I originally saw this last week on Towleroad, shortly after David Rakoff died on August 9, but had not watched it until now. It’s an extremely moving monologue-dance piece that he performed for “This American Life: Invisible Made Visible” back in May. Rakoff was an essayist, a humorist, an actor and a critic and, according to this article from the Montreal Gazette, a “life-affirming pessimist,” which I love.

In this reading he talks about the cancer that has returned, and the surgery that clipped a nerve that renders his left arm lifeless and devoid of feeling. He talks about learning to do things with only one hand, like brush his teeth or grate cheese. And he talks about dancing. The clip is fifteen minutes, and it’s well worth it. If you’re in a hurry or don’t feel like you can stand it, then advance the video to 10:30. Then be quiet, be still, and watch it to the end. It won’t make as much sense if you haven’t seen it from the beginning, but it’s beautiful nonetheless.

The author of the Gazette article, Ian McGillis, writes, “What finally made Rakoff so special for me is that no funny writer I can think of was so frequently sad too. He had an instinctive grasp of just what close cousins comedy and tragedy are, and a rare ability to present them side by side. For a time, in the wake of his death, many of us going back to his work may find the tragedy overpowering the comedy. But with time, we can be sure, the balance will right itself again.”

RIP Fudgy McPacker.

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2 Responses to Invisible

  1. Anne Croak says:

    Oh Bill, this is so beautiful. I am so sorry that I did not discover David Rakoff earlier but this, oh this, I will always remember. Thank you so much for posting.

    • randasfans says:

      I know, Anne, isn’t it really something special? And to think that he knew his prognosis when he performed that piece, and the guts it must have taken to get up there and do it so beautifully. That’s what I love about art, all art – the guts it takes.

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