Mortality
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22-09-2012, 09:25 AM (This post was last modified: 22-09-2012 08:31 PM by Near.)
Mortality
Christopher Hitchens, in my opinion was a compelling writer. He said all of the things that I wished to have said, and he said them elegantly, powerfully. It was with great sadness that I decided to purchase and read this 'last' bit of his work. I have often listened to him reading the audiobook of "God is Not Great", and it makes me forget that he died, I get excited wondering what his next book will be. And then I remember that he is dead. Many people have observed, that the mark of a great writer or orator is when they make you feel as if they are addressing only you. I have felt that with the work of Christopher Hitchens.


It was very hard to read this book. Not because it is too difficult or complicated, but because reading the thoughts of a dying man who was so good at painting pictures with his words makes you almost feel what he was going through. There is a particular passage where he is talking about how the nurses where having such a hard time finding a vein in his arms, that twelve different nurses tried, and passed off the task of finding a vein one to another. The twelfth nurse finally found one, after what was apparently many hours.

The last chapter is just a collection of one liners, and thoughts that Christopher apparently wanted to expand upon, but alas, he was never able to.

I do recommend this book. Although it does seem as if Christopher had some hopes of recovery, I think perhaps he knew that he was going to die. His wife tells of him asking her to bring all of his notes and papers from their house so that he could continue to work on them. It seems as if he was trying to get as much done in one last push as he possibly could.

A couple of passages from the book that I found compelling.

"Saul Bellow: Death is the dark backing that a mirror needs if we are able to see anything."

(Hitchens, Christopher (2012-09-04). Mortality (pp. 89-90). Hachette Book Group. Kindle Edition.)

"From Alan Lightman’s intricate 1993 novel Einstein’s Dreams; set in Berne in 1905: With infinite life comes an infinite list of relatives. Grandparents never die, nor do great-grandparents, great-aunts… and so on, back through the generations, all alive and offering advice. Sons never escape from the shadows of their fathers. Nor do daughters of their mothers. No one ever comes into his own… Such is the cost of immortality. No person is whole. No person is free."

(Hitchens, Christopher (2012-09-04). Mortality (pp. 92-93). Hachette Book Group. Kindle Edition.)

"The tone of the prayers replicates the silliness of the mandate, in that god is enjoined or thanked to do what he was going to do anyway. Thus the Jewish male begins each day by thanking god for not making him into a woman (or a Gentile), while the Jewish woman contents herself with thanking the almighty for creating her “as she is.” Presumably the almighty is pleased to receive this tribute to his power and the approval of those he created. It’s just that, if he is truly almighty, the achievement would seem rather a slight one. Much the same applies to the idea that prayer, instead of making Christianity look foolish, makes it appear convincing. (We’ll just stay with Christianity today.) Now, it can be asserted with some confidence, first, that its deity is all-wise and all-powerful and, second, that its congregants stand in desperate need of that deity’s infinite wisdom and power. Just to give some elementary quotations, it is stated in the book of Philippians, 4: 6, “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication and thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God.” Deuteronomy 32: 4 proclaims that “he is the rock, his work is perfect,” and Isaiah 64: 8 tells us, “Now O Lord, thou art our father; we art clay and thou our potter; and we are all the work of thy hand.” Note, then, that Christianity insists on the absolute dependence of its flock, and then only on the offering of undiluted praise and thanks. A person using prayer time to ask for the world to be set to rights, or to beseech god to bestow a favor upon himself, would in effect be guilty of a profound blasphemy or at the very least a pathetic misunderstanding. It is not for the mere human to be presuming that he or she can advise the divine. And this, sad to say, opens religion to the additional charge of corruption. The leaders of the church know perfectly well that prayer is not intended to gratify the devout. So that, every time they accept a donation in return for some petition, they are accepting a gross negation of their faith: a faith that depends on the passive acceptance of the devout and not on their making demands for betterment. Eventually, and after a bitter and schismatic quarrel, practices like the notorious “sale of indulgences” were abandoned. But many a fine basilica or chantry would not be standing today if this awful violation had not turned such a spectacularly good profit."

(Hitchens, Christopher (2012-09-04). Mortality (pp. 22-24). Hachette Book Group. Kindle Edition.)


(NOTE: To the publisher(s), I am not and do not intend to profit from the use of this material. I am using these passages under "Fair Use" for purposes of commentary and review. If you want me to remove the passage(s) you can contact me on the forum.)

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22-09-2012, 12:21 PM
RE: Mortality
Thank you

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23-09-2012, 03:05 PM
RE: Mortality
I just finished Mortality myself and enjoyed Hitchen's insight. Sad to think this is the last we will read from him.

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I am . . . until I'm not
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28-09-2012, 01:07 PM
RE: Mortality
Lmao, I actually just came here to start this exact thread. You beat me to it Tongue

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28-09-2012, 07:19 PM
RE: Mortality
Feel free to post your review as well, I'd be interested to read what others thought of it. Smile

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28-09-2012, 07:46 PM
RE: Mortality
I am rather hoping, for the sake of irony, that this thread never dies.

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29-09-2012, 04:01 PM
RE: Mortality
(28-09-2012 07:19 PM)Near Wrote:  Feel free to post your review as well, I'd be interested to read what others thought of it. Smile

I've actually just started reading it (not quite through the first chapter yet), but in typical Hitch fashion, it still has such an impact, despite my having read so little. Considering the nature of the subject-matter, as well as Hitch's intensity, I'm sure it will only get heavier as it goes.

I'll try to remember to post a proper review when I'm finished Smile

Through profound pain comes profound knowledge.
Ridi, Pagliaccio, sul tuo amore infranto! Ridi del duol, che t'avvelena il cor!
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30-09-2012, 12:10 PM
RE: Mortality
Some might find this offensive, but fuck it. I cannot help but feel there's an overwhelming selfishness going on when people talk about "gone forever." Hitch didn't go no-fucking-where. New minds are being opened daily by his words and wisdom. What he started continues and will continue. And with his passing, there's more Hitchslappers popping out of the woodwork, not less.

So what's this loss shit?

This because I'm over here dying and shit. Just about anybody else in my position would be in the hospital right now, but I'm here flapping my gums with a head full of Gwynnies remembering stuff. Like how I know, as much as it can be known, that dying is like the best part of life. The suffering and anxiety ends. The mind rests. This stupid fucking mind, needs some rest. Big Grin

And the Gwynnies provide a measure of experimental data. There's all kinds of people in Phoenix for whom I am essentially dead, but then they'll see that dang Gwynnies somewhere and remember my love and silliness over that girl and smile, at my existence. Which will be in their now, not some simulated past. I mean, fuck me and my atoms; it's the conceptual Johnny that matters. The physical Johnny, gets redundant with that Gwynnies, needs a bath, drinks alla coffee... I mean, really.

Just sayin' Heart

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