Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Death of a paranoid gun-junkie

Hunter S. Thompson shot himself in the head with a .44 on Saturday. I don't know why. The Times seems to suggest that he did so in tribute to Hemingway. The Post offers a number of reasons relating to his paranoia and depression. I like to think that, as in all other aspects of his life, Thompson just chose to give no quarter. Faced with health problems that promised to limit his ability to live in the "gonzo" fashion, perhaps he just chose to die in the "gonzo" fashion. Thompson strikes me as a man whose only true fear was that of boredom. Perhaps his suicide was his way to win that battle. I just don't know. Either way, American journalism is going to be a less interesting place without him.

For all of you who have never read Thompson, I recommend getting "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail" , "Curse of Lono" or some other Thompson book, and reading it. Ignore the hype, ignore the popular iconization of him, and just read the goddamn book. For me, reading Thompson is like hiking on a high ridge just before a thunderstorm: an exhilarating melange of power and menace. While on the mountain I can see the building clouds, feel the cooling of the air, and sense the gathering electricity. I'm torn between wanting to flee downwards to safety, and wanting to immerse myself, momentarily godlike, in the storm. Likewise, while reading Thompson, something dangerous lurks behind each word. I feel like forces are gathering to destroy the narrator (and me), but the feeling of speed, the movement in the text make me want to dive in and join the literary fray. I know, it sounds like a lot of rubbish, but it's great fun and worth the read.

Anyway, as a paranoid gun-junkie who is friends with many other paranoid gun-junkies, let me bid adieu to the greatest paranoid gun-junkie of them all.