Thursday, May 27, 2010

Too much information about Christopher Hitchens....

Very amusing interview in (sorry to be a bore) the Guardian. Some of this sounds so familiar that I wonder if there's a Tulkinghorn doppelganger about:

Because, for all Hitchens' stated contempt for the personal as political, I would say his opinions today owe more to his emotional world than to any amount of argument.

For someone feted for his adversarial prowess, I'm surprised by how often he sabotages an argument with a lurch into self-indulgence. For example, he has written at length about the failings of Guantánamo Bay. But then he says to me, "Guantánamo slightly threatened at one point to change my attitude towards capital punishment. I thought it would have been good if some of those people could have been taken out and shot. Yeah, put up against a wall. Lincoln would have done it. Of course, I would have been against it if they had. But that's how I felt."


The march of time certainly hasn't altered one thing about Hitchens, which is, alas, his unaccountable pleasure in word games of the most puerile variety. Page after page is devoted to the infinite hilarity derived by Amis, Rushdie, McEwan and Hitchens from substituting in the titles of well-known books, films and songs the word "dick" for "heart", or "fuck" for "love", or "cunt" for "man".

"Oh, I know," he chortles, when I bring this up. "Shameful." He surely can't still find these jokes funny, can he? "Oh yeah, I do. I sometimes wake up laughing at them. Yup. Never get bored of it." And this from a man who once wrote that women weren't funny.

"No, come on," he grins cheerfully, "you have to admit some of them [word games] are funny." Emphatically not. He giggles, looking boyishly delighted. "Sometimes I'm sitting on a plane and start laughing when I think of another. And then I email it to Martin."


We must also make what we will of his claim to have slept with two unnamed young men at Oxford who later joined Thatcher's government. Hitchens was exuberantly bisexual in his younger days – until his looks "declined to the point where only women would go to bed with me" – and is quite candid on the matter, so his refusal to name the future ministers looks at best coy and at worst like teasing up a bit of publicity for the book. "Oh no," he says. "To the contrary, I'd rather not discuss it." So why mention them at all? "You may look in vain for logic or consistency," he concedes.

Poetry, he does volunteer, always played an important part in his impressive sexual success. "You're disarming yourself in an important struggle if you can't produce a fucking sonnet. What if I had to try on my own merits? You've got to have some sort of reserve arsenal."


Well. Not quite everything here is Tulkinghornesque.


Generic said...

"...until his looks 'declined to the point where only women would go to bed with me'..."

Strikethrough "only" and I'm there.

Tulkinghorn said...

You're disarming yourself in an important struggle if you can't produce a fucking sonnet.

If I were a tattoo kind of guy, I'd have that engraved on my arm.

Generic said...

Also -- "Decca Aitkenhead"!? Too much like E. Waugh to be real. "Oh, my Aitkenhead."

Generic said...

Also I would point out that when it's tested in the piece itself, the sonnett ploy doesn't work. Even for him.

Tulkinghorn said...

True, but he got to try it, and however unsuccessful, that, in itself, must have been a great deal more fun than moping about how old he is.