Cary Lu

Larry Benowitz[hidden]@A1.TCH.HARVARD.EDU

I was fortunate to know Cary for 25 years, going back to our days as graduate students at Caltech. Two traits that were to remain so characteristic of Cary were clear from the outset: an extraordinary intellect and an equally extraordinary sense of independence. My first memory of Cary is from the time he was a teaching assistant for a course in which I wrote what I thought was a terrific paper on visual perception. I was humbled by some of the comments he made in grading it, but was relieved somewhat when I learned that visual perception was more than a passing interest of his. Cary will be remembered at Caltech as the first graduate student asked to give one of the prestigious Beckman lectures, which was a wonderfully entertaining and informative talk that used well known works of art to illustrate principles of visual perception and visual disorders. This lecture became a smashing success nationally, and at Caltech, Cary was called back for several command performances in later years. At the same time, Cary completely ignored all advice from his advisor and co-advisor, two nationally esteemed scientists, and went about doing the things that interested him most. As most of us went on to do postgraduate work, it was clear to Cary that he was going to make his mark some other way. He began making educational films, starting with a project on nematode worms for a faculty member at Caltech, then went on to make other educational films. This led to a job with educational TV and a move to Boston at about the same time I ended up there. By now, Cary had become an excellent Chinese chef (his Peking ravioli was particularly impressive), an authority on classical music (his collection was bigger than mine), and of course, a whiz in film-making and the emerging technology of personal computers. Getting together with him was a little like "My Dinner with André", a film I never saw, but which my wife tells me has a character leading a rather predictable life (i.e., me) and one who is traveling all over the world, meeting luminaries, breaking new ground, and attending every major cultural event (i.e., Cary). Years afterwards, when Cary had moved to Seattle and returned to Boston on a visit, my then 13 year old son was impressed that his father knew someone as famous as Cary Lu. The two of them established a friendship that lasted several years through emails, visits to MacWorld, and discussions of draft chapters of Cary's book. In spite of Cary's seemingly no-nonsense exterior, he was wonderfully warm and devoted to people, most of all to his family. I had an enormous respect for his indomitable spirit, wonderfully clear mind, and humanism. He will be missed greatly.