Laura Wood, View from the Right, March 29, 2013
Lawrence Auster died today at 3:56 a.m., Eastern Daylight Time, at a hospice in West Chester, Pennsylvania. His death came after more than a week of rapidly worsening distress and physical collapse caused by the pancreatic cancer he endured for almost three years.
On Monday evening, after arriving at the hospice in the late afternoon, Mr. Auster read and responded to a few emails. He then closed his battered and medicine-stained Lenovo laptop for the last time. “That’s enough for now,” he said, holding his hands over the computer as if sated by an unfinished meal.
He did not expect that to be the last.
But the blogging career that stands out on the Internet and in the history of American letters as a tour de force of philosophical and cultural insight is over. Mr. Auster entered a state of sedated and sometimes pained sleep the next day, after a night of agony. He spoke no more than a few words during the next two days and died peacefully this morning after about ten hours of unusually quiet and mostly undisturbed rest.
Only extreme incapacitation could have brought that career to a close. For many of us, it was a marvel, a form of essential daily food. No man gave more to his readers. No writer responded more energetically to the people who took in his words and either approved or rejected them. No thinker, except perhaps Plato, jousted more ably with his students or left such an elegant and finished record of philosophical conflict and resolution. He was philosopher, journalist, guru and cultural psychoanalyst in one. And no writer on culture and politics had sounder judgment about the world around us, or more brilliant observations.
The relationship between Mr. Auster and the hundreds of often-anonymous correspondents who wrote to him over the years was like that between a boxing coach and his fighters. He trained his followers in the art of intellectual combat — and the price was a staggering workload as he edited the debates that have appeared here over the years. He paid tireless tribute to the fight for truth. But, as he insisted, he wasn’t a hero. He was just doing what came naturally. He was doing what he had to do.
Sadly, as of today, View from the Right, except for an entry about his funeral and possibly more on his death, will become inactive. He wanted it that way. VFR could not continue beyond Mr. Auster’s death because it is the creation of an utterly unique personality and mind.
The site will, however, remain online permanently, as long as the Internet exists. There are also plans to collect his writings, both those found here and those unpublished, in book form. At the time of his final siege of illness, he was working hard to make that happen.
His work will continue to be read and appreciated. The number of “vile sycophants” will grow. Falsehoods will for many years more be overturned by those who have come in contact, directly or indirectly, with Mr. Auster. I am certain of that.
Readers will note the synchronicity of Mr. Auster’s death. He died on Good Friday. He said repeatedly that becoming a Christian believer was the most important event of his life. Born a Jew, he was baptized as an Anglican on Holy Thursday 15 years ago. And, he was received into the Catholic Church and took the sacraments, including Holy Unction, in his hospital room on Monday.
There is much more to be said — about the man and the ideas. But today is a day for grief, as well as for gratitude. His almost unimaginable suffering is ended.
Soon we can feel wonder too. We can sit back and marvel at what we had — and still have. The loss of this great fighter invites us to love even more the ideas, principles and heritage that Lawrence Auster loved. It behooves us to love America, even a deceased America, as much as he did; to love Western civilization; to love the written word and unfettered intellectual discourse. His combativeness sprang in part from an internal wellspring of affection.
But we cannot help but also love less. For the world is less without him.