Tag Archives: hunter s. thompson

Quote of the Day

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“We are all alone, born alone, die alone, and—in spite of True Romance magazines—we shall all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way. I do not say lonely—at least, not all the time—but essentially, and finally, alone. This is what makes your self-respect so important, and I don’t see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness.” 

Hunter S. Thompson, The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967

I don’t now why (though I sorta/kinda do), but I woke up (i.e. raised my torso after a sleepless night) and had Hunter S. Thompson on my mind. If you’ve read War and Peace, the above quote might remind you of one of Tolstoy’s most famous passages from his opus (the “Love hinders death” passage).

My first foray into Hunter baby’s world came with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. To this day, it and Philip Roth’s The Great American Novel remain  the two funniest books I’ve ever read. With Thompson, the man had an ability to live in and describe the world he was a part of like nobody else. While some may brush off gonzo journalism as hack writing or immature, drug-addled creativity, I have personally never read anyone like him before or since.

Another quote that came to mind this morning as I ambled around my apartment in the wee morning hours like a decrepit old man with failing bones was from the same book as above:

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”

Finally, on a more positive note (I think), I’ll close off Hunter S. Thompson’s Quote of the Day with a simple line that has more value to it than you might think at first. In its quietly pessimistic yet sobering logic, there’s actually something positive to be taken from it:

“Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously.”

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Quote of the Day

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 It’s easy to criticize Hunter S. Thompson today. Bigot, homophobe, drug addict, alcoholic, quintessential shit disturber – the list is endless, really. But in his more or less less-addled moments of writing clarity, he did manage do some interesting things that have survived to this day, the most famous of which is his style of gonzo journalism (think of how Donald Trump speaks at rallies today, a complete lack of objectivity while seamlessly including himself in a first-person narrative to spin ridiculous tales).

However, Hunter S. Thompson could also pen some real diamonds in the rough that would shine through amid the other more harsh, biting and (at times) vulgar observances. One case in point being the quote below.

Before we get to that, though, I do have to say that one of my most enduring reading moments came when digesting Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream for my first time. I read large portions of it while going to and from work every day on the bus, and would consistently break out laughing so hard that tears streamed down my face. I was living in a small Korean city at the time and one of a handful of stick-out-like-a-sore-thumb foreigners there, so I’m sure I left a rosy impression on my fellow passengers (“Hey, do you think all Americans [sic, because obviously all Caucasians are Americans] are bat-shit crazy and cry while reading? Or can they simply not read and ride at the same time? Ha ha ha.”).

Nonetheless, if you haven’t read FALILV, do so. Soon and very soonly…

“History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of ‘history’ it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time—and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.”

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Six Degrees of Maria Semple

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Kevin Bacon, pack up your grits. You ain’t got nuttin’ on Maria Semple. Per an article on slate.com, Dan Kois and Andrew Khan were struck with an idea upon publication of Semple’s latest book: Why not ask the Seattle-based writer what she thinks is the funniest book by a living writer.

The “daisy chain of hilarity” led them to ask those authors named by Semple what their list of funniest books by living authors was – and the results are very cool, including renowned writers like David Sedaris and Junot Díaz.

Personally, the two books which have actually made me cry out loud I laughed so hard were Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (though Thompson is no longer alive) and Philip Roth’s The Great American Novel (and I have no idea how Sabbath’s Theater made the slate.com list!).

As a side note, click here to see some of the funniest book titles known to humankind. Just make sure you’re wearing diapers or reading this in a bathtub, as you may unwittingly urinate on yourself.

If you have a suggestion for funniest book by a living/dead writer, feel free to drop me a note in the Leave a Reply box.

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Does Alcohol + Writing = Genius x Calamity ÷ The X Factor?

What do Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Hunter S. Thompson, Edgar Allan Poe, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Jack Kerouac, Tennessee Williams, Raymond Chandler, and O. Henry all share in common?

They were all alcoholics at one time, many of them for life, some of whom actually died as a direct result of their affliction.

Frighteningly enough, the above list only represents some of the greatest names in English literature over the past 150 years. This raises another alarming question: Is a grossly unhealthy dependence on alcohol necessary to become a great and prolific writer? Should writers follow Hemingway’s advice when he once mused, “Write drunk; edit sober”? While a humorous, pithy, and catchy suggestion, was Papa onto something?

Fortunately, the answer is a resounding NO!

Just ask Stephen King, who since quitting drugs and drinking has produced arguably his best work; David Mitchell, who’s an insanely responsible person and health nut; Murakami Haruki, who quit smoking and left his heavy whiskey-drinking days behind long ago at his former Tokyo bar and now takes solace in jogging, not the bottle. I’m pretty sure Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje are on the straight and narrow, too. Then there’s Isaac Asimov, Anne Rice, and Stephenie Meyer, each famous as a writer for different reasons, but all of whom are teetotalers (abstinent from alcohol).

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been binge-watching Intervention Canada, an intense documentary that spends a few days following drug and/or alcohol addicts (and by “addict” I mean so far gone in most cases that it’s actually difficult to watch sometimes) before facilitating an intervention and offering treatment at many of Canada’s top treatment facilities. (Sidebar here: is it just me or are all the best rehab centres in Canada located in British Columbia?)

While watching an episode of IC a few days ago, I was struck by the courage one young woman summoned up when coming to grips with her demons, so I decided to write it down:

“I do not know what it is to be brave. And I do not know what the word bravery means to other people. What I do know is that strength is brought about by confidence. What I do know is that hardship fosters understanding. I believe kindness and thoughtfulness are the keys to ensuring a successful life. As I move forward, and embark on a new life, a life free of alcohol, free of pain, a life free of poison, I take to heart what the word bravery might actually mean.”

Scientists and philosophers have long tried to determine what exactly leads to genius. I think the only thing people can agree upon is that there is most definitely a biological factor; some people are simply blessed with a formidable brain. But it’s not all nature, I think. There is most certainly a nurture component – hard work, dedication, and a passion for a particular field of knowledge. At the same time, I feel equally confident saying that crutches like OxyCoton, meth, heroin, crack, whiskey, gin, beer, etc. (ad infinitum) will get a person nowhere, especially an artist like a writer, who already spends enough time alone and possibly dredging up memories and emotions that could sink even the strongest person if not handled with extreme cerebral care.

So if you’re interested in getting started on that story you know you have in you, or perhaps you’re brash enough to want to become a professional writer (ha ha ha ha ha…that’s just dumb and dumbly), do so with a cup of Joe or a mug of herbal tea, preferably in the hours before the sun rises, and you (and your liver) will be grateful for the decision in the years to come.

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