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sugarkang 12-16-2011 01:40 AM

RIP Christopher Hitchens
 
Salon with a few words. This appears to be his last article for Vanity Fair.

I'm going to really miss him.

badhatharry 12-16-2011 02:21 AM

Re: RIP Christopher Hitchens
 
so i guess i need to quit saying whatever doesn't kill you makes you strong.

sugarkang 12-16-2011 05:07 AM

Re: RIP Christopher Hitchens
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 234774)
so i guess i need to quit saying whatever doesn't kill you makes you strong.

I had trouble with that part. Clearly, that maxim doesn't apply to Hitch's chemotherapy example; to that extent, I agree with him. But I don't think it's supposed to. I interpret that quote as being ancillary to "profound suffering makes one noble."

miceelf 12-16-2011 06:12 AM

Re: RIP Christopher Hitchens
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by sugarkang (Post 234773)
Salon with a few words. This appears to be his last article for Vanity Fair.

I'm going to really miss him.

That's really too bad.

badhatharry 12-16-2011 10:37 AM

Re: RIP Christopher Hitchens
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by sugarkang (Post 234777)
I had trouble with that part. Clearly, that maxim doesn't apply to Hitch's chemotherapy example; to that extent, I agree with him. But I don't think it's supposed to. I interpret that quote as being ancillary to "profound suffering makes one noble."

I think there's also something about being wiser if you've been able to withstand suffering. It's like some kind of payoff which makes the whole thing worthwhile.

miceelf 12-16-2011 10:54 AM

Re: RIP Christopher Hitchens
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 234789)
I think there's also something about being wiser if you've been able to withstand suffering. It's like some kind of payoff which makes the whole thing worthwhile.

Unfortunately, one is never able to fully collect on this. In this life, anyway.

stephanie 12-16-2011 10:58 AM

Re: RIP Christopher Hitchens
 
Not unexpected, but somehow I thought it would be a little longer. Sad. I often disagreed violently with him, but his voice is one I'll miss.

apple 12-16-2011 12:34 PM

Re: RIP Christopher Hitchens
 
What a waste.

apple 12-16-2011 12:43 PM

Re: RIP Christopher Hitchens
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by stephanie (Post 234793)
Not unexpected, but somehow I thought it would be a little longer. Sad. I often disagreed violently with him, but his voice is one I'll miss.

It seems to me that of the new atheists, Sam Harris was the one with the most negative attitude toward religious moderates/liberals like yourself, and not CH.

Don Zeko 12-16-2011 01:17 PM

Re: RIP Christopher Hitchens
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by apple (Post 234810)
It seems to me that of the new atheists, Sam Harris was the one with the most negative attitude toward religious moderates/liberals like yourself, and not CH.

I suspect Stephanie had things like Hitchens' outspoken support for the Iraq War in mind more than his atheism, although he certainly had some opinions about Christianity that Stephanie would disagree with. Speaking of people that disagreed with Hitchens, here's a blog post that I found to be a pretty effective approach to the problem of commemorating the passing of people that irritated the bejeesus out of you in life because of your disagreements with them:

Quote:

Hitchens was different. We can turn a phrase, but he could cant and pirouette it. As I wrote after learning he died:

Heís basically our generationís G.K. Chesterton: wrong about it all, but beautifully so.

I stand by it. He attacked Mother Teresa, and justifiably so, when he felt it necessary. And he embraced an unjust war, unjustifiably so, when he felt it necessary. But he also waterboarded himself, to justify himself, because he felt it was necessary, and he backed down. He was the opposition we should hate, because he makes his case so strongly; but he was also the opposition we should love, because he challenged us to make our argument in its strongest form and changed his mind to fit the facts.

Would that we always had opponents so eloquent and wrong.

Ocean 12-16-2011 01:38 PM

Re: RIP Christopher Hitchens
 
Witty, skillful debater, and painfully opinionated, he'll be missed.

Considering the tragedy of his illness, in his case, sooner was better than later.

RIP.

chiwhisoxx 12-16-2011 02:00 PM

Re: RIP Christopher Hitchens
 
too soon. impossible to replicate or replace.

RIP

badhatharry 12-16-2011 02:01 PM

Re: RIP Christopher Hitchens
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Don Zeko (Post 234815)
I suspect Stephanie had things like Hitchens' outspoken support for the Iraq War in mind more than his atheism, although he certainly had some opinions about Christianity that Stephanie would disagree with. Speaking of people that disagreed with Hitchens, here's a blog post that I found to be a pretty effective approach to the problem of commemorating the passing of people that irritated the bejeesus out of you in life because of your disagreements with them:

well, somewhat perhaps. But then he spits out this self congratulatory hyperbole...

Quote:

When I argue with conservatives online, Iím arguing with people who donít know how to argue (or whose idea of arguing involves suing people who disagree with them).
And what, pray tell, does this even mean?

Quote:

I know Iíll take flack for this, but honestly, the reason the left reviled Hitchens as strongly as it did was because it realized that it had a formidable opponent. For the most part, the left argues with the likes of Grover Norquist, whose influence is undeniable but whose skills are very much comparable.
And while I am being picky and really object to this guy's tone, I will quote his entirely incoherent opening non-sentence. This guy is a teacher. Yikes!

Quote:

Perhaps because I teach in one of the reddest counties in the country ó Orange ó but every quarter, I make it clear to my students that Iím not interested in indoctrinating them.

Sulla the Dictator 12-16-2011 05:24 PM

Re: RIP Christopher Hitchens
 
Often wrong, but always interesting. I appreciated his willingness to challenge real orthodoxy.

uncle ebeneezer 12-16-2011 06:03 PM

Re: RIP Christopher Hitchens
 
Good article by Alterman, about Hitchens from 2010. He didn't pull any punches on Hitch's transformation into Iraq War Cheerleader, but clearly had affection for his friend:

Quote:

My friendship with Christopher lapsed when I moved away from the neighborhood we shared in late 1995ómy going-away party was one of those wonderful Vanity FairĖcatered affairs in which Christopher and others said a great many wonderful things with as much scorn, sarcasm, and genuine affection as one can stand at any given moment in life. Moreover, we began to diverge politically in more significant ways than before, first over Blumenthal, then over his ill-considered support for Ralph Nader, and finally over his conversion to what I take to be a nasty variant of neoconservatism that treats liberal conscience and caution as a particularly contemptible form of cowardice. There was no break, and we were quite warm toward one another when I last ran into him, with his beautiful daughter, in the lobby of a Bob Dylan concert last year. Upon hearing the news that he is now battling esophageal cancer in the midst of writing this essay, I naturally wondered if perhaps I should tone down some of the spinach and throw in a bit more pudding. Alas, I demurred. Christopher would have nothing but contempt for a writer who allowed sentimental memories to cloudóor even to obscureóhis considered political and literary judgments. I hope he reads them as a tribute to his spirit of never giving up the fight, even perhaps, when one is in the wrong. And even more so, I hope he lives to fight with this liberal another day.

stephanie 12-16-2011 06:19 PM

Re: RIP Christopher Hitchens
 
Frum on Hitchens

apple 12-16-2011 06:48 PM

Don Zeko on Hitchens
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Don Zeko (Post 217105)
Maybe he just reads too much Christopher Hitchens. After all, I think there's a point at which arrogant asshole becomes not just a character trait, but a special language only available to a select few. So really, this is to be expected. If the only pundits you've actually been exposed to are Hitchens and Krauthammer, these issue positions are going to be about par for the course.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Don Zeko (Post 156145)
I've got plenty of issues with Sullivan, but comparing him to Hitchens is low.

I was about to say that Hitchens is remarkably popular, despite the fact that he must have pissed off many people. Then I recalled that Don Zeko is a fervent Hitchens-hater.

thprop 12-16-2011 06:50 PM

Christopher Hitchens diavlogs
 
I originally posted this in general comments. If you have not seen this post and want to see Hitch on BHtv:

Quote:

Originally Posted by thprop (Post 234785)
The world is a lesser place without him.

His diavlog with Bob (December 9, 2009):
Part one
Part two

A testy diavlog with Eric Alterman (October 13, 2008)


Don Zeko 12-16-2011 07:23 PM

Re: Don Zeko on Hitchens
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by apple (Post 234839)
I was about to say that Hitchens is remarkably popular, despite the fact that he must have pissed off many people. Then I recalled that Don Zeko is a fervent Hitchens-hater.

How long did it take you to find that nearly two year old quote? Don't you have a job or something?

Sulla the Dictator 12-16-2011 07:40 PM

Re: Don Zeko on Hitchens
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by apple (Post 234839)
I was about to say that Hitchens is remarkably popular, despite the fact that he must have pissed off many people. Then I recalled that Don Zeko is a fervent Hitchens-hater.

I'm surprised Don worked Krauthammer in there, who is the very model of sober commentary.

chiwhisoxx 12-16-2011 07:43 PM

Re: Don Zeko on Hitchens
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Don Zeko (Post 234844)
How long did it take you to find that nearly two year old quote? Don't you have a job or something?

this seems like a dodge...curious to see if you actually feel this way

Wonderment 12-16-2011 07:58 PM

Re: RIP Christopher Hitchens
 
Quote:

Considering the tragedy of his illness, in his case, sooner was better than later.
Yes, judging by that last piece he wrote in Vanity Fair, it was an excruciating demise, and one which brings up a lot of familiar questions on aggressive treatments for end-stage cancer.

Then there's the other illness...

Hitchens had a lot of the features of a type of high-functioning alcoholic I've seen a bit too much of in my own life: gifted, grandiose, pompous, endlessly entertaining, angrily opinionated and prone to go off the rails in polemic frenzies. I suspect he was surrounded by adoring enablers who provided the impenetrable force field that prevents treatment and recovery. Sad, I think, but that's just me.

Ocean 12-16-2011 08:03 PM

Re: RIP Christopher Hitchens
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 234848)
Yes, judging by that last piece he wrote in Vanity Fair, it was an excruciating demise, and one which brings up a lot of familiar questions on aggressive treatments for end-stage cancer.

Then there's the other illness...

Hitchens had a lot of the features of a type of high-functioning alcoholic I've seen a bit too much of in my own life: gifted, grandiose, pompous, endlessly entertaining, angrily opinionated and prone to go off the rails in polemic frenzies. I suspect he was surrounded by adoring enablers who provided the impenetrable force field that prevents treatment and recovery. Sad, I think, but that's just me.

Yes, it sounds all very likely. But, a bit too late to give it too much thought. Many will say he had a right to self-destruct.

AemJeff 12-16-2011 08:21 PM

Re: RIP Christopher Hitchens
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 234849)
Yes, it sounds all very likely. But, a bit too late to give it too much thought. Many will say he had a right to self-destruct.

Certainly I would. He was an adult and he was responsible for his own decisions.

Wonderment 12-16-2011 08:36 PM

Re: RIP Christopher Hitchens
 
Quote:

Many will say he had a right to self-destruct.
I agree with that. The problem is that alcoholics and addicts rarely limit their destruction to themselves.

Ocean 12-16-2011 08:42 PM

Re: RIP Christopher Hitchens
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 234852)
I agree with that. The problem is that alcoholics and addicts rarely limit their destruction to themselves.

Yes, true. Of course, there are those who figure that out on their own or who are able to get sober when their families give them an ultimatum. And then there's the recalcitrant few who keep going at it.

badhatharry 12-16-2011 09:47 PM

Re: RIP Christopher Hitchens
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 234848)
Hitchens had a lot of the features of a type of high-functioning alcoholic I've seen a bit too much of in my own life: gifted, grandiose, pompous, endlessly entertaining, angrily opinionated and prone to go off the rails in polemic frenzies. I suspect he was surrounded by adoring enablers who provided the impenetrable force field that prevents treatment and recovery. Sad, I think, but that's just me.

...adoring enablers who were probably very happy to reap the rewards of his fame and talent. It seems to me that one of the chief reasons people quit engaging in destructive behavior is that they are shamed into it by people they respect.

sugarkang 12-17-2011 01:18 AM

Re: RIP Christopher Hitchens
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 234848)
Hitchens had a lot of the features of a type of high-functioning alcoholic I've seen a bit too much of in my own life: gifted, grandiose, pompous, endlessly entertaining, angrily opinionated and prone to go off the rails in polemic frenzies.

Yes, but...
Quote:

I suspect he was surrounded by adoring enablers who provided the impenetrable force field that prevents treatment and recovery. Sad, I think, but that's just me.
no. Hitchens on smoking bans; it's audio and it's good.

His philosophy of living was different. He didn't run away from death. Just within the past year, full on chemo treatments ongoing, he said he didn't regret any of his hard drinking and smoking. Reminds me of the way Foucault lived his own life, and frankly, I think it's correct for some people.

Florian 12-17-2011 05:54 AM

Re: RIP Christopher Hitchens
 
Homage by Hitchens' friend Ian McEwan.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/18/op...ef=global-home

Whatever you may think of Hitchens as a polemicist---and he was a formidable one----there was something almost supernatural about his literary and historical memory, as reflected both in his journalism and his books.

I recommend his Blood, Class and Empire to anyone who wants to understand the historical ties between the US and Britain ("the special relationship" more treasured by the British than by Americans....). Even though the book is marred by Hitchens' late conversion to the imperial worldview of the neo-cons, it is full of interesting information and insights.

badhatharry 12-17-2011 10:49 AM

Re: RIP Christopher Hitchens
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by sugarkang (Post 234867)
Yes, but...

no. Hitchens on smoking bans; it's audio and it's good.

His philosophy of living was different. He didn't run away from death. Just within the past year, full on chemo treatments ongoing, he said he didn't regret any of his hard drinking and smoking. Reminds me of the way Foucault lived his own life, and frankly, I think it's correct for some people.

What does correct for some people mean?

apple 12-17-2011 12:16 PM

Re: Don Zeko on Hitchens
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Don Zeko (Post 234844)
How long did it take you to find that nearly two year old quote? Don't you have a job or something?

About one minute. I remembered your other (bizarre) quote about Hitchens, so I looked for "Hitchens" by author "Don Zeko", and voila, found every mention of Hitchens by the individual Don Zeko.

sugarkang 12-17-2011 01:58 PM

Re: RIP Christopher Hitchens
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 234880)
What does correct for some people mean?

I meant correct as opposed to the wrong way of living life. As Wonderment acknowledged earlier, he was a high functioning alcoholic. I'm sure we all know alcoholics who struggle with it now, or have done so in the past. Alcoholism is destructive for mere mortals because they have time commitments, family duties, financial insecurity; and they're generally trying to maintain some facade for the sake of social acceptance.

He transcended all that. Normal rules work for normal people; they choke the life out of extraordinary people. I think his way of life was perfect for him.

harkin 12-17-2011 05:18 PM

Christopher Hitchens
 
I've read and heard many words about Christopher Hitchens this past day and a half but "wrong about it all" are certainly the most ludicrous.

miceelf 12-17-2011 07:18 PM

Re: RIP Christopher Hitchens
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by sugarkang (Post 234896)
Alcoholism is destructive for mere mortals because they have time commitments, family duties, financial insecurity; and they're generally trying to maintain some facade for the sake of social acceptance.

He transcended all that. Normal rules work for normal people; they choke the life out of extraordinary people. I think his way of life was perfect for him.


Possibly so, although I would argue that part of what made him extraordinary was luck. He had he been injured seriously or killed early on during one of his drunken sprees, no one would ever have known about him and we wouldn't be having this conversation. And that is pretty much random.

Agree he was extraordinary. Agree he was a good thinker/writer (not perfect by any means, but who is?). I hope he enjoyed life.

JonIrenicus 12-17-2011 08:40 PM

Re: RIP Christopher Hitchens
 
Sad to hear, I was hoping he would beat the odds.

I think the thing I enjoyed most and will miss most about Hitchens is that he did not shy away from using pathos in his arguments.

He was often considered a firebrand precisely because his arguments were not merely laced with logical attacks, they were often filled to the brim with appeals to the justness and rightness of a particular course of action. I think this is why realists found him so abrasive, the emotional appeals, the appeals that tug and the basic indignities of the human condition are so much more muted in their souls.

He basically made it harder for them to skate buy with no digs into their conscience, and I supposed they were irritated to no end because of it.

apple 12-18-2011 09:04 AM

Re: Don Zeko on Hitchens
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by chiwhisoxx (Post 234846)
this seems like a dodge...curious to see if you actually feel this way

Well, I answered his question, but I doubt he'll answer this one.

look 12-18-2011 09:39 PM

Re: RIP Christopher Hitchens
 
I had a real soft spot for him. RIP Hitch.

popcorn_karate 12-20-2011 01:49 PM

Re: RIP Christopher Hitchens
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 234848)
Hitchens had a lot of the features of a type of high-functioning alcoholic I've seen a bit too much of in my own life: gifted, grandiose, pompous, endlessly entertaining, angrily opinionated and prone to go off the rails in polemic frenzies. I suspect he was surrounded by adoring enablers who provided the impenetrable force field that prevents treatment and recovery. Sad, I think, but that's just me.

yeah, too bad he wasn't a completely different person. of course, then we wouldn't be talking about him or caring that he died. embracing entire individuals and not thinking about using a scalpel to remove the parts we don't like is challenging.

uncle ebeneezer 12-20-2011 02:42 PM

Re: RIP Christopher Hitchens
 
Speaking of parts we didn't like:

Quote:

Iraq was the clear line, crossed freely, for which Hitchens can never be forgiven.

The drumbeat to that war had three sorts of public supporters: American rightists and "centrists" who'd spent the previous thirty years trying to reinstate, incrementally, American military hegemony; Reagantots who didn't remember Vietnam, but had learned its lessons from postwar bullshit, every Tom, Dick, and Harry named Marshall, Drum, or Yglesias; and Christopher Hitchens.

It is, simply, outside the realm of possibilities that someone who understood exactly what America was up to in Southeast Asia from 1946-1975, or who saw the enormity of the what the Right got up to in Central America under Reagan, could have imagined the United States as the savior of Western Civilization in Mesopotamia or anywhere else. I kept reading Hitchens. I did. I kept waiting for the fever to break. Or at least for an argument that rose to the level of argument. It just got worse. That he supported the war in the transparently phony run-up was inexplicable; that he continued to do so after it had cost tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi lives was inexcusable.

I dunno. It's hard for me to imagine what happened to Hitchens and not think of other monumental ethical collapses of post-Reagan America. We can't trust sports records, we can't expect politicians to regard truth as truth, we can't keep shit out of our hamburger. And we couldn't keep a Euro-Trot from turning into a careerist teevee personality arguing monotheism with Ross Douthat. In some ways it seems the worst failure of all.

Wonderment 12-20-2011 09:03 PM

Re: RIP Christopher Hitchens
 
Quote:

Iraq was the clear line, crossed freely, for which Hitchens can never be forgiven.
War fever is a highly contagious disease that afflicts many otherwise healthy individuals after an outbreak like the one the US suffered in 2002.

It is transmitted, however, only verbally, by warmongering. The best immunization is total abstinence from justifying violence. Renounce violence, become a pacifist and obtain lifelong immunity.


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