Walking here and there on the Earth

30 January, 2007 at 10:32 pm (dear diary)

I remain unsure as to how I missed the previous announcement, but I learned today that friend and fellow college student Osa Tannis had died this summer. Despite the fact that it seems somehow bizarre to mourn the passing of someone six months late, it was a bit of a shock. Osa was one of those people that you hoped you’d bump into at some point in the future, one of those people that you do a web search for in an idle, nostalgic moment, because one was certain that he would continue to inspire people and be joyful and be fully in life. So it’s quite dismaying to learn that he was far from eternal.

I have a memory of walking through the hallways of the Starbuck Building — back when it was a large, unused common room with some gorgeous fireplaces, and before it was chopped into subdivided office space for mid-level admin staff — and finding Osa latched onto a piano, singing with vim and volume. It was finals week, and he had biology work to do, and he was evading it with that thrilling energy that comes from avoiding that which is necessary by instead doing something vital and personal.

FLICKR: Skidmore: the Adversary talks to God

Previously, we had collaborated in performing an version of Stephen Mitchell’s translation of The Book of Job, wherein he played the rumbling voice of God and I was the sibilant Accusing Angel. We were each impressed with how much presence each brought to the part, as he was not to be trifled with and I was rather cunning. The class was based upon the idea of using performance to understand literature, culminating in an examination of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and having Osa sing and emote and arrest attention with his voice was instrumental in providing the class with the context to feel the work as more than just words.

There was “no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil…” and I shall miss the comfort of knowing that he was out there someplace.

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