In the Arena

Hitch Gone

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My reaction is similar to Andrew Sullivan’s, though I wasn’t as close to Christopher as Andrew was. Hitch and I had several memorable–to me, at least–sparring sessions. When we debated in England, just before 9/11, he attacked me from the left. When we debated in America, after 9/11, he attacked me from the right. His “inconsistency” was brilliant: his focus had moved from America as crass hegemon to radical Islam as a threat to the freedom he loved and used so well. He was right and wrong about both, as most of us usually are, but that’s not the point: Every moment in his presence was joyous, even when we were arguing; he was wildly entertaining, by turns provocative and gracious. He may have been among the last of his kind–truly, a thought-full man of letters, rather than of “takes” and sound bites. I will miss the joy of reading him, and chatting with him at parties; but more, I worry that Hitch is taking with him a world, a world of contemplative reading and writing–the very opposite of what I am doing right now, posting an immediate reaction to his death on this blog. He lived life perpetually intoxicated, not just by booze (he was happily soused during our English debate), but by books and words and thoughts and ideas. I will miss him, and all the excesses he cherished. We need more such, and are left with less.