Bowie Knife Gut Naivety

So David Bowie is dead from cancer in 18 months. His latest album was highly original, as usual. What I view as Bowie’s best piece of music, “Heroes” (with Brian Eno) was recorded in Berlin, where Bowie lived before of the fall of the Wall. The State of Germany noticed:

Patrice Ayme Retweeted from:

Germany Officially Thankful To David Bowie. Rock Rocked The Wall

Germany Officially Thankful To David Bowie. Rock Rocked The Wall

GermanForeignOffice ‏@GermanyDiplo : Good-bye, David Bowie. You are now among #Heroes. Thank you for helping to bring down the #wall.  #RIPDavidBowie

Bowie had rigged speakers during concerts in Berlin, so that they directed music over the Wall. But the connections with Germany are deeper than that: Friedrich Nietzsche inspired Bowie:

Nietzsche Said He "Made Philosophy With A hammer". Bowie Also Cut Through The Crap

Nietzsche Said He “Made Philosophy With A hammer”. Bowie Also Cut Through The Crap

We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.” (Friedrich Nietzsche.)

Rock rocked the Wall, because it changed the mood. It changed the mood by breaking down a lot of conventions in the West. So rock installed a rocky mood: if convictions could be brought down that easily there, why not here?

The first rock artists to have played on the other side of the Iron Curtain where the Rolling Stones, in Poland, 1967 (just before Bowie started his career). Tickets to the concerts were given out by the Communist Party, much to the bands’ dismay. An unamused Keith Richard complained about it during a concert. Visiting Soviet officials were not pleased. “They thought the show was so awful, so decadent, that they said this would never happen in Moscow,”— Mick Jagger.

Bowie, an English native, was also a formal Canton de Vaud resident, for more than 5 years, and married (Somali top model Iman) in Switzerland in 1992 (they have a daughter, and Iman became foster mother to Bowie’s son from his previous marriage).

Asked why he kept on innovating, David Bowie said:”Elitism”.

“I always had a repulsive need to be something more than human.

I felt very puny as a human. I thought,

“Fuck that. I want to be a superhuman.”

-David Bowie

Nietzsche had written this earlier, and Bowie had read him. But, of course, this is the metaprinicple of humanity. Humanity would never have evolved, if our (pre) human ancestors had not said: Fuck that. I want to be a superhuman.

Some say the generations have to flow, because youth and creativity will replace the old gizzards. But David Bowie said he stayed stuck at the age of twenty, and, one day, was told he was in his fifties. Relative to the flow of centuries, a human life, whether destroyed after four years, or eight decades, is just a flick of time.

A 15-year-old refugee just attacked a Jewish professor in France: youth does not have necessarily more brains than the elders. The son of Turkish refugees of Kurdish origin, the adolescent youth was a good student in high school. He attacked the teacher in the street in Marseilles, with a 50 centimeter hatchet.

The victim protected himself with the Torah, which got cut up badly. Witnesses intervened and a biker pursued the attacker until a police patrol could nab him. He was found with still another lethal knife hidden on him (something unlawful in France). The crazily vicious youth declared to the police that the knife was to kill police officers. He also declared he self-radicalized on the Internet, by reading about the Islamist State, and he engaged in all these murderous rampage for Allah (as if Allah, should He exist, needed help from demoniac morons!)

This is one more potentially lethal attack by Muslim refugee rendered insane by the Qur’an. The preceding one was on David Bowie’s birthday, last Friday, an assault against police. French detectives found a German chip in the phone of the assaillant, and the (now safely dead) “refugee” was tracked down to Germany, where he had taken refuge, indeed.

Our ancestors were humans. It did not matter if their wisdom was only human: what could they do that would go really wrong? Eat each others? Well, the cooks would survive, and they did. It was the eternal return of the same old evolution. But now evolution has been all too successful: it has evolved god.

No, not the one in the Bible and Qur’an. Not just a figment of the imaginations of some primitives, 3,000 years ago. No, real gods, this time, and they are not kidding. Some are even insane, dedicated to the Cult of Death.

We, now, are not simple cannibals. We can cause a lot of damage. We are gods: we propose and dispose upon the greatest gift in the Universe: life on Earth.

Indeed, the greatest gift: I argued that not only Earth is in the habitable, water rich zone, it’s also equipped with a powerful radioactive core, which enables very long-term life evolution, hence the rise of sentience.

Earlier philosophers, starting with G. Bruno, following Buridan, argued conscious life was all around the cosmos; nowadays, forsaken physicists argue universes full of conscious life are all over; I disagree. Although habitable planets are obviously in the hundreds of billions, in this galaxy alone, sentience may well be on this planet alone.

Now we have the powers of the gods. We can use it to construct and improve, ad vitam eternam, again and again. We can also use it for utter destruction. Just once.

And there would be no tomorrow. We thus need huge intelligence to move forward and progress, the intelligence of the gods, just as we have the power of the gods.

Intelligence, creative intelligence is rare. Not as rare as live on Earth, of course, but still, it cannot be replaced by the hordes and the herds. Replacing David Bowie will be difficult, for civilization itself, and one more reason to push for life extension.

To extend intelligence, we need to extend life, it’s a simple as that. Just contemplate the lives of cephalopods: they are very clever, but cannot establish a culture: they live too short for that. Do we live long enough to establish a sustainable culture?

The jury is out, and it does not look good.

As we mourn David Bowie, we have to remember that intelligence is not just about being kind. Intelligence is also about cutting through naivety, not to say the crap. Following his elders the Who, Stones, Beatles, Bowie pushed a bit further to stab the beast. Yet the beast, and the mark of the beast, are more vigorous than ever. Don’t ask who brandishes the knife, ask why it is brandished. This is as far as pacifism can realistically go.

Patrice Ayme’


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14 Responses to “Bowie Knife Gut Naivety”

  1. Gmax Says:

    Shattering. Bowie, dying, made us all a gift. Sad, but elevating


  2. Chris Snuggs Says:

    Bowie and Freddy Mercury, two singers people seem to revere, but who left me indifferent. For “genius”, I think of Joni Mitchell or Mark Knopfler, and I miss Buddy Holly much more.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Not fond of Freddy Mercury here either (although it’s fashionable to be). But some compositions of Bowie (“Heroes”) were amazing. Mark Knopfler did one really good song (that I know of). For the rest all Stones, Who, much Beatles and all of Pink Floyd here. No Pierre Boulez, here, but rather David Gilmour’s astounding guitar work! Although some French classical music (God Save the Queen, a French song!), middle age music, Ludwig Van, Mozard, etc… And of course South American music, Arab music (Paint it black!).


  3. Chris Snuggs Says:

    Nothing is as susceptible to personal taste as pop music. If I had to choose a SINGLE piece of music as the most sublime and moving I have ever heard it would be Michael Kamen’s introductory theme to “Band of Brothers”. But its effect is also due to the context.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Hmmmm… Don’t know these. As I said, “Heroes” is by far my preferred Bowie tune (followed by Little China Girl). Music is music for me. From Prokofiev to Madonna and the Bolero… And even some Bjork, the Icelandic Bowie…


  4. Chris Snuggs Says:

    ‘Cephalopods cannot establish a culture: they live too short for that. Do we live long enough to establish a sustainable culture? Jury is out.’

    Chris Snuggs: The human mind is too susceptible to delusion. “Reason” remains an alien concept for well over half the Earth’s population.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      My point being that I was thinking even of the elite. Is the elite living long enough to establish a sustainable culture, for the elite?


      • John Rogers Says:

        A little aside here. The German philosopher Joseph Pieper wrote a nice book – Leisure: The Basis of Culture. One of his basic points is that if you don’t have leisure (i.e. the time to wonder about, think and puzzle out things) there is no progress or improvement. Of course, the American bourgeois ideal is all work all the time which is a death spiral.


        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          Yes, one can see it in the education of children: American moms, and Americanized moms, spend their time driving their children from activity to activity. As the upper middle class cannot do it all, they use “uber girls” to do this…

          Thinking progresses through meta-thinking (viewing the logic from outside). So, indeed, no leisure, no ADVANCEMENT of culture.

          Being mentally inactive on the creative side is most restful. So the hyperactivity of all too many Americans is the way to ultimate laziness. I can check by engaging in conversation and seizing brains at will.


  5. Gloucon X Says:

    “My point being that I was thinking even of the elite. Is the elite living long enough to establish a sustainable culture, for the elite?”

    The elite have produced long-term institutions far beyond a single lifetime that sustain delusion for the masses(The Catholic Church and other establishments of religion) and corporations that sustain wealth for themselves. Some of the major banks have origins that go back much longer than a single lifetime. Exxon (Standard Oil) and its sister oil companies are 140 years old. These seem to be the only bits of culture they think are worth sustaining.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Precisely, and not the sort of culture we may want around. Exxon wants the greenhouse to become terminal, like a drug addict is ready to die of his addiction, that’s Exxon’s culture.

      If individuals were to live 1,000 year, owning a beach bungalow, they would be infuriated against Exxon: the sea is rising and soon will be inches a year…


  6. hazxan Says:

    “What I view as Bowie’s best piece of music, “Heroes” (with Brian Eno)”

    Me too! I like most of early material, but dislike just about everything from “Ashes to Ashes” on. Inferior synth pop that wouldn’t get a look in without his name behind me.

    And in a way, that’s the key to Bowie – he was not a musical genius, his musical talent was mediocre. Bowies talent was image, appearance, style. He was a decent lyric writer, too, but music?

    What he did – and this is a trend followed by the likes of Madonna -was choose top quality musicians to do the real genius work for him. Listen to the changes through his early albums, it wasn’t him that changed, it was the supporting musicians.

    There’d be no Ziggy Stardust without Mick Ronson on guitar. Brian Eno – now he is inarguably a musical, creative, artistic genius. It should be “Heroes” by Brian Eno (with Robert Fripp and David Bowie…) 🙂

    Now whether he chose those musicians, I’m not so sure. His early producer in the glam days, Tony Visconti did something very similar with Marc Bolan – transformed their sounds from folky hippy acoustic guitar strummings to electric glam pop that went from underground to #1 in the pop charts. Visconti formed the band with Ronson on guitar. Bowie was the image, the “gimmick” that pop bands had to have back then.

    None of which is to detract from Bowie – far from it, I just want to remind that his music was not just “David Bowie” but a full blown team effort of skill and hard work from many. His was the name and the glory….

    And now I can get to my point which is that the whole of civilisation is just the same! It is a team effort, for every 1%-er billionaire, thousands of nameless who keep civilisation going. Without them, there could be no rich and famous. The stories of individuals making the riches through hard work and genius are just that – stories. No such thing as a self made man. And with music, the key is to “hide your influences”.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      The superiority of democracy is that it taps most minds, whereas oligarchy depends only upon a few. Most minds implies much more ideas.

      The superiority of oligarchy upon plutocracy is that the latter rests mostly on evil emotions (like greed).

      Beethoven made no mystery that he went to listen to people herding sheep, goats and cows while making their own music to get inspiration. That was very honest. Einstein made a crack about that (secret of genius is to hide your sources, or words to this effect).

      The entire British Rock scene of the 1960s behaved like a super group. Everybody knew everybody, and, to a great extent, helped everybody. For years the Stones did not release the “Rock & Roll Circus”, something of their own making, because they thought The WHO had outshined them (the Who were just appearing, so they were sort of launched by the Stones, like those had been helped by the Beatles). Bowie, Pink Floyd, Birds/faces, etc… appeared simultaneously.

      Such grouping of genius have appeared in history repeatedly: 4C BCE Athens being the most famous case; but there are others, like Buridan/Oresmes Paris in the 14 C; and of course the Enlightenment; maybe the Internet is creating such an explosion now!


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