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Bowie pulls a Salinger aka disappearing act under our very eyes

Thin White Duke, David Bowie in a ponderous pose, Ontario Canada 1976
Jean Luc Ourlin

Planet Earth is bluer— these days— and there's nothing one can do, with Bowie nowhere to be seen. How did this all happen? Following his onstage heart attack during his 2004 Reality Tour in Germany, the Thin White Duke has made but a scant, highly select handful of appearances. A solid decade later, a whole wide world is realizing, in an inconsolably sobering way, that he's pulled a J.D. Salinger. Why did this happen?

Didn't Bowie appear on a collective radar with "Space Oddity? And didn't Salinger register most—particularly amongst the book burners—with the iconic Catcher In The Rye? Sadly, didn't the protagonist of either inescapably embraced phenomenon distinctly forewarn of this tendency—to pull their own plugs on society— within their own storyline? Have you had to explain that astronaut Major Tom chooses not to come back to Earth? What in the world does that mean?

Well, it means, specifically, that he's chosen to spin off into oblivion in his tin can. And whatever else could that mean but suicide amongst the stars? The unsettling image also conjures scenes of the film, My Life As A Dog, as its 12 year old protagonist admits that his life may be rough, but not nearly as horrible as the Russian cosmonaut dog, Laika, who was sent spinning into space without a return clause.

Alas, Holden Caufield, similarly and distinctly, describes wanting to go and live in a cabin in the woods. And so, his creator, did just that. For decades, there echoed journalists' plaintive cries that decreed landing a Salinger interview would be as newsworthy as establishing the existence of life on Mars.

A Salinger interview was, arguably, the most sought-after coup on the planet, yet nobody was able to pull it off. There was the expose' by Joyce Maynard, a young writer that admits to having shared his cabin in the woods in Cornish, New Hampshire, but it elicited such incendiary controversy along with chastising and blackballing that was unleashed upon her by the literary community as it struck out with vehemence in deference of Salinger's reclusive integrity.

Both Bowie and Salinger, strangely, might have wanted to metaphorically go to Lhasa, so to speak. Stranger yet, there is anecdotal evidence that may hint that this hyperbole might not have been strictly metaphorical as these controversial and profoundly influential artists shared a definitive quest for Buddhist tenets inclusive of daily rituals of the most esoteric transcendental arts. Last year, Bowie did produce an album that did little to appease the collective longing for him as he granted no interviews, let alone appearances.

As Bowie remained a no-show at February's Brit Awards, while Kate Moss claimed the coveted doohickey for Best British Male (artist) 2014 on his behalf, there has been rash and persistent speculation about the frailty of his body and mind. The thought conjures what some can only speculate as being proof that Iman is keeping him in a dungeon—preferably a sex one—while sending her Ubermodel friend to the event on their behalf.

There continues to be a flurry of shrill speculation stirred by several photos that emerged wherein either the caption read something to the tune of: "Rare sighting of a frail Bowie in NYC shuffling about disoriented with lunch bag" or another such: "Unidentified woman seen with reclusive Bowie near his NYC residence."

There's no point in playing the game of outguessing anybody about the state of his hypothetical Alzheimer, possible strokes, nor the presumed maleficent intent in his looming absence. All that it possibly shows is that there may be very few left who can laugh at the caption beneath the photo of the unidentified woman while asking in defiant jest if they're the only ones who can identify Coco Schwab—his long time assistant and confidant—in and outside of a police lineup, if need be.

While time wears bafflingly blurred around us, there always loomed distinct and resonant hints of this heart-wrenching disappearance as part of a plausible escape clause, laid out a long, long time ago.