The brilliant and fascinating Christopher Hitchens, the epitome of the professor that every girl who listened to The Police fantasized about. Every time the dulcet tones of his voice rang through the television or radio, it was as if time stopped. Information, theology, philosophy, history and culture could be instantly and appropriately recalled by Hitch. As weapons. As insight. As a challenge to draw the best from his correspondents, friends, admirers and all who had the good fortune to join his sphere…or even closely follow his career.
To me, he will be the iconic professor, reminding my inner school girl that there is little so enticing as this iconic man. He was delicious. Reading his writings, listening to him speak and following his unconventional career is a wondrous reminder how blessed we are to have freedom. Hitch was the epitome of freedom. Acquiring and retaining knowledge, self-assured, traveling and disseminating opinion with such verve, living life rough and wildly and with such abandon defines freedom.
Hitchens, despite his struggles with esophageal cancer, was until his final moments an unparalleled thinker. His mind was quick and only days before he went into the hereafter he penned an article about Nietzsche and the eminent end. A prominent atheist who, unlike Dawkins, was quite taken with “Believers,” Hitchens’ final words offer a peace with whatever comes. Not an acceptance of God, but an acknowledgement – if unsaid directly – that the one thing Hitchens did not, and could not, KNOW was what was in the path ahead of him. Death, yes. An end to the blinding physical pain. An end to the struggle that took his voice.
There was just a glint, for those of us who believe and to those who do not, that ultimately none of us can say for certain what lies beyond death. Hitchens was a man who enjoyed the Bacchanalia while simultaneously playing the roles of Plato and Herodotus. And before us all, he knows what we do not.