Arthur Selig Hack, 86, of New Paltz, NY, passed away Thursday, May 14, 2020. He was born March 6, 1934 in Brooklyn, NY, son of the late Harry and Gertrude Hack.
Arthur was an English Professor at SUNY New Paltz for almost 40 years and loved teaching at all levels. He was passionate about literature, philosophy, the metaphysical foundations of Einstein's theories, and loved to engage in vigorous discussions thereof. Arthur enjoyed making people laugh and had the ability to inject levity into almost any situation. Anybody who met him will undoubtedly remember his unique sense of humor.
Arthur is survived by his brother, Martin Hack of Queens, NY, children, Julie Hack Buckler of Woodstock, NY, Paul Hack of Portland, OR and grandchildren Emma, Sarah, and Samuel Buckler of Woodstock, NY.
Arrangements entrusted to Keyser Funeral & Cremation Service, Kingston, NY. A tribute for Arthur can be found at www.KeyserFuneralService.com, where you may leave memories and expressions of sympathy for his family.
Getting to know Arthur was what graduate school should be about. Engaging, intelligent , animated, and encouraging both inside the classroom and out. (Oh, that office! ) I looked forward to seeing him around town, and I will always cherish his kind words and having had the honor to know such a rare spirit. New Paltz is the poorer for his having left us. My sincerest condolences to the family,
When Arthur Hack was recommended to the Department, the Director of English at Indiana University declared that Arthur was the most brilliant of any student he had ever known. He proved to be right. Moreover, Arthur was a natural comedian who made our English Department so much more pleasant (at least bearable) and often hilarious! We remember so many enjoyable conversations with him concerning our roots in the same neighborhood of Brooklyn, philosophy, Freud vs. Jung, , the Romantics, and music--especially Mendelssohn!
Rest In Peace, Arthur.
Our sincere sympathy and condolences to his family, Tony and Karen Cinquemani
Ode on a Grecian Urn
BY JOHN KEATS
Thou still unravish'd bride of quietness,
Thou foster-child of silence and slow time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fring'd legend haunts about thy shape
Of deities or mortals, or of both,
In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?
Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!
Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;
And, happy melodist, unwearied,
For ever piping songs for ever new;
More happy love! more happy, happy love!
For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd,
For ever panting, and for ever young;
All breathing human passion far above,
That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy'd,
A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.
Who are these coming to the sacrifice?
To what green altar, O mysterious priest,
Lead'st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,
And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?
What little town by river or sea shore,
Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,
Is emptied of this folk, this pious morn?
And, little town, thy streets for evermore
Will silent be; and not a soul to tell
Why thou art desolate, can e'er return.
O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede
Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
With forest branches and the trodden weed;
Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!
When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st,
"Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know
In 1998, I transferred to SUNY New Paltz and declared myself an English Major. Wandering around College Hall, I met a cast of characters, including the inimitable Arthur Hack and his anarchist confidante Abigail Robin. Before I knew it, I was swept up in their political banter, avante garde sensibilities, and self effacing humor. Later, I’d be in Professor Hack’s English Lit 3 class, study the best words in their best order by some of the best poets, and laugh at his absurdist jokes in between moments of existential and critical inquiry. Only Hack could weave the seemingly wild, senseless, and modern into the sublime from another time; words which could easily have seemed too archaic to the naïve or arrogant student. But he knew how to get your attention and keep it. If you could sort through the shtick (pieces of chalk flying through the air or an occasional loafer; he did physical comedy, too), the insights you’d glean from Arthur Hack were well worth the wait. He always had time for those lingering after class with earnest questions about “The Eve of Saint Agnes” or Prometheus Unbound. Later, as a TA in the MA program, I’d see Hack around the department then newly relocated to JFT. He loved a captive audience in that elevator (though not all the captives felt likewise), or downtown at The Bakery where he often held court. He was unabashedly himself, in all his antics, and anyone around was an inevitable player cast by fate in an improv show. His knowledge of theory and literature, his musings, candor, and humor remain Arthur Hack’s lively legacy, which will endure.
I am sadden to hear of Prof. Hack' passing. He was indeed an icon at SUNY New Paltz and a one of a kind professor. I had Arthur as a professor when studying for my Masters and never had a boring class. His humor was clever and reflective of a unique mind who reminded me of classic comics like Groucho Marx and Alan Alda who played Hawkeye in Mash. He loved his subject of literature and was knowledgable and brillant in his analysis. When writing this piece, I am smiling to myself as I remember Prof. Hack teaching our class from the hallway as he smoked his cigarettes there rather than in the classroom when the campus first initiated the no smoking in the buildings policy. He would pop his head in the open door every now and then from the hallway to punctuate what he was saying from a distance. Unforgetable, thats you! Condolences to his family.
I am so sorry! One of my favorite memories of classes at New Paltz is of Arthur Hack singing arias from Don Giovanni during his lectures on, of course, Don Juan. My sympathies to his family.
Arthur was a brilliant human being with a mind on fire. I’ll always miss our spirited discussions of philosophy, literature, and everything and anything. He was a great professor and friend who has served as a model for me of how to remain human in academia. I wish I could talk with him again; who else could pun on sewing terms for fifteen minutes straight? Thank you, Arthur, for all you were and did and for showing me the beauty and complexity of Romanticism. I’ll sing a worker’s solidarity song in your memory.
After the first time we sat down and discussed Arthur Danto's Transfiguration of the Commonplace, (a mere coincidence of book-on-desk, of course), Arthur Hack was my champion in the English Department. I will always be grateful. He was a free spirit and a wonderfully quirky, creative thinker. Godspeed.
Arthur in his office at SUNY New Paltz.
Arthur ready for a card game.
Arthur was a dear friend and professor. He had a ripping sense of humor and loved to stick up for the underdog. He used to tell strangers of the time when he participated in the great March of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in New York City. He enjoyed great food and could often be found at The Bakery in New Paltz. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. May the Lord keep you, Arthur, in his care now and forever, Amen.
Arthur raising his fist in celebration - UUP retirement party 2007
A friend, a teacher, a mentor. I am so sorry to hear of his passing.
Arthur was a friend and mentor to me in many ways - his zest for life and his sense of rage for time and eagerness for compassion inspired me to live a life connected and present - his willingness to introduce himself to strangers at a restaurant and tell a joke or serenade them was a constant shock and joy, his analysis was humbling and often life changing and his sincerity was a kindness and gift I have never forgotten... his legacy as my professor and my friend and my wise navigator will be eternal as it leads me in my work as an educator today and is paid forward... sleep in peace my friend ! Cheers!!!
I worked with Arthur for many years at SUNY New Paltz. He was an excellent teacher who always put his students first. My sincere sympathy to his whole family. Kathe Kraus, Ph.D., Dean Emeritus, Continuing & Professional Education
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