The King of all Contrarians

Christopher Hitchens is being lionized today for many things. I met him once, in the early 1980s, after signing him up to to speak at my college. The first thing he said to me, after arriving: “Comrade, where do you go to get a drink around here?” He was terrific that day, of course.

Andrew Sullivan, another contrarian of sorts, has compiled an excellent round-up of tributes. My favorite (for now) is from Slate’s Jacob Weisberg:

Like all of us, he was often wrong, but never in the way everyone else was wrong. His originality was a constant, his independence an unstoppable engine. He loved to argue and debate, not because he was a bully but because he thought it pointed in the direction of truth.

9 Responses to “The King of all Contrarians”

  1. Lewis Deane says:

    Here’s a glass of ruby red and a quick draw on my roll up for, to Christopher Hitchens, a mensch if there ever was one, confused, often, contradictory but always thinking and with the cojanes to prove it. For him latterly, it was the frightening prospect of an (underwhelming) overwhelming of religious cant and fanaticism that might snatch, someday soon, the crust of civilization from our hand, the dark stench of its fellow travelers, its pickpockets, jackanapes, mountebanks and other ne’er do wells, its murderers, its assassins, that sometimes darkened his day, but only, precisely because he embraced the wonders of the enlightenment and this unsteady 300 year experiment in trying to think! To think ““ that was what Christopher tried to do and would ask us to do. I will miss his voice. He was a man.

  2. Lewis Deane says:

    ‘I have one consistency, which is [being] against the totalitarian – on the left and on the right. The totalitarian, to me, is the enemy – the one that’s absolute, the one that wants control over the inside of your head, not just your actions and your taxes. And the origins of that are theocratic, obviously. The beginning of that is the idea that there is a supreme leader, or infallible pope, or a chief rabbi, or whatever, who can ventriloquise the divine and tell us what to do.’

  3. Lewis Deane says:

    One gets to a certain age, I think 35 is the threshold, when all those you respected, those you loved (one parents, for instance!) start to die on one and this death beat becomes so insistent that one, sometimes, finds oneself thinking no longer of anything else, filled like a hollow bottle, with the dread and trepidation of “Who next?”. One is angry because one is impotent, because there is nothing one can do, standing at this raging sea and watching it swallow ones friends, one after the other (and there another one goes). It is not the dead I feel sorry for, for they are no more, it is the living, it is me, who has been left behind! Damn it!

  4. Fred says:

    Its hard to know what to say in praise of a fellow so much more interesting and powerful than any words I can come up with for that effort. At least I can offer up a link to an obituary that told me a few things about him that were new to me::
     
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204643804577101502623734014.html?mod=WSJ_LifeStyle_Lifestyle_5

  5. Lewis Deane says:

    It’s not true that we’re ‘flawed’, that we’re ‘flawed’ human beings. We’re perfect, it’s your ‘pattern’ , your ‘patent’, your ‘plan’ that is wrong and flawed. The ‘ideal’ that you seek, as such, is a libel on mankind!

  6. Lewis Deane says:

    And now, Vaclav Havel has gone and what else is there left to say. The blows of death hit one again and again in the solar plexus. The Czechs, his people, where ambivalent about him – he made an extraordinary brave decision early in his Presidency – he decided that since one couldn’t determine who was a criminal and who a political prisoner one should let all of them out. And they hated him for that. And his yearly soliloquies, his radio ‘sermons’, reminding them of their complex but beautiful Capek (sic! Sorry, I forget) roots. These extraordinary brave people, flawed, yes, for look how they continue to treat, despite their better nature, the so called ‘Gypsies’, but riddled with the ultimately Pyrrhic cancer of freedom. Vaclav, you were the best, the better self of ourselves and I feel guilty that latterly I didn’t pay attention to you. The power of the powerless, my friend.

  7. Lewis Deane says:

    Modern man must descend the spiral of his own absurdity to the lowest point; only then can he look beyond it. It is obviously impossible to get around it, jump over it, or simply avoid it.

    Vaclav Havel 

  8. Lewis Deane says:

    If the wine weren’t so good, if the smilesWeren’t so lopsided, the jokes so boringAnd obvious we’d love ourselves and themAnd this day, day of all fools, but we can’t.We can’t forget what has been and what will be.We can’t grin with the grinning. 
    We know the pain, the endless pain, 
    That happens here, there and everywhere.

  9. Lewis Deane says:

    Formatting not copyable, as always.

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