“Dissipated potential is never so sad as when it finally admits defeat, and these are tragic hours – between surrender and death.” 1960
Apparently, the news of Hunter Thompson’s death ran rampant over the internet and television, hours ago. I’m currently sitting in the respectable time afterward, when timezones are excusable – when it’s old news to avid feed readers but too early for the morning paper. This is all before the Rolling Stone tribute issue, before thousands of Live Journal bloggers throwing up Captain Jack Depp for their user icons, and the time previous to crazed gonzo fans writing poetic justifications for a man “too weird to live.” I can see it, now. It’s going to be sad, isn’t it?
To be perfectly honest in a moment of staying on topic, I saw the possibility coming. A few years ago I read an article that compared Hunter’s writing style to that of beat writer Jack Kerouac’s, which sparked my interest in his published works. Though I’ve never claimed to be a veteran fan – after all, I was born in 1981 and didn’t see the 60’s culture or witness the coverage of several peak campaigns – I went scrambling after the books, reading history from a trend-settingly disturbed mind that I would eventually come to suspect as literally… brainsick.
Something strange happened during the period of Kingdom Of Fear’s release. Perhaps because I was afraid to approach an aged icon, there seemed no rush to get to it. The bookstore’s lights above the stand were dim, and I hesitated to look past the cover. My eyes skimmed a few pages of the book and in no time I had slammed it shut and gone on my way without a purchase, very disappointed. Where there had once been a source of unflagging humor and hope was now a complainer. His newer assignments continued to be shadows of an unrecovered impression, in my opinion.
It was obvious all the while, that he had created an identity and was hell-bent on maintaining it. The taunting of his image was a monster in plain sight. Didn’t anyone else get that sickening notion in their guts whenever they saw a photo of Hunter and Johnny Depp reunited, or feel somewhat responsible for the pressing curse of the constant dangling cigarette? How was he ever going to accomplish anything, in such neurotic demand?
I realize that I won’t find an answer. I can’t write this so that it isn’t a sad thing, because then it wouldn’t be true. A bad thing happened that shouldn’t have. We lost someone.
I found some text that helped me focus and made me feel better. It’s something of his that I believe in and will remember:
“We do not strive to be firemen, we do not strive to be bankers, nor policemen nor doctors. We strive to be ourselves…
So if you now number yourself among the disenchanted, then you have no choice but to accept things as they are, or to seriously seek something else. But beware of looking for goals: look for a way of life. Decide how you want to live and then see what you can do to make a living WITHIN that way of life….
Let’s assume that you think you have a choice of eight paths to follow (all pre-defined paths, of course). And let’s assume that you can’t see any real purpose in any of the eight. THEN – and here is the essence of all I’ve said – you MUST FIND A NINTH PATH.