April 16, 2012

Dearest Astrid,

I’ve put off this letter until now, because I wanted to take my time remembering Barney, and to let you have your time remembering him too. I hope things are settling down for you, so that we can hear each other tribute a great, great man.

You know a different Barney than I know, but we know, together, an altogether different Barney Rosset than the rest of the world does. We’ve heard him speak, we’ve laughed at his small jokes which punctuated his sentences, we’ve seen him tipsy from the pub, and been there when he would go back in his extensive memory to bring out gems from the past. So charming! So entertaining! So sincere! So conscientious! So involved in his world, such a life-liver, go-getter, and magnet to similar energies. Who could ever think of Barney as old? He was forever young, only his body aged, and that’s what happened. That’s why he isn’t here anymore, because his body, and heart, couldn’t keep up with the man Barney Rosset IS. Knowing that helps me not to be sad about his death, because, he was a fine-fine car who lasted much longer than any of the others ever dreamed of lasting, and until the end, Barney was still driving, still traveling, still seeking, still on a mental road trip. Isn’t that true?

Barney Rosset IS. Not ‘was’, and we both know it. He IS because all the authors and literature and ideas he unleashed are perpetrating and still creating; IS because he is not dead or gone, he is as much if not more a part of this world than all the lesser energies combined and multiplied. The value of a man such as Barney is that the value stays; he is that valuable to all of us, civilization I mean. Different people will remember different things, but we all remember him one way or another. It takes a great, fore-thinking, well-rounded, complex mind to be remembered, and appreciated, and denied the finality of death. He IS such a man. I’m so glad I knew him, and to have been selected by and published by him is one of MY LIFE’S crowning achievements. The great men, and cars, and art, they live on and on and on, even if the tires go bad.

I’m sure Barney comes to you, all the time. Please tell him I said Greetings!, that I miss him, and how much I revere him. He knows, but would you tell him anyway? Astrid, I am so comforted in the knowledge that our paths intersected. Be calm and proud and at peace. You are as necessary to him as he was to us.