29 July 2010

Who was Lethe Bashar?

I knew him by his pseudonym, Lethe Bashar, but his real name was Chris. In the middle of him editing my short story The Mercy Troupers for Escape into Life, I realized his Twitter name had changed to Chris Al-Aswad.

"Who's Chris?" I asked.

"That's my real name," he said.

Lethe Bashar was the author of Novel of Life and Sentimental Education: Essays in Art.  A quick search on him and hundreds of pages testify to his prolific body of work and the number of people who read it.

I said, "So that's what happens when a pen name becomes you."

Chris wrote obsessively about art. He was gifted in showcasing artists, painters, writers, and thinkers on Escape Into Life. He brought my story to life through a handful of 140 character messages and short emails.

I didn't realize our friendship would also be so brief. Chris's obituary is in the Chicago Sun-Times. In his last blog post he writes about Sentimental Education: Essays in Art,

"I hope these essays carry a sense of experimental wonder to whomever reads them; also a love of beautiful forms, and a sadness toward self-destruction."

Thank you, Chris, for being a vital part of my journey. Your work was a gift to so many.  

image: Chris's Twitter avatarattributed to Courbet.
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