Why not use the word “star,” Stanley asked in his breakthrough book on movies, The World Viewed, why not “the more beautiful and more accurate word,” rather than actor or actress? In philosophy he was a Hepburn, a Brando, a Dean, a Bacall, stars into whose souls he gave us entryways. I always thought of him and Hilary Putnam as the “glimmer twins.” Time was on their side, for so many decades, thank the lord. And on ours, too!
We know he was here, and, alas, we know he’s gone now.
Stanley attended monthly meetings of the Harvard University Press Board of Syndics. He dressed beautifully to attend our meetings, and he did his homework for them carefully, and spoke articulately on behalf of the books we had asked him to report on.
And he would join the Press staff for ordinary/extraordinary events like the showing over bag lunches of Rohmer’s A Tale of Winter, a movie he’d pried open and made bloom in a chapter of his book Cities of Words, which we’d just published. A simple pleasure he shared with us on a summer day in the third floor conference room at 79 Garden Street.
He walked our earth, and we published many of his words once they’d started to flow from his pen, his typewriter, his word processor, when he’d overcome the long blockage wrought by his father’s wraith and wrath.
In the Camelot years, as I am wont to think of them, Stanley was a knight of the realm under the directorship of Arthur Rosenthal, serving at the Press Round Table for meetings with other nobles such as Helen Vendler, Daniel Bell, Nathan Glazer, and Samuel Huntington.
That he was a wonder was proven, paradoxically, by the vehemence of those who strove to deny he existed, from his father to a host of pygmies in cinema
studies—a field he can fairly be said to have invented—and philosophy, two “professions” he offended deeply. And though a knight of Arthur’s table he was never cavalier: he shined his shoes and wore a tie to our Syndics’ meetings, but always chafed at the notion of belonging to a profession. Philosophy, truly, has always been untamed; as a human activity it predates all universities and all professions.