Thursday, December 4, 2008

leslie marenchin, r.i.p.

My most vivid memory of Marenchin was a joke he once told about his own future. Now, this is a man who had been working as a professional adjunct professor for years. It was not uncommon for him to be teaching eight (8!!!) simultaneous "intro to philosophy" courses (with no TAs) in a single semester. His every word seemed suffused with bitterness over lost opportunities (both academically and romantically). But he had the capacity to laugh at himself, and this joke involved imagining himself in the future as old and wheelchair bound, ranting and raving to his intro students about Plato's cave. The image of him slumped in his bar chair, miming the posture of a decrepit and senile old man, desperately trying to control the joystick of his motorized wheelchair and mumbling "the cave, the cave" over and over again is indelibly etched on my brain.

Ironically, by all accounts from those who knew him more recently than I, his life was turning around and prospects for his future had changed for the better. Not the first, nor, I'll warrant in sadness, the last such untimely death I'll witness.