Laudatio Karoli Fredericki Steinmayerii
Habita a.d. v Non. Oct. anno MMII
Prisco more parentum, cum honestus et bonus uir mortuus esset, e proximis superstitibus electus est ut orationem in foro diceret quá ciuibus uitam defuncti describeret, mores laudaret, amicos et propinquos consolaret. Antiqui linguá Latiná usi sunt. Nunc autem linguam istam quotus quisque aut intelligit aut scribit? Tamen arbitrabar manes Karoli, carissimi fratris mei, delectatos fore si aliquid Latini sermonis hic inseruam. Plane hac vi· aporian et silentium triste evado, et quoque Karolus ipse, cum difficilibus huius modi perplexus sit, prouerbium istud usurpare solitus est, ³si non potes clarus et perspicax exhiberi, at potes mentes audientium stercore bouino, ut dicunt, obnubilare.²
[trans: By the pristine custom of our ancestors, when a worthy and good man died, from his surviving relatives one was chosen who would give a speech in the forum. In this speech he described the life of the deceased to the people, praised his character, and consoled his friends and relatives. The ancients used the Latin language. Now, however, how far do you have to go to find someone who either understands Latin or writes it? Nonetheless, I thought that the shade of my dearest brother Karl would feel pleasure if I were to add a bit of Latin here. Clearly, by this way I avoid being at a loss and grim silence. Karl too, when he was involved in difficult things of this type, was accustomed to cite that proverb, ³If you cannot show yourself shining and sage, you can still fog the minds of your hearers with, as they say, bull shit.²]
Did you all get that? ÝThere will be a test.
This intended to be funny but not frivolous. You know that I am a classical scholar, and because Latin is so close to me, and is a strength to me, I decided to begin with Latin in order to steady myself, otherwise I might not be able to say anything at all. Karl would have insisted on Latin, and he himself, when faced with similar difficulties in speaking, had recourse to the proverb which I have quoted above and turned into Latin, at the very end--²If you can¹t dazzle Œem with brilliance, baffle Œem with bullshit.² [Actually, I chickened out and said ³bullbleep.²]
I would have rather have lost a leg rather than have to speak to you. Make it two legs... What the hell, make it three. I stand before you half the person I was last Thursday afternoon. I am amputated, in the manner of 18th c. amputations at sea, just like the ones that may have been done on the Morgan just behind me, quick, sudden, and excruciatingly painful. Like all amputatees I¹ll suffer feeling in that phantom of the lost limb the rest of my life. Every one of you here feels the same in his or her degree.
Though we were brothers, it took a long time to know and love Karl. We three brothers--everybody here knows Bill--often modeled our behaviour on Three Stooges movies, in other words, the usual squabbling. So what? We equally normally left that state behind as we became teenagers and went away to school, then separated to our several colleges and firmed our personalities in the separate ways they developed. While I pursued, with detours, a type of ³respectable² career, graduate school and all that, Karl was out doing mostly what he pleased and doing what he had to do to do that.
Looking back now, I can say that Karl was the single most important influence on my life. He was spontaneity, cheerfulness, fantasy, creativity, a most social person, and most loving towards everybody. In contrast, I was the scholar, the thinker, and more reserved and definitely more melancholy. I wrote dissertations and he wrote stories. As we grew closer and closer through the years---and were growing fastest towards one another, closest in thought and spirit, paradoxically, during the time that we have been apart physically---Karl supplied qualities to me that I did not possess in the same proportion, he became my most frequent correspondent, most intimate confidant---I told him things I couldn¹t tell anybody else--my best friend, and, as I said, my other half. I am sure my brother Bill, and my sister-in-law Lynn-Marie, can say absolutely the same.
At the same time I know I was a very great influence on him. My scholarship and powers of thinking (such as they are) impressed Karl and turned him also into a person no mean hand at research, which his job and interests required, and into a more careful writer. He enjoyed the classical and other arcana and trivia I could parade for him. More than that. Although Karl had girlfriends early while I was woefully lacking in the respect of what they call ³experience,²--you know what that means--I was the first to take the plunge into marriage and fatherhood. My example was a guide. In turn, he was a guide to me.
Karl moved affected many people, each one of you, in a manifold variety of ways, so various that I can hardly begin to describe them and count them. Here a passage from Guy Davenport, which sums this up:
I am a different person with everyone I know. I would never have met
[Jonquille¹s Jolivet was a surprise to me, Michel¹s Jolivet a delight.
Michel¹s Jolivet as much as Jonquille¹s Jolivet. I like Victor¹s Jolivet, a
splendid person I could not otherwise have been, Maman¹s Jolivet, an
uncertain but confident son, and Papa¹s affectionate Jolivet.
Marc Aurel¹s Jolivet is an imaginary and improbable character I have
never met, called into intermittent being by Marc Aurel. In
Trombone¹s presence I do not exist. With Tullio I have the feeling that
I represent somebody Tullio mistakenly thinks is there by happy error.]
Of all Karl¹s traits and talents, they were many‹and not the least among them was for a curiously decent outrageousness‹his gift for love shone most brightly among us. Having a brother is a good thing; when you have a brother with all these other virtues, you have a person whose value is stupendous, incalculable. I am only sorry that Karl can no longer show the way to Christoph Thor and Lillian, and I urge you to imitate Karl and each of you be a bit, anyway, of a father or mother to them, a friend to Lynn, and loving to everyone. Rejoice that you knew Karl.
I was struck with wonder and gratitude to discover, almost immediately, that Karl in death had left me yet another gift. Having known great moroseness and bitterness earlier in life, I have often been prey to a dangerous and horrible melancholy. The death of a brother could have struck the last blow of despair. The very opposite happened. I had intimations of faith---I don¹t know about what, exactly---earlier. Now I find that this homemade--or is it from somewhere else?--faith is strong enough to lean on and keep me from falling. It¹s too hard to explain in my own words, so I shall use Socrates¹s.
(Tell the story. [See the end of the Apology, by Plato.] Then,)
ÉAllå kaÐ Ímçw xrÆ, ‘ êndrew dikasta§, eÈ°lpidaw e”nai prÚw tÚn yãnaton, kaÐ ßn ti toËto dianoeðsyai élhy°w, —ti oÈk ¶stin éndrÐ égay³ kakÚn oÈd¢n oÎte z«nti oÎte teleutÆsanti, oÈd¢ émeleðtai ÍpÚ ye«n tå toÊtou prãgmata:
³But you too, judges,²---or here, because you are not the same kind of people who condemned Socrates---²friends of Karl, must be of good hope in the face of death, and you must understand this one thing, that there does not exist any evil for a good man whether he is alive or after his death, nor are his deeds uncared about by the gods.²
Thank you all.
|Cerrar podr· mis ojos la postrera
sombra, que me llevare el blanco dÌa;
y podr· desatar esta alma mÌa
hora a su af·n ansioso lisonjera;
mas no de esotra parte en la ribera
dejar· la memoria en donde ardÌa;
nadar sabe mi llama la agua frÌa,
y perder el respeto a la ley severa;
alma a quien todo un Dios prisiÛn ha sido,
venas que humor a tanto fuego han dado
medulas que han gloriosamente ardido,
su cuerpo dejar·n, no su cuidado;
ser·n ceniza, mas tendr· sentido;
polvo ser·n, mas polvo enamorado.
|At last must come and close my pair of eyes
The final twilight in the daysí bright line,
Untie body and soulís hard knotted twineó
This moment, teasing, anxious wishes plies.
Yet not this other bankóhere, where life liesó
My memory will leave, where it did burning shine.
My flame knows how to swim the frigid brine
And throw contempt on Deathís severe assize.
The soul, confined in a god-like prison celló
Veins in which blood with great fires did rove,
Marrow that burned with hot and glorious zealó
She from her body, not from her Care, remove:
They will be ashes, but they will still feel,
Dust they will be, but dust madly in love.