Bowie by Bowie, David; Critchley, Simon

By Bowie, David; Critchley, Simon

An impressive and deceptively narrow publication, within which no essay takes longer to learn than it is going to take to hear a David Bowie tune, yet within which there's a cumulative feel of revelation as regards what makes Bowie exact, and why it truly is that his paintings turns out to yield extra, the extra time you spend there. The publication is pleasant, hugely readable, with bits of Nietzsche, Ruskin, Roland Barthes and Deleuze emerging up like wisps of cloud in its humorous, relocating and passionate box of inquiry. -Rick Moody, Salon

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Au contraire. CONSIDER BOWIE’S UNDERRATED, FIRST 1969 hit, “Space Oddity” (or odd ditty—it is a fascinating conjecture, following Nicholas Pegg, to ponder the possibility that Major Tom was Tom Major, the father of former British Prime Minister John Major, whose name would have appeared on various variety bills in Brixton, where young David Jones, later Bowie, was born). Major Tom goes into space and becomes a media commodity. ”) But rather than being overjoyed at having exceeded the terrestrial limit of the human condition, Major Tom withdraws into melancholic inaction.

Of course, maybe this says a lot about the quality of my life. Don’t get me wrong. There have been nice moments, some even involving other people. But in terms of constant, sustained joy over the decades, nothing comes close to the pleasure Bowie has given me. It all began, as it did for many other ordinary English boys and girls, with Bowie’s performance of “Starman” on BBC’s iconic Top of the Pops on July 6, 1972, which was viewed by more than a quarter of the British population. My jaw dropped as I watched this orange-haired creature in a catsuit limp-wristedly put his arm around Mick Ronson’s shoulder.

Musical tension is muscular, rising or falling, in progressive wave-beats of pleasure. BOWIE INCARNATED A UTOPIAN SOMETHING: some other way of existing in the suburban shitholes of Bromley, Beckenham, Billericay, Basingstoke, Braintree, or Biggleswade. It wasn’t some reflection of life on the street. Why would we have been interested in that? Life was routine, gray, cramped, and dull. Our parents were deeply morally confused by the 1960s, having affairs, getting divorced, and wearing flared trousers.

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