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The Definition Of Eccentric

If you were trying to capture the essence of Hunter S. Thompson with a single word, eccentric might be the single word that could encompass all of the many chapters of Thompson's life. He left the world with a bang, literally, by committing suicide Sunday evening.

Thompson's legacy - gonzo journalism - in many ways was the first manifestation of the form of writing many of us practice today, though not nearly as well. From the Washington Post obituary:

Hunter S. Thompson, whose life and writing, vivid and quirky reflections of each other, made him one of the principal symbols of the American counterculture, shot and killed himself yesterday at his home near Aspen. His son telephoned authorities, according to the Associated Press.

Thompson, 67, was a practitioner of personal journalism, pouring thoughts and ideas onto the page in a style that was vividly his own and that brought him cult-like status and widespread recognition.

He was the author of books on politics and American society that were regarded as groundbreaking among journalists and other students of current affairs in their irreverence and idiosyncratic insights.

Among those for which he was famed are "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" and "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail."

I'll be the first second to say it... Thompson was the grandfather of the blogging movement.

Via Michael King

Additional coverage: Michelle Malkin is rounding up reaction posts.


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Comments (31)

Hunter Thompson put the "ic... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Hunter Thompson put the "icon" in "iconoclast."

During brief tenure in journalism, I once got to ask a politician whom Thompson had insulted in one of his books what his reaction was. He insisted that Thompson had apologized. Anyone who knew a damned thing about Dr. Thompson knew that was a complete and utter load of shit. The man never apologized for anything, especially insulting a politician.

Times like this, I wish I drank. That is the only proper way to commemorate his passing.

J.

Well, maybe.Certai... (Below threshold)

Well, maybe.

Certainly his style of writing suggests the kind of stream-of-consciousness chronicles that you find in the blogosphere; but that was just artifice. His work was carefully crafted; and in spite of its gonzosity, his books and long Rolling Stone articles were well structured, coherent. He didn't shoot from the hip.

Um, I mean...well, you get the idea.

It it a sad ending to the l... (Below threshold)

It it a sad ending to the life of a brilliant man who I think was sad and bitter all along. His drug use allowed mainstream america "squares" (for lack of a better term) to discount his genius since he was just a crazy junkie. Nixon and Bush won this one. I'm sad there wasn't anything I could have done

The retards at DU are havin... (Below threshold)

The retards at DU are having a field day with conspiracy theories about this one.

Thompson was brilliant.... (Below threshold)
r.a.:

Thompson was brilliant.

Kevin I read this post, and my jaw dropped.

Eccentric is the perfect word to describe HST.

There was nothing more fun than reading him tear some poor politician to pieces.

He drank way too much, did gallons of drugs, was pissed off, sarcastic, and a great writer. he was intelligent as hell, and the letters that the guy wrote at 17 were amazing. (The Proud Highway)

Damn. Hearing this sucks.

I will miss him ... BIG HUG... (Below threshold)
Bradley Laboe:

I will miss him ... BIG HUG for Juan, Jen, Willam and Anita… who never be able to fill the hole left in there lives by the man in spite of the myth and legend attached to his life.

Wellll, dunno about anyone ... (Below threshold)
-S-:

Wellll, dunno about anyone else, but Hunter was the only person I've ever had to ask to leave my home. Long story...

I can't say that I am surprised with this news, what with his penchant for pills, guns and alcohol and all at the same time. Anyone who knew him probably is having the same reaction that I am, to a certain degree, as to that not-being-surprised thing.

No, though, I don't think of HST as being the grandfather of blogging, not at all. Missed deadlines and substance abuse, but not blogging.

At least he didn't shoot an... (Below threshold)
-S-:

At least he didn't shoot anyone else. I have a sad feeling that for HT, this was his obvious, impending end.

I get a tad angry with thes... (Below threshold)
-S-:

I get a tad angry with these stories, is what I mean here, people with more than enough intelligence and ability, wasting themselves by inch and inch and then...it actually p**ss** me off to hear about this.

Never read the guy myself. ... (Below threshold)

Never read the guy myself. I may have to, now, given the reactions I'm seeing. Especially "grandfather of the blogging movement." I'd always thought that Jerry Pournelle had shown the way (http://www.jerrypournelle.com/archives/archivesview/view1.html).

I remember many friends bac... (Below threshold)
Theo T. Lazybite - Idiot @ Large:

I remember many friends back in the mid ninties going on about this Hunteress thompson guy. I had no Fking idea who he was so, I hired this video called Fear and Loathing Las Vegas had a smoke and giggled my little ass off. Since then I have been obsessed with HST and the very few works of his I have read have aided my concept of distractivism - the art of acting in abstract manner so as to avoid 'normal' life in order to offer the world helpful commentary from the otherside. What a load of pretentious garbage, but hey HST is gone, and there is noone to set the world straight and narrow, via a bent existence. So what the hell eh?

RIP
HST

To capture his essence in a... (Below threshold)
dchamil:

To capture his essence in a single word, how's this: "Dead"?

HST apparently had one tale... (Below threshold)
PTG:

HST apparently had one talent: the ability to write while incredibly stoned. This is akin to the idiot savant phenomena. You can like what he wrote or not, but emulating an idiot savant will not turn you into one. Too bad he had to suffer so.

Wasn't he rabidly anti-Bush... (Below threshold)
Jon:

Wasn't he rabidly anti-Bush? Think this has anything to do with the election results?

God's mercy on you swine. R... (Below threshold)
Anosinov:

God's mercy on you swine. RIP

I've never been able to dec... (Below threshold)
Cousin Dave:

I've never been able to decide what I think about Thompson and his influence on modern writing. On the one hand, his earlier work was eye-opening, both in style and in the subjects he was writing about, and he was obviously a big influence (as far as writing, not politics) on P.J. O'Roarke, who is one of my favorite writers. On the other hand, Thompson's work was also what spawned off the "post-modern" school of journalism, in which the reporter's opinions and feelings are more important to the story than the facts are. I don't know if this is what Thompson intended, but that is what happened. If so, then one could say that Thompson grandfathered both the blogosphere and the MSM, which would be the ultimate irony of his life.

His kind doesn't take well ... (Below threshold)
Wally:

His kind doesn't take well to aging. Look for the same from Wacko Jacko in another decade or so, unless some irate father accelerates the process.

I'm just waiting for the fi... (Below threshold)
Lee:

I'm just waiting for the first attempt by a lefty to blame his suicide on Bush, conservatives, or both. What will be really interesting is to see if one of them can somehow work Halliburton into it.

In my misspent early 70's y... (Below threshold)
Jumbo:

In my misspent early 70's youth, I was something of an authority, I thought, on Rolling Stone (well, yeah, the Stones as well), and by extension HST. He was hilarious, shocking, exciting, with his rollicking fantasies ( just how much was truth? ) of 300-pound Samoan attorneys, hearts like alliagtors, John Chancellor on ibogaine, Annie Liebowitz and acid in the hot tub, feeding the mojo machine.

And then he got very, very old and embarrassing. Same old thing: bloody marys for breakfast, shooting at his neighbors, trying (and failing spectacularly) to get porno starlets to give him just one little bj. All fucked up, all the time. He became a caricature of sel-indulgence and resentment.

I suppose the loon boards are all full of wailing, because one of his mantras was goddam- Republcians-tear-their-hearts-out-with-a-fork. But that's a sad champion to have. I am in fact very surprised such an obviously miserable and self-hating person made it 67 years. I hope he has some peace.

In the paralell universe of... (Below threshold)

In the paralell universe of the now-forgettable Doonesbury cartoon strip, I wonder what's going to happen to the Duke character?

er, "parallel". Eye kant sp... (Below threshold)

er, "parallel". Eye kant spel onn Mundaze.

I'm not sorry to say this, ... (Below threshold)

I'm not sorry to say this, but I only vaguely even HEARD of Hunter S. Thompson before I read this. Sadly, he chose to end his own life....

For which he will pay the ultimate price.

I find it pretty cool that ... (Below threshold)
mesablue:

I find it pretty cool that so many conservatives are mourning the loss of someone who certainly did not share their political viewpoint.

Think the libs would ever do that?

I don't give a fuck what he... (Below threshold)
Rob Hackney:

I don't give a fuck what he really beleived in, just that a couple of the books he wrote that I read were entertaining. He was all about the style. He was a great LIAR.

I find it pretty cool th... (Below threshold)
r.a.:

I find it pretty cool that so many conservatives are mourning the loss of someone who certainly did not share their political viewpoint.

i was thinking the same thing. very cool of you guys.

As a conservative, it never... (Below threshold)
-S-:

As a conservative, it never occured to me to mourn HST in disregard to or regard to his politics. As in, the mournful aspect to this person's wasteful end has nothing at all to do with his politics and in regards to mine, or, not. What I find mournful is that a person of his torment and quite obvious illness was indulged and even held up as entertainment to many. I suppose it can be amusing to some to abide by torturing animals and tortured animals, too, but HST lived a life -- many decades long -- in which he displayed acute psychosis and deranged psychology and all the while was regarded as entertainment, a champion of sorts, of...what?

I read last night's initial article in whatever news source (can't now remember) and Lynn Goldsmith, photographer, was quoted as saying that "geniuses" were "supposed to" act "crazy" (close enough paraphrasement of what she expressed about HST's death and circumstances of death).

And I thought, now, there's the real insanity. The entire trendy amusement that someone acting with excess is cool, is "genius."

Unfortunately, we'll never know if HST was "a genius" or not because he was never sober or lucid long enough to let his intelligence roam free. Being held up as example of anything except extreme substance abuse and a tortured personality is more evidence to me that there lies a wasted man/woman who was encouraged in his excess because it was entertainment to a vain audience and set of enablers. But politics? It never occured to me to include the political in my reaction to this news, but I did feal real loathing when I read the comments by many who might otherwise have helped show HST some other road and instead, seemed to have handed him the guns.

S,That is a deeply s... (Below threshold)

S,
That is a deeply sane analysis of an insane man inside an insane set of friends and social morays.

Thanks

I find it pretty cool th... (Below threshold)

I find it pretty cool that so many conservatives are mourning the loss of someone who certainly did not share their political viewpoint.

Think the libs would ever do that?

How many libs mourned the passing of President Reagan?

Gerard...pretty grim issues... (Below threshold)
-S-:

Gerard...pretty grim issues, yes.

I'm now reading people lauding various works by HST but then again, where have they actually been? HST left his ruined remains in his home for his wife and child/ren to return to. Not a very heroic choice, not heroic actions, from, probably, someone long past the ability to make good choices. Not a fan, so far, has written anything that singles out HST's deranged mentality as not being laudible, and yet, HST sat alone, put a gun to his head (so it's reported) and took his own life. While he didn't take the life of others, he did take a life and I'm struggling to find any the valor in those splattered remains.

HST epitomizes to my experience the required tragedy of tortured psychology that many seem to need inorder to rationalize not figuring things differently. Which would be, on the other hand, the real mark of genius: not doing what HST did, not living as he did, not leaving a legacy that he did and how. I can't see any genius in a lifetime of tragedy based upon a loss of focus -- if it ever existed, which remains the conundrum of madness.

"I'm just waiting for the f... (Below threshold)
Tom:

"I'm just waiting for the first attempt by a lefty to blame his suicide on Bush, conservatives, or both. What will be really interesting is to see if one of them can somehow work Halliburton into it."
Someone at Daily KOS said that his blood was on Bush's hands.

Gerard, normally, I'd let it pass but since you're ragging on the dead and specifically a dead guy whose work I enjoyed a lot, I won't. Morays are eels. The word I believe you were looking for in your attempt to be pretentious was "mores" which refers to moral standards, manners, etc. Also, using "social" with "mores" is redundant.

The king is dead - who dare... (Below threshold)

The king is dead - who dares take up the mantle now?

http://zorilla.blogspot.com/2005/02/gonzo-but-not-forgotten-doctor-is-out.html




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