Chris Gibson, philosopher, 1954-2005

I had urged Chris Gibson to show me his writings for years before he sent me, finally, “The Wages of Insomnia” in April of 2002, when Contrary was in gestation. After fighting so hard to extract some writing from him, I lost the file when I transferred data from the old computer on which I'd received his essay to the new one on which we built the magazine. I appealed to Chris for another copy. “I don't save things," he replied, "because it increases my natural tendency towards self-deleteriousness.” The inaugural issue of Contrary appeared without Chris' contribution. I grimaced for three years at the loss, but I supposed the irony appropriate. Perhaps Chris Gibson was not to be fixed in print.


“Wages” would remain lost until July 27, 2005, the day I learned that Chris Gibson had been found floating face down in Cayucos Creek on the Central Coast of California. Inspired by grief to search again, I rediscovered the essay thanks only to the penetrating vision of a new search technology (Apple's Spotlight) that extracted a workable copy from the unindexed bowels of the hard drive. All the words were intact.

Now that Chris is fixed in print in obituaries and eulogies (including one I wrote), now that he no longer has the earthly power to evade the fixedness imposed upon him by the living, I think it important that the printed record include his own words. "Wages" appears at the link below, a rare written example of Chris Gibson's philosophical preoccupation. It consists of only five paragraphs, but it is not easy stuff to read, initially. It shows a Wittgensteinian concern with language and a Gibsonian skepticism of self. It contains some unorthodox spellings ("dissemilarity," "logis-") that are purposeful. The work may appear unorthodox to a philosopher, but strikes me as surprisingly orthodox coming from Chris. And as someone who works with graduate students in the humanities, I can tell you that it displays enviable rigor. I am also certain that it contains moves and nuances that are lost on me, that may or may not occur to me later, and that will reveal themselves more readily to other readers. That it came from a high-school dropout with no formal education in philosophy…. well, that says everything about Chris Gibson. The second link will tell you more about this most unique human being.


Of this essay, Chris wrote, "Remember that I wrote that thing without any sleep and it does have something to say but be forewarned that there is also a strong sense of beating a bush with a stick to prove you can't go around it in there. I remain yours in indignity. Chris."  – ed.

The Wages of Insomnia | Chris Gibson

Gibson's Apology: A Eulogy for Chris
| Jeff McMahon


Obituary | Christopher Burke Gibson