William Flygare (1916–1997)

This necrology appeared in the Spring 1999 issue 18 of Non Serviam journal It appears the introductory inset text that follows was written by Svein Olav Nyberg, followed by S.E.P.s writing after the line.

William Flygare died on September 2, 1997. He was eighty years old. Born of Swedish parents in Boston, U.S.A., he was educated at Roosevelt University,Chicago, where he gained a B.A. in philosophy. In 1951 he was invited to Japan by the Lady Ohtani to study Buddhism at Ohtani University. Here he added to his B.A. an M.A. in Buddhist Studies, but later found he could no longer believe in the Buddhist faith. He also lectured in English at Ohtani. In 1954 he moved to the Kyoto University of Foreign Studies and there rose from Staff Lecturer to Professor. He lived in Kyoto City until his death.

His published works included two collections of poetry: Presence in 1972 and This in 1993 (revised 1995); a monograph Montaigne-Shakespeare in 1978; an annotated edition of Etienne la Boetie’s The Will to Bondage in 1974. In 1996 he completed The Wrath of Hamlet, which has yet to be published. In addition he contributed reviews, translations and poetry to Minus One and Ego.

Around 1970 he prepared a new edition of Max Stirner’s The Ego and His Own for The Libertarian Book Club of New York which, despite their initial enthusiasm, they eventually refused to publish. His introduction contained a witty overview of the diverse reactions of both published writers and private correspondents to their reading of Stirner, a translation of Goethe’s light-hearted drinking song “Vanitas! Vanitatum! Vanitas!” “that Stirner had adopted as his theme song”, and a description of “the making”of the form and style of The Ego and His Own. Flygare concluded “Max Stirner has been associated with philosophy, (a-)politics, history and especially with language and literature, but it is most likely as an educator (educer rather than inducer) that he lives.” “To teach means to encourage.”

A glimpse of the man behind the writings was shown when he retired and wrote a farewell message to his students for the Kyoto University magazine”Logos”. In it he recalled the student disturbances of 1969: “In my diary I read ‘Hatsun-guo (Pronunciation Sutra) beats reds’: while all other class-rooms were empty, we could prevent rioters from breaking up your class by standing in our midst and answering nonsense with nonsense by our chanting the pronunciation syllables ‘er-aw-oh’ and so on.”

William is survived by his wife Yoshiko, his daughters Freya and Mathilde,and a grandson, Otaro.

S.E. Parker, June 1998