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The Irreplaceable SEK


Like most of my colleagues, I never met Scott in “real life.” Although it’s an increasingly odd thing to say; after all, I interact more with most of my closest friends from “real life” online, and it’s not really less real. His horribly premature death is a tragedy I haven’t even begun to process yet (on top of the other such tragedies November 2016 has given us, tragedies we needed SEK to write about.)

I’m glad that Erik linked to Scott McLemee’s tribute to Scott. As it happens, when I heard that Scott’s health had taken I severe downturn I was also thinking of the “Ivan Tribble” controversy and Scott’s inability to attain the academic position he merited. The hollowing-out of This Thing Of Ours has many dimensions and has been caused by many things. But it was kind of remarkable to see a self-appointed Gatekeeper Of Intellectual Standards 1)make one transparently specious argument after another about a medium he didn’t understand and 2)openly boast about basing decisions for precious tenure-track positions largely on random personality trivia. Scott’s body of work was, in addition to its many other virtues, a compelling rebuke to assumptions that writing for a general audience is somehow “unserious.” Had he focused on writing jargon-filled articles that would sit permanently unread he would have had a better chance at economic security, but the world would have been much poorer for it. As Paul and Rob both said, something has gone seriously askew when a talent like Scott was ultimately forced to write clickbait for a living.

He was a good man and a great talent who produced a body of work I will never stop coming back to or learning from. It was a privilege to have him here and I am deeply saddened by that he will not be adding to it. The most sincere condolences to his family and friends.

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  • Denverite

    These posts on SEK have been really heartfelt and touching (and sad). Thanks to all of the LGMers who have posted.

  • efgoldman

    Denverite and I don’t agree on much, but he speaks for me, too.

  • (((Malaclypse)))

    I’d like to echo the thanks to all of the front-pagers, and all (except the fucking Nazi) who left comments of the obituary thread.

    And because the past few weeks have perhaps emphasized the importance of saying things oft left unsaid: I’d like to thank all, frontpagers and commenters alike, who have made LGM a special place over the years. While I’m old enough to find it somewhat strange that many close friends are people whose real names I may never know, and I may never meet in person, nevertheless, there are many here that I genuinely treasure interacting with. Thank you all.

    • medrawt

      Yes; I’m a much less frequent commenter here than you and other regulars, but this is a pretty great place to visit, and I appreciate everyone who helps make it so, both hosts and guests.

      • JerBL

        LGM was one of the first blogs I discovered back in 2004, and it’s the only one I’ve read consistently over the last 12(!) years. Both front-pagers and commenters have really contributed to making this a great space.

        • cpinva

          “LGM was one of the first blogs I discovered back in 2004”

          me too. I was recovering from a quad by-pass at home. I had 5 weeks to hang out, get my strength back, and cruise the intertubes. I stumbled on here, from a link from some other site. for reasons I can’t really say, I started hanging out here, and haven’t left since.

    • Seconded. Sorry I’m such an asshole sometimes.

      • (((Hogan)))

        Happens to the best pretty good of us.

    • Gregor Sansa

      Thirded. Y’all are good folks.

      If any of the regulars ever needs a place to stay in Cambridge, MA; or in Guatemala (Guatemala City/Lake Atitlan/Monterrico), write me at my real name (firstname dot lastname) or my name here (Gregor Sansa Stark, with dots) on google’s email service. I can put you up or hook you up.

    • trollhattan

      Hear, hear. You all are one of the internet traditions I treasure. SEK will echo in the hallways a good long time.

    • Pseudonym

      I’ve had to take a break from reading and commenting here lately just because politics in general has been so toxic (though I doubt I was missed too much), but I want to second this. This site isn’t just a great place and a good community, it’s important.

      I don’t know what else to say about SEK. He was a wonderful person. I only chatted with him a couple times on FB but his utter humanity really came through.

      • Pseudonym

        If the proprietors want any assistance dealing with trolls, by the way, I’d be happy to help, and I know a number of other readers and commenters here are also technologically inclined and may be willing to offer support as well.

    • Bill in Section 147

      Yes. Thank you all (except the fucking Nazi).

    • Fourthed or Fifthed (and I wish I had a fifth). These are some really beautiful tributes. And it was wonderful to have had him as a part of this unique community. Irreplaceable indeed.

  • efgoldman

    One of life’s little ironies: LG&M is one of the places that I first discovered in the aughts from links in Sully’s old blogs. I haven’t been able to stand him, and haven’t read him, since sometime before the 2008 election, maybe even 2006. But I spend time – sometimes too much time – here, every day.
    So thanks to all of you; SEK’s writing for a different audience now, one we can’t see.

    • q-tip

      You’re not the only one with that particularly embarrassing origin story. :(

    • I came here from Balloon Juice. I’m not sure where I found Balloon Juice. I loved all of Scott’s posts.

  • Srsly Dad Y

    Your friend was a good person, and we all want such friends as you were to him. Death be not proud. You’ve all done it right.

  • dbk

    Thanks to all the LGM front-pagers who’ve posted remembrances of SEK today. I’m sure all regular readers have gone through them all.

    I’m old enough to be his mother, and this is a comment-tribute for Scott’s mother: I think you raised an incredible son. He was brilliant and literate, but even more than that, his humanity shone through in all the posts I followed. And his intellectual and moral courage. In my humble opinion, these are the greatest gifts a mother can give her son. In fact, they are everything.

    My profoundest condolences to Scott’s entire family.

  • DrS

    SEK was certainly instrumental in getting me to find this blog (for better or worse ;))

    We played in a fake baseball league that got spun out from commenters on baseball primer (also where I first encountered esteemed LGM commenter lil Davey). He posted that student sex story to us that day, and it is still handstankingly hilaripus.

    I never met him in person either, but I am still feeling such a loss.

    Rest in peace, SEK

  • SamInMpls

    Like most of my colleagues, I never met Scott in “real life.”

    And so it goes with someone who for so many people was “The Batman”

    I was certainly never a colleague of SEK but he was there when I was a student, answering my emails. Later we became social media friends and interacted further.

    All I can say about SEK is that his work inspired me and he was good people.

  • dp

    I’ll miss him terribly, even though our only connection was our shared status as LSU alumni/Louisiana domiciliaries and a number of social media interactions over the last half-decade or so.

    The primary thing I’m going to be thankful for tomorrow is that fucking 2016 is almost over. Scott’s death is the most recent candle on this cake of misery.

  • patrick II

    I am old, so perhaps it is not so strange to those younger than me raised in the computer age, but in a very much one way relationship I considered SEK a friend — and a teacher. His eccentric genius and humor mixed with I can only describe as warm-hearted aggression made me both laugh and think. Thank you SEK.

    • rhino

      That one way relationship is a thing I can relate to. SEK would likely barely recognize my nym here, or my email address from our small correspondence, but from this direction, he was my friend and a sort of mentor, or even father figure (and I’m pretty sure he was at least a decade my junior)

      Sometimes I wonder if he would have found it creepy, but my affection for the guy, based solely on his writings, was and is quite profound. I cried hard wrenching tears when his death was confirmed, and have choked up dozens of times reading these posts and comments. Hell, I’m choking up now.

      I never felt this way about any other author or writer or public figure (though Robin Williams and Leonard Cohen both saddened me greatly for an hour or so), but for some reason SEK wormed his way into my soul and took up residence. For which I am very grateful.

  • Calming Influence

    Aside from all else, SEK also made people laugh. A LOT. That lifts people, it takes people outside of their own problems, it frees them to think more openly. He did this. This is not a small thing. I’m still laughing….

  • a.monkey

    It’s probably been posted, but I got hooked on LGM with this thread. Already missed. RIP.

  • ChrisTS

    I am heartbroken. I feel even more guilty that, for various reasons, I have been absent for LGM many months. I don’t think SEK would have cared, but I somehow feel I failed him.

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