Remembering Doug Fortier

In Virgin Land: The American West as Symbol and Myth, Henry Nash Smith writes, “I use the words to designate larger or smaller units of the same kind of thing, namely an intellectual construction that fuses concept and emotion into an image.” As I read Smith’s words, I thought of the image I carry of Doug: compassionate, with a wide view and acceptance of human nature. I often read something that resonated with me, like what I quote above, and it would be Doug that I’d reach out to, to share it with. How had he come to be such a person, growing up in the Midwest? It seemed to me that his writing followed a kind of pattern similar to what Smith pointed out in his book, that Doug would conceive of a situation that he contrived to end with a scene of compassion involving an unacknowledged benefactor, or through fate. I thought that he had constructed his life to mirror these precepts. He was deeply aware of need, and devoted to being of help without expecting praise, and in this way changed the world in which he found himself. We all gained a kind of honor in his presence, with his friendship, and wanted to reflect it onto others.

Henri Bensussen
Noyo Review Pieces