DIERBECK: The book talks about narrative unity. Can you explain?

CRITCHLEY: There’s this view that the unity of your life is the unity of the story you tell about your life. The President of the United States, Barack Obama, is the narrative arc he constructed in his book. And I think that’s bullshit. There are no narrative arcs. Human beings can tell those stories, but they’re not true. Identity is more of a series of blips. Bowie’s songwriting technique was like those episodic blips. A big axe grinding in the book is against the idea of narrative unity, and against the idea of authenticity. We had an idea of music, particularly in the U.S., as having an authentic quality—coming out of an experience of struggle or suffering, of historical oppression, or of musical ability. You get a cabin, you go live for four years in upstate Wisconsin, and come back with a 40-minute album. And everyone goes, “Wow, it feels really real.” Again, that’s all a horrendous lie. It’s not that some music is inauthentic. It’s the Warholian aesthetic: “Andy Warhol, silver screen. Can’t tell them apart at all.” Warhol said: “Before I was shot, I suspected life was like television. After I was shot, I was certain.” We’re living in illusions. Images. Ever inauthentic circles. That’s where culture happens. It doesn’t mean it’s not true, or that it’s irrelevant. On the contrary. To try to cut the cord between inauthenticity and truth is impossible. Bowie is the pop star who mobilizes illusions. It’s all he’s ever done. I suppose it becomes the model for all pop culture.

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