There's a kind of unreality and deja-vu about the death of David Bowie. One 'member of the public' interviewed on the streets of London claimed that she had never imagined it would happen. Really? You're kidding. And then it dawns on you that this is part of the whole Bowie effect. Someone who second guessed the media even as it was coming into being. In a sense, its perfect child.
I never 'got' Bowie. There's not one of his CDs on my shelves. I borrowed a 'Gold' collection a few years ago & found nothing that held my attention. Essentially, I don't go for glam rock (too effete, too much posture, too bought in to the pop machine). Yet I'm aware of his enormous influence & the way he inspires devotion. (A colleague admitted today that she still hoped he'd marry her). But for Bowie, no Iggy, no David Byrne, no Nick Cave, no Jarvis Cocker ... his name is Legion.
Watching the clips and tributes on the BBC I had the impression that I was watching a Don Dellilo novel in the making. Or maybe the rights have already been sold - one of Bowie's last projects: to script his own demise? That's the clever thing: already fashion your own disappearance, anticipate the vultures. The release of that 'latest' album so finely judged. He knew what he was doing. Recording as a form of self-embalming.
So perhaps it's fitting that - for me at least - the Bowie I'll remember is his performance as Andy Warhol in Julian Schnabel's 'Basquiat'. Ever the chameleon and art world aspirant, here Bowie was himself an 'other' who was, in turn, a self-confessed mirror self. (Those sequences where Schnabel intercuts 'actual' cine camera footage of Andy with the Andy-bewigged David). David is Andy and Andy is David reflected to infinity. All surface. Which is why - and here we inevitably cast a glance over our shoulder to Oscar Wilde - his superficiality is the profundity of our times. What could go deeper?
Ground control, indeed, when there is no longer any ground beneath our feet.