Monday, February 21, 2005

Goodnight, Doctor

What a rotten piece of news to wake up to: "Hunter S. Thompson, 65, Author, Commits Suicide". Thompson meant something to me in many of his incarnations: the chief mourner for the squandered liberatory potential of the Sixties who is nevertheless funny as hell in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas; the young self-consciously literary striver of the letters, which I read when I was myself only a striver with nothing whatever to show for himself; and not least the conniving and cynical Doonesbury character, Duke. I have to confess my first thoughts on seeing that headline were, "Somebody had him killed." Had the great Gonzo Journalist come from behind in his last days with some Administration-shaking piece of scandal? Wishful thinking, I'm sure: ill health, or depression, or money troubles, or perhaps his ever-growing sense of irrelevance are more likely candidates for what did the good doctor in. I'm sad that he's gone, racist gun-nut that he was: the man fearlessly spoke his (somewhat incoherent) truth to power, and we seem to have fewer and fewer such among us these days, at a time when we need them more than ever.

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