We Have Much To Fear – And Even More To Loathe

‎”I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.” – Hunter S. Thompson, the most influential American journalist of the 20th century, who died 20 February 2005.

While this is perhaps the most famous – or infamous – of Thompson quotes, it will mislead those who take it as a guide to understanding either the man or the artist. Hunter S. Thompson is among the greatest and most insightful writers our nation has produced, and, in addition to being a darkly witty literary masterpiece, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” is an elegy for an America that might have been. In fact, as Thompson knew and demonstrated, Las Vegas is the perfect symbol for the failure of the American Dream – a town filled with crooks, pimps, gamblers, pseudo-celebrities, and fools, all in thrall to illusion, money, boundless ambition, perpetual entertainment, and the deluded and decidedly American hope that it might be possible to beat the odds and get something for nothing. Hunter S. Thompson thus belongs to a long list of disappointed idealists who were sickened to the point of despair by the hustler’s mentality that has displaced and blighted so much of what is best in our national character, a list that includes Herman Melville, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, Edward Abbey, and Kurt Vonnegut.

Here are some quotes from Hunter S. Thompson:

“America . . . just a nation of two hundred million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns and no qualms about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable.”

“I feel the same way about disco as I do about herpes.”

“In a closed society where everybody’s guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity.”

“Of all the men that have run for president in the twentieth century, only George McGovern truly understood what a monument America could be to the human race.”

“It was the Law of the Sea, they said. Civilization ends at the waterline. Beyond that, we all enter the food chain, and not always right at the top.”

“No man is so foolish but he may sometimes give another good counsel, and no man so wise that he may not easily err if he takes no other counsel than his own. He that is taught only by himself has a fool for a master.” 

“The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason.”

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