Haphazard Observations of the Everyday

And a little fiction by Miguela Holt y Roybal

Miguela Holt y Roybal

Miguela Holt y Roybal
New Mexico, USA
March 10
Monarch of All She Surveys
Miguela Holt y Roybal is my maiden name en Espanol. I am a retired schoolteacher and aspiring author looking for crumbs of beauty among the ruins. My novel has been a work in progress for longer than I care to admit. It is a postmodern pastiche of magical realism and about a young woman from New Mexico who goes to work in Washington, DC during the 1980s. She has been a longtime witness to the secret rituals of the Penitente culture in her home state and learns about herself and redemption as she sallies forth on her quest for novelty and adventure. I claim fair useage of images found on the internet that illustrate some of my posts. All contents copyrighted by the author unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved.


Editor’s Pick
DECEMBER 16, 2011 7:24AM

Christopher Hitchens was Great

Rate: 48 Flag


(Google Images)

He was a cross between Voltaire and Orwell.

Christopher Hitchens, one of the great thinkers of our time, died in Houston last night after suffering complications from esophageal cancer.  The bestselling author, performer, and tireless bon vivant was only sixty-two. 

In an interview on the BBC, Labour MP Denis McShane, a close friend, described Hitchens as a cross between Voltaire and George Orwell.   Another friend, author Ian McEwan, reported that he was writing to the very end of his days insisting upon a desk by a window in order to produce 3000 words to meet a deadline.  Hitch wrote poignantly and unflichingly about his terminal illness that was diagnosed last year just as he was going on tour to promote his autobiography, Hitch-22.  As recently as eight days ago he wrote "Trial of the Will"  for Vanity Fair in which he took on Neitzsche and his famous maxim, “Whatever doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.”


Hitchens continued to write in an effort battle against his cancer:  "I was very afraid that it would stop me writing. I was really petrified with fear about that because I thought that would, among other things, diminish my will to live."  Writing was his life but Hitch was also regretful that he would not be there for his family.

 He burned his candle at both ends.

Born in England, Hitchens showed early promise.  The child of middle class parents, his mother once declared, "If there is going to be an upper class in this country, then Christopher is going to be in it."  He delivered. 

In his autobiography, Hitchens confessed that he related to the two faced character Janus because he lived what he admitted was a double life.   At Oxford by day he was a Trotskyite and an "ally of the working class" however, in the evenings he was a popular guest at cocktail parties where he mingled with "near-legendary members of the establishment's firmament on nearly equal terms."

Because Hitchens was famously an advocate for atheism, there are some who thought he was a bitter person because he did not approve of popular religious figures such as God, Ghandi, and Mother Teresa.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  He was a man who loved life and people, who lived it to the fullest, enjoying the company of many famous friends such as Martin Amis, Ian McEwan, Salman Rushdie, Phillip Larkin, Stephen Fry, Tina Brown, and numerous others. 

An unapologetic lifelong smoker and drinker, Hitch's beloved vices got him in the end and he said that his terminal illness was "something so predictable and banal that it bores even me."  Many wondered how he could party so hard and still produce such magnificent and prolific articles.  McEwan marveled how Hitch could drink a bottle of whisky and rise early in the morning to write:  "He loved words .  .  .  He could throw words up into the sky and they fell in a marvelous fashion." 

Christopher Hitchens and Martin Amis

(Best friend, author Martin Amis and Christopher Hitchens with their first born sons in 1985 courtesy of Google Images.)

He was a courageous journalist unafraid to change his mind.

The internationally celebrated journalist began his political philosophy on the left but moved progressively to the right becoming an American citizen in 2007 and then supporting the war in Iraq thereby infuriating some of his former liberal colleagues.  He was courageous in his thoughts and deeds.

hitchens waterboard

Hitchens was a daring journalist who volunteered to be waterboarded in order to understand its effects upon suspected terrorists for an article he wrote in Vanity Fair entitled, "Believe me, It's torture."


 hitchens mud mask

He subjected himself to uncomfortable luxury spa treatments enduring full body wraps, keratin hair treatments, a Brazilian bikini wax, and dental work as research also proclaiming them torturous in his three part series for Vanity Fair, "On the Limits of Self Improvement."


 He charmed Christians as well as atheists.

Hitchens wrote an international bestseller entitled God is Not Great in which he denounced religion as an affront to humanity and he was a popular figure on the debate circuit with such religious figures as Dinesh D'Souza and Rabbi Schmuly Boteach who had enormous respect for him.  Hitch, like the devil, knew his bible forward and backward.

Not surprisingly, when Hitchens was diagnosed with a terminal illness in its last stages, some Christians were quick to say that the Almighty was condemning him for his non-belief.  Ever the gentleman, Hitch said that he did not mind people praying for his healing as long as they did not pray for his salvation. 

He complained about well wishers making him feel guilty.  "An enormous number of secular and atheist friends have told me encouraging and flattering things like: 'If anyone can beat this, you can'; 'Cancer has no chance against someone like you'; 'We know you can vanquish this.' On bad days, and even on better ones, such exhortations can have a vaguely depressing effect," he wrote in an article for Vanity Fair

"If I check out, I'll be letting all these comrades down," he said. "A different secular problem also occurs to me: What if I pulled through and the pious faction contentedly claimed that their prayers had been answered? That would somehow be irritating."

If it's a no fault universe, Hitch will be in heaven.

Christopher Hitchens always kept his mind open and was willing to change if he was shown his errors and that included beliefs about religion:  "No evidence or argument has yet been presented which would change my mind. But I like surprises."

Hitch's death didn't surprise me because even he knew it was imminent.  What surprised me is that I dreamed about him last night probably as he was dying.  The thing is I NEVER dream.  My nights are an endless unfurling of black velvet.  If there is a spirit world, and I have my doubts, it is like Hitch said goodbye to me.  I will miss his wisdom, grace, and pure fun but will do as he prescribed and leave hold of the doctrinaire and allow my chainless mind to do my own thinking.





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One of my heroes, I'll miss his words.
Wow, M! Hitch came to you in a dream??? All day sunday, after going to church in the morning, I kept thinking to myself, I've really got to read the God Delusion and see what Hitchens was really trying to say about this stuff. I see no reason why Science won't someday find how we really are all connected through our minds, somehow. 50,000 neutrinos pass through our bodies every minute...they might carry small bits of information...
I am so sorry to hear he has gone. I loved to read his stuff. How sad to lose him. It sounds like he loved living, and DID live, and I admire him for that and for his willingness also to change his views as well as speak out on radical Islam.
This is a terrific remembrance. Thank you! r.
I know how you really admired Christopher Hitchens and so I am sad for you today.
Terrific piece, Miguela, but sad. I'd been hoping Hitch could beat the devil. He was the main reason I subscribed to The Atlantic, just for his book reviews. Here's a link to a piece I did in 2001 covering his appearance at the College of William and Mary to protest W&M's appointment of Henry Kissinger as chancellor: Hitchens v. Kissinger
He was wonderfully eclectic, an intellectual Renaissance man, whose clear thinking and mordant wit enlivened everything he wrote about, even the things I did not agree with. He knew how to put the right words in the right places. Like you, Miguela, I will miss him, miss his voice, miss his cut-through-the-clutter writing.
It is such a loss. But he was a huge inspiration, others will follow n his steps. Thank you for a wonderful remembrance piece.
The man had amazing writing work ethic. He is my hero.
Way old school, Hitchens. Voltaire indeed!
I never cared much for Voltaire but I did love Hitchens.
How the hell could u not? Re. his sinful habits, he said
“Writing is what’s important to me,
and anything that helps me do that —
or enhances and prolongs and deepens
and sometimes intensifies argument and conversation — is worth it to me.”
If I was an atheist, he would be my demigod.
If I was an agnostic, he would be my demiurge .
If I was a religious man, he would be a great drunken debater.
But as he said,
"Religion ends and philosophy begins, just as alchemy ends and chemistry begins and astrology ends, and astronomy begins"

Sophia welcomes him home.
Fitting tribute to this great ist. Funny that you dreamt of him? Congrats on the EP.
I meant great journalist.
Miguela, I hadn't heard the news until seeing your post. Sad to see him pass on at such a young age and I will miss seeing him in spirited debates with others. With luck, the ones online will be there for a long time and, of course, his writing will always be with us. Thanks for the touching tribute to him!
It's always sad to lose a real thinker. We don't seem to have enough of them anymore. This is a great piece, Miguela, well deserving of an EP.
God is not great, but Christopher Hitchens was.

Tho I was shocked & appalled at his essay on how women have no sense of humor. (Or maybe it was a funny piece??)
Spectacular piece, Miguela! Rated!
I had the same exact thought as Myriad. The fact that he would say that women have no sense of humor soured met to him tremendously. But, he was a brilliant man who was unafraid to tell what he thought was the truth.
He obviously never read Fernsy or Bell or Mimetalker or Margaret, to name the first four brilliant humorists to come to mind.
62, Steve and I sadly heard this last night. So well written and congrats on the EP!!
Excellent tribute and well-deserved EP ~ Congrats!
Thank you for this. All I can manage is a wimpy "In Memoriam" -- I think the depth of this would have pleased him.
Much deserved EP. One of the best pieces I've seen about Hitchens and his work and ideas.
Great piece Miguela! What a fiercely honest human being he was. Rated!
I came late to him, but found his literary criticism to be excellent. I found an article of his on poet Philip Larkin recently that I saved.

Interesting how he straddled the fence, writing for The Nation, espousing atheism like most educated liberals, yet supporting war against Iran. A real Whitmanesque "I contain multitudes" type.
He was an intellectual giant and a deliciously clever and and insightful writer. I can see the comparison to Voltaire and Orwell, though the latter was never witty like Hitchens. I'd say Gore Vidal is the closest comparable. I'll miss his essays but be thankful for for his amazingly prolific output.
Bobbot--He was one of my heroes, too. I'll miss his words and seeing him on television. I thought he was handsome as well as brilliant.

Helvetica--Hitchens was a master of reason and a tireless humanist. You can see him in all his glory on Youtube debating with great erudition about the failings of religion or flipping people off who disagreed with him. He had the full range from high to low.

BarbaraJoanne--He is being vilified for his stance on Iraq but his reasons were very compelling. I loved to read his stuff, too. Never dull.
Thanks for the compliment, Jon :D.

James--It is a dreary day here befitting my sad mood.

Matt--You are an amazing journalist. Thanks for adding to the discussion here. It is weird but perhaps one of the reasons I might have dreamed about Hitch is that my husband was watching "The Trial of Kissinger" on Netflix. Bob bought me Hitch's latest book Arguably for Christmas and was wanting to get more familiar with him.
"Hitch, like the devil, knew his bible forward and backward." Words that have a deep, deep meaning. A good tribute, and I am glad I read it.
A wonderfully written piece! I have to confess, I only knew Hitchens' work through sporadically acquired issues of "Vanity Fair". Some of his recent articles have been brilliant and incredibly thought-provoking. It seems his life was the same. Thank you for this information and this tribute - and what a strange thing, to have dreamt of Hitchens even as he passed away..... I'm not sure if he'd want me to say it (maybe he'd have found it banal or cliche or unnecessary?) but may he rest in peace.
Dr. Jerry--I wish I had your command of words. I absolutely love your description of Hitch and I know he would have been very flattered by it.

snowball999--How did he ever find the time with his busy social life? Let me know if you find his replacement. With Kurt Vonnegut gone too, there is no one left that I trust to tell it like it is.

JamesE--Thanks for finding Hitch's words about his bad habits. As you know, he had no regrets for their consequences save those relating to his family who will have to live without him.
Erika--In my dream I wanted to interview Hitch and hoped to become his friend. He was very kind to me but said that he couldn't stay.

Designanator--Remember when we said not to trust anyone over thirty? Now we think sixty two is young and it is. I hope Hitch is on Youtube and other places on the web forever. We need his reason and compassion to live on.

Thank you, Toritto, for reading and commenting. It is a sad day for those of us who admired his wit and wisdom.
Thank you kindly, Jeanette, for your compliments. I believe he is irreplaceable.

Myriad--Re: Women not having senses of humor--I like to think he was joking but I don't think so. There are numerous things I disagreed with him about. Thank heavens thinking like me is not one of my requirements for appreciating an author or I would not have many favorites. Thanks for adding to the discussion.

Thanks, Sis!

Fernsy--Maybe he meant that a woman's sense of humor was not as important as a man's. We women don't need that evolutionarily because we are already attractive to men without it. I remember a quip by someone saying something like women should not marry men for their senses of humor, they never leave you laughing. Thanks for your comment ;D.
Matt--I agree that those ladies you mentioned as well as others are pretty damned funny and even Hitch would have to agree.

Linda--Such sad news for a dreary day. I watched some Hitchslaps on Facebook and they cheered me up considerably. Thanks, dear.

Thank you, Susie :D.
Takingadvice--I liked your tribute to him. I was going to repost an open letter I wrote to Hitch a while back but decided he deserved better than that so I stayed up all night to write this.

MaryS--Thank you, dear.

Sarah--Fiercely honest--that was Hitch who loved to battle. Thank you for reading and for your comment.

ConChapman--Like you, I admired Hitch for his literary criticism in particular articles about F. Scott Fitzgerald, George Orwell, and Nabakov. He wistfully stated that he wished that his criticism had received more attention. Thank you for mentioning that.
Abrawang--Oh, he was deliciously clever as you aptly put his talent but he would have hated the comparison to Gore Vidal. On the back of Hitch-22, is a quote by GV which says, "I have been asked whether I wish to nominate a successor, an inheritor, a dauphin or delfino, I have decided to name Christopher Hitchens." In red, the quote is crossed out and in the margin is written, "No. CH."
BrazenPrincess--I wondered what you would think of this article. Hitchens was a really decent guy dispite his lack of belief. Thanks for commenting.

Alysa--As long as you are not praying for Hitch's salvation, he would be cool with your prayer for him to rest in peace. Thanks, dear, for commenting.
The second genius to die too young this year.
I'll be the one dissenting voice - Hitch wasn't great - to me he was a hack of the most boring, obnoxious, self-important kind... that so-called self-improvement makeover was a perfect example of his boring, self-important me me me me tripe.. and the worst was his refusal to admit he was wrong about the Iraq debacle... read the excellent piece in Salon today about what if they ended a war and no one cared... and tell me again why Hitchens was so great...
Miguela - very good post for a man you greatly admired; I am with him as an atheist, but on everything else I concur with a comment by a Guardian (UK newspaper):

"A pub debater par excellence. A man with opinions but few ideas. An entertaining stylist, in speech and writing.
Mostly knew him for his atheist show. Not exactly a heavyweight, but a darn sight more enjoyable than Dawkins and Grayling"

Unlike most of the comments on your post, but one to which I subscribe; I have been a reader of Vanity Fair for as long as I can remember, and I did always have an ambivalent feeling about Hitchens as many times I would be left admiring his "pub" oratory, but would then be left bereft of any of whatever he was pushing (such as his ludicrous arguments in favour of the Iraq invasion).
Someone commented on him being a Renaissance man! Please, writing articles, boozing, debating and womanizing (very well of course), but.........
Certainly quite a significant figure, at least in the anglosaxon world...
Should be....by a Guardian (UK newspaper) reader:
Haha, our esteemed Italian colleague writes, "Certainly quite a significant figure, at least in the anglosaxon world..." Oh snap!
An excellent tribute.
Having not heard the spontaneous capacity of most of the great minds of history to support their arguments in debate, I still think I'd be amazed to find an intellect more adept at it than Hitchens was.

Love him or hate him, no honest person could deny that his clarity of logical argument was stunning and in many ways, an inspiration to those of us who hold out hope, for reason triumphing over irrational belief.
David P--I did not agree with Hitch about everything that he wrote especially since I have not read it all. I am against war period--even the so-called just wars. As for the me me me aspect of Hitch, I would much rather read that from him than say the inarticulate Kardashians who are featured in nearly all the media as newsworthy day in and day out. Hitch was honest in that VF feature story and a lot of it was unflattering to him. Thanks for being the dissenting voice here. Frankly, I was expecting more.

Roberto--"Pub debater" was perhaps a little bit of a low blow by the commenter when referring to Hitchens' prowess but I have been reading some comments that are far less complimentary than that. I doubt that the editorial staff at The Guardian would agree. In my opinion, he has certainly demonstrated that he is far more than an intellectual lightweight--at least in the Anglo-Saxon world as you pointed out. It is hard to be all things to all people everywhere. I have said more than once here that I do not have to agree with someone 100 percent to admire him. If so, I wouldn't have any friends at all.

The aspect of his career that I admired the most was his erudite literary criticism of which he lamented received far less attention than his other more sensational subjects. Thanks for your comments.

Myriad--I appreciate the comments of dissenters--all of them. Thanks, again.
"He was very kind to me but said that he couldn't stay"....

Miguela (and "your dreamer") what a heartbreaking beautiful insight and and twelve-word "prose poem"!

I will hope to post something more ?"substantive"? later; I'm still (so to say) in the throes of working through the ?"mourning process"?. Cannot thank you enough for your post and your OS availability.

R (of course!!)
@ miguela - thanks for your reply, very clear and lucid as always
@ myriad - not sure I fully understand your cutting(?) remark, but mine wasw just a statement of fact, not more and not less
Roberto - I was not trying to be cutting, at least not towards you - only to chuckle at us of the English-speaking world being called out for our provincialism ("at least in the anglosaxon world", which I took as gentle irony). Like, most of the world knows naught of Mr. H., nor could care less. (And who do we know of Italian big names or any others...) You who speak English as well as Italian (and more?) have (at least) a double world...
For all those who are unable to forgive Hitch for his support of the Iraq war, I offer something that I feel provides some insight into his position.

Here are some excerpts from his letter to American Atheists, which he wrote because of his inability to appear in person for health reasons:

"It is our innate solidarity, and not some despotism of the sky, which is the source of our morality and our sense of decency."

"in the past few years, there have been heartening signs of a genuine and spontaneous resistance to this sinister nonsense: a resistance which repudiates the right of bullies and tyrants to make the absurd claim that they have god on their side. To have had a small part in this resistance has been the greatest honor of my lifetime: the pattern and original of all dictatorship is the surrender of reason to absolutism and the abandonment of critical, objective inquiry. "

"Our weapons are the ironic mind against the literal: the open mind against the credulous; the courageous pursuit of truth against the fearful and abject forces who would set limits to investigation (and who stupidly claim that we already have all the truth we need). Perhaps above all, we affirm life over the cults of death and human sacrifice and are afraid, not of inevitable death, but rather of a human life that is cramped and distorted by the pathetic need to offer mindless adulation, or the dismal belief that the laws of nature respond to wailings and incantations."

There is a parallel between Hitch's attacks on religion and his vehement opposition to Saddam Hussein.

He writes that "our innate solidarity" is a major source of our morality and decency. His solidarity with friends among the Kurdish opposition to Saddam Hussein is an important theme behind is support for the Iraq war.

But also his courageous, spirited, and tireless campaign of resistance and criticism of all forms of tyranny, dictatorship, and totalitarianism was a common theme in all his thought, whether that tyranny came in political or religious form.

As he wrote: "Our weapons are the ironic mind against the literal: the open mind against the credulous." In thinking about the Iraq war we need to be able to make distinctions, and not lock ourselves into the trap of an indivisible binary that can not be parsed: either for or against.

Certainly to consider loyalty to the left as a reason to criticize Hitch is infantile and lacking in credible seriousness. His opposition to tyranny was consistant, whether that tyranny came from left-wing or right wing despots. His support for removing Saddam was intellectually consistent, as well as personally courageous knowing as he did that the resistance from his traditional allies would be furious.

Where I think we need to make distinctions is to consider the goal of the Iraq War, and the methods that were chosen to achieve that goal. To oppose the war, and to wish it had never happened, is in a sense to wish Saddam were still ruling Iraq. I don't wish this. The goal of liberating a people from a tyrant was a noble one, and Hitchens courageously stood up in support of this principle. The military tactics and disastrous approach to the aftermath of an incompetent and ideologically blinded leadership are the real sources of disaster. If for example, the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in Iraq could have been accomplished in a manner similar to the overthrow of Qaddafi in Libya, those of us who opposed and hated the war and it's authors might have felt differently about the whole thing.

My own, personal, ?"cyber"?mourning? for "Hitch" has already taken up half my own personal day so far. Inevitably, many of the comments here have focused on many of the aspects of the man. His life? His writing style? His opinions? His effects? I loved him for his elan and his stylistic wit (*) "but/and" it interested me that in trying to follow this thread so far today, I experienced a sadder quieter sense that somewhere -- in the voluminous body of his published works, I'd read a deeply sane, attentive ongoing report of the people he actually knew in Iraq. That I'd actually at one or more times looked to him for good factual information on this so sad theme that I guess is affecting all of us today also. Sorry to be so longwinded. Miguela; feel free to delete this if I'm hogging up too much time on your post!! ;-)
Congratulations on the EP.
Hitchens would have enjoyed your tribute to him. I know I did.
Excellent piece. The man was such a welcome voice of reason, especially in light of America's recent trend in blurring religion with patriotism. Thanks.
'What a nice tribute' I am writing, while thinking CH would likely not like to hear 'nice' in any tribute. : )
Vanity Fair won't be the same...
I wasn't too fond of his style, but I love a good writer regardless, I'm sorry he died so young.
Even Edsels go somewhere.

An interesting read; an interesting man. I'll read his book when I stop debating that we'll all go to hell because a life long dear friend's religion says Christmas is in September. I'm not an advocate of religion but I am of spirituality. (don't chide me with your version of the philly steak sandwich; it's enough to know it's out there)

I'm sorry for your loss Miquela. You mentioned his book to me a few months back. He sounds like he was an interesting man.
Samasiam-- Thank you for the compliment about the post. It is easy to shine when one has such an eloquent and interesting subject. You listed other reasons why I loved the man, too, and I appreciate your reading and comment very much.

podunkmarte--I always think my poetry is sour and so your appreciation of what you called my twelve word poem is most welcome. Like you I found Hitchens' style and elan irresistable whether I agreed with him or not. I'll look forward to what more you have to say about him.

Thanks, Chrissie--I stayed up all night to write this and am so glad that you enjoyed it. I do hope that Hitch would have got a charge about the juxtaposition of the dueling tortures. :D

Jeff J--I can't thank you enough for your excellent comment explaining Hitch's support of the war in Iraq. Because I shy away from politics and focus on art and literature in my life, I did not want to have to research a topic that holds little interest for me personally and yet needed to be addressed. Thanks, again.

Reflections of a shallow pond--How right you are. The world got a little dumber when Hitch passed away last night. Thanks.
Just thinking--I think Hitch would like nice. He was at heart a gracious man who hated ignorance and injustice.

Blinddream--You are always so generous to me with your kind words and I appreciate it. Guess what I got in the mail today? The most amazing Christmas CD in the world with many artists who are new to me. Merry Christmas, my dear friend.
Roberto Luigi is entirely wrong to imply that Hitchens wasn't appreciated beyond the anglo-saxon world. The respected Italian paper, the Corriere della Sera described him today 'lo scrittore è stato una delle penne più pungenti degli ultimi anni' i.e. the writer was one of the sharpest pens of recent years'.
Hitchens didn't hesitate to slaughter a sacred cow, so it seems to me the best tribute is not to make of him a sacred cow just because he's dead. This is the guy who said women aren't funny, defended a horrifying war, and attacked Princess Diana before her corpse had even cooled just for acting like a princess. He wasn't great, but he was gifted, and your essay beautifully illuminates the many gifts of this complex, albeit flawed, man.
The Chocolate Covered Kitchen--You are right about Hitch. He could be strident and rude but that was a lot of his charm. Not only did he do the things you mentioned, he often turned on his friends. I really didn't mean to fawn over him. Thank you for reading and for your comment.
I listened to a BBC? I radio interview in my P.U. This is way-more substantially researched.
Than you for this research.
I can't find time to keep up.
I believe we share wild days.
We need honest critiques.
Sell-outs do FEAR demise.
They will wake up too late.
No tell everything. Why?
No caste a pearl before:
a swine in human form.

Gads. To volunteer? Torture.
I'd rather eat dry garlic sticks.
BBC did a great interview too.

I just enjoy the reading script.
Fake "journalist" can go barf.
Woe unto phony-sell-out ilk.

They are the 21st cen scribes.
O, woe. Thanks again for this.
Tribute. He'll be okay. huh?

Immortality. Fools are blind.
Fools attract fools. Sell-Outs.
Post that last-gasp? Oy, woe!
Art--Thanks for noticing the research I put into this post. I heard the news and stayed up all night preparing it. Hitchens was kind of crazy to volunteer for torture, I agree. He was in the habit of abusing his body with copious alcohol and tobacco and so maybe that is why he remained unfazed. Since heaven and hell are here on earth, Hitch is going to be okay as you say. He led an enviable life. Thanks for your eloquent comment. Appreciated as ever.
This is an extremely well-done memorial, Miguela. I am impressed to no end. Well researched. Well constructed. Truly a professional level piece.
Thank you, Brassawe, for the compliment that meant the most to me today and they were all just splendid--truly.
DHAustin--I wish there was a way to post that cartoon into the comments section here. Thanks for sharing it. I am smiling for the first time today.
Well done tribute to a larger than life man.
Thank you kindly, onislandtime.
I loved to hear him speak, and especially debating people who came to the debate unarmed. I love his last column for Vanity Fair, he was Hitch until the end.
Scanner--The man was almost matchless as a debator and I agree he could be absolutely withering to those with lesser skills. Hitch to the end--yes!
His books on Orwell and Kissinger were his best work. His activism was erratic. Years ago he was truly great, but he began to unravel even before he supported the disaster in Iraq. He declared himself an "ex-leftist" and turned his back on any serious economic outlook beyond Fukayama--an inevitability, unfortunately, for many bright people in his (my own) generation, who had too much for too long to recall what this system is really all about. He must have known that he'd gotten it horribly wrong near the end.

He was an intrepid atheist, though, and that counts for a lot in this increasingly creepy Christian society. Bye, Hitch. We hardly knew you.

I meant "Fukuyama" of course, although it's the same shit either way.
Hitch's beloved vices got him in the end and he said that his terminal illness was "something so predictable and banal that it bores even me."

This is the kind of attitude that set him apart as a prince among men. Thanks for this outstanding tribute and for including the links, Miguela.
All I can say is that he will be missed. He was a valiant voice in the atheist (or as he said "anti-theist") cause and there are far too few voices in that worthy cause.

Thanks for posting.
@Paust: Hey Matt, I don't need any help sealing my own fate! That is sacrilege, mentioning my name in the comments section of post about a saint. You do realize you've made it that much harder for me; I'll end up doing what Warren Zevon sings at the end of Knockin on Heaven's Door - "Open up! Open up! Open up!"
Warren Z., another Saint & also undoubtedly welcomed w/open arms like Christopher.
@reframe66 - Glad someone reads italian newspapers! and yes I personally first heard the news on an italian radio; that does not however imply at all that Hitchens had the following he has managed to have in the UK and USA (and maybe some other english language country with affinity to the anglosaxon culture); ask italians even of a certain cultural level (and that might know enough of the language) and 99% would just say "chi?", the 1% would be that journalist of the Corriere and a few others of the same professional profile.
I suppose that if you were to ask in the anglosaxon world you would do better than the by now classic divide 0f 99 to 1 (certainly here on OS:)).
I enjoyed his irreverence and bon vivant spirit, I admired his command of language and his cajones. I hated his latest politics and views on women. The Vanity Fair pieces were sometimes hilarious and usually my first read. Salute to a writer..
Rita--Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I went back and read that article "Why Women Aren't Funny." It didn't seem so denigrating to me. He backed it up with science and even said, "This is not to say that women are humorless, or cannot make great wits and comedians. And if they did not operate on the humor wavelength, there would be scant point in half killing oneself in the attempt to make them writhe and scream (uproariously). Wit, after all, is the unfailing symptom of intelligence. Men will laugh at almost anything, often precisely because it is—or they are—extremely stupid. Women aren't like that. And the wits and comics among them are formidable beyond compare: Dorothy Parker, Nora Ephron, Fran Lebowitz, Ellen DeGeneres."
Here are a couple of good reads on the life of Christopher Hitchens: http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/12/16/farewell-to-c-h/ , and this, right here in Salon: http://www.salon.com/2011/12/17/christohper_hitchens_and_the_protocol_for_public_figure_deaths/

We live in a time where people are easily fooled. Very easily.
John Hamilton--Thank you for providing the links referring to Hitchens. After reading the Greenwald article, it appeared to be professional jealousy to me. As a close reader of Hitch for over thirty years, I am well aware of his many flaws including disrespecting his friends as well as his enemies. Nevertheless, I can't help but admire a man who says exactly what he thinks, however nasty, in such eloquent prose even if I do not agree with him. He was the consummate bad boy, a type I revere. Do I behave as he did? Certainly not.
A wonderful and concise summation of his life and philosophy. Especially for someone like me, who didn't really know he was.
I too will miss him. Didn't always agree with him, but he always made me think, and I so appreciated that. As someone has said, "a great voice silenced."
Thanks for writing this...I admired him greatly, and he will be missed.
Beth--The man was endlessly fascinating. He lives on through many posts on Youtube. I recommend anyone to get to know him better. Love him or hate him, you will not be bored. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, I appreciate it!

bnzoot--I can't think of another person who can even come close to replacing his erudite and eloquent views about politics, literature, or culture. Thank you in joining me in this tribute to him.

Frank M--Let me know if you learn of a voice as intellectually honest and elegant as his. Thank you for dropping by to honor his memory
". . . he said that his terminal illness was 'something so predictable and banal that it bores even me.' " "

Something only he would say. A stellar post and a tribute to a stellar mind.

Give me a "moron" for peace over a "genius" for war any day. He died unredeemed.
Would rate Harry's comment if I could.
FusunA--Hitch did seem almost kind of non-chalant about his illness even toward the end. Thank you for your comment.

Harry's ghost and MarkinJapan--I thank you for stating your opinion.
A fascinating, witty man who didn't bother to do the research and discover that there are lots of religious folks out there who are not mindless bigots.

Hitchens knew little to nothing about religion, but wrote about it anyway. Good for him -- he had lots of fun in life setting fire to his straw men and women. If there's a heaven, I'm sure he's there already, enjoying himself and entertaining one and all with his outrageous wit.
. . . And those folks that Hitchens is right now entertaining in heaven would include, I'm pretty sure, lots of those mindless bigots he so disdained.
The talking pew--They say that Hitch could call forth anything he had ever read and every conversation that he had ever had and so maybe he didn't research as deeply as some feel that he should've. It's interesting to me that so many religious leaders who have had the pleasure of debating with him have spoken so highly of Hitch mentioning his thorough knowledge of the bible and his unimpeachable integrity.

I am not a believer, but if I was, I would understand that it is a no-fault universe. How could God make us ill and then command us to be well? That would not be fair. If the Father is really there, He will gather all of us, everyone, unto Him. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment about Mr. Hitchens.
Miguela, I'm a (so-so) practicing Christian, and I so agree with you that this has got to be a no-fault universe with a Creator who has to take some responsibility for our less-than-goodness.

Hitchens had a lot of goodness, I think, because he tried so hard to tell and live the truth and because he seems to have made a point of enjoying the life he was given.
The talking pew--I admire Hitch if for no other reason that he lived his life to the fullest and had amazing friends but of course that's not all. Thanks again for commenting and happy holidays to you.
Hitches writes, "I was very afraid that it (the cancer) would stop me writing. I was really petrified with fear about that because I thought that would, among other things, diminish my will to live." I, too, admired Hitches and was fascinated though a little repelled by his mournful, hedonistic determinations. This state seems so oddly self-contradictory: as a dying man he was fearful of losing his will to live." To me it this seems is something he never truly possessed. He gave that up years before when refused to deal with his addictions.
@Feike - Margaret, my apologies. I must've been half asleep or under Phyllis45's hypnotic spell. I shall immediately withdraw you from the list of brilliant female humorists and add Linnnn, who is so funny I'm afraid to read her without an ambulance standing by. Must've blocked her out whilst compiling my list. Go, then and be grim.
He was a monstewr whose death greatly cheers me -- and anyone else who cares aboutr the mosntrous genocidal campaign known as "The Iraq War."

I really don't understand this, and I've mostly liked what I've seen of your work Miguela. Is it because of his athiesm? To me that's like shooting fish in a barrell. It hardly constitutes a "deep" thinker to point out the failure of religion, especially as it is now organized, among the literati.

He apparently found his way to a new generation who think somehow this is "radical" and "progressive," but frankly I think it's old hat and in the times I saw Hutchins speak, while giving him every opportunty to impress me I found him a gross disappointment. I can't even remember his stance on most issues since I found them so shallow and merely polemical.

I thought he was going to me more than that but he wasn't. Perhaps you can convince me with some stand he took that in fact was brave and far reaching, but my current opinion is that he was a pompous gasbag, and find it hard to believe we are even discussing the same person.

Orwell he was not, Camus he was not, Tony Judt, a far more brave and less appreciated figure he was not. I just don't get it. In fact, I'd put any essay Judt ever wrote against any essay Hutchins ever wrote and don't think it'd be a competition if the work is evaluated on an objective basis. Hutchins strength was self-promotion, (witness the material you present) and that's not what makes for a lasting contribution.
Ben Sen—I would like to thank you for taking the time to write a cogent critique of this post and I appreciate where you are coming from. Hitchens is not for everyone. I first became familiar with him as a literary critic of works by Orwell, Fitzgerald, and Nabakov. Since you are familiar with some of my posts, you will have noticed that politics do not interest me much having been soured on the whole dirty business following a stint on Capitol Hill during the 1980s. I don’t have a broad knowledge of his controversial pieces about supporting the war in Iraq, for example, that so infuriated his colleagues on the left. I am not familiar with the work of Tony Judt so I am not in a position to compare the men.

Perhaps Hitchens was self-promoting and inclined to fluff on occasion but I looked forward to every issue of Vanity Fair because he was a regular contributor. Did I approve of or agree with everything he did or said? Of course not, but he has entertained me for over thirty-five years and anyone who has been able to do that so consistently has my respect. Thanks again for adding to the discussion.
Judt was the Oxford educated son of working class Hungarian Jews who came out early against the direction Israel was going as it fell more and more into the hands of its sects and conservatives. He was also a scholar of contemporary European history who knew what he was talking about and kept his feet on the ground. He appreciated Edward Said, which is clearly asking for trouble if you are Jewish and teach at NYU, no less. His essays in the New York Review of Books in 2010, prior to his death are among the most touching I've ever read. His work cries for a reappraisal by every conscientious liberal in America and Israel. While I didn't know you have such an extensive literary background, I'm not surprised by it from what I've seen.
I am reminded of another aspect of Hitchins that endeared me to him - his wry sense of humor. Humor is a leavening agent too often lacking in intellectual discourse, and I don't count arch asides that provoke knowing sniggers or an insider eyebrow to rise in the steam of a latte venti. Hitch's wit made me laff aloud with no one in sight to impress.
Matt--Hitchens WAS really a very funny guy and instantaneously quick on the draw. Martin Amis said he was a deadly rhetorician and I would include wit in that description. Thanks for adding positively to my little tribute to the man.