Learning from the Thin White Duke

The thing about David Bowie that I think about the most and that I find most useful in my work (aside from glitter mascara) is his use of personas. I was always struck by the idea that this apparently rather shy, soft-spoken man created some of the most radically, raucously transgressive characters in popular culture. These personas gave Bowie a cover and sense of detachment behind which to create more confidently, take bigger risks and reach for levels that David Jones (“Bowie” already at a remove from his birth identity) may never have been able to convince himself he was capable of.

The things we want to do – to write, to create, to build – may seem impossibly ambitious and/or audacious but if we can develop a persona – even just a few degrees removed from our sense of ourselves (including, perhaps, our unfair sense of our limitations) – we can empower that “other” person to go do the things we dream of. The creation of a persona does not necessarily need to involve a magenta mohawk or (sigh) glitter mascara. Your persona(s) may be a private, perhaps subtle and almost indiscernible sense of detachment that gives you just enough cover to free your imagination and sense of chutzpah. And then we can be heroes, just for one day…

Bowie

Bowie

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