Marshall Berman, 1940-2013

Corey Robin in Jacobin:

Political theorist Marshall Berman, who was my colleague at the CUNY Graduate Center, died yesterday morning.

When I heard the news last night, my first thought was the date: 9/11. There’s no good day to die, but to die on a day so associated with death—whether the murder of nearly 3000 people on 9/11/2001, most of them in his beloved New York, or the 9/11/1973 coup in Chile that brought down Allende and installed Pinochet—seems, in Marshall’s case, like an especially cruel offense against the universe.

For as anyone who knew or read him knows, Marshall was a man of irrepressible and teeming life. The life of the street, which he immortalized in his classic All That’s Solid Melts Into Air; the life of sex and liberation, which he talked about in The Politics of Authenticity (read the section on Montesquieu’s Persian Letters; you’ll never read that book the same way again); the life of high art and popular culture, whether it was the Sex Pistols or hip-hop.

Marshall took in everything; his portion was the world. The only thing he couldn’t abide, couldn’t take in, was ugliness and cruelty.

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