Cor Hendriks – David Bowie: Blackstar (1)
David Bowie, toch vroegtijdig overleden, maar tot het laatst toe een ster, heeft ons zijn testament nagelaten in de vorm van zijn laatste meesterwerk ‘Blackstar’. Ik zag dat hij dood was in een krantenkop, keek op internet en stuurde een mail naar Rob Scholte, die me meteen een link stuurde naar het artikeltje van Martin Vrijland ‘David Bowie overlijdt 2 dagen na 69e verjaardag’ [http://www.beyondthematrix.nl/2016/01/11/david-bowie-overlijdt-2-dagen-na-69e-verjaardag/], waarin Bowie wordt neergezet als een Crowley-aanhanger en Crowley als een walgelijk figuur, zodat Bowie als Crowley-verheerlijker dat ook is.
Volgens Vrijland is Blackstar een rechtstreekse verwijzing naar Crowley en diens Saturnische cultus. Nu is mij in het geheel geen verbinding tussen Crowley en een Saturnische cultus bekend en voert Vrijland wel een hele dubieuze bron aan om Saturnus tot blackstar uit te roepen (zie hier https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ck3bYY9II4c). Crowley is daarentegen de oprichter van de orde van de SS: Silver Star, ook bekend als A.A. (Argenteum Astrum: zilveren ster) [zie https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A%E2%88%B4A%E2%88%B4], terwijl Saturnus voor hem een planeetgeest is.
Het uitleggen van zowel de song als de videoclip (je kunt ze niet scheiden) is een uitermate ingewikkelde zaak. Bowie is een meester van het cryptische. De eerste regel luidt: ‘In the villa of Ormen stands a solitary candle, in the centre of it all, your eyes”. Wie is Ormen? Is het van het Zweedse/Noorse ‘orm’ = slang (Nederlands: worm = Deens orm) en betekent het ‘De Slang’? Een villa is een landhuis en daarin staat een eenzame kaars. Deze kaars is in de clip duidelijk te zien. Het lijkt of hij al een eeuwigheid brandt en ook nog een eeuwigheid door kan gaan met branden. Maar dit laatste is niet waar, want de kaars staat in een fles en is bijna opgebrand. Het is Bowies levenslicht! Hij heeft 69 jaar gebrand en nu is de kaars bijna op.
Het levenslicht komt voor in het sprookje van ‘De dokter en de Dood’, door E. Le Roy Ladurie op zo’n vreemde wijze behandeld in zijn ‘Geld, Liefde en Dood in de Pays d’Oc.’ De dokter heeft bij zijn geboorte de Dood als peetvader gekregen en deze heeft de jongen, toen deze 18 werd, geleerd om een onfeilbare diagnose te stellen: wanneer hij bij een zieke komt en hij ziet zijn peetvader bij het hoofdeinde staan, dan gaat de zieke sterven, maar staat de Dood bij het voeteneind dan wordt de zieke beter in welk geval hij slechts dropwater hoeft voor te schrijven. Hierdoor wordt de ‘dokter’ al snel erg rijk, moet op een dag bij de zieke koning komen, die hem een zeer grote beloning belooft, maar de Dood staat bij het hoofdeinde. Dan besluit de dokter tot een list en draait snel het bed om, zodat de Dood bij het voeteneind staat. De beetgenomen Dood is niet blij met deze actie van zijn petekind en neemt hem mee naar zijn ‘verblijf’, een groot landhuis of een soort grot, waarin niet één maar een heleboel kaarsen staan, namelijk van alle mensen op aarde. De Dood legt zijn business uit, waarop de dokter zijn eigen kaars wil zien. Deze blijkt heel kort, bijna op, terwijl die van zijn vrouw nog behoorlijk lang is. Ook hier probeert hij het met een list (door de kaars van zijn vrouw op de zijne te zetten), maar het mag niet baten; zijn lont dooft en hij sterft.
Ouder dan het sprookje is de Noordse mythe van Norna Gest (geschenk van de Nornen), die bij zijn geboorte van de Nornen een kaars kreeg met de mededeling, dat hij zo lang zou leven als de kaars brandde, waarop de moeder de kaars uitblies en opborg. Zo bleef Norna 300 jaar in leven, had er toen genoeg van en liet de kaars opbranden. Het is hetzelfde verhaal als dat van Meleager, die bij zijn geboorte voorspeld kreeg door de Fates (Gr. Moira), dat hij zo lang zou leven als de toorts in het vuur zou branden, waarop zijn moeder de toorts doofde. De Grieken hielden van tragiek en het liep met Meleager dan ook tragisch af, een algemeen bekend verhaal.
De kaars, Bowies levenslicht, staat in Ormens villa in het centrum van alles. Thor heeft de bijnaam Ormseinbani (de ‘einbani’ [inbinder?] van de Orm), omdat hij degene is die de Slang Jormundgand, de zogeheten Midgardslang, in zijn eentje verslagen heeft. Deze slang omspant de hele wereld en bijt zichzelf in de staart, een bekend beeld van de Oneindigheid. Midgard, d.w.z. onze wereld, de ‘tuin in het midden’, heet zo, omdat de wereld in het midden ligt tussen boven- en onderwereld. En midden in die wereld staat de mens als microkosmos een vijfpuntige ster in de tekening van Vitruvius. Naar deze mens, de eerste, Adam, die met zijn vrouw Eva in die tuin ronddwaalde, kwam de Slang en leerde hen het verschil tussen goed en kwaad, waardoor ze volwaardige mensen werden, die zich gingen bezighouden met akkerbouw en het baren van kinderen.
Een andere keer zal ik verder over Blackstar spreken, want song en clip zijn geen simpele zaak. Ik geef nog een klein voorbeeld. De regels ‘You’re a flash in the pan (I’m not a marvel star)’ hebben betrekking op Flash Gordon: Bowie had vroeger vaak een bliksemflits over zijn gezicht, maar – zegt hij – hij is geen ‘Marvel star’, geen Flash Gordon, en hij hoopt meer te zijn dan een eendagsvlieg (flash in the pan). Afijn, van twee blogs op het internet heb ik een PDF gemaakt. Het zijn:
http://www.gettheebehind.me/ Norman Ball (Nov. 2015): How We Hid the Devil Right Before Our Eyes: Baudelaire at the Bataclan, Our Baby Blues, & Bowie’s Blackstar.
Jungian intronaut and visual artist Tanja Stark’s recent blog essay Eagles in my Daydreams, Diamonds in my Eyes: http://tanjastark.com/2015/11/25/1286/.
Ook heb ik een PDF gemaakt van een aantal sites over de Symbolische Betekenis van de Pentagram. Zie het eind van het artikel.
Op het internet circuleren veel meningen over Blackstar. Hier volgen enige van de meest zinvolle:
Mathew Theodor schreef (Dec 14, 2015): The song/video can be a about lots of stuff. There are some clear themes (religion seeming to be the main one) but it’s hard to definitely link it all together. So to avoid misconceptions, first I’ll deconstruct it according to Occam’s Razor: At the start we see the blackstar (looks like an eclipsed star) shining in the background while an astronaut’s remains (with various pop stickers on its suit) lies in some planet. A girl with a tail (purposefully) walks to the astronaut suit and opens his visor, revealing a bejewelled skull (doesn’t make sense unless the astronaut had jewels glued to his face, but I guess it’s symbolic). She puts the skull in a case and goes back to some kind of town, with tall towers in it’s background, for some kind of ritual (involving exclusively young women), they make a circle and follow the tailed girl (she appears to be the only tailed one) into darkness. It can be seen that the rest of the skeleton was thrown in space as it heads towards the blackstar. Meanwhile we see Bowie singing as a blindfolded man with buttons for eyes, he’s outside a room (looks like an attic) where three people (a black guy, an albino like one, and a girl) jerking uncontrollably to some strange rhythm. Bowie is the only one blindfolded, but he’s also isn’t jerking like the other people). The lyrics of this part talk about a “a solitary candle in the villa of Ormen” (also shown in the video) and that ” in the day of execution, only women kneel and smile”. The candle seems to be there for a long time (judging by the wax, maybe it’s everlasting) and we get from the video that there are only girls, but they neither kneel nor smile (they kneel at the end of the video but never smile, probably the smile part is also just symbolic). During the eerie instrumental bridge we see Bowie (sans blindfold) as some kind of priest, holding a book with a black star in the cover and “scanning” the horizon with it. The same three people from the attic stand behind him following the direction of the book with their eyes (they are no longer jerking). After this we see Bowie alone in the attic singing the second session of the song. He seems solemn and acts as if praying. After this there’s an montage showing some girl’s eyes (looks like the tailed girl, but also Jennifer Connelly in the Labyrinth days :P) and (clearly Bowie’s) eyes. His expression seen lost and confused while hers is alluring, like if she was flirting with him. The lyrics for this part are a bit more cryptic but talk about somebody taking the place of a dead person and claiming to be a ‘blackstar’ (meaning that probably the eclipsed star was also only symbolic, and not the actual subject of the song). Then it goes questioning the fall of angels and people who “lie instead of talking tall”, elaborating that the ‘blackstar’ claimant “trod on sacred ground” and made the claim to a crowd (this time also adding that he “is not a gangster”). We get a different and (last) kind of session where Bowie is again in the attic but now his demeanor is different. He seems in mental pain (“I can’t answer why” is sung in this part) but them hcanges to being kinda mad and flamboyant. The lyrics now seem like he’s convincing (or simply making claims) to someone, mentioning a lot of stuff that is as seemingly random as the fine Bowie lyrics ever were. Meanwhile the back vocals repeatedly claim “I’m a blackstar” while also claiming not to be many other kinds of stars (the second time this session comes along, the only positive assertion is besides the blackstar one is “I’m a star star”). We see the praying Bowie session again, this time with even more cryptic lyrics (the “star star” claim is seen here too”). The video then shows for the first time three scarecrows (a bearded one, a fat one in the middle, and a third one) into crosses (people say this is clearly Christian but scarecrows are generally held this way). They have sacks in the heads, button eyes (like Bowie at the beginning of the video) and from the cuts in their clothes we see straws coming out (they’re either made of it, or it’s just stuffing, maybe that’s why the center one is fat). Like all scarecrows they also have rag clothes (all these details are probably symbols of something too). They seem to be desperately trying to release themselves from the crosses (interestingly, the fat scarecrow seem like he’s dancing as he swings his hips). We then see the instable Bowie in the attic session again, he starts the same way (mental pain along “I can’t answer why”) but then talks about how “we were born upside down” and “the wrong way round”. The whole ‘ I’m a blackstar but not any other kind of star except star star’ part is also present again. We see the priest Bowie still holding the book, now with a more concerned look (at the end of this part we also see the bearded scarecrow look as if he’s suddenly aware of something very important, like when we hear a noise in the dark woods). At the end of the song we get back to the first verses. This time all women form a circle with their heads down, and performing a different kind of ritual (they seem coerced or even controlled to do it, unlike the first time). A kind of expressionless priestess (not the tailed girl, she’s not seem anymore) now hold the skulls, and it’s mere sight seems to make the girls jerk uncontrollably. The girl from the attic trio comes in the center (she doesn’t jerk, but her movements are mechanical nonetheless) makes some gestures as if to receive the skull, but just get on her knees. The priestess sways the skulls, and the girls respond as if being controlled by it. We see now there are fumes and glows coming out of the holes in the skull, that seem to connect to the also glowing brain (maybe because of the circlet she wears). The candle is showing once again, but we also see the last character of the video, a monstrous creature that dances or runs (it’s either excited or in a hurry) in a colored fog. It goes to where the scarecrows are and they scream at it, as if trying to send it away. As the music fades, the creature attacks the scarecrows who seem to be in pain (this is most certainly the execution mentioned in the lyrics) as he hacks them with his hook like claws. Blindfolded Bowie seems to be in uncontrollable fear or aversion as it happens (even though he’s not present). That’s my literal analysis of the video. The story is pretty straightforward even though the meaning is obscure. If you consider blindfolded and priest Bowie to be the same character at different times (when he is in the attic he apparently only sings, and isn’t acting as a character per se) we get this: Girl gets skull to perform ritual in the past (the blindfolded Bowie scenes, like the lyrics, are the present), then we get the priest and the people trying to avoid or discover something about it while the eye montage and attic Bowie tell what happened after the ritual. At the end we are again in the present, where people either jerk uncontrollably or have buttons for eyes (they’re blind or been blinded). The priestess being different shows that this is the future and the tailed girl has already died. She either summons, or it’s already established that, the creature sacrifices the blind people. All the magic (creature, skull) can be seen as either literal or symbolic. Or maybe it’s just Major Tom being Jesus while occult rituals and imagery transform the world into the same thing that will happen if ISIS takes over the world.
DBone schreef (Jan 12, 2016): This is a comment on the video as it seems to explain the song in some depth as I see it. I believe the song is a wicked indictment of religious friction between Islam and Christianity and it’s use of mortality as a punishment to the unbeliever. A brilliant and brave comment from a dying genius. Major Tom, after personally experiencing that which is greater than can be known can’t go back and dies in space. His suit now reclines in stunned repose witnessing the Blackstar (a black hole) infinity. Along comes curiosity ( the girls fleeing to ISIS?) looking for life answers (notice the cat tail – curiosity killed her of course) and discovers the bejeweled holy relic of his skull – a symbol for all religious claims to have the “answer”. Notice the set for this is actually in the shape of the inside of a skull with the star being a solitary eye. So we are actually inside your skull or mind’s eye. The solitary candle – your belief system ingrained from childhood. Many layers of wax have built up as the generations sustain it – relighting it adding to it. The Villa of Ormen, could be either or men? Indecisiveness runs throughout this video. The attic is another metaphor for the skull – or the rationalization of your beliefs. Notice the jerking dance movements. Anyone ever witnessed someone speaking in tongues? These are people overcome with unsureness. Unsettled not knowing what to believe – yet Mr. Bowie has buttons for eyes. His mind is sewn shut in his beliefs and his eyes are closed to any other revelation and not able to let in any light. The True Believer professing true faith in the Villa of Ormen (Islam)! An occasional reference to death ( a Rastafarian looking “Grim Reaper” ) also runs through the video which is a constant threat to the players that your life is finite and you must make a choice A colorful field of wheat appears – eternal life – heralding a stylized preacher breathing life into the word in his Blackstar Bible. He begins professing the “true faith” of Christianity in the attic (your head) claiming Islam is a “flash in the pan” & Christ is the great ‘I Am”. Doubt begins to show as he proclaims Christs “spirit rose a meter in the sky” then someone took his place? His ideas supplanted by the desires of men posing as him? Things get murkier as he can’t explain but “Ima take you home”. “We were born upside down or the wrong way ’round” is the best he can come up with when doubt creeps in. Scarecrows (straw men) on crosses show up in the field symbolizing the crucifixion – but the field has gone drab and grey. Soon the constant drum of Islam returns. Now some very European looking women are being confirmed into the Islamic ideology with one being symbolically beheaded and Major Toms bejeweled skull (ideology) placed on her back wrong way around (their minds are seriously befuddled). To bring it all home The Rastafarian Reaper has had enough and takes all of the wheat – Christian, Muslim, & Bowie… which all along was the sure thing. Blessings to Mr. Bowie in whatever next life there may be.
Poontang3zizo schreef (Jan 11, 2016): Damn. Just heard the news. Thought I’d give my shot at interpreting this masterpiece: Major Tom, a fictional creation of Bowie, discovers a black star. It should be noted that the character is a representation of Bowie himself so we can draw parallels with this video to reality. When Tom’s bedazzled skull is discovered, the woman takes it and essentially starts worshiping it. He becomes an idol. However, the video is intercut with Bowie blindfolded with false eyes and holding what looks like a Satantic bible. David Bowie, the pop star is a figure the occult (hidden) because of his genius but he is just as blind as anyone else. He becomes a misinformed Jesus of sorts for the masses, as represented by the three scarecrows (it closely resembles Jesus’ crucifixion) When death does find Bowie/Major Tom/ Jesus scarecrow he realises the futility of existence. At the center of the universe lies a black star. This represents many things; a black star is a fallen star, a dead star. Here Bowie is acknowledging his inevitable demise as an artist and as a person. That in the end he will be nothing but a black star. However, his legacy will live on. This is seen when the skull is being worshiped. Blackstar is essentially a meditation of death and the emptiness of being an idol. It’s pretty nihilistic and very bleak. What I got from it is that humans find ways to find joy within the abject apathy of this universe. It’s artists like David Bowie, though flawed, provide us with such joy. His legacy will always be remembered. Goodbye David. You will go down in history as one of the greatest pop artists ever. But you always knew that, you brilliant fucker you ;)
Chris Savia schreef (Jan 11, 2016): David Bowie, one of the biggest music icons in the last 4 decades, lost his battle to cancer last week (http://www.reuters.com/article/us-people-bowie-death-idUSKCN0UP0KD20160111), just after having turned 69. If you’re an audiophile, that’s a shitty enough way to start off 2016. But Bowie earned a special place in the Fortean pantheon due to his long-life interest in both the UFO phenomenon and the occult, which had a great influence in his music as well as his sporadic stunts as an actor. His role in the movie The Man Who Fell to Earth (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0074851/) is highly commendable for his attempt to capture the inadaptation felt by an alien being on our planet –then again, alienation from the rest of the boring, one-dimensional humans living on this rock is something he must have been pretty familiar with all of his life… Bowie’s interest in UFOs began with a sighting he witnessed in his early childhood (http://theparanormal.ca/11-shocking-celebrity-ufo-sightings.html), which was reported in the English newspapers after he became a celebrity: “They came over so regularly we could time them. Sometimes they stood still, other times they moved so fast it was hard to keep a steady eye on them.” This was not to be the only close encounter Bowie would have throughout his life. Famous rock stars are not an unusual demographic in the annals of UFO reports; in fact, it would seem that artists are more open and predisposed to entertain ideas that would make left-brained people frown upon –and also more open to share their UFO sightings. What was unusual, though, was Bowie’s departure from traditional explanations with regards to the phenomenon. In the book The Laughing Gnostic: David Bowie and the Occult (http://www.parareligion.ch/bowie.htm), author Peter R. Koenig reports on another UFO encounter Bowie had –this time, while he was traveling across the English countryside with a friend– and paraphrases his interpretation of the event: “I believe that what I saw was not the actual object, but a projection of my own mind trying to make sense of this quantum topological doorway into dimensions beyond our own. It’s as if our dimension is but one among an infinite number of others.” That right there is a deeper insight into the mind-boggling reality of the phenomenon than the speculative theories of MOST ‘professional’ UFOlogists! Perhaps is because Bowie was approaching the UFOs more from a perspective closer to Aleister Crowley’s teachings, than from a materialistic ‘nuts and bolts’ worldview. The Golden Dawn philosophy was not only right at the core of his musical output during the 1970s, but also present on one of his last videos: Blackstar (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kszLwBaC4Sw, 2015) Androgyny, eccentricity, and the ability to walk back and forth between different worlds. These are all the stapler marks of a true shaman. Here’s hoping Ziggy returned safely to his home planet, that Major Tom accomplished his cosmic transformation without a hitch, and that deep down in dark caves, the spiders from Mars keep singing Bowie’s songs for many eons to come.
Negatiever is de mening van Riddler op The Vigilant Citizen Forums (http://vigilantcitizen.com/forums/index.php):
Dear lawd how much symbolism, satanism and demonic posession stuff can you fit into a single vid? dayum. what the hell is this shiz!
WARNING: SERIOUSLY CREEPY STUFF
★ In the villa of Ormen, in the villa of Ormen
★ Stands a solitary candle, ah-ah, ah-ah
★ In the centre of it all, in the centre of it all
★ Your eyes
Ormen is the name of a village in Norway. “Ormen” actually means “Serpent” in Norwegian.
The most famous example of this name’s use in history is the “Ormen Lange” (the “Long Serpent”) – a Viking ship King Olav captured from a rival king who violently rejected Christ during Olav’s Christian crusade in the last years of the 8th century AD.
Therefore, one can read it as “Behold as you enter… the town of the serpent
The opening chant may imply that this is the lone, last bastion of hope/light/faith
(that solitary, flickering candle) in a sad, tragic locale, the “Villa of Ormen” (a “village/town of serpents”). The video literally shows a solitary candle; it’s not even certain that light symbolizes good. Bowie is willfully inscrutable.
The “centre of it all” may or may not be a literal physical center (like the central spire) in the video. It could be a “centre” in the sense of “an essential element, the core of its situation.” One meaning doesn’t necessarily cancel the other.
★ On the day of execution, on the day of execution
★ Only women kneel and smile, ah-ah, ah-ah
★ At the centre of it all, at the centre of it all
★ Your eyes, your eyes
The imagery here is rich in Satanic overtones, something Bowie has flirted with in the past. In the 1970s, during his Thin White Duke phase, he became deeply engaged in the writings of occultist and novelist, Aleister Crowley, drawing pentagrams on the floor, fuelled by copious amounts of cocaine, peppers and milk.
Here, Bowie describes either a black mass, an inversion of traditional catholic praxes, or a Gnostic mass, Gnosticism being another one of Bowie’s flirtations. The repeated “ah-ah, ah-ah” is ritualistically daemonic, while the “solitary candle” and the execution of the “kneeling women” induces a distinctly menacing atmosphere to the song.
★ Something happened on the day he died
★ Spirit rose a metre and stepped aside
★ Somebody else took his place, and bravely cried
★ (I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar)
Possibly referring to Bowie’s familiar character Major Tom, an astronaut referenced in Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” “Ashes to Ashes,” and “Hallo Spaceboy.” The opening sequence of the video shows the body of an astronaut. Later in the video, a skull (the astronaut’s)? is brought forward, imbued with gems, and a skeletal body drifts toward the black star in space. All this implies a sort of ritual sacrifice. The line could also be referring to a religious figure such as Jesus Christ. The various ‘savior’ myths of many world cultures may apply here. Each time one of the spiritual leaders has fallen, another individual or a group of others has taken up the challenge of continuing the philosophy in order to try and help change humanity for the better (or worse). “Blackstar” has many possible meanings—the central symbolism is that it’s something powerful and known by all (like a star), while set up in contrast to to the rest (“born upside down, born the wrong way ‘round,” and all the denials of the star he is not). “Black” may also have some occult symbolism, or symbolism mystery or unknowable but the “opposite” symbolism is very prominent throughout the song.
There are a few meanings of “black star” in physics—both in reference to dark energy, and as something analogous to a black hole.
In Mesoamerican and occult mythology, the “black sun” has meanings associated with death and rebirth. In ancient Judaic and Islamic cults, “black star” may have referred to the planet Saturn.
In Kabalarian philosophy, the name Blackstar gives one the desire to understand and help others with their problems, but, at the same time, one can become too involved and worrying as the result.
★ How many times does an angel fall?
★ How many people lie instead of talking tall?
★ He trod on sacred ground, he cried loud into the crowd
★ (I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar, I’m not a gangstar)
Bowie introduces yet more Satanic imagery to the song, shifting the focus from the ritualism of the first verses to more explicit references to Satan himself. The questioning tone though shrouds the lyrics in ambiguity and mystery.
A “fallen angel” is one which, once pure, has been corrupted either by temptation or pride. The most famous fallen angel is Satan, who aspired to be God, rather than his servant. Perhaps the most canonical, and sympathetic, depiction of Satan is Milton’s who in Paradise Lost described Satan, pre-fall, as shining brighter than the “Sun amongst the stars.”
“Talking tall” traditionally means telling intentionally grandiose stories, like tall tales. But, set in contrast with “lie” in these lines, it may mean something like “taking the high road” – choosing the correct path rather than the easy (lying) way. Many people, when faced with a moment of truth, decide to take the easy way out and misrepresent their true feelings, or lie to avoid the difficult way.
“Talking tall” also plays on the other meaning of lie—”to lie down.“ Even if both are deceit, there’s a big difference in confidence and nerve. What separates the Great I Am from those pan-flashers.
The blackstar has the temerity and confidence to walk where other people dare not, and to address the followers who may consider it blasphemy.
★ I can’t answer why (I’m a blackstar)
★ Just go with me (I’m not a filmstar)
★ I’m-a take you home (I’m a blackstar)
★ Take your passport and shoes (I’m not a popstar)
★ And your sedatives, boo (I’m a blackstar)
★ You’re a flash in the pan (I’m not a marvel star)
★ I’m the Great I Am (I’m a blackstar)
Bowie defines “blackstar” in terms of what it is not—a kind of negative definition, fitting the “black” symbolism.
The song has two very distinct musical styles. The beginning and end being very influenced by middle eastern music, while the mid-section is distinctly Western (American). This would suggest, based on the music alone, that context of the song is a cultural one – the East and the West.
We can also read that the Blackstar is NOT famous for the things Western Celebrities are known for.
“I’m not a popstar” “I’m not a filmstar” etc. So it is some sort of anti-celebrity, but still with a sort of star power.
Bowie himself has taken on the role of the iconoclast throughout his career—to some degree, he identifies with this character.
Handing over a passport and removing shoes are a ritual at airports, when going through security. Sedatives are taken by people in flight, and are also a method of control. It may be a contemptuous statement overall on passivity of whoever he’s addressing—the people who follow this leader, or the others who aspire to those heights.
Bowie’s body language is like that of someone playing “peekaboo” at that moment, with his hand raised and spread. This could be a statement on the mocking arrogance of power.
In Exodus 3:14, God refers to himself as “I Am” when speaking to Moses at the burning bush.
Bowie (or the character he embodies) sees himself as everlasting God compared to whom he is addressing, an ephemeral flash in the pan. The popular iconography of a comic book hero is nothing compared to the powerful image of a God.
★ I’m a blackstar, way up, on money, I’ve got game
★ I see right, so wide, so open-hearted pain
★ I want eagles in my daydreams, diamonds in my eyes
★ (I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar)
Here Bowie uses some of the traditional markers of stardom—money and game. While the Blackstar declares himself to not be a film star or a pop star, he values aspects of that type of stardom. There are also some occult connotations being “on money”.
The eagle has long been a symbol of strength, vision and leadership. The image of an eagle has been represented on the banners of many of the world’s great empires throughout history.
Eagles convey the powers and messages of the spirit; it is Man’s connection to the divine.
The eagle brings the message of renewed life because it is associated with the east winds – the direction of spring, dawn and rebirth.
On the other hand, diamonds are a symbol of love, prosperity and perseverance. Diamonds are often associated with wedding rings, also, which does make them symbolic of commitment.
Through contrast of the terms “daydreams” (fantasy) and “eyes” (reality), Bowie is playing off the idea that “actions speak louder than words.”
Bowie is ultimately putting forth the notion that he wants vision and leadership, but acknowledges this alone is not enough. Bowie wants the ideas and policies of leadership and government to be more than just vision – leadership must be put into practice if it is to manifest itself into success.
★ Spirit rose a metre and stepped aside
★ Somebody else took his place, and bravely cried
★ (I’m a blackstar, I’m a star’s star, I’m a blackstar)
There are several possible interpretations of these lines, all of them revolving around the central idea of perpetuating ideas and energy.
If we assume the figure in question is Bowie’s recurring character Major Tom, we can interpret this as an abstract version of his eulogy. Though he has died, what he represents carries on through those who knew him and knew of him. While it is important to regard Blackstar as a distinct work, if we look at the video for this song and the lyrics from “Space Oddity”, we can see implications that Major Tom was influential to others both before and after his death. Outside the context of his character arc, his influence was also literally spread to us, the listeners of Bowie’s music.
The lyrics could also be describing David Bowie himself and how he perceives his position both in life and in the music industry. Even if Blackstar the song and Blackstar the album are Bowie’s version of a last hurrah, his impact will live on through others artists who will follow in his footsteps.
It is also possible these lines are a commentary on the general philosophical idea of human beings becoming one with the universe upon death. Literally, since we are made up of elements found within the universe, those elements return to the universe when our bodies decompose, (a concept described eloquently by Neil deGrasse Tyson in this video). Poetically, our “energy” persists despite the extinguishing of our consciousnesses.
★ I can’t answer why (I’m not a gangstar)
★ But I can tell you how (I’m not a film star)
★ We were born upside-down (I’m a star’s star)
★ Born the wrong way ‘round (I’m not a white star)
This may be referring to the “inherited guilt” of many religions; Eve ate the apple, Jesus died for our sins – We all deserve eternal suffering unless we repent (or conform to the demands of the prophet.)
It can also refer to the Blackstar himself, standing in opposition to the white star and to society in general—an iconoclast like Bowie. The Blackstar seems to be defined as being different than other stars—which is in keeping with a lot of the religious and literary symbolism of “black.”
★ (I’m a blackstar, I’m not a gangstar
★ I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar
★ I’m not a pornstar, I’m not a wandering star
★ I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar)
Bowie brings in two more kinds of stars: a porn star and a wandering star.
“Porn star” seems to fit in well with “gang star,” “film star,” and “pop star”—cultural entertainers catering to hedonistic desires.
“Wandering star” fits in more with the occult or cosmic theme. “Wandering star” is an ancient term for a planet, and also has Biblical meaning (from Jude 1:13) in reference to wayward souls who have strayed from the path of Christ.
But there may be a pop culture element to it as well—“Wand’rin Star” was a hit single by Lee Marvin, most popular in the UK and Ireland.
So in conclusion: this is one heretic, satanical vid with a deeply occult message. I felt awkward watching it. hence the warning.
De site reageerde met: Thank you Riddler, great analysis! I couldn´t agree more. Scary stuff.
When I read about the video I thought – “How bad can it be”? But, it turned out far worse than I thought. It couldn´t be more “in your face” than this and I am surprised than Bowie does such a strange video. What is his purpose? Does his “demon” demands him to do this?
I saw an interview with Swedish video director Johan Renck (in Swedish, no use linking to it) and he said that Bowie sent him strange drawings and said that Renck could use them or do whatever he wanted with them. Some of the drawings, like the girl with the long skirt and tail, was executed. Oh yes – “Ormen” means “The serpent”, not “serpent” which would be just “orm” in both Norwegian and Swedish. That is “In the villa of Ormen” is “In the villa of the serpent” which of course makes it even more blatant. I am fluent in both Norwegian and Swedish. Have you also seen “Lazarus”? That is also a scary video.
Op Reddit occult werd een maand geleden geschreven:
I thought it was Amun. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amun
Are you sure it’s “ormen” and not “all men”? “Ormen Lange” is the name for viking long ships, “orm” meaning serpent and there is a small village called Ørmen. I doubt that’s what it’s referring to. I feel like “all men” would make more sense. “In the villa of all men” could mean “in the world” maybe.
He has mentioned the qabalah before even insofar as referring to specific sepherah. He could be referring to the qabalistic serpent (ormen) and tepheret (solitary candle) and da’ath (black star). The Lyrics could be describing the night of pan. However, this is totally up for debate and I will have to look further into this to develop the theory more.
That’s what I thought as well, the Night of Pan. The priestess at the end is Isis or Nuit. The “abyss experience” being like the bacchanalian rending of the subject to pieces. The skeleton flying toward Da’ath, on the other side of it Kether.
Occultists tend to use homophones in this way, don’t they? I heard it as “all men” as well. On a preconscious level, the mind perceives it as that.
I found an Interview with director Johan Renck (http://noisey.vice.com/blog/david-bowie-blackstar-video-johan-renck-director-interview), in which the Interviewer tries to ask about the meaning. Renck also expresses a fondness for Aleister Crowley.
I’m a huge Crowley fan, I’ve always been. I tried to make a movie on his life a few years ago but we didn’t manage to put it together. That’s too bad. I have always wanted someone to film a serious movie about Crowley without the all too easy trappings of “the wickedest man” fanfare.
I guess what’s the point of giving all this imagery and have them be like, “no we won’t explain it because you’re wrong.”
Renck never says that it has no meaning at all. It definitely has meaning to him and Bowie. This could include the emotional meaning something has when you spend so much time making it. It doesn’t necessarily have one underlying message but it’s not completely random either.
The astronaut skeleton is by some interpreted as a fallen angel, by others as Major Tom. He himself says to the latter claim: “Most things like this are for the eyes of the beholder, you know? You make of it whatever you want.”
It definitely has meaning, even if the meaning is not intended by the artists. The meaning is very likely personal to you. Some see references to the Qabbalah, some see an allegory to Jesus Christ and others see a sexy Khajiit. Whatever you read from it, it is true, as it is the truth in your subjective universe. It is impossible to see any piece of art (or anything at all, in fact), without coming up with a personal interpretation, albeit not necessarily consciously.
Those whom Pythagoras instructed in this plain and familiar manner were said to belong to the esoteric or private school, while those who attended his public lectures in which moral truths were generally delivered under a symbolical or figurative form were considered as belonging to the exoteric or public school. —Chambers, W. and R., History of Greece. Oxford University 1838
I thought he was pretty clear on it. It’s just imagery, make of it what you will. Bowie hasn’t taken black magic seriously since he stopped getting coked out of his mind decades ago.
Thanks for the interview link! Sexcellent bidness!
There is also a video from a you-tube channel called TheVigilantChristian, in which the host warns about and points out the “satanism” and “witchcraft” in the video.
anyone want to fill me on the deeper meanings here? I definitely got the vibes and the imagery overall but wasn’t able to put it all together.
Think of the Blackstar as the opposite of the morning star.
I don’t really agree, I think the Black star is like the black sun, it was an eclipse in the video – a Dionysian current as opposed to the traditional Apollonian solar current. Think ecstatic revelry as opposed to traditional beauty and harmony. My 2c anyways.
That’s the eclipse that occurred when Christ was crucified, as represented by the 3 scarecrows. I’ve read The Birth of Tragedy.
ok, I’ll trust you on it. Good show. edit: so let me ask you a more elaborate question then…what is the opposite of the morning star? Since Jesus refers to himself as such, and Lucifer is often identified as the devil.
Don’t give up so easy! I see a few different perspectives one can take this from. There’s a clear tension between the crucified scarecrows, and the women (or seidr or bacchantes) making the sacrifice. Specifically, there is a scapegoat ritual happenings–one takes the sins and another goes free in the wilderness–wherein the sacrifice is hollowed out and filled up with the Blackstar. “Something happened on the day he died / Spirit rose a metre and stepped aside / Somebody else took his place, and bravely cried / (I’m a blackstar…)” In this respect, I think both the Dionysian and Christian currents can apply. The scapegoat dies, is consumed, and the followers rejoice (see sparagmos and omophagia, or the passion and Eucharist). With the emphasis on the dancing females, however, I’m going to say there’s a real weight to the Dionysus side. After all, Maenads dance themselves into a frenzy until they are overtaken in ecstasy, joining their god and consuming the flesh of the sacrificial animal/man. Near the end of the video, after the dancing and ecstatic summoning, there’s a sort of shambling creature, which is the object of the summoning and the consumer of the scapegoat (but is it likely the Blackstar?). This creature is the hinge of the imagery, so what’s it mean to you? There are tons of angles to come at the content of the narrative from, many of them meaningful. This is part of what makes it so powerful. I didn’t even touch on the blindness/sight or Beast and Riders aspects either. What else can we pull out of the vid?
“He told me it was about ISIS,” says McCaslin. http://www.rollingstone.com/music/features/the-inside-story-of-david-bowies-stunning-new-album-blackstar-20151123?page=3 ISIS as in Isis. You know, the first one. :3 That’s what I thought when the black woman in priestess garb brought out the adorned skull for the ecstatic Dionysian rite.
Lucifer is that part of that being before the fall. Satan is the most inferior aspect with man in the middle reaching towards the light.
I think of the “Black Star” as Saturn. And Bowie is a Capricorn, strange enough.
The Black Sun is Saturn but IDK if they are using sun and star interchangeably here. Nice info on Bowie’s star sign tho.
I disagree with you. I think the Blackstar or eclipse and the blindfolds are a part of the same motif of being in darkness and matter. The scarecrows are blindfolded and tethered in a wheat field, more symbolism of the soul bound up in matter, in darkness.
Wouldn’t that be like, a good thing? I haven’t watched the vid yet.
Crazy to see Seiðr so openly in a music video.
Liber LXV: 1.18-9 “So also the light that is absorbed. One absorbs little and is called white and glistening; one absorbs all and is called black. Therefore, O my darling, art thou black”
Felt like I was listening to Gong for a moment listening to this (first half of the song particularly), which certainly isn’t something I’d complain about after Daevid Allen passed this year and potentially put the future of any more Gong music on indefinite hold. Good stuff, I approve. :)
I miss Daevid. Props for bringing up Gong here.
My friends gave me this summation of the artistic choices in the video. They were pretty insightful so I thought I’d share. All credits Jackie K. “Major Toms skull was pretty. Embroidered with solar gold. It made the raggety 3 on Golgotha flip out. Old Tom really went for it back when. As did Prometheus/Lucifer. The satanic disciples were tricked by Bowie. His blind fold had eyes to see. That town was shit before he got there, and Bowie with book in hand shook things up. Old Tom was Lucifer. He wanted “eagles in his daydreams”. Crowley said to put the conscious into the subconscious. To have solar eagles at your core is a good thing right? His “spirit rose 3 meters (supernal triad) and stepped aside”. Inviting a phony to step in a muck things up. But Old Tom/Lucifer is no “flash in the pan”. Neither is he a “porn star” that sensationalises lust. Bowie the Capricorn, of earth, told everyone in that mess what’s what. Just as the force of Capricorn does. The virgin sought out Toms skull. Virgo seeks purity. “Only women knelt and smiled”, paying homage and doing the ritual that affected the towns folk and the phony (as is a scarecrow) 3 on Golgotha. And the videos flavor of satanic filth most concentrated in the raggety shaking figure. Who when Toms skull was ritualized, began to flash with the most color in the video. Like the peacock feather an effect of alchemy’s crown achievement………….That’s what I saw anyway.” Edit: It’s also worth noting that the Black Star would also be Daath.
WOW. Thanks a ton for posting this. I got the chills when that interlude kicked in. This is the best Bowie shit I have heard since the 70’s.
This is big indeed. Thank you for posting it. This is a call. A very powerful one. Thanks to /u/QTheMuse for copying the lyrics. (((I feel relief))) —must work harder—this means—
The connection between Bowie and the occult is nothing new. It has been there at least since the 1971 song Quicksand (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=st-Jge5IbCA). Here is a rather long and not entirely serious, but definitely interesting, article analysing the connection of occultism to his life and work (http://www.parareligion.ch/bowie.htm).
This is the best legitimate occult work in music I have seen. Wow.
Of course the space kangaroo is Jewish.
Women are birthchannelers in the ritual of passing into another state of life , being born upside down on the day one dies means being born on the backend of the lineair time line of life on earth and in a body ( instead of being born the right way at baby birth point ) , at death one leaves the body behind like an old spacesuit in the first part there is dealt with the renains the skull and skeleton of the deceased . The skull holds the spiritual treasues for the ones who see
The ones in the barn are the mice ( fear of death ) like the book ormen deals with fear , the girl with mousetail is unafraid of death and looks ( death being the skull in the eyesocket , she talks the treasure with her, on th3 day he died the deceased spirit rises being alife and “born the wrong way round “ one metre and steps on solid sacred ground , now he talks tall telling truth and meets the still incarnated ( animal tailed) girl eye to eye ( there is the giant lifetime candle again ) she witnesses that the deceased still lives ( and that is exactly the treasure gift of the skull she found that is how he has the duamonds in his eyes ) he is in the great I am ( eternity and existing ) she is the timely mortal still , being “the flash in the pan “ time goes fast compared to eternity . In the centre of it all is the midpart of the triptich where one can see beyond fear and mortality , The day he died and rose up resurrected the first was christ , we all are the somebody elses on the day of our execution the execution being our certain death , we all step on that ground in a new land and then we need shoes and our passports and a beloved one takes us home from our deathbed , you ll see and who you see is not cased by the painkillers or sedatives but a real “ ghost “ booo . The blackstar book is like a bible but then it is written by david about his own life end and resurrection into heaven like a lazarus , lhe takes the eclipse away with it
In the barn is nothing of eartly material value in contrast to the bejuwelled skull wich are the spiritual values as gift in death of ressurection in eternal love , way up on money means far above the earthly value of money which means nothing to him nomore ( dollar days ) he got game he s got things to offer and spent …