Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant the accuracy of closed captions. These are derived automatically from the broadcaster's signal.
Christopher Hitchens on life and death -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

(generated from captions) risk and Bradley Manning stands accused of a serious

crime. Michael Brissenden with

that report. Christopher

Hitchens was one of the world's

great wordsmiths. Across his

long and rich career his essay

as in written and spoke English

proved that words can be

weapons. He was a contrarian

who tilted at religious,

politics and literature enormous intellect and whit.

Love him or hate him you

couldn't ignore him. He died

tore at 62 losing his final

argument with cancer. Here he is in conversation with Tony Jones Very good to see

you. Tony. You talked about

crossing a border into the land

of malady. What is that like?

For me personally it was a

bit like being deported in that

I woke up in New York having

gone to bed feeling more or

less okay. During a very

gruelling book tour and I woke

in the morning thinking I was

actually dying. The whole

liquid sack, the pericardium,

as it is called, around my

heart had filled up. It

my whole chest cavity had been

crammed with wet cement. I couldn't move, I couldn't

breathe. I managed to call the

emergency service and these wonderful New Yorkers arrived,

very heavily armed and with

cuffs and tore ches and boots

and I remember thinking idly as

they load immediate into the

ambulance, why do they this for one stricken civilian. It was a bit like being

arrested and deported and in

fact, in their kindly way, they

were escorting me across the

frontier. From the land of frontier. From the land of the

well into the land of the very

ill indeed. How do you feel

about the people who are

praying for you? It seems to

me a bit crass to be trying to

talk to people about conversion

when you know they're ill. The

whole idea of hovering over a

sick person who is worried and perhaps saying now is the time to

reconsider, strikes me as Tunis opportunist at the very best. It is inevitable when a

famous atheist faces death that this will happen. There's

something fishy to me in the

suggestion okay now your system

is breaking down, wouldn't it

be a good moment for you to

repudiate the convictions of a lifetime? lifetime? Again, there's

something about the underlying assumption there I want resist. Let's talk briefly

about that day, September 11,

2001. Yes. You described it very tellingly soon soon

afterwards if not on the day as

being as if Charles Manson had

been made good for a day. I

think about it every day,

still. One of the more

remarkable things that happened

in the aftermath was the

reaction of some on the left

and I'm sure this rather your, helped galvanise the transformation that you were

already undergoing. Once I'd

sorted out my various impressions of the day which I

had in common with everyone

else, which also included the realisation that a friend of

mine had just been flown into the walls of the Pentagon, I

felt with that additional

horror much as everyone else

did, you had to discover, go

work through shock, rage, fear

not so much oddly mean, I didn't feel I was

frightened by it, but I was

very powerfully shaken by it.

It is a summons of a sort. Okay, Okay, now if you don't

recognise this as a crisis,

when would you recognise one?

I remember thinking of gnome

chom ski, Michael more, Howard

sin and a few others would find

a way of explaining this away.

I wasn't prepared to tolerate

that. It is interesting,

because your memoir, you talk about mutating from

identity to another. Are you

trying to deal once and for all with your reasons for moving

away from the left? Yes, I suppose I

suppose I am. But I'm

to do it in such a way as not

to seem to follow or indeed to

follow at all, a script that I

think everyone knows in their

mine that's roughly speaking

people are sort of idealistic

left tease when they're young

and they become pawn offe and

compromised and cynical

I don't know how I look or

sound to other people or how I

seem on the page, but I think I

would have a fair chance of

beating that cliche,

Not a reactionary. I've never been any kind of conservative. You've written

for decades, I think you said

at least 1000 words a day for

many years, despatches,

articles, lectures, books, in

particular, books. Doesn't it give you

give you some comfort that your

thoughts and indeed some version

version of you is going exist after your death is imperishable. One of the most

sour reflections that I have

when I think that I'm 61 now

and I might not make 65, I

quite easily might not, one of

the bitter aspects of that is

well, I put in 60 years at the

coalface, I worked very hard,

in the last few years I've got

a fair amount of recognition

for it, and it rather more than

I expected, and I could have

looked forward to a few years

of cruising speed, relishing

that, enjoying, not ceasing to

work, not resting on

laurels, but saving it a bit.

I was getting ready for that as

a matter of fact and I was hit

right at the top of my form,

right in the middle of a

successful book tour. I'm not

going to get there. That does upset

upset me. The thought of

mortality, in other words, of

being outlived is fine when it

is your children, your books or your trees, but it doesn't

reconcile you to an early

death, no. It