I know I was not the only one. Each month when Vanity Fair arrived in my mailbox, I would immediately flip to read Christopher Hitchens first. Or to see what the Hitch was doing (he famously subjected himself to both waterboarding and a mud facial for purposes of his column.) Hitch’s great love was the English language and he became its master over his 62 years of reading, writing, thinking, talking, debating, and expounding. His mind was an endless treasure trove of literature, philosophy, politics, culture; he could quote obscure lines, remembering every detail, and use them with obliterating force in his debates. Hitch inspired me for so many reasons. Because he was a contrarian and a lover of words, more specifically, the fantastic and pure art of putting words together. Because he elevated public intellectualism, debate, and conversation. Because he was, most essentially, a conversationalist, and quite a brave one. Because he loved and respected irony and wit. Because substance always mattered more than taking sides. Because he experienced true understanding of the power of freedom of speech. Because he was never too great to know when he was wrong. Because mediocrity would never suffice.
“Do not aspire to immortal life but exhaust the limits of the possible.” Pindar: Pythian iii (from Hitch-22)