Remembrance: Colin Hood

McKenzie Wark

He left his shoes neatly arranged. The clothes had all been collected from the dry cleaner. Very particular books were left turned face down at very particular pages. (Kundera, Arendt, Brautigan). There was no note. Colin Hood put his affairs in order and took his life on the night of the 20th of March 2002. He was 45 years old.

The hardest thing about the suicide of a good friend is respecting their decision. One can only judge by the traces left behind, but it seems that Colin made up his mind to free himself, finally, from suffering.

Colin’s suffering was of the most abstract kind, but no less painful for that. It should really come as no surprise that a man so capable of loving others freely came to that capacity for generosity out of direct experience of a life of suffering; of life as suffering.

Colin will not suffer any more. And although I miss him terribly, although I feel direct and terrible loss to my own life from his passing, there is a sense in which this pain and loss on my part is a selfish feeling. What’s really most important is that Colin will suffer no more.

Sometimes I would see him at a party or a function—he led a very public life—but then I would notice that he had slipped quietly away. And sometimes I would wonder if Colin was alright or not. I believe it may have been some small part of his intention to free his friends from their concern.

I loved Colin. As a lot of people did, I think. And I think he truly loved his friends. He was always a point of connection between people. Communities came together through him and because of him. Colin always gave me the sense that love and life were possible. This was his gift. This is his gift, still.

He had such a wide range of gifts for people. He was a beautiful dancer. If Colin was up and dancing then the whole room was threaded together with his sensuous joy. But in addition to his physical presence, he was a listener. He heard people. He heard not just their gripes and schemes, he heard their being. He always gave the impression of being capable of responding to your experience of your existence, even if you were not at that moment capable of responding to it yourself.

Colin was a perceptive and cultured and intelligent man. When he wrote, he wrote well and perceptively. He saw through the pretensions of self-promoters and the perverse logic of institutions.

If there was a space in which real art or culture was being made, Colin unfailingly supported it. He worked away behind the scenes in art, writing and performance with patience and care and with little concern for reward. He was indispensable.

Colin was many things to many people: friend, lover, comrade. But he was also the favourite funny uncle of a very large, very dysfunctional urban family. Colin showed many people the path toward creating their own way of life, usually just by example. From his little apartment in Kings Cross, he created a whole way of life that I, for one, feel privileged to have shared.

The last time I saw him was outside Kings Cross Station on a bright, warm morning. And I prefer to think that whenever I return to that old neighbourhood where we all laughed and cried and beat ourselves against the edges of life, he will be there waiting for me with a smile and a kiss and a hug, and his quiet but powerful sense of being in the world.

Colin Hood and RealTime

Keith Gallasch & Virginia Baxter
Colin Hood was one of the original team that worked on creating RealTime in 1994 and 1995. He co-edited several issues, wrote incisive and demanding reviews, proof-read and concocted marvellous titles for articles, and contributed significantly to the energy and sense of purpose and fun (there was a party with every edition) that was so needed in those early years when RealTime’s demise always seemed imminent. He was not good at keeping meeting times, but he’d turn up at all hours on our doorstep (home was the RealTime office) with copy, gossip, ideas.
We are saddened by Colin’s passing. We honour his intelligence and his passion, and regret that in the end his restless spirit could not find a home among the living.

RealTime issue #49 June-July 2002 pg. 12

© McKenzie Wark; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 June 2002