I've been thinking about endings a lot recently.
Lots of personal reasons, things going on in life that lead to the mad streak of melancholia. You know what I mean. Looking at life and realising you've never really said goodbye to the past. For the past couple of weeks, I've been saying those goodbyes. Closing off parts of my personal history, making way for the future. A realignment of my mindset in a way that's part psychology, part retrospective and part magic.
Then, this morning, I hear the news that Hunter S. Thompson has died, apparently of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Endings. They have a nasty habit of all coming along at once. And this is a big ending. HST was one of the champions of "New Journalism", gonzo reportage that shocked the world. He was the most important American writer of the 20th century. And looking at the world today, the most important man to never get known.
Perhaps this is just because I live on the wrong continent. In fact, I really do hope so. But mention the name Hunter S. Thompson to anyone that I work with, my family or anyone in the street, and they say "Who?" It's the same all over. This isn't some cult genre-fiction author, this is the man who helped reinvent journalism, who brought politics and the Truth to the media and to the world in an age full of shallow lies and shit. But these people don't know him. They don't know how much he has affected what they see in the news media, and they don't care about a washed-up dope-fiend with a cult following of stoners and freaks.
This is one of the few "celebrity" deaths that leaves me truly saddened. Johnny Cash popped his clogs a couple of years ago, but I can't say I was really moved. Sad, yes. Pissed off that music has lost one of it's greats. But not really moved, not in that way you know that one person's death means the world never being the same again. When Reagan died I was dancing in the streets that the pox-ridden fuckmonster who came so close to leaving my part of the world an uninhabited radioactive wasteland was gone. That poisonous bastard deserved it.
Not Hunter. Fuck no. He was a living statement, as much the spirit of the 20th century as anything. He couldn't die. Not really. It'd all be a hoax, another sick joke that's got into the national press. But that's just denial.
Look at the world. Look at the way that the future was going. Away from everything HST had worked for. Away from the Truth and from freedom, back towards the American Dream of fifties conservatism with a dangerous streak of fundamental fanaticism that stands between everyone in power and the Truth. And the majority of people in the world's remaining superpower want that. Support that. The opposition is just as corrupt, nobody is capable of doing anything about it. The world is in for more shit, but rather than exposing the lies like they did with Nixon, they bend over and ask for more.
But. There is a but. People are going to take this moment to suggest that the heart or soul of counter-culture rebellion (the true sort, not the pop McRebellion foisted by the worst kinds of sales-lizards) is dead. That's bullshit. It's always the way with people who lead the way. Far too many only go as far as they did. Plenty of people immitated HST and continue to do so. They are frauds. They care about the image, about being gonzo for the sake of being gonzo.
The key is the search for the Truth. Make yourself seen. Demonstrate the lies and propaganda. If a crew-cut Republican stands against you cursing the "long-haired hippies", shave your head and refer to him as your "long-haired opponant". There is always a way. Take the lessons and apply them.
Find the Truth and wear it like a suit as you stride into the light. That is the legacy of the 20th century's greatest writer. Live up to it.
Wanting to be drunk