Wednesday, April 19, 2017

David Bowie: The Culturist View

To make a culturist critique is to tie an event or person to larger cultural trends. David Bowie (1947-2016) symbolizes the West’s recent progressive cultural apex. After all, he led the charge into gender bending and then married a black Muslim woman. But, these acts stand in stark contrast to the West’s developing tsunami of masculine cultural protectionism.

Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) – the first person to be called a ‘culturist’ practicing ‘culturism,’ – asserted that the West cycled from expansionist, flexible, (progressive), ‘Hellenism’ to contracting, law-abiding, tough, ‘Hebraism.’ The Hellenic periods lack discipline, the Hebraic ones lack ‘sweetness and light’. In his time, Arnold saw his England as being too Hebraic and France as too Hellenistic.

We in the Alt-Light / Alt-Right fringe, foresee a coming reckoning that may involve considerable violence. Currently, the West is experiencing a Hellenic peak; soon we will adopt the Hebraic traits of hating foreign cultures, and again accept that successful cultures usually see violence as an honorable duty. Bowie’s death represents the death of the expansionist Hellenic period, and so the dawn of the Hebraic contraction.

Many will say, ‘Good Riddance’ to Bowie and celebrate the death of his spry decadence. And, yet, it behooves us brutal enforcers to remember that for which we fight: Celebrations of individual potential is the Western jewel of great price. Islam remains purely brutal. Asia celebrates conformity to the strictures of the natural order. The West alone celebrates our individual potential, our flexibility of mind and person.

Bowie personified the Western belief in each man having, as he said, the “Potential of a Superman.” Famously, he repeatedly transformed himself. He was a space alien, a rock star, a vaudevillian, a soul singer, and more. He married outside his race and culture. His extreme attack on the limits of identity embodied the Western sense of freedom.

If Alt-Right folks reply that he violated Roman ethics, I would remind them that Nietzsche (1844-1900) gets stereotyped as a Hebraic brute, idolizing “Blonde beasts of pray.” Yet, Nietzsche denigrated unambitious intellects. We need to suspect popular depictions. Bowie was a much more profound artist than the media portrays for the masses.

A review of Bowie’s catalog shows a nearly complete absence of love songs. His music was self-consciously intellectual. ‘The Cygnet Committee,’ echoes Edmund Burke by having God argue against the French Revolution. 'The Supermen' visits the loneliness a Zarathustra character must face. Musically, his absence of references to mundane love in his catalog parallels Nietzsche’s disdain for the merely human.

Bowie’s darkness defied today’s liberal utopia. His “Thin White Duke” character lauding “The European banner,” triumphal crowing about his music as "Genocide” and calling himself the “Fuhrerling” would not pass PC scrutiny today. Even his celebrated Ziggy character was doomed and so spoke to corruptibility, rather than optimism. As Nietzsche should not be blamed for WW I, Bowie’s cannot take the blame for the shallow sexuality promoted in his name.

Though they married in a church, Bowie married a Muslim. He lived in an era of Hellenism, in which such moves seemed safe. Increasingly, such relationships will provoke violence. The same can be said of his youthful gender – bending. But, this was all congruent with his quite serious searching for an individualistic identity. As with Hamlet, confronting our station, and as with Nietzsche, probing our potential, could be said to be the quintessential Western ideals.

We need to reject liberal decadence. Yet, as a culturist strategy, we need to celebrate Western artistry. Yes, the era of contracting Nietzschean brutality, that Arnold’s model predicts, is coming. But, we’ll need inspiration to re-emerge from it. In the darkness, we must not reflexively denounce the uniquely Western bent towards ‘sweetness and light.’ Botticelli, the Church liturgy, and even Bowie’s artistry are examples of culturist potentials for which we must brutally fight.