The quest for deciphering the purpose of life was not lost on Joseph Michael Di Marius, who died last week at the age of 90. An avid adherent to the Kierkegaardian model of Christian existentialist philosophy, Di Marius was prone to standing on the edges of cliffs and tall buildings, inducing a sense of smallness and disorientation. He would ponder the fear and anxiety that would rise within him and the fact that his free will could easily lead him to throw himself off the side, but for his faith in a God that he could neither see, nor touch, yet whose presence he was ever-aware of in his life all the same. He sought meaning in everything and found it in nothing, save for his unwavering understanding that he was the creation of a Creator and that the only true meaning of anything would be revealed to him only after his time in this world was over.
Born Giuseppe Michele Caracciola, October 2, 1980 in Brooklyn, NY, Di Marius was keenly aware of his status as a pilgrim passing through this world from an early age. At once deeply in tune with his surroundings and obstinate in his opposition to the boorish status quo of Italian-American family life, he began planning his path out of mediocre tedium at the early age of 9. By the time he was in sixth grade, he was sending away for college brochures. His first course of action upon entering high school was to visit with a guidance counselor to see how he might go about graduating in three years. He spent his high school years writing and playing music, excelling in Music Theory and Creative Writing. At 17 he left New York to attend college in Arizona where he found a world not dissimilar from the imaginative conjurings that had consumed his every waking thought for years prior. He became politically active, began writing for the school newspaper and started to lay a foundation for the radical Catholic anarchist that he would become.
The ensuing years would bring about a veritable cavalcade of travels and encounters including a very brief stint in the Air Force, studies at five different colleges, a variety of careers and residencies in ten states. Upon completion of his Bachelor’s degree, he married his best friend Jessica and they each embarked upon graduate studies at Fordham University. It was due largely in part to their mutual Jesuit academic formation that they chose to leave behind six-figure careers in San Francisco to minimalize their lives and radically buck the trend of American materialistic consumerism. They made it their mission to reduce their earthly possessions to only what could fit in one plastic bin per person. Upon completion of their Master’s degrees, they moved into a “tiny house” near the Red Lake Indian Reservation in north-central Minnesota where Di Marius worked as a social worker, specializing in youth counseling and Jessica taught high school philosophy. Di Marius wrote heavily during this period and eventually published two books; a memoir entitled There’s Nothing More to Say: Conjectures of a Militant Pacifist and a best-selling novel entitled Dream House of Our Demise, which was translated into 14 languages and remains the single highest selling work of fiction in Denmark.
They would eventually relocate to Orcas Island, in remote northwestern Washington state where together they managed a bed and breakfast during tourist season. They spent the winter months in a small cottage on the island of Foula, in Scotland’s Shetland Island archipelago. Di Marius continued writing in his advanced years, though after the publication of his two books, he became reclusive and refused to submit any of his work for further publishing. Having majored in History, he was asked by a number of publishing houses to consider writing an historical account of the downfall of disgraced American president Donald Trump and how the United Nations temporarily lifted their moratorium on administering the death penalty in order to implement the verdict of Trump’s conviction for crimes against humanity, which carried with it a sentence of death by urine-boarding at The Hague. Di Marius declined, offering only a short response via email which stated: It would be best if the world simply forgot about the mere existence of such a charade of a man; he isn’t worth my time or effort.
Di Marius is survived by his wife Jessica, 87, their adopted daughter Amelie-Maëlys, 46 and their cat, Cat III, age unknown. His headstone reads: If You Can Read This, You’re Wasting Your Time; I’m Not Here, And Neither Are You.