The Miami book fair is having a live panel today on Mortality, Christopher Hitchens’s last book—a collection of Vanity Fair pieces on his esophageal cancer. It’ll be webcast at the following time (Eastern Time U.S), at this link, and is followed by an interview with Carol Blue.
And, fortuitiously, CNN has just posted a three-minute interview with Blue about Hitchens. She’s asked what he would have thought of the Petraeus scandal, and how he would like to be remembered.
17 thoughts on “Video panel today on Hitchens’s last book, and a CNN interview with Carol Blue”
I’m always a bit dubious — merely on principle — of any sort of “so-and-so-would have” characterization, and especially of somebody as continually surprising as Hitch. Still, Carol’s hypotheses certainly bear the air of plausibility, at least in this particular instance.
Still, Hitch loved being a contrarian, as perfectly exemplified by the quote the host gave at the end of four over-rated things. His contrapuntal pontificating, though perhaps partially instinctual, was never porpoiseless, for he always managed to present a novel or uncommon perspective that still held great validity. In so doing, his horizons — and thus ours as well — always expanded.
“… was never porpoiseless…”
I understand Hitch always kept a dolphin or two handy as well…:)
You’d never figure him for a sea-mammal lover, but that’s what made him such a contrarian, I suppose.
This wordplay was invented by Lewis Carroll:
‘If I’d been the whiting,’ said Alice, whose thoughts were still running on the song, ‘I’d have said to the porpoise, “Keep back, please: we don’t want you with us!”‘
‘They were obliged to have him with them,’ the Mock Turtle said: ‘no wise fish would go anywhere without a porpoise.’
‘Wouldn’t it really?’ said Alice in a tone of great surprise.
‘Of course not,’ said the Mock Turtle: ‘why, if a fish came to me, and told me he was going a journey, I should say “With what porpoise?”‘
‘Don’t you mean “purpose”?’ said Alice.
‘I mean what I say,’ the Mock Turtle replied in an offended tone.
– as did Hitch.
No one exceeds Lewis Carroll at wordplay. (Can’t think of anyone in his league.) Though there was often a deep seriousness just beneath the surface nonsense.
Always treat the serious as amusing, and the amusing as serious — that’s the lesson Hitch said he took from reading Oscar Wilde.
And as Martin Gardner points out, much of Carroll’s humour derives from taking the figurative as literal (and vice versa?)
`Another sandwich!’ said the King.
`There’s nothing but hay left now,’ the Messenger said, peeping into the bag.
`Hay, then,’ the King murmured in a faint whisper.
Alice was glad to see that it revived him a good deal. `There’s nothing like eating hay when you’re faint,’ he remarked to her, as he munched away.
`I should think throwing cold water over you would be better,’ Alice suggested: `or some sal-volatile.’
`I didn’t say there was nothing better,’ the King replied. `I said there was nothing like it.’ Which Alice did not venture to deny.
A shipwreck victim gets pushed ashore by a dolphin. The exhausted man rolls out of the life raft, crawls out of the waves, and pauses a moment to turn to thank the dolphin.
To his amazement, the dolphin answers — it turns out that an Atlantean sorcerer bestowed the power of speech upon a small few number of dolphins, and this just happens to be the very first dolphin to ever speak.
The dolphin has a request of the man, as a way of repaying the favor. Every century, the dolphin must eat a pair of freshly-hatched seagull chicks or else he’ll grow old and die. And, it just so happens, it’s been a hundred years since the last such meal, and the dolphin knows that there’s a nest just up through that canyon.
But beware! warns the dolphin. There’s a lion that likes to nap across the entrance to the canyon. But if you do this favor for me, the dolphin tells the man, I’ll give you the exact coordinates of all the best shipwrecks full of Spanish gold.
So, the man goes up the canyon, finds a couple of hatchlings, grabs them, makes his way back down the canyon, and, of course, discovers that the lion has arrived and is sleeping. But the lion is in full REM sleep, completely oblivious to the outside world, so the man decides to take a leap of faith, as it were.
He succeeds and is halfway down the beach back to his dolphin friend when a veritable army of police come swarming from all over. As they tackle him to the ground, The man shouts, “What’s going on? What have I done?”
The officer in charge replies:
“You’re being arrested for transporting young gulls across a staid lion for immortal porpoises.”
A “shaggy dolphin” story. Love it!
But if you’re thinking of telling another one? Feghoot about it!
I see the schedule at that link, but I don’t see how to watch the webcast (which should be broadcasting now as there are things going on all day). Can someone point me to the obvious thing I’m missing?
Found it, it’s this link for the actual feed: http://www.booktv.org/Live/C-SPAN2.aspx
Thanks, link updated.
This will be interesting to listen to and I hope they ask Amis what he thought about Hitchens’ antitheism. Even though they were the best of friends for 40 years, Amis is still a convinced agnostic – the 50/50 probability type agnostic who thinks either side may be right.
Does he also think faeries are equiprobable?
The video does not appear to be available currently, but according to the following page the next rebroadcast will be on Monday November 26th at 4am (ET).
I hope that eventually the video will be added to BookTV’s youtube page.
I saw part of the live broadcast today and it gives several insights into the Hitch as a person.
I liked his last interview with young Mason Crumpacker better. I knew Hitchens would show up at the 2011 Texas Freethought Convention in Houston as I knew her was being treated at MD Anderson and was due for a follow up treatment around that time. What I didn’t know is that Hitch would never leave town. He died here just a few weeks later.
I am so sorry I missed that convention because I had just got a new job working nights and weekends after a long period of unemployment.
I do so miss Christopher Hitchens still. It’s been a year now. Such oratory and wit and fearlessness. Theism suffered immense public humiliation from Hitch’s debates (e.g. see him and Stephen Frye demolish Catholicism and his debate with Dinesh D’Souza). I would argue that he was a more effective atheist than even scientists such as Dawkins because his arguments were accessible to all.