Sunday, July 15, 2012

Well, Darn

Darn Piper, in fact.  Sorry about the mild, very mild joke on an unhappy day.  I'm contractually obligated as DeForest Arnold Piper's friend to make a bad joke today, and that was mine.

DeForest was Arnie to me and my crowd in the Flint area; he was Slyme the beggar when I met him back in the 1980s (there was a flying grovel involved; we got off to a perfectly good start that way, with me playing haughty straight man for the evening), member of House Mendicant; and he was Lord Arnwyn of Pearwyc (also Lady Arnwyn on occasion, because heralds kept assuming his name denoted a female).

He was a fencer, a past seneschal of the Barony of Cynnabar, and a man of unfailingly good humor in spite of some health problems that have now contributed to a far too early demise.  Others will tell of his penchant for bad jokes and whimsical sense of humor, but aside from encounters in the SCA, I saw a side of him that I suspect from comments on Facebook today not everyone saw, or saw as often as I did.  For a regrettably short time over a decade ago, while he lived in the Flint area, he and Lady Terryl MacAodhagain, Lord Skalla Geirmundr Ulfsson, Lord Breac MacFinnean and I met fairly frequently to discuss politics, philosophy and culture over drinks (and milder refreshments).  When that was no longer possible, we continued our conversation by email, a five member, or sometimes four, or for quite a long time three, member symposium.

Mostly we talked politics, but we ranged into popular fiction and culture, and wider issues of ideology and class.  At our maximum, we had two fairly doctrinaire liberals, two fairly conventional conservatives... and Arnie, somewhere in between.  When it came to arguing or debating, Arnie rarely picked fights with anyone but me.  He poked at the weaker logical links in my views, insisted that I give evidence when he didn't like my statements, and challenged me to explain why I thought various things.  If he was satisfied, he said so; if he continued to disagree, he said so; and if I had persuaded him, he acknowledged it.

You know how rare that last part is?  No one does that, or almost no one.  Our egos are too big to admit that anyone has changed our minds.  Most of us will keep up the argument just to play devil's advocate, even after we've been persuaded, and just to refrain from admitting we were wrong.  Arnie had an ego, but it was moderate and well-behaved.

All this is by way of saying that I found Arnie very bright and knowledgeable, a keen judge of people, someone who usually questioned received wisdom.  All highly admirable traits, that tended to make everyone around him better people.  Or so I found.

Today, as I read the news and followed links of interest on politics, economics and popular culture, I came across a number of items that might have interested Arnie, and reflexively began to copy the url to send to my correspondents, and then I had to stop and reconsider.  If it's something that would only interest Arnie, I don't need to send the link any longer, and I'm quite sorry about that.

Goodbye, Arnie.