May 9, 2011

"Deprivation of the ability to speak is more like an attack of impotence, or the amputation of part of the personality."

Writes Christopher Hitchens:
To a great degree, in public and private, I “was” my voice. All the rituals and etiquette of conversation, from clearing the throat in preparation for the telling of an extremely long and taxing joke to (in younger days) trying to make my proposals more persuasive as I sank the tone by a strategic octave of shame, were innate and essential to me....
To my writing classes I used later to open by saying that anybody who could talk could also write. Having cheered them up with this easy-to-grasp ladder, I then replaced it with a huge and loathsome snake: “How many people in this class, would you say, can talk? I mean really talk?”...

What do I hope for? If not a cure, then a remission. And what do I want back? In the most beautiful apposition of two of the simplest words in our language: the freedom of speech.

20 comments:

NotYourTypicalNewYorker said...

Hitchens is a guy I've always liked but agreed with only sporadically. I'll be sad to see him go.

ET1492 said...

Hitchens is a guy I've never liked, but have agreed with often...

Bob Ellison said...

Hitchens has often misused his ability to talk and write.

Lisa said...

I've had dreams at times where I remember wanting to say something and could not. I felt literally paralyzed and very frustrated to the point of noticing that its a dream, that I'm sleep.

traditionalguy said...

Expressing yourself is a God given Un-alienable right of the descendants of Adam. But we need to be breathing to exercise it. Then if we can get our words written down and published, it will affect men for ages and ages. God thought of that trick too.

Revenant said...

Losing my ability to type would bother me more than losing my ability to speak.

G Joubert said...

You don't know what you got until it's gone.

Fred4Pres said...

While the lost of his voice is saddening, even if it never comes back, I hope that he still sticks around for a very long time with us.

And Chrstopher, if Beethoven could lose his hearing and still compose some of his greatest masterpieces, you can still go on without your gift of oratory.

Fight on! That is the real core of Hitchens.

Ralph L said...

If he hadn't worn slutty clothing for so many years, Hitch wouldn't have gotten sick.

rhhardin said...

Freedom of speech isn't an apposition.

Triangle Man said...

Freedom of speech isn't an apposition.

Pardon?

ricpic said...

A beautiful apposition was when
The old fashioned waiter in Sammy's Rumanian Restaurant
Turned over the tin cup filled with kasha-varnishkes
Into the wide white bowl filled with clear golden chicken broth
And you watched it spread.

D. B. Light said...

When asked what he would do if he knew he only had one month left to live, Isaac Asimov replied, "Type faster!"

Data Schlepper said...

Why does the First Amendment cram together so freedoms? Freedom of worship, of speech, of the press, to assemble to petition the government?
And the freedom to pray is the first one.
Is there some connection between prayer and these other freedoms which was obvious to the Founders but not to me? Why is prayer and speech the first among equals?

Lem said...

@Lisa

Sleep paralysis is paralysis associated with sleep that may occur in healthy persons or may be associated with narcolepsy, cataplexy, and hypnagogic hallucinations. The pathophysiology of this condition is closely related to the normal hypotonia that occurs during REM sleep.[1] When considered to be a disease, isolated sleep paralysis is classified as MeSH D020188.[2] Some evidence suggests that it can also, in some cases, be a symptom of migraine.

edutcher said...

As long as he can write, he speaks.

He is forgetting what the fight is really about - if I may be so bold.

Pete said...

Film critic Roger Ebert is a good example of a prolific writer who lost his ability to speak and has turned his remaining energies to something more. True, his new found freedom in blogging and tweeting has also revealed Ebert to be a mean, petty political pundit which for me taints his movie criticism but some of his writing about his ailment is very moving. Hitchens is capable of doing the same only far better.

rcocean said...

I hope Hitchens survives but loses the power of speech. Listening to him drone on and ramble and make his predictable points.. Israel good, Arabs Bad, Obama good, Bush Bad, Atheists Good, Christians bad...

rcocean said...

I let me agree with Pete about Ebert. He's actually a fine writer when he puts some effort into it.

Of course, his actual points are sometimes shallow and/or bizarre, but he says it with style.

Timothy said...

OMG! The most beautiful thing ever written! All writers should be ashamed of themselves after reading that.