I suppose I am obsessing over the death yesterday of Christopher Hitchens a bit or more than a bit. Then again, when one is kicked in the balls, that niggling headache of a moment before tends to shrink into the background as a matter of course.
The man both literally and figuratively spoke volumes with words and speech, books and debate. It was as though he had a well within him that overflowed and he had to pour the sum of it out, lest he burst from the pressure. There is a quote of his I heard recently which gives expression, not just to his rejection of irrational belief but to his embrace of life and learning, his zeal for discovery, and while Hitch offered us many memorable words and phrases, I think this one in particular is in need of special note:
[T]he offer of certainty, the offer of complete security, the offer of an impermeable faith that can't give way, is an offer of something not worth having; I want to live my life taking the risk all the time that I don't know anything like enough yet; that I haven't understood enough; that I can't know enough; that I'm always hungrily operating on the margins of a potentially great harvest of future knowledge and wisdom, I wouldn't have it any other way, and I'd urge you look at those of you who tell you, those people who tell you, at your age, that you're dead until you believe as they do—what a terrible thing to be telling to children—and that you can only live by accepting an absolute authority. Don't think of that as a gift, think of it as a poisoned chalice; push it aside, however tempting it is. Take the risk of thinking for yourself. Much more happiness, truth, beauty and wisdom will come to you that way.
Thank you, Christopher, thank you a lot.