Monday, December 19, 2011


I'm one of the few people, it seems, who had no strong opinions about the passing of Christopher Hitchens.
It could be that I watched in sadness his emotional, mental and moral decline over the past three decades, from his near-rabid socialism at The Nation to his overt fascism in the run up to the second Gulf War.
Much has been said about his ability to spin words like plates on sticks, a twist of a pole here, a flick of the wrist there and another metaphor formed. That's all well and good. I aspire to his level of neology and to dazzle people with my writing. It could be that I was just jealous.
Or it could be that lurking in the back of my head was the sense that this supposed demi-saint...I wonder how he'd feel about the almost-rapturous eulogies he's received?...was really, at heart, one of the most deeply flawed, pained men on the planet in the last half decade? That to glorify his writings or to overly-criticize his positioning is to look at the bandage and not the wound?
This is why I'm grateful that Katha Pollitt has confirmed this feeling for me. He was a man with a gift, a singular gift, but like all singular gifts, in context it only serves to confuse the picture.
To a hammer, everything looks like a nail. To Hitchens, everything looked like an opinion. And like most hammers, he was usually wrong.