I have said nothing in the wake of David Bowie's death. I recognize that he is a major cultural icon and possibly a musical genius of some sort and, naturally, I am sorry that he has died. But I notice these things at a significant remove. It was this morning that, making a tricky turn from 18th to Castro, I gasped, hand flying involuntarily to mouth, eyes widening in disbelief. If David Bowie's passing left me in perfect control of my car, today's news made me a danger on the road. Alan Rickman has died. For me, that is personal.
Not truly personal, of course. I did not know Alan Rickman (more's the pity). But neither did scores of mourners know David Bowie. People can be meaningful from a distance; indeed, that may be the very definition of celebrity.
I have carried the small torch of a celebrity crush on Alan Rickman since I was twenty years old and saw Truly, Madly, Deeply again and again and again. For the world, he may be Severus Snape, but for me he will always be. more than any character, that freezing, wry, grouchy, cello-playing ghost who came back to his true love, bringing with him a cohort of dead friends to while away some of the hours of eternity by watching videos. God, I love that movie.
More than anything else, I cannot imagine the world without the voice of Alan Rickman resonating through it.
How will we ever do without it? He speaks, I swoon. And so it has been for the whole of my adult life.
Not is the earth the less or loseth aught
For whatsoever from one place doth fall,
Is with the tide unto another brought
For there is nothing lost, but may be found,
The Faerie Queene
Two famous Englishmen. Same age, same disease, gone the same week.
If there is some gathering place of the departed, I like to imagine that one will say to the other, "Well, fuck me. We've only gone and died, haven't we?" And then they'll laugh.
Goodbye, gents. You'll be missed. You are missed already.