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Forward by Richard Williams

I have had the curious privilege of teaching both Mr. Casey and Mr. Jones. They were and are both singular sorts of individuals, highly idiosyncratic, perhaps to the point of insanity. I write this as high praise. In my long years of teaching, I have encountered only a few minds as luminous as that of Jones. However, in himself alone, this luminosity of intellect is merely adumbrated. It is in the context of his relationship to Mr. Casey that Jones shines most radiantly. Instances abound in the annals of biography where the passivity of the one who would listen catalyzed the genius of the one would speak. Socrates and Plato. Goethe and Eckermann, Boswell and Johnson come readily to mind. 

The connection between the three of us was discovered incidental to my search for a copy of Jorge Luis Borges' Commentaries Upon the Western Mythologies of J. Frank Dobie. A helpful librarian at the Harry Ransom Center, where I was researching imagos of Tiresias in Modernist poetry, suggested that I stop into Desert Island Books just north of campus. So it was I walked slowly up Guadalupe Street one afternoon under a hammering sun, leaning with increasing pressure upon my cane. As I walked in the door, I immediately sought relief upon a battered couch beneath the front window. 

I heard a distant voice, 
a greetings I imained
then my name
Mr. Williams?
Dreading acquaintance
I looked up
there was mr casey
I had been his advisor in high school
and taught him in english and psychology
Hayakawa and Zimbardo
Delgado's Bull, Selye's Stress, Milgram's Experiment, Lorenz, Skinner
Casey was a peculiar student
average in grades
participant in the social mileu
but alienated
come from Mexico

Jones appears later
in conversation

the account of Williams meeting Jones
realizing he had also taught him 


With regards to Mr. Jones, who amongst of the Vulgar would pause in midst of their daily bowel movements to sit still and listen to such a unprepossessing, yet forbidding, individual? The Poet informs us with his penetrating language to care and not to care, to sit still. Yet, we linger, trembling at the threshold of greatness, like a lost bleating lamb crying for the security of the teat's sour milk. Socrates reprimanded Apollodorus for his grief in face of the inexorable Truth. What is philosophy good for, if not to teach us how to die? 

Thus, Mr. Casey, in his poetic and unflinching narrative of the unfortunate and difficult death of Mr. Jones, teaches us something about not only how to die, but how to live. Even if that be, as it was in the case of Mr. Casey, against our own best interests.