Sunday 5 March 2023

Vale Ken Mogg - Ken's close friend Inge Pruk's tribute delivered at the funeral.

Editor's Note: There have been two earlier tributes to Ken Mogg published recently. You can find the tributes by Peter Tammer  and by Freda Freiberg & Michael Campi if you click on the names. Thanks to Gordon Dunlop who passed me a copy of this tribute by Inge. Sorry about the repeat of the photo which shows Peter, Inge and Ken but its all I've come across. If you type Ken's name into the blog search engine (top left where the letter "b" is showing) you should find links to a host of original pieces that he wrote about Hitchcock's films and much more.

Ken’s Eulogy


First of all I would like to issue a number of apologies. Barbara Creed, Peter Tammer, Miles Izzo and Craig Arthur have all said they are sorry they could not be here today.


My name is Inge Pruks.

I have known Ken since Monash University days, which is 60 years ago.

I suppose I should have something sensible to say about Ken after all these years, but as with all of us, Ken was a complex human being and difficult to sum up in just a few words. Each of us will have their own idea of Ken.

Ken lived like a hermit. But that did not mean he was anti-social, far from it. He had many overseas correspondents with whom he would exchange regular emails, and they were not always related to Hitchcock. Like the old Monash friend in England who would talk about his poetry collections and ask for Ken for his advice. Or the girl in the US, who wrote fiction and would ask Ken to buy her self-published booklets to see her through some hard times.

 There were the many Hitchcock scholars and aficionados who corresponded regularly. He had friends in the United States, Hungary, Syria, England, New Zealand, and France. Besides emails, they would also exchange copies of rare DVD’s which they could not find in their own country. Ken would worry when there was a long silence, and would rejoice when they emailed him, and the conversation would start again. He would get up at odd times of the night to check his emails, according to the world clock times of when people got up around the globe. That was Ken’s virtual world.


But his real world friends here in Melbourne were important to him as well. His spirits would lift when he could look forward to going out and sharing a meal with a dear friend. Or even just a coffee. Or an unexpected phone call from someone who hadn’t been in touch for a while. Or plan a trip to Kyneton to see a good friend. He would enjoy his regular Grow meetings every week and would come back re-energised. For a hermit, he was very sociable indeed.


Ken was generous, with his money, with his resources and his time. He was happy to make copies of films for his friends, or photocopy articles and mail them out. Friends would often ask him to read over manuscripts of all kinds, and Ken would give his full attention to the editing task. He would spend time verifying the smallest details. Overseas students might contact him too, and Ken would spend a lot of time answering their questions. With money, he thought nothing of helping a friend overseas, paying for a cat’s dental work. Only yesterday I received an email from this friend who still has his cat Bootsie: It is her birthday on Tuesday.  She will be 17.  She is only still here because of Ken's kindness - paying for the removal of her rotten teeth which were slowly poisoning her.   Ken would regularly contribute to worthy causes, such as the Lort Smith Animal Hospital, the RSPCA, the Leprosy Mission, and Box Hill Hospital.


Ken was very intelligent, a true wordsmith, and ready to cope with the new technology. He was one of the first to set up a regular online blog more than 15 years ago. He had originally created a paper publication called The MacGuffin, which he typed up himself. You could buy a subscription and he would mail it out to you. But he could see that he’d reach a far wider audience if he went online, so he set up his blog, which he wrote up every Sunday night. Furthermore, he told me he had originally set up the blog under the auspices of Mensa, because that way he could get the blog for free. So Ken must have sat through the difficult Mensa IQ test to be able to access their services. But he never bragged about that, he was always more interested in ideas.


His passion for Hitchcock is of course legendary. But he did tell me once that it had been a toss-up between Renoir and Hitch. I suppose he could see that the language barrier might hamper him eventually as Ken did not speak French, so Hitchcock won the day.


Ken gave his whole life to Hitchcock. He ferreted out what were Hitch’s favourite foods, which paintings were hanging on his walls, his favourite reading matter, -- (it appears he had a complete set of Dickens, and as Ken did his Hons English thesis on Dickens I guess he felt an affinity),  what music the Master liked, and what were his favourite movies. In 1977 it was ‘Smokey and the Bandit’, so of course Ken recorded it and watched it, trying to get into the skin of Hitchcock, to see what made him tick.


Whatever Ken touched, it had to have a Hitchcock connection. This extended to movies, photos, paintings, short stories, and obscure actors and actresses who may or may not have been screen tested for a part.  Sometimes a film NOT made by Hitchcock would be more interesting than those he had made, as was the case for Mary Rose, a play by JM Barrie of Peter Pan fame. Thus it was that Ken would then embark on a study of JM Barrie.

Ken was very kind to animals and birds, feeding magpies, rescuing crows and a stray cat would always be welcome at Ken’s place. At one stage he had 3 cats, Kitty, Smiler and his favourite, Stalker. Like the pied piper, Ken would go for midnight walks around the block, with his 3 cats following him. He was able to shift the 3 cats quite easily when he moved from East Melbourne to Box Hill North, but Ken himself missed the inner city, where he could walk anywhere or easily catch a tram. Box Hill North seemed a bit more remote and isolated. Ken’s life changed quite a bit after that move.

Ken was a strict vegetarian, although he did eat fish. He would be rather annoyed with his online order if they sent him tuna instead of salmon, because he was ideologically against the way tuna is farmed. I remember certain telephone calls when Ken would be literally weeping because he’d heard that an elephant or a bear was being tortured and in chains. He never wept for human beings, no matter how badly they were being treated. His Buddhism had taught him to not feel too emotionally attached to human beings. And I guess that was a lesson that helped him get through life.


Ken would be immovable whenever he took a position on anything, whether it be on film or on life. His routine was unusual, to say the least, eating his evening meal at midnight, and napping during the day. And his stance on linking Schopenhauer to Hitchcock would never waver. His thick Schopenhauer volumes are neatly annotated with exclamation marks and thin vertical pencil lines. Others would groan when he tried to show how a Hitchcock movie exhibited elements of Schopenhauer. But Ken would be undeterred. He’d just open the next thick volume of Will and Representation and continue his search for the ideal quote.


Ken did become more isolated during the Covid years. For various practical rather than ideological reasons, Ken did not get vaccinated. So he spent almost 3 years completely isolated at home, on his own. He felt that his lungs were so compromised that he could not afford to get Covid, so he avoided going out.  He ordered everything online, but this also meant that he missed urgent medical appointments and so life slowly became more difficult for him.


Ken’s knowledge of the cinema was encyclopaedic. The same goes for his knowledge of cricket, which I haven’t even touched on. Even outside of the Hitchcock arena Ken was a mine of information. He was an innovator in the field of blogs, and always stood firm for what he believed in.


He was a good friend. And I will miss him very much.

It was a privilege to have known him.

Thank you. 

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