How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Hitchens

December 21st, 2011 at 9:15 am | 20 Comments |

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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 Teresa we’re talking about here. How on God’s Green Earth can even an atheist blast Mother Teresa? 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:

[Mother Teresa] 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 ANDsupported 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…”

Originally Posted on Stormbringer.

Recent Posts by Sean Linnane

20 Comments so far ↓

  • TerryF98

    ” 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; ”

    You must be effing kidding right!

    • Graychin

      Definitely kidding. This guy has to be a put-on. No one could possibly be this silly in real life.

      I picture him as a laser-tag enthusiast, a no-job trust-fund baby, single and dateless, living in a Duke Nukem fantasy world.

      • WaStateUrbanGOPer

        If he isn’t “kidding”– and I suspect… somehow… that he isn’t– then we should all marvel at how this allegedly “budding” writer’s supreme lack of self-awareness has exposed him to honest ridicule even from people even as clownish as TerryF98!

        • WaStateUrbanGOPer

          My modify button isn’t working. Would one of the others please strike the second “even’ from my post above?

        • WaStateUrbanGOPer

          Oh dear. Would one of the EDITORS please strike “others” from the post immediately above, and then strike out the second “even” in the post above that one. Thank you.

  • MBunge

    So…is this a parody of Hitchens hagiography? Satire?


  • Hal

    While I’m not clear what qualifies Mr. Linanne to be regularly featured on the Forum, he occasionally makes interesting points. His current point (not all that interesting) being that he acknowledges Hitchens’s contributions as an essayist and public intellectual – even though the writer doesn’t agree with 100 percent with Hitchens philosophy.

    This is a pleasant contrast to the sneering, snide and snarky output of many commenters on this board, whose middle school tactics and attitudes brand those they disagree with as racists, idiots, and heratics. The latter being defined as someone whose beliefs do not coincide exactly with their own.

    • Ray_Harwick

      His conflation of homosexuality with pedophilia, or at least with a pedophile notwithstanding, right? Does that add to the interest?

      Sodomy; did we really have to go there? I mean, Champagne isn’t that bad – I’d take it over a Sandusky any day…

      Oh, and, where do you suppose the author came up with the idea that Hitchens was a homosexual?

      • Hal

        I was equally puzzled at the homosexual reference by Linnane – perhaps Hitchens mentions youthful “experimentation” somewhere in Hitch 22? In any case, as I understand it he is married with kids, so unless someone want to posthumously out him, I’d put it down to Hitchens willingness to try anything once – sort of like his hot wax report.

        • WaStateUrbanGOPer

          In pages 74-78 of his memoir, Hitchens candidly discusses his youthful homosexuality. Linanne wasn’t making this up.

      • Madeline

        Well, he had a British accent and he was witty. That’s the same as being gay, in the world according to Neanderthals.

  • MBunge

    “This is a pleasant contrast to the sneering, snide and snarky output of CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS, whose middle school tactics and attitudes brand those he disagrees with as racists, idiots, and heratics.”



    • WaStateUrbanGOPer

      Mike: which of Hitchens’s books have you read? (And not articles, mind you, but BOOKS.)

      Moreover, what DO you read?

  • rummager

    About Hitchens or Linnane? Narcissism comes in written form obviously.

  • somebody else

    “because unlike you Hitch I know there is an afterlife ”

    This lets us know you must be joking because it contradicts your earlier comment, “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.”

    You cannot possible KNOW there is an afterlife, that is an unanswerable question. There are millions of people who have been CONVINCED to believe that various versions of mythical afterlives exist, without any gathering of facts, or analysis of data. Try to prove something doesn’t exist…that’s a very tall order. However, as Mr. Hitchens put it:

    “Forgotten were the elementary rules of logic, that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and that what can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.”

    It is EXCEEDINGLY unlikely that any of the fairy tales written in the bronze age in one of the least enlightened parts of Earth would reflect anything in the physical world accurately. They are very much more likely to be fantasies, and perhaps at best the most convincing explanations at the time for things people in the bronze – iron age didn’t have any other way of explaining.

    We now have far better and more accurate tools to probe the nature of the universe with, and so far it certainly hasn’t disappointed – the real world is far more magnificent and awe inspiring than any account written by people who didn’t know what germs were or that the planet was a sphere, let alone understand electricity or meteorology. Mind-body dualism is impossible, Descartes was fantastically wrong – we’ve known that for a while now – if this post isn’t in jest you should join the rest of us in the real world and stop believing fairy tales are actually true (let alone asserting to know they are true as if you had proof!).

  • Cathy Young

    Um, how in the world did Sean Linnane get the idea that Hitchens was gay? (No comment on the opinions expressed herein about atheists and gays…)

  • Graychin

    My wishes for the author:

    That his God will have created a heaven for him that includes long afternoons of groin-grinding from the best pleasure pits from every corner of the globe, separated from the company of damned unbelievers like Nietzche, Aristotle, Cato – and Hitch.

    That he no longer suffer from the paranoia that compels him to keep his back to the wall and his eyes on the doors and windows.

    That he pinpoint in his memory the moment when he chose to be straight instead of gay. (Was Hitch gay? News to me. Perhaps also news to his two wives.)

    That he get over himself.

  • VA Shepherd

    Gay? Those DC parties must get pretty wild…A man of some experience, he displayed discriminating taste. On Sarah Palin: “She’s got no charisma of any kind [but] I can imagine her being mildly useful to a low-rank porn director.” — The Leonard Lopate Show, June 2010. Not exactly a class-act, that, but journalists automatically get put on the fast-track for sainthood.

  • Gus

    You can’t spell Linnane without inane