consistence between his actual lifestyle and the presentation of his stage persona, these two certainly were identical for a period of time when he went through all kind of excesses, although I’m still uncertain which one of the two was feeding the other one but, unlike others that you mentioned, he was wise and smart enough not to allow himself to eventually be sucked in and jeopardize the enigmatic aura and persona he carefully constructed as part of his business plan, and simply end up as another dead rock star due to all kinds of substance abuses and degenerate lifestyle.

In that respect he was like his alter ego, Lou Reed, who as soon as the AIDS epidemic broke out he became straighter than a honeymoon dick…

Laguna Beach Fogey

‘Nihilism’? No, I never got that from his music. Quite the opposite, in fact. Listen to ‘Word on a Wing’ from Station to Station. The man himself admitted he still believed. A true legend. He will be missed.

Anon

“David Bowie was a gifted storyteller pretending to be a degenerate rock star pretending to be an androgynous space alien.

Creativity creates while degeneracy degenerates. David Bowie marketed the big lie of the Modern Age better than perhaps any other man, selling the dissolution of gender roles, sanity, sobriety, faith, and tradition as a romantic experience of creative destruction rather than the miserable and depressing farce that’s instinctively revolting.”

Your last sentence belies the lie in the above paragraph. Bowie tricked you but not without your complicity. And that’s because ‘the dissolution of gender roles, sanity, sobriety, faith, and tradition’ was a romantic experience of creative creation, Matt. Another X’er type (as in generation) and I were talking about Bowie’s passing and what was ‘authentic’ about him versus performance, as it pertained to gender especially (we both think he faked his bisexuality but then so does everyone). As a tomboy little girl me and my neighborhood best friend prided ourselves on our androgyny, which was totally different from your (or even more markedly the millennials’) generation’s. We were *girls.* Bowie and Jagger were *men,* no matter how difficult it may have been for the generation after mine to recognize that ten years later. They busted through taboos and exploded all the genres you cite, forging new ones that never ceded personal virility in exchange for approval. Perhaps it was exactly the lack thereof that separated the generations.

Mostly what I’m getting at is that you miss so much in that sentence. We didn’t see his alienation and disorientation as the degeneracy you relegate it to. Maybe you’d have to have been there to get the performance, but I assure you, Matt, it wasn’t all a ‘trick.’

EricStriker

Am I missing something here? The guy looked, sounded, and acted like any other cultural Marxist “artist”. Don’t see what the big deal is, this guy was the Miley Cyrus of his time.

Andrew

Our world would have been better had he never existed. Those would be appropriate words for his tombstone. The only way to judge a man is by his impact on European survival, and Bowie was a clear negative.

Fr. John+

As a man roughly Bowie’s age (albeit, younger and still alive, Gott sei Dank!) I believe you err, nay, may even have sinned, in giving accolades to a man who, in his ‘art’ (I don’t consider rock to be art, but dung) was the ultimate HYPOCRITE- the Greek word for ‘actor’.

You corroborate that point, at least, when you wrote: “David Bowie was a gifted storyteller pretending to be a degenerate rock star pretending to be an androgynous space alien.”

Bowie was for many confused young men of my generation, the crystallization of their homoerotic desires, made flesh- a ‘gay’ Antichrist, as it were. It was Bowie, and Lou Reed (“Walk on the Wild Side”) and others, who spawned (with all the meanings of that word) the EVIL of LEGITIMATED SODOMY, in the early 1970’s. Even Elton Queer/John didn’t ‘come out’ until years later, while half-breed Freddie Mercury kept a tight rein on that element of his person, even from his own band members:

https://thehostess.wordpress.com/2009/01/15/queen-band-member-i-didnt-know-freddie-mercury-was-gay/

And the 1980’s incarnation of the Brit fag/star was George Michael, who never would have dared to be the Faggot’s “Madonna in gay drag” (the Faith album, with ‘I want your S##’) had it not been for Bowie.

I have witnessed as a Christian in my day, to many menof the great evil they were committing, in ‘coming out’- men who chose a deathstyle influenced and dedicated to the lie that David Bowie was- i.e., the AIDS cases of the late 1980’s in So. Cal. I see Bowie in a completely different light; as a pied Piper of darkness, as evil as they come. People in the arts who died chasing after ‘the Wild side.’

And now we have even Brucie Jenner, condemned to eternal torment as the iconoclast of God’s creative nature, and the legitimization of ‘androgyny’ in state law around the world? All because of Bowie? And yet, you praise him?

As Christians, we need to remember that the Fathers equated theater (and musicians such as played in the brothels or on the streets, as well) as of the ‘lowest dregs’ of society, and routinely excommunicated actors from the Altar! The word, ‘hypocrite’ rightly sums up the early Church’s attitude to such deviants.

David Bowie had only one song I remember liking; ‘Put on your red shoes and dance’ – not because it was Bowie, but because it sounded so weirdly different. Yet, I never bought an album, never heard a song, and purposefully avoided the film he made with Muppets, “Labyrinth,” because (for me) he incarnated the Devil’s siren song to evil.

So, he was married for 25 years to one woman, eh?
Yes, but… [ Tobit 4;12]
“Iman Mohamed Abdulmajid (Somali: Iimaan Maxamed Cabdulmajiid,[2] Arabic: ايمان محمد عبد المجيد‎; born 25 July 1955[3]), professionally known as Iman (“faith” in Arabic), is a Somali fashion model, actress and entrepreneur.” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iman_%28model%29

An INFIDEL, a NON-CHRISTIAN (non-European), and a NON-White. Truly, Belloc was prescient, ‘Europe is the Faith, the Faith, Europe.’ It resides there, and those who depart from it, are damned.

Three strikes and you’re out. No, Bowie is not, nor ever was ‘saved’, by any stretch of the imagination. His memory is not eternal, but will be forgotten like his legacy, a cry from the depths of Hell.

David Bowie, Anathema.

America is Kiked

No depth or profundity? Seriously?

Don’t you wonder sometimes, about sound and vision? Blue, blue, electric blue — that’s the colour of my room where I will live. Blue, blue. Pale blinds drawn all day, nothing to do, nothing to say. Blue, blue. I will sit right down, wWaiting for the gift of sound and vision. And I will sing, waiting for the gift of sound and vision, drifting into my solitude, over my head Don’t you wonder sometimes, about sound and vision?

Also, his compositions were better (and yes usually deeper and more profound) than his lyrics.

Ultimately he was a musician, singer and composer. All the other stuff was for promotion and because he had a mercurial nature, easily bored.

Also, he was a good family-man. He cared for his brother and his children.

He was afflicted with atheism, and he operated in a degenerate environment, but he was still a great artist whatever else he was or did or said.

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