Monday 20 September 2010

September 10th "Pray for Christopher Hitchens Day"

I head off to various battles, sending a telegraphic transfer to the UK to cover guardianship for the son at boarding school, then to oversee boat repairs, and "battle" the lady at the Shroff's office to get my parking ticket back; and think of the other "battle", the real battle, the one that the wonderful Christopher Hitchens has -- against esophageal cancer.  What are my "battles" compared to his?
But as he says it's not "battling" cancer, the poison that goes into his veins as part of chemotherapy is a "bore", no battle there.   "You feel as though you're drowning in powerlessness", in the process of chemo, he says.
And many have declared today as "pray for Hitchens" day either hoping that intecessionary prayer will either (i) help him heal him or (ii) that his soul "redeem himself, and make peace with the almighty".  But he won't call for god, or God, or Allah, while he's still lucid, says he.  How can people think that he would?

There's a nice interview with Anderson Cooper here on Youtube.
And Hitchen's thoughts on his cancer at Vanity Fair.  (that very leftie magazine!)

Both well worth watching and reading.

He admits that in younger days he "burned the candle at both ends" and that "it often gives a lovely life".

Read his book too, Hitch-22.  He found out about his cancer when he was on the book tour, and just as it was becoming a best seller.

He's sound on so much in the book.  Just one concern: his acceptance, it seems, that Israel's days are numbered.

He also had a great friendship with Edward Said and spoke warmly of him.  I thought "oh, oh".  But then, in the end he differs with Said, over the issue of Said's failure to take on the ills of Islam.  Good-oh then; his intellectual rigour and uprightness wins the day.

I hope -- but don't pray -- he pulls through.  He's a wonderful and insightful addition to the human family.  The prognosis for his type of cancer, thought, is very grim, as he says himself.  He's not teary, but "moist", sometimes, as he thinks of his children, for whom this is, of course, a terrible shock.

Extra reading:
Dr Francis Collins, the eminent scientist and friend of Hitchens, who is much praised by Hitchens, wrote a book called "The Language of God; a Scientist presents the evidence for belief", which I bought some years ago on the strength of the title, thinking "If there's anyone can show it (the evidence), it will be Collins", who I'd been following because of his work on decoding DNA (I had shares at the time in the rival to the government's effort, Celera Genomics), and then, and then..... mightily disappointed.  Not only was there in fact no evidence, but it was not even a powerful case.  And that's the best that one of the brightest scientific minds could come up with?
And for poolside reading: the literary novel by Christopher Hitchens' best friend, Martin Amis: "The Pregnant Widow".  Amis is my age and at my age then -- in his early twenties -- he was in Italy, in a castle, as I was in Italy, in Torino, visiting at times, some castles, for as Amis notes, they're everywhere, castles ("torre") in Italy.  The Tuscan times are evoked beautifully, as young and "old" as the heroine Sheherezade.