Riva Lehrer on David Bowie

Chicago artist Riva Lehrer posted her thoughts about David Bowie on Facebook this morning, and I thought they were so apt, indeed, wicked apt, I asked her for permission to post them on Planet of the Blind:


The following words are Riva’s:

I know you’re all sick of posts and comments about Bowie, but it’s taken me all week to be coherent about my own perspective.

I grew up in the era of punk and New Wave, of emerging LGBT rights and 2nd wave feminism. Their threads crossed and knotted and wove the banners of social change as I understood it. It seemed that change began in anger and operated through anger. “I hate your social/political structures. They must be torn down. Only then can others be built in their place.” It’s not that this doesn’t reach me; I already experience enough daily anger and frustration to drain me dry.

Bowie did something different, and very rare. He stated that the structures of normalcy didn’t mean much to him, or include him, or define him. He leapfrogged the need for rage as a starting place, and instead made work that offered possibilities outside the bounds. For someone like me, who never had the option of normalcy, it was the only real open door.

I have always been at my worst when trying to be normal or look normal (I actually bought a brown tweed business suit in my 20s. Oy and vey, my friends). Normal always wrecks my experience of a job, a relationship, or my own creative practice.

Bowie offers me wit, mystery, disorientation, and statements of radical fact instead of the flaming torch of the revolutionary. He insists on beauty during pain and sorrow threaded through joy. He is an artist not of the possible, but of the existing and transformative door.

Author: skuusisto

Poet, Essayist, Blogger, Journalist, Memoirist, Disability Rights Advocate, Public Speaker, Professor, Syracuse University

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