Sunday, May 04, 2008


What Rubbish!

Cover story: 'Christopher Hitchens' by Alexander Linklater Prospect Magazine May 2008 issue 146: "His main business, he claims, has been to ally himself with what was originally an underground movement of Sunnis, Shias and Kurds—all working towards the overthrow of a latter-day Stalinist monster. “I have felt like I used to in the 1960s,” he says, “working with revolutionaries. That reminds me of my better days.”"

His better days? He has simply gone mad. Maybe this is his strange version of a mid-life crisis, where he mourns a youth gone. Maybe he is reminiscing on a perceived greater clarity of thought and values as is common in one's idealistic youth. Whatever this is, Hitchens is unwise to believe that he is one minute beyond his "better days".
Alexander, the author, though stretching his understanding too much in places, does bring us one terribly interesting insight. He notes that when Hitchy talks of his mother, he falls to rather flowery speech. In fact, what he seems to do is talk about nature. He notes the color of the sky, olive trees, and such. What he may also be doing is holding onto those moments by remembering every detail. I would want to be able to do that as well.
Where Alexander goes wrong is his deep desire, like others, to claim some part of Hitchens' beliefs are "faith". It is a crackpot way of taking him down a peg, of scrapping the anti-theist argument with a single word. What Linklater does not understand about Hitchy and others like us is that we don't need a faith, a group or any sort of support for these beliefs. We don't need to be preached to every Sunday to be reminded of what is important. We do not need to be in fellowship to reinforce the "rightness" of our stance. The author also suggests that Christopher's main goal throughout his career was to be "right". One wonders to whom that does not apply.
Another interesting note was Hitchens recalling his early days at the Statesman. "By 1973 Hitchens was writing political columns for the New Statesman alongside a cultural team that included Fenton, Martin Amis, Julian Barnes, Ian McEwan and Clive James. Later incorporating his friendship with Salman Rushdie, this period set him at the heart of what would become, and arguably remains, Britain's dominant literary grouping. Though his was already the most politically developed voice among this emerging elite, Hitchens was in his own words, “a secondary planet in this system, and not unhappy to be. I did a lot of listening.”" I simply don't have the ability to imagine him in a room with these men without interjecting opinion at every turn. I respect his desire to learn, but am unsure if he correctly recollects. It is not just that I would see them disagreeing. I would think that he would have then used argument as he does now, a way to "hone". I also believe that he has a rather compulsive desire to argue. For him, and I must admit for me, it is a wonderful intellectual exercise.
As an unabashed fan, I wish he saw himself the way that I so gladly view him. While flawed, occasionally wrong, and most certainly complex, Christopher Hitchens is the best mind of our times.

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