RIP Jon Swift
By now I’m sure most of those who read this blog will have heard the sad news that one of the best of those who chose to write in this strange new form has died.
Jon Swift, aka Al Weisel, died late last month of complications of an aortic aneurysm. Tom Watson has a moving tribute here, and there is nothing in my brief and passing blog acquaintence with Mr. Swift that can add to that.
What I can affirm from personal experience is that Jon Swift (the name by which I knew the man we’ve lost) was at once a marvelous, caustic wit who accomplished something very difficult — creating a wholly plausible alternative world in which his views and words became plausible — and hence hilarious in the one we laughingly (because we’re too big to cry) call “the real world.” And for all of that wit and slash, he was a believer in the idea of community on the blogosphere, and did more than almost anyone to make that easily typed sentiment an actuality.
He put a lot of muscle behind blogroll amnesty day, for example, and it is a sad tribute that Inverse Square got traffic today from his ‘roll, to which it had been added a Feb. 3 or two ago. And he tried to notice small and new blogs when they were trying to make a move; he did so here, promoting what remains one of my favorite pieces of the last couple of years. We corresponded a couple of times — I thanked him for that notice, and he wrote back, noting that while he didn’t agree with the piece, he thought it argued its point sharply enough to make it worth pushing into the conversation.
So that’s my story: this was a generous man, and one who clearly loved both the solitary act of writing and the collective practice of thinking.
The good die to damn young.
Image: Nicholas Poussin, “Les Bergers d’Arcadie (Et in Arcadia ego)” 1637-1638