I didn’t want to do this. But I have to. I have to because it’s fair. I have to because being immortalized by death is pathetic. I have to because this conversation has been turned into something that it shouldn’t be. Not because the conversation doesn’t need to happen, but because of the way it started.
Let me preface this by saying that I am not an accomplished writer. I’ve been published ONCE and that one didn’t even count. I’ve never completely written a work of IF. I doubt I ever will. Maybe I just dabble. Maybe I just dream. But I don’t pretend to be something I’m not. But I do read. A lot.
I went back and read Panks’ stuff. A lot of it. Frankly… None of it was very good. With the exception of a couple of proverbial diamonds, most of it was downright bad. This is entirely my opinion. I didn’t know the man. I didn’t idolize him. For me there will never be a “Panksian Era”. For a label like that, one must have made a significant contribution to his art. Or at least been bad enough that people view it as exceptional out of pity. The same could be said for Andy Warhol. There’s no way in creation that Warhol could be the figure that he is without pity. There was nothing good about ANYTHING that he did.
Neither did Panks put out anything that deserved this level of deep examination beyond those close to him. It reaks of one coming to one’s own funeral.
In a complete segue from the original conversation, there’s this discussion about horror. Horror is subjective. VERY subjective. There’s no one work of horror that is going to twist every person’s psyche into a pretzel. I am in love with Lovecraft. I have been for many, many years. His brand of “alluding” always struck a chord with me. But I also love King and Barker, who are very descriptive and direct.
But while you may fear spiders or intruders into your home or the end of the world, I fear the loss of love or the death of my children. I’ll crush a spider with my hand without flinching. I have firearms in almost every room of my house. I have more than one weapon on my person at any given time. There isn’t a man, beast or thing on the face of the planet that I fear or that I don’t think I can deal with. Even if I can’t deal with it, I’m confident enough to believe that I can. It’s those things that I cannot control, I cannot fight, that I’m afraid of. My kids killed in a car wreck by a drunk driver. A tornado hitting their home. Things like that.
You cannot put that into a story. While I may empathize with what you’re saying and I may enjoy it, you cannot scare me.
But what does any of this have to do with Paul Allen Panks? If you liked his stuff, read it and love it and remember him. If you didn’t or have no idea who he was… Keep on keeping on. This seems like the kind of thing where you pour some whiskey out on the curb instead of picking through every minute detail of his work looking for a reason why. All suicides are the same. They’re not happy. It DOESN’T MATTER WHY THEY AREN’T HAPPY after the fact. They’re dead. They don’t care if you know why they’re dead. Because they’re dead. They killed themselves because there was something they couldn’t deal with. Figuring that out doesn’t make them any less dead. Having attempted suicide (albeit it I was obviously as bad at that as I am with writing, especially when posting on forums) and having known people who have attempted to kill themselves and having known people who have actually succeeded… I have an opinion on this that I will stand by.
Point being, if you love his work then love it and remember it fondly. If you hated it, then hate it and remember it fondly. All human beings are worthy of that, whether they wrote IF or pumped your gas. He would appreciate it either way. One day when you’re having some IF conference, his name will come up (and it won’t) and you’ll be like, “I remember that shit. He was awesome/completeshit.”
Beyond that… Don’t look too much into it.