Memories of a Bowie Conference: 5. Someone sees it all

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Paul Fuller. David Bowie, Buddhist Modernism and Charismatic Charms

SPEAKER Fuller lectures in Buddhist Studies at the University of Cardiff and is the author of The Notion of Ditthi in Theravada Buddhism: The Point of View (Routledge, 2004).

imanbowieSYNOPSIS Examines how Bowie used Buddhist ideas taking as its starting point the notion of Buddhist Modernism (McMahan, 2008). Early Bowie was immersed in Buddhist ideas as reflected in his songs, but how did he understand them? Gombrich and Obeyesekere use the term ‘Protestant Buddhism’ to explain Buddhism that is rational and scientific. Or perhaps Bowie’s approach shows a more traditional understanding of Buddhism. Station to Station can be seen as charismatic, acting as a charm and this would be an apotropaic use of religious language in which language has a power beyond its content. At this time Bowie’s work was presumably Christian (for example, Word on Wing), but perhaps by not…

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