Goodbye, Hitch

Our world is full pseudo-intellectuals, like Chomsky and Krugman and Gingrich and that loud-talker two tables over at lunch yesterday who just would not shut the fuck up. Real intellectuals, the people who force us to challenge not just our assumptions but our most deeply held beliefs, who make us think in ways we’ve never thought before, and who do it with a natural eloquence and casual wit that makes them impossible to dismiss, are rare among humans.

Christopher Hitchens tackled taboos and dared all of us to challenge our own knowledge and perceptions. This caused great consternation among people who were happy in their unquestioning belief. Some of them are celebrating his death, which tells you all you need to know about their character.

We’ll never again see him hitchslap another detractor in a calm voice, making him look like a dog stranded on the center lane of the freeway, desperately trying to figure out which direction to take. There will be no more Hitchens books to cover a subject in a way it’s never been covered before. We’ll miss the articles that enlighten and amused and sometimes enraged us.

But he wrote more than just about anyone of our generation, and so leaves a rich legacy behind. There are enough books and articles and videos from him to keep anyone busy for years.

His detractors are quick to point out his lifestyle caused his early demise, and it’s the one thing they’re right about. He chose pleasure over longevity, and we should be thankful that he did. The way he lived created the man he became. A sober, serious Hitch wouldn’t have been Hitch at all.

So let us raise a glass of Johnny Walker Black, not to the heavens, but simply in his honor, and say, “Goodbye, Hitch. And thanks.”

7 Comment(s)

  1. The world is a darker place without him, and yet still far brighter than it would otherwise have been, without him.

    Marcus | Dec 17, 2011 | Reply

  2. A bit off: when you say Chomsky is a pseudo-intellectual, do you also consider his work in mathematics and linguistics?

    Levee44 | Dec 19, 2011 | Reply

  3. Being an expert in one or two subjects doesn’t make someone an intellectual. Chomsky earns the pseudo sobriquet based on his deep misunderstanding of everything else, especially politics and economics. Just like Newt his command of language makes him sound smart and helps cover up the fact that he’s the epitome of an ivory tower intellectual: someone whose opinions are based solely on reading other people’s stuff, and are not influenced by real world experience.

    I hope the comments don’t get sidetracked into a discussion of Noam, who barely deserves mention when discussing Hitch. For anyone who wants go go in that direction, please do it in the comments of this older post:

    Hittman | Dec 19, 2011 | Reply

  4. Hitch himself said that he did not regret smoking and drinking. He acknowledged that they tweaked his creative process and that he would not have changed a thing. I also appreciated Hitch for his ability to change his own mind even as he changed ours. He was not the intractable bully that his enemies make him seem.

    Joy | Dec 28, 2011 | Reply

  5. “A bit off: when you say Chomsky is a pseudo-intellectual, do you also consider his work in mathematics and linguistics?”

    Considering that his “work” in linguistics have long been long since discredited as the New Age-esque wishful thinking of a man who is more concerned with the romanticization of his ideals than he is reality?

    Marxist Hypocrisy 101 | Apr 12, 2012 | Reply

  6. I’m not enough of a mathematician or linguist to judge his works in those areas. I don’t know that it’s been discredited, but don’t care that much about it either.

    My concern is the influence his political nonsense has. He is the textbook ivory tower intellectual, someone who has never had to hold a job outside academia and who has no idea what he’s talking about most of the time. But he presents his nonsense so eloquently he fools a lot of people who mistake eloquence for insight.

    Dave Hitt | Apr 13, 2012 | Reply

  7. I’m so sad he’s gone. I don’t think I understood half of what he wrote, but he was so fun to read. He would be my choice for the question “if you could have dinner with anyone …” how fun would that be – and I could smoke!

    jbatch | May 3, 2012 | Reply

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