A salute to a great and difficult man
Harlan Ellison, RIP.
What else is there to say of a fantastic writer and a legendarily irascible persona?
There is the memoriam from an excellent modern writer, Cory Doctorow. He salutes Ellison’s great talent and also addresses his prickly nature. Others have pointed out that Ellison as a teacher was, in a common human blindspot, exhibiting exactly t he same bullying behaviors he hated in early teachers of himself. https://boingboing.net/2018/06/28/rip-harlan-ellison.html
There’s also Ellison’s own words on art and commerce, which really should be required listening for artists in our world, whether they agree or disagree.
But the most suitable words I’ve found yet are other words of Ellison’s own, which come from being asked his thoughts on the creative giant Philip K. Dick.
What you’re asking is really two questions: What I think of him as a writer and what I think of him as a human being. As a writer, he was one of the great innovators. He was sweet, man, an absolutely individual talent, and I admired at least 80% of what he wrote.
…As for the human being, it’s an entirely different answer. When he wanted to be charming, he could be. …
You know what? I’m not going to answer. It doesn’t matter what I think. He could do you a solid or be a very unpleasant person. Like Frank Sinatra. Or God…Phil, like God or Frank Sinatra — they’re all deities.
Mr. Ellison, wherever you are, you were a truly magnificent bastard. Thank you for the work.