Jasper Rose Remembers Alan Chadwick
Jasper Rose (1930-2019) was a remarkable person. Erudite, urbane, witty, master of repartee, beloved by his students, he also became a close friend and supporter of Alan Chadwick and his efforts at the University of California at Santa Cruz. An excellent biographical website dedicated to Jasper’s memory can be found at: www.jasperroseucsc.com, which is highly recommended. A brief excerpt from that biography is reproduced here.
UCSC Professor Jasper Rose (left) with William Everson (center) and Jack Stauffacher (right)
Jasper Allison Rose was born in 1930 in London, England. Jasper received his B.A. and M.A. from King's College, Cambridge. With John Ziman, Jasper co-authored a book called Camford Observed: An Investigation of the Ancient Universities in the Modern World, that was published in January 1964. It is an entertaining account of university life at Oxford and Cambridge that contains ideas that would have a major impact on the formation of the University of California, Santa Cruz. Jasper was a founding faculty member of the University of California, Santa Cruz, Cowell College in 1965. He was the second Provost of Cowell College from 1970-1974. After nine more years at Cowell, he became a faculty member of Porter College (formerly College V) at UCSC at the start of the 1983-84 academic year. He became an Emeritus Professor of Art, History, and History of Art and Visual Culture at UC Santa Cruz at the end of the 1985-86 academic year at the age of 56. He retired back to England to devote himself to art. He devoted much of his time to painting (often of landscapes and portraits), and to illustrating poetry. He first resided in the English countryside near the village of Wingfield in the county of Wiltshire (ten miles from the city of Bath). In 1998 he moved into the city of Bath. Sadly, Jasper passed away at the age of 89 in Bath, England in 2019.
Jasper Rose was interviewed on June 22, 1978 by Bernard Taper, a writer for the New Yorker Magazine who was preparing to do a profile on Alan Chadwick. Although Mr. Taper collected much information, the intended article was never finalized. Below is a short sampling of various remarkable and insightful observations made by Jasper, a colleague and friend of Alan’s during the five years that they were together at Santa Cruz. Alan was still living at the time and working in Virginia, so the conversation with Bernard Taper was very much about a person in the present time. The following provides a general overview of Jasper Rose’s perspective on Alan Chadwick.
"He (Chadwick) is the only genius who has ever appeared here (at UCSC)."
"Alan is a tremendous believer in the poetic. And there again, I think that’s absolutely right. If anything is going to have the power to move people from so many silly and self-destructive things it can only be the power of poetry. And that, of course, is why he loves Shakespeare so much."
"When Alan wishes to be charming—oh goodness—he is just so, so, charming."
"He has this strange intermittent ability to understand exactly how you are feeling. And when he wants to, he can understand exactly how you are feeling and sympathize with it. It is, of course, the sense of second sight."
"What he can do is very astonishing. And I don’t know why people don’t pay far more attention to it. I just don’t know."
"It isn’t just that he loves poetry, but he believes the poetic to be true. And that makes life to be a bit miraculous. And that is the saving truth. It would be nice to think that people continued to learn from him a bit."
"Alan Chadwick is a seer."
"The trouble is, he is also a man of the theater. I think, in a way, you could argue that an awful lot of seers have been like that. Many of those Old Testament prophets had a very good sense of the theatrical."
"It’s a great tragedy that he is not here (at UCSC). I don’t see how he could have possibly remained here because the university is not fit for him. No university is fit for him, it is antithetical in a great many ways. A lot of the scientists here loathed him and feared him, and refused in any way to help."
"Alan understands that you have to woo nature, you have to woo the natural world. And the dominant ethos of the academic world is that you have to conquer nature."
"I think the reason why one wants to help Alan is because he embodies something which is very difficult and very rare, and something everybody else needs and just has to see. And it cannot be put easily into language, cannot be filmed, cannot be put into amber in any form whatsoever, you see. And as he gets older it becomes, in a way, more urgent. He really is a genius. And the reason he is a genius is because the world needs precisely many of his gifts."
"Alan is wonderfully salutary in a world which is so determined to be boring and absolutely so ready to take any juice out of things and any kind of fun out of life. His boyishness and impishness arises out of a sense of life in him."
"He is a demonic leg-puller. He has a talent for magnificent hyperbole."
"It’s always been a thing that has puzzled me. He loves food and he loves wine, and yet there is this very strange streak of asceticism in him. His love of food is absolutely unfeigned. There is nothing equivocal or quizzical about it. He has a deep inner sanctity. An incredible depth of force. He’s got to make it uncomfortable for himself every time it starts to become comfortable."
"Can you imagine a more correct place for Alan to come than here? Or can you imagine a place which really needed Alan more? And this is where the really dreadful thing comes. It needed Alan, but it did not do really any of the things which would have made that need into a long-term reality. That is to say that the thing was not funded properly, or it was funded in such a way that it was political."
"Alan has an absolutely un-philosophic mind, and I think that’s again a very interesting thing in terms of the present day. One of our difficulties, surely, at the present time is that we are living in a world of an enormous quantity of abstractions, and it behooves us to choose very gingerly amongst those abstractions. And Alan chooses very largely by refusing most of them."
"Like all great people, nothing is done from a single motive."
"Alan has that impishness and small diabolism. He does vent a cruel streak on occasion."
"Alan has a chronic problem with his back, and this accounts for a lot of elements in his temperament, in the sense, for instance, of his sudden uncontrollable rage. If you have that trouble with your back it can come on at any time and is profoundly painful, and does produce your temper very greatly. It also makes you extremely sensitive psychologically."
"He is a stranger on the earth."
See: A Gardener of Souls for an added perspective on Alan’s character
Proceed to Jasper Rose Remembers Alan Chadwick (Part 2)
Contributed by Greg Haynes, March 5, 2022