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

Hi Susan and others,

It's taken me a little bit of time to digest all this rich material, and I had to also watch the Bowie Blackstar video another few times [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kszLwBaC4Sw]. What is striking is that I seem to find something new about the video each time I see it (I also am curious what my experience of just hearing the song without the visuals might be like, and that will be yet another unfolding of the text of the music, as sound-experience-beyond-words-without-pictures).

Thanks so much Susan, for posting those articles, they are exactly the nourishment I was looking for. They are not definitive, but certainly helpful. 

Something else I learned is that the term Blackstar likely comes from a never-released song by Elvis called Blackstar, recorded in the 60's for a movie called Flaming Star, (into which the lyrics were changed). Here's the original lyrics:


Every man has a black star
A black star over his shoulder
And when a man sees his black star
He knows his time, his time has come

Black star don't shine on me, black star
Black star keep behind me, black star
There's a lot of livin' I gotta do
Give me time to make a few dreams come true, black star

When I ride I feel that black star
That black star over my shoulder
So I ride in front of that black star
Never lookin' around, never lookin' around

Black star don't shine on me, black star
Black star keep behind me, black star
There's a lot of livin' I gotta do
Give me time to make a few dreams come true, black star

One fine day I'll see that black star
That black star over my shoulder
And when I see that old black star
I'll know my time, my time has come

Black star don't shine on me, black star
Black star keep behind me, black star
There's a lot of livin' I gotta do
Give me time to make a few dreams come true, black star

You can listen to both versions of Elvis's Blackstar and Flaming Star here:

I learned of this connection with the Elvis song in a recent interview with Simon Critchley in the NY Times (about 45 min):

After reading the Bambam article ("The great I AM…[http://www.popmatters.com/feature/the-great-i-am-magic-fascism-and-race-in-david-bowies/]) it appears Blackstar may also to have to do with understanding "what is whiteness," and now I have an entirely different POV on the work of David Bowie. Elvis after all is the quote-unquote-white-man-doing-black-soul-music. It would be a find to learn the story about that song, why they changed the lyrics, and did Elvis write this song himself?

Then, what does it means that Bowie appropriated this symbol blackstar, and has layered so many other layers atop of THAT. The baphomet references in the Blackstar video is a rich link to unconventional (pagan) spirituality of Europe (Old Europe before the Romans, or the underground Europe after Christian conquests), and the footage of Bowie holding a text aloft in the video as if a puritan preacher seems to make references to Christian dogma.

Perhaps, Bowie's "fascist fascinations" actually have to do with his connection to lost interpretations. The 1975 reprint of the Bowie phone interview also sheds light on this possibility.

The part of the interview that raises the specter of Hitler is here:


"Oh, alright ... let's talk about the rest of the album. Very decadent this is [laughs]. 'Somebody Up There Likes Me' is a 'Watch out mate, Hitler's on his way back'... it's your rock and roll sociological bit."


He's talking about a song from the Young Americans album. It's his warning of approaching totalitarianism in regards to rock & roll, not that he advocates the principles of Mein Kampf! In everything that becomes totalitarian is the need to not only take control of interpretation, but to make all interpretations literal, which is basically removing any possibility for interpretation at all. It is a kind of death of the symbol (A blackstar). 

Also, there is something clairvoyant about what he said in that interview, namely:

----start of quote from article

"Like the original aim of rock and roll when it first came out was to establish an alternative media speak voice for people who had neither the power nor advantage to infiltrate any other media or carry any weight and cornily enough, people really needed rock and roll.

"And what we said was that we were only using rock and roll to express our vehement arguments against the conditions we find ourselves in, and we promise that we will do something to change the world from how it was. We will use rock and roll as a springboard.

"But it's just become one more whirling deity, right? Going round that never-decreasing circle. And rock and roll is dead."

Does he really believe that?

"Absolutely. It's a toothless old woman. It's really embarrassing."

So what's the next step?

"Dictatorship," says Bowie. "There will be a political figure in the not too distant future who'll sweep this part of the world like early rock and roll did.

"You probably hope I'm not right. But I am. My predictions are very accurate ... always."

"You've got to have an extreme right front come up and sweep everything off its feet and tidy everything up. Then you can get a new form of liberalism.

"There's some form of ghost force liberalism permeating the air in America, but it's got to go, because it's got no foundation at all, apart from a set of laws that were established way back in the bloody '50s and early '60s and have no bearing at all in the '70s. (The Supreme Court in America was at its most liberal in the late '50s, early '60s.)

"So the best thing that can happen is for an extreme right Government to come. It'll do something positive at least to the cause commotion in people and they'll either accept the dictatorship or get rid of it.

"It's like a kaleidoscope," says Bowie. "No matter how many little colours you put in it, that kaleidoscope will make those colours have a pattern ... and that's what happens with TV – it doesn't matter who puts what in the TV, by the end of the year there's a whole format that the TV put together. The TV puts over its own plan.

"Who says the space people have got no eyes? You have – you've got one in every living room in the world. That's theoretical of course…"

----end of quote from article

How he could have known that there would be as-if an TV eye watching everyone in their living rooms (the internet? cable television?), as well as the "fascism" of television as a machine that creates particular "kaleidoscope patterns" no matter what you put, all that is fairly uncanny. 

Now, not intending to read too much farther into this (I guess I am), but looking back at this interview there certainly is the possibility of matching his take with what has happened since then: that since the 70s/80s the Conservative right has taken over the political process, and is slowly eroding the rights of the ordinary person.

It does appear to be a fair (and coherent) statement to say that a rising conservative government will cause a commotion that will mean either we accept it or we get rid of it.  Can it create a new kind of liberalism? Could he have meant neoliberalism?

These are just more connections (I'm making) that possibly indicate reasons why there was something that resembles a global perezhivanie upon his passing.

Incidentally, I read someplace that he was told by a psychic in his youth that he would die when he was 69. And that seems to have happened. I'm not sure if I would want to know the date of my departure, but he seems to have had plenty of time to prepare for it and make his exit his own. 

Kind regards,