H.S.T.

Posted by DmentD | Rambling,Reflection | Wednesday 11 November 2009 12:42 pm

I’ve been in a mood for Hunter S. Thompson.  Just re-read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and during this — my third dance with this particular work — I’m better able to read past the hyper-sensationalized drug-addled fog he’s put forth and pick out some gems of wisdom.

The most notable contrast between Hunter writing in the voice of “Raoul Duke” — a caricature of himself distilled to the very core of bad craziness — and in his own voice comes at the end of the book, specifically the “jacket copy” he wrote for Fear and Loathing.  In a brief few pages, H.S.T. soberly, and with a sudden clarity that takes such an immediate u-turn from the insanity of the book that gives you whiplash, explains that Fear and Loathing was a failed experiment in Gonzo Journalism… a phrase he coined at the time to describe what he envisioned to be a free-form method of writing — to buy a notebook and write down everything as it happened and publish it with no editing whatsoever.

What he ended up with was a mix of fact and fiction, with no discernible lines to tell one from the other.  It is a failure in that he never accomplished his original vision, but instead ended up writing something altogether different and ground-shaking. He accidentally invented a new genre of writing, one that continues to inspire writers to this very day.  His success was that he wrote something that not only entertained readers, but gave him immense joy and gratification to write.  He would take a break from banging out whatever assignment he was on to write F&L.  It was a vacation for him.

I’ve always considered writing the most hateful kind of work. I suspect it’s a bit like fucking, which is only fun for amateurs. Old whores don’t do much giggling.

I’ve found myself, again, very attracted to the way an author’s mind works.  While I do not agree with every gilded word that falls from him his mouth, I find Hunter — like Vonnegut — a very intriguing personality.  A number of the things he’s said strikes certain chords within me.  I stumbled across a number of quotes while searching out the one above, that just resonate happily through my head.  I’ll leave you with these.

Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously.

A man who procrastinates in his choosing will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.

I understand that fear is my friend, but not always. Never turn your back on Fear. It should always be in front of you, like a thing that might have to be killed.

We cannot expect people to have respect for law and order until we teach respect to those we have entrusted to enforce those laws.

Good people drink good beer.

…and he would probably not agree with my conviction that a sense of humor is the main measure of sanity. But who can say for sure? Humor is a very private thing.

We are all alone, born alone, die alone, and — in spite of True Romance magazines — we shall all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way. I do not say lonely — at least, not all the time — but essentially, and finally, alone. This is what makes your self-respect so important, and I don’t see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness.

And, on the impending arrival of my 40th birthday…

It gave me a strange feeling, and the rest of that night I didn’t say much, but merely sat there and drank, trying to decide if I was getting older and wiser, or just plain old.

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