David Bowie

Black Star White Knight

Seeing is believing 

When night arrives stars are white and are so distant as to astonish us in our slowing forming knowledge about their continual presence. From Earth and the time we spend being incredibly short David Bowie was not the first to notice the vast repotoire of the Galaxy and of his own small chemical construction as part of a larger enterprise none of us know much about, or indeed an infinitesimal amount. For myself and my generation growing up the stars and the universe where objects and elements that happen to exist. There was no need for proof, they formed the Galaxy as far as we could see.  Astronomers like Sir Patrick Moore were explores of that universe, Carl Sagan delivered the beautify and intangibility or awe of outer space. Sir Patrick, himself the size of a small planet would describe with fluidity the rotations and occurrences of disappearing and reappearing stars from his seat in the Sussex countryside darkness. Once on a journey back from the local, one of several in a part of Sussex, we lay down flat on the unused village road and looked up to the enormity and beautiful canopy of the Milky Way conscious we had stopped as many earthlings have done before us at this ever present wonderment.  Seldom do we stop to look at what is directly above us and often light pollution and clouds prevent the apparent and ever present Galaxy above our heads.

Posted outside All Souls Belfast by a member of the congregation last week.

The experience was unforgettable giving a sense of universality.  Instead of  Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, Isaac Asimovs science fiction and all the manifestations of the space odyssey, Alister Crowley et al, we who were less drawn to the intangible which was being reached in the near distance by Cosmonauts found expression through the medium of Music and Theatre.         For many the emergence of progressive rock and folklore turned into song and lyrical fantasy we were blessed with the young troubadour David Bowie to fill our heads with the absurdity of existence and the earth limits with their own abstract idealistic symphonies of uniform voices. Music enabled the captured, beyond the direct allusion of Holst’s the Planets and similarly 2001 A Space Odyssey we were drawn by the magical externalities of musicians putting their imaginations to work by evoking otherworldliness either in jazz meditations and outpouring of electronic driven chords juxtaposed and clashing as meteorites of sound.  Much was experimental and impenetrable but it existed as the stars do.

TheWorld is like a Crystal Ball

Bowie took forms from every box on the table.  The aural noise of the electronic progressives, the cults and ldealists forming sects and patronage alarming all, the religiosity of craven imagery, of Nordic mysticism and trolls as favoured by playwrights, George Bernand Shaw and Henrik Ibsen.  All present in the boxes Bowie must have sought out and consumed. He was a compulsive reader. From trash to brilliance he devoured the available and created his own state of mind. Much of it unbalancing, diversive and a corruption of his inner genius.  Compulsions were to be his evocation.  His device to present his ideas as thoughts, visions and music.  He also harboured mischievously contempt for his art.  While being in the same era as the Stones, Marc Bloan, Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Joe Zawinul he sampled their work without ever plagiarising or drawing even close comparison to it.  Punk and Disco might not have existed, nevertheless Nile Rodgers was the producer of the hit ‘Let’s Dance’ as an appreciation of rock and roll hill bully style – is the closest connection I can make – of the genre of Little Richard in a bright radiant suit. Mock and roll Country Dance music I call it.

Of all the personas David Bowie created for his art, the Spider from Mars, Starman was the most electrifyingly different.    It stood out as original but borrowed from Diaghlev and Nureyev as they created works of Firebird, Spartacus, all sorts of influences combined.  It was as if Thrace was reinvented, that – definition – ancient region of varying extent in the E part of the Balkan Peninsula: later a Roman province; now in Bulgaria, Turkey, and Greece.  It was a combination of ancient and futuristic visions.

Now it is divided between Greece (Western Thrace) and Turkey (Eastern Thrace) and the clash of cultures it throws up is immense.
Without meaning to, so elaborately, David Bowie introduced us to many things either unwittingly or intentionally.  He drew and conceived of things with words, music, costume and his presence which altered who we are today no matter how large or small that influence might have been amongst individuals or as a passage through time from one era to the next.  It is a fixed place which now is unshiftable and all the more a sense of loss is felt.

Bowie was set of concepts that explained the emergence of an emotional bond between an performer and audience and the way in which this bond affects the artists behavioral and emotional development to feeding the animal that is the art.  It was eventually to die and that is what was his worst possible outcome.  That he was to never discover those secrets of life, those unknowns which make our existence and those drivers which for the vast majority are good instinctive qualities and shared beliefs he never got to the end of the story.
It has to be mentioned there has been a lot of miscomprehension and ridicule of the way grief has been expressed.  It is not within anyone’s gift to say or chose how whew grieve but it is no matter the negatory as it is something beautiful and human to be able to celebrate and say farewell to someone who has touched the lives of many and for many speaks for us as millions of voices.


Some of these photographs are from http://www.giornalettismo.com/archives/695203/il-ritorno-di-david-bowie/david-bowie-torna-sulle-scene-11/?gallery_pos=0

It is great archival material appreciating the past and whole fabric.

John Graham

18 January 2016


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