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David Bowie’s adhd


Bowie has:

  • short attention span (youth) (he says this at 3.11 minutes into the BBC video below)
  • associative ( a special conceptual kind of association I find typical for adhd and dyslexians, video below)
  • addictive
  • seeing broader connections
  • building bridges, cooperations (a teamplayer in his music, he took the lead in many cooperations)
  • sensitivity
  • personal growth

BowieKatjaOf course it is a no brainer that David Bowie had adhd because all geniuses have. (And isnt ”adhd” such a general term). And maybe it looks as if I want to get more viewers to a site at a time like this by finding an adhd angle to a name that is googled a lot now? Well: I just find it interesting to look at it from this angle and since Monday I am sucked into Bowie Youtubes anyway so if you want me to write something for this site today, it is going to be about him.

Now his legacy is is summed up in overviews and broadcasted everywhere I cannot help but dive deep into Bowie interviews and I see a great change in his persona through the years, it so intreages me.

(That happens to me always: Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse were just some crazy persons to me even though I admired their work. (Even Steve Jobs see column). But after their passings not only are they ”outside of time” suddently you can see them clearer, outside of the time context. Somehow they are framed in. That happens also to me with a loved one passing thats not famous: in your own life, that person can become an icon: representing a feeling. Their picture on the wall is charged with that.

Bowies picture could give your room instant style (even while he lived). A student dorm, with plain furniture: just hanging up a poster of your icon would mesmerize the room, give you a bohemian feeling. A home amidst the concrete. And the visitors would know: here lives no civil servant.

He must have had a large personal growth during his live, if you compare the drug snoring fast witty but shallow speaking Bowie in the beginning of the seventies. And the profound and wise interview I embed here from the BBC just before the turn of the millenium. And my…. what does he say!!! I really wanted to share with you in this column his great analysis for this century and the shift the internet is bringing. But let me first get the adhd bit out of the way, and then than the quote that I personally find fascinating.



At 3.11 he says:

In my teenage years. I just had to come to accept that I had a very short attention span. I moved from one thing to another quit rapidly. I got bored with the other. I became comfortable with that. I didn’t try to identify with one thing. The less I tried to be one thing, the happier I got.

To me, as an adhd person, that exactly sums it up: you get to a point in life where you just have to embrace the brainstorms. But not identify with them. I think he is talking about the diving in deep, everything or nothing: but at the same time having to detach yourself from this. You have to be able to look at your passions and brainstorms from the angle of the outsider. Otherwise you get washed away by your own brainstorm.

8.46 about the internet

I’d like to see what the new construction is between artist and audience.
In the sixties we felt we were living in a single absolute created society
Where there were known truths and known lies.
There was no duplicity or pluralism about the things we believed in that started to break down in those years.
That aera has produced the internet.


  • “We are living in total fragmentation”
  • “Context and state of content is going to be very different”
  • ” The interplay between user and provider is going to crush the whole idea of what a medium is all about”.

The idea that the piece of art is not finished untill the audience add their own interpretation and what the art is all about is the grey space in the middle.

He makes a great analysis between the seventies, the rebellious rock and roll. That internet has taken over that role since rock and roll is now mainstream. And he is refering to the visual artist Ducamp: (whether something is considered art or not, is determent by the audience, not by the artist or the art itself).

And he follows this trail of thought:

The internet has an other maker- audience dynamic. Producer – consumer. It will mess up the whole organisation of societies because it changes the relation between these two. It will put everything upside down [addhoc: dynamic relations instead of hierarchical and consumergroup- production]

It will give the audience a bigger part in the production.

And it will be an era where there is not just one truth

We are entering an era of fragmentation: [addhoc: not a fragmentation in the sense of falling apart, but a fragmentation in the sense of a prisma: when you see all the perspectives, something from different angles you see all the colours of the rainbow]

Bowie forsaw in 1997 the deminishing of copywrite of songs, due to the internet. He invented a new financial product ”Bowie Bonds.”. With this product he could cash in on copyright without selling it.

Investors could buy temporary shares in copyrights: just one decade of profit from those songs, but the whole property of the song would stay with the maker. A genius trick. David knew the copywrite would soon be deminished and with the Bowie Bonds he now secured the legacy worth 35 million to his children. Aparently he invested the money in…. internetcompanies.

The talent of association

And now another adhd traid: Association.

Bowie uses paper cuts with random words and he is consiously associating: what is the link between this random word and that random word. And this will give him new insights. Strangely enough this type of association that you would expect to result into fragmentation, will lead to the opposite: an intrinsic conceptual approach. (For instance I take 2 random words like ”agenda” and ”tomato”. I do the association game and I get ”Juicy Time”!)


If I make a parralel between the fragmentation of the adhd mind, and the fragmentation of the internet and a new worldorder: . If one could see what I call Rainbow fragmentation: seeing all the colours something is made of. It is less random than you think: but now the reconstruction of pieces is based on their content, not on their proces or liniair position. It is mind over matter: content over form. But that would need another connection of things: not lineair but dynamic. It needs another network, another wiring, because with the old hierarchical thinking so many points of views and so many truths would just lead to chaos. But if you use the fragmentation to get to the bottom of things  (just like the association game reveals the concept behind things) : that is another story. 


Show me what you’re made off


This reminds me of a game I used to play:

If you have a question or a problem that is bothering you.
– You don’t know how to deal with something or don’t understand something –

Play this game and you will find your answer – to any question!

  • 1. Write down your question in a sentence.
  • this sentence will have about three main words.
  • Write down those words at the top of a new paper and put number 1 to 6 vertically under those words in three columnns. (works even better with 12, then you use 2 dices) Then take the first word in your mind and quickly write down the first thing that comes to mind. Something you associate with that word. (not semantically of course but what you associate with the content of the word). Do this also with the other words.
  • Then, roll dice and take the word of that number. Repeat with the other columns.
  • Now you have three words: put them together: what do you see.
  • What is the connection between those words?
  • That connection will be the answer to your question at 1.

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