FREE EBOOK ♄ Mortality ♕

Foreword, by Graydon Carter Mortality Afterword, by Carol Blue I m one of those people who always enjoyed hearing Christopher Hitchens speak on anything in his confrontational style, with his humor, his lightning fast logic, with the breadth and depth of his intellect always on display I miss Christopher Hitchens Even when I disagreed with his position the invasion of Iraq , I d still marvel at his grasp of fact and adamant belligerent defense I miss him.In Mortality, Hitchens describes his diagnosis, treatment and the subsequent failure of the body, while elaborating on the fighting illness metaphor, his trademark stance on superstition religion , and the importance of friendship, including his religious friends whose treatment of him, while ill, speaks well of them He writes about the irony of prayer, what to say not say to those who are terminal, and losing one s voice Never whiny or self pitying, Hitchens plight unfolds in his own words before trailing away into partial thoughts paragraphs and thoughts included by his wife in the text, some spoken to already, but perhaps only partially An all too brief account of Hitchens year of living dyingly Myself, I love the imagery of struggle I sometimes wish I were suffering in a good cause, or risking my life for the good of others, instead of just a gravely endangered patient Allow me to inform you, though, that when you sit in a room with a set of other finalists, and kindly people bring a huge transparent bag of poison and plug it in your arm, and you either read or don t read a book while the venom sack gradually empties itself into your system, the image of the ardent soldier or revolutionary is the very last one that will occur to you.Five stars, unapologetically It s Hitchens to give it less would be to blame him for not living longer. FREE EBOOK ♖ Mortality ⚕ On June While On A Book Tour For His Bestselling Memoir, Hitch , Christopher Hitchens Was Stricken In His New York Hotel Room With Excruciating Pain In His Chest And Thorax As He Would Later Write In The First Of A Series Of Award Winning Columns For Vanity Fair, He Suddenly Found Himself Being Deported From The Country Of The Well Across The Stark Frontier That Marks Off The Land Of Malady Over The Next Eighteen Months, Until His Death In Houston On December He Wrote Constantly And Brilliantly On Politics And Culture, Astonishing Readers With His Capacity For Superior Work Even In ExtremisThroughout The Course Of His Ordeal Battling Esophageal Cancer, Hitchens Adamantly And Bravely Refused The Solace Of Religion, Preferring To Confront Death With Both Eyes Open In This Account Of His Affliction, He Describes The Torments Of Illness, Discusses Its Taboos, And Explores How Disease Transforms Experience And Changes Our Relationship To The World Around Us By Turns Personal And Philosophical, Hitchens Embraces The Full Panoply Of Human Emotions As Cancer Invades His Body And Compels Him To Grapple With The Enigma Of Mortality It s probably a merciful thing that pain is impossible to describe from memoryChristopher Hitchens, MortalityThis short collection of writings done by Christopher Hitchens detailing his experience with cancer, dying and mortality reminds me in no little way of a 21st century Montaigne While I was expecting Hitchen s stoic materialism to jump off the page, I was also surprised by his gentleness This is a man who loved life He loved his family He loved his friends He loved to think, to write and to speak Is there any greater testament to a life well lived than to read or listen to a man s final words and walk away from that experience made better by his spirit and his strength If death is , to re use Bellow s phrase,the dark backing a mirror needs before it can give off a reflection,then Hitch s life and words were that same mirror s silver. A book on the dark subject of death that lightens the load with straight shots of clarity, honesty, and a form of wisdom For those who loved the cultural critic Hitchens as a voice of truth that perfectly balanced logic and wit, fear not the potentials for emotional devastation in this discourse on his own process of death from esophageal cancer It s short enough to be read in one sitting and contains no self pity He gave me some courage about my own mortality.The book contains several essays inspired by his condition published in his usual venue of Vanity Fair At first, he surprises himself by a relatively unemotional outlook I have been taunting the Reaper into taking a free scythe in my direction and have now succumbed to something so predictable and banal it bores even me To the dumb question Why me the cosmos barely bothers to return the reply Why not He brilliantly delves into the language of cancer, such as the metaphors of the patient being seen as fighting a battle or subject to an alien invasion He fights back effectively against those who publicly proclaim he was being punished for blasphemy he published the book God Is Not Great How Religion Poisons Everything He explores the paradoxes of prayer with riffs along the lines of Ambrose Bierce s definition in The Devil s Dictionary A petition that the laws of nature be suspended in favor of the petitioner himself confessedly unworthy He moves toward some rules of etiquette for personal communications with someone who is dying, which is challenged by finding a pathway between throwing out lines of false hope and excessive advice and the overstepping bounds to claim exact knowledge of what one s friend is going through In one essay, he renders an outstanding analysis of the quicksand in the Nietsche precept of that which does not kill you makes you stronger Despite the poor prognosis, Hitchens took the route of chemo and radiation, which he likens to torture His drive to live is uplifting, but far from Rausch s path in his The Last Lecture , which he felt should bear its own health warning so sugary you may need an insulin shot to withstand it The inexorable progress of his disease and side effects of treatment are not dwelled upon, but are covered enough to highlight the wisdom of his conclusion I do not have a body, I am my body To me, his dread of losing his voice is his most poignant expression of his fears, as his explanation of why his sense of self resides so much in that sphere of expression, even in his writings, is exactly what we fans most mourn Short though this book is, it should be a lasting testament to what it means to be human Some of the themes he touches on can be explored fully in books such as Sontag s examination of blaming the victim in Illness as Metaphor and Ehrenheit s attack on the cult of positive thinking in Smile or Die Instead, this book for me feels like listening to a friend, and the art of that, when properly recognized, makes good on Hitchen s effort to defeat the erasing power of mortality Talking to his readers well seems to be a core of what he s after, suggested by his comment on a most favored response from a reader The most satisfying compliment a reader can pay is to tell me that he or she feels personally addressed. This is proving very hard to write about.Hitch was a writer, to his core I know this just through the sense of his writings that s how I met so many other interesting people It was something which defined him.To this extent, it s not too surprising that new books come out after he has passed This little collection of essays are meditative, a little self pitying, but mostly as dignified as cancer would let him be Fierce and stoic, almost up to the very end He was funny, provocative, and challenging I recall even some Christians who were truly saddened to hear of his passing Of course there was no hope for a deathbed conversion for him He d spit in God s eye and raise a toast in hell Enough of my rambling He d not want it Read the thing Even if you agree with him Especially if you disagree with him He is proud in the face of death and what peaceful nothing comes after This is how a true non believer dies. I didn t always agree with Christopher Hitchens war with Iraq, for instance but I always admired his brilliant mind and I enjoyed his feisty, combative personality Because Hitchens was an outspoken atheist, I was most curious to read his observations on mortality These moving and brave final essays were so much than what I expected I found them to be deeply thought provoking and sometimes difficult but compelling to read.The author died of esophageal cancer in 2011, which was as ironic as was his own caustic wit because he was most famous for his public debates and lectures He faced his battle with cancer and the torturous cancer treatments with the same fierce courage of conviction that he expressed in his many written essays and public dialogues As an atheist, he remained true to his beliefs even as he once noted, If I convert it s because it s better that a believer dies than that an atheist does His wife, Carol Blue, wrote the touching afterword Her compassionate tribute included both her personal reflections and a chronicle of his life with cancer Upon receiving the initial diagnosis, she stated, Everything was as it should be, except that it wasn t We were living in two worlds The old one, which never seemed beautiful, had not yet vanished and the new one, about which we knew little except to fear it, had not yet arrived Poignant, unflinching and often humorous After listening to this book, I watched a few of his many interviews on the internet and afterwards felt a deep sense of loss for his silenced voice We re all in the same boat eventually and I can only hope to face my mortality with as much courage and grace as Christopher Hitchens He will be missed. The moment life departs the body, it belongs to death At one with lamps, suitcases, carpets, door handles, windows Fields, marshes, streams, mountains, clouds, the sky None of these is alien to us We are constantly surrounded by objects and phenomena from the realm of death Nonetheless, there are a few things that arouse in us greater distaste than to see a human being caught up in it, at least if we are to judge by the efforts we make to keep corpses out of sight In larger hospitals they are not only hidden away in discreet, inaccessible rooms, even the way they are concealed, with their own lifts and basement corridors, and should you stumble upon one of them, the dead bodies being wheeled by are always covered When they have to be transported from the hospital it is through a dedicated exit, into vehicles with tinted glass in the church grounds there is a separate, windowless room for them during the funeral ceremony they lie in closed coffins until they are lowered into the earth or cremated in the oven It is hard to imagine what practical purpose this procedure might serve The uncovered bodies could be wheeled along the hospital corridors, for example, and thence be transported in an ordinary taxi without posing a particular risk to anyone The elderly man who dies during a cinema performance might just as well remain in his seat until the film is over, and during the next too for that matter The teacher who has a heart attack in the school playground does not necessarily have to be driven away immediately no damage is done by leaving him where he is until the caretaker has time to attend to him, even though that might not be until some time in the late afternoon or evening What difference would it make if a bird were to alight on him and take a peck Would what awaits him in the grave be any better just because it is hidden As long as the dead are not in the way there is no need for any rush, they cannot die a second time Cold snaps in the winter should be particularly propitious in such circumstances The homeless who freeze to death on benches and in doorways, the suicidal who jump off high buildings and bridges, elderly women who fall down staircases, traffic victims trapped in wrecked cars, the young man who, in a drunken stupor, falls into the lake after a night on the town, the small girl who ends up under the wheel of a bus, why all this haste to remove them from the public eye Decency What could be decent than to allow the girl s mother and father to see her an hour or two later, lying in the snow at the site of the accident, in full view, her crushed head and the rest of her body, her blood spattered hair and the spotless padded jacket Visible to the whole world, no secrets, the way she was But even this one hour in the snow is unthinkable A town that does not keep its dead out of sight, that leaves people where they died, on highways and byways, in parks and car parks, is not a town but a hell The fact that this hell reflects our life experience in a realistic and essentially truer way is of no consequence We know this is how it is, but we do not want to face it Hence the collective act of repression symbolized by the concealment of our dead Karl Ove Knausgaard, A Death in the Family My Struggle Book One There is no tinted glass here, no windowless room Christopher Hitchens faces death and his own mortality with the same clear eyed attentiveness, truthfulness and razor sharp intelligence that he applied to any other subject throughout his life No self pity, no sentimentality, no avoiding the pain and suffering, no swerving away from the ultimate absence of higher meaning He looks death in the face every step of the way.Harrowing and life affirming at the same time, this slim little volume is packed with grittiness and wisdom and heart than most books you will read this year. Wow He did it He did dying just as he did living He faced his mortality with a steadfast gaze, as well as his trademark wit, humour, and incessant curiosity His real most deep seated fear was of losing his ability to express himself, of not being able to talk or to write.He does still get the last word I love that this book comes out posthumously It s as if he is talking to us right now And another thing His wife Carol Blue wrote a moving afterword in which she described their new world , that world which lasted for nineteen months until the end Of the day of his presentation , in which the tumour declared itself, she describes their transitionWe were living in two worlds The old one, which never seemed beautiful, had not yet vanished and the new one, about which we knew little except to fear it, had not yet arrivedThis reminds me of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn s terrific book Cancer Ward, in which Time and Memory were classed as before cancer and after cancer.What I admire most is his perseverance to his craft Writing really was his reason for living The way he did his last 19 months, and this book, was about as good a goodbye as anyone could ever hope for for themselves A toast to a life well lived and well written, and to this most fitting finale. The End of ReasonFor those of us on the downward slide of dermal deterioration and progressive organ failure, Mortality is just the ticket a sort of how to about dying No sugary, maudlin advice about the correct attitude toward the inevitable No encouraging tales of the will to live And no suggestions about mitigating the distress involved Just a number of handy things to keep in mind about the roadblocks we re all likely to meet on the road to peaceful non existence.Here s the scoop Barring accidents, and disclaiming by the insurance company, most of is are going to end up as drug addicts We ll be looking forward expectantly not to a cure for whatever terminal bug or virus or faulty organ we might contain, but for the next fix of Codeine, or OxyContin, or Morphine The prospect of a remedy in the offing for what ails us isn t nearly as significant as the supertanker of pain bearing down on us in a very narrow channel.This is where the human species has a maladaptation which is probably necessary for the continuation of the species Memory can conjure up the events, emotions, and significance of the distant past, but it has no clue about the toothache repaired last week Until, of course, it returns and we recognise once again another major design flaw in the human body If women could remember the pain of childbirth, I doubt that the fertility rate would exceed one I also doubt that many people would submit to multiple chemo or radiation treatments, or the dozens of other medical solutions that require us to starve, vomit, excrete, secrete, and otherwise suffer intensely No one tells you how bad it s going to be either because they ve forgotten, or likely because they presume the trade off between pain and an extra day of life is always stacked in favour of life.This is, of course, nonsense It is the selfishness of the living who are, for the moment, without pain and who want to avoid it by forestalling death at any cost The terminal patient can be a victim of both the disease and the relatives who think their encouragement is justified by the extension of life The medical profession will experiment endlessly, or at least as long as it is profitable, with one s body But it s the family who think they own the soul, and they ain t giving it up Pain is an unfortunate side effect and really isn t important in their moral calculus.The point is that the medical treatments for the kinds of conditions from which most of us die today are forms of torture I don t want to be tortured I don t want to suffer I don t even want to suffer significant discomfort for any extended period of time I would like to remain conscious and intellectually active for as long as possible but not if such activity is inhibited by the threat 0f constant pain I would like to experience the presence of my loved ones but in the knowledge that I can consider them, and they me, without pain even if this involves a certain trippiness In short, I far prefer sleep to suffering I think Hitchens did as well This seems to me quite reasonable.