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August 20: Jean-Paul Aron and the Humanizing of AIDS

August 19, 2015

7649_128232582316On this date in 1988, French philosopher, writer, and self-described “dandy” Jean-Paul Aron became one of the first well-known people in France to die of AIDS, with public acknowledgment. Aron was the author of Les Modernes, a 1984 memoir in which he described fifty-four episodes in his life as exemplars of French cultural history between 1945 and 1984. He was also a frequent contributor to Le Matin and Le Monde, and a playwright. ”The silence about this illness must be broken,” Aron said in a groundbreaking television interview about his disease. “The intellectual, whose duty is to truth, can recount better than others the great stakes for society that surround this illness.” Aron was a close friend of Michel Foucault, another philosopher who fell to AIDS, until the two broke up in the 1950s in a jealous squabble over a lover.

“If fashion didn’t change, there wouldn’t be life anymore” —Jean-Paul Aron