Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Christopher Hitchens, earthly existence and heavenly writing.

"It could be that all existence is a pointless joke,but it is not in fact possible to live one's everyday life as if this were so." (Christopher Hitchens in Hitch 22)

Readers sometimes develop very close relationship with authors.Most never meet in person. Yet it often seems so real, so intense -and almost always unilateral.In the past we usually got to know the writing first, then we may have decided to search for the persona behind the work.
Today's multimedia platforms provide us with several encounters. I have "met" Christopher Hitchens on radio first, then on TV and then started to look for his writings.
I have started reading Hitch 22, his memoirs, in the middle of my chemotherapy last summer, and very shortly after, on the eve of his book tour for Hitch 22 he told the world about his cancer. A fellow sufferer, loved and revered by many, despised by some for his views on religion and God.
Word got to him and he was asked in public whether he'd mind if people would pray for his recovery. While he was obviously touched by these gestures, he doubted whether prayer would help.
That was what most of us could do for him.
Reading Hitch 22 during my illness last year, while watching for any news about him brought him intimately close to me. His last contribution for Vanity Fair, an article to appear, ironically in the January next issue was particularly personal to me, as I have gone through some of the procedures at MD Anderson in Houston just a year before. As he said often, he was in stage 4 of his cancer, there not being a stage 5.
Perhaps prayer.
But Mr.Hitchens missed the point of prayer. It helped us in our impotence
to do something, anything for him. And for ourselves, in our pain and concern, lest our existence is a pointless joke.
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