In Memoriam: Stan Cohen

The past few days have been very sad ones as I have learnt of the deaths of two former  teachers, colleagues and dear friends: Stan Cohen and Mary McIntosh. They were both inspirational; both pioneers in their works for rights and better worlds ; both serious intellectuals; and both very dear people. They will be much missed.

Stan Cohen

Stan Cohen was my first teacher and inspiration in sociology. He taught me social psychology and the sociology of deviance as a student at Enfield College in 1965 and 1966 – and he showed me what a non pompous intellectual life could look like. His ideas inspired me as I turned to ‘homosexuality’ – as it was then- as a personal area for my own understanding and research. He supported me in following a PhD; and encouraged me to apply to Essex University for a job in 1974. For a while , he became a colleague.  His book States of Denial can be seen as a fine example of humanist sociology. Meeting Stan was probably the single most influential shaper of my academic life. And he will be much missed.

Last July he featured as a key inspiration in my life: here is the link Stanley Cohen

There will no doubt be many obituaries for Stan and in due course I will write my own. But for the time being here is a

Poem for Stan

So many different lengths of time BRIAN PATTEN

How long does a man live after all?
A thousand days or only one?
One week or a few centuries?
How long does a man spend living or dying
and what do we mean when we say gone forever?
Adrift in such preoccupations, we seek clarification.
We can go to the philosophers
but they will weary of our questions.
We can go to the priests and rabbis
but they might be busy with administrations.So, how long does a man live after all?
And how much does he live while he lives?
We fret and ask so many questions –
then when it comes to us
the answer is so simple after all.A man lives for as long as we carry him inside us,
for as long as we carry the harvest of his dreams,
for as long as we ourselves live,
holding memories in common, a man lives.

His lover will carry his man’s scent, his touch:
his children will carry the weight of his love.
One friend will carry his arguments,
another will hum his favourite tunes,
another will still share his terrors.

And the days will pass with baffled faces,
then the weeks, then the months,
then there will be a day when no question is asked,
and the knots of grief will loosen in the stomach
and the puffed faces will calm.
And on that day he will not have ceased
but will have ceased to be separated by death.
How long does a man live after all?
A man lives so many different lengths of time.


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