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Unspoken Truths
May 10, 2011 2:09 PM   Subscribe

"For me, to remember friendship is to recall those conversations that it seemed a sin to break off: the ones that made the sacrifice of the following day a trivial one." -Christopher Hitchens tries to come to terms with the loss of his voice.

Previously
posted by beisny (28 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
fuck. cancer. eom.
posted by victors at 2:24 PM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I never had any conversations later on like the ones I had when I was nineteen. Jesus, does anyone?
posted by Pants McCracky at 2:26 PM on May 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've disagreed with the man on things over the year, but I've never thought that he was anything but a first-rate writer. This had me in tears, which I like to think that he would pretend he hadn't noticed.

I hope he ends up in the same sort of situation as Roger Ebert -- forced to deal with unpleasant medical stuff, but moving on healthily and happily from there. And continuing to produce.
posted by GriffX at 2:27 PM on May 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


I just read this and dropped in to quote the very line used to introduce the link here. I think it bears repeating:

"For me, to remember friendship is to recall those conversations that it seemed a sin to break off: the ones that made the sacrifice of the following day a trivial one."
posted by joe lisboa at 2:28 PM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks for posting this. I have a feeling it will bear up to multiple rereadings.
posted by emhutchinson at 2:36 PM on May 10, 2011


I had laryngitis for over two months. It sucks, but you can get along with a laptop and speech synthesis. In fact, people think things are funnier when the computer says them because it has a great deadpan. Still, he has my sympathy. Fuck cancer.
posted by jewzilla at 2:51 PM on May 10, 2011


Any response I attempt to write to this sounds trite on preview.
I was only distantly aware of Hitchens until his cancer, and I've followed his articles with morbid interest since. His writing is visceral, and full of heart, and it flows like water. I wish the world had more writers like him.
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:51 PM on May 10, 2011


GriffX -- I'm with you!

Oh, and FUCK cancer!
posted by ericb at 3:13 PM on May 10, 2011


I've always sort of known about Christopher Hitchens, but I'd never read any of his writing until now. I can't believe I've waited this long.

He will glad to know that his words still resonate, if only on the page.

(P.S. Don't listen to If It Be Your Will while reading this unless you want get teary-eyed at work.)
posted by chatongriffes at 3:16 PM on May 10, 2011


Indeed, I don’t know of any really good writer who was deaf, either.

Is Helen Keller considered a good writer? Or is she mostly respected as having a remarkable story but her writing isn't actually considered good?
posted by hippybear at 3:24 PM on May 10, 2011


I loved his writing even when he was a callow Marxist. One of the great essayists in our time. I hope against hope Metafilter carries his piece 'How I lived to 150' in the future. It's not looking good but fingers crossed.
posted by joannemullen at 3:26 PM on May 10, 2011


I dunno. I wish he wasn't sick, but I've been enjoying Hitchens less and less as time goes on. His public speaking was kind of strident and manic. He kind of won debates by overpowering his "opponents" with so many divergent facts that it was often impossible to respond to him in a coherent straightforward manner. In other words he wasn't fair, and he often ended up sounding way too prideful of his own cleverness. He's often been more interested in winning arguments than of having a coherent debate.

There's also the whole supporting of the Iraq war and his very superficial book on religion. Yes, he's lively and I enjoy his passion and his energy, but in general I find him well read but not deep enough to think his books will last very much after he's gone.
posted by Omon Ra at 3:29 PM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Indeed, I don’t know of any really good writer who was deaf, either.

I would argue Donald Harington, made all the more remarkable by how much dialect played a role in his work.

I am studying Speech Language Pathology right now, and, like a lot of people I am in school with, originally got interested in the field through work with kids, and language and language systems. As my education goes on, and I get more observation hours, I find myself increasingly drawn to what's called "speech"--the manipulation of muscles starting with the diaphram to actually talk. The writing of Hitchens and Ebert is really making the connection between these two subfields more clear to me, and making me lean more to the mechanical, physical field.
posted by Ideal Impulse at 3:34 PM on May 10, 2011


Loved the Hitch ever since his hit piece on Mother Theresa. Gonna miss that bastard.
posted by whuppy at 3:34 PM on May 10, 2011


Oh, and FUCK cancer!

How about "fuck cigarettes!"
posted by KokuRyu at 3:47 PM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hitchens is someone who I always read with HIS voice in my head, much like reading Gore Vidal. Even if he can not physically speak I will hear his voice anyway
posted by readery at 3:52 PM on May 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


Omon Ra: "He kind of won debates by overpowering his "opponents" with so many divergent facts that it was often impossible to respond to him in a coherent straightforward manner. In other words he wasn't fair, and he often ended up sounding way too prideful of his own cleverness. He's often been more interested in winning arguments than of having a coherent debate."

Well, it's never really fair when the other side always comes up short, is it? An debater who subdues his utter dominance for the sake of humility insults his opponent. I'd rather lose a contest between adults than be kid-gloved to a draw.
posted by klanawa at 3:58 PM on May 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


klanawa,

Having debated competitively, I can say the two most common strategies were:

1) Have so many arguments, that require more time to rebutt than to issue, that your opponent can't possibly rebutt them all. Then rake them over the coals for ignoring them (silence equals consent).

2) Have very few arguments, and win with emotionally effective, very elegant speech.

The meta-game was whether 1) or 2) was more effective.
posted by effugas at 4:57 PM on May 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Fuck cancer indeed.
posted by theredpen at 5:06 PM on May 10, 2011


I'm pleased to see that not only is Hitchens still fighting, his rhetoric has actually gotten better as of late-- moving from the gross atheism crap to a skillful and clever take-down of Noam Chomsky. I've rarely been a fan but I hope he keeps writing as long as he can.
posted by shii at 5:18 PM on May 10, 2011


To me, watching Hitchens debate is like watching a fencing master. Like watching a master craftsman so totally in control of his tools they disappear and the results flow effortlessly. He danced a beautiful, vicious dance when he debated.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 7:22 PM on May 10, 2011


Indeed, I don’t know of any really good writer who was deaf, either.

You know, I mostly like Christopher Hitchens—despite many of his opinions—but then he writes stuff like this, and I just shake my head. (See also: Why Women Aren't Funny.)

That said, I'm pretty unschooled in this area and would be interested to read works by deaf writers if anyone has any suggestions.
posted by purpleclover at 7:24 PM on May 10, 2011


That quote went straight to my heart.
posted by SPrintF at 9:54 PM on May 10, 2011


a skillful and clever take-down of Noam Chomsky.

I'm not feeling it.
posted by rhizome at 10:31 PM on May 10, 2011


I'm always behind on metafilter. So much so in this case I'm just catching up on the stuff in the "previously" thread. But the Charlie Rose interview linked there by dhammond is well worth noting again here. (NB: the last ten minutes may make you cry.)

But then, I've always liked Hitchens.
posted by torticat at 11:35 PM on May 10, 2011


As I said in the bin Laden thread, one of the small joys of that day was the knowledge that Christopher Hitchens, a great humanist, lived long enough than that antihumanist motherfucker.

By the time my infant son is old enough to read Hitchens, I imagine the man will be gone. That knowledge is one of this day's small sadnesses. He's one of my heroes and I hope he goes out with his fists raised, many years from now.
posted by waxbanks at 11:33 AM on May 11, 2011


Damn. Amazing piece.

Hitchens is someone who I always read with HIS voice in my head, much like reading Gore Vidal. Even if he can not physically speak I will hear his voice anyway.

Same here. Anytime I read him, I hear his voice.
posted by homunculus at 11:58 AM on May 11, 2011


I read this out loud to a bunch of high school freshmen and they clapped at the end. This never happens.
posted by kozad at 2:43 PM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


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