RIP Christopher Hitchens

The English language took a terrible blow today when it lost its finest practitioner. There haven’t been many like Christoper Hitchens – even across centuries – who, during a journey from working class to Oxford to Trotskyite to American to war supporter, enriched the body of liberal and secular literature and thought with unique and eloquent passion. With words.

In the Times obit, he is quoted thusly:

“I personally want to ‘do’ death in the active and not the passive,” he wrote, “and to be there to look it in the eye and be doing something when it comes for me.”

And there he articulates what I’ve always hoped for myself, but haven’t been able to articulate. I hear others say they want to die quickly, perhaps in sleep, ‘suddenly’ (as we say when it’s unexpected).

Not me. I want to know, I want to ponder but mostly I want to experience it and say goodbye to my world, my life. Like Hitchens.

17 responses to “RIP Christopher Hitchens

  1. I hope you don’t say goodbye anytime soon. I’d miss you.

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    • Well Jon, Gramma was 104, Gramps was 89, Mom was 96 and Dad was 98. Which presents its own problems as I can’t possibly afford to live that long!

      But awww, thanks.

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  2. This is completely sad. The world has lost an important man.

    : /

    Thank you for blogging this or I might not have known so soon.

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  3. I like his attitude toward his end, but I’m afraid I want to go in a medicated stupor, as I could not bear to part with so much I hold dear, particularly not knowing what, if anything at all, awaits me.

    In that way I am much different from Hitchens or another great thinker and unbelliever, David Hume. I urge you to read the account of Adam Smith–yes, that Adam Smith–upon the death of Hume: http://www.ourcivilisation.com/smartboard/shop/smitha/humedead.htm

    I hope Hitchens had his Adam Smith.

    Duane

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    • Wow. Just read it. Would that we all might maintain such dignity as Hume. As for our own adieus, given our preferences, I will assume you shall have a long, loving and gentle farewell, and I will be hit by a truck.

      God laughs.

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  4. We are fortunate that we have his body of work as a reminder of his gifts and his gifts to us.

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  5. I have mixed feelings re Hitchens: the brilliant and fearless iconoclast vs the blood-soaked cheerleader for the invasion of Iraq, the powerful intellect who would thuggishly hurl personal insults during debates, the crusading rationalist who smoked and drank himself to death. At the same time, “The Trial of Henry Kissinger” had a greater positive effect on me than almost any other work.

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  6. I loved Hitchens and will miss his sharp wit and cynicism, despite any disagreements I had with him.

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  7. I admired his honesty. Sometimes I think he pushed it to the point of needless cruelty though. You don’t have to lie, but don’t always make a point of painful truth after someone’s died. I think he did the latter a lot. Check out some of the videos at the Daily Dish.

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    • Just saw that Sullivan has endorsed Ron Paul. I can understand being attracted to his candor and consistency, but endorsing seems to be stepping through the looking glass.

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  8. Well, take it as who he endorses AMONG REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES (at those currently announced) and he kind of says I like Huntsman more really, but he has less chance than Paul actually. So I’m going with Paul. In the general election he likely will endorse Obama. He still say many nice things about Barack.

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  9. Hitchens is a confusing mix. It’s hard not to think he was a very talented guy who just, plain SOLD OUT.
    See: http://www.salon.com/2011/12/17/christohper_hitchens_and_the_protocol_for_public_figure_deaths/singleton/

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  10. The man was for the Iraq War and even some of the religious people who he had the most ferocious battles with, had good things to say about him when he passed away.

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