MICHAEL GLAWOGGER was my friend. I find myself encumbered with questions that I would like to ask him.

Michael, why did you make so few movies? Is your meticulous achievement its own explanation, or could you not get the resources to do more than you did? While you lived, I never thought to ask this, because why wouldn’t you make more movies? Why would you or I ever die?

(Michael, should I envy you? You escaped old age and died while you were working on what you wished.)

But what would you have done had you lived to a hundred? Do you feel that you accomplished enough? Megacities (1998) and Workingman’s Death (2005) are great works of art. They convey humanitas and diversity. A hundred years from now and more, if there are still people, people will be watching them, I hope. But what is your “message,” Michael? Perhaps your movies are so effective because you never had one and wished simply to show us how we are. I never asked you any such question, because it would have annoyed you. I suppose you would have said that the message didn’t matter unless I could see it.

Michael, you had a light and graceful way with people, but did people make you happy? Your movies are not.

Michael, what should I do now? Did you ever learn any more than I did how to help our brothers and sisters on this beautiful, miserable world?

William T. Vollmann is a writer and journalist based in California.