September 27, 2016 at 3:55 pm #55
David Lee Lavery, a beloved husband, father, grandfather, author, Middle Tennessee State University English professor and television and film studies scholar, passed away after a brief illness on August 30, 2016. He was 67. David helped shaped the world of popular culture studies and has been invited around the globe to present his work.
David, born in Oil City, PA, settled in Murfreesboro with his family in 1994. He served as chair of the MTSU English department, and later as graduate director. He is celebrated for his literary explorations of shows such as Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, The X-Files, Lost, Seinfeld, The Sopranos, and Twin Peaks, among many others, and is renowned for his studies on Joss Whedon and Owen Barfield.
He has written more than 20 books on popular culture phenomena. David’s expertise extended beyond film and television studies: his book Late for the Sky focused on the cultural exploration of science. He had many other unfinished works, including a novel and his autobiography.
David was a well-loved professor, whose classes ranged from narrative theory to modern poetry to popular culture. He was well-known for his numerous PowerPoint presentations that he neatly stored online for any student to reference. He enjoyed reading poetry aloud in class, particularly that of Wallace Stevens and William Carlos Williams, and more than one group of students reports tearing up as he read Williams’s poetry and explained what it meant to him.
Lavery is known for his extreme dislike of Rene Descartes and abhorrence of Derrida.
Students (and his daughters) report that they frequently visited him seeking an answer to a quick question, and more often than not, they walked away over an hour later, laden down with texts (both loaned and given) and were somehow signed up for another large project.
He leaves behind his beloved wife of 36 years, Joyce Lavery, daughter Rachel Lavery and son-in-law Neel Dhingra, daughter Sarah Porterfield and son-in-law Jason Porterfield, and grandchildren Adelyn, Waylon, and Jackson Porterfield and Maya Dhingra. They were the lights of his life.
For a Dancer
Keep a fire burning in your eye
Pay attention to the open sky
You never know what will be coming down
I don’t remember losing track of you
You were always dancing in and out of view
I must have thought you’d always be around
Always keeping things real by playing the clown
Now you’re nowhere to be found
I don’t know what happens when people die
Can’t seem to grasp it as hard as I try
It’s like a song I can hear playing right in my ear
That I can’t sing, I can’t help listening
And I can’t help feeling stupid standing ‘round
Crying as they ease you down
‘Cause I know that you’d rather we were dancing
Dancing our sorrow away
(Right on dancing)
No matter what fate chooses to play
(There’s nothing you can do about it anyway)
Just do the steps that you’ve been shown
By everyone you’ve ever known
Until the dance becomes your very own
No matter how close to yours another’s steps have grown
In the end there is one dance you’ll do alone
Keep a fire for the human race
Let your prayers go drifting into space
You never know what will be coming down
Perhaps a better world is drawing near
And just as easily it could all disappear
Along with whatever meaning you might have found
Don’t let the uncertainty turn you around
(The world keeps turning around and around)
Go on and make a joyful sound
Into a dancer you have grown from a seed somebody else has thrown
Go on ahead and throw some seeds of your own
And somewhere between the time you arrive and the time you go
May lie a reason you were alive but you’ll never know
I heard a Fly buzz – when I died –
The Stillness in the Room
Was like the Stillness in the Air –
Between the Heaves of Storm –
The Eyes around – had wrung them dry –
And Breaths were gathering firm
For that last Onset – when the King
Be witnessed – in the Room –
I willed my Keepsakes – Signed away
What portion of me be
Assignable – and then it was
There interposed a Fly –
With Blue – uncertain – stumbling Buzz –
Between the light – and me –
And then the Windows failed – and then
I could not see to see –
– emily dickenson
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