Monday, April 6, 2009

Of David Arneson

I just came upon the news of Dave Arneson's sudden health decline via James Mishler's posts at TLG, quoting this account:

David's cancer has unexpectedly worsened just this week, to the point that he is in the hospital. He is heavily sedated and not doing well. He is not expected to live for more than a couple days, if that long.

Obviously on a human level this is very sad news, and one wishes Mr Arneson and his loved ones courage and comfort at this time, and also a calm and conscious passing. It has also struck me a little oddly in its timing, mainly because I've just been musing a lot on Dave Arneson's role as a midwife at the birth of roleplaying as we know it. I must own that I come to this lacking much historical information, likely possessed by those who were present to the original time. But based on what has accrued since, on various boards and blogs and journals, and from secondary sources, it strikes me that Arneson has been a much less 'visible' elder than E G Gygax, and I wonder about this.

I also wonder about the ways in which these two idiosyncratic and fecund imaginations met and interpenetrated, and how through the friction of their connecting in the conditions that prevailed, they helped to seed the form we came to know as D&D. Perhaps this is not the time for such speculations, and I will leave the details to those who have more developed connections to the man and his work. But I do want to note the sense of an era ending. For me, well, seeing the news moves me to feeling a bit like I did when John Entwhistle died, leaving just the two surviving members of The Who.

I'll end with an expression of gratitude, and acceptance, from the fitting pen of Walt Whitman

To die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier

Let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes


Rob Kuntz said...

This news was posted at PPP's forums yesterday and I learned later that his family did not wish the news spread, but alas it gas been aired in too many places.

I am sitting as one silent now, hoping for the best and thinking of our friendship on and off the gaming table before, during and after the TSR days. Too much now too consider in spirit. Just hoping and praying.

Benoist said...

Praying here as well.