intraspace: the review lounge

Saturday, April 01, 2006

bono on bono

bono on bono, conversations with michka assayas

for a long time i've held a kind of ambition to meet bono. i guess that is a fairly cliche ambition, but there it is. a wave of excitement swept through new zealand a few months ago - U2 were returning after about 12 years of absence. people went crazy paying amazing prices for tickets on internet auction sites, queued through the night, and spent hours trying to buy tickets online. in the event, for now we have all been treated to a stunning display of anti-climax. the tour was postponed, and for a very good reason - one of the band members had a sick relative (the edge's daughter?).

part of my build-up to the concert was reading this book. anna gave it to me for my birthday, a couple of weeks before the st patricks day concert. so, in lieu of the certainty of actually ever sitting down with bono and having the kind of conversation that takes days (or even decades) to complete and understand, michka assayas steps into the gap. and can i say right now, this book most definitely makes its way to the top of the pile of books on U2 or bono you should ever bother reading. bono, that man of mystery, is best revealed through his own words. not that that makes him any more straightforward - he describes himself as "a scribbling, cigar-smoking, wine-drinking, Bible-reading band man..." our friend alex, who's also reading the book said, "I'’m kind of surprised, impressed and disappointed in Bono'’s character all at the same time".

and so there he is. we all look for heroes - people who embody the ideal of what we believe. and after years of holding bono up as a hero (i've called U2 my favourite band since i was about 7) i'm learning to see him, and others, as people - complicated, flawed and open to acts of incredible stupidity and goodness. when you see that, you become more honest about yourself too i guess. so now i try to see bono as being bono, or better yet, paul hewson. and every time recently i've been tempted to see one of my heroes or friends as somehow removed from the harsh realities and complexities of life, the failings of humanity, the pitfalls of life, i think of biblical characters like king david - a shocking sinner and a man after God's own heart... crucially, david always admitted when he was wrong and developed some kind of real relationship with God, all the while acknowledging God as the higher authority. he was a man who undoubtedly knew the meaning of grace. and so, it seems, is bono.

as a christian i would have asked bono a different set of questions to those that michka assayas asked, and to be honest sometimes the conversation seems to get a little too hot in the spiritual kitchen for assayas, which can be a little frustrating. i found that conversations about bono's political involvements got a bit tiring, but i guess that's where things are at in his life.

anyway, this book is pretty addictive, the conversation style draws you in. this is easily one of the most crucial books (if not most crucial) on bono available. i hope there is another one in 10-20 years.

on the headphones: 'no more cotton' by sacred spirit, from the album 'culture clash vol 2'.

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