This is daunting.
Daunting not only because I’ve been pondering how one writes about someone as talented as SEK, someone who had an inimitable ability to see the world from a different angle than most, and was able to prolifically deploy his vast writing talents to allow us to understand what he saw. While often abused and misused, the word unique applies here. But daunting also because the man has been eloquently eulogised not only here at LGM by Paul, Rob, Steve, Erik, and Scott, but also at the AV Club, Inside Higher Ed, Salon, other sites, and by countless individuals.
Daunting because I’m writing about somebody who should still be here, at the other end of an online chat window.
Like the curious child who sees the red hot element on a stove-top and wonders how that would feel (yes, as a kid, I touched it, which I think explains something) I read through the last years’ worth of on-line dialogue between SEK and I over coffee this morning. As so many have written, that was the foundation of our friendship. Upon reflection, what struck me about SEK was his humanity. Again, as too many to cite have written in the past 48 hours, he was able to connect and empathise with his friends on a very fundamental, personal level. Perhaps this was because of his own sense of self reflection and awareness or his contagious self-deprecation, but in a small way at least, he made your struggles his, which of course made his yours. Reading the many eulogies on SEK makes one attribute of his personality crystal clear: he made those he chose as friends feel damned special. And there were a hell of a lot of us.
Fortunately, none of this prevented him from often seeing the absurdity in whatever was being discussed.
Having had an on-line dialogue for several years allowed for the only time we met FTF seem like a reunion rather than a first meeting of co-bloggers over a beer. We had a near miss several years before in SoCal (as again seems to be often the case) but this was the 1st of January, 2014, in New Orleans. One result of my previous evening’s celebrations resulted in my admission to the LSU ER (long story short: I was spiked, which is a blast). As he picked up on my mis-adventures on social media, he asked if we were still on for the evening; hell yeah, we were still on. I was discharged and back in my hotel room by 9am, and we met up several hours later. We had good food, and visited several bars before hitting a liquor store and retiring back to my room to listen to uplifting, happy music(*). We swapped stories and discussed writing, music, religion, heartbreak and plenty of other topics, most suitable for the family blog that this is. It was a splendidly lovely evening. As he had driven down from Baton Rogue for reasons that escape me (why didn’t I go up there?) so he spent the night. On the hard wood floor of my hotel room (he wouldn’t take the bed).
He will be profoundly missed. But if those of us who write for and read LGM specifically, and the declining blogosphere more generally, are affected by this so deeply as we are by his passing, it’s difficult to imagine how it’s impacting his long term close friends . . . and his family. My thoughts are with them.
As we’re about to return to normal business here at LGM, I’m going to help the segue with something partially inspired by SEK. As many are aware, there’s this thing called the Professor Watch List, and Loomis (of course) is on it. Their on line ‘submit a tip’ feature is a desperate plea for trolling. With SEK at the forefront of my mind the past few days, and knowing his love of Buffy, I decided that, clearly, Professor Rupert Giles needs to be on the list:
Unfortunately, I forgot the obvious: Giles was an immigrant who participated in the destruction of Sunnydale High, clearly an act of domestic terrorism.
(*) No, of course we didn’t listen to shiny happy music, for god’s sake. My one regret from that evening is for some inexplicable reason I had only one track from the (then) new National album on my ipod. I do recall discussing deafness (I’m deaf in one ear and only 80% in the other) and given his hearing was more impaired than mine, I found his continued appreciation of music fascinating on a physiological level.