Touching the Untouchable

At what level of discourse will I step over the boundary of comfort? I came close with the postings on anger, but thankfully, we were able to box these in with an objectively intellectual viewpoint that pushed the topic safely and correctly back into manageable bounds.

So now, let us up the ante on human emotions and see if words can truly strip away all context and feeling and pain until nothing else is left except a black and white description of an act.

In a posting today, Jonathon talks about attending a Japanese film festival and the increasing discomfort of the audience when the expert who introduces the film abruptly stops speaking about Japanese morals from an ‘intellectual’ perspective, and begins to speak of them from an experiential one.

This expert, Donald Ritchie broke the taboo’d boundaries of an intellectual discussion with a story based on humor, and real life, and actual sensuality. And the elite, the intelligencia, reacted in open and overt hostility. Jonathon writes:

But for the majority of his listeners he had already said far too much. The forced atmosphere seemed to choke off any further questions and soon the audience was filing out, a restrained silence replacing the excited chatter that followed most screenings.

I found Jonathon’s posting to be eerily timely and apropos for me because I had spent last night and this morning wrestling with whether to talk about Gene Kan.

I wanted to talk about Gene because if nothing else, we owe him that. And I didn’t, because I was brought up in a society where one doesn’t do certain things. Such as get angry. Such as admitting going to a Japanese brothel.

Such as talking about suicide.

Gene Kan killed himself. He was 25 and he took a gun and he killed himself. He did not have an “accident” as the Sun spokesperson described. And we can’t bury his final act with a recitation of all of the accomplishments of his very short life.

Gene’s final act is one few of us would contemplate; yet it is the one act – the only act – over which any of us could have ultimate control. To deny this act is, in many ways, to deny the actor.

I said earlier that I was angry that Gene had killed himself, and I am. Incredibly angry. But I’m also angry that we’ve euphemized his suicide, boxed it in with platitudes, and reduced it to a sound bite.

Kent (fishrush) found Gene’s last resume (thanks Kent), which I’ve copied to the bottom of this posting. Read it.

Gene Kan


Sad example of a human being. Specialising in failure.

1990-current Failure specialist

Executed numerous technical, commercial and personal
projects, typically resulting in failure.

References available upon request.

And that’s all I have to say, now.

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