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Sep 20, 2012

Twenty Years Gone

Schuler pays tribute to Roy Childs.

The number and variety of friends that Roy Childs had was astonishing.

I became one of the many planets orbiting Roy’s sun in 1984 when he moved to New York. On my occasional visits to his apartment, I heard him speak on the telephone with everyone from Alan Greenspan to a gay porn star to students in a wide range of disciplines he had met during his career as a public intellectual.

Roy shone brightest as a talker, equally at ease in declamation and conversation. His deep, resonant voice, ever-ready wit, and knowledge gained through wide reading made it a great pleasure to listen to him.

Those who never had the pleasure still have as evidence of his intellect a number of his writings. Roy’s chosen form was the essay, where he could make his points quickly and deftly, like Scaramouche cutting off the buttons on an opponent’s shirt with a few flicks of his sword.

Roy had a touch of genius. As with many such people, it was a source of some pain to him. Libertarians, as the advocates of a political philosophy that has always been and perhaps always will be in the minority, are especially prone to feelings of anger or despair about the difference between the world as it is (including ourselves as we are) and the world as it could be. Roy responded to these feelings with binges of alcohol and food. Eventually his heart could not withstand the strain that Roy’s eating, drinking, and heavy smoking placed on it. I had the ill fate to be with him when it gave out.

More than twenty years after Roy’s death, I think of him frequently.

In the afterlife, if offered a choice of destination, first I will ask where Roy is.