Pierrot Possibilities

David Bowie, screenshot from ‘Ashes to Ashes’

FROM ‘MARA, MARIETTA’
Part Three Chapter 6

What do you see in me, Marietta, what do you want me to be? Shall I be an appalling Pierrot, the alter-ego of the alienated artist, isolated, disillusioned and doomed? In my silvery garments and chalky face, my boat-like hat and scarlet grin, I’d veil my innocence in pallor and dress my emotions in lunacy. Or, androgynous and demonic, I could appal as an unholy creature of corruption, hiding my pain behind a mask of bitterness. Marked for destruction, I could trade my white garments for the black of the dandy, cynical and misogynous. I’d finally make Columbine swoon, but should her fickleness become unbearable, I’d murder her and blame it on the moon.

What do you see in me, Marietta, what do you want me to be? Shall I be a perverse Pierrot, positing myself as the instrument of your overcoming? Indolent in my activity, skeptical in my credulity, I’d sport black pom-poms on my white costume and an impish grin on my painted face. An innocent waif courting Columbine, denying death and sexual difference, I’d enact a universe in which I’d survive any catastrophe: Never forced to choose one sex or the other, never forced to confront death’s inevitability, I’d escape all the constraints of finitude. But in this lawless universe I’d neither crave belief nor claim coherence; I’d neither take my puppet-convulsions for a wielding of free will nor succumb to the illusion of culture. But don’t get me wrong: My aim would be to establish the Law, not to undermine it: Columbine would be a dominatrix, a lawgiver whose orders I’d obey.

David Bowie, screenshot from ‘Ashes to Ashes’

David Bowie, screenshot from ‘Ashes to Ashes’

What do you see in me, Marietta, what do you want me to be? Shall I be a pantomime Pierrot, a sad clown with a sensitive soul, pining for the love of Columbine? In my powdered face and black skullcap, my large-buttoned blouse and moondust pantaloons, I’d play the eternal dreamer, unvanquished by incomprehension. I’d knit my brow and pucker my lips, miming my sorrow; with a blink of an eye, a flick of the wrist, I’d banish my cares until tomorrow.

What do you see in me, Marietta, what do you want me to be? Shall I be a playground Pierrot, a crude buffoon in a knockabout world? Lovelorn, the butt of pranks, with my song-and-dance I’d dissolve all differences. Yes, in my conical hat and frilled collaret, madly I’d pursue Columbine, a punning jester to her impudent soubrette.

David Bowie, screenshot from ‘Ashes to Ashes’