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Dec 16 2011

Hitchens

More on Hitchens, in no particular order.

Michael Weiss at the Telegraph -

The last few days had been, for those of us who knew he hadn’t much time left, a strange bundle of suffering commingled with the joy of recollection. We got to relive what endeared him to us from the start: the hilarious tabletalk, the Borgesian library of political and literary arcana that he kept inside his head, and the writing. Of course the writing, particularly the put-downs that never let their subjects get back up again: “No one has a higher opinion of Alexander Haig than I do, and I think he is a homicidal buffoon,” “a herd of antis in search of a climax,” “not only a bore, but the cause of boredom in others.”

It is undeniable that the world will be duller and less funny without Hitchens in it. Significantly duller and less amusing.

As for the politics, his critics always got him wrong on the supposed evolution (or devolution, as they’d argue) from Left to Right. There was the same foundational principle throughout, and if you think the hatred of the clerics and the censors and the commissars began after 9/11, you weren’t really paying close attention.

Christopher Buckley in the New Yorker -

One of our lunches, at Café Milano, the Rick’s Café of Washington, began at 1 P.M., and ended at 11:30 P.M. At about nine  o’clock (though my memory is somewhat hazy), he said, “Should we order more food?” I somehow crawled home, where I remained under medical supervision for several weeks, packed in ice with a morphine drip. Christopher probably went home that night and wrote a biography of Orwell. His stamina was as epic as his erudition and wit.

Intellectually, ours was largely a teacher-student relationship, and let me tell  you—Christopher was one tough grader. Oy. No matter how much he loved  you, he did not shy from giving it to you with the bark off if you had  disappointed.

The jacket of his next book, a collection of breathtaking essays, perfectly  titled “Arguably,” contains some glowing words of praise, including my own  (humble but earnest) asseveration that he is—was—”the greatest living essayist  in the English language.” One or two reviewers demurred, calling my effusion “forgivable exaggeration.” To them I say: O.K., name a better one. I would alter  only one word in that blurb now.

Of course he was. People who demur can’t have been paying attention.

Rick Warren on Twitter -

Hitchens has died. I loved & prayed for him & grieve his loss. He knows the Truth now.

Tim Minchin on Rick Warren on Hitch, on Twitter -

Nauseating condescending clown RT @RickWarren: Hitchens has died. I loved & prayed for him & grieve his loss. He knows the Truth now.

Neil deGrasse Tyson on Twitter -

Gone too Soon: Christopher Hitchens 62. Tireless supporter of human rights and fighter of dogma under any guise.

Center for Inquiry on Twitter -

Hitchens was a columnist for Free Inquiry for 10 years. “The Return of Indulgences” Read this op-ed piece.

You know what? I’m a columnist for Free Inquiry. I’m a colleague of Hitchens’s. That’s quite something.

Nevertheless –  the world will be duller and less funny without Hitchens in it.

 

13 comments

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  1. 1
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    I said this at Pharyngula and I will repeat it here. The blast of gas from Rick Warren is something that christians have been muttering in their sleep about any non-christian for the last two thousand years. It is not a remark, it is a reflex.

  2. 2
    Ophelia Benson

    And we can’t repay the compliment, because we don’t think anyone does know anything after death. That saves us from saying stupid things, but it also means we never get the “neener neener, toldja so” moment.

  3. 3
    DagoRed

    I would think that the death of someone as prominent as Hitchens would inspire a modicum of humility and common sense in the heads of even the most self-important of religious fanatics. I would think, for example, that even they would realize that their silence — by far — would be the best “message” they could send to the ears of unbelievers.

    However, Rick Warren (among many others) not only fails to display basic common sense, he fails to show even a modicum of humanity at all. It would have been quite fair and appropriate if Warren had simply stood up and said, “Well, I for one am damned glad he’s gone!” It would have been both truthful as well as appropriate, given Hitchens own actions during past moments such as these. But, instead of appropriateness, we get hollow spiritual platitudes that only appeal to his own kind, a childish messages that merely implies, “I told you so” (i.e. the clear True meaning behind Warren’s,”He knows the Truth now”).

    Warren (and those who think like him) seems capable of only speaking ugly words that continue to confirm the suspicions of those not steeped in his philosophical manure. Namely, that faith ultimately turns people away from being compassionate, and toward becoming opportunistic vultures during times of sorrow.

  4. 4
    Jim P Houston

    Hitchens’ closing remarks at Prestonwood, a fitting farewell from a passionate, compassionate and brave man of wisdom.

  5. 5
    tealogar

    You may have been his colleague, OB, but I will forever be the woman he accused of lurking around men’s lavatories.

  6. 6
    coffeehound

    But, instead of appropriateness, we get hollow spiritual platitudes that only appeal to his own kind, a childish messages that merely implies, “I told you so”

    Because, at the end of the day, the sum total of substance that would allow for anything else in most religious thought is well, 0.The arrogance of ignorance to say you KNOW what happens next is breathtaking. I see them as scared children, whistling the dark.The thought of nonexistence can be a profound and frightening thing(unless you just don’t think about it).

  7. 7
    Ophelia Benson

    Thanks, Jim, that is indeed fitting.

  8. 8
    geoffwhelan

    The world is a diminished place now. A friend of mine returned my copy of God is Not Great last week after a Skeptics in the Pub talk. The evening went so well that I left the book in Mulligans. I like to think that I have released it into the wild to take root where it will. A cynic friend of mine said it was probably eaten by a man with hairy ears.

  9. 9
    Ophelia Benson

    True about the world. That sounds like hyperbole but in his case really isn’t. Alas.

  10. 10
    mirele

    I found Warren’s remark to be obnoxious and condescending, so I called him an attention wh*re on Twitter. For my trouble, I have now got Saddleback’s ‘pastor of communication’ following me. (I did some quick checking, virtually anyone who commented snarkily on Warren now has this guy following him.)

    Oh well, he can read my continuing snarky remarks about his boss, along with observations on annoying Salvation Army bell ringers, $cientology, and whatever else I figure is worth commenting on.

  11. 11
    Svlad Cjelli

    Don’t worry, Bananaman informs us that the Hitch finally believes in father Jesus, and maybe he can still live forever if he’s nice.

  12. 12
    Stewart

    Since the media is now so flooded with Hitchens, even the greatest admirer can’t keep up with all the tributes; I had to pull the plug on my computer last night because it froze while I simultaneously tried to follow all the Hitchens obit links from A&LDaily that I hadn’t already read. That’s by way of excusing myself for not yet having seen the Michael Weiss piece, which, because it contained a couple of witticisms with which I wasn’t yet familiar, made me burst out laughing, which has been difficult since hearing the news. Thanks for that. I think generations not yet born will one day be gasping with pleasant amazement that someone could be so funny while making such deadly serious points.

  13. 13
    Ophelia Benson

    That’s why I’m trying to select a few of the best parts of the best pieces, here – because it’s impossible to see all of it, and a lot of it is very very good.

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