A thought on the passing of Christopher Hitchens. I found myself in fervent agreement with him on some issues and just as diametrically opposed on others, but I always enjoyed the way he framed his thoughts, whether I agreed or not. I was always thankful that I was not the victim of his wit.
Hitchens was a true master of the English language. An artist. He used words the way Joshua Bell uses a violin or Jeff Beck a guitar. It was effortless, humbling, exhilarating and managed without a trace of self-consciousness. It was as if he himself had created the language, fashioned the words, such was his comfort level in wielding it.
When I was younger, William F. Buckley held me spellbound by his mastery of language, although I rarely agreed with him on anything at all. I remember the first time he referred to someone "ventilating their opinion." I think I just sat there and savored it, like a mouthful of a particularly fine vintage. I was always disappointed that he wasn't on our side.
Hitchens didn't have a side. He was rough on everyone, even himself. Watching some replays of old interviews today, I found myself just shaking my head at his uncanny, easy brilliance. I will never be that adept, that nimble with this thing we use to communicate. But I at least have a target to aim for.
Thank you, Christopher Hitchens.
© 2011 Kona Lowell