September 21, 2016

Remembering Perry Mann

I was sad to hear this week of the passing of Perry Mann, progressive, lawyer,writer and general wise man at age 95. Many people in and around West Virginia became huge fans of his writings as they appeared in the Gazette-Mail and elsewhere.

I first "met" him in the mid 1990s, when I wrote a snarky column about pseudo-Christian right wing welfare reform/poor bashing efforts that quoted William Blake:

THE VISION OF CHRIST that thou dost see
Is my vision’s greatest enemy...

Both read the Bible day and night,
But thou read’st black where I read white.
Perry sent me a similar column of his own where Blake played a role. I guess it was the start of a literary/political long distance bromance.

Over the years, I became a huge fan of his writing and thoughts, which have now been compiled in at least two books, Mann and Nature and Secular Mann. We didn't agree about everything. I leaned more to the religious side of things  that the skeptical Mann and chose to believe in at least some free will while he was a pretty strict determinist, but I always felt like we were on the same side.

A few years back, my friend Ted Boettner and I visited his home town of Hinton and dropped by to see him at his book lined law office with the votive offering of a bottle of wine..

Nonbeliever though he was, we asked him to bestow a biblical style patriarchal blessing on us and he graciously agreed. I'm glad we asked. It really was a blessing.

I'd really like to think that he's pleasantly surprised right now not to have blinked to extinction.

Hamlet gets the last word:

"He was a man. Take him for all in all. I shall not look upon his like again."

1 comment:

Mary Sullivan said...

Perry Mann's writings were always thought provoking. I will miss him, too.