01 August 2009

In Memoriam

A few weeks ago, I was reminiscing with a friend about people I knew a lifetime ago (or so it seems) in Worcester, Massachusetts, where I lived for a few challenging years of early adolescence. My father reminded me of an old friend from elementary school, Josh Gold, someone I hadn't thought of in quite some time. In Worcester, we had become fast friends, despite my odd-duck status as the asthmatic new kid; Josh was both smart and kind, the type of person who embraced the odd-duck, something for which I was truly grateful.

The last time I had seen Josh was in Amherst, where we were both in school, he at UMASS and me at Hampshire. We bumped into each other at a bookstore in town, exchanged a few pleasantries, talked about our various interests, and went our separate ways. At that point, it had been probably close to eight years since the last time I had seen him - since I'd left Worcester. Amherst is a small town, but we had different schools and different circles, and I didn't run into him again.

Several weeks have gone by since the conversation about Worcester, but yesterday I went to that magic tool, the internet, to see if I could find Josh. It was a true shock and deeply saddening to learn that Josh had died on June 3, 2009. I feel terribly fortunate in all sorts of ways - lucky to be alive, to have a healthy and happy family around me, and to have friends with vibrant lives, too. The fact that I have not seen Josh in many years makes his death no less sad or disturbing. He had become someone of significant intellectual accomplishment - hardly a surprise to me, based on the kid I once knew. I can only imagine how much he will be missed by those who knew and loved him more closely than I ever did.

I was struck by the brief bio posted on his faculty page at the University of Connecticut, where he was teaching, so I have reproduced it below; the photo is also from that page, which can be found here: http://languages.uconn.edu/faculty/details.php?id=111


Joshua Robert Gold, Assistant Professor of German and Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of Connecticut, died on June 3, 2009, at the age of 38.

He was guest editor of Telos 140, "Peter Szondi and Critical Hermeneutics," to which he contributed an article on Peter Szondi's "Hölderlin-Studien." Gold's research touches on literature, philosophy, film, and political theory. His article entitled "Apocalypse From Below," published in Telos 134, offers an account of the work of German-Jewish philosopher Jacob Taubes that explores the theological underpinnings of modern political thought. This concern with political theology runs through his study on Hölderlin, which examines the complex and often fraught relationship between revolutionary political thought and its mediation through poetic language. Gold's work attends closely to the act of writing, particularly to the tensions and affinities between literary and philosophical language. His essays on poems by Rainer Maria Rilke and his publications on Walter Benjamin's writings, "The Dwarf in the Machine: A Theological Figure and Its Sources" and "'Another Nature Which Speaks to the Camera': Film and Translation in the Writings of Walter Benjamin," attest to this particular concern.

Born in Worcester, Massachusetts, Gold was educated in the public school system and held a B.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in German Literature from Princeton University in 2004. As a graduate student, he also studied in Germany at the Free University of Berlin and the University of Tübingen. Before joining the faculty of Modern and Classical Languages at the University of Connecticut, he taught at Washington College and Johns Hopkins University.

His engaging passion for literature and thought, his sense of intellectual urgency, critical precision, and his bright sense of humor will be sorely missed.


Contributions may be made in his name to the Worcester Public Library Foundation at 3 Salem Square, Worcester, MA 01608, the University of Connecticut Library at 369 Fairfield Way, Unit 2005A, Storrs, CT 06269-2005, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst Library at 415 W.E.B.Du Bois Library, 154 Hicks Way, Amherst, MA, 01003-9275. If you wish to leave condolences online, you may do so at nordgrenmemorialchapel.com


At 1:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From his bio, it seems you two were somewhat kindred spirits. I'm also sorry to hear of anyone our age passing. There was an interesting piece in newsweek about grief last week: http://www.newsweek.com/id/209941


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