Some remarks about some things

notes, investigations, digressions galore

Ted Burke

Ted Burke
San Diego, California,
July 15
Bookseller, writer, musician
Bookseller, musician, writer and poet living and working in San Diego, California. His writing has appeared in the San Diego Reader, Kicks, San Diego Door, Roadwork, Revolt in Style,and City Works.His poems have been included in the anthologies Small Rain: 8 poets from San Diego (1996,DG Wills Books),Ocean Hiway: eight poets in San Diego (1981,Wild Mustard Press) , and is the author of many chapbooks, including Hand Grenade, Open Every Window,No One Home and City Times,limited editions published by his own Old House Press.


DECEMBER 16, 2011 3:42PM

Christopher Hitchens is Dead

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Christopher Hitchens holds forth at D.G.Wills Books in La Jolla, California, 2006.
Christopher Hitchens is Dead: Iconoclast and public intellectual passes away at a Houston hospital after battle with cancer.:

The recently dead Christopher Hitchens was an ornery son of a bitch . That said, I have no doubt that he will be remembered perhaps the last of the great gadflies, a brilliant and fluid essayist who was fluent in the subjects of politics, history, art, literature, philosophy and, indeed, pop culture itself who could then effortlessly, it seemed, essay forth and parse the particulars of his subject with a quick, subtle read, reaching conclusions that pleased and displayed hundreds and thousands of readers world wide in equal measure. He was a contrarian, a supporter of the Iraq War, an aggressively eloquent atheist, a discoverer of elegance, grace and integrity in unexpected places, from unusual sources, defending his positions with a moral consistency that was rare, founded on a bed rock of values he developed as a young man active in the British New Left of the Sixties.

One wishes that he hadn't allowed his hatred of dictatorship and brutality to support a war that was immoral from the get-go; Hitchens argued as much that although the rationale behind the war was honest, the intentions were still honorable--to rid the world of an evil tyrant--and that we might as well go ahead and instill a Western sense of justice on a country that had not attacked the United States; that there were no facts presented by any credible accounts in our intelligence agencies connecting Iraq to terrorists , nor evidence nor discovery of the alleged Weapons of Mass Destruction Saddam Hussein's possession mattered not at all to the intransigent Hitchens, who conducted his pro-war argument on a slippery slope; his willingness to ignore an immoral premise for a war of no coherent purpose , favoring instead a Higher Morality that has yet to justify itself in terms of an arguable Good Result that has been achieved is the mill stone that will hang around the memory of Hitchens for years to come. There will be embarrassed silences when this comes up, heated debate,exaggerated praise and gross condemnations. Eventually , of course, many things will be overlooked, forgiven or forgotten altogether and we can again appreciate the sheer brilliance of Hitchens the journalist, the gadfly, the pundit, the scintillating essayist, the uncommonly astute literary critic.

At his best , Hitchens despised cant, bullshit, received perceptions and championed intellectual honestly fiercely, fearlessly. He did not pussyfoot, he did not apologize, he presented his case, he bulldozed his opponents with hard reason , deep reading and seemingly perfect recall of vetted facts in their sources. One may have disagreed with this Hitchens on various matters and be on solid ground with their opposition to his views, but shame on he or she that dares confront him with a sub-par set of counter moves. You had to up your game to engage this man, you had to up your game to Olympian heights. You also had to succeed in not passing out in the thin air of Hitchens' altitude.

Christopher Hitchens, a damnable son of bitch, and a pleasure to read over these past twenty years.

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I agree with you one hundred percent and while my post about Hitch yesterday may have been seen as kind of fawning, I have read his work for decades and knew him at his best and worst. He was the consummate bad boy and I loved that about him.
I'd rather have a warm beer with Gary Snyder.

Respectfully, Christopher Hitchens ain't got nothing on Ted Burke.

for the living:

Lamps of Freedom Glow,

Twenty Seven or six, two

Godspeed, in sunlight
@Miguella: His contradictions were what made his brilliance exasperating; I suppose he regarded his task was to challenge everyone who read or heard him, even his admirers. It's a tribute to him that we'll wrestle with what he consider his odious positions and still ponder his arguments for years to come. Not a bad legacy to have for a professional contrarian.

@J.P.Hart: Thank you, my good friend. Funny thing, but I did have a cup of coffee with Gary Snyder when he appeared at the same bookstore in the nineties. He was one of the classiest guys of note that I've ever met and, let me emphasize. His intelligence was one of the most integrated , nuanced and fluid I've ever encountered: he could discourse , dogma free, on matters of literature, ecology, zen, spirituality , public policy and aesthetics seamlessly. He was not a showoff with his intellect, rather someone talking engagingly on those things that interested him. Lucky for us that he is interested in a greated many things that in themselves are intriguing.