Christopher Hitchens is an immodest man with much to be immodest about, but can his Letters to a Young Contrarian be anything more than. Christopher Hitchens offers them the wisdom of a seasoned campaigner. Letters to a young contrarian. The spirit of may be a distant. Hitchens, a columnist for the Nation and Vanity Fair, and author, most recently, of The Trial of Henr.

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He reopens doors whose contratian had gone rusty in my mind. I realize that I’ve grown lettera think of Hitchens as a sort of chocolate flavor. Don’t be afraid to be thought arrogant or selfish. The Hindus had the wit to see and the courage to proclaim the fact; Nirvana, the goal of their striving, is nothingness.

Now that is the true mark of the contrarian. Yes, I am providing my belated, unasked-for, and pedantic tribute to the late Hitch, but this is as appropriate of a forum as any to do so, right? Frequently, they can trace their careers to an incident in early life where they felt obliged to take a stand.

The Hitch is back in town

And it is christolher too much to say that humanity is very much in debt to such people, whether it chooses to acknowledge the debt or not. Mortality was amazing, but many other works basically unaccessible to me perhaps because they are all too cerebral and the subjects fail to interest me.

However, this is not strictly an anti-religious polemic like his acerbic, if slightly inferior god is Not Greatbut a multifaceted deconstruction of conventional wisdom and reverence. Let me stop you before you roll your eyes. Among these was ‘Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil.

The book also contains some of the critiques of religion and religious belief which Hitchens would later develop in his polemic God Is Not Great: Hitchens takes the epistolary model of Rainer Maria Rilke’s classic Letters to a Young Poet in structuring this, and Hitchens’ fictional correspondent is asking the question of him, and after a slightly awkward preface of false modesty the author is off to the races, exploring the ramifications of what it means to be a dissident thorn in christophre side of the powers-that-be as well as to the easily affronted masses.


Letters to a Young Contrarian by Christopher Hitchens

Do not live for others any more than you would expect others to live for you”. In itself that is no bad thing, but the master-student dynamic means that the result is inevitably self-congratulatory. Hitchens was an anti-theist, and he described himself as a believer in the Enlightenment values of secularism, humanism, and reason. On the way into the assembly one had to be sniffed from head youn toe by two agonisingly beautiful California girls dressed in flame-ochre kimonos.

I did not appreciate that behavior then, but do so now after reading this book. Thus the reader is frequently reminded of the many stands Hitchens has made across the globe – from Chile to Czechoslovakia, from Cuba to Korea – against oppression, injustice, hypocrisy and corruption.

Was very surprised how young he looked — expected someone much older. Never has the world needed him more, and never has his absence been so palpable. That said, we could use a lot more of people like Chrristopher in the public sphere. A Handbook for Living, cotrarian extensive and bestselling transcription of his own words: It has the ability, probably, to reorient and focus the thinking of a young intellectual who otherwise might get lost in the profoundly disturbing dogmas of the sort of political thought that appears to have currency in “progressive” circles today, dogmas that encourage the perpetuation of false categories and differences of identity based on nothing more than purely stupid tribalism.

Sometimes, too, a precept is offered and takes root. This is how the Dalai Lama began his address “to a large audience in Arizona”.

My dear X, Beware the irrational, however seductive. One minute I was baffled, the next minute a light bulb or fire, so as not to be anachronistic went on and the cave was illuminated. The book I’ve probably read more times than any other. There’s no stone unturned intellectually, verbally, hell- geographically. Jul 16, Zach rated it really liked it.

You seem to have grasped the point that there is something idiotic about those who believe that consensus to give the hydra-headed beast just one of its names is the highest good. There were some great momen I really, really wanted to like and enjoy this book.



Jul 02, Lukas rated it really liked it. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account. He called this tactic the “power of the powerless” because, even when disagreement is almost forbidden, a state that insists on actually compelling assent can be relatively easily made to look stupid. The problem is that, much different than rebellion for its own sake, Hitchens backs it all up with historical and anecdotal proof.

There’s probably no political commentary I enjoy reading or watching, for that matter more than that of Christopher Hitchens. Retrieved from ” https: The edition of the book places this quotation, notably vested of its “At his best” qualification, on the cover. The essence of the independent mind lies not in what it thinks, but in how it thinks.

Allow me to give you a paragraph that I marked as I went along: As a description, it’s fine as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go nearly far enough. Don’t expect to be thanked, by the way. A born contrarian, he makes entertaining mincemeat of self-satisfied politicians, and shreds received ideas and media-spun consensus with a fearlessness that is invaluable in our mealymouthed punditocracy. Want to Read Currently Reading Read.

If I don’t always agree with him, I always admire his iconoclasm and his style of disputation. I myself hope to live long enough to graduate from being a “bad boy” – which I once was – to becoming “a curmudgeon”.

Recommended to Karl-O by: Hitchens’s stridency and certainty will always be politically potent, but Amis’s willingness to commit his vulnerability and confusion to the page ultimately makes him the more subtle and resonant writer. But he was still a welcome presence for his acerbic wit and his tendency to polemic chriwtopher times that have seen intellectuals become cowardly dunces lost in the minutiae of inoffensiveness.

I felt like Eltters was studying for school instead of actually enjoying what I was reading. It starts well, with a celebration of Emile Zola and, better still, an attack on Rilke, duffed up for his ‘sinister’ Romantic idealism.