My favorite memories of Allen Patterson include neither politics nor beer, even though we engaged in a reasonable amount of both over the course of the decade I knew him.
I cherish most the 30 minutes or so Allen and I spent discussing Lucretius, sitting outside a hall where Gary Johnson was holding forth. We’d both heard Gary’s stump speech numerous times, and a few weeks earlier I had given Allen a copy of The Swerve, a book about how Lucretius’ On the Nature of Things had been rediscovered, copied, and preserved by a former Papal secretary.
The book had motivated Allen to read On the Nature of Things, and we spoke about how that work’s preservation had contributed to the Enlightenment and Western thought. We shared our wonder as to how a Roman devotee of the Greek philosopher Epicurus, sometime around 70 B.C., could have hypothesized on the existence of atoms, and a limitless universe, while finding no need for the supernatural to explain the world he observed. If we had only had a sixpack, we may have talked all night.
Then there was the time Allen, guitar in hand, pulled me aside to sing and play a song he was writing, a song that expressed humorously his meandering journey to Atheism. He wanted me to hear it because he felt comfortable opening up to me about his beliefs, or lack thereof, due to knowing I had traversed the territory he was exploring several decades earlier. I smile every time I remember that.
Allen was the kind of guy you didn’t have to spend a great deal of time with to create lasting memories. He was warm, kind, and funny.
I miss him already.