We all cry when someone we love dies. It’s innate: we don’t think about it, it just happens. Something in our cells just opens up and we let out an anguish, pain, tears. That’s all fine but the biological process can be confused. Proximity, especially in this, our modern age, can be defined in weird ways. We haven’t even met the person before but by some trait, some closeness which is more than “just” space, we weep for their passing. Perhaps it’s the encounter with death on a grander scale; that a person of such immortality can be snuffed out terrifies us. Perhaps it’s the knowledge that their unique voice is gone, never to be reclaimed (even posthumous releases are not the same).

Whatever it is, I’m here to tell you that that’s fine but it’s not enough. We should be angry. When anyone dies, we should be filled with rage equal to the anguish, filled with a cry that is more resentment than loss. Our cells should burn with the passing, fire with forgotten urges to run, to hunt, to live. Forget that Dylan Thomas poem: there is no raging against the dying of the light. There is no fury that can contain death. We’re not raging against the dying of anything; we’re raging against death itself. We’re raging against the thief, we’re raging against the loss of things that shouldn’t have been alive but once they were, were cherished by all of us. By the living.

They were ours. And they were stolen from us. This is doubly true for the grand, for the non-personal, for that which had no proximity to our own body but which had touched our senses and, through a scanner darkly, our mind. The death of that is worse than the death of those who are near, more potent, less easy to reconcile, less socially acceptable. Less contextualized. To that, we must answer with rage: be alight today. Have your eyes blazing, not drowned with tears. Raise a fist to death and shake it, shake it wildly to the beat of an unrepentant drum that beats to a foreign beat. Turn your furious gaze to a million stars that burn on in silence, allowing death to do its ill-fated deeds.

Gaze with anguish and pain and rage at the passing of the Blackstar. God damn it Bowie, I already miss you.



7 Responses

  1. Gaia

    Anyone past retirement age I expect to die, so Bowie going was neither a surprise nor worth getting angry about. What scares people is we invest our identities in celebrities we believe to share qualities with, once they disappear that part of ourselves go with them and then there’s a sudden emptiness. Those who found meaning in their own life, do better. The others, well, not so much. Pursue what you need through personal experience, not vicariously, imprinted upon totems that resolve messily, i.e. dying prematurely (in other people’s eyes anyway).

    • Eden

      Death is worth getting angry about, period. That’s the whole point of the article above. Death is never OK, never expected. I’ve lost people who I knew were going to die, without a doubt, and it was still incredibly painful and shocking.

      I don’t see how this has anything to do with sharing qualities. No one thinks he was as original as Bowie or as weird as Bowie; Bowie was an innovator, someone who pushed the boundaries of culture further. Your comment is incredibly condescending, assuming that people who mourn over the death of their icons or people who were important to them “haven’t found meaning in their own lives”, as if anyone can find meaning in something which is inherently meaningless.

      Your last sentence just makes no sense and reduces the experience of what artists are. Through Bowie’s life, his experimentation, his music and his art, people learn things about their own lives. It has nothing to do with living vicariously, but with understanding how culture can be meaningful and impact our own experiences. Living vicariously is not even possible: everything we do, we do in our own lives. In addition, if you think that people can live without totems, then you haven’t been paying close attention to how people live.

      Thanks for reading and for your comment.

      • Gaia

        Paku paku. First of all, brilliant, thank you for a reply.

        1) Dismissing vicariousness, somewhat confusedly in your reply, is to dismiss any 1st person narratives, say. Much of Bowie’s lyrics challenges us, and puts us in his eyes. Living vicariously is a huge part of art, and much indebted to Bowie, especially in this post-modern era. Please dwell for a moment on Francis Bacon’s art.

        2) Death is always okay, it surrounds us in everything, our customs, what generates luck, the way we approach our lives… we all face death and it’s always going to happen. What’s the benefit of being angry about it? Anger only sullies our living. Especially when for thousands of years 69 was a generally old age.

        3) It is certainly a painful point you make, ‘as if anyone can find meaning in something which is inherently meaningless.’ Which is why people invest in fleeting celebrities, to give that period a figurehead, for the person, who is lacking in the qualities they desire, to imprint upon another who they want to be alike. I agree it is a sad state of affairs. No one is actually like Bowie today.

        I’d have to challenge the idea of icons. Deification is blinding. Whereas history is elucidating, those who make history are worth mourning, let’s see how long we’ll remember such people of Bowie’s stature.

        P.s. of course, if you told me Al Cisneros had died, I’d go out and become a martyr asap, so swings and roundabouts.

  2. Stavros Garedakis

    What makes David Bowie’s death even more tragic is the fact he just released such a wonderful album.

    • Nayon

      I’m fairly certain at some point during the album process he knew this was coming, and intended the album as an epitaph, at least partially. But that doesn’t cover the entirety of the album. What a wonderful man.

      • Stavros Garedakis

        The themes and mood certainly seem to be dark and intimate. Lazarus especially sounds so haunting now…

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