Wednesday, June 21, 2006

JAMES W. CAREY (1934-2006).

As most who read this already know, James Carey died almost a month ago. I don't have much to add to the appreciations that have been published and posted so far. It is, however, worth pointing out that Carey was and remains a great inspiration to me. I have one recollection of Jim that seems worth posting, and it (oddly enough) comes from a meeting of the National Communication Association. In 2003, NCA met in Miami Beach, and I had a pre-conference set up on the day before the convention began. After the pre-con, I was pretty much alone in Miami, bumming around looking for a sandwich. I took a long walk down the boardwalk, which was all but deserted. After about fifteen minutes, I was lost in thought, and utterly alone. One person came upon me, walking the opposite way. It was Jim, and he was at least as lost in thought as myself. We exchanged a wordless glance, and he quickly got back to thinking about whatever it is that occupied him that night. Three nights later, I dined with him and some other folks, and he held court on topics as various as: Bob Newhart, beachfront property in Rhode Island, James 'Scotty' Reston, internet usage in South Korea, and the skills involved in flying small aircraft. I've been around really smart people who lacked spark. Jim was not one of them. He was a firecracker, and he will be missed.

I'll be back with more soon.


Anonymous mbrewin said...


Great post. One of the things that I liked best about Carey was his writing. It wasn't just that he was a beautiful writer, but that he was so accessible, and so wary of the prolix style and esoteric vocabulary that we associate with European-inspired cultural studies. This is, for me, a mark of Carey's basic democratic sympathies. Again, we all know that these things have been said before, but: it is the very arcane style of a great deal of what passes for cultural studies that seem to undercut its professed radical democratic politics.
Reading Carey reminds us that if we're going to claim to be on the side of the "the people," then we've got to write stuff that "people" can read.

3:35 PM  

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