My Delayed Eulogy For The World’s Top Intellectual and Writer

I’m guessing many of my most astute readers will already know who this is about.

So let’s give a clue to everyone else by means of a quote.

Beware the irrational, however seductive. Shun the ‘transcendent’ and all who invite you to subordinate or annihilate yourself. Distrust compassion; prefer dignity for yourself and others. Don’t be afraid to be thought arrogant or selfish. Picture all experts as if they were mammals. Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence. Suspect your own motives, and all excuses. Do not live for others any more than you would expect others to live for you.

I would really be hard pressed to come up with a better overall foundational essence for this thing we call “paleo.””

…And, “the grave will supply plenty of time for silence.” He was actually too humble to add something like, “unless you’re me.” He will never be silenced by his awful grave. Because…

The essence of the independent mind lies not in what it thinks, but in how it thinks.

And I could not, actually, hope or ask for a better guiding theme for what I do here; on this blog, and my promotion of a paleo / Primal / Ancestral paradigm. As you may gather from the foregoing, that’s all just application. That’s why: paleo is easy. Get the fundamental down. Rest. Easy.

Yea, the quote is Hitch. Or, Christopher Hitchens, who died some days back of esophageal cancer. I had wanted to toss up a post immediately, but. I waited.

I read all the “New Atheist” books (Dawkins, Dennett, Harris) but I remarked at the time that God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything was my favorite of the lot for its literary bent. Hitch was very well read and I think he must have noted that there were a disproportionate number of non-believing authors in the literature. I can only hope to take in some measure of the classics he did in the remainder of my lifetime. With Kindle and free books, that’s becoming exceedingly easy.

As an independent thinker himself, he championed independent thinkers. He was pretty much all over the map in his lifetime, from Trotskyite commie to partly champion of Republican conservatives and the Iraq War—except for the God thing. They would have loved to love him more.


That’s who he never was, and who they always were.

You know, whenever I do my occasional anti-religion, anti-state rants and I get comments or I see links to posts with “I don’t agree with him, but…”—religion & State qualification—that picture above is what I always see in my mind’s eye.

I did the religion thing, even graduated HS in a class of two (I was top 50%), in a small private fundamental Baptist school, went onto a fundamentalist Baptist U in Tennessee. And here’s how that turned out.

Well, Hitch and his Hitchslap have been mainstay reads of mine for years, and not even because I agree with him more than I don’t. It’s because you can’t really categorize him…he was an intellectual’s intellectual, a brash & witty, drinking & smoking writer…and above everything else about his life: he was never, ever anyone’s fool. So while I can merely only dream to ever write with half the wit, pith and depth of history he did, I believe he’ll always remain my own personal touchstone.

I collected a few video clips of some of my favorites. There are many more. I hope you enjoy them. If I said that one or two didn’t bring a tear to my eye, I’d be a lying fucker.

I’ve rather heavily including that friend and “faggot” of Hitch, Stephen Fry. He’s awesome in his own right and I searched far and wide to find the bit where Hitch defended him in a debate about the Catholic Church being a force for good in the world (in the final vote, Hitch and Fry kicked the Bishop’s and the Politician’s asses).

The first is a back-&-forth highlights of Hitch & Fry in that debate (the whole thing is available on YouTube, which I watched in its entirely some months ago).

At times, I like Maher, but he was never, nor will he ever be any match for Hitch. And if you think Hitch is defending Bush, think context. Would Hitch defend Bush’s childlike religious views (yes, we only elect people as President who display outwardly, childlike views of superstition)? Hitch was simply unwilling to engage in the silly notion that someone capable of getting themselves elected PresUS is a moron. As an aside, I’m pretty sure the Pope is an atheist.

Unwilling to take Muslim waffling, qualification and evasion.


I’ve arranged these to be shortest to longest. Here we get into the longer ones at about 8 minutes. It’s an opening statement for the aforementioned debate.

This moron must have had no idea who Hitch was when he agreed to go on a national news show. It’s difficult not to feel a bit bad for the guy.

Some cool clips of Hitch getting righteously indignant. Of Jerry Falwell (whom I actually saw speak in person a shook his hand as a teen): “I think it’s a pity there’s no hell for him to go to.” And, “if he could have been given an enema, he could have been buried in a match book.”

Christopher defends his dear friend in this one, but the whole thing is brilliant.

And finally, Stephan Fry‘s 45-minute live tribute to Hitch, with a number of personalities ringing in live.

So there you go.

Go ahead and persist in your fantasies, but in point of logic and truth, Christopher Hitchens actually crafted his own immortality over a lifetime.


  1. Jan on January 13, 2012 at 14:45

    I did, indeed, know. Hitch, we miss you already.

  2. Ray Audette on January 13, 2012 at 15:32

    “The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species.”

    Christopher Hitchens
    I hope you are also familar with ( late fellow Falconer) Paul Shepard. If you have not read “The Tender Carnivore and the Sacred Game” I urge you to do so now.

    Ray Audette

  3. Jane sf on January 13, 2012 at 17:01

    A deeply felt Thank You for this beautiful post. I got shivers from the first quote. I look forward to reading/watching/listening to this eulogy over the weekend. I rarely comment and have been a regular reader over a couple of years but the dignity you share through your writing is on par with Christopher Hitchens and must be acknowledged. Regards, Jane.

  4. Remnant on January 13, 2012 at 17:21

    Over the past ten years, I went from being a neo-con to being much more of a paleo-con and reactionary (yeah, I went paleo in more ways than one), so I agreed less and less with Hitch politically. But I never stopped reading and loving his work or respecting him. Any political disagreement I had with him never altered my respect for him because I knew he was always stating his views honestly and going where his logic took him with absolute conviction. If anything, I was bothered by those (of the left and the right) who claimed that he moved “rightward” after 9/11. He was always, and he died, a man of the left.

    For me, he will always be more of a literary critic than just a journalist. In the compilation of his essays “Love, Poverty and War”, the “love” referred to literature which is what he really preferred to write about. One of his finest acts of literary criticism was evaluating his own talents accurately: he early on gave up trying to be a writer of fiction or poetry because he knew his strenght lay in assessing and judging literature and in polemic. He himself said that he would have preferred to have been just a literary critic but he felt too passionately about current events and politics to ever “leave the fray”. If there is any tragedy in his career, it is that he never devoted himself entirely to a magnus opus of literary criticism because 9/11 distracted him from that task. But I remain grateful for the essays we have of his.

  5. Txomin on January 13, 2012 at 18:17

    The post is appreciated. Hitchens was a worthy human being, something not at all common.

    That said, I often thought of Hitchens’ position over theism as being too focused on the accusation of the divine. Isn’t, after all, human nature the ultimate root of the problem? It seems somewhat puerile to spend any energy denouncing the supernatural.

    • Ray Audette on January 13, 2012 at 18:32

      That’s why Paul Shepard is so important. He focuses on the evolutionary advantage of religion. The biology of religion is linked to the process of domestication. Until we had dogs, for instance, we had no gods ( Neanderthal didn’t pray and wolves didn’t bark). The god of bread and wine is also a classic example of this linkage with symbiosis.
      Here’s an article about how the invention of the camel saddle made Islam possible;

      Ray Audette

    • Richard Nikoley on January 13, 2012 at 20:15

      He was in a position to do so and be heard on the matter.

      • Txomin on January 13, 2012 at 21:02

        … and what is there that is really worth hearing about what you call “fantasies” and, specifically, in regards to their heavenly quality? Creed requires faith which, by virtue of definition/necessity, leaves no room for any relevant form of substantial discussion.

      • Ray Audette on January 13, 2012 at 21:40

        Religion is a discussion of the needs of something larger than ourselves. Were you to come to earth from a distant planet and look down from a low orbit, you would say to yourself, “Obviously these 20 plant species are the dominant species on the planet and the two legged creatures are their slaves”. After all, the crops can be seen from space, have the most population, the best land, are provided food and water and even have better health insurance. It is actually hard to come up with a set of truly objective criteria that make mankind the dominant species.

        When you then mapped out the dominant religions and compared it with the chart of crops you would say” Obviously, these “holy books” are the plants book of rules designed to insure the survival of the crops”.

        As eros is to reproduction so religion is to symbiosis.

        Ray Audette
        Author “Neanderthal Neoteny: How Wolves Domesticated Mankind”

      • Richard Nikoley on January 13, 2012 at 22:30


        That they vote. And that’s just for starters.

      • Txomin on January 13, 2012 at 22:43


        I don’t see how your reply relates, anyway. Who are “they”?

        All I said is that there is no point or value in arguing the supernatural aspects of religion. It is a take it or leave it situation. For instance, the post-conception status of the hymen of the mother of Christ could (perhaps) make interesting discussion from a medical point of view. From a religious perspective, however, any logical narrative on this subject is inane and vacuous, a waste of time, iow.

      • Ray Audette on January 13, 2012 at 22:52

        In the May 1990 issue of Scientific American there was a sidebar in an article entitled “High Fertility in Sub Saharan Africa”. Discussed was how the invention of the plow made lifetime monogamy and female chastity an economic necessity. The small percentage of the 3,000 cultures studied by anthropologist who practice these behaviors all share this technological innovation.

        To the god of bread and wine, the plow would be very important in propagating the faith.

        Ray Audette

      • Richard Nikoley on January 14, 2012 at 07:01

        Sorry. Soft keyboard.

        “All I said is that there is no point or value in arguing the supernatural aspects of religion.”

        OK, perhaps I misunderstood. I thought you were saying that there’s no point in criticizing faith. I’d had a couple of drinks by that point last night. :)

  6. Victor on January 13, 2012 at 18:22

    “ignorance is bliss”

    Farewell, to you both.

  7. realLife on January 13, 2012 at 19:42

    He reminds me of Nathan Cohen moderating on early CBC TV’s program called Fighting Words that I was transfixed listening too the intellectual vigor of the guests arguments. All very polite.
    “By the time of his death on March 26, 1971, Nathan Cohen was one of the most admired and hated men in Canada.”

    I read every story I came across on Hitches passing.

  8. steve on January 14, 2012 at 04:21

    F’ Hitchens. He supported the Iraq war. He lacked substance and was nothing but theater. A cynical relativist.

    • Jeff on January 14, 2012 at 08:06

      And he supported the war criminal bush to boot.

      Changed his tune after he let himself be water boarded.

      All that said I usually listened to him and bought Hitch-22 and read it. I always took him with a grain of salt in that he was probably alcoholic. I’m in recovery so I understand how full of shit a drinking drunk can be.

  9. Mari on January 14, 2012 at 05:51

    Thanks for this – a lot of the paleo blogs I follow got really… Jesusy… around Christmastime so this was a nice “antidote”.
    I’d mostly read quotes by Hitchens (and seen a few short videos) and liked them, but I’m a Dawkins girl at heart and so have been going through his books between school assignments. I enjoyed these videos so I’ll have to check out God is Not Great when I have the chance. Kudos for posting this.

  10. Walter on January 14, 2012 at 06:37

    I respect, in a libertarian way, the views of Hitchens and Dawkins. However, in my own skeptical way, I have always wondered about the source of all that time, energy, and emotion used for denouncing the supernatural. My time and energy is spent singing in a church choir, as well as the church’s Resurrection Choir. Since I am self employed, I can easily get to Funeral Masses to comfort the family and friends of the recently departed. I sang at two funeral masses this week and with Sunday mass that will make three.

    Would Hitchens have respected me for diverting all that energy from my morning bacon and eggs to singing beautiful music about God instead of writing dissertations about the evils of the Catholic Church? I wonder.

  11. Lindsay on January 14, 2012 at 08:23

    This is lovely. Two of my favorite humans.

    Stephen Fry is very special to me. In one of my worst bouts of depression (the wretched, won’t leave your bed for days sort), I started watching endless clips of Mr. Fry on YouTube. Old Fry & Laurie sketches, episodes of Jeeves and Wooster, entire seasons of QI, Blackadder appearances and weird BBC specials and everything in between. I had been a fan for years, but this was something different.

    In the depths of that very dark place, I saw this strange man, this brilliant, humble human who was quick with classical references and impossibly clever and kind and yet deeply troubled, and thought: if Stephen Fry finds this world worth living in, then so can I. I’m not usually one for hero worship, but in so many ways Mr. Fry represents all that is Right and Good in the world: intelligence, openness, wit, being slightly awkward and slightly posh and thoroughly erudite and yet quite human, warts and all.

    It would not be hyperbole to say Stephen Fry saved my life.

    Sorry to thread jack. This just brought up a lot in me.

  12. David on January 14, 2012 at 17:06

    You know, whenever I do my occasional anti-religion, anti-state rants and I get comments or I see links to posts with “I don’t agree with him, but…”—religion & State qualification—that picture above is what I always see in my mind’s eye.

    Aside from the Paleo approach to life, this is why I read your blog, thanks for the video links. Hitches book God is not Great had a huge influence on me, helping me finally overcome the last vestiges of years of religious brainwashing my mother forced on me at an early age.

  13. David Rourke on January 14, 2012 at 18:54

    I’ve enjoyed agreeing and disagreeing with him for years. What most deeply impressed me recently was his honest and profound writing about the process of his own illness and dying. It was, strangely I think, his best work. Very few people could have risen above their own misery to write about it in such a humane way.

  14. patrick on January 14, 2012 at 19:11

    Why does it always have to be atheists v. Believers? Can’t we all just look down on those Astrology weirdos? :)

  15. Ray Audette on January 14, 2012 at 19:15

    You bring to mind Tim Minchin’s beat poem “Storm”
    Inner North London, top floor flat
    All white walls, white carpet, white cat,
    Rice Paper partitions
    Modern art and ambition
    The host’s a physician,
    Lovely bloke, has his own practice
    His girlfriend’s an actress
    An old mate from home
    And they’re always great fun.
    So to dinner we’ve come.

    The fifth guest is an unknown,
    The hosts have just thrown
    Us together for a favor
    because this girl’s just arrived from Australia
    And has moved to North London
    And she’s the sister of someone
    Or has some connection.

    As we make introductions
    I’m struck by her beauty
    She’s irrefutably fair
    With dark eyes and dark hair
    But as she sits
    I admit I’m a little bit wary
    because I notice the tip of the wing of a fairy
    Tattooed on that popular area
    Just above the derrière
    And when she says “I’m Sagittarian”
    I confess a pigeonhole starts to form
    And is immediately filled with pigeon
    When she says her name is Storm.

    Chatter is initially bright and light-hearted
    But it’s not long before Storm gets started:
    “You can’t know anything,
    Knowledge is merely opinion”
    She opines, over her Cabernet Sauvignon
    Some un-hippily
    Empirical comment by me

    “Not a good start” I think
    We’re only on pre-dinner drinks
    And across the room, my wife
    Widens her eyes
    Silently begs me, Be Nice
    A matrimonial warning
    Not worth ignoring
    So I resist the urge to ask Storm
    Whether knowledge is so loose-weave
    Of a morning
    When deciding whether to leave
    Her apartment by the front door
    Or a window on the second floor.

    The food is delicious and Storm,
    Whilst avoiding all meat
    Happily sits and eats
    While the good doctor, slightly pissedly
    Holds court on some anachronistic aspect of medical history
    When Storm suddenly she insists
    “But the human body is a mystery!
    Science just falls in a hole
    When it tries to explain the the nature of the soul.”

    My hostess throws me a glance
    She, like my wife, knows there’s a chance
    That I’ll be off on one of my rants
    But my lips are sealed.
    I just want to enjoy my meal
    And although Storm is starting to get my goat
    I have no intention of rocking the boat,
    Although it’s becoming a bit of a wrestle
    Because — like her meteorological namesake –
    Storm has no such concerns for our vessel:

    “Pharmaceutical companies are the enemy
    They promote drug dependency
    At the cost of the natural remedies
    That are all our bodies need
    They are immoral and driven by greed.
    Why take drugs
    When herbs can solve it?
    Why use chemicals
    When homeopathic solvents
    Can resolve it?
    It’s time we all return-to-live
    With natural medical alternatives.”

    And try as hard as I like,
    A small crack appears
    In my diplomacy-dike.
    “By definition”, I begin
    “Alternative Medicine”, I continue
    “Has either not been proved to work,
    Or been proved not to work.
    You know what they call “alternative medicine”
    That’s been proved to work?

    “So you don’t believe
    In ANY Natural remedies?”

    “On the contrary actually:
    Before we came to tea,
    I took a natural remedy
    Derived from the bark of a willow tree
    A painkiller that’s virtually side-effect free
    It’s got a weird name,
    Darling, what was it again?
    Which I paid about a buck for
    Down at my local drugstore.

    The debate briefly abates
    As our hosts collects plates
    but as they return with desserts
    Storm pertly asserts,

    “Shakespeare said it first:
    There are more things in heaven and earth
    Than exist in your philosophy…
    Science is just how we’re trained to look at reality,
    It can’t explain love or spirituality.
    How does science explain psychics?
    Auras; the afterlife; the power of prayer?”

    I’m becoming aware
    That I’m staring,
    I’m like a rabbit suddenly trapped
    In the blinding headlights of vacuous crap.
    Maybe it’s the Hamlet she just mis-quothed
    Or the eighth glass of wine I just quaffed
    But my diplomacy dike groans
    And the arsehole held back by its stones
    Can be held back no more:

    “Look , Storm, I don’t mean to bore you
    But there’s no such thing as an aura!
    Reading Auras is like reading minds
    Or star-signs or tea-leaves or meridian lines
    These people aren’t plying a skill,
    They are either lying or mentally ill.
    Same goes for those who claim to hear God’s demands
    And Spiritual healers who think they have magic hands.

    By the way,
    Why is it OK
    For people to pretend they can talk to the dead?
    Is it not totally fucked in the head
    Lying to some crying woman whose child has died
    And telling her you’re in touch with the other side?
    That’s just fundamentally sick
    Do we need to clarify that there’s no such thing as a psychic?
    What, are we fucking 2?
    Do we actually think that Horton Heard a Who?
    Do we still think that Santa brings us gifts?
    That Michael Jackson hasn’t had facelifts?
    Are we still so stunned by circus tricks
    That we think that the dead would
    Wanna talk to pricks
    Like John Edward?

    Storm to her credit despite my derision
    Keeps firing off clichés with startling precision
    Like a sniper using bollocks for ammunition

    “You’re so sure of your position
    But you’re just closed-minded
    I think you’ll find
    Your faith in Science and Tests
    Is just as blind
    As the faith of any fundamentalist”

    “Hm that’s a good point, let me think for a bit
    Oh wait, my mistake, it’s absolute bullshit.
    Science adjusts it’s beliefs based on what’s observed
    Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved.
    If you show me
    That, say, homeopathy works,
    Then I will change my mind
    I’ll spin on a fucking dime
    I’ll be embarrassed as hell,
    But I will run through the streets yelling
    It’s a miracle! Take physics and bin it!
    Water has memory!
    And while it’s memory of a long lost drop of onion juice is Infinite
    It somehow forgets all the poo it’s had in it!

    You show me that it works and how it works
    And when I’ve recovered from the shock
    I will take a compass and carve Fancy That on the side of my cock.”

    Everyone’s just staring at me now,
    But I’m pretty pissed and I’ve dug this far down,
    So I figure, in for penny, in for a pound:

    “Life is full of mysteries, yeah,
    But there are answers out there
    And they won’t be found
    By people sitting around
    Looking serious
    And saying isn’t life mysterious?
    Let’s sit here and hope
    Let’s call up the fucking Pope
    Let’s go watch Oprah
    Interview Deepak Chopra

    If you’re going to watch tele, you should watch Scooby Doo.
    That show was so cool
    because every time there’s a church with a ghoul
    Or a ghost in a school
    They looked beneath the mask and what was inside?
    The fucking janitor or the dude who runs the water-slide.
    Throughout history
    Every mystery
    EVER solved has turned out to be
    Not Magic.

    Does the idea that there might be truth
    Frighten you?
    Does the idea that one afternoon
    On Wiki-fucking-pedia might enlighten you
    Frighten you?
    Does the notion that there may not be a supernatural
    So blow your hippy noodle
    That you would rather just stand in the fog
    Of your inability to Google?

    Isn’t this enough?
    Just this world?
    Just this beautiful, complex
    Wonderfully unfathomable world?
    How does it so fail to hold our attention
    That we have to diminish it with the invention
    Of cheap, man-made Myths and Monsters?
    If you’re so into Shakespeare
    Lend me your ear:
    “To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
    To throw perfume on the violet… is just fucking silly”
    Or something like that.
    Or what about Satchmo?!
    I see trees of Green,
    Red roses too,
    And fine, if you wish to
    Glorify Krishna and Vishnu
    In a post-colonial, condescending
    Bottled-up and labeled kind of way
    That’s ok.
    But here’s what gives me a hard-on:
    I am a tiny, insignificant, ignorant lump of carbon.
    I have one life, and it is short
    And unimportant…
    But thanks to recent scientific advances
    I get to live twice as long as my great great great great uncles and auntses.
    Twice as long to live this life of mine
    Twice as long to love this wife of mine
    Twice as many years of friends and wine
    Of sharing curries and getting shitty
    With good-looking hippies
    With fairies on their spines
    And butterflies on their titties.

    And if perchance I have offended
    Think but this and all is mended:
    We’d as well be 10 minutes back in time,
    For all the chance you’ll change your mind.

  16. Ray Audette on January 14, 2012 at 19:35

    Thought you might like the following definition

    Christianity in 105 Words

    The belief that a walking dead Jewish deity who was his own father although he always existed, commits suicide by cop, although he didn’t really die, in order to give himself permission not to send you to an eternal place of torture that he created for you, but instead to make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh, drink his blood, and telepathically promise him you accept him as your master, so he can cleanse you of an evil force that is present in mankind because a rib-woman and a mind-man were convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.


    Sidebar in DEC 2011 Freethought Today

    • zach on January 15, 2012 at 14:40

      Reality is stranger than fiction. Study mathematics or physics or chemistry and you’ll see what I mean. Or won’t. And come to the opposite conclusion. Of course, something that is lost on both sides of the isle is that IF the Bible is true, you cannot accept it without divine intervention. See John 6: 44 and Romans 8 for example. Thus after seeing his miracles, the ruling Jews wanted to kill Christ all the more.

  17. Joseph on January 16, 2012 at 08:05

    Thanks for this, Richard. Add me to the list of people who are better for having encountered Christopher Hitchens (RIP) and Stephen Fry.

  18. Lou on January 16, 2012 at 17:00

    Hitchen was a very interesting person. I’m more of agonist person but who gives a shit about labels.. Atheists/far left iditots are biggest hypocrites and biggest idiots in the world…

    You still think we evolved from apes? Highly not likely.

    Why don’t you read Chris Dunn’s books and get back to us –

    Also –

    Like saturated fat and cholesterol consumption causing heart disease, human evolutionists are retarded…

    • Richard Nikoley on January 17, 2012 at 15:49

      Lou, before checking any more of your links, would you believe that when I began this blog in November of 2003, over 8 years ago, Affirmative Action Bake Sales was an early blog entry?

    • Richard Nikoley on January 17, 2012 at 16:06

      “You still think we evolved from apes?”

      Oh please not the space alien stuff again.

      Look, I know very well we are children of the stars or, “Made from star stuff,” in the words of Sagan, but I see no reason to fantasize that species in the U far more tech advanced than us would have had any more interest in us than we do in going into the jungle and trying to strike up a conversation with chimps.

      And for us, that’s pretty easily doable. We don’t even have to undertake the time, expense and effort of traveling fucking light years—assuming it’s even physically possible, which I doubt and for which there’s no evidence for.

      Fuck, never thought Id say this, but this sort of balderdash is orders of magnitude more masturbatory and a far greater waste of time than the religion we already contend with.

  19. The World Sight on May 14, 2012 at 23:27

    Lets to give the world and animal a better future !:)

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