It has been two weeks now since I learned that Zippy Catholic, or Matthew to those who knew him outside this part of the web, had passed away. When I first learned about it I knew that I had to write a post in tribute to him. But for the past two weeks I have been unable to do so. Nothing I could think of seemed fitting. But I cannot put it off any longer. So here is my best attempt at my thoughts on Zippy/Matthew, unworthy as they are.
It is no joke that finding the ‘sphere was a monumental point in my life. It began a series of changes within my life which radically altered the path that I have taken since. The ‘sphere forced me to examine many, no, most of my core beliefs. And as a result many of those beliefs have changed (and I would like to think for the better). Others have become firmer, and my conviction more resolute. I could count on one hand the number of individuals who were part of the reason for that massive shift in world-view. And Zippy, no, Matthew, would be one of them.
Matthew forced me to examine everything I believed about politics. He forced me to examine core concepts like authority and power. He turned over rocks in my mind I didn’t even know existed, and forced me to look at the things which crawled out from beneath them. I cannot look at the subject as I did before, because I cannot deny the truths he laid out in front of me.
Matthew’s style was not for everyone. Many, many, many people found it quite off-putting. But they failed to understand his approach. Matthew was not some soft school-teacher who gently guided his students through lesson after lesson. No, Matthew was a wizened old sensei, a teacher who would not hesitate to slap a student who failed or was out of line. He didn’t hold back his thoughts or his wit or his tongue. If there was anyone who fit the epitome of this proverb better, I don’t know who:
As iron sharpens iron,
so one person sharpens another.
He expected his students to do their homework- to follow his points back to their origin and know where they started so they could understand where he was and why. Every lesson was not a repeat of what had gone before, but something new, either in angle or context or subject. Furthermore, he knew how to use examples to get at people in ways that upset them. I rather imagine that he and Jonathan Swift would have gotten along, at least in their style. Many missed the point, but that was on them and not Zippy.
I haven’t met many people from the ‘sphere, in truth only a couple, but there were some I hoped to meet in the future and Matthew was one of them. Now any meeting will have to be in the next life. But until then I will keep what he taught me in mind. Which is more than just what to think, or even how to think, but start thinking in the first place- about everything. Before I ran across Matthew there were too many things I took for granted, and never thought about. Not so much any more. That is a gift I cannot repay him for. But if I learned anything about him, he would find payment in my using it to the best of my abilities.
I know there is more I should say, but I still cannot put it to words. I will leave it at this, and hope it is enough. Goodbye Zippy, you will be missed.