I wasn’t going to write about David Bowie or his recent death for a couple of reasons. I was too distraught for a while to write anything other than “WHY?!” That’s the main reason.
Another reason is I didn’t feel like contributing to the post mortem. There were two types of writing that came out in the days after Bowie’s death: think pieces and feel pieces. I tried reading some think pieces but they sounded like rung bells in my head.
Many of the nostalgic ‘feel pieces’ I’ve read are wonderful. They all contain kernels of truth for me that reflect my experience and how I’m feeling. I am comforted by the idea that I was not being silly or overemotional when I couldn’t stop feeling about David Bowie and his death. Or at least if I was, I was in good company.
Through David Bowie and others like him, those who choose to – I was going to say ‘live their lives through’ but I don’t mean that – dedicate their careers to the arts, I have learned that where there appears to be no meaning or purpose, those things can be created. A half formed quote about an unexamined life is milling about in my poor brain.
I always assumed David Bowie was immortal. Only now he has gone have I recognised I was not alone in that assumption. He seemed so much healthier and happier as the years went by. The Ziggy years, the frightening Thin White Duke period; you look at him and he is a character but you see that the man is fragile, thin and pale, sometimes barely there, and you wonder how he made it out. I guess I figured if he could get through that, he might actually live forever.
Many of his later interviews, still more than 10 years ago, were filled with happiness and humour – he was so funny – and he spoke of how much he loved aspects of his life, particularly the parts we were not privy to. That makes me happy. His private life was and is none of my business but I like the idea that one can grow into one’s self and I’m glad for him that he found peace or whatever it was that gave him that easy smile.
Now, we are left with his music and his art and his films. There is an illusion of immortality there, too. Anyone who is blessed with the gift of creativity, so long as they do create, can live a little longer. It is some consolation. Not much of one in the end for the individual, I’m sure.
For the people who go on artistic journeys, the art is always there to go back to again and again. Even if, eventually, it is necessarily bookended.