Tuesday, December 20, 2011


It's not the saddest thing in the world, but it's up there pretty near the top, watching all the footage from North Korea and the ways in which so many of that populace have been infantilized by their "leader(s)" and system's totalitarian control of media, education, culture etc.

Then thinking of the other national leader whose death just occurred, Vaclav Havel (who I actually got to portray in a TV commercial for Amnesty International if I remember correctly, where they needed someone, whose face wouldn't be lit or shown, to begin in a prison cell and walk haltingly as chains are removed and the gait got stronger and more free before walking out into the light where it switched to a shot of Havel coming out from the dark onto a balcony to cheering crowds).

What an example of what can be so great about humans, as opposed to the selfish little baby rulers like North Korea's.

And the third death in the news of Christopher Hitchens who seemed to have been almost proud of drinking and smoking himself to death (at least the way I saw it portrayed in most of the news stories I saw, if not overtly than implied) and I heard over-the-top praise about from those in the publishing and writing industries who profit from that kind of self caricature if the public buys it and are also suckers for the kind of brit accent he had buying into a kind of superior intellect and knowledge just because of that.

From what I heard and observed, he seemed like a pretty nice guy who lucked into a persona that made him more money than most writers. But from my perspective he was nowhere near as great a writer as his eulogists made him out to be (I had trouble finishing several articles and essays of his because his reasoning would become too easily refutable, including a lot of his rant on Mother Theresa, the kind of thing his persona was born to do to gain attention and sales etc.).

Like I said, he seemed personally like a decent guy with a decent intellect and writing skills who I am sorry passed too young. But he also seemed to me to be a prisoner of an image he felt he had to live up to even if it killed him.


Jamie Rose said...

I think you'll be interested by this obit on Hitchens from The Nation.


harryn said...

about Hitchens ... R.I.P.
I agree with you and find it interesting how the public embraces that kind of rebel persona; James Dean, Richard Burton, Dennis Hopper, Pollock, Hemingway, John Huston, et al ... that hard-drinking, womanizing, "most interesting man in the world", risk-taking, pioneering spirit. Often to the point where the packaging becomes more interesting than the content.
(I certainly don't want to detract from the legitimate contributions any of them made - especially because I deeply admire a few).
One can even see recent evidence of it in Gingrich's rise to popularity.
Just seems to me that the public has a real hunger for people who push against the grain or establishment - that unique individualism that contributes to pioneering spirit. Unfortunately it is usually accompanied by some sort of self destructive flaw.
"Prisoner of an image" is an excellent testimonial.

Lally said...

Jamie, thanks a lot for that link. And Paul, as one who once fit the image of the rebel bad boy etc. and got much praise and support for behavior that was self-destructive as well as destructive to others, and had some of that support diminish and even turn against me when I attempted to change and become more self aware and sensitive to the common welfare, I understand part of the motivation for someone like Hitchens writing stuff he either knew was just to provoke and keep his name in the game etc. but also could have negative fallout in the actual lives of some folks, if not all of us, as to feed the beast of his own creation (the myth that he didn't care, because it was clear to me in that last TV interview he did that he was having second thoughts even if he didn't articulate it that specifically). If you want to "burn the candle at both ends" as he said he did, you have to know the example it is setting for those who you have convinced of the myth of your persona, and know that most of your admirers are just living vicariously through you so they can write about how daring and great you were to take such risks while they sit comfortably in the safety of their less well known and possibly less rewarded (though these supporters are often the ones profiting most from your behavior) but easier, healthier, more self-protective lives. Etc.

Robert G. Zuckerman said...

Hard drinking, fast driving, sexual predatoriness, endangerment for show, etc etc-this does not make one a "Man" - it makes one a punk. Being a man means taking care of one's family and being mindful of the safety and well-being of others, it means doing the right thing even when no one is watching (especially).

Robert Berner said...

Lal--For a mostly dissenting view on Hitchens, see Alex Cockburn's piece on his CounterPunch website.
Bob B.

Lally said...

Thanks for the tip Bobm and Robert I hear ya brother.