Die for love, for art, for... what?
July 21, 2007 9:37 AM   Subscribe

Game developer/ perfume critic Theresa Duncan has died, and longtime companion Jeremy Blake is missing. The art world is buzzing about the seeming suicide-by-water of video installation artist Jeremy Blake. The perfume blogs are fizzing with sadness over the death of Theresa Duncan, whose suicide preceded Blake's. The cops are not releasing the notes left by the late, pretty people, but a clue might be found in the paranoiac screed Duncan posted on her blog in May, in which Blake's ex-girlfriend, the CIA, FBI, Church of Scientology, Jeff Gannon, bloated plutocrats and many other bugbears of the psy-ops crowd were put on Duncan's mental merry-go-round and given a real strong spin.
posted by Scram (37 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Bohemian love is the best.
posted by geoff. at 9:46 AM on July 21, 2007

It seems like something out of a bad web-based alternate reality game.
posted by delmoi at 10:01 AM on July 21, 2007

It seems a little premature to refer to Duncan's suicide as having preceding Blake's [suicide]... seeing as how Blake is only missing (presumed dead) at this point.
posted by Poolio at 10:03 AM on July 21, 2007

delmoi, i was going to say the same thing, until i saw the NYtimes article.

posted by empath at 10:06 AM on July 21, 2007

delmoi, i was going to say the same thing, until i saw the NYtimes article.

I wasn't sure if it was real at all until I saw the first link was to the NYT.
posted by delmoi at 10:11 AM on July 21, 2007

Tox reports back yet? I'm wondering just how much heroin was found in her system.
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:12 AM on July 21, 2007

"Game developer/perfume critic"?
posted by DU at 10:12 AM on July 21, 2007

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:23 AM on July 21, 2007

"perfume blog"?
posted by geos at 10:24 AM on July 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

This site talks about citizen gang stalking and harassment. Their podcasts are here. While references to the CIA, Johnny Gosch and Tom Cruise are a little overboard, Duncan's account of harassment does sound similar to the accounts of others.
posted by McLir at 10:34 AM on July 21, 2007

I've lead a sheltered life... perfume critic?
posted by scheptech at 10:50 AM on July 21, 2007

Just to be, uh, a buzz kill, these two people died.
I know it seems like a spectator sport, as they might have had lives that were not conventional and thus (somehow) open to objectified discussion, but the bulk of their joys and sorrows were not far different than yours or mine. Some people are pretty fucked up by this whole thing.
Just let them lie quiet for a little first, huh?


posted by From Bklyn at 11:01 AM on July 21, 2007

Wow. Citizen gang stalking? Color me skeptical. That sounds exactly like something from my childhood, though.

My down-the-hill neighbor (the roof of whose car I jumped up and down on, many a day, at the age of 4) was/is a paranoid, and his idea of "the enemy" was based simultaneously around his love of the US Gov't and his mysterious mental breakdown. When I was 14 or so, he invited my mom, brother and I to his vacation home in Cape Hatteras. It was a cold May afternoon when he drove me to the airfield and told me about his "them" while we watched touch-and-go landings and ate havarti.

His idea was not that the UN/US/Soviet government is controlling everyone, or that aliens were beaming thoughts (though he did like that idea as a joke.) See, the government employed him as a programmer on one of the big Carter-era DoD/Treasury SGML pushes. He did get fired for freaking out and wearing a gas mask to work every day, but he didn't hold that against them. (It was because of the Iranian communists, see?)

Rather, he thought that seemingly-ordinary people were watching and cataloging him. We talked for about five hours about car bombs, microdot RF bugs, humint, wetware and trojans (I was heavily into the typical pimply-reprobate "H/C/V/T" thing then.) Eventually, we went into a Piggly Wiggly; inside, he asked me to watch for anyone in a green hat. Being North Carolina, there were three people wearing John Deere swag, which I told him about.

He smiled, and with the strength of conviction gifted only to the political and the insane, told me that "Now you know." He took a very small looking revolver out of his coat pocket and put it under his seat. We had prawns that night for dinner.

That said, at least one of two people in need of help have slipped this coil, despite their talent or pretension or friends.

On preview: LOLDETH!

posted by electronslave at 11:25 AM on July 21, 2007 [7 favorites]

This is very sad.

Unless I'm missing something, the entries for her blog seem to have been deleted.
posted by jokeefe at 11:38 AM on July 21, 2007

I am sure her blog had nothing to do with her demise...
Sunday, July 08, 2007
The Devil And Dick Cheney

Wit is cooking up a new politcal essay. We will be back later....

Love, Peace, and Soul

Last lines of an interview with Ms. Duncan

Do you find the threat of earthquakes preferable to the threat of hurricanes and long winters?
Like Nietzsche's quip about suicide, the thought of a massive earthquake has gotten me through many a long night.

Where do you want to be when the Big One hits?
Asleep in Jeremy Blake's arms.

Then he was last seen swiming out to sea. Well I guess that's that then. Who is working on the script?
"Esprit d'escalier"
Of course it features music from the Who.
posted by MapGuy at 12:18 PM on July 21, 2007

what a strange sad story.

the final post is a mystery with the carefully edited image and quote from "A Palpable God".

"...the vast incommunicable constructs of psychopaths."
posted by bhnyc at 12:44 PM on July 21, 2007

"fizzing" ?????

I got stuck right there on that word....
posted by HuronBob at 12:48 PM on July 21, 2007

Unless I'm missing something, the entries for her blog seem to have been deleted.

Never mind, it was a Safari thing. Changed browsers, entries visible.
posted by jokeefe at 1:14 PM on July 21, 2007

What video games did she design?
posted by willie11 at 1:33 PM on July 21, 2007

I can imagine not wanting outlive somebody I love very much, but swimming out to sea is not how I'd handle it. Here in KY its so much easier to tank up on Lortab and Wild Turkey and inhale a round of 00 buck.

And I'm afraid of the water.
posted by davy at 1:38 PM on July 21, 2007

What video games did she design?

Some titles mentioned: Chop Suey Chop Suey, Smarty, Zero Zero and Apockalypstick.
posted by progosk at 2:30 PM on July 21, 2007

erm, minus the repetition and the k in the last one, sorry.
posted by progosk at 2:32 PM on July 21, 2007

Wit of the Staircase was one of my favorite web sites. Theresa Duncan was among the outposts of web literacy linked pretty regularly from wood's lot. I had no idea any of this stuff was happening in her life, and I'm sad she's gone, and died so awfully.

MeFi isn't coming through, here, in my view. Snarking at death, sure, it's a human reaction, but nobody here is taking time to say anything real at all.

I was as shocked reading this as I would have been if a co-worker had been found as a suicide.
posted by cgc373 at 3:06 PM on July 21, 2007

I was prepared not to like 'em -- but I did, and I'm sad. They seemed to be really interesting, thoughtful people, with a persistent touch of sadness in every photo.

I agree that some of the Mefi responses were offensive. I flagged one as such, I suggest you do the same.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 4:15 PM on July 21, 2007

I'm overreacting to MeFi's general snark, lupus_yonderboy. Nobody here—as far as I can see, anyway—knew Theresa or her work on the web, so it's a blind, unintended sort of off-key look at a weird death. For me, it's more personal, but it's not like she's a relative or a friend: She was a presence on a web site. Of course, sometimes those presences are important, but I don't intend to berate anybody for their unfamiliarity with her. All my disappointment is personal.

It's just a sad loss, a grief, a look at what will no longer be.

It's a moment for the infamous single dot, but I felt I had to speak up, seeing none of them.
posted by cgc373 at 5:00 PM on July 21, 2007

posted by progosk at 5:19 PM on July 21, 2007

I'll second/third/whatever the outrage. Has this become such a cynical, hipster outpost that deaths of strangers are so easily snarked at? I've never heard of either of these people, but I actually considered posting the article when I saw it in the Times, as it seemed a tragic and noteworthy story. This place is getting crazy lately. Maybe it's the weather.

posted by nevercalm at 5:53 PM on July 21, 2007

I think the snark also arises from the phrasing of the FPP - fizzing with sadness, pretty people, paranoiac screed, the whole 'LOL CRAZY PERSON" tone of it. Granted, her blog entries might be a little out there, but there's a reason why they say, "speak ill not of the dead" - because to do so is crass. Not MeTa worthy, but still, a little iffy. I'm glad about the post, but saddened at the snark of it all.

And nevercalm, I'm hoping it's the weather, although I'm sadly thing it's just people, period.

(and of course, "."). Sad story all around.
posted by rmm at 6:06 PM on July 21, 2007

I'm reminded of the documentary How To Draw a Bunny, a documentary about the career and suicide of artist Ray Johnson. Several art world figures are interviewed in the course of the film, and their attitude to his suicide is truly creepy. Most of them seem to treat it like some kind of performance piece. Maybe that was framing on the director's part, but it gave me the willies.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 6:19 PM on July 21, 2007

I'm the original poster, guilty of some... not snark, but ambivalence. I've tried to read Wit of the Staircase several times, after seeing it praised by writers I respect (Adrienne Crew, Kevin Roderick), but found Duncan pretentious and vapid. I wondered what they saw that I didn't.

And as a survivor of the curatorial world, I find the confluence of art world politics with Mae Brussell-style paranoia fascinating and sad. I can see these two poor people working each other up to a state of constant high pitched terror, until they finally snapped. And I'm not snarking about that at all.

I posted because I thought it was interesting, and because the paranoid blog post wasn't getting mentioned elsewhere -- probably because the blog was so hard to actually read. I hoped, and still hope, some sharp Metafilterian* will draw some more lines between the dots of this peculiar situation. Sorry if I offended anyone.

(*Ray Johnson, the drowning as mail art piece -- an intriguing connection, Lentrohamsanin, thank you.)
posted by Scram at 6:32 PM on July 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

posted by Moody834 at 6:51 PM on July 21, 2007

posted by ottereroticist at 7:16 PM on July 21, 2007

I guess the whole "editorial we" attitude at Wit (e.g., "We at Wit regret our involvement in the inept digression we perpetrated upon our public") could be seen as pretentious and certainly could put off readers, but I found the voice charming more often than not, Scram. Kate Moss doesn't interest me at all, but Wit's interest in her interested me, made me wonder about what I don't see. And her perfume reviews were like little prose poems, sometimes incomprehensible, but bizarrely evocative even so. Usually I dislike that kind of writing, but in Wit's case, I was charmed. Who can say why? De gustibus.

Still, thanks for the clarification about the tone of the post; it makes more sense to me why it's phrased as it is, now.
posted by cgc373 at 7:24 PM on July 21, 2007

Wit of the Staircase was my favorite culture blog. I found it charming, surreal, tongue-in-cheek and beautifully written. Most days I could appreciate the quotes she chose or the artwork she accompanied her entries with even if I wasn't interested in whatever the topic contained as its main subject. I remember being pleasantly surprised when I realized her partner was Jeremy Blake because I'd seen pieces of his around and loved what he did on Punch-Drunk Love. I thought they must have made an interesting artistic pair.

I didn't know Ms. Duncan. I'd commented on her blog once, I believe, and we'd exchanged a couple cordial e-mails. Still, I was stunned by her suicide and found myself surprisingly sad.

Some people find themselves naturally angry when they hear about someone else taking their own life, and so I can understand the snark here (even if her work hadn't left such an easy target on its own). Maybe I've been too close to that decision myself numerous times in the past, or maybe it's some other unexplored reason, but I don't have that response. I'm just sorry now.

I'll miss her words and projects left unfinished and never begun.
posted by nuala at 5:56 PM on July 22, 2007

Body found may be Blake's.
posted by R. Mutt at 5:20 PM on July 26, 2007

This LA Times article from July 25 fleshes out the story a bit.
posted by Locative at 11:43 AM on July 28, 2007

Another LATimes article (8/3) :

The world as Jeremy Blake and Theresa Duncan saw it
posted by R. Mutt at 4:48 PM on August 5, 2007

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