Here are the last three tributes to Hitchens proffered by our readers.
I wanted to save the first one for the last day because it’s so lovely, elegiac and creative. Reader Andrew Hackett composed a piece of music, “in memoriam: c e h” and made a video of himself playing it on the organ. It’s very moving, and Andrew explains it a bit:
The sustained pitches in the uppermost part represent his initials: C, E, and H (“H” is the letter used in German to denote what we would call B-natural. They reserve “B” for what we would call B-flat). The piece is organized into three harmonic areas: F-major, A-major, and F-major again. This is a reference to atheist composer Johannes Brahms, who did something similar in his third symphony. The acronym “F-A-F” stands for “frei aber froh” (free but happy), an appropriate reference for a piece dedicated to a committed freethinker. The piece leaves off, however, before the third and final section is really able to re-assert “F-major.” We have to make do with an abrupt and unstable 6-4 triad, which would normally herald continuation to some kind of resolution. I think this is an effective and poignant analogue for the way Hitchens left us. This procedure is made all the more unsettling by the intrusion, into the “F-major” sonority, of “B-natural” (or “H”, for “Hitchens”) – the raised fourth. That “H” hangs there for a moment, then departs.
There are only 12 views and no comments on YouTube as of 6:30 this morning Chicago time, for the piece is being introduced here. Go have a listen, leave a comment if you feel so moved, and spare a thought for Hitchens and his family. Thank you, Andrew.
Reader kdward contributed this photograph, which he describes as “It’s me, balancing God is not Great in one hand, and my infant daughter in the other.” The picture reminds me of the lyrics of the Stephen Stills song, “We Are Not Helpless,” which go: “The new order is upon us now/It is the children/Who have the wisdom to be free.”
I have no photographs to give to honour Hitchens. However, when I heard that he had cancer, I thought at that time (Dec 2010) that one of the best ways for him to become immortal was to become part of the lexicon. We already have a hitchslap, and a hitchling, but at that time I considered a good possibility would be a razor; after all, we all know of William of Occam, don’t we?
Hitchens’ Razor: What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.
I have conducted extensive research (ie: Googled for it) and have not found the phrase used anywhere as an official razor, but would it be nice if it came to be? Whenever the faithful or trolls leap into the fray with some baseless assertion, just cutting it short with a “That violates Hitchens’ Razor” would save a lot of time and effort.
So end our readers’ tributes to Hitch. As I expect many of you have been doing, I’ve spent quite a few hours over the last two weeks watching videos of Christopher in debate, giving talks, or taking down pompous talking heads on television. I could recommend my favorites, but suggest instead that you just find a random one and follow the YouTube links. You will be impressed: for someone who talked so often, he rarely repeated himself, and everything he said sounded fresh. We have nobody to replace this man, but, thank Ceiling Cat, he left us a legacy of not only his writings and the example of his courage, but also the visual record of his eloquence and incessant fight for the truth.
And thanks to all the readers who took the time to create and send me their own tributes to Christopher Hitchens.