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[Xmca-l] Re: Collective moments and perezhivanie - the Bowie phenomenon

Thanks Beth, Annalisa, Michael and Andy for your reflections,

The news about another celebrity death this morning with Alan Rickman has
also been met with a flood of social media response.  Is this just mass
hysteria, people with empty lives searching for meaning in the lives of
others, or is it perezhivanie?
Looking through the types of post related to both what seems to be clear
is that while people respected Rickman and admired his work, many more
identified with something about Bowie and his work and the experiences are
much more like perezhivanie.

What I¹m thinking is that some of these events or moments perhaps are more
significant and perhaps could be called instances of cultural
perezhivanie? (and I must apologise here as while I have been following
the thread about moments and instances I am not sure I can reflect the
nuanced understandings in these comments).  What makes it perezhivanie is
that people are indeed Œliving through¹ an experience that is both
emotional and intellectual, there are notions of Badiou¹s event (from my
very brief reading Andy) with the recognition of ruptures revealed and the
potential for transformation.  The life and death of Bowie have confirmed
the experience of personal transformation for many ­ through providing a
vision of alternatives for sexuality, living and also of dying. He was
able to provide the pivots for the imagined to be made manifest, and the
prompt for examination and reinterpretation. I am sure people don¹t¹
necessarily agree with everything he did or may have believed (and dabbled
with Annalisa) but there are identities, roles, images, songs, film clips
that they identify with.

As people have identified, this example is not unique. The outpourings of
public grief were similar for Princess Diana, Michael Jackson and others.
In terms of the wider cultural landscape I reflect on what else has
assumed such cultural significance across the social media zeitgeist in
recent years - perhaps the Obama inauguration, the twin towers coming down
(however that was before the widespread use of social media and would very
much signal a  vision of negative transformation, but may well qualify as
the most significant Œcultural perezhivanie¹ of our generation.)

These kinds of events or moments (and even those in relation to celebrity
deaths) are not confined to our era and their communal
experiencing is also not new ­ think for example of seminal moments such
as the end of World War II and with Œcelebrities¹ the death of people like
Lord Byron,Dame Nellie Melba and many others were greeted by huge
outpourings of public grief. However what is different now is the use of
social media and elsewhere which enables people to move out of the
position of witness and it becomes far
more participatory.  This week some people have spent enormous effort
finding images, music, creating memes, changing
their profile pictures to select their favourite Bowie image and so forth.

Is this a good thing? Does it matter? What can we make of it? Perhaps it
is about identifying these experiences of Œcultural perezhivanie¹ and
certain markers within our overlapping social, personal, political,
geographic worlds that are pivots for personal and social

Appreciate further reflection...


On 15/01/2016 12:48 am, "Beth Ferholt" <bferholt@gmail.com> wrote:

>Thanks, Susan.
>What I have noticed in NYC about David Bowie's death day of his death is a
>lot of people crying in public or talking about crying in public earlier
>the day.
>It is sort of weird.  With other celebrity deaths I have seen people
>talking and sometimes a few tears but not so many people crying.  I think
>embodied emotion is a key part of perezhivanie that makes it generally
>harder to experience in a large group.
>I thought I was just having this reaction because of my age/what this
>particular artist meant to me, but I wonder if reactions to his death are
>actually different than reactions to the other deaths mentioned above.
>being in role so often is important for perezhivanie, as is the lack of
>violence in his death, I think.
>On Wed, Jan 13, 2016 at 11:23 PM, Annalisa Aguilar <annalisa@unm.edu>
>> Hi Susan and others,
>> Yes, it does feel like over the past few days, at least in the media,
>> there has been a kind of "global" perezhivanie for those who actually
>> meaning in the music and performance of David Bowie upon learning of his
>> passing.
>> As I've been considering his koan-like methods of creating art, perhaps
>> reason we feel kinship with him is not only because we may have grown up
>> with this music, and we might have felt communion with his artistic
>> of difference and how that is joined with liberation. Perhaps also
>> he created large gaps that we could fill in ourselves and thereby
>> our own meanings interwoven in his lyrics, so the work became
>> interactive" for want of a way to say it "differently."
>> One of the most hilarious stories I read recently is that when he lived
>> (walled) Berlin in the 80s one time on a whim he took the stage unasked
>> a cabaret and sang Frank Sinatra songs. The Berliners wouldn't have it.
>> They "shrugged and asked him to step down." The article doesn't say so,
>> I can imagine him actually reveling in that experience.
>> There are all these different meanings colliding:
>> What is: a Berlin cabaret in the 1980s?
>> What is: a Frank Sinatra song?
>> What is: David Bowie singing in a cabaret unasked?
>> What is: being rejected by Berliners (who lived behind the wall)?
>> Thinking about this (like this) functions similarly to the way his art
>> took form, all these overlapping meanings that must somehow be filled
>>in my
>> own summation, by what I bring to all those "meanings." Humor is also
>> filling in gaps.
>> However, on a more somber note, one of the aspects I consider while
>> reflecting on David Bowie's lifework, is his short-lived fascination
>> fascism. I want to understand that too. I'm pretty sure he wasn't one,
>> rather, as an artist he was exploring how that worked, as in "taking on
>> body" to see its inner architectures and mechanisms, as performance
>> are wont to do. Who knows if this was conscious or unconscious (probably
>> both). I'm not claiming it was totally innocent, but there was something
>> more going on than trying to shock for its own sake, nor was it some
>> pathological desire for world domination.
>> There is something "inside" fascism about filling in gaps that functions
>> similarly, and, much like Arendt, and perhaps Bowie himself, I feel
>> compelled to know how that works.
>> Does this also pertain in some way to "global" perezhivanie? If it does,
>> what makes it the same? And how it is different. Does it have to do with
>> consent (or lack of it)?
>> Does it mean there is a responsibility not only for the positive aspects
>> of what one does, but also the absences as well? Which seems to be about
>> not acting, or non-doing.
>> Then, how does this link to ethics? I mean, we could be heroes.
>> Kind regards,
>> Annalisa
>Beth Ferholt
>Assistant Professor
>Department of Early Childhood and Art Education
>Brooklyn College, City University of New York
>2900 Bedford Avenue
>Brooklyn, NY 11210-2889
>Email: bferholt@brooklyn.cuny.edu
>Phone: (718) 951-5205
>Fax: (718) 951-4816

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