hopefully i am not yet reaching the age where my heroes start to die off one by one — an era one prays will preceed the one in which one’s peers do likewise by some considerable length of time. when my mother died earlier this year, i was somehow unsurprised to find myself reaching for camus — the loss of a parent could hardly be said to be anything but existential-y after all. in the absence of christopher hitchens however, i can, thankfully, turn to christopher hitchens.
oddly enough, i may very well have been reading the only one of his books that i actually own at the moment he passed. i’ve enjoyed his writing in periodicals and online for years, but only recently saw fit to pay cold hard cash for ink on paper, having picked up the most recent compendium, “arguably,” just last week. i read the better part of “god is not great” just standing in the aisle, transfixed in the barnes and noble like the proverbial choir that loves being preached to, and his hellbent slate posts were regular lunchtime reading. last night however, i was ushered off to sleep by the dulcet tones of hitch excoriating gore vidal for his repeated sins of intellectual lassitude, comparing the critical writings of john updike to The Importance of Being Earnest — for the better part not unfavorably, and considering theism and uh… pretty much anything it touches. plenty has and will be said elsewhere, but it goes without saying that dude would brook no bulls#it and he did so with inimitable panache — cross hunter s. thompson with lord byron. the guy’s freakishly sharp mind, combined with apparently (and reportedly) effortless verbal dexterity, eloquence and passionately held convictions gave voice to impossibly complicated ideas in expressions that could be alternately brutally incisive, sinewy, supple and make his points in a fashion not unlike that of the scotch of which he was unrepentently fond: smooth, complex, possessing of a not-inconsiderable kick and likely to leave one feeling somewhat woozy afterwards.
obviously hitch was in no direct way connected to design or marketing, but whether writing for magazines, the web, books, speeches or debates, he was a communicator of ideas often (usually?) at odds with mainstream conceptions. he remained steadfast and unbending in his insistence upon integrity of intention, unfettered truth at all costs and, even in the face of his own very shuffling off of this mortal coil, determined to shout when necessary, “the emperor has no clothes” as loudly as his voice would carry.