Monday, February 21, 2005

Meat Hook Reality


The post below was written (a lot of it pasted) at around 2:00 AM on the day of Hunter Thompson’s suicide. I had been awake doing some research and stumbled upon the AP site that bled the news to the rest of us. I thought for sure it was an accident. Then I realized that it wasn't. The suddenness of death makes one feel awkward and stilted and even tears seem trite. And suicide is the only clichĂ© that still takes a bite.

Now, having had a couple of days to ruminate, I can understand why a man like Thompson wanted to end his life on his own terms. Of course, I cannot say for sure whether there was a deeper meaning in his actions. I can say for sure that it was just as I wrote him off as being a hedonistic jerk-off (the first time I read anything by him, which was Generation of Swine), he'd pop out with this incredible, eloquent insight, skewering humanity with an ice pick; the kind that makes other writers well up at the sheer magnitude of the beauty in his perspective. He was one of the few human beings who not only existed within the full range of human emotion, he exploded within it.


The following is an excerpt from "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" and one of my favorite things that Hunter Thompson (or anyone for that matter) wrote.

Strange memories on this nervous night in Las Vegas. Has it been five years? Six? It seems like a lifetime -- the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. But no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant.

There was madness in any direction, at any hour... You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. And that, I think, was the handle -- that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of old and evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn't need that. Our energy would simply prevail. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave...

So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look west, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high water mark -- that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.

We are all wired into a survival trip now. No more of the speed that fueled the sixties.Uppers are going out of style.This was the fatal flaw in Tim Leary’s trip. He crashed around America selling “consciousness expansion” without ever giving a thought to the grim meat-hook realities that were lying in wait for all the people who took him too seriously. After West Point and the priesthood, LSD must have seemed entirely logical to him...but there is not much satisfaction in knowing that he blew it very badly for himself, because he took too many others down with him. Not that they didn’t deserve it: No doubt They all Got What Was Coming To Them. All those pathetically eager acid freaks who thought they could buy Peace and Understanding for three bucks a hit. But their loss and failure is ours too. What Leary took down with him was the central illusion of a whole life-style that he helped to create ...a generation of permanent cripples, failed seekers, who never understood the essential old-mystic fallacy of the Acid Culture: the desperate assumption that somebody—or at least some force —is tending That Light at the end of the tunnel.

Hunter S. Thompson 1937-2005