Chris Blanc
It was hard to miss Jason Lamport, as unlike most - we were the generation that grew up under death, dropping silently from space on an arc of transit deposited in memory banks in foreign lands - he understood a sense of faith in the whole of existence. In his view, because life was basically good, even if the planet was encrusted with a scabrous mixture of concrete buildings and plastic ikons, there was no reason not to celebrate its heights, and, conversely, realize some things need changing.

He was a force of this change. Looking at this website, you can see some of the things he has done. Anywhere there was a loose corner, or a broken structure, Jason would speak up and suggest something different. One of my first Jason encounters was at the computer center where we both worked. Jason was suggesting a small change; an overworked staff member saw it as a detail. Jason persisted, and prevailed, and when the change was in place all could see that it was a structural detail he changed, and the whole system held together better after that. When we told him later, he greeted the news with a smile of satisfaction not in "self being right" but in a betterment of the whole - and then was off to do something else.

That kind of faith in life, and in its design, is a rare quality, because it's of two parts: first, the ability to see how that detail works in the whole, and second, the faith that that changing that detail, and thus the whole, would not so much "fix" the whole but would add to the whole, making it more comprehensible and better for us who live in it. That was quintessential Jason: he would approach a problem softly, pick over it until he understood how its wires clicked together and its organs bubbled fluids into one another, and would then find places that needed a little nurturing - and do it. He made life better for us working at the computer center, but more importantly, for the people who needed to use that computer center to get other things done.

Most "computer people" are entirely separated from the idea that computers exist only to accomplish tasks that might not be related solely to computers, a tendency which is responsible for many of the Dilbert-esque satires of nerds as content to play with electronic toys while the world collapses around them. Jason looked beyond this and it was this trait among others that made him, I believe, a postmodern Renaissance man. Without fear he explored every aspect of his world, and seeing how it all worked together, passed over categorical divisions in favor of seeing the whole as a function and a force of life. It was spiritual without falling into the superstitious mysticism de rigeur at the time.

Everywhere he went Jason contributed small improvements, explanations, ideas. He was active in the English department as one of the few who was willing to express strong opinions on the topic matter. His approval did not follow categorical lines, but he looked at each thing in itself as part of the whole artistic experience. You couldn't get him to praise something because it had membership in the category post-structuralist feminist dada literature, but if he saw meaning in it, he would praise it, whatever it was. In an age when the phrase "open-minded" is thrown about perhaps too casually, he was the original fearless thinker. Jason lived literature as much as computer code, dance, socialization or any of the other myriad categories he crossed and linked to a concept of the whole: life, and the joy of living.

He was the first to turn me on to several types of modern Renaissance music, and the only person I remember being able to put both dance and martial arts into perspective as a form of trust and faith in motion, with motion being an inherent property of the universe. One time when it was slow in the labs, he patiently explained how to write windowing code on the Macintosh to me, noting where the standards fell short of ideal but always focusing on what could be done and how it could generate more productive applications. For who? For them - for us - for anyone who came into that lab looking for a computer to complete any number of tasks. It was a rare love for the world that he had.

I think, under this faith, he carried on for as long as he felt he could, and did what he found meaningful, and enriched us all for that. Many of us miss him, and his presence. I know that several times a month I find something he'd enjoy and get ready to send the email - then remember. It is important to also remember that he would want to be honored in the activity that made his presence joyful. Jason believed that the world was of a single mind, and that we all originate and return to this personless space of thought. If you miss him, look for him in the everywhere that is this mind - in the birds that sing for the enjoyment of the world, in the vines that creep up abandoned walls, and in every act done by anyone to make any detail of existence that much better. He would acknowledge that with a smile. - Chris Blanc