My Father: A Life

Justin Erik Halldór Smith in his own blog:

ScreenHunter_2232 Sep. 20 20.02The dolphin fish (Coryphaena hippurus) has no inner life, so its death can only play out on the surface of its body, in a spectacular display of multicoloured flashes. But where there is cognition, memory, emotion, where there is a man, the light show sometimes happens on the inside, a fireworks display of the soul's contents, transformed and expressed in a way that the nursing staff will dismiss as hallucination, but which is in fact no less true than the life itself.

In the week leading up to Friday, September 2, 2016, I accompanied my father in his transition to death. I came back and he did not. I am not yet old, and was only there to help him across. But I am not yet fully back. I know things now that I did not know before, about him, about us, about the living and the dead, and about the category of being or of mental phantasm (what is the difference, really?) that the country folk call 'ghosts'.

I always knew I would write about him. Though it may seem too soon, too raw, against protocol, to do so is the closest thing to filial piety I have in me. To do so is to honour him, who long ago vested his own dream of writerliness in me. He set up this very website over a decade ago; his final post to Facebook, in mid-August, was a review of my most recent book in The Nation. The hard drive of his laptop, which I have taken into my possession, is filled with fragments of creative writing projects, not least a folder with hundreds of files (including a home-made cover) contributory to a novel, entitled Bananaman, that would have been about the CIA and the United Fruit Company's involvement in various Central American coups d'état, and about the creation of a certain popular peelable monoculture that my father somehow saw as key to understanding his American century. Bananaman will never see the light of day, but I think that at some point my father stopped expecting it would, and that, after some years of intergenerational competition, he could now just kick back, let me do all the work, and beam with paternal pride. So this is a coda to that, a necessary culmination of who each of us was for the other.

More here.

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