Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Michael T. Stowers

"It's these modalities which hook me. That's how it feels, like hooks with those little barbs on them that prevent the fish from unhooking itself, those 'hads' and 'shoulds' and 'woulds'. Life is, as you know, woven out of a million threads, 999,999 of which end in one of those hooks.


Time. Such issues with time. To me, you see, your assertion that the past is unredeemable is the opposite to my reality. For me, the future is the only unredeemable thing. The present is the persistence of evanescence. The past, though, is the only part we can change. And we do, all of us, all of the time. Memory is around seventy to eighty percent fabrication; we know this now. Add the rose-tinted glasses and the exponential fall off of memory and you get a situation where the past becomes more story-like than any myth."

Michael T. Stowers

We would often fight about the all-time-is-unredeemable-motto of the Bridge, whose constant and passionate supporter he had been ever since he first came here, in march 2011. It deeply irritated him and time and again he would try to convince me of the contrary. His sudden death, on the 29th of August, has left this debate open (or closed it forever, it depends on how one wants to look at it). Perhaps it is exactly through this shocking disappearance that he has been proved right: the future may be the only unreedemable thing, and my memory has already begun to fashion the story of him, of our close friendship into a myth, an ever-shifting tale which has become part of my ever-shifting self.

I would like to say more, but words fail me.


  1. OMG! That's so sad. I didn't know him, but rest in peace, Michael.

  2. welche eine schöne widmung für michael! ein geschenk, ein gedanke, eine träne aus der tiefe des herzens. man spürt die trauer, die sprachlosigkeit und wie sollen diese blumen und dein rufen deinen freund nicht "dort" erreichen! ja, wie sollen sie nicht?! und ich denke und überlege, wie gerne würde auch ich wissen, wer er war... sicher hast du mir von ihm erzählt, aber leider, es fällt mir nicht mehr ein... leider! alles liebste dir, prinzessin!

  3. louder than any noise is the silence which follows ... and so in the wake of such profound silence i can't help but feel (to know?) that he would want the conversation to continue and playfully so, for you are both right in terms of time (it is always only perception) and redemption. but most importantly, we must cleave to the truth that time can only be redeemed through attention and one another))))

    you hold the flowers so delicately.


  4. When we learn of someone's untimely death, we gasp. One of the fine threads that attaches us to this squalid place has snapped. Should we be concerned? Yes, for we all have far fewer anchoring threads than we imagine. We think we are tethered, but we are not. Only time and the febrile instinct to drape ourselves in bold colors can allay the feeling that we are about to float away (permissible on the bridge, thank goodness—and this is why, I think, mts found solace here).

    So as one voice passes into infinity, the voice of a philosopher and a contrarian, we are diminished—and we are silent in our contemplation of the past, the present, and the future.

    Mts was family, one of my siblings, or a perhaps a distant relative (more likely the former than the latter)—for the ties shared by those of us that spend time on the bridge bear the earmark of family—and when one of us falls, we in earnest grieve.

  5. On facebook I posted my photo of a Canadian Creek with autumnal leaves floating on and reflected in it. This exchange with Michael ensued.

    John Davies: (not a good composition, but the subject is worth sharing)

    Michael Toussaint Stowers: I humbly beg to disagree with you about the composition.

    John Davies: I do not accede to your entreaty

    Michael Toussaint Stowers: Plea bargain. Admission of this being pure photography for retreat from accusations of compositional hyper-subtlety.

    John Davies: I must recuse myself on the grounds of inability to comprehend your submission

    Michael Toussaint Stowers: Chaffering begins: this approaches the condition of Roxanaramahood.

    John Davies: compliment indeed

    Michael Toussaint Stowers: You are supposed to haggle.

    John Davies: maybe this was subtlety in that pursuit. You want to haggle? OK, how much is haggling worth to you?

    Michael Toussaint Stowers: Not as much as this photograph is.

    John Davies: I would have taken more photographs of the creek but my companion diverted me somewhat by falling in it and sustaining a dorsally angulated fracture of the left distal radius

    Michael Toussaint Stowers: Do you not see as I see?

    John Davies: Yes. I’m sure we know a Colles Fracture when we see one… I see an amusing interplay of referents, but I do not see a fulfilling composition

    Michael Toussaint Stowers: This is one of the most beautiful pieces of lightplay I have ever seen. Really. Of course, it is possible that what I see here is an artefact of exhausted perception, though I would rather it weren’t.

    John Davies: give me a rock or two an eighth of the way in (L to R) and just under a third of the way up and I’d be happy

    Michael Toussaint Stowers: (Measuring…)
    Oh, Echo, Echo, Echo. You know the myth?

    John Davies: but not it’s relevance… actually just over a third up is better. I should be painting abstracts really.
    A fault of mine is that I’m not a follower – I don’t repeat so I fail to understand

    Michael Toussaint Stowers: Neither a follower nor a leader be

    John Davies: The leaves that cleave, the leaves that left / together on reflection cleft (JD)

  6. From my journal entry 2014 09 01

    A facebook message from a friend of Michaels. "Michael passed away Friday afternoon".
    Three days ago. I was stunned. Was it true? Was he really that I'll? Perhaps his recent post saying, "hope is infinitesimal" wasn't about the world as it usually would have been, but about himself. Oh, my dear friend. So many times his intellectual and cultural insights inspired me. So many times his compassionate consideration catharted and comforted me. So supportive in my darkest hours. He'd just had his, and I couldn't help him.

    However he was in the rest of what he misnamed his failed and wasted life, on facebook, and to me, he was a fine human being. My dear friend Michael. Our polymathic meeting of minds. Our caring baring and sharing of despairs. Gone.

    I looked through Michaels facebook page, sad for him and me. Few dared go as deep as he. Few had such depths. He could be difficult to know and please. I stretched to understand him and earn his respect. In our exchanges he sometimes flipped from arrogant pretentiousness to self-effacement in deliberate obscurantism as if conflicted about being known. Those to whom he confided about his background understand something of why he sometimes seemed to sabotage himself and his relationships.

    Perhaps it was counteractively or for redemption that online Michael showed so much care for the world and for his friends with almost a compulsion to be wise and good. Perhaps he could live online in ways that his nature disallowed offline.

    I pictured him back-watered in East Harling in the house with the unremarkable overgrown garden he often pictured on facebook, his tiny life and giant ideas. His life was failed and wasted even more than mine, for I have loves that lasted. I had Jane who died loving me. I have Marianne who lives loving me. Poor Michael. He died without sustaining what matters most.

    He was mostly even odder than I, more intellectual and cultural, life-wasting and introverted and auto-didactic and wordy and deliberately compassionate than I, but those things in common created a unique rapport. His broad interests and sharp focus, deep insights and high aspirations inspired me to analyse and argue at a loftier level. His appreciation of my art encouraged me. His friendship warmed my heart.

    There are interchangeable friends we like, and irreplaceable friends we love. He was the latter. His friendship flowered fields falling forever fallow now.

  7. este unul dintre oamenii la care m-am gandit si ma gandesc cel mai mult fara sa ii fi cunoscut,desi nu pot si nu stiu daca as fi putut sa ii spun asta vreodata. de el m-am apropiat de cand mi-si povestit pentru prima adta ca de un altar-si pot reconstitui,cu memoria mea imposibila, exact clipa in care am stiu prima data ca exista: era intr-o iarna, faceam primele fotografii un pic mai bunicele cu blocuri comuniste sub omat,si tu ai spus ca intr-una dintre ele era ceva asemanator unui personaj dostoievskian asemanator lui atunci,gandul meu spre el a fost constant,si a pastrat aceeasi turnura. m-am gandit si ma gandesc la el ca la acea parte deopotraiva infinit de buna si tragica a umanitatii,ma gandesc ca este unul dintre putinii oameni pe care ii cunosc sau de care am auzit care a avut curajul sa traiasca precum un personaj despre care citim in carti sau auzim legende.poate parea cam naiv si fara finete ceea ce spun, insa nu gasesc metafore ca sa redau acest sentiment atat de puternic care ma inceraca imediat ce incep sa ma gandesc la el.

    probabil ca,daca ar fi neaparat necesar sa aleg, as fi de acea parte a firului la care viitorul este lipsit de posibilitatea eliberarii, insa de partea cealalta a firului imi dau seama ca este o egalitate care lasa,asa cum ai spus,mereu deschisa dezbaterea.dar vreau sa cred ca el se afla undeva la mijlocul acestui fir, in care minusul si plusul au decolat in redemptiunea care il preocupa atat de mult si despre care simtea nevoia sa vorbeasca cu cel iubit, ca si cand fiecare cuvant al sau ar fi aratat o floare.

    nu sunt in masura,eu,sa spun nimic-decat,poate,din acel punct de vedere in care ne este permis sa rostim ceva despre lucrurile pe care le iubim. si ceea ce as vrea sa spun este ca eu cred ca Bridge-ul a fost oaza lui,in timpul in care era din ce in ce in ce mai insetat, si ca el a fost rege aici, un rege fericit de prospetimea unei flori dimineata.el a vazut albeata acestor maini-si aceasta a fost,pentru el,eliberarea.

    now words fail me.

  8. Text und Bild passen gut zusammen. Schön. Schön wie es ist.

  9. hi my beautiful friend. I am deeply sorry to hear that our fellow blogger Michael has passed away.This is beautiful writing. I hope Michael passes on a collection of his writing.

  10. I am so sorry to read of the loss of your friend. John Davies describes him as someone I would have liked: " intellectual and cultural, life-wasting and introverted..."

  11. Such a profound tribute !! I am deeply sorry for his passing.

  12. A year later, so sorry for your loss. Thank you so much for having been such a good and capable friend to him, and for writing this. I was very sad to read that he had passed away, but finding so many tributes to him on the internet--above all this one--consoled me a great deal.

    1. Thank you for your kind thoughts, Jennifer, i was very surprised to find your comment here - one year later, yes.
      if you ever feel like talking about Michael, you can write to me: