Christopher Hitchens in quotes

Discussion in 'Members Corner' started by Nagraj, Dec 16, 2011.

  1. Nagraj

    Nagraj Regular Member

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    "[Mother Teresa] was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction."

    “[George W. Bush] is lucky to be governor of Texas. He is unusually incurious, abnormally unintelligent, amazingly inarticulate, fantastically uncultured, extraordinarily uneducated, and apparently quite proud of all these things.”

    “The noble title of "dissident" must be earned rather than claimed; it connotes sacrifice and risk rather than mere disagreement.”

    “What I used to say to people, when I was much more engagé myself, is that you can't be apolitical. It will come and get you. It's not that you shouldn't be neutral. It's that you won't be able to stay neutral.”

    “Every day, the New York Times carries a motto in a box on its front page. 'All the News That's Fit to Print,' it says. It's been saying it for decades, day in and day out. I imagine most readers of the canonical sheet have long ceased to notice this bannered and flaunted symbol of its mental furniture. I myself check every day to make sure that the bright, smug, pompous, idiotic claim is still there. Then I check to make sure that it still irritates me. If I can still exclaim, under my breath, why do they insult me and what do they take me for and what the hell is it supposed to mean unless it's as obviously complacent and conceited and censorious as it seems to be, then at least I know I still have a pulse. You may wish to choose a more rigorous mental workout but I credit this daily infusion of annoyance with extending my lifespan.”
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    “How is the United States at once the most conservative and commercial AND the most revolutionary society on Earth?”

    “Cluster bombs are perhaps not good in themselves, but when they are dropped on identifiable concentrations of Taliban troops, they do have a heartening effect.”

    “I don't think the war in Afghanistan was ruthlessly enough waged.”

    “Thus, though I dislike to differ with such a great man, Voltaire was simply ludicrous when he said that if god did not exist it would be necessary to invent him. The human invention of god is the problem to begin with.”

    “Will an Iraq war make our Al Qaeda problem worse? Not likely.”

    “The death toll is not nearly high enough... too many [jihadists] have escaped.”

    “Islam makes very large claims for itself. In its art, there is a prejudice against representing the human form at all. The prohibition on picturing the prophet – who was only another male mammal – is apparently absolute. So is the prohibition on pork or alcohol or, in some Muslim societies, music or dancing. Very well then, let a good Muslim abstain rigorously from all these. But if he claims the right to make me abstain as well, he offers the clearest possible warning and proof of an aggressive intent.”

    "The Bible may, indeed does, contain a warrant for trafficking in humans, for ethnic cleansing, for slavery, for bride-price, and for indiscriminate massacre, but we are not bound by any of it because it was put together by crude, uncultured human mammals."

    “Religious exhortation and telling people, telling children, that if they don’t do the right thing, they’ll go to terrifying punishments or unbelievable rewards, that’s making a living out of lying to children. That’s what the priesthood do. And if all they did was lie to the children, it would be bad enough. But they rape them and torture them and then hope we’ll call it ‘abuse’.”

    “Religion is man-made. Even the men who made it cannot agree on what their prophets or redeemers or gurus actually said or did.”

    “Everything about Christianity is contained in the pathetic image of 'the flock.”

    “Judaism has some advantages over Christianity in that, for example, it does not proselytise — except among Jews — and it does not make the cretinous mistake of saying that the Messiah has already made his appearance. However, along with Islam and Christianity, it does insist that some turgid and contradictory and sometimes evil and mad texts, obviously written by fairly unexceptional humans, are in fact the word of god. I think that the indispensable condition of any intellectual liberty is the realisation that there is no such thing.”

    “Faith is the surrender of the mind; it's the surrender of reason, it's the surrender of the only thing that makes us different from other mammals. It's our need to believe, and to surrender our skepticism and our reason, our yearning to discard that and put all our trust or faith in someone or something, that is the sinister thing to me. Of all the supposed virtues, faith must be the most overrated.”

    “The four most over-rated things in life are champagne, lobster, anal sex and picnics.”

    “[O]wners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are god. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are gods.”
     
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  3. Singh

    Singh Phat Cat Administrator

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    Christopher Hitchens dies aged 62



    Mr Hitchens, who wrote and spoke often about his illness, was a prolific author, essayist and critic of ideologies, literature and politicians.

    He was outspoken, particularly on matters of religion, and was a famous atheist. Among his most well-known works are God Is Not Great and his 2010 memoirs Hitch-22.

    Mr Hitchens, who was born in Portsmouth and became a US citizen in 2007, was diagnosed with cancer last year. He agreed to trial a new method of treating cancer through genome sequencing and was able to receive medication for a genetic mutation.
    Earlier this year, he said he was "an experiment."

    "What I’m going through is very absorbing and positively inspiring. But if it doesn’t work, I don’t know what they could try next," he said.
    In an interview with Jeremy Paxman for the BBC's Newnight in November 2010 the celebrated commentator described his illness as "a bit of a yawn".


    Often described as a contrarian who enjoyed drinking and smoking, Mr Hitchens courted controversy over the terrorist attacks of September 11.

    He attacked both the extremists and those on the Left, who he saw as apologists. He resigned from The Nation and supported the war in Iraq.

    Referring to Islamic fundamentalism, he said: "An ideology of that sort has shown itself incapable of running even as low-level a society as Afghanistan.

    "They deny themselves the talents of half the population. They believe that things like diseases and earthquakes are punishments. They have no self-criticism, so when things go wrong they have to look for the source in a Jewish-Crusader conspiracy, which is why they export their surplus young people to take their violence elsewhere.

    "That’s why they’re an immediate menace to us. Their state won’t just fail on its own; they have to share their failure. Once you’ve established that, they can’t possibly win, our victory is a sure thing."

    Mr Hitchens was fearless in challenging people as well as ideas, finding enemies in Henry Kissinger and Mother Teresa, who he described as "a lying, thieving Albanian dwarf".

    He also had a high-profile fall-out with his brother, the Christian conservative writer Peter Hitchens, but the two had lately reconciled.

    But even after his diagnosis, he continued writing his acerbic columns in which he railed against the Royal Family and celebrated the death of Osama bin Laden.

    Writing on the Prince of Wales's speech on Galileo's focus on "the material aspect of reality", he said: "We have known for a long time that Prince Charles's empty sails are so rigged as to be swelled by any passing waft or breeze of crankiness and cant.

    "He fell for the fake anthropologist Laurens van der Post. He was bowled over by the charms of homoeopathic medicine. He has been believably reported as saying that plants do better if you talk to them in a soothing and encouraging way.

    "But this latest departure promotes him from an advocate of harmless nonsense to positively sinister nonsense."

    A contributing editor to Vanity Fair, Mr Hitchens counted authors Martin Amis and Ian McEwan among his friends after meeting them at Oxford.

    The writer Salman Rushdie paid tribute to Mr Hitchens via his Twitter account: "Goodbye, my beloved friend. A great voice falls silent. A great heart stops. Christopher Hitchens, April 13, 1949-December 15, 2011."

    In September, a collection of his essays entitled Arguably, was published. He said he was also planning a "book-length meditation on malady and mortality."

    Vanity Fair publisher Condé Nast announced Mr Hitchens's death in Houston, Texas.

    Graydon Carter, editor of Vanity Fair, was reported to have said there would "never be another like Christopher".

    Mr Carter described Mr Hitchens as someone "of ferocious intellect, who was as vibrant on the page as he was at the bar".

    "Those who read him felt they knew him, and those who knew him were profoundly fortunate souls," he said.

    In May 2010, he completed the Proust Questionnaire for Vanity Fair, answering a survey completed by many famous and public faces.

    In it, he said his vision of earthly bliss was "to be vindicated in my own lifetime" while his ideal way to die was "fully conscious, and either fighting or reciting (or fooling around)."

    He died with friends at his bedside at the MD Anderson Cancer Centre in Houston.

    He is survived by his second wife, author Carol Blue, and his three children, Alexander, Sophia and Anthonia.

    Christopher Hitchens dies aged 62 - Telegraph
     
  4. Singh

    Singh Phat Cat Administrator

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  5. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

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    Americans love Brits who are full of themselves. Hitchens was one. Simon Cowell is another.
     
  6. Nagraj

    Nagraj Regular Member

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    well hitchens might have many fault.
    in many cases i don't agree with him
    but his book "God is not great " taught me a new way of thinking.
    and i admire the man for that.....
     
  7. Nagraj

    Nagraj Regular Member

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    A sad news indeed/........
     
  8. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

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    I forgot this:

    De mortuis nihil nisi bonum.
     
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  9. Singh

    Singh Phat Cat Administrator

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    Trial of the Will

    Trial of the Will



    Reviewing familiar principles and maxims in the face of mortal illness, Christopher Hitchens has found one of them increasingly ridiculous: “Whatever doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” Oh, really? Take the case of the philosopher to whom that line is usually attributed, Friedrich Nietzsche, who lost his mind to what was probably syphilis. Or America’s homegrown philosopher Sidney Hook, who survived a stroke and wished he hadn’t. Or, indeed, the author, viciously weakened by the very medicine that is keeping him alive.











    When it came to it, and old Kingsley suffered from a demoralizing and disorienting fall, he did take to his bed and eventually turned his face to the wall. It wasn’t all reclining and waiting for hospital room service after that—“Kill me, you I need to read the rules.I need to read the rules.I need to read the rules.I need to read the rules.ing fool!” he once alarmingly exclaimed to his son Philip—but essentially he waited passively for the end. It duly came, without much fuss and with no charge.

    Mr. Robert Zimmerman of Hibbing, Minnesota, has had at least one very close encounter with death, more than one update and revision of his relationship with the Almighty and the Four Last Things, and looks set to go on demonstrating that there are many different ways of proving that one is alive. After all, considering the alternatives …

    Before I was diagnosed with esophageal cancer a year and a half ago, I rather jauntily told the readers of my memoirs that when faced with extinction I wanted to be fully conscious and awake, in order to “do” death in the active and not the passive sense. And I do, still, try to nurture that little flame of curiosity and defiance: willing to play out the string to the end and wishing to be spared nothing that properly belongs to a life span. However, one thing that grave illness does is to make you examine familiar principles and seemingly reliable sayings. And there’s one that I find I am not saying with quite the same conviction as I once used to: In particular, I have slightly stopped issuing the announcement that “Whatever doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.”

    In fact, I now sometimes wonder why I ever thought it profound. It is usually attributed to Friedrich Nietzsche: Was mich nicht umbringt macht mich stärker. In German it reads and sounds more like poetry, which is why it seems probable to me that Nietzsche borrowed it from Goethe, who was writing a century earlier. But does the rhyme suggest a reason? Perhaps it does, or can, in matters of the emotions. I can remember thinking, of testing moments involving love and hate, that I had, so to speak, come out of them ahead, with some strength accrued from the experience that I couldn’t have acquired any other way. And then once or twice, walking away from a car wreck or a close encounter with mayhem while doing foreign reporting, I experienced a rather fatuous feeling of having been toughened by the encounter. But really, that’s to say no more than “There but for the grace of god go I,” which in turn is to say no more than “The grace of god has happily embraced me and skipped that unfortunate other man.”

    In the brute physical world, and the one encompassed by medicine, there are all too many things that could kill you, don’t kill you, and then leave you considerably weaker. Nietzsche was destined to find this out in the hardest possible way, which makes it additionally perplexing that he chose to include the maxim in his 1889 anthology Twilight of the Idols. (In German this is rendered as Götzen-Dämmerung, which contains a clear echo of Wagner’s epic. Possibly his great quarrel with the composer, in which he recoiled with horror from Wagner’s repudiation of the classics in favor of German blood myths and legends, was one of the things that did lend Nietzsche moral strength and fortitude. Certainly the book’s subtitle—“How to Philosophize with a Hammer”—has plenty of bravado.)

    In the remainder of his life, however, Nietzsche seems to have caught an early dose of syphilis, very probably during his first-ever sexual encounter, which gave him crushing migraine headaches and attacks of blindness and metastasized into dementia and paralysis. This, while it did not kill him right away, certainly contributed to his death and cannot possibly, in the meanwhile, be said to have made him stronger. In the course of his mental decline, he became convinced that the most important possible cultural feat would be to prove that the plays of Shakespeare had been written by Bacon. This is an unfailing sign of advanced intellectual and mental prostration.

    (I take a slight interest in this, because not long ago I was invited onto a Christian radio station in deepest Dixie to debate religion. My interviewer maintained a careful southern courtesy throughout, always allowing me enough time to make my points, and then surprised me by inquiring if I regarded myself as in any sense a Nietzschean. I replied in the negative, saying that I had agreed with some arguments put forward by the great man but didn’t owe any large insight to him and found his contempt for democracy to be somewhat off-putting. H. L. Mencken and others, I tried to add, had also used him to argue some crude social-Darwinist points about the pointlessness of aiding the “unfit.” And his frightful sister, Elisabeth, had exploited his decline to misuse his work as if it had been written in support of the German anti-Semitic nationalist movement. This had perhaps given Nietzsche an undeserved posthumous reputation as a fanatic. The questioner pressed on, asking if I knew that much of Nietzsche’s work had been produced while he was decaying from terminal syphilis. I again responded that I had heard this and knew of no reason to doubt it, though knew of no confirmation either. Just as it became too late, and I heard the strains of music and the words that this would be all we would have time for, my host stole a march and said he wondered how much of my own writing on god had perhaps been influenced by a similar malady! I should have seen this “gotcha” coming, but was left wordless.)

    Eventually, and in miserable circumstances in the Italian city of Turin, Nietzsche was overwhelmed at the sight of a horse being cruelly beaten in the street. Rushing to throw his arms around the animal’s neck, he suffered some terrible seizure and seems for the rest of his pain-racked and haunted life to have been under the care of his mother and sister. The date of the Turin trauma is potentially interesting. It occurred in 1889, and we know that in 1887 Nietzsche had been powerfully influenced by his discovery of the works of Dostoyevsky. There appears to be an almost eerie correspondence between the episode in the street and the awful graphic dream experienced by Raskolnikov on the night before he commits the decisive murders in Crime and Punishment. The nightmare, which is quite impossible to forget once you have read it, involves the terribly prolonged beating to death of a horse. Its owner scourges it across the eyes, smashes its spine with a pole, calls on bystanders to help with the flogging … we are spared nothing. If the gruesome coincidence was enough to bring about Nietzsche’s final unhingement, then he must have been tremendously weakened, or made appallingly vulnerable, by his other, unrelated sufferings. These, then, by no means served to make him stronger. The most he could have meant, I now think, is that he made the most of his few intervals from pain and madness to set down his collections of penetrating aphorism and paradox. This may have given him the euphoric impression that he was triumphing, and making use of the Will to Power. Twilight of the Idols was actually published almost simultaneously with the horror in Turin, so the coincidence was pushed as far as it could reasonably go.

    Or take an example from an altogether different and more temperate philosopher, nearer to our own time. The late Professor Sidney Hook was a famous materialist and pragmatist, who wrote sophisticated treatises that synthesized the work of John Dewey and Karl Marx. He too was an unrelenting atheist. Toward the end of his long life he became seriously ill and began to reflect on the paradox that—based as he was in the medical mecca of Stanford, California—he was able to avail himself of a historically unprecedented level of care, while at the same time being exposed to a degree of suffering that previous generations might not have been able to afford. Reasoning on this after one especially horrible experience from which he had eventually recovered, he decided that he would after all rather have died:

    I lay at the point of death. A congestive heart failure was treated for diagnostic purposes by an angiogram that triggered a stroke. Violent and painful hiccups, uninterrupted for several days and nights, prevented the ingestion of food. My left side and one of my vocal cords became paralyzed. Some form of pleurisy set in, and I felt I was drowning in a sea of slime In one of my lucid intervals during those days of agony, I asked my physician to discontinue all life-supporting services or show me how to do it.

    The physician denied this plea, rather loftily assuring Hook that “someday I would appreciate the unwisdom of my request.” But the stoic philosopher, from the vantage point of continued life, still insisted that he wished he had been permitted to expire. He gave three reasons. Another agonizing stroke could hit him, forcing him to suffer it all over again. His family was being put through a hellish experience. Medical resources were being pointlessly expended. In the course of his essay, he used a potent phrase to describe the position of others who suffer like this, referring to them as lying on “mattress graves.”

    If being restored to life doesn’t count as something that doesn’t kill you, then what does? And yet there seems no meaningful sense in which it made Sidney Hook “stronger.” Indeed, if anything, it seems to have concentrated his attention on the way in which each debilitation builds on its predecessor and becomes one cumulative misery with only one possible outcome. After all, if it were otherwise, then each attack, each stroke, each vile hiccup, each slime assault, would collectively build one up and strengthen resistance. And this is plainly absurd. So we are left with something quite unusual in the annals of unsentimental approaches to extinction: not the wish to die with dignity but the desire to have died.

    Professor Hook eventually left us in 1989, and I am a generation younger than him. I haven’t sailed as close to the bitter end as he had to do. Nor have I yet had to think of having such an arduous conversation with a physician. But I do remember lying there and looking down at my naked torso, which was covered almost from throat to navel by a vivid red radiation rash. This was the product of a month-long bombardment with protons which had burned away all of the cancer in my clavicular and paratracheal nodes, as well as the original tumor in the esophagus. This put me in a rare class of patients who could claim to have received the highly advanced expertise uniquely available at the stellar Zip Code of MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. To say that the rash hurt would be pointless. The struggle is to convey the way that it hurt on the inside. I lay for days on end, trying in vain to postpone the moment when I would have to swallow. Every time I did swallow, a hellish tide of pain would flow up my throat, culminating in what felt like a mule kick in the small of my back. I wondered if things looked as red and inflamed within as they did without. And then I had an unprompted rogue thought: If I had been told about all this in advance, would I have opted for the treatment? There were several moments as I bucked and writhed and gasped and cursed when I seriously doubted it.

    It’s probably a merciful thing that pain is impossible to describe from memory. It’s also impossible to warn against. If my proton doctors had tried to tell me up front, they might perhaps have spoken of “grave discomfort” or perhaps of a burning sensation. I only know that nothing at all could have readied or steadied me for this thing that seemed to scorn painkillers and to attack me in my core. I now seem to have run out of radiation options in those spots (35 straight days being considered as much as anyone can take), and while this isn’t in any way good news, it spares me from having to wonder if I would willingly endure the same course of treatment again.

    But mercifully, too, I now can’t summon the memory of how I felt during those lacerating days and nights. And I’ve since had some intervals of relative robustness. So as a rational actor, taking the radiation together with the reaction and the recovery, I have to agree that if I had declined the first stage, thus avoiding the second and the third, I would already be dead. And this has no appeal.

    However, there is no escaping the fact that I am otherwise enormously weaker than I was then. How long ago it seems that I presented the proton team with champagne and then hopped almost nimbly into a taxi. During my next hospital stay, in Washington D.C., the institution gifted me with a vicious staph pneumonia (and sent me home twice with it) that almost snuffed me out. The annihilating fatigue that came over me in consequence also contained the deadly threat of surrender to the inescapable: I would often find fatalism and resignation washing drearily over me as I failed to battle my general inanition. Only two things rescued me from betraying myself and letting go: a wife who would not hear of me talking in this boring and useless way, and various friends who also spoke freely. Oh, and the regular painkiller. How happily I measured off my day as I saw the injection being readied. It counted as a real event. With some analgesics, if you are lucky, you can actually “feel” the hit as it goes in: a sort of warming tingle with an idiotic bliss to it. To have come to this—like the sad goons who raid pharmacies for OxyContin. But it was an alleviation of boredom, and a guilty pleasure (not many of those in Tumortown), and not least a relief from pain.

    In my English family, the role of national poet was taken not by Philip Larkin but by John Betjeman, bard of suburbia and the middle class and a much more mordant presence than the rather teddy-bearish figure he sometimes presented to the world. His poem “Five O’Clock Shadow” shows him at his least furry:






    I have come to know that feeling all right: the sensation and conviction that the pain will never go away and that the wait for the next fix is unjustly long. Then a sudden fit of breathlessness, followed by some pointless coughing and then—if it’s a lousy day—by more expectoration than I can handle. Pints of old saliva, occasional mucus, and what the hell do I need heartburn for at this exact moment? It’s not as if I have eaten anything: a tube delivers all my nourishment. All of this, and the childish resentment that goes with it, constitutes a weakening. So does the amazing weight loss that the tube seems unable to combat. I have now lost almost a third of my body mass since the cancer was diagnosed: it may not kill me, but the atrophy of muscle makes it harder to take even the simple exercises without which I’ll become more enfeebled still.

    I am typing this having just had an injection to try to reduce the pain in my arms, hands, and fingers. The chief side effect of this pain is numbness in the extremities, filling me with the not irrational fear that I shall lose the ability to write. Without that ability, I feel sure in advance, my “will to live” would be hugely attenuated. I often grandly say that writing is not just my living and my livelihood but my very life, and it’s true. Almost like the threatened loss of my voice, which is currently being alleviated by some temporary injections into my vocal folds, I feel my personality and identity dissolving as I contemplate dead hands and the loss of the transmission belts that connect me to writing and thinking.

    These are progressive weaknesses that in a more “normal” life might have taken decades to catch up with me. But, as with the normal life, one finds that every passing day represents more and more relentlessly subtracted from less and less. In other words, the process both etiolates you and moves you nearer toward death. How could it be otherwise? Just as I was beginning to reflect along these lines, I came across an article on the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. We now know, from dearly bought experience, much more about this malady than we used to. Apparently, one of the symptoms by which it is made known is that a tough veteran will say, seeking to make light of his experience, that “what didn’t kill me made me stronger.” This is one of the manifestations that “denial” takes.

    I am attracted to the German etymology of the word “stark,” and its relative used by Nietzsche, stärker, which means “stronger.” In Yiddish, to call someone a shtarker is to credit him with being a militant, a tough guy, a hard worker. So far, I have decided to take whatever my disease can throw at me, and to stay combative even while taking the measure of my inevitable decline. I repeat, this is no more than what a healthy person has to do in slower motion. It is our common fate. In either case, though, one can dispense with facile maxims that don’t live up to their apparent billing.

    Christopher Hitchens Takes on Nietzsche: Am I Really Stronger? | Culture | Vanity Fair
     
  10. Singh

    Singh Phat Cat Administrator

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    I know, anyone with a Brit accent is automatically considered intelligent and posh but Hitchens was different.

    He had dedicated his life to make masses reconsider what they always took for granted. He was a provocateur, he challenged your pre-conceived notions; sometimes he outraged you and sometimes he enthralled you.
     
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  11. Nagraj

    Nagraj Regular Member

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    i don't think hitchens will like this quote to be applied on him.
    he liked nothing more then a lively discussion.
    yes he was a pompous ass when he was alive and
    why should things change just because someone is dead???
    In Fact personally i think it's the best way to honour him!8)
     

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