Dirge for Disch
I met Tom Disch only briefly, but I'm saddened to learn of his suicide. Deleted on July 4 by God's red, white and blue pencil, he truly ranked as one of the past century's magnificent imaginative writers. This photo by Beth Gwinn
is remarkable in that it is instantly evocative of his fiction, with walking-on-water joyfulness set against a rising tide of impending darkness. He did it all: novels, short stories, poetry, non-fiction, criticism, blog entries
and a text adventure game (Amnesia
). His work was adapted to both animation (The Brave Little Toaster
) and comics (Ralph Reese's "The Roaches"). The great horror tale of "Descending" on an escalator to sub-levels where there is no escalator ascending was followed by the future world of "Concepts," in which he foresaw webcams, social networking, cyber romance and lifecasting. On the Wings of Song
(1979) is a novel that soars.
Photo © Beth Gwinn"In Defense of Forest Lawn" and other poems
by Thomas Disch.Interview: Thomas M. Disch
by David Horwich.
Disch liked this powerful poem by Bret Harte (1839-1902), told first-person by a bullet. It prompted him to write his own follow-up:
What the Bullet Sang
O JOY of creation,
O rapture, to fly
And be free!
Be the battle lost or won,
Though its smoke shall hide the sun,
I shall find my love—the one
Born for me!
I shall know him where he stands
With the power in his hands
I shall know him by his face,
By his godlike front and grace;
I shall hold him for a space
All my own!
It is he—O my love!
It is I—all thy love
It is I—O love, what bliss!
Dost thou answer to my kiss?
O sweetheart! what is this
Lieth there so cold?
--Bret Harte lTears the Bullet Wept
We know that bullets sing.
Bret Harte transcribed their song.
But give them this: they weep as well,
And theirs are the most precious souvenirs
That venders hawk on the streets of hell.
What is so tragic as the lethal blast
Of thunderbolt or .38
That turns what had been present
Into past? There he stood
And here he lies at last.
Will you not shed a single tear
For any such? Is that too much to ask?
Here is a tear. Weigh it,
Please, Sir, on your scale--
And I will tell you the whole tale.
But only when your job is done.
Kill all the rest first. I will wait.
--Tom Disch (June 17, 2008)
Control click heading at top for Tibetan mantra.
Labels: death, disch, harte, ralph reese