The Candle of Reason Burns a Little Dimmer

Today is the first time I literally mourned the loss of someone I did not personally know, I had never spoken to and was as much a stranger to me as anyone alive. 

I have articles, YouTube videos, and anecdotes attesting to his public persona, but I did not know the man.  I cannot say if he was a good man.  I cannot speak to his honesty, his integrity, as to his fitness as a father and a husband. 

And yet I mourn the passing of Christopher Hitchens. 

I do so because he spoke as if reading my mind.  He spoke to the questions examining the human condition. Questions I suspect are common to all thinking humans.  He did so with a lucidity, elegance, and clarity I have not encountered elsewhere.

Hitchens’s ability to distill complicated concepts to their clearest and simplest form, present them  in clear and simple words anyone could understand, and doing so seemingly on the fly, was what made him a pleasure to listen to. 

That he pulled no punches, that he did not offer respect to absurdity, that he did not cow-tow to unearned and unwarranted positions of authority, that he did not compromise at the expense of what he believed, well, that was just icing on the cake.

I came across this quote on a friend’s post. 

Beware the irrational, however seductive.  Shun the ‘transcendent’ and all who invite you to subordinate or annihilate yourself.  Distrust compassion; prefer dignity for yourself and others.  Don’t be afraid to be thought arrogant or selfish.  Picture all experts as if they were mammals.  Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity.  Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence.  Suspect your own motives, and all excuses.  Do not live for others any more than you would expect others to live for you.” – Christopher Hitchens

I know, because I have seen it, there are some who rejoice of his passing.  Perhaps they do not yet realize his spoken and written words will be repeated, quoted, shared, and appreciated for a long time to come. 

The flesh and blood may be gone, but his influence on thinking people everywhere will continue on, perhaps sparking others to keep the candle burning even as ignorance and stupidity are seemingly making great strides all around the world.



About disperser

Odd guy with odd views living an odd life during odd times.
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4 Responses to The Candle of Reason Burns a Little Dimmer

  1. Thanks for posting. I hear ya about Hitchen’s insights into our broken world and our self-indulgence in relying solely on one’s power of reason; it’s like vanity, but on the inside… vanity of the mind. As Hitchens mentions, there’s definitely more to us than we like to rationalize, ironically. Reason is one dimension. We are multi-dimensional. We’re still corporeal, for example. And, ah, yes, then there’s the part we don’t see, so it must not exist, because we mortals know all – there can be none else. At the end of the day, it’s only when we’re building together, can we then go beyond our self-focus and attain some enduring purpose. Related…


  2. disperser says:

    Hmmm . . . “our self-indulgence in relying solely on one’s power of reason” and “As Hitchens mentions, there’s definitely more to us than we like to rationalize, ironically. Reason is one dimension. We are multi-dimensional.”

    It seems uncharacteristic of Hitchens. There is a similar statement of the one you mention, but you put your own slant on it:

    “We do not rely solely upon science and reason, because these are necessary rather than sufficient factors, but we distrust anything that contradicts science or outrages reason.” Hitchens

    I can’t find any reference to the second one you attribute to Hitchens, but it seems uncharacteristic for him.

    Certainly the “related” link is not related at all, so I’m thinking this is just something to get more traffic at your site. If I’m wrong I will profusely apologize.

    Meanwhile I will wait for you to set me straight.


  3. Pingback: No heroes | Disperser Tracks

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