The definition of humanity — The Obituary of Martin Dean

Martin Dean, 1956–2001

Who was my father?
The offal of the universe.
The fatty rind.
An ulcer on the mouth of time.
He was sorry he never had a great historical name like Pope Innocent VIII or Lorenzo the Magnificent.
He was the man who first told me that no one would buy life insurance if it was called death insurance.
He thought the best definition of thoroughness is having your ashes buried.
He thought that people who don’t read books don’t know that any number of dead geniuses are waiting for their call.
He thought that there seems to be no passion for life, only for lifestyle.
About God—he thought that if you live in a house, it’s of only nominal interest to know the name of the architect who designed it.
About evolution—he thought it was unfair that man is at the top of the food chain when he still believes the newspaper headlines.
About pain and suffering—he thought that you can bear it all.
It’s only the fear of pain and suffering that is unbearable.

He never achieved unlonely aloneness.
His aloneness was terrible for him.
He could not hear a mother calling for her child in the park without calling out too, sick with the ominous feeling that something awful had happened to little Hugo (or whoever).
He was always proud of things that shamed others.
He had a fairly complex Christ complex.
His worldview seemed to be something like “This place sucks. Let’s refurbish.”
He was impossibly energetic but lacked the kind of hobbies that actually required energy, which is why he often read books while walking and watched TV while pacing back and forth between rooms.
He could empathize with anyone, and if he found out someone in the world was suffering, Dad had to go home and lie down.

Dad always maintained that people don’t go on journeys at all but spend a lifetime searching for and gathering evidence to rationalize the beliefs they’ve held in their hearts since day one. They have new revelations, certainly, but these rarely shatter their core belief structure—they just build on it. He believed that if the base remains intact, it doesn’t matter what you build on it, it is not a journey at all. It is just layering. He didn’t believe that anyone ever started from scratch. “People aren’t looking for answers,” he often said. “They’re looking for facts to prove their case.”



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