Sarah Avery (dr_pretentious) wrote,
Sarah Avery

Famous Dead People

Many thanks to everyone who participated in my entirely unscientific poll about Madame Blavatsky. It looks like I can drop her name, and readers will know I'm not making up everything that goes along with it, but I'll have to handle the exposition about her just as if I'd invented her myself.

And if Madame Blavatsky hadn't existed, we really would have had to invent her. She's just too odd to miss.

Today, Stanley Kunitz is dead at the age of 100. I thought he'd outlive us all. He was a regular at the Dodge Poetry Festival (see previous post regarding New Jersey's cult of poetry). Every time he took the stage, the crowd would go wild, as much because of the spectacle of his longevity as in anticipation of his wonderful work. My poetry cronies and I figured Kunitz would be forever preserved at the Dodge Foundation's expense, perhaps cryogenically so that he'd be back in circulation when we were old fogeys ourselves, or perhaps on extreme life support as a head in a jar. Failing that, we imagined an animatronic Stanley Kunitz, sort of like the robotic Philip K. Dick. Perhaps, we thought, we were already watching an animatronic Stanley Kunitz, since he was implausibly energetic for a 97-year-old. That, or maybe the man himself was for all practical purposes indestructible, like cockroaches and Cher.

We could joke like that because his death really did seem impossible. It's hard to imagine this year's Dodge Festival without him.

Far better to imagine the escaped android Stanley Kunitz with the escaped android Philip K. Dick, hiding out in a forgotten bomb shelter somewhere, sharing a drink and taking turns at the typewriter.
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