Christopher Hitchens


During his life time, I was aware of only a fractional part of Christopher Hitchens’ body of work.  I knew enough of it, however, to have more than an inkling of our loss at his departure, and so began my mourning.  A mourning that was, and is, saturated by the images, text and voice of Mr. Hitchens.

Which brings up my first “external” dilemma:  what to call him.  When I write about him.  Which I might.  This piece is my first, other than the tweeting (I’m @mobrock) and facebooking of links to and short observations about Mr. Hitchens Hitch him.  A small dilemma, but one with which I will have to deal.  I suspect.  Unless I never again write about him.  Which I doubt will be the case, but which query I am not going to answer here.

As I write this, I recognize that anyone who respects Hitch (too familiar?) will hate the text I’ve just written.  But this blog is so far outside the scope of your radar (I was going to say “beneath your intellectual . . . ,” but I couldn’t figure out how to say it.  See?  My vocabulary sucks.  I think you get my drift.) that you won’t ever see my linguistic ineptitude.  But for the rest of us, I am an adequate to above adequate writer, occasionally witty, despite the fact that I don’t need to be, but mostly just self-indulgent.  At least on the subject of Hitchens, and during my mourning.  But then,

I don’t need a seconder. My own opinion is enough for me. And I claim the right to have it defended against any consensus, any majority, anywhere, any place, any time. And anyone who disagrees with this can pick a number, get on line, and kiss my ass.                            – Christopher Hitchens

So, here’s what my mourning has looked like: Upon reading the announcement of his death, likely from Twitter, I watched several hours of Youtube recordings of Christopher by and C-SPAN and loaded by some of you to whom I am so grateful.

Note: If you aren’t mourning, you haven’t yet discovered Christopher Hitchens.  But not to worry.   His work, so luckily for us, is documented and available.  And I am hoping and believing that many more recordations and memorials  will continue to appear.

Next, I cancelled my workout (thank you, Shari, for understanding).  Then I went for a long walkabout in Stone Mountain Park.  A long, slow walk with my coffee-and-a-little-something in honor of the man.  Four hours of slow forward motion and slowed emotion; a quiet walk punctuated with tears, laughter, observations about the scenery and its mood, and dialogues about life.  I dreamed about him that night.  For the first, and so far, the last, time.

During the few days between his death and my drive to visit my beloved family for the holidays, I spent more hours in his presence.  Watching videos, transcribing into short bursts on Facebook and Twitter a few of his quotes, and sharing observations about him.

My family – bless them – I think, are a bit worried that I am taking his death too hard, and maybe in an inappropriate way. So I am especially thankful for those of you who understand this grief, although many of you are experiencing a much deeper and more intimate grief than mine.

To all of us, I say, relish it.

Because whatever it will be like, it won’t be like this forever.  At some point in the future, the pain will be less sharp.  We’ll accommodate it in order to remain functional in this world.  We’ll sob less often as we continue to learn about the man and find him to be a crystalline lens through which we can focus our perspectives on future current events, and ask, you can hear it coming, “WWHD?”  And although I’m not sure that Hitch would condone my own attempt to dissect an issue by considering how he would see it, instead of clearly evaluating what my own thoughts and observations are; and at the risk of being secularly sacrilegious in that reference, I just have to observe one contrast between WWHD and WWJD:  how much more appropriate it is to consider the basis for the thoughts of a man who authored a considerable body of work and whose lectures and debates are recorded, on the one hand, versus those of a dubiously historical figure and potential mythical character, about whom we know only via stories written about him by other people, after his death, and through numerous translations.

I am definitely not guru-izing H.  Nothing of the sort.  And I suspect that you noticed that I said next to nothing about him.  The thing is, I wouldn’t know how to choose what I wanted to say or was worth saying.  You know what I mean.  And now, back to the mourning.

Hitchens, from

2 responses to “Christopher Hitchens

  1. I share your feelings, although I’ve been following him for years. He is an original and a brave one at that.

    I wrote a blog about him two days ago. As far as how to call him, I switch from time to time as the mood strikes me.

    I don’t do “environment” like you, but I respect your work and dedication.

  2. Rachel – I am embarrassed to say that I am beyond consolation. But you’re the first person with whom I’ve interacted who could understand that. I’ll try to find your blog.

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