Sunday, February 20, 2005

R.I.P. H.S.T.

Listening to: The Velvet Undergound, Velvet Undergound (Banana Album)


My post was not really getting much attention mostly because after a long day of running therapy groups, I was all talked out. The material I chose to post on, how to keep your child from being drafted into the military by establishing a record of conscientious objection, was certainly something I could be passionate about. But then I heard the news today, oh boy.

He blew his mind out in a palatial cabin in Pitkin county, about 150 miles west of here. That blew my mind. Had the news been that Hunter S. Thompson died in a motorcycle accident or was blown to bits by explosives or trampled to death in a soccer riot, I could have conceived of his passing as the logical conclusion to a strange and twisted life. But suicide is troubling, it always is. With suicide the survivors are always left wondering why, what could I have done, what was so insurmountable that they decided to pull their own number? Suicide is, by and large, a stupid, self-centered, cowardly act - adjectives I never thought I'd apply to Dr. Thompson.

As Drudge says, "developing". There's no way for me to know right now what was going on in HST's world, whether he'd been recently diagnosed with a slow, painful death or... well, I can't think of another rationale for suicide. Even then (and if that diagnosis was indeed the case), HST was a coward because he couldn't face his demise. God forbid, if I was given a similar diagnosis, I know I'd hang on to the end until the pain was a constant, unbearble, and I was unable to think about anything else than hoping for a hasty end. Then, and only then, you can hand me the hemlock.

Three authors heavilly influenced my life during my senior year in high school, determining the direction I'd take as I took my baby steps into adulthood - for better or worse (and the jury is still out on that). Hunter S. Thompson was one of the triumvirate of the dog-eared, well-penciled, bookmarked-beyond-reason radicals who helped define what my world could look like if I could break free of the stupefying drudgery of mass culture. A young man needs his heroes, an exemplar, a mentor to guide him to meaning amidst the banality of middle-class America. HST spoke with authority, a booming voice that could end a bar brawl as easilly as it called out the hypocricy of reactionary swine. He was a giant amongst obsequious pygmies.


So distracted, the Velvet Underground is over and I put on the Liars, Fins Make Us More Fish-Like just for the cut, Pillars Were Hollow and Filled With Candy, So We Tore Them Down. Perfect for my bitter, resentful mood of betrayal. It wasn't supposed to happen like this. Not a self-inflicted gun shot to the head.

It's just as well. I'm too old for heroes now, been making my own way for far too long without having to genuflect in an empty apse of noise. Hunter S. Thompson stood for something and then negated it all with craven nihilism. Standing on the shoulders of a giant, I was able to see that while heroes may fall, principles may not, even in the face of betrayal. Stepping off those shoulders, I was forced to seek the truth for myself and it's a good thing I did. The shadow of a falling giant is the last place I want to be.


seeingdouble said...

I'm interested in your concsientious objector post, mainly because I get the feeling that anit-war objectors feel that joining the military is a pro-war decision. My hubs is re-enlisting, and almost guarenteed to go to Iraq in the next 12 months, but we don't support the war. It's simply a matter of need, we need to support our family, and the job market blows. He served 6 years, and the military is the most stable job he can get right now. I really know nothing about H.S Thompson, sorry to divert away from your actual post. :)

Queen M said...

Curmudgeon is not a word generally associated with the typical Aquarius. It would be interesting to hear that self observation came about...Hmmmmmm.....

Mayden said...

Having bore being the survivor of a suicide VERY close to me, your post struck close to home. The disappointment you feel in someone you once looked up to and feelings of betrayal are devastating. And then, the resignation. The insistence that you didn't need them anyway and really, it's not that big of a loss. I wonder if those who choose to take this way out really know what they leave behind. I don't think any other kind of death leaves such devastation.
But, I'm also not sure it's a wise idea to negate a lifetime of good works in one fell swoop, even if that fell swoop was so dramatic.