Post-Modern Drunk: Clown Posse The deaths of David Bowie and Prince, coming so close to each other, were rough and tragic. Much has been written about them--some already by me, and since in both their cases I was only moderately aware of their extended catalogs beyond their hits (Bowie more than Prince), their deaths lead me to take a deeper dive into their oeuvres.
Prince and Bowie share a number of characteristics, including a frank celebration of sexuality. They were both incredibly prolific over decades, putting out albums at a clip that is almost overwhelming when you see it laid out. And there's something I initially found kind of exciting about their output, because a fair amount of it is quite frankly bad. Prince and Bowie are both some of the most influential and amazing artists in rock and roll, writing and performing a solid percentage of the greatest songs in rock and roll history, and yet they failed much much more often than they succeeded. For a long time I took comfort in this; many of their songs and actual entire albums of their careers are mediocre, bad, or nearly unlistenable at times. But they also produced Purple Rain or Ziggy Stardust.
I took this as comforting for a long time. It was a lesson to me. Artists need to swing for the fences, and a lot of what they'd put out would be crap, but you need to strive to achieve greatness rather than mediocrity. It put my unrelenting mediocrity in perspective.
However, the more I looked into it, the more I realized there was something I had missed. In October I discovered something shocking that turned this comforting lie on its head. In early October, I learned that David Bowie and Prince's attention had been split between their careers as epoch-defining musicians, and what it clear was their true calling--by October, it became clear to me that Bowie and Prince were instrumental in protecting us all from clowns.
It's easy to forget now that we've made it through on the other side, but October was filled with a terrifying surge in clown sightings and clown threats. It is clear that horrors spreading throughout the nation were due to the tragic losses of Prince and Bowie before a new Clown Slayer could be trained.
It is clear by now from my investigations that at some point in his career, David Bowie was inducted into the lonely calling of clown slayer. I don't know if it is something picked up during his Ziggy Stardust days, or if it came later. It is, however, clear to me that he was inducted into this by his mentor and partner, Freddie Mercury.
A more careful examination of Prince's career could tell us when he was inducted into the Clown Mysteries. But it is clear to me now that there was something to the immense amount of positive polyamorous orgone energy that both Bowie and Prince put into the world that kept clowns at bay, until their tragic deaths. Despite extensive experimentation, I've been unable to replicate this energy myself.
Back in October, I was despairing that there was any hope. The clown sightings were out of control. I take some comfort in their ebb. A new slayer seems to have stepped up; even if Bowie or Prince wasn't able to fully train him in time, it seems likely that Bruno Mars, albeit a poor substitute, has gotten things under control, if not fully handled. God help us all.