Open Thread

Christopher Hitchens, 1949-2011

Hitchens succumbed to esophageal cancer last night.

Here's his final column for Vanity Fair in which he challenges Nietzsche's maxim: "What doesn't kill me makes me stronger."

There's not much that hasn't already been said by now. What a peculiar and brilliant man of this era in history. He was a wonderfully gifted writer with a strain of self-destruction and brutal honesty. His views on Mother Teresa and the Iraq War were shocking, and his views on the Clintons were unrestrained and disturbing. I always admired his courage to take unpopular positions and to defend them with unflinching gusto and erudition.

Whether you disagreed with him or not, there's no doubt that guy could write. And the fact that he continued to write so beautifully while radiation was hammering his body into charred meat is truly inspiring to those of us who can barely muster the energy to tweet 140 characters while suffering from a head cold.

In his last column he talked about his desire to "do" death while fully alert and lucid -- to "play out the string to the end." I wonder if he made it through with the same ballsy swagger he had in life.