Farewell, Hitch

  an interesting life

You and the Iraq War on the same day, what are the chances?Our favorite drink-soaked former Trotskyist popinjay passed away today after a well-publicized bout with esophageal cancer. Christopher Hitchens was 62 years old, which is kind of remarkable when you think about it. We will miss his haughty wit and clever writing as much as we’ll miss saying what a hopeless dupe he was, again and again, and especially after 9/11. But he was sincere about his convictions, which made him a complete rarity in Washington D.C. And in a town full of dullard “media professionals” who are mouth-breathing cretins, Hitchens got away with quite a lot simply because he was smart and charming.

Farewell, Hitch, you social-climbing faux radical! See you in Hell! (Ha ha that is a joke because Hitch made a late career out of bashing religious people.) [Vanity Fair/New Statesman]

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103 comments

  1. user-of-owls

    Though it pains me as an Irishman to say this, even the fekkin' English produce a marvelous son of a bitch once in a while. Given how rarely this happens, it's all the more a shame that Hitchens left so soon.

          1. BerkeleyBear

            My wife's Scotch Irish relatives have never struck me as particularly pixie-ish. Not exactly strapping, either – more generations of dirt farmers and shit kickers who occasionally somehow manage to have offspring that are leaps and bounds above the mean (like my spouse, and the one lucky bastard a couple generations ago who made a bunch of money on the West Coast and promptly forgot the rest of the family existed).

          2. Limeylizzie

            My husband is a weird and fabulous blend he's 6″4″ with that fantastic prematurely white Irish hair, blue eyes and a Portuguese surname! Perfection.

    1. Arken

      On the other hand, we'll have ample opportunity to discover the effects of alcohol poisoning on invertebrates.

    1. Fukui_sanYesOta

      The Hitch was a drunk, a bastard, an Englishman (sorry owls but I also fit that description), a smoker and a man who thought. It's the latter which makes him an icon.

      I'll miss him.

        1. Fukui_sanYesOta

          He got waterboarded and declared it torture.

          As much as I disagreed with him most of the time, at least he had the fucking balls not to be just another talking head.

          1. GOPCrusher

            And he didn't pull a Lee Atwater and spend his last days trying to make peace with some imaginary sky pixie.

  2. libtardbot

    Hitch was one of the writers that made me want to go back to college. I will miss him every time I read.

  3. RadioYKWE

    God is Not Great was a integral part of this Radio's fine-tuning process.
    I remember, shockingly, when he bought the frozen grifter's schtick for a few months. I even tried to e-mail him back into his usual perceptive self. Thankfully, he was able to see through the sociopathic veneer.
    We'll miss you Hitch.

    1. Lascauxcaveman

      For such a smart and witty fellow, he sure liked to be bamboozled by bright, shiny, idiotic objects approaching from the right. Perhaps the effect of a facile and permanently picked brain, as well as a Washington DC address.

  4. TurnItOff!

    <snarkfree>Dude's at least partially responsible for a twenty-year Harper's habit. I spent a lot of post 9/11 time disagreeing with him, being frustrated by him. But as pointed out above, he was sincere, never cynical, when fighting his arguments. I'll miss his voice.</snarkfree>

    This debate continues to entertain and enlighten me as I re-listen to it tonight: http://www.cbc.ca/ideas/episodes/2010/12/15/the-m

  5. Fukui_sanYesOta

    PPE at Oxford. That's the one future politicians take – I'm not sure which is the equivalent in the US. Politics, Philosophy and Economics; that's a heady combination in an environment like Oxford.

    I'll miss him an awful lot. His level of thought is something sorely missing from most debate.

  6. yyyaz

    A fitting end to the shittiest year I've experienced. I wish I could attend the wake, just to hear intelligent conversation. And get drunk and pick a fight, then laugh about it over a noon-ish breakfast. Then cry, and get drunk again in tribute.

  7. mourningnmerica

    And yet, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum are still walking around, healthy, like oxen.

    This proves that God works in mysterious ways. Just kidding, as, of course, there is no God.

    Here's to you, Christopher Hitchens, scoundrel, bastard, friend.

  8. Badonkadonkette

    I'll remember Hitch for having the balls to get waterboarded to prove it's torture, even though he already knew it to be true. Which basically made him the opposite of Sean Hannity.

  9. ChernobylSoup

    No formaldehyde needed on this one.

    Reading Hitch 22 is what sent my middle aged ass back to grad school. Bless him.

  10. ttommyunger

    "…because he was smart and charming." Smart? No question about it. "Charming"? Sure, if by charming you mean self-important asshole who assumes what he has to say is more important than what anyone else is saying at the time.

      1. ttommyunger

        Fortunately, our forum prevents one Wonketeer from interrupting another during discourse; a structure Hitch would find most unsatisfying.

  11. Come here a minute

    In Hitchens' honor (honour), I'll pour myself an extra morning martini. Breakfast of champions!

  12. x111e7thst

    Hitchens is dead. Bachmann and Santorum are running for President. Mere alcohol is not helping any more. I need better drugs.

  13. finallyhappy

    I don't get why anyone thinks a supreme(not Diana Ross) being has anything to do with your death. That is one of the beliefs people have that I hate the most. God wanted to take him home, She is resting in the arms of Jesus. I would hate to believe in something that as waiting to killl me so I could visit with them.

    1. natoslug

      I believe in something that is waiting to kill me so I can visit with her. I don't believe in a supreme being, however, just in the craziness of an ex.

  14. Extemporanus

    I honestly can't remember a time when I wasn't an atheist, although I can remember a time — well before I even knew what one was — when I wasn't at ease with being an atheist. Originally, my beliefs (and lack thereof) were defined almost entirely by a defensive skepticism and rejection of the beliefs of others. I was reflexively questioning, dogmatically dismissive, and arrogantly above all things religious, with a frustratingly vague sense of what I was actually for.

    In other words, I was a know-it-all asshole kid.

    My parents, god bless them (ha!), were pretty open-minded and encouraging of ad hoc spiritual exploration when I was young, though at the end of the day they basically couldn't give two shits. I went to church. I went to CCD. I went to synagogue. I went to temple. Hell, I even went to a week-long Native American spiritual retreat once, when I was in Trailblazers, which was a '70s-era alternative to Boy Scouts for kids not really into the whole uniforms and patches and pledges and pedophilia scene.

    I also went to the local public library. A lot. Religiously, one might even say.

    And it was there, when I was twelve, that I stumbled across something written by someone when they were only a few years older than me at the time that poignantly described what I felt but couldn't quite voice, put me at ease with my atypical lack of faith, and provided me with a philosophical framework of something tangible to actually believe in for a change.

    It was the poem Thanatopsis by William Cullen Bryant, and this passage in particular:

    Earth, that nourish'd thee, shall claim
    Thy growth, to be resolved to earth again,
    And, lost each human trace, surrendering up
    Thine individual being, shalt thou go
    To mix for ever with the elements,
    To be a brother to the insensible rock,
    And to the sluggish clod, which the rude swain
    Turns with his share, and treads upon. The oak
    Shall send his roots abroad, and pierce thy mould.

    (Clichéd, obvious, maudlin, pedestrian, etc., I know. But I was only twelve, you guys — high school English Lit class was still five years away — and I'd also just discovered Melville, Tolkien, and L. Ron Hubbard, so the fact that something as musty as this had any impact on me at all was, well, a minor miracle.)

    To me, the absurd, illogical, inexplicable fact that Life-with-a-capital-'L' exists and (futilely?) persists in spite of the ambivalent, unrelenting assault of almighty entropy is transcendently meaningful in and of itself.

    Without religion, how on Earth do the other 99.9% of living beings summon the will to soldier on in the face of such daunting odds? To which church does a rhinovirus return each week for absolution of its myriad sins? In which god does an Arctic alga blindly place its undying faith? From which scripture does a carpenter ant queen read to inspire her flock not to lose its way?

    I re-read Thanatopsis whenever I hear that a fellow godless heathen has kicked the proverbial cum bucket. I hope that someone else does the same when I inevitably do so as well.

    Rest in pieces, Christopher Hitchens. In the end, time is the ultimate higher power, and you sure as fuck held your own…

    1. FakaktaSouth

      I totally dig what you are saying. It can be a drag to realize you don't have whatever it is that gives so many their faith, their ability to believe or whatever. You know what made me feel better? I know this is going to make me look trite even as I type it…ANYway, the end of Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters. Even if it is all a big crazy bunch of bullshit, don't you want to be a part of it? (I was 15 and saw it on some old vcr tape, and it made me feel like it didn't all have to be such a big damn deal .)

    2. Doktor Zoom

      Thank you–I got there by a far different route (Cliff's Notes: Raised Catholic, then read a lot of Vonnegut, and more…), but came to similar conclusions.

      Coincidentally, Kid Zoom casually labeled himself "a Jewish atheist" yesterday, the first time I'd ever heard him state it quite so definitely–he'd always hedged his bets and described himself as agnostic before.

      Footnote to "Thanatopsis"–I always liked cowboy poet Wallace McRae's take on the theme in "Reincarnation"

  15. not that Dewey

    I even subscribed to Vanity Fair just so I could read more of his articles. VANITY FUCKING FAIR!! See the sacrifices we were willing to make for you, Hitchens? You will be missed.

  16. johnnymeatworth

    Wherever he is, maybe he and Kurt Vonnegut are smoking and drinking and laughing at the rest of us still stuck here….

    1. BerkeleyBear

      And maybe he did. If you have even the tiniest sliver of doubt, a death bed "conversion" is a hell of a way to cover your bets. Worst case – you are worm food, just like you always thought. Best case – party time forever!

    2. natoslug

      Oh, I'm sure there will be a baptism for the dead in his future shortly. Like Carlin, Hitler and Thoreau, pretty much everyone converts to Mormonism eventually, whether they want to or not.

  17. Arken

    My favorite Hitchens moment was when he was supposed to debate someone on religion, but they didn't show up, so he debated himself, effectively making better arguments for religion (and then expertly shooting them down of course) than any of the people he's ever debated on the subject.

    I'll miss you, ya boozy bastard.

  18. FakaktaSouth

    Being as I love me some drunk, smokey, asshole atheism (said with all due respect) I am bummed. However, that DC apartment he had that I saw in whatever article abt him was INCREdIBLe. Hmmm I wonder…

  19. sbj1964

    Christopher will be missed;his wisdom rare.I think we will not see his like for a long time.His passing would have diminished the world had he not so enriched it with Logic,and reason.

  20. prommie

    This sucks fucking ass. Nothing anymore can ever gang to no guid. I am done attempting to find joy in life, its a wasted effort.

    1. FakaktaSouth

      My Fave Hitch quote: "the four most overrated things in life are champagne, lobster, anal sex and picnics.” I don't care for lobster or picnics either.

  21. BaldarTFlagass

    Sure have missed that irascible old fuck since he got sick, sad to hear he ain't gonna do the old remission thing. Think I'll go burn a church in his honor.

  22. La_Cieca

    The way I see it, the circumstances of Hitchens' death suggest there is no God. If there were a God, He would surely have made Hitchens' last illness long and drawn-out, with a number of remissions, in order to provide him with the opportunity to develop empathy and self-knowledge through suffering and hope.

    On the other hand, it may be that God, in His infinite wisdom, realized very quickly that Hitchens was incapable of developing these qualities even with the tutelage of the Almighty, so He just shrugged His shoulders and said, "Why bother?"

  23. GregComlish

    Hitchens was a shallow, contrarian, bloated, piece-of-shit warmonger. He didn't merely support the massively idiotic Iraq war but likened all war opponents to adherents of Stalin. He spat on me, and my friends, and my values. He never apologized. And then as death approached he tried to redeem him among liberals by directing his bile ducts against the biggest, easiest target he could find: the Christian right.

    Morn his death all you want. I choose to piss on his grave.

  24. DemmeFatale

    I remember him hating on Mother Teresa when the rest of the word was canonizing her.
    He always made me wonder, "what does he know, that I don't know?"

    But then he started hating on Bill Clinton, and I stopped caring what he thought. (When he called Bill a monster, I gave up on him,)

    RIP, though.

    1. Beanball

      And he was right about Clinton, just as he was right about Mother Teresa.

      Truth is where you find it, is all I'm sayin', it is even uttered by the mouths of over-educated wanna-be upper-class boors.

      Not that there's anything wrong with being over-educated, mind you.

        1. Beanball

          Definitions of monster differ, I'm sure, but for my part, I would call the passage of NAFTA, the repeal of Glass-Steagal, and the continuation of the economic sanctions and the no-fly zones in Iraq (of which the former led directly to the deaths of an arguable million human beings from disease and starvation) pretty monstrous actions, and by the law of inversion, the perpetrator of those actions a monster.

          Clinton was and is a monstrous abomination of a human being and a liar to boot.

  25. sati_demise

    DF (Clinton was a monster, as we see now dealing with all this legislation causing the economic meltdown he could have vetoed.)

    I will love Christopher forever for his quip on the death of Jerry Falwell.
    Hitchens broke the mold, one of a kind, whether you love him or hate him.
    Well done, sir, RIP.

    1. OneYieldRegular

      "I will love Christopher forever for his quip on the death of Jerry Falwell."

      Thank you for recalling that. Omitting it in Hitch's obituary would have been a sin.

  26. SayItWithWookies

    Well shit. That bomb-throwing, sotted iconoclast pissed off a lot of people, including myself when he got all pro-Iraq war, but he was always entertaining, intelligent and funny. To honor him, I will do some serious gin drinking tonight and will also pick a fight with anyone who happens to say they believe in any ridiculous notion of a deity or an afterlife. Someone in person, not y'all damn fools who posted already.

  27. OneYieldRegular

    The first time I ever heard of Christopher Hitchens was about 20 years ago when I saw him in person during a panel discussion in which he engaged some Hollywood-style Buddhist in a debate about spirituality. He kept a bottle at his feet, and poured himself a drink every few minutes. I kept thinking, here's this pasty Buddhism convertee pretentiously blabbing about metaphysics while next to him this audacious guy – who the hell IS he? – is literally imbibing the spirit.

  28. randomsausage

    Sure, his scattergun approach meant he hit some of the wrong targets: but anyone who takes a shit on Mother Teresa is pretty cool in my book.

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