Christopher Hitchens & the banality of cancer

Since having been diagnosed with cancer, lots of articles have been published about polemicist/essayist Christopher Hitchens. Yet, only few of those are as fascinating as Andrew Anthony’s 5000 word approximation of Hitcherian character & thought:

Although Hitchens is often seen as a provocateur or a contrarian, and both are indeed aspects of his character, at heart he’s incurably in love with the dialectic. […] The banality of cancer seems to irk him almost as much as its lethality. Lacking any dialectical substance, it affords few opportunities to escape platitude or avoid cliche. It’s a big subject, but it’s essentially small talk, and Hitchens’s style requires the elevated registers of the epic and the ironic. Anything less is like asking a high-wire artist to perform his act at ground level.

Concerning his illness, Hitchens recently wrote:

To the dumb question “Why me?” the cosmos barely bothers to return the reply: Why not?

This, it seems, is the ultimate truth the atheist has to live with.


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