Few artists have had as profound an impact on me, in so many ways, as David Bowie—an artist whose unwillingness to conform with the expectations of either his times or even his own history has always inspired me. Way way back in high school, I had the incredibly good fortune of seeing him perform live, in what would turn out to be his final tour; years later, my (soon-to-be) wife and I were able to attend the archival retrospective of his career in at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. When he passed away at the beginning of 2016, I found the best way of mourning/celebrating Bowie was to write about the meaning that I found in his artistry, to dive into his work and respond to its call. In time, I turned those reflections, written in part for myself and in part for a seminar on “Extra-Human Rhetorical Relations” taught by Diane Davis, into a full-blown article, which I am happy to say has finally been published in the online journal Miranda—below is the abstract and a link to the piece:
This article addresses the uncanny fascination for specters that long haunted David Bowie’s artistry. Following the hauntological work of Jacques Derrida and a few of his followers, I consider the ways in which the late Bowie came to haunt the late Bowie, how mortality and mourning condition his final output, especially on Blackstar, his last album. In tracing these ghostly traces, I show how his music and videography pursue an alternative form of composition beyond the conventional attempts toward narrative closure of autobiography, a form of spectral rhetoric that I outline as autobituary. Through practices of writing attuned to the mournful structure that conditions signification, Bowie responds to Derrida’s and Michelle Ballif’s call to find ways of ethically addressing the (dead) other’s absolute alterity. In the form of autobituary, I suggest that Bowie provides one avenue for reconceiving the conventional relation between life and death, self and other, addressor and addressee.