Paul Arthur

  • "Just found this, almost 9 years after the fact Paul and I..."
    - William Hays MD
  • "Just a quick note of thanks to the folks at MSU who have..."
    - Jarrett
    - Valenda Newell
  • "I remember my valued colleague Paul on this, the third..."
    - Grover Furr
  • "I remember Paul especially on this day, the second..."
    - Grover Furr

ARTHUR--Paul. Exuberantly loving father; brilliant, passionate film scholar, critic and teacher; of a mind, body and spirit too capacious to describe in these few column inches, Paul Arthur died March 25 at home, five weeks after he was diagnosed with melanoma. He was 60 years old. With him when he died were his daughters, Jarrett Rachel (25) and Devin Valerie (22); his former wife, Dr. Karen Arthur; his mother, Pearl Fried; and his dog, Monk. He also leaves a sister, Roseanne. Only a year ago, he suffered the loss of his partner, Susan Deul, to breast cancer. Since 1989, Paul had been a professor of English and Film Studies at Montclair State University; he was named the Distinguished Scholar of the University for 2007-2008. He received a B.A. (1969) in English from Tufts University, where he also was on the football team and in SDS, and a Ph.D. (1985) in Cinema Studies from NYU. Coming of age in the 1960s, he was drawn to the political activism of the New Left and the radical modernism of avant-garde film. Both were for him, as he later wrote, "expressions of resistance and transformation", and he remained committed to them for life. His writings weave aesthetics and politics in the context of American history and culture. Paul was a contributing editor of Film Comment, associate editor of Cineaste and co-editor of Millennium Film Journal. His book A Line of Sight: American Avant-Garde Film Since 1965 was published by Minnesota Press; at the time of his death, he had nearly completed a collection of his writings on documentary and a book on Nick Broomfield. He embodied contradictions as bold and fascinating as those of the art works he loved. He was both spontaneous and ritualistic in his personal relationships and in his work. He made a journal entry for every film he saw, freely noting his immediate responses and ideas; and he commemorated the death of John Coltrane every July 17 for 40 years. As mentally and physically tough as he was, he took pure pleasure in a good laugh, a great meal, a well-played hockey game, a compelling argument over a movie. The refinement of his senses of sight and sound notwithstanding, he was a thoroughly tactile and physically demonstrative person. His talismanic animal was the bear. The family members, colleagues, students and friends who mourn him echo one another in describing him as larger than life. The hole he leaves in our hearts and the world is too big to be filled.
Published in The New York Times on Mar. 30, 2008
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