pondělí 1. srpna 2011

The Quotable Hitchens

Motto: "But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, - and all it wants, - is the liberty of appearing." Thomas Pain, The Rights of Man.

Jak možná tušíte, "bručoun" Christopher Hitchens bojuje s rakovinou jícnu. Jeho šance, ve čtvrtém stupni nádorového onemocnění, se pohybují proklatě nízko - statisticky je šance na přežití pouhých 5%. Že na tom v současnosti není dvakrát dobře, dokládá i to, že konference uspořádané společností Think Inc. se bude Hitchens, coby jedno z hlavních lákadel, účastnit pouze prostřednictvím live spojení z New Yorku. Dalšími personami, které stojí za povšimnutí, jsou jistě např. Michael Shermer nebo astrofyzik Neil deGrasse Tyson a aktivistka Ayaan Hirsi Ali, jejíž výpověď o islámu s názvem Infidel byla přeložena i do češtiny (s nepochopitelným překladem Rebelka).

Sám Hitchens se několikrát zmínil, že je vděčný za jakoukoliv podporu ve své nemoci, pokud je míněna upřímně. Zběsile znějí fanatické kecy pomatenců modlících se za to, aby se smažil v pekle nebo naopak těch, aby konvertoval, protože má ještě čas a tudíž není pozdě. Z takových projevů se chce jednomu zvracet.

Nesleduji Hitchovu dráhu a tvorbu zase tak dlouho, abych se mohl cítit jeho fanouškem, ale už nyní vím, že bych nějak chtěl vyjádřit své sympatie k jeho postojům a myšlenkám a dát také najevo svou rozmrzelost nad jeho zdravotním stavem. Původně jsem se chtěl rozepsat o jeho Letters to a Young Contrarian (Art of Mentoring) nebo The Trial of Henry Kissinger, pak jsem se ale rozhodl sestavit své průběžné alfabetické "best off" z teprve nedávno vydaného titulu The Quotable Hitchens (a jak název napovídá, tím pádem i z jeho dosavadních textů, z nichž jen některé jsem měl možnost přečíst), jehož notně ohmatané a ušpiněné paperbackové vydání mi leží vedle postele. Beru tento příspěvek jako vyjádření podpory i obdivu jednomu z vůdčích představitelů nového ateismu a rozumu v současném světě vůbec.

Veškeré ukázky jsou přejaty z Windsor, Mann (ed.), The Quotable Hitchens: From Alcohol to Zionism - The Very Best of Christopher Hitchens (Philadelphia, Da Capo Press: 2011).


A - Alcoholism
"...It´s a sign of alcoholism to make rules about how much you drink." ["Booze and Fags," London Review of Books, 3/12/92] (p. 7)

B - Born again
"If a guy believes he has been born again, it´s reasonable to assume that he will believe anything." ["The Lord and   the Intellectuals," Harper´s, July 1982] (p. 33)

C - Chemotherapy
"Chemotherapy isn´t good for you. So when you feel bad, as I am feeling now, you think, ´Well, that is a good thing because it´s supposed to be poison. If it´s making the tumor feel this queasy, then I´m OK with it.´" [Interview with Melissa Block, All things Considered, National Public Radio, 10/29/10] (p. 50)

D - Princess Diana and Prince Charles
´"Are you with Charles of Di?´Can´t say I know them well enough to be sure. Have you conceivably confused me with someone else? Someone who cares?" ["Diary," London Review of Books, 12/14/95] (p. 89)

E - Evidence
"...What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof...." ["Less than Miraculous," Free Inquiry, February/March 2004] (p. 101)

F - Fascism
"Fascism at home sooner or later means fascism abroad. Face it now or fight it later." ["Don´t Call Whate Happened in Iran Last Week an Election," Slate, 6/14/09] (p. 106)

G - God
"A man claims to believe that God is everywhere and is ultimate and all-seeing and all-wise. But take away this same man´s temporal and tribal claim to some fragment of land or item of wreckage, and he will scream that the same good has been unpardonably evicted from his only home." ["Value in the Wrong Place," Free Inquiry, Spring 2001] (p. 117)

H - Hitchens, Christopher
"My own opinion is enough for me, and I claim the right to defended against any consensus, any majority, anywhere, any place, any time. And anyone who disagrees with this can pick a number, get in line, and kiss my ass." [Debate ("Be It Resolved: Freedom od Speech Includes the Freedom of Hate"), University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada, 11/15/06] (p. 131)

I - Iraq War
"Yes, we did indeed underestimate the ferocity and ruthlessness of the jihadists in Iraq. Where, one might inquire, have we not underestimated those forces and their virulence?" ["The End of Fukuyama," Slate, 3/01/06] (p. 151)

J - Jerusalem
"...Jerusalem - that birthplace of all our dreams and graveyard of all our hopes." ["The Blair-Hitch Project," Vanity Fair, Frebruary 2011] (p. 158)

K - Kosovo
"NATO´s torpid indifference to Kosovo is yet another way of teaching the Muslim world about our unshakable attachment to pluralism." ["Monotheist Notes from All Over," Nation, 10/19/98] (p. 167)

L - Lincoln, Abraham
"Yes, Virginia, it is true that Lincoln would have retained slavery if it had suited him, and was probably a morose and tortured syphilitic. But it doesn´t  diminish him as an overcoming man, unless you wanted a saintly illusion in the first place." ["Subversives Dispatches from the Outside In," Independent, 11/10/91] (p. 178)

M - Monarchy
"In the UK, the Queen is the head of the church and head of the state, as wellas the Armed Forces - a state of affairs that is so ridiculous that many people hardly notice it." ["Not So Dumb Then?," Mirror, 11/11/04] (p. 189)

N - Nuclear War
"...Or ´nuclear exchange´ as the experts and pseudo-intellectuals of extinction used to put it so prettily, as if we were to hand mushroom clouds to one another in a display of mutuality." ["How I Became a Neoconservative," La Règle du Jeu, 9/15/05] (p. 205)

O - Obama, Barrack
"One might have hoped, in short, for a little more audacity." ["The Democrats´ Rising Star," Sunday Times (London), 5/06/07] (p. 206)

P- Pornography
"There will always appear to be something bizarre about those who campaign against pornography. Something, if you like, a little too interested." ["American Notes," Times Literary Supplement, 6/27/86] (p. 225)

Q - Questions
"It´s a true sign of nervousness to answer a question that you have not been asked." ["Why Starr Is Determined to Nail Clinton," Evening Standard, 7/29/98] (p. 230)

R - Rushdie, Salman and the Fatwa
"It seems that many respectable people are prepared to be more critical of a novel written by a private individual than they are about a murder threat issued so boldly by a man with state power." ["Now, Who Will Speak for Rushdie?." New York Times, 2/17/89] (p. 251)

S - September 11, 2001
"Anybody could have been a victim of the death-squad attack on the most cosmopolitan city in the world, and  thus we must think and act as if we have all been hit." ["Why Blair Has Hit Precisely the Right Note," Mirror, 10/04/01] (p. 256)

T - Twentieth Century
"The three great subjects of the twentieth century were imperialism, fascism, and Stalinism. It would be trite to say that these ´issues´ are only of historical interest to ourselves; they have bequeathed the whole shape and tone of our era. Most of the intellectual class were fatally compromised by accommodation with one or other of these man-made structures of inhumanity, and some by more than one." [Why Orwell Matters (New York: Basic Books, 2002), 5] (p. 288)

U - Utopianism
"The search for Nirvana, lie the search for Utopia or the end of history or the classless society, is ultimately a futile and dangerous one. It involves, if it does not necessitate, the sleep of reason. There is no escape from anxiety and struggle..." [Foreword to Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley (New York: HarperCollins, 2004), xxi] (p. 290)

V - Virgin Mary
"Polish devotees of Our Lady believe their country to be under her special protection - in which case the woman has a lot to answer for." ["Holly Men," Nation, 1/15/83] (p. 293)

W - War on Terrorism
"The battle will go on for the rest of our lives. Those who plan our destruction know what they want, and they are prepared to kill and die for it. Those who don´t get the point prefer to whine about ´endless war,´accidentally speaking the truth..." ["Flying High," Slate, 12/28/09] (p. 296)

X - none

Y - Youth
"Youth is gone; there may be some comfort to be found in sex and alcohol, but...youth is gone all the same, and is irretrievable. Needlessto add, innocence departed before youth did." ["The Road to West Egg," Vanity Fair, May 2000] (p. 307).

Z - Zero Tolerance
"´Zero tolerance,´ they call it - one of those terms (like ´Drug Czar´) that are unintentionally and usefully revealing. ´Zero tolerance´literally means, and literally intends, complete intolerance. Yet it is proclaimed by prissy liberals fro howm the word ´tolerance´ is a mantra, one of the fuzz-words of the room-temperature America that they have in mind." ["We Know Best," Vanity Fair, May 2001] (p. 308)


V poslední době mám v oblibě jeden z úvodních Hitchových vstupů v rámci debaty mezi ním,  Samem Harrisem a dvěma rabíny - Davidem Walpoem a Bradley Shavit Artsonem s názvem "Is there an afterlife?" z února letošního roku. Hitch kolem 12:55 říká zhruba následující:

"It will happen to all of us, that at some point we get tapped on the shoulder and told: ´Not just that the party is over, but slightly worse, the party is goin´ on, but you have to leave. And it´s goin on without you.´ That´s the reflection I think that mostly upsets people about their demise. Allright then, lets, because it might make us feel better, lets pretend the opposite. It´s you still get tapped on the shoulder and told: ´Great news!, this party is goin´ on forever and you can´t leave. You´ve got to stay, the boss says so and he also insists that you have a good time.´"

Proto mám Hitchense tolik v oblibě - vtipnější popis problematiky toužebné existence života po životě, posmrtného života či následného života (možné překlady pojmu "afterlife") jsem nezaznamenal. Navíc tato jeho poznámka, jak se soukromě domnívám, parádně naráží na jeden z kořenů přetrvávající religiozity a víry v posmrtný život - člověk se tolik brání fakticitě vlastní smrti (zkrátka bojí se chcípnout), přičemž často dělá vše pro to, aby ji neviděl, oddálil nebo, v mnoha tragičtějších případech, ji dříve naservíroval lidem okolo sebe.

Hitchens je neskutečně chytrý, sečtělý, vynikající řečník a více než nadaný novinář. Výstižně Hitchovu osobnost v předmluvě k The Quotable Hitchens popisuje vynikající spisovatel Martin Amis:

"Toward the very end of the last century, all our greatest chest players, including Gary Kasparov, began tu succumb to a computer (named Deep Blue); I had the opportunity to ask two grandmasters to describe the Deep Blue experience, and they both said: ´It´s like a wall coming at you.´ In argument, Christopher is that wall." (Foreword, vii)

Pokud mne paměť neklame, tak Richard Dawkins se před časem vyjádřil, že by v debatě nechtěl proti Hitchensovi stát za žádnou cenu. Od člověka jako je Dawkins, to je náramná poklona. Navíc má Hitchens rád Occamovu břitvu, je to ateista s egem o velikosti Texasu a nesnáší stáda a stádní myšlení. Kéž by 5% bylo více než dost...