Thursday, May 31, 2007

Christopher Hitchens: The Bisexual Word God

Christopher Hitchens' anti-mysticism book God Is Not Great: Why Religion Poisons Everything is extracted in The Times today. He thinks there are four “irreducible” objections to religious faith:

It misrepresents the origins of man and the cosmos (Yet we do not know the origins of mankind or the cosmos. We know little or nothing. There are only scientific theories and religious fables).

It combines servility with solipsism (So does Janice Turner of The Times when she encounters Christopher Hitchens as she did yesterday. She did everything but suck his cock as a useful showcase for her considerable writing talent).

It causes sexual repression (So does peer pressure. Hitchens readily admits to alcoholism but denies his bisexuality. He fears the social and professional consequences of coming out, though he “makes lunges” at men when he’s pissed, so Turner claims).

It is wishful thinking (So is all political aspiration. So is Harry Potter. So is good health. You have to start somewhere. Or not. Not believing in a god is wishful thinking too).

Aside from the odd suicide manque, I have rarely ever encountered anyone who does not place their faith in something - be it God or gods or money or Pilates or Neuro-Linguistic Programming or literature or one's own fecund secular talent, or whatever. He would do better to examine the purpose and function of faith, with religion as one of its by-products; but let that pass.

What really matters here is that Christopher Hitchens continues to write.

Words fountain out of him in wonderful order; no tombstone will be large enough for the long long, self-authored epitaph. In the beginning was the Word and everything else assembled around it in the Hitchens universe. He exists to fill space with words – everything else is secondary. It’s probably in his horoscope. I bet, when he leaves a room, people say, “My, it’s quiet now!” The capitals of civilisation are rich with Hitchenses: the industrious word factories, the driven spouters, the irksome noisers, the wordy-wordy-wordy-wordsmiths. They have names for everything, they know a penumbra when they see one. What they think is neither here nor there: their actual raison d'etre is word birthing.

The Times runs with Hitchens' book because of the writing, not because of its argument, which merely apes religious tract by dressing opinion as fact. The writing is the end in itself, entire of itself. Fabulous articulacy is the destination. In the Hitchens theme park, the shiny, labelling prose style is a sign of inner order and rightness. A dangling participle is a symptom of spiritual anarchy or indolence, of something generally not quite right. He skewered Jimmy Carter recently for "sophomoric" use of language.

Long may his words flow, whatever he writes.

Read Hitchens' gorgeously wrought crap, click here


Ms Baroque said...

Mme A, this post fills me with delight. It is true that the man writes like an angel, believe in them or nay as he may. Why, only last week or so there was a column by him in the Guardian all about Hay - indeed, in his angelic manner he very suitably called it Way on High - which thrilled me: it was only a description of his humdrum existence, but it was like reading about glittering otherworldly beings. I think he even mentions fairy dust in it, and fairy dust has been a bit current in my life lately.

At any rate, his column filled me with delight and now your post is doing the same. And a dangling participle gives me a headache every time I see it. It's best to remember these things.

Arcati said...

Thank you Ms B, I'll hunt down that piece of his on Hay. It also fascinates me that if he were not a highly successful contrarian - I'd love him to narrate Eurovision on absinthe - his alcoholism would not be treated so lightly. He would be a "case", the sort who might end up on a Trevor McDonald special investigation on booze. I hope Mr H is not turning into the next Jeffrey Barnard. His legs might fall off.

Nige le Nige said...

You are funny. I like to imagine you with a fedora, cocktail cig, a doberman called Zelda, a mantlepiece full of invitations, an inbox full of outboxes, your cheeks perpetually sucked in cheeks alla T Capote, ('My lad, me and you both, Proust'), your head a-swimming with self-reverential whimsy. Then I like to make it all collapse and skitter this way and that by imagining you collecting your Tesco points when you buy your dinky pints of milk and Andrex. But most of the time I prefer to think good things about you and yours. It's just that I'm 'that way out' right now and write how I see fit. A presto, N le N

Arcati said...

Do you have a blog Mr Le Nige? It would be most entertaining. As to your fantasy about me, it's probably quite close to the truth, except I prefer Sainsbury's (or Tesco Express if I'm in a hurry). I don't do points (except at Boots).

Anonymous said...

Sainsbury's? But it's so provincial, Madame A.

I've been loitering around the Noilly Prat in the Bloomsbury Waitrose these past months; confident I should recognise you, lambent and bewitching as you funk past...