Friday, August 27, 2010
For Christopher Hitchens--
It's very odd how someone you've never met can reach you through their printed words--that is an especial gift Christopher Hitchens has, that he can so eloquently assert his thoughts in words, that those who disagree with him, who argue with him, who at times wonder exactly what he's on about before it becomes too clear, find themselves standing back in astonishment or at least admiration that someone can duke it out in the arena of ideas and cooly sometimes turn the blunt force argument aside with elegance, or boldly, lay bare an ugly truth with the moral force of sweet reason.
I have not agreed with Hitchens on the Iraq war, nor am I entirely sold on the idea that religion is the source of so much of the heartbreak and tragedy of our human condition, the separations and persecutions that exist between people, so much as it is a tool that something sicker in our human nature just conveniently uses.
But that I can sit here with his voice in my head, like a virtual Hitch created by reading so many of his books and essays, is a testimony of the power of his mastery of the written word. And as I sit here sopping up bourbon and pouring out my witness on my dumb blog where I express my political conscience against repression, oppression, stupidity, religious nonsense, and all that, I have to acknowledge that Christopher Hitchens has been a great example of "How to".
"How to" boldly express oneself. How to not argue from bullshit but from knowledge. How to come to terms with the reality that man's real dealing must be with men, and the reminder that Orwell, Paine, and literature are important, while ego, preconceptions, and the little cults of personality of douchebags need to be exposed and lampooned. There are no saints. There are only people who are opppresed, and people who might be of some use. He is a man of exceptional utility. When he puts words into service they can move. And they moved me.
He better not die. I had Charles Bukowski, Bill Hicks, and I don't know how many other of my heroes die before I got them to at least sign something for me. I'll be pretty bummed if I never got him to sign the copy of Letters to a Young Contrarian that gave me insight into how to be a better agitator, with prose which inspires me to want to be a better writer.
But then again, as a man of letters and a person who truly lives in his words, he already has given us such a great deal of himself. I admire him greatly, and believe that if anyone is capable of kicking cancer's ass, it would be him. And I really wish him well, and long life--because the job of telling the truth as well as he so often has still needs capable people. And who, really, has shown his eloquent, elegant, right-on, balls-out, dead on, humorous, biting, beautiful capacity?