This is a sad post to write. Mark Anthony Jones died of cancer last November, according to a knowledgable friend. My guess is that he was in his mid-30s [update: someone has written to me was closer to 40].
As long-time readers know, Jones, or “Madge,” as we often called him, was my bete-noire for years. He posted here for the first time in this thread, which was one of my favorites for a long time. Until I learned that those erudite comments Jones was posting weren’t written by him, but were copied from articles and other blogs.
When I learned what he was doing, I put up the post that resulted in the most remarkable comment thread I’ve ever seen, anywhere. This set in motion a feud that included Jones writing two separate articles for China Daily attacking The Peking Duck as a “hate site.”
But that was a long time ago. I can never say that I liked Madge. I did at first, until then things got strange. But I certainly didn’t want him to die. When I heard he had cancer last spring, I wished him a speedy recovery, through my friend Lisa.
Madge was obviously intelligent, and I believe he was a good person underneath it all. He simply needed constant attention, and if all eyes weren’t focused on him he seemed to lose control of himself. He sent me literally hundreds of emails, most of which I never answered, and I got the impression that he was kind and compassionate, if self-centered. The ironic thing is that he really was smart, and if he’d directed all that energy to creating instead of copying I have no doubt he could have made a name for himself.
It’s odd. The two people who outed my last name (I used to blog anonymously) both died at an early age of lymphoma a few years later. Madge’s predecessor died in 2006. No, I am not saying this is karma or just retribution or anything else aside from an eerie coincidence. It means nothing at all; people die. It’s just strange, and sad.
I had guessed some months ago that Madge had died. Last June he said he was going into the hospital for treatment of lymphoma and then he vanished – and it was not at all like him to remain silent. I had to conclude the worst, but it was only today that I received confirmation of his passing. I feel nothing but sadness. He wasn’t a bad person, and he was much too young to die.
Post edited at 11:09am.
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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.