Friday, June 8, 2018

Hunter S. Thompson: The Pain of Being a Man

No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun—for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax—This won’t hurt.

-       Hunter S. Thompson’s suicide note to himself, 2005

He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.

-        Dr. Johnson in the preface to Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, 1971

The buffoon
His buffoonery just barely contained a violent rage. That’s the key to Hunter S.Thompson. The guns, the drugs, the explosives, the destruction, were necessary to hold back despair.

And it’s the despair that makes his writing completely unique. There are no Tom Wolfe pyrotechnics; no Gay Talese in-depth profiles; no Ken Kesey hippy-dippy West Coast Zen trips. Not required.

Picture of the Artist as a Young Man
Thompson was overwhelmed by the absurdity of Life – for whatever reasons. The drugs dulled the pain and transmogrified fear and loathing into raucous phantasmagoria of politicians/police/ land developers and whomever else drifted by.

And when he could no longer move away from the absurdity – well, then he swung to face what he called The Big Fear. He decided to relax, act his age, and check out.

Relax—This won’t hurt
Hunter Thompson once told a friend, “I would feel trapped in this life if I didn't know I could commit suicide at any time.” That’s a serious existential commitment.

When the pain of being a man had made him ‘too bitchy’ and slow, he followed the warrior’s code and exploded the brilliant brain that always seemed so untethered.

His ashes were dynamited into the heavens, his spirit finally free to follow the dictum of his favorite song:

To dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free
Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands
With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves
Let me forget about today until tomorrow