Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Mortality is Christopher Hitchens's account of confronting his own death, hopeful till the end that he may yet escape its clutches but at the same time very realistic about his prospects of failure. Hitchens was a strong-willed man, unwavering in his materialism, deflecting the prayers and condemnations of the faithful, and retorting with jabs of wit and sarcasm, even as the last remaining drops of physical strength in his body were being sucked by the cancer and its treatment alike. It's a short book, you can read it in a single sitting, and its aphoristic quality well-represents the dignity Hitchens maintained till the end. To do so without wallowing in self-pity and without perceiving oneself to be a victim of an indifferent universe, or engaging in dialogue with a cryptic deity, is no mean feat:
* 'To the dumb question “Why me?” the cosmos barely bothers to return the reply: Why not?'
* 'It’s no fun to appreciate to the full the truth of the materialist proposition that I don’t have a body, I am a body.'
* 'I’m not fighting or battling cancer—it’s fighting me.'
* 'If I convert it’s because it’s better that a believer dies than that an atheist does.'