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Vale John Van Gulik

About Reflections on Literature, Life and the Imagination

Previous Entry Vale John Van Gulik Aug. 27th, 2009 @ 04:13 pm Next Entry
It is with great sadness that I have to write of John Van Gulik's passing. He was a brilliant, gifted student with great insight and enthusiasm for the things that really mattered in literature. He had a tough life but he brought his hard-won insights to every class that he participated in. I/we will miss him greatly. In the last week before his death I was working with him on his last essay. Last semester he had acted the part of Shakespeare's Caliban in a group performance of "The Tempest" and brought Caliban to life on the stage in an incredibly original way. He seemed to KNOW the character of Caliban from the inside. You will recognize him in this amazing blue garb, striding at the centre of this collage and in the bottom right, being persuaded by Trinculo and Stephano to join their plot against Prospero.

During John's last week I was working with him on an essay on Shakespeare's "The Tempest". This was the last assignment that he needed to complete in order to pass the unit on Shakespeare. His marks so far had been of a High Distinction level and his essay was also promising to be a High Distiniction. I am sure John most keenly appreciated the key lines in "The Tempest" where the central character Prospero reflects on the fleeting but precious nature of existence itself, mirrored in the life of the actor on stage:

Be cheerful, sir.
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air;
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud -capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve;
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

But I think John would be best remembered -and would love to be remembered- by the lines in the "Epilogue" to the Tempest -often seen as Shakespeare's own farewell to the theatre- in which the character Prospero asks the audience to clap their hands in order to fill the sails of the ship that he, Prospero, plans to sail back home to Naples

Now my charms are all o'erthrown
And what strength I have's mine own,
Which is most faint. Now 'tis true
I must be here, confined by you
Or sent to Naples. Let me not,
Since I have my dukedom got,
And pardoned the deceiver, dwell
In this bare island by your spell
But release me from my bands
With the help of your good hands.
Gentle breath of yours my sails
Must fill, or else my project fails,
Which was to please.

John pleased so many of us, and his contributions to our classes and our lives will be sorely missed
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Date:August 27th, 2009 03:05 pm (UTC)
Vale John. You must have been into my iPod today because out of so many thousands of songs your beloved Hallejuh came on not long after I found out. I hope you greeted your Lord of Song with a Hallelujah upon your tongue.
Date:August 30th, 2009 04:13 am (UTC)


I will deeply miss John Van Gulick. The conversations I had with this man were of the deepest nature. I had no doubt that this man had the intelligence of a Professor in the area of literature. I remember those nights on the train where would delve deeply into the realms of William Blake sharing our insights and being in a heightened state of awareness due to the profound nature of our lectures and tutorials with Professor Michael Griffith. We both lived through those afternoon's and evenings contemplating the creativity and wisdom of the master himself William Blake.

Well, John is with Blake and Shakespeare now, conversing about the angels and the demons, God and Jesus, love and truth, prophecy and fallacy. He is looking over all the people he loved also.

I am currently undertaking my internship at Liverpool All Saints Catholic School. Interestingly but not surprisingly on Refeflection day last Wednesday I saw and felt his presence in the Performance hall while theological talks took place. I know that this was also another passion of John's. I saw him happy and pleased with my progress and work. I started to become very emotional, so he left. I think now he understands me even better when I used to say that there is very little difference between the earthly and spiritual spheres.

It's like to me that he is not gone at all. I have to admit though I have not mourned his physical loss yet. I think that will take place at the end of my internship. Thankyou Michael for extending his life for I know without a shadow of a doubt you were his spiritual father and added many years to his life. You were the person who in the end granted his life meaning and depth. Your love!

I have placed a link to his incredible work in live journal to my fascebook along with a tribute post, so hopefullp people can spend some time embellished in his incredible insights and creativity.

You are very unique and talented John. God granted you sublime gifts and intelligence.

Date:August 30th, 2009 04:19 am (UTC)


The above post entitled 'AN AMAZING SPIRIT' - JOHN VAN GULICK was written by his friend Marc De Laconzi. In all the emotion of writing that post I forgot to sign my name.

Love you John. Forever in my heart. We will talk amongst the spirits. You are always communicative and vibrant!
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Date:August 31st, 2009 09:30 am (UTC)
Thanks for the call MG, and for that lovely tribute. We are all such stuff as dreams are made on.
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Date:September 6th, 2009 02:43 am (UTC)
Hi Michael,

My very deepest apologies for missing John Van Gulick's service yesterday.
Unfortunately I do not have the internet at home, so the only chance I have to check my email is on Sunday's when I come down to ACU regularly. The internship is so hectic I do not get a chance to check emails nor would I think they would like it much if I did.

Again deeply sorry to have missed this service. I feel very guilty but I'm sure John knows my predicament. I feel his spirit in great peace. In fact he has taken on the role of being one of my guides. I have received such powerful communications from him this week. He was very happy! I now understand why.


P.S. I hope I am forgiven and will definitely be dropping bye to talk to you after my internship in 4 weeks.
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Date:September 6th, 2009 10:20 am (UTC)
Thanks Mark- I look forward to your visit...
Date:September 7th, 2009 03:05 am (UTC)
thank you micheal and everyone at acu for a beautiful service, all his family greetly appriciate everything everyone has done. We are going to miss john so much just as everyone who knew john will he cannot be replaced. It was good to hear about what john had been up to these last few years, and to know he had great friends who had so much respect for him. I will allways love my uncle john and will miss him so much, even though it feels like a piece of me is gone forever, it makes me feel so much better that he had many great friends and he was in a good place. Thankyou again the things you people have done for john were so good i cant find words to thankyou enough It is going to take a long time for the tears to stop flowing, but i think john would perfer us to think of the good happy times when we were smiling and laughing together I will love you and miss you forever my uncle john
Date:September 13th, 2009 01:51 pm (UTC)

for john

good bye john from old friends Ricky and Kerrie.we who with teeth and nail cling on to this weird world as it spins ever harder trying to throw us to the fool's floor - and down we go breaking apart in the dust like a doll rag - my old freind john crashed many a time and even in the down down he was never so down that there was never some up - he gave me lessons in music and literaiture and so many things that shaped me for the greater good. Thanks john for all those things and much more from your teenage friend ricky howell peace and love.
Date:December 2nd, 2009 01:06 am (UTC)

my brother john

firstly,i would like to thank Michael for the wonderful piece above and for this page. Also,for everything you did for John.Tnanks too,to Peter,Colleen,Maria,Brother Jude,Father Jack,Wendy and everybody else at the university for everything you did for him and for us. we will be forever grateful.it means so much that he had such good and inspiring people in his life.you gave him amazing things and knowledge and i'm sure that his spirit will always remain there on the campus where he found so much joy.I have not been able to do this sooner as i don't have a computer and have been grief-stricken.For this i apologise. The passing of John has left a huge hole in all our lives. We are bereft. Here is a poem that John wrote for his friend Peter Gibbs in 1994. John was in Canning Vale Prison at the time.
Date:December 2nd, 2009 01:32 am (UTC)

To Peter Gibbs 1994

The sun may be clouded yet ever the sun, will sweep on its course till its cycle is run
And when into chaos the system is hurled,again shall the builder reshape a new world
Your path may be clouded, uncertain your goal,move on for your orbit is fixed to your soul
And though it may lead into darkness of night,the torch of the builder shall give it new light
You were,you will be, know this while you are
your spirit has travelled both long and afar
It came from the source, to the source it returns,
The spark once ignited eternally burns
It slept in a jewel,it leapt in a wave,it roamed through the forest and rose from the grave
It took on strange forms for aeons of years
And now in the soul of yourself it appears
From body to body your spirit speeds on, to seek a new form when the old has gone
And the form that it finds is the fabric you wrought
On the loom of the mind,from the fibre of thought
As dew is drawn upward in rain to descend, thought drifts into destiny's blend
You cannot escape then, for petty or great, evil or noble, the fashion, your fate
Somewhere on some planet, sometime and somehow
Your life will reflect your thought of your now
Date:December 9th, 2009 12:36 am (UTC)


i have to apologize for a serious mistake i posted last week.the poem john wrote in 1994 from canning vale was for his friend Peter Hobbs. not Gibbs. so sorry Peter and Mia.

Date:December 26th, 2009 09:19 am (UTC)

Re: john

Thank you flora,

I am very touched.
To all John's new friends, thank you for encouraging and nurturing this amazing man- its wonderful to know that this special talent that was so evident in him as a young man found a voice.
He was my special friend, and during the 90's, he spent a lot of time with me and my young family who adored him.
He was truly one of a kind.
Date:December 9th, 2009 12:38 am (UTC)


i have to apologize for a serious mistake i posted last week.the poem john wrote in 1994 from canning vale was for his friend Peter Hobbs. not Gibbs. so sorry Peter and Mia.

Date:December 9th, 2009 12:51 am (UTC)

Re: john

another poem from John. this one 2002.

So here now its 2002 according to year
And no cultural history books give reason to cheer
They say this is "end times" + we've all got "dead minds"
Oh but these are the best times,I'm feeling myself shine
And nothing they say matters as none of it is true
Cause baby you just hang on,soon I'll be joining you
We'll meet up in the dream space where everything's forever
Cause real men know to say never say never
So just as rigid belief always stunts evolution
Our troops are on stand-by for growths revolution
Set in efforts to corrupt true words + hearts law
We'll give up our lives to settle the score.
Date:December 9th, 2009 12:59 am (UTC)

another poem

The cello that said hello
creeps up inside,makes you mellow
That's when i think, is it really me?
the problem is in sanity,keeps the lies safe within
But safety is a lie that without we cannot win
Such delight when people meet
To cross another path
And receive whats perceived as signals
from an ancient past.
Date:December 14th, 2009 01:36 am (UTC)
hi michael i would like to thank you and everyone at acu for everything yous have done for my brother john i know john was happy an doing well and i thank you all for inriching his life in so many ways i will miss john so much as i think of him every day an feel his presence in many ways cause my brothers spirit is here to stay wathing over me every day till we meet again ya little bro
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