in memoriam

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

  1. 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.


  2. oh.
    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:
    “Arab Peace
    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.


    1. 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:
      “Arab Love
      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.”


  3. Former student
    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.


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