Friday, February 20, 2015

Relax - This Won’t Hurt

“The world is still a weird place, despite my efforts to make clear and perfect sense of it.”

The Doctor is Still Out. Hunter Stockton Thompson - ten years gone today. I still remember when I discovered that he’d checked out. Hell, I even wrote about it here.

Ten years on and, if anything, the myth and legend of the Good Doctor has calcified even more to further obscure the Man as Writer. The unseemly deification of his Gonzo persona and storied antics gets in the way of the work after a while, and that’s what I've always really loved about Hunter S. Thompson - the sheer, glorious quality of that prose. I don’t give a shit about drugs, but I get a rush from the catalogue of excess in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. And I definitely give no fucks at all about sport of any kind and I've still read everything he wrote for ESPN. Good writers can make anything interesting.
I thought I’d read it all, and then a couple of weeks ago I tripped over a copy of Ancient Gonzo Wisdom (a collection of transcribed interviews with Thompson) in a remaindered bookstore. I’m still savouring the book in small measured sips rather than a blowout Word Orgy. But I did want to capture just a few excerpts to mark a decade riven with more fear and loathing than ever, but with no Hunter to take aim at it. Selah.

Jerry Williams: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Were you in your right mind when you wrote most of that book?

HST:(laughs) Really, it’s a very disciplined book. It had about four rewrites. It’s a writer’s book. It’s probably one of the most disciplined things I’ve ever written, much more so than the political writing.

(on WBZ 1030 AM Radio (Boston, Massachusetts) - August 8, 1972)

“Whatever you’re doing, even if it’s crazy, if you get paid for it, well that can’t be insane. There’s insane that’s functional, and there’s insane that’s dysfunctional.”

“The disease is fatal.  There is no known cure.  The most we can do for the poor devil, it seems to me, is to name his disease in his honor. From this moment on, let all those who feel that Americans can be as easily led to beauty as to ugliness, to truth as to public relations, to joy as to bitterness, be said to be suffering from Hunter Thompson's disease.” 

-- Kurt Vonnegut Jr. on HST, from "A Political Disease" (1974), a review of Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72

No comments: