Ever since the news of Robin Williams' death, I've been trying to think of what to say about it that hasn't already been said, and I just don't think there's really anything. He was a unique, unparalleled talent. We grew up with him. He was famous for making people laugh, but he was nominated for four Oscars, all for films that made people think and cry. He was an addict and a fighter, and then all of a sudden, he was gone.
Robin Williams made me laugh all my life, but I confess that I loved his dramatic performances the most, and none more than his role as Mr. Keating in Dead Poets Society, which has always been one of my favorite films. I'm pretty sure that movie was the reason I went on to love Walt Whitman and Henry David Thoreau and all the existentialists so much. It's such a celebration of literature, poetry and art, and a reminder of the importance of beauty in this violent, ugly world. Mr. Keating inspires his students to think for themselves - what lesson could be more important?
Keating: We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, "O me! O life! ...of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless...of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?" Answer. That you are here - that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?"
Thank you, Robin Williams, for your verse.