Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hunter S. Thompson: Ignorance & Morality



An except from an email to my brother Jon regarding Hunter Thompson and morality:

Thanks for the latest HST info. I know about Steadman's book, but I didn't know about Breakfast with Hunter. I think you're right on target about him. He was not only a visionary in his approach to the art, an innovator in it's practice, but also he was at heart a moralist. Many, even the elite and literati, refuse to acknowledge this because to do so would be to cede ground to someone that was definitely not one of them. It would also expose their hypocrisy. Western culture, the U.S. especially, is incredibly puritanical and doctrinaire. They talk about freedom and liberal democracy and thump their chests while they spout their "values" just like fundamentalists thump their Bibles or Korans. They make more interesting conversation and are less likely to justify their violence in the name of God, but they're just as narrow minded, intolerant and dangerous. Hunter saw straight through all kinds of hypocrisy because it was so alien to him. When he lied he lied straight in your face, did it well and laughed at you when you fell for it. He was aware that he was lying and knew the advantages of a well made lie over a steaming pile of facts that pass for truth. He gets knocked from all sides for his drug abuse, but look at the people who are criticizing him. How many of them are or are long dead as a result of bad diet and / or officially sanctioned drug abuse (i.e. their doctor was their pusher). Like all puritans they hide anything that doesn't conform to the doctrine. Hunter called their bluff. He openly confessed and enjoyed his sins. In other words he admitted to being a flawed human, just like every other human and made it an integral part of his work. So with HST you get the full creature, not the primed and coifed human ready for his or her moment - playing out the charade of progressivism. We make progress in technology. That makes sense. You keep trying to improve your tools for more efficiency, a quicker route to a better result. But we're just plain lying to ourselves if we think we've made moral progress. We've just learned how to hide the beast behind a cloak of civility. We have that leisure because we're at the top of the heap. Most humans have to get what they can get any way they can get it or die. Those are the people we hire to do the dirty work of keeping the gears turning. They take the risks and we buy the product of that risk. The only difference between cold blooded murder and murder by proxy is that the latter doesn't have to hide the corpse and clean the blood out of his clothes. We're all guilty of almost every form of atrocity - even if we don't know we're doing it. Ignorance is no excuse. Hunter refused to be ignorant, but he didn't go soft either. He knew that survival for one often meant death for another, freedom for a few meant slavery for most. That's why people like him and William Burroughs will remain relevant long after the majority of the pulitzer prize winner class have become quaint curiosities.

We do what we must to survive. If we can be kind enough to treat one another the way we want to be treated we're far ahead of the devouring pack. That's the most you can expect from humans and that's the most any truly wise human and / or savior ever asked of us. We all fail even to reach that low mark, but the least we can do is admit it and keep trying. Things like religion, politics and what we consume are mere side effects of what is actually happening. Why get tangled up in the side show when you can walk right into the full light of reality and drink your fill - and then some?

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