His 66th was yesterday and he released a new single to accompany an album due later this year called The Next Day. The album cover is both lazy and brilliant, the classic Heroes cover with an oversize post-it across its face reading the album's title. Anyways, this release, for what it's worth, gives me (and by extension the CSW blog) the timely occasion to write about David Bowie, which these days is a rare occasion indeed. Bowie, after all, has an interesting relation to gender in American pop culture - a relation summarized rather well in the late Mike Kelley's concept of the "CrossGender/CrossGenre" phenomenon of 60s radical youth culture, which he explains as culminating in the mid-70s with the person of Bowie (the ultimate iguana of rock, both in style and 'gender').
The Scottish pop-singer and novelist Nick Currie (aka Momus, also highly recommended) did an interesting thing a few months ago on his blog, taking as case study the figure of David Bowie's father, Haywood Stenton Jones (who, if you're to follow my logic regarding Klaus Nomi, might be the image that best encapsulates the true 'concrete universal' - to misuse some Hegel-ese - from which the young David emerges - i.e. what Ziggy Stardust, as the Hegelian 'Beautiful Soul', is at once rebelling against and returning to). Currie writes,
"I’m also interested in the paradox that although [Bowie] has portrayed extraterrestrials and aliens many times, his father does a much more convincing impression of one, in the sense that a British person pre-1960 is a strangely extraterrestrial being. He’s certainly out of the world that we recognise. There’s a sense of formality and distinctness about him (“the last truly British people you’ll ever know,” in Morrissey’s words) which hasn’t yet fallen into line with the mass global forms of the postmodern monoculture (denim, trainers, Coke, jets)."
- Michael Witte
Michael Witte is a Graduate Researcher at the UCLA Center for the Study of Women
*See Mike Kelley, "Cross Gender/Cross Genre" in PAJ:
A Journal of Performance and Art, Vol. 22.1. (Jan., 2000), pp. 1-9.