Blobby drunk declared awesome by UK nerd

Posted in Phlogiston at 9:29 am by George Smith

And now for something different, this bit of phlogiston from a Brit pub on Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens used to be sub semi-famous on pundit shows in the US during the Bush years.

Then showing up smelling strongly of drink took its toll. Plus, cancer.

Anyway, from the Brit papers, a less drunk thin British friend, Martin Amis, on his perishing Brit friend:

‘He’s one of the most terrifying rhetoricians the world has seen’…

Towards the very end of the last century, all the greatest chessplayers, including Garry Kasparov, began to succumb to a computer (named Deep Blue); I had the opportunity to ask two grandmasters to describe the Deep Blue experience, and they both said: “It’s like a wall coming at you.” In argument, Christopher is that wall. The prototype of Deep Blue was known as Deep Thought. And there’s a case for calling Christopher Deep Speech. With his vast array of geohistorical references and precedents, he is almost Google-like; but Google (with, say, its 10 million “results” in 0.7 seconds) is something of an idiot savant, and Christopher’s search engine is much more finely tuned. In debate, no matter what the motion, I would back him against Cicero, against Demosthenes.

As a young man, Christopher was conspicuously unpredatory in the sexual sphere (while also being conspicuously pan-affectionate: “I’ll just make a brief pass at everyone,” he would typically and truthfully promise a mixed gathering of 14 or 15 people, “and then I’ll be on my way”). I can’t say how it went, earlier on, with the boys; with the girls, though, Christopher was the one who needed to be persuaded.

Every novelist of his acquaintance is riveted by Christopher, not just qua friend but also qua novelist. I considered the retort I am about to quote (all four words of it) so epiphanically devastating that I put it in a novel – indeed, I put Christopher in a novel. Mutatis mutandis (and it is the novel itself that dictates the changes), Christopher “is” Nicholas Shackleton in The Pregnant Widow – though it really does matter, in this case, what the meaning of “is” is…

In the summer of 1986, in Cape Cod, and during subsequent summers, I used to play a set of tennis every other day with the historian Robert Jay Lifton. I was reading, and then re-reading, his latest and most celebrated book, The Nazi Doctors; so, on Monday, during changeovers, we would talk about the chapter “Sterilisation and the Nazi Biomedical Vision”; on Wednesday, “‘Wild Euthanasia’: The Doctors Take Over”; on Friday, “The Auschwitz Institution”; on Sunday, “Killing with Syringes: Phenol Injections”; and so on. One afternoon, Christopher, whose family was staying with mine on Horseleech Pond, was due to show up at the court, after a heavy lunch in nearby Wellfleet …

In conclusion we move on to 1999, and by now Christopher and I have acquired new wives, and gained three additional children (making eight in all). It was mid-afternoon, in Long Island, and he and I hoped to indulge a dependable pleasure: we were in search of the most violent available film. In the end we approached a multiplex in Southampton (having been pitiably reduced to Wesley Snipes).

Christopher is bored by the epithet contrarian, which has been trailing him around for a quarter of a century. What he is, in any case, is an autocontrarian: he seeks, not only the most difficult position, but the most difficult position for Christopher Hitchens. Hardly anyone agrees with him on Iraq (yet hardly anyone is keen to debate him on it). We think also of his support for Ralph Nader, his collusion with the impeachment process of the loathed Bill Clinton (who, in Christopher’s new book, The Quotable Hitchens, occupies more space than any other subject), and his support for Bush-Cheney in 2004…

“Is nothing sacred?” he asks. “Of course not.” And no westerner, as Ronald Dworkin pointed out, “has the right not to be offended”. We accept Christopher’s errancies, his recklessnesses, because they are inseparable from his courage; and true valour, axiomatically, fails to recognise discretion. As the world knows, Christopher has recently made the passage from the land of the well to the land of the ill …

Your corporeal existence, O Hitch, derives from the elements released by supernovae, by exploding stars. Stellar fire was your womb, and stellar fire will be your grave: a just course for one who has always blazed so very brightly. The parent star, that steady-state H-bomb we call the sun, will eventually turn from yellow dwarf to red giant, and will swell out to consume what is left of us, about six billion years from now.

Awesome blog here — Hitchenswatch.

On what happens to it post Hitchens: “[We’ll] always be able to mock Dave Weigel!”

Only if you follow the links will you get maximum enjoyment! Learn about The Commander!


  1. DD said,

    April 28, 2011 at 9:47 am

    In unrelated news, science informs us today that, under no circumstances, are you to eat armadillo when visiting Texas. People who do run the risk of leprosy, which has been noted in the very wee percentage of people who eat armadillo meat over the course of a decade.

  2. Mikey said,

    April 28, 2011 at 11:05 am

    Next up, pending litigation from a scrappy band of ’70s ELP Tarkus listeners claiming that their album art had no warning label, entitling them to untold millions in compensation.

    I had no idea that armadillo was edible…delectable even? (Cue kibitzers: “Tastes like chicken.”)

  3. George Smith said,

    April 28, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    Neither did I. But see here, recipes and everything.