Catholic commentary on culture, media, and politics.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Whimper dresses up as bang

The macabre adulation accorded Hunter S. Thompson's suicide continues. Like the musical appeal of The Doors and The Rolling Stones, the literary appeal of Mr. Thompson's rambling odes to nihilism escapes me.

Someone please tell me to whom he's supposed to be a role model.


Anonymous Jason said...

He's a role model to me. I think he's about the best example of the free American spirit as you will find in modern literature. He also leaves a profound legacy of his opinion of 'justice' - a definition with which I profoundly agree.

His writing are also peppered with references to scripture. He was as well versed with the bible as any late 20th century author.

He may have expressed himself in ways that are contrary to many people's way of life - he did that to many people. But I find him incredibly inspiring and spiritual.

2:08 PM

Anonymous Patrick said...

Jason: Don't get me wrong. HST was not devoid of writing talent. And I certainly pray for his soul.

But even many of his fans and those close to him say he ruined his gift with years of drug abuse. He also seemed unable to compose a paragraph without inserting himself into the narrative. That's all his "gonzo journalism" is: non-stop narcissism. And it gave birth to the Geraldo Rivera breed of info-tainment.

(How can I say this without sounding snarky?) If you think Hunter S. Thompson was as well-versed with the Bible as any late-20th century author, either you aren't well versed with the Bible or you haven't read many 20th century authors.

To me, a man who celebrated using dangerous drugs, reckless drinking, who squandered a true literary talent on warmed-over 60s nihilism, and who blew his brains out across his kitchen walls is a terrible tragedy. To you he's a role model -- "incredibly inspiring and spiritual." I suspect you have never lost a loved one to suicide.

What can I say but good luck with that.

And: a sincere thanks for being honest.

3:51 PM

Anonymous joe mccool said...

I have to admit, when I first read Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas as I was a freshman in college I thought it was brilliant. It was a big middle finger to the bourgeoisie.
Maturity does strange things to people.
Hunter is the proto type of the current cultural phenomenon of irreverence. Once you remove the shock value there isn't much there.

6:42 PM

Blogger Patrick said...

Yes, true. I was just talking about the role model aspect, not the literary merit aspect.

10:36 AM

Blogger Kate said...

His hero was apparently Hemingway, and he succeeded in resembling Hemingway in several ways: in philosophy (quasi-existentialist), in iconic stature, in prolificity, and in blowing his head off.

My observation on that? If you believe that your value is determined, not objectively, but by your own standards, than any reduction in stature, acheivement, or personal health is a reason to kill yourself. That is the existentialist legacy. Also - to say someone is brilliant and talented does not excuse their moral and/or professional shortcomings. It only transforms an excusable fool into an inexcusable tragic waste.

1:57 PM

Blogger Patrick said...

What Kate said.

2:49 PM


Post a Comment

<< Home