Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Writers, Alzheimer, Death

In the past 24 hours, two great writers died.

Arthur C. Clarke: a giant in the SF field. Not much I can add to the countless obituaries and appreciations, only a few personal notes. Although I read much more of his novels later, the ones I read first -- at the impressionable age in my early teens -- were also the famous ones: 2001: A Space Odyssey and Rendezvous with Rama. I saw the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, and while I didn't understand much of it at that time, it did make an enormous impression.

Even if he didn't invent it, Clarke was -- in his time -- the very best practitioner of 'sense of wonder': his best works imbued with an inherent pining for progress, and an overarching impression of awe, a transcendental quality if you like.

Hugo Claus (English Wiki): A Belgian, multi-talented artist (although he was mainly a writer) who wrote poems, short stories, novels, plays, screenplays. He directed movies and he painted. He was one of the Flamish writers I enjoyed very much when I read a lot of Dutch literature in my student days (along with Louis Paul Boon and Hugo Raes).

Hugo Claus suffered from Alzheimer's, and he had requested euthanesia -- according to Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant "he didn't want to suffer a long and very painful end like his father had." So he chose his moment of death.

Which leads me to Terry Pratchett, who has been diagnosed with a rare form of Alzheimer's. I am a big Pratchett fan, and while I'm an atheist and don't believe in fate, in this case it's almost as if the world tries to tell me something:

Match It For Pratchett.

I donated $50.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When I saw that subject line I first thought it was a summation of our existence. "Writers, Alzheimer, Death".

I gave to the Pratchett thing myself. Semi unrelated, remind me to tell you sometime about how my mother and aunt tried to falsely diagnose my uncle with Alzheimer's because they found him boring.