Gus Blaisdell 1935-2003

Joel Peter Witkin’s GUS




AFTER THE SYMBOLS
Chuang Tzu beats a bowl
And mourns.
His eyes are bright;
His wife, dead.
He sleeps, a skull
His pilllow dreaming life.
Morning finds
Incarnate knowledge:
The motions of fish
Against swift currents.

Gus Blaisdell


February 20, 2005

From Stanley Cavell

                                                             GUS     

On the evening of February 24, 2005

I will not be where Cathleen and I want to be, in Albuquerque with others of Gus’s friends gathered with his family, but instead I am to  give a talk that evening some five thousand miles from there, at the Cinematheque in Lisbon, as I agreed some months ago to do, introducing a series of a dozen films they have scheduled  there beginning with It Happened One Night and The Lady Eve and The Philadelphia Story.  These are three of countless films Gus and I spent time on together and I thank him for that in a book I wrote about such films.  I thank him in other books for other conversations.  But I profited from those conversations beyond any thanks I know how to give.  And I know that others trying to get on with writing books or making other things have the same causes for gratitude I have and feel the same way I do.  What I do not know is of anyone else whose range of friends, and whose care of his friends, was as great as Gus’s.  He knew people, and kept up with people, from all the lives he had led, or was living, seeming to have room in his memory for writings and images made by everyone, famous and not, that he had ever come across who showed a talent for doing something or saying something or playing something distinctive, and Gus had the rare knack and the tact of forming words of encouragement for them.  There kept being new names, some strange to me, some known to many, entering his conversation, or into one of his delirious monologues from a theater of his own.  He finished some memorable projects, and I believe others also must have tried and cried to get him to finish more, small and large.  It is frightening to think how many unfinished projects there must be heavy evidence of, ones he was right never to give up on.  This means that numbers of people who would have cared to know may not know what we know.  But we know it.  And I join in celebrating it. 

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