Monday, February 21, 2005

Raoul Duke Checks Out

Today the Gonzo flag flies at half-mast. The greatest proponent of the art of Gonzo Journalism is dead, by his own hand. For one who lived as recklessly as he did, it is perhaps fitting that he was directly responsible for his demise. We've lost a great writer, if not a great man. His flagrant disregard for the standards of decent human behavior perhaps made his style of writing possible in the first place. When the journalist is at the center of the story, that story is all the more compelling when the journalist acts like a swine.

That's not to say that Dr. Thompson was a bad person at heart. He was a rebel, to be certain, but showed a concern for the state of humanity and the ideals of justice. What evils he might have perpetrated were done against individuals, usually small-minded money-grubbing individuals. This does not compare with the evils of those he reviled: the corrupt politicians, sleazy developers, and overzealous hypocrites of all descriptions.

My first introduction to the works of Dr. Thompson was the film adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. After seeing that, I had to read the book. At that point, I was hooked. I've been working my way through his books since, half the time hearing Johnny Depp narrating in my head.

It saddens me to know that what exists now of his work is all that will ever exist. The only consolation is that what he's written holds up well to re-reading, so while the man might be gone, I'll still be able to read him for many more years.

No comments: