October 18, 2004

Jaques Derrida and Superman are Dead

Christopher Reeve was a superman! The world feels a shade darker this week. I read about Mr. Reeve’s death the other morning as soon as I went on line. However, somehow it didn’t seem appropriate to attach Christopher Reeve as an after thought to either my enty on the Presidential Debates, or my Electoral College entry, dear journal.

I have a special tie to Mr. Reeve. At least, it is special to me. In 1979 I drew a ground graphite portrait of Mr. Reeve, just his head and part of his shoulders, 32” x 40.” I worked on it for a week, and at the end, I felt as though I knew the man. I had created a series of these and through the work, I often felt an intimate tie to the personalities of those whose portrait I created. I suppose it was something akin to the prehistoric hunter/artist’s shamanic cave images. The prehistoric artist wished to acquire the animals he drew for their meat. Instead, I felt as though I might acquire knowledge of the person’s central character , something of the essence of their Being, and so become a better, or at least more knowledgeable person.

One day during that same period, I sat opposite Christopher Reeve on the subway in New York City. His eyes, those magnificent and powerful eyes, looked just past and to my right, focused on naught but thought in the dark spaces beyond the subway window. I said nothing to him about his portrait because I did not wish to bother him with the unnecessary news. We all have the right to privacy, despite the current cultural phenomenon that seems to allow each and every one of us to rip out and expose every tidbit in the lives of persons of note whether good, neutral, or evil for public observation and titillation.

Last Friday evening, during the presidential debate, Senator Kerry mentioned “Chris Reeve” as a good friend who leads in the fight for stem cell research. Christopher Reeve fought to gain control over his damaged body after a 1995 equestrian accident. Shortly after the accident he was told by physicians that there was no hope for improvement in his condition. Nevertheless, In recent years, he had been abel to give up his respirator. He had worked out a rigorous regimen of exercise that helped him to to gain sensation in his limbs. Mr. Reeve had through strenuous exercise also regained movement in one of his fingers. He was determined that one day he would walk again, and felt that stem cell research might have given him a short cut or at least an assist to that goal. He saw and understood the benefits that might be gained by millions of people doomed to die young, or stuck in their sick beds and/or wheel chairs through the felicity of stem cell research. He was a tireless advocate, appearing at organization meetings, important functions, and on television in support of the issue.

Christopher Reeve lived a life that purposefully demonstrated that there is hope for persons with spinal cord injury. He showed us how to be a beautiful and strong man. He demonstrated that these are qualities a man may be fortunate to posses on the inside as well as the outside. And, he used these qualities and his life as tools to influence the world around him.

Somtimes they are stars, and sometimes they are called great human beings. Often they are special people who over time have become better and / or more than the rest of us can hope to be. One of those bright lights that illuminate our lives has gone out recently.

And, there is another I wish to talk about.

To be continued...

*”Below is a list of Autographs,” Pops Autographs, “http://www.pops-autographs.freeserve.co.uk/,” Monday, October 11, 2004 11:01 EDT.


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