Writer Jody Tresidder has responded to my posting "Obama to close Guantánamo; Hitchens can't imagine" in which I commented on Christopher Hitchens' waterboarding stunt for Vanity Fair ...
I just bet Hitchens would have been waspishly snooty had someone else (appropriately dazzling) done the "stunt" first! And Madame's line - "Christopher Hitchens as the intellectuals' David Blaine is about the only nice thing I can think to say about this show-off..." is horribly good.
Still, my stomach agrees with Ms. Baroque's qualified defense of his gumption.
I once interviewed (for the Evening Standard) a fiercely clever and adorable Brit who had become a female boxer here in the US (not a "foxy boxer" - a real contender, even if women in this sport remains something of a stunt draw).
I can still recall almost fainting with unexpected, drenching terror when she quietly marched away from our jolly pre-bout chat down a grimy corridor, and into the distant, noisy, blue flood-lit ring. I suddenly understood she was walking out there to get voluntarily punched very hard by someone else.
I realized I could not ever - not even with the strict safety rules - visibly stricter for women than for men - the meticulous refereeing, the hysterical, uplifting support of the crowd and all her mental and physical preparation - never in a billion, million years, climb up into that ring myself.
And I knew even as I disapproved of her - a little bit- for being suckered by the perverse glamour of it all, she had gumption - and I did not. So my stomach feels the same watching Hitchens here. I couldn't do it.
Always a pleasure to read you. I don't doubt Hitchens' courage/gumption/chutzpah - whatever you want to call it. But then Blaine and his kind can boast these attributes. If we are agreed (and I'm not sure we are) that the essential nature of Hitchens submitting himself to waterboarding was a stunt (ie done for self-publicity) then we need not dwell too much on his derring-do. It's amazing how the prospect of even more acclamation steels the heart: camera clicks and flashlight are as mother's milk to the brave self-appointed lab rat. As for the female boxer, that was work. MA xxx