David Bowie's video for the single Black Star was at first too painful for me to interpret.
I saw it before David Bowie died.
And the images within the film were clearly about his death.
My first, real love had a 'Man Who Fell To Earth' haircut. He was so skinny, an artist...whose parents would heap on the self-doubt and eventually force him to abandon art.
Thirty years on, I remember being in love with the alien more than I can remember him.
Watching Black Star
I didn't want to think too hard about what will happen to us all.
His death -the Bowie look alike- came after a car crash, and had followed the death of my dad by just a month...so I stopped recording the images and watched something else.
Yet, the life candle 'at the center of the villa' in the video, was burning bright with no sign of going out. I thought that I must be mistaken about the meanings.
Interpretation is a game many people will be playing.
Here is what I understood when I watched the video for the single Black Star.
Scene 1: Alien planet.
The story opens with Major Tom lying on the rocks of an alien world. Above him is the black star, it looks like our sun, eclipsed.
A union of sun and moon.
This symbol is primarily alchemical representing the conjunction of male and female principals and dissolution of the body into the elements: earth into earth, water into water, fire into fire, and air into air.
Bowie had links to the Tibetan Buddhist monastery at Samye Ling and at one stage in his life he considered becoming a monk so, I will assume he had read a book or two on esoteric Buddhism. Here the alchemical allegory remains the same. The male and female principals once kept separate in energy channels within the body during life, now unite as part of the dying process. The text known as Union of Sun and Moon Tantra provides detailed explanations of that process of dissolution.
"I was a terribly earnest Buddhist at the time [...] I had stayed in their monastery and was going through all their exams, and yet I had this feeling that it wasn't right for me. I suddenly realised how close it all was: another month and my head would have been shaved." Doggett, Peter (2012). The Man Who Sold The World: David Bowie and the 1970s. Vintage. p. 45. ISBN 9780099548874.On Major Tom's space suit there are two symbols.
I have no idea how important they are, but the camera makes sure that we see them
The first is the flame.
Usually means do not burn.
The second is the smiley.
Could be Blake's badge -The Watchman -?
There are seven stars, or rather two stars and five bits of star.
The Seven were the Sibitti, and you could call them angels or demons, but I don't know why these stars, or star bits are here, unless they represent Major Tom -the black star- breaking apart?
A woman is walking towards Major Tom.
She has a tail like the genetically modified Dren, in the film Splice.
She has eyebrows like Frida Kahlo.
She lifts the face plate of the helmet and we see that Tom is dead, his space suit contains only bones. But his skull has been adorned with jewels.
It is now a sacred relic.
The woman has a mouse-like tail -perhaps? like Dren she is human as animal, and more than both. The mouse was an animal sacred to Apollo, and we are most definitely under the power of the sun in this film, so she is a priestess of Apollo, whose solar domain contains more than music and wit, there is also the rot and decay and power of the Black Sun.
The jeweled skull and the reference to Frida Kahlo speak of a different Holy figure - Lady Death, Santa Muerte.
The woman takes the skull to the red ground.
To the place "the day" of execution, where only women kneel and smile.
Here the skull will be placed on the body of a woman.
The body of a woman providing the physical support for the relic
Major Tom's headless bones
Are drawn into the star of dissolution.
Scene 2: The Villa of Orman.
The villa of all men?
In the villa of Ormen stands a solitary candle.
In the centre of it all
There were tall candles just lighted, candles burned halfway down, and little short ones nearly burned out. At one end of the place there was a heap of fresh candles that had not yet been lighted. "These," Death said, "are the candles of all the people in the world. When a man's candle burns out, then it is time for me to go for him." "Godmother," Martin said, pointing to a candle that was burning low, "whose may that be?" "That, my friend, is your candle."The Candles of Life: The Story of a Child for Whom Death Stood Godmother.Freud described the force towards life as more than the desire for reproduction. The libido is life energy, at the center of all creative work. Here, in the villa, the candle appears to be at the top of a massive testicle, at one point a small trickle of wax, opaquely pale, gushes from the base of the flame. This is life force as physical, a truthful manifestation of how life is engendered.
Eyes represent consciousness, the ability to see is the ability to understand and to connect ideas. The eyes do not need to provide a physical vision.
But the song says, your eyes...
In the villa, Bowie has lost his eyes.
His eyes are bandaged and he has buttons instead of eyes.
There is also something monstrous about the eyeless man.
Reminiscent of the eyeless figure in Del Torro's film: Pan's Labyrinth.
And reminiscent of images of wounded soldiers with scars that can't be seen by the person suffering from them...
Upstairs, at the very top of the villa, there are two young men and a girl.
As if in service to the Loa...
Absence of self
Like a dying body
Allowing the spirit to possess...
The four characters in this image may be divided into Jungian archetypes: the wire frame representing the persona - the mask - can be clothed in anything at all, be any character depending upon the clothes it wears. But the mask has gone. The pale man represents the self, Bowie. The dark man represents the shadow - the secret content of the mind an artist must bring forth - whilst the girl is the anima, the spirit...the guiding principal.
I see them as the young, who wish to follow his lead, to stand on the stage and to be Bowie...to be stars.
Somewhere below the upper room is the red ground.
Where the woman will carry the skull.
The villa of Ormen / the villa of all men, looks like the card, Power (the four discs) in Crowley's Book of Thoth.
If Bowie used its symbolism then this is the palace of the winter solstice sun.
It is also the card closest to his date of death...sun in Capricorn.
It represents earthly power and the palace of regeneration.
It is the place the water-sun goes to to become strong.
This is what the villa looks like from outside.
Scene 3: Heaven
The location for this section of the film appears to be Heaven, the Elysian feilds, Aaru...the Blessed Isles
From here David teaches the wisdom of years, teaches the children how to become stars...
He has eyes.
The sky is blue
The fields are full of rippling grass...
The sun shines...
But this is not where we are.
This isn't heaven.
This is the realm of the earth, there is no Heaven.
Living scarecrows are positioned like Christ at his crucifixion on Golgotha -The Place of the Skull.
They are within the realm of the Earth and of the Queen of the Great Earth. They have been hung out to die, as we all have...to be taken back to the soil.
There is no transcendence, no way out.
The end will be cruel.
The Earth is not animal or mineral, there are no words.
It is not Pan, or Dionysos
The Earth is primitive and brutal...
Matted hair, claws and strength.