Friday, March 23, 2007

Sebastian Alexander

It was a great shock to hear from a friend that we had lost a special individual and old friend. "Sebastian Alexander has died" was the subject line. I spent the day receiving responses from people I hadn't seen the names of for years. Each reacting with their own private memories and grief. Sebastian and I were as close as drinking buddies sometimes get, but it was a long time ago. One of his friends wrote that Sebastian treated him like a little brother. I felt that, too. He could be a right arse after the pints, or surprisingly charming, but this did not diminish his character--it amplified it.

After hearing the news, my head and heart were back in 1990, the many hours in Felicita's, and many memories. His blog address was made available. His entries, poems and photos showed that he had not changed.

News of Sebastian's death affected me. I turned myself inside-out thinking back about him, old friends, who I was then, who we all were, and what we thought we would be. I read a translation of Proust today in a book Ben had recommended to me (How Proust Can Change Your Life):

I think that life would suddenly seem wonderful to us if we were threatened to die as you say. Just think of how many projects, travels, love affairs, studies, it--our life--hides from us, made invisible by our laziness which, certain of a future, delays them incessantly.

But let all this threaten to become impossible for ever, how beautiful it would become again! Ah! if only the cataclysm doesn't happen this time, we won't miss visiting the new galleries of the Louvre, throwing ourselves at the feet of Miss X, making a trip to India.

The cataclysm doesn't happen, we don't do any of it, because we find ourselves back in the heart of normal life, where negligence deadens desire. And yet we shouldn't have needed the cataclysm to love life today. It would have been enough to think that we are humans, and that death may come this evening.

What was special about Sebastian--and I write this only knowing him as a buddy of many years ago, with memories rendered fresh by his writing and photos--is that he lived a life of desire, without negligence. His blog shows that. I think we remember that. What made me sad was remembering when I was like that, too. I hope to recapture it.

To all my friends ... and most importantly to you, Sebastian Alexander, cheers.