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'One of the most terrifying rhetoricians the world has seen' - Comments

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 1 by AtheistEgbert

Well, that was one of the most enjoyable reads I've read in a long time.

Although I've never personally met the great Hitchens, I do feel as if we have all met the man through his videos and writings. And whether friend or foe, we have both a love and envy for this walking whirlwind.

It's not so much that Hitchens is a contrarian and fine rhetorician, but that he's being himself. And I think he enjoys nothing more than being himself, as much as we enjoy it too.

He is, frankly, a living legend.

Sun, 24 Apr 2011 10:29:29 UTC | #618752

rod-the-farmer's Avatar Comment 2 by rod-the-farmer

Well worth reading

Sun, 24 Apr 2011 10:37:45 UTC | #618757

Mindscape's Avatar Comment 3 by Mindscape

Hitch rules!

But what the hell was that at the end? Martin is no Hitch.

Sun, 24 Apr 2011 10:41:03 UTC | #618760

Bisse's Avatar Comment 4 by Bisse

"He is, frankly, a living legend."

And that's no lie,,!

Sun, 24 Apr 2011 10:41:17 UTC | #618761

helen sotiriadis's Avatar Comment 5 by helen sotiriadis

amis writing about hitchens -- a recipe for a wonderful read.

Sun, 24 Apr 2011 10:49:44 UTC | #618764

legal9ball's Avatar Comment 6 by legal9ball

The appearance of this article made me wonder if Amis knows some bad news.

Sun, 24 Apr 2011 10:51:27 UTC | #618765

louis14's Avatar Comment 7 by louis14

I admire Hitchens enormously, especially for his power to speak so eloquently; which seems to surpass Amis' writing skills by far. Mindscape has already flagged up the last paragraph which sums up Amis' clunky, self-concious style. The whole article seemed similar to me - but that's just a matter of taste I guess.

I do hope that Amis just has Hitchens on his mind at the moment, rather than being privy to bad news.

Sun, 24 Apr 2011 11:20:14 UTC | #618769

The Plc's Avatar Comment 8 by The Plc

Amis is truly the great master of the English language. I think he does surpass Hitchens. He does have the tendency to stick his oar in places he doesn't have the first clue about though.

Sun, 24 Apr 2011 12:15:54 UTC | #618779

Ballardian's Avatar Comment 9 by Ballardian

One of the best articles on Hitchens that I have read. So much more refreshing to see him portrayed as the rebel driven by instinct, rather than the usual dithering about whether he's on the right or left. And the Saul Bellow quote made my day.

Sun, 24 Apr 2011 12:19:07 UTC | #618780

GBile's Avatar Comment 10 by GBile

I thank mr Amis for sharing with us his memories about his times with Christopher Hitchens. Christopher is indeed a remarkable person. His insights are always worthy of taking into account. His directness is often needed to crack the barriers that his opponents claim to have the right to erect, but actually hide the lack of arguments.

But why mr Amis has decided to end his article in such a poor way, as mentioned by other commenters, is disappointing.

So when I hear a man declare himself to be an atheist, I sometimes think of the enterprising termite who, while continuing to go about his tasks, declares himself to be an individualist.

Maybe he had in mind the early Alister McGrath, when he was in his "atheist"-period, but otherwise I find this a very weird thought of mr Amis.

But thanks anyway.

Sun, 24 Apr 2011 12:32:16 UTC | #618784

Atheist medic's Avatar Comment 11 by Atheist medic

This was an intriguing and gratifying piece. Hitchens truly is a fascinating man.

Sun, 24 Apr 2011 12:42:17 UTC | #618789

Crazycharlie's Avatar Comment 12 by Crazycharlie

Reading Martin Amis always brings home to me how pathetic I am at using the English language.

Sun, 24 Apr 2011 12:53:15 UTC | #618795

Hellboy2's Avatar Comment 13 by Hellboy2

An eloquent article. But let's hope the Hitch is still around as the inspiration of many more......

Sun, 24 Apr 2011 13:03:00 UTC | #618799

KRKBAB's Avatar Comment 14 by KRKBAB

Comment 12 by Crazycharlie- Yeah- I just had to look up inveigled!

Sun, 24 Apr 2011 13:09:18 UTC | #618801

Notstrident's Avatar Comment 15 by Notstrident


Sun, 24 Apr 2011 13:20:04 UTC | #618804

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 16 by Premiseless

Yes, whilst the concept of returning to the unconscious atheism of early childhood may, for some, dismiss what they feel they have learned about themselves a bridge too far, they then, as Hitchen's testifies, enter the doorway of 'religion poisons everything' so why would you not want to change course, whereupon we arrive at the old junction of the child who cannot yet know any better and wonder what it is they ought to be educated about respecting their existence. Therein lie our own traumas, for aspects of this are the road that lies behind each of us.

What I "love" about Hitchen's is how he has stood at this 'Stargate' to death of the self and repeatedly slay those who would empower its preservation - to a fault. But there were victims, yes. These de-facto failings result from the innocents who have fallen as the 'fallout' of regime changes in this relentlessly historical battle. His guilt lies not with himself, though who could fail not to feel its vice, but with those from whom he inherited this 'poisoned chalice'. He saw that he could do no less than fight for the rights of every human to refuse its viral serfdom if ever there were to arise an opportunity for all to be freed its totalitarian mindsets.

I wonder, if what Amiss alludes to, is 'fear of death' of the childhood wonder at the numinosity of life, for which no answers are better than anything at all that pretends to be representative of their source. Is it that he, to some extent, can have been seduced by how well some with a theistic mindset bind it to delusion and dogma as if this is where it belongs.

As Hitchens said, religion poisons everything! And his skill lies not so much in replacing the history of mankinds servility to delusions respecting the 'morality of our awe' but in liberating it and removing the imposter that would have us do its will instead.

Now where you go from this magical juncture is still a pretty cloudy message into largely unmapped territory and maybe this is what Martin alludes to, but I claim, that for many of us it takes a Christopher Hitchens to get you there!

Sun, 24 Apr 2011 14:24:39 UTC | #618828

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 17 by Stafford Gordon

Like his friend Will Self, I think Amis's semantic pyrotechnics mars his writing.

Sun, 24 Apr 2011 15:33:27 UTC | #618836

Nunbeliever's Avatar Comment 18 by Nunbeliever

Hitch is a human not a demi-god for goodness sake. This article reminds me of an obituary...

Sun, 24 Apr 2011 15:35:14 UTC | #618837

Carl Sai Baba's Avatar Comment 19 by Carl Sai Baba

Lenin used to boast that his objective, in debate, was not rebuttal and then refutation: it was the "destruction" of his interlocutor. This isn't Christopher's policy – but it is his practice.

I think "practice" should be replaced with "result", but otherwise I like this part.

The nature of religion causes it to collapse completely when refuted even in part. The application of simple logic causes a chain of mass destruction. It isn't like political positions, where you might refute a person's conclusions while acknowledging that they made several legitimate observations. Religion is built on a chain of fallacies and lies which are typically worded in such a personal way as to ensure embarrassment, even if it is not the "policy" of the opponent.

Sun, 24 Apr 2011 17:51:58 UTC | #618869

edmundjessie's Avatar Comment 20 by edmundjessie

A beautiful eulogy, tainted slightly by the insinuation at the end that the author wishes to impose his own belief (or anti-belief) system upon Hitchens, a man who has probably thought about the subject far longer and harder than Amis ever has.

Sun, 24 Apr 2011 18:01:38 UTC | #618875

M D Aresteanu's Avatar Comment 21 by M D Aresteanu

Great article with a strained ending. The whole plea for agnostism was a little obtuse. I'm sure Martin wouldn't call himself a fairy-agnostic and certainly wouldn't call himself one if people were killing each other over claims as to which of their respective 'prophets' actually spoke to the fairies. Atheism is less of a scientific position than it is a moral necessity.

Sun, 24 Apr 2011 18:42:45 UTC | #618899

hiirscotty's Avatar Comment 22 by hiirscotty

I am incredibly grateful to have co-existed with such an influential and inspirational mentor to both the world and myself when we both needed it.

Long life to you, Hitch.. I will not let your influence die in any circles that I might find myself in.

Sun, 24 Apr 2011 19:36:02 UTC | #618922

Philoctetes                                        's Avatar Comment 23 by Philoctetes

I've read a great many books, but never any by Martin Amis. I shall put that right as soon as possible.

It was an uncomfortable read, not for what it said but for what it did not. It seemed to me that his best friend wanted him to see an example of the sort of lovingly honest obituary that will follow his death. I would normally dismiss that as mawkishly sentimental, but those of us who are not Hitch can only extend our thanks to those that give us more reasons to appreciate what Hitch is (and I can't find the words to say what Hitch is. "Important" and "influential" are suitably broad and inadequate). For purely selfish reasons I hope that Hitch remains mortal for a long time.

Sun, 24 Apr 2011 19:53:58 UTC | #618930

pittige 's Avatar Comment 24 by pittige

he has written a letter "" to the american atheist convention .

Sun, 24 Apr 2011 20:54:22 UTC | #618961

BowDownToGizmo's Avatar Comment 25 by BowDownToGizmo

I don't understand this assertion by the author and those he quotes here that we know nothing about death. It seems to me we know everything there is to know about death. It seems to play such a significant role in our short lives, it is ubiquitous throughout and looms inexorably at its end, but is a very simple change of state. Perhaps people cannot mentally bridge the gap between the significance of death as a part of life and the simplicity of the actual process.

The position of the author, that we should keep an open mind to what happens after death, is therefore ludicrous. It begins with an assumption that there is more to death than there appears to be. This is to first make an unjustified assumption and then to pretend one is open minded about the vast possibilities this opens up. I think Hitch would find this a vile deception and Occam's razor would quickly dismiss it. The author himself praised the statement "what can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence" and that is why the atheist position is more noble than the agnostic

Mon, 25 Apr 2011 09:04:08 UTC | #619113

nancynancy's Avatar Comment 26 by nancynancy

I think this article would have been a much stronger tribute to our Hitch if Amis had edited out his proselytizing for agnosticism.

Mon, 25 Apr 2011 14:59:19 UTC | #619244

ocallaghanbohrdt's Avatar Comment 27 by ocallaghanbohrdt

nancynancy : I think this article would have been a much stronger tribute to our Hitch if Amis had edited out his proselytizing for agnosticism.

And shamelessly pointing out which of his (Amis's)books we ought to buy when Christopher dies.

Utterly crass. Friend of Hitch indeed.

Mon, 25 Apr 2011 22:13:33 UTC | #619422

MilitantNonStampCollector's Avatar Comment 28 by MilitantNonStampCollector

What a shame, a very nice article ruined in my eyes by this:

"The atheistic position merits an adjective that no one would dream of applying to you: it is lenten. And agnosticism, I respectfully suggest, is a slightly more logical and decorous response to our situation"

Why even bring this up? Why even bother with the proselytising now? If somebody said that to me during my dying days I wouldn't take it too kindly. It would be interesting to hear Hitchen's response to this.

Mon, 25 Apr 2011 22:48:22 UTC | #619436

huzonfurst's Avatar Comment 29 by huzonfurst

Apparently Mr Amis doesn't get that atheism rarely implies any kind of certainty. How did he miss that hanging out with Hitchens all of his adult life??

Tue, 26 Apr 2011 00:17:15 UTC | #619454

Benelailax's Avatar Comment 30 by Benelailax

Marvelous piece, but all too funereal


Tue, 26 Apr 2011 04:48:46 UTC | #619502