Tuesday, January 29, 2013

On Hitchens on Orwell.

I'm reading Christopher Hitchens on George Orwell now.  As is often noted about Orwell -- in his short 46 years on this planet, he contributed the adjective "Orwellian" to the English language.  Not bad. 

On Hitchens, for me it's like and hate.  The like and the hate probably come from the same place.  Somewhere in his condescending Oxford drawl was a tone that said, I know more than you. I will show you how stupid you are. 

From a man who began his political journey with Leon Trotsky and ended it with George W. Bush, maybe Hitchens felt there was a lot of explaining to do about his long ideological road.  Or maybe he was just a blind arrogant fool with a canvas sack slung over his shoulder filled with words. Imagining himself to be some ancient mythical hunter, he grasped his quiver replete with the arrows of righteousness tightly. He was a verbal pugilist looking for fights. 

I shouldn't be so angry.  Hitchens got his in the end.  We all do.  A lifetime of smoking and drinking finally caught him, gave him throat cancer and didn't take it away. 

No rapier wit, nor parry nor thrust, fends off one's own mortality.  Even a know-it-all doesn't know.  None of us do. That's the honest response, but maybe it sounds too close to defeat.

I have no doubt that in his dreams Christopher wore the black tights, held the skull aloft in his hand and wondered out loud for the audience to hear.

In truth, in the graveyard scene, he was Yorick.