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Timor Mortis Conturbat Me
A Latin phrase meaning: the fear of death troubles me, famously used in a poem by William Dunbar (I never learned Latin). What I want to say in this blog is not that I’m afraid of death itself, but that I’m afraid of losing the faculties that allow me to write blogs like this, to continue to talk and communicate with relatives and friends, and continue to work creatively, especially on my video lectures, which I see now as the main products of my late years.  Skip Sweeney, my collaborator on these lectures, is coming tomorrow and I will spend time turning over materials to him that are close to finished, and talking with him about how we are going to continue working on others in the future.  In part, it will be my adapting to my more and more bedridden state--using a laptop computer in bed, something I’ve never been able to manage up until now, but probably something I must learn.
Communications from viewers of the lectures continue to reach me in some number.  They tell of how these lectures open up big new areas of cultural participation in the minds of people who see them, and change their lives in highly beneficial ways.  To be able to do this--not myself as a person, but as someone able to convey cultural materials in a way that can do this--puts me in a position that raises for me the question of how long I can go on doing it.  It is already more difficult for me to read--I can’t read ordinary texts without not only wearing reading glasses but also holding a magnifying glass before the text.
Basically, it is a problem of how to convert what is in my mind, a great store of information and images and ideas that cannot be duplicated in the mind of anyone else alive into a communicable form so that it is preserved.  The video lectures, which can be made with the thousands of images already in my Iphoto and texts dictated for them in the way I’m dictating this, can continue to be produced through Skip Sweeney and his helpers.  And the posting and distribution of these, partially through my own website and partly through our parent organization the Institute of East Asian Studies, must continue.  As many of you know, the IEAS has been sending all my correspondents emails asking for monetary contributions to a fund that will support the continuation of this work on the series.  And let me again ask any of you willing to contribute to get in touch with Kate Chouta, whose email is:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .
Kate Chouta and her helper who understands the technical side of our project are coming to see me in a few days, and one of the large questions we will talk about is the project of turning the first lecture series, “a Pure and Remote View”, into discs that can be sold.
Timor Mortis Conturbat Me Continued.
It was not long ago that I announced with sadness the sudden deaths of Michael Sullivan, an old friend, and Roger Covey, my benefactor, both from a sudden illness.  Now another old friend, John Rosenfield at Harvard, is reportedly near death from a sudden stroke from which he is not expected to recover--I have the news from a younger colleague who works with him. This is very sad news indeed.  John, with whom I have been a close friend for decades, has been known as a “bodhisattva”, from his way of doing work for other people at a cost to his own scholarly career.  During one year in Japan, I was working on my Hyaksen study but also moving around seeing collections, and was accompanied part of the time by John who was only there for part of the year but who had taken on the job of producing a catalogue for the Fogg Museum of material that was not within his own scholarly interest. 
All these press home yet again my own extraordinary good fortune of living to the age of 87 without any really serious illness, and with having four children and six grandchildren all in good health and successful in their particular ways.  Somehow I’ve been blessed by providence.
 A Celebration of Life
This section should be headed by another Latin phrase meaning something like the above, but as I said before, I don’t know Latin.  It would celebrate my extraordinary good fortune in having four children and six granddaughters, all of them handsome people successful in whatever they are doing.  All but two of them were gathered here for Thanksgiving, and I will put below a photograph of them. They include my son and daughter Nicholas and Sarah, my twin sons Julian and Benedict, Sarah’s daughter Miranda, and three of Nick’s daughters: Maggie, Nora, and Phoebe.  I am really truly blessed. 
Caption for the Picture: Almost all the Cahills.  From left to right, Phoebe, Maggie, Nora, Nicholas, Miranda, Julian, Benedict, Sarah, and myself.
James Cahill 
December 11, 2013

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