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.