What’s the Hitch?

17 Jan

Unhitched by Richard seymour

Unhitched by Richard seymour

One delight that Christopher Hitchens death has precluded is the intellectual mayhem that would have been loosed by the publication of Richard Seymour’s Unhitched: The Trial of Christopher Hitchens (Verso).In a recent interview, Seymour suggests as much,”…

Seymour is hopeful that if he was alive today, Hitchens “might have had a bit of a laugh” about Unhitched. “One thing in his favour is that he was narcissistic but not prickly or vain,” he said. “I think he would have thrown an insult or two at me. He described Max Blumenthal as ‘a young skunk who hasn’t learned to piss yet’ and I think I could expect something along those lines.”

“It is written in the spirit of a trial, I do attempt to get a sense of the complexity and gifts of the man, but it is very clearly a prosecution, and you can guess my conclusion.” asserts Seymour. Though this indictment of Hitchens is more rigorous and detailed, Seymour has had at Hitchens previously— upon Hitchens being awarded the Orwell Prize; Seymour opined :

In a sense, it seems odd to think of Christopher Hitchens as an Orwellian. Here was a writer who, at his best, wrote with panache, lapidary refinement and a wide tonal range. One of his most damning adjectives was “atonal”. It’s hard to see much of Hitchens in the spare, terse prose of George Orwell. Nor is there much of Orwell in the Hitchens who became a Beltway gossip columnist, and later an amanuensis of the Bush administration. Yet, as someone for whom political writing was a literary effort, Orwell loomed large as a paragon of committed writing.

If nothing else,Hitch would certainly been flattered by the serious attention Seymour’s brief represents. Again, Seymour observes,

One chapter deals with the trajectory of his political shift, from the time he was a young socialist who joined Labour,” said Seymour. “I’ve interviewed a lot of his former comrades. If you read [Hitchens’ memoir] Hitch 22, it’s not an entirely reliable account – what he remembers and what others remember are different. He’s subtly, and sometimes not so subtly, revised things.

Christopher Hitchens by Robert Birnbaum

Christopher Hitchens by Robert Birnbaum

I was granted the amusement of conversing with Christopher Hitchens twice—conversations that can be found on the Internet as well as rich cache of Hitchens’ literary memorabilia. He was quite entertaining and vividly present. RIP

Currently reading The River Swimmer by Jim HArrison (Grove Atlantic)

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