Hunter S. Thompson wrote “morality is temporary, wisdom is permanent”, not a tough proposition to agree with. Fear and loathing in America is a set of hundreds of letters this ‘outlaw’ american journalist and author wrote to a myriad of acquaintances, professional contacts, friends and lovers. I’ve forgotten the year when I wrote a letter or an email longer than a paragraph and this book takes you to one of those ages of communication when electric typewriters bore well articulated rants and stream of consciousness plans for world domination that never ‘popped up’ but moved over sweet snail mail with colorful stamps on it. Even the stamps one chose I guess where parts of the self expression, for Hunter S. Thompson spilling ink on letters was another smooth ‘outlaw’ move.
The letters are mostly irrelevant if the reader has no interest in the day to day life of Mr.Thompson which was my case, but bushwhacking through the multitude of letters will yield one gem after another as Thompson cuts through and clarifies power, money and the state. Thompson called himself “one of the best writers currently using the English language as both a musical instrument and a political weapon”, and that shines through in his prose – both the power and beauty of English as a language.
Thompson’s incessant paranoia, brutal honesty and shrewd understanding of both power and people who wield it are completely at odds with American presidential politics which looks for a white knight and a savior every four years. His observation below calls out a poignant truth not just about the Madison square garden presidential politics in the US, but for power anywhere. Public and private and corporate.
Thompson writes about McGovern not including Ted Kennedy in the 1972 democratic ticket –
“Superstar politicians and superstar quarterbacks have the same kind of delicate egos, and people who live on that level grow accustomed to very thin, rarefied air. They have trouble breathing in lower altitudes; and if they can’t breathe right, they can’t function.”
“A man on the scent of the White House is rarely rational. He is more like a beast in heat: a bull elk in the rut, crashing blindly through the timber in a fever for something to fuck. Anything! A cow, a calf, a mare – any flesh and blood beast with a hole in it.”
A very easy book to read, if only reader don’t insist the author come to a point – Fear and loathing in America by Hunter S. Thompson.
Further reading –
Espn archive for Thompson, see right rail – Read it here
And after Thompson killed himself, Newyorker writes a short post – Read it here