I’m not really a fan of talking about myself on this blog, but given the current circumstances (see below), I feel I should.
For those wondering, my name is Dion Detterer, and I’m a 35 year old PhD candidate researching in the field of computational biology. (I also have muscular dystrophy, though that doesn’t define me as much as give me “added character”.) I love science, computers and (funnily enough) Star Wars.
I first saw Star Wars: A New Hope back in ’82 at a re-release at the Roxy in Parramatta—it was a grand old theatre, and there was something transformative about that whole experience. On some deep level, Star Wars speaks to the greater mysteries of life.
When I was about 20, I started reading The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell, which was introduced to me through my love of Star Wars. Campbell’s work shook me up, and my thinking on life, the universe and everything was altered. I actually had the chance to discuss the Campbellian roots of Star Wars with Ahmed Best when, in 2003, I was fortunate enough to visit the set of Episode III.
Two months later, I suffered a brain haemorrhage, which left me bedridden for four years. I took that time to further read and study Campbell, Carl Jung, Heinrich Zimmer and others. I cannot emphasise this enough: Star Wars, and the ideas underpinning it, kept me sane while I was in a bed in a room for four years. The only time I left the house was once, in 2005 on a makeshift bed, to see Revenge of the Sith.
In 2007, when I got my new wheelchair, I had a thirst for adventure like nothing before. I always kept Campbell’s advice in the back of my mind, that trepidation is often the unconscious calling the individual towards growth. I didn’t shy away from life—I embraced it. Do or do not—there is no try, to quote someone small, green and wise.
The first great step into the unknown is always a doozy, and it requires faith. No matter your religious beliefs (or lack thereof), stepping far outside your comfort zone is a leap of faith, almost by definition. You want to see the Force in action? It’s right there.
So I “used the Force”, re-enrolled in my computer science degree, and barrelled on through to my PhD, where I’m now trying to unravel some of the mysteries of life itself. And the most amazing thing happened along the way, when I met my fiancée, Estella, who shares a love of Campbell and who has been tremendously supportive as I blather on about my research.
But I guess the road to adventure has its speed-humps. Unfortunately the van I use to get out started breaking down in hot weather a few years ago; we eventually got it fixed, but now it’s breaking down again, worse than ever, and it seems there’s no permanent solution. In short, I need a new van if I want to get out again safely (especially to see Episode VII! …and, you know, to attend my own wedding as well).
The new van is not an inexpensive endeavour, and it’s one we can’t afford on our own.
How you can help
Like Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon, I need a mode of transport with “a lot of special modifications”. So, I’ve set up a GoFundMe page to help with raising funds for the new van and its various mods.
If you’d like to help, visit the page. We’re slowly reaching our target figure, but it’s still a long way off. We’re also in the early stages of planning a Star Wars-themed fundraising event, so if you’re in the Sydney area and you’d like to participate, drop me a line.
Really, if you can help in any way, large or small, financially or otherwise, it’d be appreciated. I’m really looking forward to getting back on the road.