In Memoriam: P.E. Bartleby Crulge on the Death of Stephen Hawking

"Esteemed ladies and gentleman of the house, or whathaveyou in this circumstance, director of the Academy, students and novitiates:

As head of sciences, the duty of announcing a passing in our community, as they call it, naturally becomes mine, though I'd rather it belong to someone else. Being a herald of death is an office no one should ever look forward to, but never mind that now. I am asked to do it, and so I will and have it over.

The greatest cosmologist, and perhaps one of the greatest scientists in our world or our universe, however far that may extend, has died. I certainly never expected him to pass on so suddenly. It is literally impossible that he should have lived forever-- being in Space-Time, the probability of living forever is against us-- but he really did seem to be immortal. He ignored his condition and got on with life, and did a better job at it than most of his or of any generation-- and yet, perhaps because of his illness, he triumphed at living, at learning, at wanting to understand why the universe operated the way it did, and succeeded at telling the whole world about it. His body of work is what our community will inherit from a life that, because it was possibly going to be cut short, was a life very well-lived.

I liked him, against my envy at his being a more effective scientist. I am horrid at communicating difficult concepts to the small-minded, something which he championed at with an ease I will never understand. He was a teacher more than he was a observer. The wit and character he commanded-- it is only admirable, considering the revolt of physicality that lay against him. Fortunate we were that his mind did not suffer the same outcome. I have read his work several times and begrudged him for how brilliant it all was, but how can I dislike someone who devoted his entire being to stamping out stupidity and filling it up with knowledge, a thing so rarely done these days. We never met-- there was no occasion for us to meet-- but I knew of him-- anyone with half a brain must know his name at least. As a naturalist and a chemist and whatnot, I deal in the minute. I try to make sense of the planet, how it works and why it continues banging on in spite of itself, but he dealt in the great, understanding about the cosmos and origins of our universe. The man was insufferably splendid: I could not even argue with him on the page. His scientific supremacy was impeccable, and like the last blast of a dying star, we will never see his genius again.

The frustration of knowing what a brilliant mind he had and the inability of ever hearing from him again is probably the worst of it, that and going through the supernova of bereavement we all despise so much. How wretched it is to feel, and yet I do feel his passing dreadfully. One cannot feel nothing at being allowed to hold onto a shooting star for so long. Gaia and the Cosmos mourn their Sun, and I will simply be miserable about it, and yet there is some gratitude, for his invaluable contributions to science, for his teachings, for his discoveries, for his merely having lived beyond the expiration that was branded on him at such an early age.

Now I must go away for a while, to do something and be with nobody. I would say 'may he rest in peace', but there is no way of knowing how he rests of if he does. As a fellow scientist and as someone who is always trying to make sense of the world, I can only hope he discovered something upon dying, that some great secret of the universe was whispered in his ear, one that we will probably never come to understand without him."