Written early Monday morning and released after a long reflection.


“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.



18 responses to “Written early Monday morning and released after a long reflection.

  1. Oh my God. You’re the first place I heard it.

    …that man was my hero, above and before all others. This puts a damper on my week. Wow.

    But excellent, excellent reflections, and a beautiful little bit there at the end. *sniffles* God, I don’t think I’ve been struck this hard by a death in YEARS.

  2. i’m still out as to if i should consider it a tragic suicide or just hunter being hunter. keep in mind this is the same man who would take massive amounts of psychadelics and go out to his back yard to pop off a few shots from his .44 at milk jugs. full of nitro-glycerine. for fun.

    • Your point is a smart one, though I do see it as tragic. Mostly, from considering he had so seemed to love advising people to listen to him. A lot of people were looking to him – they believed they would end up somewhere. It was like a promise, and it didn’t work out, in the end.

      He just wasn’t going to lead anyone that far. I was weary about that, for years. The destination part of the trip was getting scary.

      “He wasn’t all there,” my mom said, this morning. “He had a fascination with guns, and there were several things about him that suggested he was ill.”

      And you know what I also don’t underestimate? His poetic license.

  3. I can say I didn’t see it coming. I can say it was a shock.
    But I cannot say I was surprised. Just upset.

    I don’t mean to seem trite by pulling out quotes and movie icons. I was just a very big fan and in my silly way, I was tributing to him and showing my pride.

    • Oh, I know! I didn’t say it was a bad thing – just mind-boggling. I wasn’t looking forward to having to acknowledge it, is all. After I’d just heard, it felt too early to be “official”, and I dwelled in that state for as long as I could, keeping the TV off.

      I hope you don’t think I was insulting – it was just a prediction, and a reaction.

    • Thank you. I collected his writings – my favorites were the massive volumes of letters – correspondences shooting back and forth between publications. I feel, even though he was anal enough to keep everything he ever typed – that there are a lot of “off camera” moments in them.

      And often times, I felt that he hinted his entire journey may lead off the edge of a cliff. Sometimes I figured it boiled down to whether or not his ego was too large to allow it. But these people in a state of utter disbelief…can’t tell me they read everything I did, and never saw it.

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