Sunday, July 1, 2018

RIP Harlan Ellison

A world without Harlan Ellison is not a world worth living in. Thankfully in our timeline we do have Harlan Ellison.

Harlan Ellison was a lot of things. You can absolutely scour Twitter and all kinds of interviews that fill out what you think is important. Lots of good stories about the man Harlan Ellison was. But if I can have a moment, one second of time to tell you an important part, maybe the most important, is that Harlan Ellison was honest with himself.

As an aspiration for fellow writers, Ellison is the gold standard. Not because of his prose (although it's quite good). Not because of his attitude (although it was quite loud). But because of his honesty. He was able to delve right into his soul that made him tick. Some people lose their imagination or creativity as they grow up. Not Harlan. All of those things were on tap. It seemed at the press of a button, he could create a story out of thin air. And not just any old story, but a damn good one!

I recommend those videos, interviews, and his own writing because they get to the biggest part of his personality. Himself.

Harlan had big opinions on video games, on collectible card games, on fiction. On life, really when you think about it. He filled himself all the movies, and music, and art, and whatever else you can imagine that made Harlan feel the way he felt.

Here is an excerpt from one of my favorite parts in Harlan Ellison's Watching, where he discusses the animated film Mr. Bug Goes to Town. You can find it in the introduction.

[I never did get to see the complete Mr. Bug Goes to Town until something like the mid-Sixties when it became available on videocassette. Today I have it in my private collection, and every once in a while, far more often than the quality of the film commends, I take it down and watch it. My wife has emerged from sleep in the wee hours to find me sitting cross-legged on the living room floor, watching insects.]

He was an example of being true to yourself. We are all better from his presence, because his presence meant that we could do better. We can be better. Harlan Ellison's passing leaves a hole, not because of what we lost, but because of what we had.

If there is one lesson to be taken from his life and body of work, is that to let your loves flow through you, and don't compromise on who you are, because there is only one of you.