I was not shocked to hear about Christopher Hitchens’ death, as he had been suffering from esophagus cancer for a while, but I was sadden by his passing,… life and debates are going to be way more boring without his brilliant mind and unapologetic wit. It is pretty intimidating to write about someone who was such a talented writer, I don’t even want to try.
A few years ago, I saw him at the Central Library of Los Angeles debating about his latest book ‘God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything’, and I had been fascinated since. He was a rock star of the debate and public forum, he had an undeniable charisma, and simply could not be defeated.
A convinced atheist, he was part of all the debates about faith vs science and reason, and I watched him going against numerous religious people, and winning the battle with brio each time. I am well aware he was irritating tons of people, that was a reflection of his character and intellectual honesty.
He said he would stay true to himself till the end (and he did), while keeping writing with the same intelligence and extraordinary repartee till his death:
‘Rage would be beside the point,’ he wrote when he learnt about his cancer, ‘Instead, I am badly oppressed by a gnawing sense of waste’ […] ‘To the dumb question ‘Why me?’ the cosmos barely bothers to return the reply: Why not?’
And about an eventual death bed conversion:
‘While my so far uncancerous throat, let me rush to assure my Christian correspondent above, is not at all the only organ with which I have blasphemed … And even if my voice goes before I do, I shall continue to write polemics against religious delusions, at least until it’s hello darkness my old friend. In which case, why not cancer of the brain? As a terrified, half-aware imbecile, I might even scream for a priest at the close of business, though I hereby state while I am still lucid that the entity thus humiliating itself would not in fact be “me.” (Bear this in mind, in case of any later rumors or fabrications.)’
He said many times he was not ready to pay the price of the permanent supervisor at the sacrifice of the intellectual freedom and told us we had to gain everything by standing up to your own full height instead of following the flock.
Here are a few songs whose lyrics may have pleased him:
• Nine Inch Nails – ‘Terrible Lie’: ‘Hey God/I think you owe me a great big apology/terrible lie’
• Slayer -‘Cult’: I bet Hitchens would have totally approved: ‘Religion is hate/Religion is fear/Religion is war/Religion is rape/Religion is obscene/Religion is a whore’
• Mortorhead- ‘(Don’t need) religion: No need to expose more than the title, it’s pretty straightforward, as always with Lemmy.
• Pink Floyd – ‘Sheep’: ‘Have you heard the news?/ The dogs are dead!’
• Bad Religion – ‘God’s Love’: Almost any song would fit, I mean the band’s moniker is Hitchens’ slogan! But this one says the essential: ‘And what I’m frightened of/Is that they call it ‘God’s love’.
• XTC – ‘Dear God’: But all the people that you made in your image/See them starving in the street/‘Cause they don’t get enough to eat from god/I can’t believe in you’.
• Gogol Bordello – 'Illumination': 'Illuminating realization number one:/You are the only light there is/For yourself my friend/There'll be no saviors any soon coming down', or ‘Supertheory Of Supereverything’ because we need a little humor in this list: ‘I don't read the Bible/I don't trust disciple/Even if they're made of marble/Or Canal Street bling’.
• Jose Gonzales – ‘Abram’: ‘Not much of what you say makes any sense/Cook up some myths, then ask for obedience/Even though you mean well, well most of the time/you've aided delusion and created bias in our minds’.
• The Flaming Lips – ‘The Gash’: The best symphonic-existentialist song ever: ‘Will the fight for our sanity/Be the fight of our lives?/Now that we've lost all the reasons/That we thought that we had/Still the battle that we're in/Rages on till the end’
• John Lennon- ‘Imagine’: Imagine there’s no countries/It isn’t hard to do/Nothing to kill or die for/And no religion too/Imagine all the people/Living life in peace’. Of course!
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Creem, at this point, seemed to be looking for new feeding hands to bite.
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