This section contains overly lengthy quotations for an encyclopedic entry. Please help improve the article by presenting facts as a neutrally worded summary with appropriate citations. Consider transferring direct quotations to Wikiquote. In the end, the romance of marginality can easily exceed its reasons.
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Start your review of Letters to a Young Contrarian Write a review Shelves: favorites , on-religion , essays-letters-speeches , , to-re-read , pubs , non-fiction , own , own-read Death hath wrought a pernicious dent in the erudite and intellectual world; Hitchens will not be one to be soon forgotten, nor ever replaced but emulated, definitely.
Let me stop you before you roll your eyes. Yes, I am providing my belated, unasked-for, and pedantic tribute to the late Hitch, but this is as appropriate of a forum as any to do so, right?
Indeed, I read this magnificent little collection of letters of advice written to no one in particular but everyone in modest and solemn Death hath wrought a pernicious dent in the erudite and intellectual world; Hitchens will not be one to be soon forgotten, nor ever replaced but emulated, definitely. Indeed, I read this magnificent little collection of letters of advice written to no one in particular but everyone in modest and solemn remembrance.
And that these things are incompatible, completely incompatible, with the worship of an unalterable celestial dictator; someone who can watch you while you sleep and convict you of thought crime, and whose rule cannot be challenged. But… to make up for that rather horrible indictment, you can be reassured that the entire cosmos is designed with you in mind. False consolation. And that he has a plan for you, on the condition that you agree to be a serf.
However, this is not strictly an anti-religious polemic like his acerbic, if slightly inferior god is Not Great, but a multifaceted deconstruction of conventional wisdom and reverence. There are fringe views that deserve to be marginalized, and then there are dissenting views which need to be heeded, or at least considered.
Nothing Hitchens says can be shrugged off, and if one tries, they will end up looking even dumber than they did when they became recipients of his critical wit in the first place. Happily, the intellectual public mostly embraced this public intellectual, and realized his worth in a miscellany of areas. His reflections on literature specific pieces, or in general , history, travels, and encounters, are absolute treasures.
One should envy the experiences of this man; well, most experiences. Among the things to admire in him is his lack of hypocrisy. The day of his death, I heard more about his being known for his assailment of Mother Teresa than anything else in his distinguished career from the major cable news networks.
Format: Mr. X, the student, i. How happy I am that these letters were not exclusive to his students but how sad am I that I was not among them. Several brief correspondences with a hypothetical, representative student, whose responses are assumed, or left out, advise on what it is to be a contrarian. It is not a matter of being the stand-out dissenter, but the nuanced thinker. Take advantage of your faculties and seek the truth out for yourself.
Disputations are an essential part of crawling toward truth, but let us not get caught up in tautology. It does no good to say either something is true or it is not true. Both of those possibilities are true, and each party in a disagreement can infer as much. Not everything is up for debate, however, as observational evidence cannot be reasonably misconstrued as falsehood, unless we disagree on what observation and evidence are.
And around we go. Moss can be existential in practice. Rocks may very well be experiencing Nirvana. Thinking may cause discomfort, or unease, even unhappiness but that is no excuse to eschew it in favor of becoming a breathing inanimate object. The evasion of verbal conflict is a silly thing. I thought trying to solve problems with words was a good thing, but now even that makes the tender-hearted cry and plead for peace and compromise.
My own bit of advice would be: do not ever agree to disagree. Always state your case if you have one and if you are serious about it. When one engages in combative dialogue I say combative because vehemence in debate is no vice either it is important to know exactly whom with one is engaging.
Go find a sparring partner. Go on! If not, tell me why I am wrong in thinking that argumentation is a common good. Nuance or Obfuscation? Some Improvised Examples: -He burned a Quran, what did he expect? He knew there would be violent reaction and he did it anyway. This implicates him in the subsequent riots and murders. We already have one victim of rape.
The problem is that, much different than rebellion for its own sake, Hitchens backs it all up with historical and anecdotal proof. Self-criticism: I am told that my neutral face is a pissed-off face. I often appear uninterested often enough, I am , in what other people are saying to me, or I am insufferable and condescending.
So be it. But when I am talking, especially to someone who may very well know more than me about any given subject, I go over each sentence that may escape my lips, in my head this also depends on my blood-alcohol level. I have been proven wrong before, and I have changed my mind about things of which I have not been proven wrong.
There is no shame in this, and nobody needs me to reassure them of that. What is shameful though, is holding a minority viewpoint and conceding to your detractors on that basis. You quote Hitchens too much. Distrust compassion; prefer dignity for yourself and others. Picture all experts as if they were mammals. Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence. Suspect your own motives, and all excuses.
Do not live for others any more than you would expect them to live for you. I am saddened only in that there can be no more contributions to the world from the pen of the man who wrote them. Methinks it is time to pour myself some Johnnie Walker Black neat in his dignified honor not to be construed as worship.
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Letters to a Young Contrarian