Two and a half weeks ago I was sitting myself down and getting into position for my baby’s last feed one evening. As usual, I opened my twitter-feed to see what people had been up to and hoped there would be some interesting articles tweeted that I could read while feeding my baby. Within five minutes I came across one that shocked and saddened me, and I instantly felt sick in the stomach, my limbs went to jelly, and I started to cry. I had discovered that one of my favourite people on twitter, Hasan Niyazi, had passed away at the young age of 37. Apparently it was sudden but due to a long-term health problem.
Others have spoken more eloquently than I could about his work on Art History and his wonderful blog 3 Pipe Problem (http://www.3pipe.net/p/about-3pp.html ) also how he has affected them personally. I, too, found him to be very interesting and so kind-hearted. Here is my story on how Hasan has affected me.
I joined twitter in May 2012 and during the first few months my activity on there was fairly quiet. I only knew of a few people on there and was learning how to have the twitter conversations I so love now. I was connecting with some interesting people but felt way out of my depth as many of them were, and are, academics and I was, and still am, a mere student. I don’t remember how Hasan and I connected but he instantly made me feel welcome and not so insignificant. From the moment we connected he and I regularly had long twitter conversations about all sorts of things (and at all times of the day and night!) but looking back I realise now that the common thread uniting most of our conversations was human nature.
He was so wise about people and their behaviour and he was non-judgmental. He was always opening my eyes, or reassuring me, or encouraging me like he had recently when I started working on a new blog site for women. When I look back now it feels like our friendship was rather one sided but I always felt he enjoyed teaching me things & opening up my world with art and renaissance music.
When he wrote tweets to me he always included my name – 7 letters out of the limited 140 used to write tweets. I was always touched by that. I usually don’t use people’s names when talking to them so I was struck that he always used mine when it wasn’t necessary. That little gesture seemed to make our twitter conversations more personal and made me feel somewhat important to him even though the reality was I was one of many people he had befriended on twitter and I’m sure would have had many more dearer family and friends in person. He accepted me as I was and encouraged me to be more of who I am.
Even though he was a teacher to many, in an informal sense, on Art History, and especially the Renaissance and his beloved Raphael, I learned far more from him through his conduct about how to really engage with people. He challenged me at times when I expressed a desire to communicate with more people on twitter but felt reluctant to do so because of an insecurity I have. His response could be summed up as ‘Well, why don’t you? Give it a try. The worst that could happen is they don’t respond back’. I have done that so many times now – responded to a person’s tweet, someone I’ve never ‘met’ or connected with before and because of that I now am connected to a many people on twitter with whom I could have a conversation with every day. That has become hugely important to me in these last 10 months. Moving to a new city has been a lonely experience for me but as I have all these great people I can converse with on twitter everyday I don’t feel as lonely as I otherwise would. I owe this to Hasan, my great teacher.
I was hoping to finally meet him in person next year when I visit Melbourne but now I will never have that chance. I wish I could find our conversations on twitter so I could re-read his wise words when I need comforting.
I discovered that on his last day he had posted this quote on twitter: “A thing of beauty is a joy forever: its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness” by John Keats to which Hasan had commented ‘Sublime’.
Thank you Hasan – the hole you have left on twitter has a deafening silence but you’ve taught me how to make the connections that will help fill that void. But I still miss you.