More on Hitchens, in no particular order.
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.
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.