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Friday, December 16, 2011

Nature Boy

Pharaoh asked the brothers,
“What is your occupation?”
“Your servants are shepherds,”
they replied to Pharaoh,
“just as our fathers were.”
~ Genesis 47
















RIP Hitch: "You surrender in your own name. Leave me out of it. "


CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS 1949 - 2011

If you want to avoid upsetting these people, you have to let Indonesia commit genocide in East Timor, otherwise they’ll be upset with you. You’ll have made an enemy. If you tell them they can’t throw acid in the faces of unveiled women in Karachi, they will be annoyed with you. If you say we insist, we think cartoonists in Copenhagen can print satire on the Prophet Mohammad, you’ve just made an enemy. You’ve brought it on. You’re encouraging it to happen.

So unless you are willing to commit suicide for yourself and for this culture, get used to the compromises you will have to make and the eventual capitulation that will come to you. But bloody well don’t do that in my name because I’m not doing it. You surrender in your own name. Leave me out of it.

I am going to fight these people and every other theocrat ALL … THE … WAY. All the way. For free expression, for women’s rights, for self-determination of small peoples, for the right of Iraqis to federate and have their own show, for the right of the Lebanese to not be bullied by Hezbollah and to have a multi-cultural democracy.

Yes, I’ll fight for this and I think the 82nd Airborne is brave to be fighting for it too. I think you should be ashamed for sneering at people who guard you while you sleep. Thanks.



...on the left's hypocrisy
Sneaking Into Iraq With Hitchens
And smuggling in booze, too.
To say literature mattered to him would be like saying he greatly enjoyed inhaling and exhaling. It was necessity, not luxury – a refuge and a brace against randomness and Bastards HQ. So with the void he’s thoughtlessly left, I’m reminded of a few more lines, ones Christopher sent me just a short time after our travels together when his friend and editor, the Atlantic’s Michael Kelly, died near Baghdad. They’re from his beloved First World War poet, Wilfred Owen, and Hitchens would probably shudder with horror and humility that I’d dare apply them to this occasion. But if he can witness my crime from beyond, then he has a lot of explaining to do. And so I expect there’ll be silence on his end, sadly:

What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk, a drawing-down of blinds.
"I became a journalist partly so that I wouldn't ever have to rely on the press for my information."

"Mearsheimer and Walt belong to that vapid school that essentially wishes that the war with jihadism had never started," he wrote in 2006 of the essay that was the basis for the book. "Their wish is father to the thought that there must be some way, short of a fight, to get around this confrontation. Wishfulness has led them to seriously mischaracterize the origins of the problem and to produce an article that is redeemed from complete dullness and mediocrity only by being slightly but unmistakably smelly."

Hitchens was 38 when his maternal grandmother revealed to his younger brother Peter that she was Jewish.
He told The Observer in 2002 that the revelation "thrilled" him -- living in Washington, he had acquired a passel of Jewish friends. Moreover, he had had a dream of being on the deck of a ship and being asked to join a minyan.

Despite his rejection of religious precepts, Hitchens would make a point of telling interviewers that according to halacha, he was Jewish.



A friend of theirs once took Christopher Hitchens and his wife Carol Blue to dinner at Palm Beach’s Everglades Club, notorious for its exclusion of Jews.
“You will behave, won’t you?” Carol anxiously asked Christopher on the way into the club. No dice. When the headwaiter approached, Christopher demanded: “Do you have a kosher menu?”

Perhaps his formal moment of departure from the political left came when he was summoned to answer for his deviations before the editors of The Nation in 2002. He rode the train up from Washington, sat at the long conference room table to await the interrogation – and lit up a cigarette in defiance of all no-smoking ordinances. What was there to be said after that?

If Christopher quit the left, however, he never joined the right. Like his great hero George Orwell, he was a man whose most creative period of life was a period of constantly falling between two stools: his new hatred for George Galloway never dimmed his old animosity toward Henry Kissinger. He was for the Iraq war without ever much trusting or liking the leaders who led that war. The stock phrase of the 2000s on the right was “moral clarity.” If moral clarity means hating cruelty and oppression, then Christopher Hitchens was above all things a man of moral clarity. But he was also a man of moral complexity, who would not submit to Lenin’s demand that who says A must say B. Christopher was never more himself than when – after saying A – he adamantly refused to say B.
Q&A Special: Christopher Hitchens, 1949-2011
The great and now late polemicist riffs on life, literature, music and politics with characteristic élan
:
  • "I don’t envy or much respect people who are completely politicised. Nor do I think much of those who think that literature is a thing only of itself.."



I never knew him to take his time, squander words to be merely decorous. He loved or loathed immediately, and he did both as voraciously as he smoked, spoke and drank.

Roya Hakakian is a Iranian-American journalist, poet and author of the memoir Journey From the Land of No: A Girlhood Caught in Revolutionary Iran. Her most recent book is Assassins of the Turquoise Palace.

Reactions to the death of author and pundit Christopher Hitchens:
— "Christopher Hitchens was a complete one-off, an amazing mixture of writer, journalist, polemicist, and unique character. "He was fearless in the pursuit of truth and any cause in which he believed. And there was no belief he held, that he did not advocate with passion, commitment and brilliance. He was an extraordinary, compelling and colorful human being whom it was a privilege to know."
— former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

— "Christopher Hitchens was everything a great essayist should be: infuriating, brilliant, highly provocative and yet intensely serious. "I worked as an intern for him years ago. My job was to fact check his articles. Since he had a photographic memory and an encyclopedic mind it was the easiest job I've ever done."
— Britain's Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

— "Goodbye, my beloved friend. A great voice falls silent. A great heart stops. Christopher Hitchens, April 13, 1949-December 15, 2011."
— author Salman Rushdie in a post on his Twitter page.

— "I think he was one of the greatest orators of all time. He was a polymath, a wit, immensely knowledgeable, and a valiant fighter against all tyrants including imaginary supernatural ones." — British author and professor Richard Dawkins.

— "Christopher just swam against every tide. He was supporting the Polish and Czech resistance in the 1970s. He supported Mrs. Thatcher because he thought getting rid of the Argentinian fascist junta was a good idea. ... He was a cross between Voltaire and Orwell. "He would drink a bottle of whisky when I would manage two glasses of wine and then be up in the morning writing 1,000 perfect words. He could throw words up into the sky and they fell down in a marvelous pattern." — British lawmaker Denis Macshane told BBC radio.

— "There will never be another like Christopher. A man of ferocious intellect, who was as vibrant on the page as he was at the bar." — Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter.

— "Right at the very end, when he was at his most feeble as this cancer began to overwhelm him, he insisted on a desk by the window away from his bed at the ICU. It took myself and his son to get him into that chair with a pole and eight lines going into his body, and there he was, a man with only a few days to live, turning out 3,000 words to meet a deadline. And then finishing it and thinking, well maybe I've got an hour or two, I'll write something on Memorial Day in English poetry." — Novelist Ian McEwan told BBC.




"We have a show-biz media that has lost its critical faculties and has such contempt for you," he says. "One of my largest jobs is to get you to think of them as they think of you -- as contemptible, as disposable."
Hitchens shows up early (we're a short walk from his house), smoking and wearing his leather bomber jacket even though it's utterly unfit for the cold weather. (I think this is the jacket he's wearing in a photo taken during the American liberation of Iraq, when he passed out cigarettes to the newly un-Baath'd Iraqis.) Hitchens keynotes the event by singing Tom Lehrer's "Christmas Carol" a cappella.


Why Hitchens Became an American
Molti nemici, molto onore was the old Fascist slogan—many enemies, much honor. Christopher upset some people for bad reasons—others for good. I remember that Michael Foot, the Labour Party leader and veteran representative of what would come to be dismissed as the Old Left, Old Labour, quivering with fury when Christopher’s name came up in an otherwise friendly, private conversation.




If God doesn’t strike him first, 58-year-old Christopher Hitchens may be doomed by his cherished vices. In “On the Limits of Self-Improvement, Part I,” the smoke-wreathed, scotch-fueled author writes about taking his first step on the road to rehabilitation, at a high-end spa. Here, an extended look at this unlikely makeover. Related: On the Limits of Self-Improvement, Part II,” and “On the Limits of Self-Improvement, Part III.”



GOD BLESS CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS


Peter Hitchens’ Eulogy

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Man Needs A Maid

He came to Simon Peter,
who said to him,
“Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus replied,
“You do not realize now what I am doing,
but later you will understand.”
“No,” said Peter,
“you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered,
“Unless I wash you,
you have no part with me.”
“Then, Lord,”
Simon Peter replied,
“not just my feet
but my hands
and my head as well!”
~ John 13


Monday, December 12, 2011

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Politicians In My Eyes

Son of man,
set your face against
Pharaoh
king of Egypt
and prophesy against him
and against all Egypt.
~ Ezekiel 29