Sunday, February 21, 2016

Memorial to a familiar stranger

I read of the death of Umberto Eco yesterday.  'Oh no,' was the mundane, involuntary phrase on my lips.  My first wild thoughts were to proclaim it to every friend and acquaintance as a calamity that ought to have cracked the Earth to its mantle.  A great man was dead; a man whose insights excited so many of my own half-reasoned ruminations.

Dead!  How many anecdotes, how many hidden plots, how many conjectures died in that hour?  How much was planned and left undone?

I feel a debt to this utter stranger for the joy and sorrow I have found in his words.  A week prior and I could have established a discourse with him (not that I would have) about the protagonist of The Mysterious Flame, or questioned him about the powder of sympathy, oil of vitriol, or Seven Seas Jim.

And I find it so strange, considering him now one of those dead with whom I can commune only through the words he leaves behind.

May he find paradise somewhere, rusticating in some splendid mountain villa, loafing forever without a past or a future.

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