Monday, April 29, 2013

Eulogy

It was an interesting week for me last week.  Over the course of seven days the Peacock's dog, Cass, died; the Tigress' cat, Loki, died; I was given three literature assignments, all of them revolving around death; my literature paper revolved around the repercussions of a death; and after a few other omens of foul repute my psychology professor gave the week's assignment: to write my own eulogy.

So, yeah, I was careful crossing the street for a while.

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Now that the flitting souls have finally tired of whispering that Faustus is damned and that my sons shall be king, though I be none . . . I thought I would share my eulogy with you.  Odds are it'll be the only one you ever need to read.  It takes place, as one would expect, many years in the future . . . for those of you who know me, of course, there will be no surprises.



IN MEMORIAM

Before we begin, I would like to thank all of you for being here, especially those of you who had to come by ship.  These have been hard times for us all, with the war just behind us and the wounds from it still fresh.  I’m glad to see that even now we can come together, even if it’s for an occasion as solemn as this.

I never personally met the decedent, though I’m told Coyote always hated funerals.  He saw them as generally pointless exercises in morbidity and flagellation.  However, since as with all subjects of a funeral he is not here to protest, we are free to carry on.  Moreover, as a member of the clergy, I am completely comfortable with telling his closest friends and family all about him.

Coyote was born at a very young age.  He liked to say it was a very traumatic experience for him: naked in front of a roomful of masked strangers, he was held upside-down and spanked.  Born somewhere in New York – he was never quite sure where – and raised on Long Island, Coyote had a fascination with self-mastery and the martial arts from about the age of six.  He was also a writer, author of a variety of works and co-author of the famous O4S series, along with his writing partner and friend of many years, best-selling author Lauren Scharhag.

Coyote was never publicly compared to such historic geniuses as Leonardo da Vinci, Isaac Asimov, Benjamin Franklin, or Nikola Tesla.  However, he was known to compare such men favorably to himself from time to time, and that ought to count for something. 

He also loved laughter.
            
            In the course of his life, he wrote a variety of books on subjects ranging from metaphysical theory to science fiction and fantasy, from psychology to martial arts training.  He wrote fifteen children’s books and seven poetry anthologies.  Several of his children’s books won Newberry Awards, and his work on the impacts of societal symbolism on human development simultaneously won him his Nobel Peace Prize and his first Pulitzer Prize.  

             When the book series he and Lauren wrote together was finally made into a cable series, The Order of the Four Sons not only won a staggering thirteen Emmys over the course of eight seasons, but inspired several anime-style spin-offs from further books he and Lauren had written in the same universe.  Added to this was the Hugo Award for Best Novel the two of them got for Book III of the series: Where Flap the Tatters of the King.  Coyote did voice work for several of the characters in the animated series, as well as all the audio books, and many of the novels that Lauren wrote on her own. 

Through it all, he continued to meditate, study, and teach martial arts.  Many people credit him with contributing more to proper martial arts training than anyone since Bruce Lee.

While Coyote never attracted a following such as those enjoyed by Jesus, Mohammed, or the Buddha, he was always ready to point out that he was more sexually attractive than all three combined.  Point of fact, some of you may recall that was part of his acceptance speech for his Nobel.  He never said whether he did that because he thought it was true, or just because he thought it would be funny.  Probably a little of each.   

Coyote is survived by friends, his children and grandchildren, and he always enjoyed alternating entertaining and terrifying the kids with stories he would tell them before bed.  I see some of you nodding.  You can probably remember some of them, and if any of you would like to share them later I’m sure he would be pleased.

Most people don’t know the work he did, small things here and there, towards securing freedom of speech and press to those countries where it was least tolerated.  His arrest in China made the news, though.  Some of you may remember that, when he was caught harboring political fugitives from the Cyber-Papacy back in 2045. 

Less publicized was his arrest in Washington.  Even though the place is now a museum, apparently it is still illegal to measure the Pentagon in hopes of arranging an exorcism.  However, Coyote later went on to portray Abbie Hoffman on stage in a one-man-show that local critics heralded as nothing short of brilliant.

An eccentric anarchist, Coyote had become something of a national treasure even before the revolution that gave New Hong Kong our independence.  He was respected not for fighting in the revolution – which he never did – but for helping people keep to their own values when things were at their worst, and for helping negotiate the final peace between ourselves and the UN.

But most of all, Coyote was himself.  He enjoyed doing what he wanted, and encouraging others to do likewise.  He enjoyed being the center of attention, and he enjoyed being recognized wherever he went.  But he also treasured his solitude and was fiercely protective of not only his own but of others’.  When asked about his religion, he often said that while he distrusted any label or organization, he did enjoy wearing Emperor Norton’s old clothes from time to time.  He lived, loved, and laughed, treasuring not only his own freedom but that of others.  He always urged others to build themselves up, never to tear each other down.  And it was in that spirit that he helped us make this place what it is today.

Coyote has been missing for over six months now, and has been ever since the regulator accident.  Here on Mars, any colonist can tell you that everything is as safe as we can get it, but no more than that.  New Hong Kong is no exception.  When the east bank of terraformers went, it took a lot of section nine with it.  Seventy-three people are still missing, and forty-seven of the bodies could not be positively identified.  So, probably Coyote has moved on at last.  Only two percent of those in the area survived, and of those only two percent were relatively unharmed.

Still, it is worth noting that he had been nominated for Governor last month.  Earlier, I overheard some of you who knew him best, saying that if anything might drive him to fake his own death, being threatened with a government position just might do it.  He once said, “A bad politician is a burden on everyone, himself included; a good politician has power over the lives of others and none over his own.  I don’t care to be either.”  So, maybe, just maybe, he’s still out there somewhere.  I like to think he’s waiting for the fuss to die down, or perhaps just enjoying the quiet and the solitude that only the still beauty of our red world can offer.  And I like to think that if he has died, well, he’s probably doing much the same.

So, after the service today, this casket – and the Life-Model Decoy within it – will be treated as he had wished his remains to be treated in event of his death.  They will be cremated, then scattered in a park somewhere where children play.  This is a hard time for a lot of us, so I will leave you with one of his earlier poems.  Under the circumstances it seems appropriate.  It is entitled simply, Sonnet:

Count Basie and His Orchestra the fun’ral service play
Let cats cut rugs as flappers kipple till the break of day
Let vodka and tequila flow with whiskey through the crowd
And every thought be spoken and each speech be laughed aloud

Release the clowns!  The dancing bears!  Have Nero play his lyre
Confetti streets and motorcades and factories on fire
Shall light the way for mourners come with sparklers and balloons
No thorny walls, no teardrop falls, save for in old cartoons

I am not a dying gate, Porphyria yet lives
The maelstrom is a thing for fools who ledger as they give
And shout demands with silent looks, and club with flowers, cards and books
I can yet travel by the day and cross the running brooks

Be damned to rivers!  Tributaries never brought me joy
In anything!  Cast down the ocean!  The kraken is a toy
For old Greek ghosts who kill their hosts and sieve for water at the coasts
Those who go outside and live are those who ‘member me the most

Seal me in and face me down, dry wood and broken bone
If I am to be interred, best if I go alone




Sometime Again,
--Coyote.


(Funeral pic courtesy of bbc.com, and the characters within are (c) Paramount Pictures; lightsabre-toting beatles are courtesy of djgreedyg.proboards.com.  All rights reserved by those who rightfully reserve them.)

2 comments:

  1. In my anarchist utopia on Mars, no one will ever try to make you be Governor, even if you broker peace between the UN and the discordian syndicate of avowed fools and miscreants. The closest thing we will have to Governor is a temporary unofficial mascot or 'meme of the week'. You may be beautified as one of the avatars of Bob Dobs, but there's nothing anyone can do to stop that.

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