photo manipulation by nacrowe
when most think of GONZO journalist and famed american writer HUNTER S. THOMPSON, my guess is that usually some mental image appears of an indulgent eccentric that did everything in excess: women, drugs and firearms. this largely self-perpetuated caricature (even literally a character in the DOONSEBURY comic strip) as a crackpot by some belied a public image that never quite did his intellect justice.
it is my argument that added to the above list should be two further things he did in excess: freedom and empathy. it were these two indulgences that helped inform his ability to become a singular writer in the vein of era-defining authors like JACK KEROUAC and F. SCOTT FITZGERALD.
he cared deeply as only an author could for the words of the united states constitution, which he held sacrosanct, and chose to pursue those freedoms allotted to us as AMERICAN citizens. THOMPSON can almost be seen as a high priest of the constitution and for him running for public office, shooting his firearms and even the act of writing were all part of his adoration at the altar of the ENLIGHTENMENT and specifically THOMAS JEFFERSON, ALEXANDER HAMILTON and JOHN LOCKE-ian liberal political philosophy. what i am trying to express is that THOMPSON was a deeply moral thinker who cared very much about those very freedoms he pursued to excess.
this is why his suicide was so truly upsetting due to the fact that he likely felt the constitution he so held in high esteem was being trampled upon by charlatans like GEORGE W. BUSH and his cronies in DONALD RUMSFELD, DICK CHENEY, ALBERTO GONZALEZ and KARL ROVE among others. its hard to imagine how he would have felt about the current TRUMP ADMINISTRATION which makes BUSH and his ilk feel like the JV team of nefarious corruption. it is truly shocking how defiled and divided our national name has become in the last few years.
had he survived my hop is that THOMPSON would have continued to use his pen in the tradition of JONATHAN SWIFT or THOMAS PAINE. his absence is still deafening nearly 15 years after his death. can't think of anyone who has taken on the challenge which is depressing. almost as depressing as the thought of how few AMERICANS actually read, instead glued to their cable news bubbles or worse, social networks.
perhaps we as a nation have lost the power to think for ourselves. perhaps the language of the spectacle is the only thing that unites us. the idea of the communal event around the hearth of the tv. as a former english teacher myself, i question regularly the importance of the written word in an era where communication is devalued. perhaps it is better that THOMPSON didn't live long enough to witness the rise of the EMOJI and GIF and the TWEET. perhaps he is a different era.
the more i think about it the more depressed it makes me. so i'll stop now.