Something kind of hit me today... I stumbled across a message on another message board, which talked about the old saying: "If you see the face of God you will die"...
In reply to:
It is no coincidence that Angel Man appears in this song [I'm Deranged].
Well, the connection between "Angel"/God and derangement is...I don't know, interesting? It says in the Bible: "If you see the face of God you will die". Perhaps "die" can be interpreted as: you will lose your mind, or you will lose yourself - your 'self' will fall apart and die.
I'm Deranged could be about a man who wants to be touched by God. But then we're humans and God is God, and we're not supposed to get too close to heaven. (Or so the Bible says.) The moment someone - anyone - sees the face of God, it's already too late. "No return" as Bowie sings. And what happens is that the person who has seen the face of God (the person who has become an "angel man" - which of course is a paradox in itself) this person becomes deranged. And then it's all downhill, so to speak: "I'm deranged down down down". Bowie sings about "the fist of love" which is also a paradox. (We usually think of Love as something good. ) To come too close to God/Love itself is like getting a fist in the face.
I'm not saying I subscribe to this belief (that if you see the face of God you will die) myself, but it's an old belief, it's an idea that goes back a long time, and therefore it's likely that Bowie, who's always struggled with the big questions, has thought about it. Maybe too much.