Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Pithy Quotes From Hitchens...

Just finished Christopher Hitchens "Letters To A Young Contrarian." It has alot of pithy quotes that will no doubt get a lot of exercise at cocktail parties to come. I'm not sure that I learned much beyond that, although I enjoyed the book very much. Some highlights:

1) Laughter can be the most unpleasant sound; it's an essential element in mob conduct and is part of the background noise of taunting and jeering at lynchings and executions. Very often, crowds or audiences will laugh complicitly or slavishly, just to show they "see" the joke and are all together.(p. 116) -- this reminded me of the comments section of Zach's blog.

2) It is told of Freud that when he was trapped in Vienna by the Anschluss, he asked the Nazis for a safe-conduct to leave. They granted this on condition that he signed a statement saying that he had been well-treated. He asked for permission to add an extra sentence and to their delighted surprise wrote: "I can thoroughly recommend the Gestapo to anybody." (p. 117)

3) An unforgetable moment in Doctor Zhivago puts the cynic Komarovsky in the saddle: a salon of bourgeois riffraff falls silent and uneasy as the crod of workers sings the revolutionary anthem underneath the balcony; he punctures the tension by exclaiming, "Perhaps they'll learn to sing in tune after the revolution!"(p.119)


At 4/26/2005 1:29 PM, Blogger Shane said...

Hitchens is brilliant and very witty.

However, he is also a liar, a turncoat (used to be a Marxists), and a bastard. He supported the Iraq war because of something he calls "Islamic fascism."

Apparently he didn't realize that it was the US that was acting like a fascist power by invading and subjugating a sovereign nation.

All patriots - regardless of whether they are "Islamic fascists" - have the right to defend their nations.

I recommend reading, or listening to the debate between Hitchens and Tariq Ali, on the Democracy Now website.

At 4/26/2005 3:41 PM, Blogger Michael said...

Hmmm... I will check that out. Thanks for the link, Shane.

Seperately, I have to chuckle at the Marxism/fascism references and the hammer and sickle photo, because just as I finished "Letters to a Young Contrarian" and saw your comment, I started Robert Service's new biography of Stalin. How's that for timing?

How's the revolutionary Marxism working out?


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