Hunter shot himself yesterday. That's too bad. I'd hate to think what kind of mental thrashing led up to that, but the fear and loathing won out, it seems. Selah.
Here's his last-published work from prior to the election in Rollin Stone.
Speculation about motive is inevitable. Thomson already believed that journalism was a decomposing corpse and that America was slipping into fascism some 30 years ago; one can only wonder what his reaction to the advent of propaganda-as-news and an intentional climate of Total Fear was. I don't think it's any coincidence that the only thing he was able to get published post 9-11 was a quasi-biography (Kingdom of Fear) and a book packaged to be about sports (Hey Rube). The man also detested personal weakness, and by all accounts he was beginning to slow down in his autumn years. The worst paranoia come true in spite of his best efforts and trapped in a decomposing body. It's fucking tragic, but I can begin to imagine why he took the gun.
So it's sad sad news. However, in sniffing around online I did enjoy this:
Hunter S. Thompson, the maverick journalist and author whose savage chronicling of the underbelly of American life and politics embodied a new kind of nonfiction writing he called "gonzo journalism," died yesterday in Colorado. Tricia Louthis, of the Pitkin County Sheriff's Office, said Mr. Thompson had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his home in Woody Creek, Colo., yesterday afternoon. He was 65.
Thompson was found dead Sunday in his Aspen-area home of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, sheriff's officials said. He was 67. Thompson's wife, Anita, had gone out before the shooting and was not home at the time.
That's the spirit.
I count HST among my literary, philosophical and political influences, and it's a hell of a thing to have your influences kill themselves. I've just finished reading the first volume of Thompson's correspondence (The Proud Highway), which really opens up the man's youth and brought on a sense of kinship. I was drawing some strength from knowing how this other man had lived from 18 to 28. That's a bit undercut at the moment.
As I was getting to sleep on my old thermarest at Frank's last night, I was thinking about the choices I've made and the kind of life that pushes me toward living, and why. Why at the age of 25 am I by choice sleeping on a friend's kitchen floor? I let go a nice apartment, a good-paying job with career advancement opportunities and a real sweet scene with a lady that was rapidly turning steady to essentially be a bum for six months or more. Why?
It brings me back to my days in the Experimental Theater Wing, to the recession of childhood and the dawning realization that the path towards great creativity is divergent from the path a maximal human contentment. I don't think creativity and happiness are diametrically opposed -- far from it -- but comfort is more of a mind-killer than fear in my book. I was always more terrified by Brave New World than 1984.
The point is not that I am leading some kind of intentionally abusive lifestyle. Self-flaggelation lost it's gleam sometime around the age of 20 when I quit dragging my knuckles when walking along brick walls as a protest against the emptyness of being. I'm not on some monastic kick here, though I will admit that has crossed my mind. What I'm attempting to do is follow my nature; always to push, to work the edge, to engineer the system rather than spin away as a contented cog. Regardless of the fact that I believe this machine as currently configured is a doomsday clock, I'm just not ready yet to be a gear in someone else's works.
We're getting pretty far afield here. To bring it all back home, this news troubles me. It was a quiet moment when I heard. The passing of the torch is on for real now.