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Bigfella
16 Dec 11,, 06:29
I can't recall when I first encoutnered Hitchens, but it must be at least 15 years ago, perhaps closer to 20. he struck me immediately as a powerfully intelligent man with a rare ability to argue a case & the ability to irritate virtually any person on earth (and quite possibly the vast majority in a single article). Even when I disagreed with him (which was frequently) I enjoyed reading him. His preparedness to take on everyone from Bill Clinton & Henry Kissinger to Mother Teresa & Diana Spencer; and his ability to eloquently argue any case from that for the GWOT to that for non-belief in gods marked him out as someone to pay attention to, like him or not.

He will be missed.


Christopher Hitchens has died of cancer at the age of 62, Vanity Fair reports.

The magazine said he died today after being diagnosed with oesophageal cancer last year while on a book tour for his memoir "Hitch-22".

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Vanity Fair's website reported that he died at the MD Anderson Cancer Centre in Houston, Texas, surrounded by friends, whom he described earlier this year as "my chief consolation in this year of living dyingly" after writing last year that "cancer victimhood contains a permanent temptation to be self-centered and even solipsistic".

Hitchens was known for his heroic intake of alcohol and cigarettes. He wrote in 2003 that his daily intake of alcohol was enough to "stun the average mule".

He said he had given up smoking in 2008, but journalist and author Peter FitzSimons, who interviewed him for his appearance the 2010 Sydney Writers' Festival, said Hitchens had been still smoking as of last year.

Hitchens was a columnist for Vanity Fair and Slate, the online magazine, and the author of the New York Times bestselling book God is Not Great.

His most recent book was Arguably, a collection of his essays.

He was a famous iconoclast and wrote critically of Mother Theresa, Bill Clinton and Winston Churchill.

Earlier this year, Mick Brown wrote in the Telegraph in London: "Until the publication three years ago of his book God Is Not Great, Hitchens had been, in the words of his late friend the author Susan Sontag, ''a sovereign figure in the small world of those who tilled the field of ideas'' - but largely unknown outside it.

"He reviewed books for Atlantic magazine, wrote regular columns for Vanity Fair and Slate, and regularly appeared on cable news programs in the US. To those who follow not only politics but also the fortunes of those who commentate on politics, he was well-known for his perceived move from left to right over the war in Iraq."


Read more: Christopher Hitchens dead (http://www.theage.com.au/world/christopher-hitchens-dead-20111216-1oyc4.html#ixzz1gfjoWBj7)

Christopher Hitchens dead (http://www.theage.com.au/world/christopher-hitchens-dead-20111216-1oyc4.html)

crooks
16 Dec 11,, 20:11
Was saddened to hear this earlier. He had an amazing mind, whether you did agree or disagree with him on whatever issue du jour he was pushing. I always admired his panache and confidence in articulating a vision which was, while not entirely consistent, compelling. He faught for reason and decency in public policy, and contradicted his beliefs totally in being able to start an argument in an empty room. His personality rubbed even his friends the wrong way (as can be seen by his numerous spats) and his later Genghis Khan years saw me like him less and less, but his intellingence and ability to critique the sacred cows of the irrational was always something to be valued and admired.

He didn't believe in heaven but in a perverse way he did God's work, if he is out there. In one of my favourite poems, by Derek Walcott, heaven is described as "a place where painters go". Hitchens was a very good painter - RIP.

S2
17 Dec 11,, 03:12
Very sad. A brilliant thinker and great orator. I'll deeply miss him. As mentioned by Crooks and Bigfella, an incisive mind whether you agreed or not. Damned shame.

JAD_333
17 Dec 11,, 06:25
We've lost a formidable intellect. His essay in support of the Iraq war reveals a true humanitarian as well as a keen student of history. A War to Be Proud Of | The Weekly Standard (http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/005/995phqjw.asp?page=3)

His lifelong defense of atheism was I believe one of his weakest topics inasmuch as it lingered too heavily on the beliefs found in man-made religions. His book,"God Is Not Great" misses the mark by assuming that God is what man's makes him out to be rather than what he might be in the greater scheme of the universe. Nevertheless, he began a healthy dialogue on religion that is, if nothing else, a wake up call for dogmatic religious followers.

S2
18 Dec 11,, 17:45
A beautiful piece about Hitchens' last days. Quite the guy.

Christopher Hitchens-Consummate Writer, Brilliant Friend-NYT OpEd Dec. 18, 2011 (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/18/opinion/christopher-hitchens-consummate-writer-brilliant-friend.html?src=me&ref=general)

“...Take my arm, old toad...”

antimony
10 Apr 12,, 16:49
Not trying to resurrect a dead thread here...

I came across Hitchens' work pretty recently, through the Youtube video where he and Stephen Fry debated a Catholic archbishop and Ann Widdecomb. His intellect was exceedingly powerful. His debates are a treat to watch. Still going through "God is not great" and I find myself nodding along as I go through the text. I wish I knew about him earlier.

Bigfella
11 Apr 12,, 00:10
He truly had a way wiht words. If I had to choose one person on earth to argue on my behalf it would be him. Track down more of his stuff - you won't regret it. If you google him I think there is an online repository oif some sort. Good place to start.

antimony
12 Apr 12,, 20:53
He truly had a way wiht words. If I had to choose one person on earth to argue on my behalf it would be him. Track down more of his stuff - you won't regret it. If you google him I think there is an online repository oif some sort. Good place to start.

Oh I did do that.

I now realize that I have come across his work on WAB itself, but they are less powerful than his vicious takedown of his opponents in debates. Other Aethists like Richard Dawkins tend to be soft and reasonable; Hitchens attacked from the word go and kept up the tempo.

I especially like one specific line of argument from him : even if one believes that the universe and the laws that allow it to function as well as creatures on earth were created by one supreme creator, its still a deist line of arguement and there is no logical, rational way to move from a deist position to a theist position where not only do you believe in a supreme creator but also claim to understand that creators specific demands around your lifestyle - what you eat, what you wear, who you marry and so on.

Brilliant!