Adi Tantimedh writes – A Look! It Moves Special.
David Bowie has died.
He was unique, not just a pop star, but a performance artist who used music and his body to explore themes of identity, gender, sexuality, transformation and transcendence. Of all the pop stars, he was the one who truly embodied Science Fiction. He was the pop star as Changeling. The pop star as Alien. In both appearance and musical style, he was fluid, constantly changing, an unstable element who understood the universe was inherently chaotic, and he rode that wave. Ziggy Stardust. The Rebel-Rebel who Ch-Ch-Changes. The Thin White Duke. Aladdin Sane. Major Tom. The brief flirtation with Fascism. The one how knew we could be Heroes just for one day. The one who found Life on Mars.
The pop star as Science Fiction construct.
An 18-month battle with cancer, a final burst of creativity with three albums, The Next Day, Nothing Has Changed (a definitive, final, compilation of new and previously uncollected songs), and Blackstar. A meticulously planned trilogy.
In the context of his passing, The Next Day and Blackstar suddenly make solid, melancholy sense. Now we have context to some of the mysteries of those last two albums. The Next Day with its elegiac tone, the start of contemplating mortality. Blackstar with its grand flourishes and dark intimations of mortality, uncertainty and cosmic terror.
From The Next Day, "Where Are We Now?" with its sad return to Berlin to visit an old friend city one last time.
And "The Next Day", one final attack on the hypocrisies of the Church, a declaration of intent, of refusal, of rebellion. Pop as Protest.
The videos of "Blackstar" and "Lazarus" are parts one and two of a visual, artistic last will and testament.
"Blackstar" is Science Fiction of the Interior, with its sense of vast, Lovecraftian darkness, the Thin White Duke prepares for his last dive into the Void.
"Lazarus" is deathbed performance art. The pop artist performing to the end.
In death, David Bowie becomes the patron saint of Otherness, of LGBT kids, of awkward, outsider kids, nerds, geeks, poets, changelings and weirdoes. He knew identity was a chimera and his performance was all about that narrative.
We danced. He played. We listened. Down the years
he changed remade himself. The music throb
changes remains. It is the artist's job
to be chameleon. He's dead. Our tears
are for ourselves and how he helped us be
ourselves through change. Let's not talk of his flaws
today – so many. Wash them in applause
For now. I weep he helped me to be free.
Life is, death is, a cavalcade of grief.
We know, we feel, we dance. And then we lose
who made us. So we put on our red shoes.
Lets dance contempt for death, who is the thief
makes life and dancing matter. In the sky
a starman waits. He knows and tells us why.
- Roz Kaveney
Written through tears
Good night, Duke.
Heroes just for one day at email@example.com
Follow the official LOOK! IT MOVES! twitter feed at http://twitter.com/lookitmoves for thoughts and snark on media and pop culture, stuff for future columns and stuff I may never spend a whole column writing about.
Look! It Moves! © Adisakdi Tantimedh