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A sad loss

Posted: Fri Dec 16, 2011 6:37 pm
by Dan
Christopher Hitchens died today, aged 62. He was a wonderful essayist, if not the best author, and was a highly intelligent thinker and polemicist. I came to admire his written work, scathing wit and debating prowess on many subjects including George Orwell and totalitarianism which I studied during my degree. He was a a unique writer, and an extremely colourful human being. He will be missed.

Re: A sad loss

Posted: Fri Dec 16, 2011 7:14 pm
by dox
I learned about him because of his atheist platform and his subsequent voice on the subject of cancer - interesting, well spoken, witty fellow.

Re: A sad loss

Posted: Fri Dec 16, 2011 8:28 pm
by justice7ca
While coming off a bit abrasive, this was a unique man in a time when being unique wasn't exactly popular. Indeed, a thinker. I didn't always agree with him, though.
I think he was pushing atheism so hard because he was trying to counter-spin the theist rhetoric especially when Fox News came around. I don't know a whole lot about him, but from what I have seen he reminds me a bit of Richard Dawkins.

Re: A sad loss

Posted: Fri Dec 16, 2011 11:00 pm
by Dan
Dawkins is more a scientist. His beef with god/s exists because of the type of thinking which religion or unjustified faith rewards - that is, at best it encourages faith in the face of difficult or contradictory facts. That doesn't sit well with his evidence based outlook.

Hitchens was much more a literary figure, extremely well informed about both politics and the arts. If he reminds you of Dawkins its probably because of his high profile atheism, nothing about the two men is particularly similar in the way they talk or write. Dawkins comes across as quite a mild mannered professor of biological science who is nevertheless almost religious in his crusade against theists, whilst Hitchens felt very strongly that the unimpeded rights of the religious to believe (and practice) almost whatever they wished infringed on the freedom of others who wished to do without such things. His determination to stand up for what he thought was right led to his public persona coming across as extremely opinionated, to the point of being delightfully rude on many occasions. He called mother Theresa a thieving Albanian dwarf and said that living under an omniscient god would be equal to living in North Korea - a kind of celestial dictatorship. So its not surprising you didn't agree with everything he said. I think it would be completely impossible for anyone by virtue of his contrarian nature to agree with everything he ever wrote.

For my own part I'm not sure I can quite reconcile his ethics, values and essays with his sudden shift to the right over the last decade or so, but I can certainly understand why he did it. And he certainly made a better case for the war than Bush ever managed. Certainly he never lost any of his wit or sharpness of mind as he got older, he wasn't just getting soft and cosy as he became more conservative.