Thomas Disch apparently died a suicide on the 4th.
He was a fine writer and a fascinating man. It was a privilege to talk with him on Livejournal after years of reading him, back to my childhood.
He’d been through a lot in his last years and was often a terribly bitter and angry man. It’s not surprising that he left this way, just very sad.
8 thoughts on “in memoriam”
Disch also wrote the story for a text adventure game I played the hell out of back in the mid-80s, Amnesia.
Thomas “Camp Concentration” Disch? God damn.
I remember that was a fan. I’m sorry to hear that he’s gone, too.
Oh Jesus. Aw, fucking hell.
I discovered Disch a few years ago, and really got into him (in part because he was a fellow Iowan, though mostly because he was a fantastic writer). I taught On Wings of Song to my students last semester. This is very sad news.
Where did you find out? I looked in Wikipedia and Google News but all the articles I found linked back to Livejournal. Though I guess the fact that lj crowleycrow wrote about it is good enough for me.
He and my aunt were close. I talked to him on the phone once when I was a kid. (I’d gotten stuck in one of the rooms in the Amnesia game which lj gillen was talking about.) He was funny and sweet. I think he was happier back then.
I didn’t like his journal. Some of the things he wrote were hateful, and the stuff about Arabs and Muslims got to me. I guess — and especially on the internet — there’s a lot of of hateful stuff floating around, but it was double-disturbing to read those kinds of things written beautifully. Like:
Arabs are, essentially, a peace-loving people.
The Koran commends peace, and it is Arabic
for hello and good-bye and have some more.
Heathens don’t understand this, and when war
becomes a regrettable necessity, Arabs
always are blamed. Sometimes a few hotheads
get carried away, but what else can one do
in situations like this, when one’s homeland
is occupied for generations? When the Jews
have been annihilated in every corner
of the Earth, then there will be true peace,
an Arab peace. Now that that is understood,
let us sit down to negotiate. Salaam.”
Digging through his LJ to find that poem, though, made me realize again what a good writer he was. I’m sorry he was so sad.
one more poem
When I was looking for “Arab Peace” I found this one first and was confused because I’d smashed the two poems together in my memory. Of “Arab Peace” I only remembered the “punchline,” but the image of this tree had stuck in my head for two years:
In all Arabia there is but a single tree,
a date palm of immense antiquity.
Such at least is the claim
of the earliest Arabic poets,
who claim further that this palm,
old and holy as the Kaaba, exudes
a perfume so powerful
that any man who breathes
but an atom of its fragrance
will be doomed through seven generations
to love with the tragic intensity
of “flesh tortured to damascene steel.”
Young Musselmen live in horror
of inadvertently allowing themselves
a whiff of this fatal aroma,
which blights all hope of Paradise,
all regard for family or love of the Koran.
Fathers decree their sons must undergo
a kind of olfactory castration
to prevent such a baleful enchantment.
It is, no doubt, an apocryphal tale,
and yet to this day one may encounter
emaciated youths stumblinb about the desert
in search of this legendary tree.”
I am a friend of kasheri, was looking around her site, and saw this. What a great shame. He was one of my professors at Johns Hopkins. I was a little too young to appreciate it, but he shared sop many of my eventual interests–sci fi, children’s books, theater. Brave Little Toaster is one of my favorite little stories…and I eventually startied working with the man who performed The Cardinal Detoxes, the notorious play Disch wrote many years ago.
I’m sad to hear the news.