Monday, 11 January 2016
No Apologies For The Infinite Radness 1.13.9 - "'Heroes'" (David Bowie)
As the world falls down, indeed.
The seemingly endless outpouring of grief and bittersweet remembrance currently sweeping social media like glitter-soaked kudzu, a lot of people have felt their world crumble if not outright collapse today. I, personally, find myself more grief-adjacent than anything else; Bowie's music means a lot to people who mean a lot to me. In five years the only CD I've found that my partner will sing along to on long car journeys is the Labyrinth soundtrack.
Which is fine with me, obviously. Like most geeks I am no stranger to the Goblin Bulge. My experiences of Bowie never got much beyond that, though. Which feels oddly appropriate. For all that the man was adored by legions of people who more or less swim in parallel with the world, it was always clear that wasn't what Bowie himself was doing. This was an artist perpendicular to reality, his music appearing as three-dimensional images of four-dimensional shapes cutting through our reality at right angles. My politics and my personality might make me feel like I'm swimming against the current, but Bowie was something else. He kept swimming out of the river and into the sky.
He was the freak that made freakishness seem both less and more - much more - freaky. An ambassador to "normality" - whatever that is - from the Outside where so many found themselves. I make no claim to having been to that Outside. That strange, twisted, wonderful, beautiful place belongs to others, and I can only doff my hat at it in passing. But I know it exists, in part, because of Bowie and those that followed and preceded him, and that's a powerful thing. I don't have to be able to visit somewhere to be glad that it is there. To be glad of those who won't stop telling us that it's there.
Along with his duet with Queen, "'Heroes'" was the one Bowie offering from outside his acting career that I instinctively felt I understood. It's not just the casting of life as a battle of "us" against "them", though I'm a major sucker for that kind of thing, and would love the chance to tell David Cameron and George Osborne and all the other soulless scraping hagfish clinging to Bowie's legacy like turd-damp leeches that they are fucking them and they have always fucking been them. It's the idea of compressing and expanding time. The idea that we can't actually beat the vicious, smirking monsters forever, not with them being everywhere, clustered like shit-eating fish around a sewage outlet, but if we can overcome them for one day, then that's enough. Indeed, in it's own way, that is winning forever, because that day becomes inviolate, a bastion they can never enter. Somewhere we can live forever, in stolen time they can never win back. No beautiful was ever made worthless by the fact it couldn't last.
And how do we do it? How do we pull off the twenty-four hour win? By becoming heroes, which means - and how I love this - becoming ourselves.
Whatever else you want to say about David Bowie, he was always himself. He created an awful lot of days for an awful lot of people that can never be taken back. So let's live inside those. Let's live inside, to quote a very different musician, the day he didn't die.
As though nothing could fall.