A remarkable voice was silenced yesterday after a long illness. Whether you agreed with him (“the greatest living essayist in the English language” – Christopher Buckley)or thought him to be a “lying, self-serving, fat-assed, chain-smoking, drunken, opportunistic and cynical”( Alexander Cockburn), he was never boring, always thought provoking, prodding you out of your compliancy and utter certainty of things both sublime and mundane.
Here is a list of compelling quotes assembled by CBS News today:
“What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof.”
“By trying to adjust to the findings that it once tried so viciously to ban and repress, religion has only succeeded in restating the same questions that undermined it in earlier epochs. What kind of designer or creator is so wasteful and capricious and approximate? What kind of designer or creator is so cruel and indifferent? And—most of all—what kind of designer or creator only chooses to “reveal” himself to semi-stupefied peasants in desert regions?” The Portable Atheist
“The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species.” God Is Not Great
“What happens to the faith healer and the shaman when any poor citizen can see the full effect of drugs or surgeries, administered without ceremonies or mystifications? Roughly the same thing as happens to the rainmaker when the climatologist turns up, or to the diviner from the heavens when schoolteachers get hold of elementary telescopes.” God Is Not Great
“Religion is man-made. Even the men who made it cannot agree on what their prophets or redeemers or gurus actually said or did.” God Is Not Great
“My own view is that this planet is used as a penal colony, lunatic asylum and dumping ground by a superior civilization, to get rid of the undesirable and unfit. I can’t prove it, but you can’t disprove it either.” God Is Not Great
“Every day, the New York Times carries a motto in a box on its front page. “All the News That’s Fit to Print,” it says. It’s been saying it for decades, day in and day out. I imagine most readers of the canonical sheet have long ceased to notice this bannered and flaunted symbol of its mental furniture. I myself check every day to make sure that the bright, smug, pompous, idiotic claim is still there. Then I check to make sure that it still irritates me. If I can still exclaim, under my breath, why do they insult me and what do they take me for and what the hell is it supposed to mean unless it’s as obviously complacent and conceited and censorious as it seems to be, then at least I know I still have a pulse. You may wish to choose a more rigorous mental workout but I credit this daily infusion of annoyance with extending my lifespan.” Letters to a Young Contrarian
“I became a journalist because I did not want to rely on newspapers for information.” Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays
He did not believe in God, or Heaven, or Hell. So I end this fittingly with a poem from Gene Weingarten, essayist and humorist of The Washington Post
Christopher Hitchens ceases to be;
A remarkable life he led.
He isn’t in heaven; he isn’t in hell-
He is simply, emphatically, dead.
He would have loved that. Hitch, you will be missed. The world is a much duller place without you.