The Legacy Trick

Illustration by Author

‘Hero-worshipping’ is a slavish and degenerate way of living dismissed by many of us as far beneath our contempt, and rightly so. Yet, at the same time, some fellow humans appear to us to be constituted of sheer luminous stardust only; they are magnetic, enticing, enigmatically witty, clever, curious, confident, and always content and successful in a restless and necessarily doomed manner. David Bowie (or Jones, if you like) was an extraordinary creature that somehow changed many of us by being, not unlike Our Saviour Christ, both larger than life and omnipotent on the one hand, and closer to us and more fragile than anyone else on the other. Having mentioned Christ and Bowie, why not make this a trinity and add to this short list of super-humans the Neo-classical architect John Soane? At this point even the atheists will declare I blasphemed, namely by putting here this dusty old classicist next to the Thin White Duke - but keep your torches and pitchforks please, I will prove you unutterably wrong.

Both Bowie and Soane were well-travelled but essentially English autodidacts; both escaped partial blindness due to successful operations on the eye; both disliked organised religion and other forms of mindless tastelessness; and on both their shoulders a black-star shone in the midst of January. Both were remarkable in their life, love and death. But their true prodigy only manifests itself in after-death.

For those of you concerned with creating a lasting legacy for yourselves,