Just last week Jeremy Blake's body was identified after being found off the coast of New Jersey. In July he and his girlfriend committed suicide one week apart from each other, and since then stories of their lives, fears and final days have surfaced.
After the LA Times extensive piece, the NY Post recently published a lengthy article on the couple, who at the time were living in a converted rectory at St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery. Apparently the day Blake found his long-time girlfriend dead in the apartment (from a mixture of Tylenol PM and bourbon) he had invited the church's Rev. Frank Morales over for a drink. Theresa Duncan was in the bedroom, and Morales found Blake "crying, visibly shattered, kicking the walls, putting his head in his hands. But that night he got a grip fairly quickly." As we all know by now, a week later Blake took his fatal walk into the ocean.
So why would a young couple cut their lives short while gaining success in their careers? That's the question the press, the blogs, Hollywood and the art community have been asking. Many view Duncan as the darker side of the two. She had been convinced one of her scripts didn't make it into production because the Church of Scientology was out to stop her. In fact, the Post reports Blake had written "a 27-page chronology "in preparation for a lawsuit against the church that was never filed, he alleges that the couple was 'methodically defamed, harassed, followed and threatened' by Scientologists. The document lists Tom Cruise, filmmaker-artist-author Miranda July, writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson, former Viacom Chief Executive Tom Freston, alternative rocker Beck and Art Forum Editor Tim Griffin, among others, as players in the dispute." Miranda July?!
Most agree, however, that the accusations, lawsuit and blame being placed on others - all came from a place of paranoia. The Observer stated this week, "whatever truths and half-truths continue to emerge, it’s clear that Mr. Blake walked away from a career suffused with promise." Art gallery owner, Katie Brennan, said "[Jeremy was] paranoid. Everybody saw it. I have dozens of e-mails that I’ve saved and didn’t even read, because they would be so long and confusing and convoluted. He never accused me of anything directly, but you would kind of always hear that you were being accused of things secondhand. I think most people realized it was coming from a real place of paranoia. He didn’t intend to harm anybody. If you took that away, he was a very smart, talented person."
At Blake's request, Glenn O'Brien left the final words on Duncan's blog, The Wit of the Staircase, which ended up being a eulogy for the couple: "All I do know, the hard way, is that the artists and writers who come up with extraordinary answers are often deeply and terribly haunted by the questions that prompt them, and you can never second guess what it is to be haunted by ideas, by angels or demons or history or visions, by reality or imagination. Maybe I’ll think up a better response later. We live by our wits. Right now the only thing I can think of is to thank Theresa and Jeremy for their work, their friendship and goodwill and to hope that somehow, somewhere the answers come to them and the pattern is complete..."
Photo by Patrick McMullan.