Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Remembering Hitch



Christopher Hitchens loved his booze and cigarettes.  He felt that it gave him an edge when it came to writing copy.  Charlie Rose had Salman Rushdie, Martin Amis, Ian McEwan and James Fenton on the other night discussing this and other aspects of Hitch's life.   They all spoke very warmly of him, especially Amis, who was one of his dearest friends.  Hitch apparently liked to tease him in saying that they had an unconsummated gay marriage.  Fenton noted Hitch's incorrigible "flirting" and the way he liked to entertain opposing views.  His Washington parties would have persons from across the political spectrum.  He loved being in the thick of things, among those who shaped policies, but at the same time would fly over at a moment's notice to be with one of his friends when he needed him.  Rushdie noted that Hitch stood by him throughout the fatwa ordeal and defended him against Le Carre when the two of them had their big row.  They all said he made a big mistake in supporting the Iraq War, although they didn't get much into his so-called "power of facing," and how he tried to link his "awakening" with that of Orwell.   But, in the end he redeemed himself and became the darling of the liberal media once again.  Of course when he writes articles like this one on self-improvement, how can you resist?

8 comments:

  1. I still want to read Hitch. Even though I disagreed with him often, I like someone who can intelligently argue a point of view. He had more wit than the entire Bush administration's half wits combined.

    I often wondered where that photo of him came from. I took it to be one more sign of his complete unashamed arrogance. But it looks like it's that and his wicked sense of humor. That series looks great -- will definitely read. The photos alone are amazing!

    ReplyDelete
  2. He's one of those guys I can only take in small doses. He had a strong intellect but his arrogance often ruined it, as far as I was concerned. Comparing himself to Orwell over the Iraq War was complete balderdash! Orwell actually fought in the Spanish Civil War, not to mention they took diametric opposite positions.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I just read that series on self improvement. I laughed so hard in places, I was crying. Weird to read it now, too, knowing what we know and he doesn't.

    He was a brilliant man who sometimes took opposing points of view just out of boredom -- see his comment about arguing about smoking. His support of the war was inexplicable, but then he wasn't exactly predictable on any front. Who knows what went on in that crazy head of his.

    ReplyDelete
  4. At first I thought he just wanted to be contrary, but then he came out with that book, "Why Orwell Matters?" which indicated he really seemed to think he had an inside track on this one.

    Amis also commented on Hitch's atheism. He said it seemed a bit over the top, especially since he argued so vociferously against the absolutism of the Church. He felt agnosticism was a better position to take as atheism appears to connote you know something no one else does and given the expansive nature of universe, well that's a bit arrogant.

    But, they all felt that being arrogant was a major part of his personality, and without he wouldn't have been the figure he was.

    ReplyDelete
  5. It is sort of weird to open this site and see Hitchens in his bathroom .... Definitely provocative even in death.

    As for his arrogance, I think he showed his Achilles heel when he bought into the anti-Islamist propaganda after 9/11. As an atheist myself, I can understand his dismissal of religious zealots of all stripes, but I think he was sold a bill of goods.

    I heard him later talking about Saddam's attacks on his own people, etc., but that's not what motivated the invasion and occupation of Iraq and he must have -- or at least should have -- known that. He was a very smart man.

    I've become quite the fan of the new Bill Moyer's show who last week featured Paul Volker who wasn't half bad, I have to admit, but Carne Ross was amazing. He certainly saw through the rush to war from Britain's side. Why Hitchens didn't (or refused to acknowledge it) is a real mystery.

    ReplyDelete
  6. He loved an argument. I think this is one motivated him. The atheism, as you say, is more a reaction to the Catholic Church and religious zealots that attempt to sway politics. I figured this was more a position than a belief on his part as well. He wrote some highly provocative articles and books on the subject, more akin to Thomas Paine, with whom I imagine he shared an affinity with, than George Orwell.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Some of my time should be freeing up soon, so I'll try to pick up a copy of his essays. Some or most of them are probably available online. Maybe we can read a couple.

    ReplyDelete
  8. It would be fun. There are his memoirs, Hitch-22,

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/02/books/02book.html

    ReplyDelete