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When the Going Gets Weird...

sal93 very gently reminded me that I am remiss in one of my duties. This weekend having been the 4th of July, it was standard for ajrose93 to do a post on patriotism and the ideals that founded this nation. Well I am not entirely remiss: I went to see a documentary that opened quite deliberately on the 4th because it was about another man, another writer, who shared many of the same values as Jonathan, if a little more explosively.

The film, Gonzo, about the life and legacy of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, was funny and exhilarating and sad and provocative as was the man himself. Using much previously unseen footage and tape recordings, the filmmakers did not shy away from the less flattering aspects of a complex personality. But writers tend to be a difficult sort and oddly similar in many traits (my god, are they all packrats?) and that is the source of their artistic magnetism. They think things more deeply, feel them more deeply and are therefore wounded more deeply.

Thompson, like Jonathan, took his patriotism very seriously. For them, the past 6-plus years have not simply been unpleasant, they’ve been downright despair-inducing. That brave men and women have been sent into the field to fight not to defend this nation but for economic predation alone with no concern given to their wellbeing now or down the road, that torture has been not just condoned but treated as some act of courage instead of the cowardice it is, that the Constitution that many fought and died for has been used like a table napkin burned in these two men like the phosphorous grenades we hurled at the people of Falluja.

As George McGovern observed, Thompson’s writing was the least factual but most truthful of any reporting. Because Thompson was not simply a reporter but a philosopher, as Jonathan was not simply a novelist but a prophet. And while we may not, in the short term, be able to affect political change, understanding, remembering and spreading the deeper truth is a good and honorable and, yes, patriotic, act.

So I hope y'all had a fun and safe 4th of July but I also hope you thought a little on something more than just sun and barbeque and fireworks. Oh, and I didn’t tell you about the bats. I figured you’d find out soon enough.

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