This is an article I penned in early 2016, shortly after the news of Bowie’s death.
Blackstar according to Rob
Many have tried to decipher the themes in Bowie’s Blackstar/Lazarus combo. Both are open to so much individual interpretation and I didn’t find the Guardian article particularly enlightening beyond what I’d already found online.
Here’s what they said to me in a hurried stream of consciousness. Bit heavy for a Friday perhaps, but meh!
The symbol of the serpent can be found in the ‘villa of Ormen’ reference (Ormen is Norwegian for ‘serpent’ hence the Crowley references). The serpent is often pictured eating its own tail, as a symbol of death/rebirth and the circle of life. In this instance, I interpret the villa of Ormen to be the ‘day of reckoning’, standing alone on the precipice of death, momentarily stopping the wheel of life and affording Bowie a clear view of his 69 years.
The solitary candle is the flame that stands firmly apart from the rest; in this instance, the flame of Bowie’s creativity and inspiration. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and can only be truly absorbed subjectively. When you are in this state of absorption, all else disappears. This is why ‘your’ (the viewer’s) eyes are in the centre of it all. This relates to the co-dependent viewer/performer relationship. It reminded me of the saying: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
“On the day of execution – only women kneel and smile.” – This is because feminine principles (as opposed to genital organs) contain all keys to unravelling the great mystery. Physically, women are attuned to the moon phases and cycles that play out within. Mother Earth can also be expressed as a giant womb, or place of surrender, nurturing and regeneration. In numerology, the female is expressed as 3 (maiden/mother/crone) and the masculine as 4 (beginning/increasing/maturing/destroying). The great mother is essentially the vehicle (for the day of execution) where death is a gentle surrender into her arms, hence the intuitive ‘kneeling and smiling’ in the face of the slightly more brutal/masculine principle of ‘destroying’. 😉
Blackstar. – There has been much talk about links to Elvis which make perfect sense (though I’m not an Elvis fan so I’ll leave that kind of speculation to the musos). A black star is a star in a state of transition – what hasn’t been mentioned much is that in the process of dying, a black star draws light IN. This is where we come back to the co-dependent relationship referenced above. The birth/death cycle of a black star can only sustain itself if there is light to replace the darkness. This is where ‘the great spirit steps aside’ and is replaced by an essence just as powerful who bravely takes up the mantle and shouts, “I’m a black star”.
The black star is the ‘punk’ star or black sheep that speaks truth and shines on its own terms (the essence of pure inspiration). This is life force energy at its most powerful which is why most figures in the video are shaking uncontrollably. As Bowie passes on he effectively gives life to the two shirtless men who raise their arms in the sky like zombies as if being pulled into a vortex. Their creative energy is spurred on as a direct consequence of Bowie’s existence and the two are inseparable.
The vid is packed full of shamanic references also, the circle work for one, but also the presence of the psychopomp at the end (he appears like a Siberian shaman, in coloured threads, without gender and with face covered). The psychopomp is the guide that walks between worlds, escorting wandering souls across the void.
The Lazarus vid features a woman under the bed who appears when Bowie enters the transition phase. She, along with Bowie’s masked disguise, features in both videos, linking two narratives. The Blackstar vid could therefore be expressed as Bowie’s dream or shamanic journey from the hospital bed.
To me, Blackstar is a gloriously deep statement about the essence of art and creativity expressed through the cosmic relationship between performer and recipient. The Major Tom/Spaceman reference is far too cute also. Space Oddity was such an extraordinary entrance and Blackstar offers the perfect ending to tie up the narrative leaving us to collectively gasp at his body of work…
…which is what I intend to carry on doing all weekend!x