Thoughts & Well Wishes

George Steinmetz | Feb 12, 2019
Erik was the greatest inspiration for me intellectually, ever. Reading him, hearing him, working with him convinced me that a life in intellectual and social science was a great idea. Erik's two-semester course on Marxism was the most important one I ever took -- an introduction to social theory; ethics and politics, including scientific ethics; philosophy of social science; historical sociology; Marxist and neo-Marxist, post-Marxist, and non-Marxist critical thought, and much more. Watching such a master thinker working through difficult social-analytic problems in real time was thrilling. As the leader of the Havens Center, Erik exposed us to the most exciting, up-to-date work across many fields and disciplines. Erik's dismissive disregard for disciplinary boundaries played a crucial signalling role. I am grateful to have had the privilege of being able to work with Erik and to study the working habits of a master thinker. Farewell, dear teacher. 

George Steinmetz
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Maria Cynthia Rose Bautista | Jan 27, 2019
To Marcia and Erik's family,
I am etremely grateful to the universe for the opportunity to have worked briefly with Erik in his younger years--as his second dissertation advisee. He will be sorely missed globally for the quality of his mind, his commitment to social justice and the beautiful human being that he was. Thank you for sharing him with a wide circle of friends and colleagues who respect and love him.
PS We would also like you to know that we resonate with his real utopia project from the other side of the ocean.
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Piya Chatterjee | Jan 25, 2019
Dear Professor Wright's Family and Loved Ones: I knew of him from afar as a very influential scholar--a mentor and teacher of friends and colleagues I admire-so, many degrees of separation... But I started reading his reflections on his last journey on CaringBridge and like so many  others, was profoundly moved and inspired by all that he shared. I will take "stardust" with me to the end of my own life; and I wished so much that I had had the privilege of knowing him more directly,  and sharing a bit of his incredible generosity and kindness. But please know, that his courage and wisdom and great heart came through like a beacon in the last days--even to a stranger like me. I write this from eastern India. I send you many good energies, filled with starlight--- and, ofcourse, my deepest condolences. sincerely, piya
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Piya Chatterjee | Jan 25, 2019
Dear Professor Wright's Family and Loved Ones: I knew of him from afar as a very influential scholar--a mentor and teacher of friends and colleagues I admire-so, many degrees of separation... But I started reading his reflections on his last journey on CaringBridge and like so many  others, was profoundly moved and inspired by all that he shared. I will take "stardust" with me to the end of my own life; and I wished so much that I had had the privilege of knowing him more directly,  and sharing a bit of his incredible generosity and kindness. But please know, that his courage and wisdom and great heart came through like a beacon in the last days--even to a stranger like me. I write this from eastern India. I send you many good energies, filled with starlight--- and, ofcourse, my deepest condolences. sincerely, piya
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Courtney Petruik | Jan 23, 2019
I was informed of this wonderful blog only days ago but am so grateful I was. I have been impacted greatly by the words and insights expressed here in the posts and the comments. Sending my deepest and most heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Dr.Wright. 
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Trevor Ngwane | Jan 22, 2019
Hi comrade Erik

I didn't know you were very sick until today. This is terrible. Your ideas and book have inspired me over the years. I hope you are not in great pain. Your story about goofiness connects with me as I also have grandchildren with whom I always feel goofy even I may not show it. They remove my guard completely.

Well, hang on in there. I hope you live longer than you think you will.

Amandla!
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Jonathan Rosenblum | Jan 22, 2019
Dear Erik,
 

Thank you's abound in me. Thank you for allowing me to help staff and greet fellows for your Havens Center for a brief spell as Jane and I arrived in Madison. (When Allen Hunter took leave to explore NYU in '97 just after our Simon Rosenblum-Larson was born.) Thank you for tolerating my shitty liberal mission that year--serving as a negotiator in an impossible task, the Clinton White House Apparel Industry Task Force.  I couldn't avoid briefing you that day in the summer of '97 when we ended up on the same United flight to Madison from Washington.  I tried before takeoff to explain how the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store union's continuing support for this union-human rights-corporate partnership was more substantively significant than UNITE's politically-driven exit from monitoring sweatshop factories. I hoped to impress you that I argued face to face with Clinton's chief of the National Economic Council Gene Sperling that companies must be pulled out of China when, upon implementation of "corporate codes of conduct,"  freedom of association proved "impossible." I still expected you to blast it all as utterly contradictory to everything you stood for in a critique of received class structure--"codes of conduct" --in tandem with corporations!!??--as a vehicle toward "human rights"? Perhaps your critique WAS coming. But it was ruled unnecessary by poetic justice: the mini-jet's Rolls Royce engines drowned me out. Don't think I didn't think about that, and feel schooled. You nodded like an advisor who knew that the first year had escaped being called on. (But Gay got a book out of it, so there was that.)

 

Thank you for the generosity of mind and inquiry with which I saw you treat students. Believing that lawyers could still be thinkers, I sat in on many a lunch hour presentation by your graduate students. Your role in those meetings was confirmation that Stegner's "Crossing to Safety" or even a bit of "Zen and the Art" could rise up to the eighth floor from the muddy Lake Mendota walking paths bringing  breaths of humanity into the humanities. I came to understand that it could be necessary for the formation of a #1 sociologist  to sometimes leave stunned and bloodied from these sessions, but it seemed never your doing. (Joel? Some day someone will appropriately poeticize a "Joel's Razor" as a tool of incisiveness and constructive terror.) You exercised gentle but terrific torque on students. Not to mention on your visitors. (I am surprised that ILO hand Guy was left standing after your generous critique of his  "precariate.") 

 

If no one has mentioned it here, I must be sure to underline the wholistic education to be had under you. Dialogue, to be sure. Edification in the academy. But students and colleagues might have missed something essential if they didn't get to see you fiddling in a Radfest square dance under the stars with no less than Si Kahn. I know, because I was there dancing late, around a fire, observing that you can't be part of a revolution if you don't--not just dance-- help foment the do-si-do. Your life is as a blessing, Erik. 

 

Jonathan D. Rosenblum 
ps photo of Simon's new life as a minor league pitcher attached, on leave from Harvard. 
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Marina Orhanović | Jan 21, 2019

Dear Erik,

thank you for your reflections in these though times, it is insightful to see how you digest very challenging life situations. I am also very thankful for I have had an opportunity to interact with you once you've visited Zadar (Croatia). I could say I was yet a young student (now a bit older :D), a bit too stubborn, but still It was amazing how pleasantly you managed to work around it. Thank you for an opportunity to be in such situation. I hope you and your close ones have all the strength, serenity and luck there could be!

Kind regards,

Marina

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Michael Shalev | Jan 21, 2019
Dear Erik,
I heard recently that you are dying of cancer and started reading your journal posts. Your latest reflections on the life you have led and its approaching end are a remarkable blend of insight, generosity, honesty and pedagogy - the very same features that have made you exceptional as a mentor and scholar, and clearly in your other life spheres as well. All through the years I have carried with me a vivid memory of passing you and Marcia on campus when I was a grad student in the now defunct IRRI and you were already a legendary faculty member upstairs in Sociology. Marcia had come to meet you at the end of your working day and you were telling her, with excitement, enthusiasm and joy, about steps made forward in a new research project. At least I think that was the substance, but for me it was the emotional tone of this vignette that left such an impression--of living life to the full, really caring about and being thrilled by your work and the small triumph of the day, and sharing all this so intimately and deeply with the love of your life, who clearly felt the same way. Thank you for that moment, other moments when our paths have crossed, and above all for teaching us all how to both live and end life.
Michael
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