Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Taum: Twenty Years

And of course August is another anniversary for us, being that August 19th will mark the twentieth anniversary of Taum Santoski's death. Janice and I saw Taum virtually every day during the two long years between the time he was diagnoses as terminally ill and the end, and I think it was his death that really taught me the lesson that a friend is irreplaceable. You can, and will, make new friends, but the memories of time you've shared with those who are gone gets oddly cut off, almost self-contained, once you're the only one to remember it. It was the same with my friend Franklin, who died just within the past year; even though I'd only seen him once since graduate school, it feels v. odd to have so many vivid memories that no one else now remembers. Just one of the things about growing old, but it came as a shock with Taum, who was the same age I was (literally, having been born exactly one month earlier).

Not quite knowing how to commemorate his death, I thought I'd start posting a piece he wrote that's never been published. Back in '83-84 I started reading and thinking seriously about the history of fantasy as a genre and Tolkien's place in it. In the course of our many conversations on this topic, Taum at one point started setting down his own ideas about fantasy. But rather than an essay (the form the opening chapter or Introduction of my erstwhile dissertation would have taken), he set down a sequence of twenty-four aphorisms -- what might be called 'Aphorisms Towards a Poetics of Fantasy'. It was so divergent from my own work that I found it more puzzling than enlightening, but in the interests of those who might be more in tune with Taum's thinking I present it now, in my authority as Taum's literary executor. In order to keep the sequence distinct from anything I might say about it, I'll post each entry separately as its own blog post, labeled 'Taum Santoski (I)', 'Taum Santoski (II), and so forth. I'll be particularly interested to see what, if any, comments these might elicit.

--John R.

1 comment:

Marcel R. Bülles said...

Dear John,

thank you very much for posting this - I have been wondering a long time about Taum's work and seeing these aphorisms will make me reconsider my own conception of fantasy. Thank you very much ...

Best wishes,

Marcel Bülles