“Stands a solitary candle, in the center of it all.”
-David Bowie “Blackstar”
In true artistic fashion David Bowie approached death, embraced it poetically, and transformed it into a masterpiece, much like the way he explored life. After battling cancer for 18 months, a fact kept secret from the media until his death, the genius embodied by David Bowie, passed away on Sunday, two days after his 25th album Blackstar was released on his 69th birthday.
Blackstar and the videos which accompanied it, singles “Blackstar” and “Lazarus”, are the farewell monuments of a man who breathed artistic expression into the world around him all the way into his own passing. For Bowie, an artist who considered much of his work an ode to isolation, abandonment and anxiety, death was the perfect fit for his last musical testimony.
“I have no fear of failure whatsoever, because often out of that uncertainty something is salvaged, something that is worthwhile comes about.” -David Bowie
Watching the fantastical retelling of a story of death unfold on the screen, Bowie shares, unabashedly, the most intimate piece of his life, dying, unfolding in mythic fashion through both “Blackstar” and “Lazarus”. The visuals and music are both entrancing and tragic, an uncomfortably honest description of mortality, Bowie turns death into one last piece of performance art.
“And all of a sudden, after spending the time in proximity [to Bowie] I wanted to listen to all these things and see what I felt about him, and I loved all the music even more than I already did. Because I realized it was all true. It wasn’t contrived, it wasn’t somebody insecurely trying to become relevant or interesting. Every word, every little line was truthful, coming from a brilliant man who never tried to be a sensation,” director Johan Renck in a Noisey Interview, describes the process of working with Bowie on his final musical number.
As more of our pop era legends continue to pass on we are left with a new questioning of what we are doing now. When they’ve all slipped away, when their dreams have floated back to the ethers, we are asked once more to rise to the occasion of those who came before. Death is a reminder of all we’ve reached, as well as all we have left to accomplish. Bowie never let the fear of lack of fame or understanding keep him from reaching into the farthest galaxies of the life he knew he could express.
The legends stand with us long after their physical bodies dissipate, and Bowie will forever be a reminder of what we can become if we stretch the boundaries of our creativity with a certain air of authenticity.
From Davie Jones, to Ziggy Stardust, to the Thin White Duke, to David Bowie, to the Button Eyes of his final Earthly character, we send off the man who has inspired and informed an era of creative ingenuity and worked as a constant conspirator for the creative individual, sending him back to his star cluster home-the man who knew he fell to Earth.