Friday, April 11, 2008
Here I go again on Hunter S. Thompson.
Well, I'm in the middle of Gonzo, a compliation of commentaries from those who knew Hunter while he was alive. The book chronicles his entire life, and it is filled with rich stories about the crazy stunts he used to pull. I will probably blog at least once more on my new discoveries.
What I would like to post here is an address he wrote while he was very young. He was probably in his teens when he wrote this. It's called "Open Letter to the Youth of our Nation" and was printed in 1955. Let's see what you think.
"Open Letter to the Youth of our Nation"
Awake from your slumber of indolence and harken the call of the future!
Do you realize that you are rapidly becoming a doomed generation? Do you realize that the fate of the world and of generations to come rests on your shoulders? Do you realize that at any time you may be called on to protect your country and the freedom of the world from the creeping scourge of Terrorism? How can you possibly laugh in the face of the disasters which face us from all sides? Oh ignorant youth, the world is not a joyous place. The time has come for you to dispense with the frivolous pleasures of childhood and get down to honest toil until you are sixty-five. Then and only then can you relax and collect your social security and live happily until the time of your death.
Also, your insolent attitude disturbs me greatly. You have the nerve to say that you have never known what it is like to live in a secure and peaceful world; you say that the present generation has balled things up to the extent that we now face a war so terrible that the very thought of it makes hardened veterans shudder; you say that it is impossible to lay any plans for the future until you are sure you have a future. I say Nonsense! None of these things matter. If you expect a future you must carve it out in the face of these things. You also say that you must wait until after you have served your time with the service to settle down. Ridiculous! It is a man's duty to pull up stakes and serve his country at any time, then settle down again.
I say there is no excuse for a feeling of insecurity on you part; there is no excuse for Juvenile Delinquency; there is no excuse for your attitude except that you are rotten and lazy! I was never like that! I worked hard; I saved; I didn't run around and stay out late at night; I carved out my own future through hard work and virtuous living, and look at me now; a respectable and successful man.
I warn you, if you don't start now it will be too late, and the blame for the end of the world will be laid at your feet. Heed my warning, oh depraved and profligate youth; I say awake, awake, awake!
Fearfully and disgustedly yours,
John J. Righteous-Hypocrite
How much is this still true today, over fifty years later?
Hunter wrote another essay during this time called "Security." Here are two questions from the essay that consider some thought and attention:
"Is security a utopian goal or is it another word for rut? ...Where would the world be if all men sought security and had not taken risks and gambled with their lives on the chance that, if they won, life would be different and richer?"
"Who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived, or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?"
What answers do you have for these questions? Comments on his writings?