Friday, May 20, 2011

Hunter Thompson's Thoughts 11/22/63

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The Origin Of "Fear And Loathing"

(In a letter to his friend, William Kennedy, Thompson uses the term, "Fear and Loathing", perhaps for the first time, written on the Day John Kennedy was assasinated in Dallas)

November, 22, 1963
Woody Creek

I am tired enough to sleep here in this chair, but I have to be in town at 8:30 when Western Union opens so what the hell. Besides, I am afraid to sleep for fear of what I might learn when I wake up. There is no human being within 500 miles to whom I can communicate anything - much less the fear and loathin that is on me after today's murder. God knows I might go mad for lack of talk. I have become like a psychotic Sphinx - I want to kill because I can't talk.

I suppose you will say the rotten murder has no meaning for a true writer of fiction, and that the "real artist" in the "little magazines" are above such temporal things. I wish I could agree, but in fact I think what happened today is far more meaningful than the entire contents of the "little magazines" for the past 20 years. And the next 20, if we get that far.

We now enter the era of the shitrain, President Johnson and the hardening of the arteries. Neither your children nor mine will ever be able to grasp what Gatsby was after. No more of that. You misunderstand it of course, peeling back the first and most obvious layer. Take your "realism" to the garbage dump. Or the "little magazines." They are like a man who goes into a phone booth to pull his pod. Nada, nada.

The killing has put me in a state of shock. The rage is trebled. I was not prepared at this time for the death of hope, but here it is. Ignore it at your peril. I have written Semonin, that cheap book-store Marxist, that he had better tell his boys to buy bullets. And forget the dialectic. This is the end of reason, the dirtiest hour in our time. I mean to come down from the hills and enter the fray. Tomorrow a cabled job request to "The Reporter." Failing that, the "Observer." Beyond that, God knows, but it will have to be something. From now until the 1964 elections every man with balls should be on the firing line. The vote will be the most critical in the history of man. No matter what, today is the end of an era. No more fair play. From now on it is dirty pool and judo in the clinches. The savage nuts have shattered the great myth of American decency. They can count me in - I feel ready for a dirty game.

Fiction is dead. Mailer is an antique curiosity. The stakes are now too high and the time too short. What, O what, does Eudora Welty have to say? Fuck that crowd. The only hope now is to swing hard with the right hand, while hanging on to sanity with the left. Politics will become a cockfight and reason will go by theboards. There will have to be somebody to carry the flag.

My concept of the new novel would have fit this situation, but now I see no hope for getting it done, if indeed, any publishing houses survive the Nazis scramble that is sure to come. How could we have known, or even guessed? I think we have come to that point.
Send word if you still exist - HST

(From "The Proud Highway: Saga Of A Desperate Southern Gentlemen")

Thanks to Robert Packer, also see: a video of Charlie Rose reading that letter on his show when he interviewed Thompson. The letter is at the end of this video.
Urban Dictionary:

1. shitrain
1.The era of modern American global policy, drug policy and financial ruin succeding the administrations of Nixon, Regan, Bush.

2.The result of Republican polocies as described by Hunter S. Thompson actually orginating with Richard M. Nixon's destructive administration, the father of the The War on Drugs.
"The fatbellies have taken control again hurling us all into the age of the shitrain."
by Word Dr. Jun 11, 2005 share this

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1 comment:

spearman said...

Disn't know this about Thompson. Thank you Bill