This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 26th, 2015 at 9:22 am and is filed under Lost Years: 2005-2012. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
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Entry is completely blank – a pun on the Lost Years?!
Took me a minute.
Five years… that’s all we got?!
I have to admit, I refreshed this page twice before realising.
It’s the blank post it note before it was stuck over the Heroes cover for the Next Day.
hope you manage to spare a page in the mammoth second volume of the book for this
What he said.
Well said, Chris, well said.
Brilliant, took me a while to get it. Comments above are also great, can’t wait to see where this thread goes 🙂
I have to say that I appreciate the effort of uploading a giant white image file to fill the space. (I only refreshed once. Does that make me smarter or less smart?)
I actually downloaded the JPEG, looked at the meta data to see if it contained anything. And then, I said, “Oh-hhhhhh”
Allright, bring it on, Momus 🙂
hmm, haven’t seen this much white associated with Bowie’s recent years. Usually reserved for the 70s.
White is nice. The color of silence.
The large white space can represent many things. Here it represents emptiness. Much like in fact, the emptiness felt in the heart of Lord Royal Highness, the character played by David Bowie in Sponge Bob Square Pants.
This is the Sponge Bob entry we were all anticipating.
Nice one, Chris.
Perhaps our desperate clicking on the refresh button is intended as part of this piece as well, poking at our attempts to process this huge moment of silence.
This 2011 song summed up how I felt after a few years:
This white space has more comments than the Golden Years entry.
I thought we would have a post of theories or an extremely fictional one, but this surpassed all of my expectations.
The question is, how much more white can it be?
And the answer is none. None more white.
Well played, sir… well played.
What-no Sponge Bob?
isn’t blue, blue, ‘lectric blue … white?
a p| |y
knew that wouldn’t work!
looks like a failed game of “hangman”
I had something clever to say, but I forgot.
refresh, refresh, then check the comments – it’s that feeling when you realise too late it’s April 1st…. laughing, but feeling slightly thick.
Very Rauschenberg. 🙂
Hah, I too thought the site was borked for a moment.
I’ve mentioned it before, but in the grand scheme of things I was a late-comer to Bowie fandom; Heathen was the first new album from him that I heard as a full-blown convert. Then Reality came, and then the tour, and my love for his music kept growing as I slowly worked through his back catalog. Can’t wait for the next album! Can’t wait to see him again!
Soooo, I waited. And waited. And then, after a few cameos… nothing, for years. No interview, no press sightings, just silence. Just as my love of his work reached critical mass. I missed the boat.
All of that energy spent on (what I thought was) fruitless anticipation… it’s really parallelized excellently with this post. I know it’s silly, but you really hit the nail on the head with this. Well done.
1. It’s quite hard now to remember — to piece together in retrospect — what “the silence” felt like at the time. Some elements of it still endure: the embargo on press interviews, the sense of secrecy surrounding Bowie’s every move. The Next Day changed everything — and nothing.
2. Thinking back to late 2007, I began to grow concerned when the news section on Bowie’s own website began to miss days, and then weeks, and then months. The graphics — so groovy in 1997 — by now looked positively antediluvian. When a news item did appear, it marked a reissue, an anniversary, an impersonation.
3. Public appearances became rare as hen’s teeth. After enjoying seeing him as the proud and supportive father at his son’s Moon launch in 2009, the next sighting I was aware of was a YouTube video entitled, rather cruelly, “David Bowie looks old at the 2010 CFDA Awards”. Standing in front of an ugly Swarovski sponsorship banner, the singer appeared (in an unguarded moment) double-chinned, long-sighted, bored, slightly absent-minded, and somewhat isolated. (He was presumably there for the tribute to Alexander McQueen, who’d just died.) You can imagine Bowie finding this video, being horrified, and telling Iman: “I don’t want to do these things any more.”
4. At the same time, worrying rumours were circulating amongst presumably well-informed media folk. Insiders said, in lowered voices, that Bowie was suffering from Alzheimers and was in the early stages of dementia, or was dying of cancer. The Flaming Lips and Neon Indian even made a record called Is David Bowie Dying? It’s a concern that continues to this day: type “Is David Bowie” into Google and the auto-complete algorithm jumps in with “dead”.
5. The inner circle gave more reassuring glimpses. Gail Ann Dorsey reported that Bowie had said on the phone he was keen to get back into the studio. And Iman, asked about his health, would regularly tweet that “Mr B is fine”. We’ve since been told that Bowie started the health rumours himself. It seems like an odd admission — not because Bowie isn’t, as Rolling Stone once put it, “a self-designed media manipulator who knows neither tact nor intimidation”, but because one almost suspects that the admission of lying might itself be a lie, another piece of strategy. In any case, it’s the kind of lie that will eventually auto-correct itself into some kind of truth. “I told you I was sick,” Woody Allen’s tombstone will read.
6. There are as many interpretations of Bowie’s four-year silence as there are of Cage’s 4’33”. Myself, I lean towards the idea that it was a masterpiece. Taking a leaf from Brel’s book, Bowie found that doing and saying nothing became his legend much more effectively than any statement, any action, any song he could now perform. Following the hype of the 90s and the crash of the Bowie Bonds in 2004, it was time to “do a Garbo”: become a sphinx, and let the legend do the hard lifting. To casual viewers (YouTube commenters, for instance) a penny dropped: Bowie had retired. It was sad, but people do retire. Bowie had announced retirements several times, but being Bowie, when he actually did it there would be no announcement.
7. The occasional business report would somewhat spoil the vanishment. Fashion designer Keanan Duffty, for instance, blogged an account of three meetings with Bowie and his business team in the late aughts. Duffty was intent on (and succeeded in) getting a Bowie-inspired line into some rather downmarket stores. “Target were very keen to have David perform a song at an opening party,” Duffty reported. “Not going to happen. “I’m not Posh Spice,” [Bowie] said.” Well, quite.
8. When it came to flag-flying and Establishment-courting, Bowie sent out some commendable snubs. He’d apparently refused a knighthood, and staunchly resisted Danny Boyle’s attempts to get him involved in the 2012 London Olympics. Scarcity value, secret illness, or simply dignity? How riveting can domestic life be, if this is all part of “The Last Temptation of Bowie”?
9. Despite the 2013 Shock, Bowie continues to have his silent cake and eat it: he maintains his charismatic muteness even as he records and releases music. Necessary public statements (on the passing of Lou Reed, for instance) are voiced by “proxy angels”: Kate Moss, Tilda Swinton, and Total Blam Blam at the revived Bowie website. (As a pro-independence Scot, though, I have to deduct points for the “Scotland stay with us” comment: four words too many.)
10. In a way, Bowie has returned to his roots: the last thing a mime artist like Lindsay Kemp or a silent film star like Buster Keaton should do is talk. And in the age of thoughtless Instagrammery and endless twittering, there’s a certain dignity in swimming against the tide. As Bowie put it in Love is Lost: “You refuse to talk, but you think like mad.” The more he refuses (and for a celebrity, a vow of silence might be the last truly rebellious act), the more our minds whirr.
(Type “Is Momus” into Google and it jumps in with “gay”. Phew.)
When I inquire with my name, I get Chris’ white “silence” graphic in the search bar. Cool, yes?
“Your idea of what David Bowie was up to, here”
yes, feel free to print out the white square and write your own 2008-2012 on it
More Blank Than Frank
So I know David himself was not actually involved, but it seems like the Flight of the Conchords’ Bowie episode is worth a mention at least.
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