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Further Phoenix
at Rio's Attic:

Talbot Roe
Rio's Attic: Celebrating the Life and Times of a Dearly Missed River Phoenix

"My ideal would be to stay dumb as River"

Of course, and this is the second difficulty, one can have other attitudes to my question.

Firstly, we could argue the reason for all that emotion doesn't really rely on River but on us. We should rather analyse ourselves and leave the dead rest in peace! But you, Rio's Attic, with what you've done, and all your visitors, you're just proving the contrary. With all our differences we feel the same only about one thing, i.e. River. So after all, I'm not alone. I'm just the same as any of your other visitors. The responsibility for that sorrow does not rest only on my shoulders and there must be some other explanation in River himself.

A second opinion is "In some ways I wish I had never ever known he existed". I have some sympathy for what this one expresses. But really, would we have liked not to know River?

Thirdly, the strongest one in my opinion consists in "Well, try spending your time with those around you, use your love on them, they care more about you than he ever could have". It's strong because it is quite sensible and healthy enough. I find sometimes all that sorrow quite depressing and more or less negative.

But it has against it three things: the first one is just the reality. We love River, period. We cannot help loving him. We didn't do anything special to love him. HE did. We perfectly know he would not have cared about us, well at least directly, and those around us effectively care more about us. That doesn't change the fact we still love him.

The second thing is that loving a dead one doesn't prevent you from loving the living ones. I do, thank you.

And lastly, at a higher level, all human history is about the concern of the living to the dead. See museums, churches, cemeteries, remembrance ceremonies, history books, etc., not to speak about pyramids! We are a species that notably marks its difference by laughing and also by mourning the dead and the past. It seems to be a biological need or maybe it's what makes us human. Of course it remains to explain, if possible, the choice of the one we mourn!

The last opinion I think of could be: "This one I'm reading just now is a little bit mad or ridiculous, spending time to describe his own grief many years after the death of someone he has never met!" I must say I could almost have written it myself if we had been at a pure theoretical and logical level. I even admit this letter is in a sense an answer to that opinion as I said at the beginning ("this is a problem for me...").

But here we are not at that level since the sorrow does exist. And we know feelings to other people aren't logical at all. Besides I'm old enough not to fear any "ridicule" label! I really prefer to be ridiculous for loving as long as it hurts nobody than to be admired for the usual bad reasons. And we are so many who could be considered ridiculous, so it doesn't really matter!

In relation to that last opinion I must also say that several times I was tempted just to stop. What use is there in spending so much time about (once again) "a-dead-young-man-I've-never-met"? I'm not sure my interest on River could be a good enough answer (I like maps as a hobby and I don't spend time writing about maps, or science-fiction or whatever...). The only answer I could propose would be that writing about him has a curing effect or more exactly a mourning effect. In a way, the letter you're reading represents that for me. We, the visitors of Rio's Attic, I mean the one who cared for River, didn't have the opportunity to mourn him as his family and friends did. So, let's say it, this is my mourning work.

A last word about the quotations I've put at the beginning of each part. Most of them are River's own words. The rest is my own little music I would have loved to play with him. They are all tied up with River in my mind.


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