In my own country I am in a far-off land
I am strong but have no force or power
I win all yet remain a loser
At break of day I say goodnight
When I lie down I have a great fear
– Francois Villon
Ten years? Has it been that long? I have been thinking about what to write here all week long and even as I sit typing this I am still not exactly sure as to what I want to say or where to even begin for that matter.
Those of you who are long time readers will no doubt have noticed that I haven’t posted here consistently for a long time and for that I do apologise. This site means a lot to me and I have spent a considerable amount of time, effort and a bit of money in keeping it going over the years. Despite the radio silence over the past two years I have no intention of letting this site fall by the wayside. It is here to stay and I do have plans to crank it back into high gear.
I originally set up this site back in 2008, shortly after I began my doctorate on Hunter S. Thompson. I should acknowledge that in the very early days this was a joint venture with my good man Marty Flynn of HSTbooks. Over the years we have both covered all things Gonzo and I’d like to thank Marty for his friendship and all the help he has given me over the years in finding obscure Thompson references, not to mention helping me gather quite a collection of rare Gonzo books and articles.
The past few years working on my doctorate and this site have been a real pleasure and I’d like to thank all of YOU for sticking with me along the way. The feedback I have received from all over the world has been incredible and I am very thankful for all the great people I have gotten to know through this site. I never expected it and it has been humbling to say the least. I’ll blame Hunter for that, he was always good at making worthwhile connections.
Outside of this site and my work unfortunately life has not been quite so smooth. In the second year of my doctoral studies I managed to tear the cornea in my right eye. I had to see a whole bunch of specialists and quacks of every description you can imagine as they tried to figure whether to operate or not. I ended up travelling to London to see more doctors and the whole thing was utterly exhausting. In the end, after a year or so my eye miraculously healed and believe it or not my vision actually improved. My work however had taken a severe setback.
Then the Irish economy crashed. You may or may not be familiar with what happened here but needless to say it was pretty horrific. The past few years have been extremely tough, not just for me but for everyone in Ireland (except the usual suspects) I’m not going to go into it here, it is neither the time nor the place and I’m not even sure I can find the right words to do it justice. Not yet anyway. It is the reason however as to why I have only checked in here sporadically and as to why I am only finishing up my doctorate this year. You could say that life got in the way.
So what has this all got to do with Hunter I hear you ask? Well, I didn’t feel like just posting some tribute and leaving it at that with no explanation as to where the hell I’ve been. I felt I owned you all an explanation and I know there have been many unanswered emails and messages on social media. I hope this goes some way as to explaining why I haven’t replied to you all.
As for Hunter, I guess I wanted to write something a bit more personal than trying to comment on his legacy etc. I’ll leave that to others this time. However I do want to talk about how Hunter’s books and words have kept me sane through this seemingly endless shitstorm. I really mean that. Writing about Hunter, when I was able to get the opportunity, was an immense source of comfort amid all the madness going on around me. Writing about his struggle to make it as a writer, dealing with poverty and unemployment and the constant feeling that the deck was stacked against him – yeah that certainly connected. Hunter never gave up though, no matter how disillusioned he felt with his homeland and the way politicians and other people abused their power – he always felt it was a worthwhile fight to stand up to these whores and not let them get away with it.
Which brings me to the quote at the top of this post. You’ll probably recognise it as the preface to Hell’s Angels. Hunter later revealed why he chose that particular verse in Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72 – ‘‘At the time it seemed like a very apt little stroke – reaching back into time and French poetry for a reminder that a sense of doomed alienation on your own turf is nothing new.’ Which kind of bring me to a comment on his legacy, the very thing I said I wouldn’t do at the start of this post. (I told you this wasn’t planned out!)
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. Hunter was keenly aware of this and many other choice morsels of Wisdom. His work is peppered with it. I’ve often wondered what Hunter would have thought of the past decade and where we find ourselves in this foul year of Our Lord, 2015. Horrified is the conclusion I come to every time. You only have to read Kingdom of Fear and Hey Rube to see his very warnings about the road We have been dragged down in the past ten years by the stupid, vicious, corrupt thieves and warmongers in power around the world.
This has happened on our watch however. We elected those people. I better bite my tongue here or this will veer off into a rant like no other. So I only have to say this – read Hunter’s work. He showed what people who Know the Past can do when they decide they have had enough of these swine and actually Do Something About It. As he was so fond of saying – ‘Politics is the art of controlling your environment.’ He also had another eloquent one – ‘There Is Some Shit People Won’t Eat.’
Have you had your fill?