On March 27, 2013, my friend David Cole passed away in an automobile accident. He was twenty-seven.
David had one of the sharpest minds I’ve ever encountered in my day-to-day life. He read at a pace and with a level of comprehension that made me feel inadequate on a good day, like a proper numbskull on a bad one. Toward the end of his life, his admiration for Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals led him to read more about Abraham Lincoln in a few short months than most of us will throughout our entire lives. He was also re-reading Infinite Jest, and although “re-reading Infinite Jest“ sounds like something a snobbish character on a sitcom would do, he never discussed his intellectual proclivities with even a hint of snobbishness or posturing. Of all the media hounds and pop culture junkies I’ve known over the years, David’s interests always felt the most pure, the most born out of a genuine love of the arts and the discourse surrounding them. He didn’t talk endlessly of Faulkner’s brilliance or claim Andrei Tarkovsky’s famously trying Andrei Rublev was his favorite film for any other reason than that they emotionally and intellectually moved him. Yet he also adored the comparatively pulpy Song of Ice and Fire novels, obsessively followed comedy podcasts, and had old usernames inspired by Final Fantasy characters. He loved everything that gripped him or made him think, and if you got him talking on any subject for long enough, he could be touchingly earnest, hilariously self-effacing, and mind-warpingly smart within the space of a few sentences.
I never met David Cole in person, but in this day and age I don’t believe this disqualifies me from calling him a friend. Continue reading