Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Blue Catholic on Christopher Hitchens: Two Cheers for the Hitch!

Here's the ever insightful Blue Catholic on Christopher Hitchens:
I first encountered Christopher Hitchens’ writing at a neighborhood bookstore where I would go as a teenager to read magazines.  I usually skimmed a copy of the Nation, always reading Hitchen’s weekly column at the front.  Familiar with his style and aware of the magazine’s history, I associated him with a vanished culture of radical highbrow journals and freelance intellectuals huddled somewhere in Manhattan discussing Joyce and Eliot and the fate of the revolution. (In other words, the intellectual milieu Diane Keaton dismisses contemptuously in “Manhattan”: those little magazines totally mired in 1930’s radicalism.) 
Hitchens arrived later but still embodies, in his own way, the style and culture of that lost bohemian world.  I was surprised when he rose to media prominence; in my mind, people of that background and sensibility lived out their days in rarefied obscurity—and none the worse for it.  Can anyone imagine flipping on the television to find Dwight McDonald (that scourge of midcult) or Edmund Wilson (ofClassics and Commercials) or Susan Sontag (the last of the breed) keeping company with celebrities on “Topic A with Tina Brown” or sparring with partisan hacks on Fox News?  Gore Vidal bickered on television with William F. Buckley; but they belonged to the same circles, more or less.  Seeing Christopher Hitchens on Fox is a bit like spotting the Duke of Windsor at a Lady Ga Ga concert.  Even now, Hitch seems wildly out of place in such forums.
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