FLESH IS GRASS: I wish Norman Geras was still here


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Flesh Is Grass

[first published the Flesh Is Grass blog]

At 70 this bright, clear, solid Marxist professor and teacher has died—Engage summarises how he got between the Jews and their foes. Neil D recalls his blogging beginnings. Haroon Siddique plots its rise. Martin in the Margins pays tribute to the man who started him blogging. Norm was a great profiler of less well-known bloggers. He had a whimsical side, attempting emails with Rosie using only one vowel. Nick Cohen calls him uxorious. Harry—the actual Harry—blogs about his methodical patience when dealing with people who could drive saints to mass murder. Ben Cohen, whom Norm taught, remembers him as patient, kind, and sympathetic to his students. I hear that tomorrow there will be a Guardian obituary worth reading.

I liked the way he didn’t allow comments on his blog, pushing people back to their own spaces to respond and let him know by email. This was unusual for the time—the vogue was for free comment. He was prescient about what chaff and distraction that can be on a blog which considers the political left, let alone the Jews.

Having given up 3 hours of my life—short, precious life if you are as ill as Norm was—to Slavoj Zizek’s Rorschach blot of a film this week, I jjust read this on Zizek by Norm back in 2009 with the warmth and gratitude of the vindicated. And so often vindication was Norm’s gift, which emanated from his blog and which I eagerly received.

I will miss him rubbing his hands over the cricket on Twitter, and I very much regret that he hadn’t heard from me for weeks. If I take nothing else from this it is that work is wicked if it steals your attention from your loved ones and comrades. I’m glad that Norm had such a loving family, and I am heartily sorry for their loss.

Thanks to them for being the keepers of the Normblog.