This week, which marks the anniversaries of both David Bowie’s birth and his death, we revisit moments from a life and career unlike any other

In Bowie, philosopher Simon Critchley, whose writings have garnered widespread praise, melds personal narratives of how Bowie lit up his dull life in southern England’s suburbs with philosophical forays into the way concepts of authenticity and identity are turned inside out in Bowie’s work.

Illustration by Eric Hanson



From Bowie:

LET ME BEGIN WITH A RATHER EMBARRASSING confession: no person has given me greater pleasure throughout my life than David Bowie. Of course, maybe this says a lot about the quality of my life. Don’t get me wrong. There have been nice moments, some even involving other people. But in terms of constant, sustained joy over the decades, nothing comes close to the pleasure Bowie has given me.

It all began, as it did for many other ordinary English boys and girls, with Bowie’s performance of “Starman” on BBC’s iconic Top of the Pops on July 6, 1972, which was viewed by more than a quarter of the British population. My jaw dropped as I watched this orange-haired creature in a catsuit limp-wristedly put his arm around Mick Ronson’s shoulder. It wasn’t so much the quality of the song that struck me; it was the shock of Bowie’s look. It was overwhelming. He seemed so sexual, so knowing, so sly and so strange. At once cocky and vulnerable. His face seemed full of sly understanding—a door to a world of unknown pleasures.

bowie cover


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