Saturday, November 12, 2016

Dominic Balestra, RIP

It's been a week of deep loss - of people I didn't know personally whose work made a difference in my life, of people I did know personally whose work made a difference, of perhaps - though I hope not - of something in America itself which many of us hold very dear.

Back in the day - actually, just a decade ago, but time flies when you're having a good time - Dom Balestra and I did some good things together at Fordham University, when he was Dean of Faculty and I was Chair of the Communication and Media Studies Department.   A few years earlier, in the summer of 1998, Dom was the first person who interviewed me when I first came to Fordham seeking a job as a professor.

We already knew each other.  The first time we met was when Dom came up to me after the conference about Karl Popper and his philosophy that I had organized at the Prince George Hotel in Manhattan.  (It's also been week for remembering seedy hotels - just yesterday I was recalling how I had met someone who claimed to be Leonard Cohen's Suzanne, in the Milburn Hotel on West 76th Street.)

Dom had love of philosophy of technology, as did I, which is why our paths first crossed at that conference.  It provided a great basis of conversation years later at Fordham, where I briefed Dom on McLuhan, he briefed me on Spinoza, and we discussed everyone and everything in between.

Most academics have a love of knowledge in one way or another.  Dominic Balestra embodied it, and epitomized what it literally meant to be a philosopher.   After the funeral, a colleague said to me, as I mentioned what I said above about this being an especially tough week, that Dom died at the right time, so he didn't have to see what had happened in America.

True enough.  But, even though we hadn't spoken in years, it would be wonderful indeed if I could talk to Dom right now and get his sage, thoughtful views of our world and its dangers.

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