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February 21, 2005

Jim Guckert killed Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter S. Thompson committed suicide yesterday at the age of 67. [AP/NYT obituary]

Rox Populi has compiled a fine tribute to the good doctor, including excerpts from his work, articles about him, and eulogies from bloggers including Norbizness, Pharyngula, and Digby.

Here's mine.

Jim Guckert killed Hunter S. Thompson. The good doctor took evasive action because he'd finally had enough. There was no question of a comeback. His natural habitat had disappeared. Today's media industrial complex is gonzo-proof. You can't raise hell anywhere near the press corps anymore unless you're turning tricks. Gonzo journalism today would be as incongruous as gonzo account services or gonzo event planning.

Gonzo is dead because the mainstream media have abolished objectivity and subjectivity--the facts don't matter, but neither does the perspective of any individual. Like gonzo journalists, today's campaign reporters love to tell impressionistic yarns. Unlike gonzo journalists they don't want to talk about their own experiences. Enterprising reporters collect "gaffes" and "coups" and spin them into parables. The winner is the journalist whose just-so story becomes "The Defining Moment."

Make no mistake, Thompson was always an outsider. Today's media is all insiders and aspiring insiders. The old model allowed Thompson to operate on the fringes. Today there's no fringe.

I think Hunter S. Thompson just got sick of it all. I don't blame him.

I do hope Peggy Noonan channels Hunter S. Thompson from heaven.

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Comments

Thanks for your comments. I was thinking along those same lines. What was the point of continuing with no place.

thanks.

the rude pundit and majikthise are the only two fitting commentaries i've yet read on the man today.

a quote that raced through my head today when reading the news (and even more so after reading majikthise), from another writer looking in at the american dream:
"Thanks for the greatest betrayal of the greatest of human dreams" wsb

cocksuckers.

rip & love

Perfect, Majikthise. Well put.

Make sure you check out

Perfect, Majikthise. Well put.

Make sure y'all check out

(Sorry about the multiple postings. For some reason my posts seem to cut off where I place an HTML tag)

Perfect, Majikthise. Well put.

Make sure y'all check out Steve Gilliard's take on Thompson's impact and context in modern lit and blogging. It's excellent.

http://stevegilliard.blogspot.com/

Steve's post is outstanding, but I'm a little dubious about his connection between creative writing programs and the decline of journalism. I know exactly the kind of cringe-making writing Steve's talking about, but I'm skeptical about the causal connection.

Nice piece.

(Because this is getting linked to you might edit,[t]oday's media is all insiders and inspiring insiders.. I think you meant to type aspiring.)

You're right in a sense...instead of killing himself, though, he could just have joined the rest of us on 'the fringes' and become a blogger. :)

Very good. The link to Steve is in the post. I mention Steve because they are just very few bloggers left who are really offensive.

When there are no law, there can be no outlaws. While reading your post, I got this picture of Hunter Thompson telling today's media they are all whorish swine, and the media agreeing and finding Thompson funny because he still gave a shit.

Hunter had become kinda clownish, but it wasn't his fault. His job was to shame people, and there was no one left with any shame.

Hunter Thompson had personality and a point of view and knew how to use it. He was (1) brutally honest and (2) brutally fucked up, which we know because see (1). The best writing -- or I guess I should say, the writing I crave the most and imagine most people crave the most -- embodies those traits fearlessly and free of bullshit. Outside of writing, the best people embody those traits, too. The reason I disagree with Steve Gilliard's connection between shitty creative writing and bad journalism is that I don't the bad journalism has much or anything to do with writing. It DOES have to do with those Thompson qualities of fearlessness and honesty. The quality of the form of the sentence they use to tell the truth might make it easier on the eyes, but -- and I would say this is especially true in what Gilliard calls "non-trivial times" -- what we crave from journalists is that they tell the truth. Also, that they seek the truth, sniff out the truth, dig for the truth even when no one wants to hear the truth or when they will be punished for doing so. For instance, who gives a shit if Woodstein can write or not?

Of much lesser importance is the fact that I disagree with his contention that writing programs are somehow producing the people to whom he objects so strongly. 60 years or more of such programs have involved some pretty great writers (Flannery O'Conner comes to mind) and of course have "produced" the predictable gigantic pile of flotsam. I think part of what happens when we try to assess the current state of creative writing (or, for that matter, music or movies) is we forget that what we are exposed to from the past has gone through a ruthless weeding-out process which of course includes the weeding out of the decades gone by equivalents of Eggers and Sedaris and whoever else.

Meanwhile, my vote for the best ever explanation of the state of creative writing is the essay "Mistakes Were Made" by Charles Baxter. I beg you all to seek it out. It's in an anthology of essays by him, the name of which escapes me. I feel comfortable guaranteeing satisfaction. The short version of his thesis: he blames Nixon.

LIndsay,

I forgot to mention, your Guckert/Hunter headline reminded me somehow of a line from "Hannah and Her Sisters," spoken by the character played by Max Von Sydow: "If Jesus were alive and saw what was being carried out in his name he would never stop throwing up." I know, slightly off topic, and yet not (I hope).

Great post. You should also check out the Rude Pundit's obituary.

CMike, I fixed "inspiring" to read "aspiring." Maybe it should have been "expiring." Thanks.

I found the Baxter essay on-line for free. Follow the URL/homepage link next to my email address. In case it's not there, paste this:

http://www.pshares.org/issues/article.cfm?prmarticleID=3691

Great comments, majikthise. Hunter S. Thompson really was one of a kind.

Hi, majikthise. Nice commentary, and in general I am becoming a regular reader of your site. Thanks for linking to mine; I'll do likewise.

http://educate-yourself.org/cn/redelkwarning26apr03.shtml
Hunter Thompson directed child murder-sex film?

A controversial author, Hunter Thompson was allegedly linked to
Larry King as implicated in Paul Bonacci's testimony in which the
pedophile victim revealed that Thompson directed a graphic `snuff'
film [Franklin Cover-up, pp.102-105 & 327] made near Sacramento,
California at a location called "Bohemian Grove."

Good site! I'll stay reading! Keep improving!

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