Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Funeral for a Friend of a Friend

The Hitch

A great thinker is gone; Christopher Hitchens - quite possible the greatest thinker of our modern era - left us this past week. It saddens me that I only now learn how great a thinker he was, for I met Christopher Hitchens - twice, in fact - but I did not really know him or his writings at the time, and I'm afraid I misjudged the man, sold him short.

What made me prejudge Hitchens was his professed aetheism (I have a cynical view of the pronounced few among us who choose to deny Deity), his homosexuality (which I view as a form of hedonism, nothing more; i.e. a choice versus a predisposition), and his left-of-center politics.

It turns out the shortcomings were mine, in fact.

"I come to praise Hitch, not to bury him . . ."

Upon hearing the news of his passing a strange myriad of thoughts crossed my mind. I say strange, because it is strange for me not to have clarity of thought. Focus, planning and the gathering of facts and data for analysis and processing of data into intelligence; these are the various breads and butters of my existence. Of course there are moments of confusion, but these moments can be related to immediate time and place circumstance; situations where suddenly there is more that I don't know than what I do know. Likewise there are emotional events, but these too generally have a cause that can be pinpointed.

My reaction to the death of Christopher Hitchens was a kind of confusion; a criticism that was not constructive. I considered long and hard what I should write, if indeed I should write anything at all. I did not know the man - the two occasions referred to above took place in the DC party scene. Hitchens held court, whiskey glass & cigarette in hand. Not knowing the man personally (and because of an instinctive need to keep my back to a wall and my eyes on doors and windows) I kept back from the crowd.

My initial confusion was followed by a sort of enlightenment as I learned more and more of the thoughts and opinions of this great British ironist:

Ode to the BlowJob

Now that I actually read this piece of brilliance I kick myself for my prudish, kneejerk reaction. Not that I'm a prude; quite the opposite if anything - as a soldier I've spent countless long afternoons of groin-grinding R&R in pleasure pits on every continent except Antarctica. First glance at Hitch's prologue: As American as Apple Pie . . . . . . From the Wild West to the Wild White House, the author explores the blowjob’s emergence as the nation’s signature sex act. I rolled my eyes. It's bad enough that these days even schoolgirls know what a Lewinsky is; do we really have to wax poetic about something that was known and practiced for millenia before Columbus? But the man knew how to craft a phrase, and his opening lines drew me in.

“The four most over-rated things in life are champagne, lobster, anal sex and picnics." - Christopher Hitchens

Sodomy; did we really have to go there? I mean, Champagne isn't THAT bad - I'd take it over a Sandusky any day - lobster's GREAT, and what's wrong with picnics, anyway? I had a great picnic with a playful California girl in the back of a '63 Impala, one early fall afternoon up on Mount Diablo. There wasn't any sodomy involved and we didn't miss it, either.

Christopher Hitchens versus Mother Theresa

This is the Godzilla Meets Mothra of blasphemy; I'm not a Catholic but come on - this is Mother Theresa we're talking about here. How on God's Green Earth can even an atheist blast Mother Theresa? Then you read on and the initial shock and awe is overtaken by Hitch's unique insight; he twists and turns your mind to view the saint of the sewers of Calcutta from a completely unique and legitimate perspective:

MT was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction. And she was a friend to the worst of the rich, taking misappropriated money from the atrocious Duvalier family in Haiti (whose rule she praised in return) and from Charles Keating of the Lincoln Savings and Loan. Where did that money, and all the other donations, go? The primitive hospice in Calcutta was as run down when she died as it always had been—she preferred California clinics when she got sick herself—and her order always refused to publish any audit. But we have her own claim that she opened 500 convents in more than a hundred countries, all bearing the name of her own order. Excuse me, but this is modesty and humility?

I respect you, Hitch, and yes, I honor you. A lefty Euro-socialist who supported the Global War on Terrorism, denounced the 9/11 conspiracy crowd AND supported the Iraq Invasion, you're all right by me. We need more like you, Hitch; philosophers, thinkers. Yours was a quick wit, a keen sense of irony; to me you were in the same league with Cicero.

It is not by lack of literary discipline that I switch to the second person narrative, because unlike you Hitch I know there is an afterlife and my vision of it includes a sort of Elysian Plains - a place not all that unpleasant - where virtuous pagans and souls like your own dwell, the great thinkers and philosophers of history.

Truth be told I would jump at an opportunity to visit this outskirts of Hades, to meet and converse with Aristotle, Cato, and perhaps yourself. If for no other reason to point out that Nietzche didn't mean it the way you tore apart my adopted motto. Of course, given the dreadful circumstance, who could possibly disagree with the Great Hitch?

I wish I had the time to do half the thinking and philosophizing you accomplished in too short a time on this Earth, Hitch. May the Diety that exists in whatever Valhalla you are now bless you, and all of us. As another famous atheist used to say, "May your God go with you . . ."


Wednesday's Bird HERE


  1. "Hitch has a a younger sibling Peter Hitchens (politically centre-right, & heterosexual).

    Peter Hitchens writes on an equal level, and has made some good documentaries. He is scathing about the left wing socialist BBC, and does not take any prisoners when it comes to politicians and their empty promises.

    He stands firm with the armed forces, and often quotes them as "Lion's led by donkey's"

    Its as if some of Churchill's blood runs through the family!

    His blog is as follows;

    Yours Aye,

    Ex Bootneck

  2. But did he ever serve? If not, then he was an unknowing blowhard.
    If he did, and with honor, then yes he knew of it.

  3. The surviving Christopher 'Hitch' did not serve, nor did his deceased brother Peter. Their father was an 'old school' Royal Naval Officer who served on the Atlantic convoys.
    The following piece from his latest blog (Christmas review) may explain a little about life in their very early years;

    Peter Hitchins:
    First of all may I thank the hundreds of people who have contacted me to express sympathy on the death of my brother. I have tried to reply to as many such messages as I can, but it is physically impossible to answer them all in a reasonable time. So may I say to all of you who took the trouble to write, that I am very grateful that you did so, and am comforted by what you said. This applies perhaps most especially to those who wrote to me across great gulfs of disagreement. Civility between opponents is a light in the darkness, a recognition that we are all more united, as humans, than we are divided as supporters of causes or believers in faiths.

    I shall once again be travelling during the next few days, so this is my last chance to write here until after the Feast of the Nativity. The Mail on Sunday will not be appearing on Sunday because it is Christmas Day, so there will be no column that week.

    This will be a long gap, and during the brief period of peace in the storm of life, which I hope Christmas will be, I thought I would try to explain why for me, and for many others I suspect, this is such a precious season.

    Of course, like most children in countries where Christmas is celebrated, I was from my earliest childhood thrilled by the promise of presents, the exhilarating, intoxicating smell of the pine tree in the house, the rich foods and the feeling that this was above all others a special time of year.

    I cannot remember (and for the sake of Mr ‘Bunker’ I am sorry about this) ever being particularly enthused about Father Christmas. Perhaps this is the fault of my father, who could be wonderfully unsentimental about his children, forgetting our names even though there were only two of us and he had presumably helped to choose them, referring to us as ‘that boy’ and ‘that wretched boy’ (these titles were interchangeable, depending on our most recent crimes and misdemeanours). There is also a superb passage in my brother’s memoir ‘Hitch-22’ in which he records trying to strike up a conversation with our father one breakfast time. The head of the Hitchens family blasphemed briefly before growling ’It’ll be family prayers next’, and returning to a bloodshot examination of the Daily Telegraph. Many years of shipboard wardroom breakfasts, conducted in grumpy silence as the ship pitched and rolled and the plates slid this way and that, had left him hopelessly unprepared for domesticity. I have no recollection whatever of him attempting to impersonate Father Christmas. END!

    There are those who achieve more through the pen than the action of the sword. This 'Hitch' is one of them.

    Yours Aye

    Ex Bootneck

  4. Ex Bootneck continues;
    In my mind the great majority of people are simply not cut out to serve for a great variety of reasons. There are those that choose the 'civil' path & serve as Police officers, Fire officers etc, who see the difference when an ex military type brings their past experience into 'civvie street' and join the civil services, which is a bonus to that organisation.

    In the UK this tradition stems from the early days of the Navy (formed in 871). Its first seaborne engagement was against four Danish ships in 882, which it defeated in a small estuary in England. From this initial service disciplined men were placed ashore to form militias and acted for appointed county Sheriffs when required.

    The British Navy became the Royal Navy in 1660, ( Jolly Jack Tar's). Followed by the Royal Marines in 1664, (Bootneck's). Wounded or retired Tar's & Bootneck's were the backbone of the man power required for the forming of the Police service in 1829. The same again when the Fire Service was formed in 1865, (taking over from the private Insurance Fire Service, who would only attend the fire if the occupants were insured by the afore mentioned).

    My Father was unable to serve through injury, he instilled his strong family values and discipline into each of his three sons. One brother served as a Royal Marine reservist, the other as a time served Journeyman in heavy industry. They both brought children up to the mark required of 'Big Joss' Our Father, who would be so proud of them were he still walking with us.

    As one of Her Majesty's Royal Marine Commandos, I served for 23 years & left with several medals and numerous injuries. And in the immortal words of Rudyard Kipling, Soldier & Sailor Too; ("Like landin' 'isself with a Gatlin' gun to talk to them 'eathen kings"). I spoke to many 'heathens' with a modern day Gatlin gun. Some times alongside my American Brother's.
    Seeking further adventure I walked a path away from shining my 'arse' on a chair filing forms in a police station. Selfish perhaps, but my skills are paid for better elsewhere. My close friend Sykes-Fairbairn came with me.

    My son served as a Royal Engineer for nine years, and now proudly serves as a Metropolitan Police Officer. Injured in both services he still stands-fast in his commitment to Queen & Country and the general public. Even form filing does not deter him.

    In my mind; Choice and tradition to serve with the Military is down to the individual. What ever path is chosen, as long as that individual teaches right from wrong to his own family, and is willing to step forward and stop those of the 'ill disposed' when required; Then they are serving, and with honour too!

    Yours Aye

    Ex Bootneck

  5. Hitchens was gifted with an intellect above anything most any of us could ever achieve.

    Watch his debate with Frank Turek on youtube, he never answers his questions. In fact, Hitchens did not consider himself an athiest. He called himself an anti-thiest. Sadly he never would give into the truth.

    There are three reasons why people don't admit the truth; intellectual, emotional and volitional. His choice to deny the truth of God was volitional.

    Sean, let me know what you think,

    Jim the Rockfish