I’m stuck with a valuable friend: On privacy, visibility and Bowie

I never expected to write a kind of obituary on this blog. But not only have I slowly-but-surely become a David Bowie fan for the past few years, the blog’s name was actually Bowie inspired–it’s a corruption of a line from “Up the Hill Backwards.” Really, is it any surprise that a rocker as esoteric as the Thin White Duke wouldn’t fail to inspire an outlet as obsessed with metaphysics as this one?

I also hadn’t really been expecting Bowie to die. Not only did Bowie seem to be beyond petty mortality, nobody had heard he was sick. Much like the release of 2013’s “The Next Day,” the news came out of nowhere, as if everyone who was in on the details had been sworn to secrecy.

Of course, part of the allure of Bowie has always been his mysterious nature. Throughout his chimerian career, Bowie appeared to be more of the character on stage than the man behind the makeup, blurring his reality even to him. The character was obvious; the man was obscured–it’s easier to miss David Bowie than it is to miss Ziggy Stardust. It also highlights an interesting link between being seen and the perception of importance.

Somewhere along the line, we have associated celebrity with accessibility as much as with achievement. Importance is as determined by what you have to offer as by how often you’re on the public mind–measured scientifically by shares, re-tweets and dollars raised at Kickstarter. In a world where visibility equals importance, the only crime is not being seen. Bowie’s later career spat gleefully in the face of this association. His past couple of albums and cameos were unleashed upon the world quietly, like gifts from an old friend.

The modern world is a connected world; it’s an easier place to be seen, and it’s a harder place to get lost. Twitter followers hang on our every hashtag, ideas gain validity with more views and GPS systems guide our cars safely to our destinations without our ever having to worry about how to get there. Connectivity shows no signs of slowing down, and it will be interesting to see how its march will affect notions of privacy, independence and even identity. But that’s still a little ways away. There’s still time to get lost.

The world of art–film, fashion and obviously music–is a poorer one without Bowie. But it is possible to take one small thing from his passing; it is comforting to see that, in an age of increasing connectivity, it is still possible for a gentleman to get by without discussing his illnesses and to die peacefully, privately,  lost in the comfort of his own home.

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