Saturday, July 11, 2020

Bowie, masks, artifice, roleplay - and "cofveve"

An excerpt from MASKS: Bowie & Artists of Artifice,  edited by J. Curcio, published by Intellect Books -

Perusing the J. Curcio essay "Bowie’s Occult Art, and the Enigma of the Monster"  I came across this bit and instantly thought, "aha, this is cofveve innit?" ie. the supposed gibberish that Trump once tweeted to the amusement of the world.

"The concept of kayfabe, familiar to most wrestling aficionados, is a 24/7 factor in the lives of many celebrities. Nick Rogers explains in a 2017 New York Times op-ed: [F]or at least 50 years “kayfabe” has referred to the unspoken contract between wrestlers and spectators: We’ll present you something clearly fake under the insistence that it’s real, and you will experience genuine emotion. Neither party acknowledges the bargain, or else the magic is ruined. […] The artifice is not only understood but appreciated: The performer cares enough about the viewer’s emotions to want to influence them. Kayfabe isn’t about factual verifiability; it’s about emotional fidelity.

"The relationship of kayfabe, camp and irony is difficult to map out in any precise terms, but they surely all play significant roles in the social phenomenon of “Bowie”, as well as most of the social and artistic movements Bowie appropriated his inspiration from. Most of us understand the Bowie we know is a construct, but our relationship remains “authentic” nevertheless."

A little bit of googling and I discovered some others had made the connection:

""Covfefe" is no mystery. It was Trump's misspelling of "kayfabe," a wrestling term with which he would be familiar, considering his ties to Vince McMahon and the WWE. The concept also explains a lot about Trump and his supporters." - source unknown

More on kayfabe:

'Although the etymology of the word is a matter of debate, for at least 50 years “kayfabe” has referred to the unspoken contract between wrestlers and spectators: We’ll present you something clearly fake under the insistence that it’s real, and you will experience genuine emotion. Neither party acknowledges the bargain, or else the magic is ruined. ... The aesthetic of World Wrestling Entertainment seems to be spreading from the ring to the world stage. Ask an average Trump supporter whether he or she thinks the president actually plans to build a giant wall and have Mexico pay for it, and you might get an answer that boils down to, “I don’t think so, but I believe so.” That’s kayfabe. Chants of “Build the Wall” aren’t about erecting a structure; they’re about how cathartic it feels, in the moment, to yell with venom against a common enemy.' - New York Times




Glam wrestler Adrian Street










More choice bits from the Curcio essay

"Most believe life isn’t art, precisely because it lacks the mediation of artifice; “real” comes to mean “unplanned”. And therein lies our self-deception. In Goffman Erving’s The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, most social roles are established in a manner virtually indistinguishable from those embodied by artists.

".... As Nietzsche claimed, ‘no artist tolerates reality’.

"Deleuze writes in Difference and Repetition, ‘The masks do not hide anything but other masks […] The same thing is both disguising, and disguised’.

"Simon Critchley summarizes Bowie’s artistic method in this way, ‘Art’s filthy lesson is inauthenticity all the way down, a series of repetitions and re-enactments: fakes that strip away the illusion of reality in which we live, and confronts us with the reality of illusion’.
True originality would be a form of madness.

"At least in regard to “the squares”, a rock star is some kind of ‘monster’.

"As Bowie put it in 1972, ‘The artist doesn’t exist. He’s strictly a figment of the public’s imagination. None of us exist. We’re in the twilight zone. We’ll all go to hell, ’cause we set ourselves up as gods’.

5 comments:

  1. An example of this was given by Britt Ekland when she was Rod Stewart's girlfried. There were endless stories of him two-timing her with glamorous blondes in swish nightclubs. Ekland later alleged that all these amorous exploits were invented by Rod's publicist, because all the time he was at home with her doing mundane things like watching TV or playing with his model railway. She described Rod as "a typical boring British bloke" whose favourite food was steak and kidney pie.

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    Replies
    1. haha

      this is like my fantasy that rappers like Future and so forth aren't out all hours in strip bars swigging cough syrup and having their "4AM girls" come by the hotel suite for threesomes / foursomes, but are actually at home snuggled up with their steady girlfriend watching a box set of Downtown Abbey.

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    2. Late, but: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/jul/02/asap-rocky-hanging-out-with-rod-stewart-interview

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  2. the dirty, or not-dirty, secret of gangsta rap would be if the Ludacris couplet was really inside out - they'd actually prefer "a freak in the streets, but a lady in the bed"

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  3. The impression I got was that Rod was light relief for Ekland after her marriage to Peter Sellers, who she depicted as a total maniac. He seems to have been a basically insane person who could just about keep it together in public, but not in private.

    This points to the inverse phenomenon to the secretly boring rock star - the family orientated light entertainer who is actually a monster. The Hughie Green/Michael Barrymore syndrome...

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